This is why people are hesitant to take machines of all kinds in for servicing. My super wonderful awesome $5 thrift store machine is fantastic. It is quiet, it isn’t fussy, I never have to fidget with settings etc. But then it had that little seizing up problem and I took it in to be properly serviced by an actual professional. And now it is gradually skipping more and more stitches, the bobbin thread is showing through onto the needle thread side and I can’t figure out why.
It doesn’t skip on wovens (this is a piece of flanelette) but you can see the bobbin threads popping through. If I loosen the needle thread enough to match this, the seam becomes ridiculously loose. *sigh* Can’t deal with it today, but I will be visiting Sawyers next week.
Raising the what? One of those archaic Ye Olde Englishe terms that has remained in sewing circles. It just means the arm hole. Wikipeidia has an interesting explanation and if Wikipedia says it, it must be true!
In ballroom gowns, the sleeves must be shaped much differently from a regular garment because we run around with our arms reaching upward all the time. If you have ever had a shirt or jacket that lifted up at the bottom every time you moved your arms, you had a too large armscye.
So we have to raise the armscye and flatten the sleeve cap (top of the sleeve) to make it look right while dancing. Of course this is even more important for the guys, as they have their bulky jackets to deal with. Thank heaven I do not sew those! Laura Lagassa has a version of how to do this on her step-by-step gown construction page. This is the system I have been using, but found I needed to alter each dress on the fly and haven’t been happy with the results 100% of the time.
Yesterday I was searching Pattern Review for some info and found this discussion about how to do this alteration and I really like it. Here is a link directly to the directions on how to do it.
I have ended up with a very weirdly shaped sleeve pattern, which I will take a photo of later.
So far I have the dress skirts sewn together, the bodice pattern made and the sleeves adjusted. Yesterday involved a LOT of basting, checking and ripping out. So nice to have my cover stitch machine that sews a chain stitch. Much easier to rip out than zig zags and shows the seam more accurately, too.
Here are a couple of close up shots of the skirt with rhinestones and sequins. At the moment I am leaving this gown lightly decorated.
Wow! When I click on these I also can zoom in, which gives a seriously detailed picture! I am constantly amazed by technology and how much cool stuff I can do sitting at my kitchen table:-)
Yes, of course there is still work to do! Some work on the bands at the back, floats must be made and rhinestones to be added. But if I really wanted to, I could compete in this dress today. I forget who mentioned long white gloves, but I dug out the pair I wore 40 years ago to my high school graduation and they look pretty good!
Pearls, of course!
Well today started out with lots of needles – acupuncture needles! Quite a few of them and all in my glutes. Yep. Quite a way to start a day, for sure. At first it felt like I had run into a table corner or been given a swift kick by a cranky pony. Now it just feels a little achy – with any luck they are releasing whatever makes my leg do the weird twinge-y thing when dancing. No photos. You will have to make do with finding something on google images if you want to see those sorts of needles in action.
Lots of sewing needles today, as well, and though I commented positively on hand sewing in a recent conversation on Pattern Review, I realize that I was thinking of nice, easy hand sewing like hemming. Stitching on fasteners like hooks and eyes or snaps is not my idea of fun. But I had the top band secured, the waist band ready, finished off the clear elastic around the neck and sleeves. This dress will definitely be ready for Seattle Star Ball!
So here it is at the “correct” length! Definitely not the usual for around here and only sometimes seen at higher levels, but fun and different. Today was spent wrestling with the waist and top bands, trying to get them to lie nicely and still be stretchable enough to both let me get in and out of the dress as well as, oh…I don’t know…breathe!
Pretty sure I will put some horsehair into the hem. I have some white and silver left from another gown that I think is plenty long enough. It will give a bit more volume to the bottom of the skirt.
Did the big eye checkup this morning so had to kill some time waiting for my eyes to un-dilate. You don’t want to be driving when your eyes feel like they are too big for your eye sockets.
So I did a little thirfting and found some nice IKEA halogen lamps for the sewing room!
They have telescoping arms and long cords so I will be able to angle and move them to whichever machine I am using. The original owner glue gunned some felt to the bottoms, probably so they would slide nicely over a table or desk. Since mine sit above the serger, which vibrates enough to send those cute Muppet figures raining down on me from time to time, I will be replacing it with some waffle mat.
View under the sewing machine desk:
Two pairs of Birks and ballgown-trying-on shoes. Step 1 – wear shoes. step 2 – kick off one shoe to sew, step 3 – kick off other shoe to walk over to the ironing board, step 4 – wonder where all shoes have gone!
Eyes still feel weird and up close vision not great. No sewing for now. Just lunch:-)
The dress is hanging now so it can find the final length so it is time to get going on the bodice top and belt/sash/whatever. The organza by itself was problematic because the non-flocked areas stretched and ruined the nice line. Placing organza and lycra together didn’t seem to work maybe due to stretching, operator error or the mysterious “turn of cloth” issues. Tried fusible interfacing – too thick and impossible to turn once sewn. My arthritic finger is killing me!
With a clearer mind and more ideas, I started today by using my cover stitch machine to do a nice, stretchy chain stitch, measuring the width of the lycra exactly to a nice wide piece of non-roll elastic.
Looks pretty good. Now to do the same with the organza.
Pinned on to the dress and ready to figure out how to attach it.
You don’t really want to see the back of this. It is in a state of anticipation, at best and a state of denial, in fact. But I will post it anyway. You can see that I have reinforced the center back seam of the bodice top with clear elastic. I think that will help keep the shape better than it did in the last gown.
Finally for now, a view of the hem. The dress has been hanging close to 24 hours now and I trimmed it roughly last night. Not much change after the first hour or so, to be honest. There is some difference still – just a half inch, but it is visible, so we will mark the dress again, but this time on me, as Ritzy Mitzie has been known to be a bit unbalanced from time to time.
With the majority of the main dress complete, it is time to move on to the under dress. At the top levels of the ballroom world, when the ladies wear a fifties-inspired gown with a waistline seam, the underskirts also start at the waist. So when there is spinning of sufficient velocity and rotation, the skirts and underskirts go up. Way up. Like the way you wanted your skirts to go up when you were five years old. It was pretty cute then, is fine when young and shapely world class dancers do it, but not so desirable in Senior III amateur level. As the lovely and talented coach and judge Beth Knoll says, “Nobody needs to see your underwear!”
So here we have the under dress with underskirts attached.
This is a powermesh “dress” with several layers of organza attached at the hip. There are 3 layers attached to the very bottom of the under dress and the top layer that you can see is sewn on to a strip of powermesh then sewn on to the dress with a tricot stitch – that weird one that looks like a connect-the-dots zigzag. That ensures that it will have enough stretch to move properly.
I was very happy to find, when I was stitching all those panels together, that the differential feed on my serger was a great help. Here is my first seam – all of these cuts are on the bias, which makes it easy for the machine to stretch the fabric as it sews.
And after fiddling with the differential feed a bit:
Gorgeous! Except for the ironing board cover. I did promise a sewing friend of my daughter’s, possibly as long as five years ago, that I would change that cover….
When I put the dress on over the under dress I didn’t think there was a sufficient “pouf” factor, so more layers of organza or possibly some horsehair braid might be needed. First though, I will get the Design Helper to do a preliminary measurement so I can cut the main dress to length and let it all hang overnight. The lycra is awfully heavy, so an extra 6 or so inches might compress the organza more than it will in the end product.
After deciding to nix the sweetheart neckline and switch it to what one Pattern Review member has said is a bandeau neckline, things sped up a bit on the construction front.
I am holding the tails of the bandeaux behind my back. They will be attached somehow later on. As it is, I can still get in and out of the dress without a zipper – yay! So this is all lovely and the dress is together and I can move on to making under skirts etc. But wait! My under dress patterns are for the sweetheart neckline or a scoop neck. Here is the pattern lying on my pristine white shimmer organza.
And I wasn’t crazy about the results of the sweetheart one anyway. So now – bandeau under dress with elastic straps? That doesn’t provide a lot of support for those skirts, which weight a few pounds. These gowns cannot just hang on the sheer illusion fabric and a bit of clear elastic at the shoulder seams. Plus I need to allow for the straps of the body suit, which, in my view has to be removable.
So the plan-du-jour is to make the under dress with this pattern using nice, strong power mesh. I used it for the current gown and it really helps make a nice, smooth line. Then we will do trials with Miss Mitzie and me and see how the straps can be made to be the least conspicuous. Stay tuned!