Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Girlfriend Gown: Getting Started

A very dear friend of mine (let's call her "Sis" because she's just like a sister to me) asked for my help in choosing a gown for her 50th birthday celebration, scheduled for New Year's Eve. So of course I offered to make one for her.

She had already tried on some dresses, so the two of us spent a wonderful afternoon snoop shopping at Lord & Taylors. We scoped out all the dresses in the formal section, and chose several to try on. She really had her eye on one in particular, but when I showed her how it looked from the back, she quickly decided on a different style. (Note: when snoop shopping, be sure to bring a friend who isn't afraid to be honest!)

One style really appealed to both of us, so I snapped a few pictures with my cell phone for future reference. I have no idea who the designer is, but it looked really nice on Sis.

It really was perfect for her, except it was the wrong color, and really didn't fit her properly. But that's why she's got me. I'll be raising the neck just a bit and adding a lot of support for her bust.

Here's the back view, close up to show the applique:

The scoop back is too wide and too deep for her shape, so the final dress will be slightly different. What we both liked was that applique: the same one is used on the front of the dress, and sparkly trim leads from front to back to link them together.

The next step for me was to get a bus ticket for New York (I love the Bolt Bus) to go fabric shopping. With my New York sewing buddy Sarah to guide me, I was able to find the perfect applique at MJ Trim, and the perfect fabric (a luscious silk charmeuse) at B&J Fabrics.

This was the cell phone camera picture I sent to Sis to show her the colors, and she immediately said that was perfect. The plum/eggplant color is so flattering for her skin and hair tones.

So, back home again, it was time to get the project underway. To draft the dress, I'll be using PatternMaster Celebrations, which is Wild Ginger's formalwear software. The first step to drafting the dress, though, is to sew up the sloper (otherwise known as "the ugliest dress you'll ever wear"). I brought it over today for Sis to try, and I was so tickled to see that I had nailed it on the first try.

The front view:

What a nice fit!!

The back view:

It wasn't until I saw her in the sloper that I realized she has a mild case of scoliosis. "I never told you?" she said. Fortunately, it won't affect the draft of the dress because it's an empire sheath.

So we've got the first step out of the way. Next up: drafting the dress and sewing up a muslin out of cheap fabric. My target date for finishing the dress is December 1!

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