Monday, June 2, 2014

Smithson 2014: Another Gala, Another Gown!

After a few intense days of trying to carve out sewing time in between home inspection work, the gown, vest, tie and handbag were all done with some time to spare, and we had another magical gala evening.

So here's how we looked as we headed out the door.

Here is the front of the dress.

You can just barely see the black velvet binding around the neckline and armholes. The hem was also bound with black velvet.

I was amazed at how comfortable the dress was. I inserted an Ambiance lining, which really helped glide it on (there was no closure). And yes, I wore a pretty heavy-duty smoother to even out the lumps!

Here's Bob's vest and tie, ready to go. I used my regular vest pattern, with black velvet for the outside and Ambiance for the lining. The sequined lapels were added like appliques, with the outside and the fold edges bound with black velvet. This really helped it all lay flat and kept the sequins from rubbing his shirt. The back of the vest was fastened with black velvet ribbon through two D-rings.
The tie also had the front edge appliqued, rather than trying to force the sequins into a knot.

Here's my purse! This is the same clutch purse I've used for a few years, with a new black velvet cover. I wanted to glam it up a little, so I cut this dragon head out of the sequin fabric. I thought the sequins would fall off, or that it couldn't hold the detail, but boy, was I wrong!!

Here's the close-up:

Some of the sequins flipped up at the edges, but all in all, it held up fine. The applique was glued onto the velvet with strong clear craft glue.

Construction Observations

I have never worked with sequin fabric before, and was really, really worried that it would be a nightmare. Sure, there were bits of sequin all over my table any time I made a cut:

But once the loose ones were shaken off, there was absolutely NO sequin loss on ANY of the pieces I cut. Even the edges stayed intact! I was flabbergasted, because people had warned me that I would have nothing but trouble from sequins. But then I got to thinking: maybe the reason I had so little trouble was that the fabric was of a really, really high quality? This sure wasn't from the Joann's bargain aisle. Sure, it did a number on my scissors (thank goodness the sharpener guy will be back in my neighborhood next week), but overall it was a dream to work with. It sewed beautifully; I didn't have to hand-stitch anything except the button on Bob's vest.

There are only a few seams on the dress: the shoulders and the center back and train. All edges were covered in a narrow binding of black velvet: I stitched the velvet to the front of the edge, flipped it around to the back, and stitched in the ditch to secure it. Then I trimmed the excess off with applique scissors. I decided to do the edges this way to avoid the look of sequins folded around a corner, and also to prevent having sequins touching my skin.

Originally I had a front drape on the dress as well, but when I put it on, that front drape just felt so much like a bib that I took it off. So the front ended up a bit plainer than intended.

The Gala!

This year's gala was held in the Atrium of the National Museum of American Art, which is not on the mall. From the moment we got there, I had people coming up to me and complimenting the gown and Bob's vest! As a result, we got to talk to a lot more people than we usually do. We even got to say hello to Dr. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian.

Here's Bob listening to Dr. Clough give his welcoming remarks. Oh, and if you look carefully, you can see the tablecloth is blue and green, so the colors were perfect!!

We actually had such a good time that we didn't take many pictures; sorry! Most of the dresses we saw there were sheath style; more and more are opting for two-piece outfits. There were about half a dozen other sequin outfits (jackets), and another handful of beaded jackets. I'll post a few pictures of those later.

Thanks for following yet another Smithson Gown saga!


  1. How fun was that! It's really, really neat that your DH appreciates and celebrates your creative skills - he is a keeper! (smile) Thank you so much for sharing with us - I too have had dread of the sequined fabric, but now may think differently. And that blue is fabulous! That event was in my 'backyard' so to speak; another activity for when I grow up!

  2. SO CUTE! well done!

  3. I love the simplicity of style that enables such very special fabric to shine (and I suppose it probably did shine, what with sequins and all). The dragon is wonderful!

  4. Got cut off there - looks great with your hair colour. I've never sewn with sequins so I will heed your advice. Hubby is a great support!

  5. Wow, that fabric is amazing! I'm sewing with sequins later in the year, I'm bookmarking your post.


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