The Smithson Gala is this coming Saturday the 21st, and much to my amazement my dress is already finished and ready for the ball! I think this is probably the fastest that I've ever finished a Smithson gown: I only bought the fabric a little under two weeks ago, during my one-day Fabric Buying Trip to New York.
I'm afraid details about the design and fitting process are a little slim this time around. I didn't even make a muslin, believe it or not. Originally, I was going to make an underdress out of a solid fabric (the copper charmeuse), with an overdress of lace, with long sleeves, a shawl neckline, and a full skirt.
Finding and buying the fabric forced a design change, mostly because I just couldn't afford more than three yards of the lace. My original design would have required at least five yards of lace, with a lot of waste due to the cut-on sleeve style known as the Kimono draft in PatternMaster Boutique. So it was time to come up with a new plan.
How about doing an over-sheath, with a straight skirt (I was really trying to reduce the number of seams I would have to sew in the beaded fabric)? Nope; the fabric wasn't wide enough to go from shoulder to floor in one piece. But perhaps an Empire waist...
I hadn't tried an Empire draft in a long, long time... For some reason I always thought of them as terribly unflattering on large bodies. But it was really the only option. So I drafted an Empire-waisted dress with no darts in the back and a waist dart in the front, with set-in short sleeves.
But could I get it on and off without a zipper?
I made a mad dash to the fabric store to pick up a yard of lace and test my idea. Originally I had planned to put a side zipper in the underdress, but found I could slip it on and off without a zipper. But the overdress... Could I wriggle my way into (and out of!) the lace without damaging it, or getting stuck? Fortunately, I could get it on and off by myself, so I took a deep breath and got started.
Have you ever cut into expensive fabric? I stood poised over that lace for about fifteen minutes, second-guessing myself, pondering the "what ifs", positioning and repositioning the pattern pieces, until I finally just took a deep breath and made that first cut. And once that was out of the way, the rest of the cutting proceeded pretty easily.
See, the fabric is heavily beaded in motifs:
Anyway, the construction of the dress went pretty quickly, considering how difficult the fabric was to work with. And now, here is the result:
Here's the back view:
Now, for a moment of total serendipity. When we first arrived in New York for our buying trip, my dear friend Sarah met us for lunch and presented me with a pair of earrings she had made, as a birthday gift. And, wouldn't you know, these earrings are the PERFECT complement to the dress!!
All in all, I am very happy with the dress. It's totally different from anything I've made for past events! Thanks to everyone who sent me emails or commented with their suggestions. I'm looking forward to taking pictures at the gala and posting them on Sunday!