Monday, September 30, 2013

Smithson 2013: The Inside Story

Now that I've had a day to recuperate from all the fun, I figured I would show my sewing friends a few details of the construction of this year's gown.
Since this was a strapless gown, I knew it would require a very stable foundation garment. I've always told my sewing students that a well-constructed, stable foundation garment is the most vital part of a strapless gown; the dress itself is merely "coming along for the ride." The dress itself shouldn't be relied upon to be structural; it should just hang neatly from the top edge and skim across the body.
With that said, this dress did indeed have a foundation, albeit one with a less-than-couture aspect to it.

The foundation itself is actually the muslin! I figured, it won't be seen, fit well, so why waste it?
I also needed to add bust cups to the foundation to give it a nice "line." While I did have a set of traditional sew-in bra cups, I also had a bra that was the right size but had seen better days, so why not use that? To get the placement right, I put on the bra under the muslin and pinned it in place. Then I cut off the straps and most of the band and stitched it to the muslin to secure it. Plastic boning was added along the zipper, at the sides, and at the side back seam (six places in all) on the outside of the foundation, so it wouldn't be on the skin side. The pink ribbon was added as a waist stay mostly to make sure the boning wouldn't poke out and stab me. The facing along the upper edge was hand-stitched in place.
Putting on the dress required doing the inner foundation zipper first, then the dress's invisible zipper. I was worried about the bulk, but it worked out great. The dress was very comfortable to wear (although being pegged in the thigh made it a little difficult to get in and out of the car).
The flounce wasn't hemmed; I cut one each of outer and lining fabric and seamed them together at the outer edge. The inner edge was then stitched to the body of the gown.

One last-minute addition was a bit of netting to try and fluff out the flounce a bit. Honestly, I don't think it made much of a difference.

I just gathered 4 yards of netting and stitched it to the bottom of the dress lining. Inside the netting was another flounce of lining fabric to protect my legs from the scratchy netting. Unfortunately, the netting just bunched around my lower legs rather than poufing out the flouce, so it was a wasted effort.

Here's a close-up of Bob's vest and tie.
I used the same vest pattern I've used for the past several years, with the dress fabric on the outside and the red suede as lining/lapel. The edges were piped in the same brown/black as the dress and vest.
For the first time, I decided to make a real bow tie rather than a clip-on or adjustable. After some searching I found a great free pattern at Sew Like My Mom. It worked perfectly! Searching YouTube for some tutorials also showed me how to tie the tie, which turned out to be not that difficult at all.
I used two fabrics on the tie so Bob could wear it either with the pattern side showing or with the solid red showing.
So now the dress is in storage, waiting for its next scheduled wearing, which will be in January in Nashville, at the annual Home Inspection Conference.


  1. I love how the print evokes animal prints but isn't literal. The red is great

    Again..and as always, a great , great job.

  2. Thank-you so much for showing how you constructed your dress. I learned a lot.



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