I have been holding this one off and even as I write this I know I won't be posting until tomorrow. This year my work did a Secret Santa and I got my good work friend Shiela in it. Tomorrow (as I type this) the presents will finally be shared around.
I decided that the challenge of making a dress for Shiela would not be to hard given the time and budget, it doesn't hurt that as a personal trainer she is fit and has a figure you could hang a sack off and it would look great. Having said that the project did not go without some detective work.
Firstly I had to ascertain her favourite colours. By deviously questioning her on her outfit one day and her thoughts on the colour pink she told me her favourite colours were yellow and blue. I went on a trip to Cabramatta where all great fabrics are hiding and managed to pick up a Japanese polyester crepe for $6/m. It wasn't blue and yellow but rather a pastel stripe that had blue and yellow in it but I fell in love with it so close enough right.
Secondly I had to select a pattern. I had originally thought of going with a 50's style but having found the fabric I knew it was going to have to be more a 70's style dress - which probably was a safer bet as lately Shiela has been right into the Maxi dress. I remembered a pattern I had at home. I had bought it way back in 2006 as a possible "leaving outfit" for my wedding but got to busy to make anything. It had been sitting around unmade for years as I realised when I had gone to make it that the open back and drappy nature of the style would certainly clash with my large bust and requirement to wear a bra at all times to restrain the girls.
Lastly, and this was my most devious trick of all I had to find out what size to make. I casually asked her if she would wear a dress I had made once but never fit into (see the perfect dress) and brought it in for her to try on. Lucky for me it was a perfect fit AND had a hole in the side. I brought it home and put it on Mavis, twisting her dials until I had it fitting her. I now had sheila's size based on the measurements of Mavis. Crafty little cat I thought as I began to cut out the pieces of the dress.
As you can see in the picture below the material has a stripe to it, a very very obvious and multicoloured one. So I painstakingly lined up the pieces on the fabric so that these would match then cut. Now here is where you learn that I am used to working with one sided fabric. When sewing together I made the skirt pieces and then the bodice in it's entirety.... clipped i seams and all - only to discover that I had flipped my top pieces. Being late at night I instantly went into meltdown and decided that as I had already cut in there was no going back. I was half way round joining skirt to bodice when I realised I could just swap the skirt pieces. I put it aside to finish the next night realising my brain was beyond thought when it had taken me that long to work out that simple a solution.
So unpicking occurred and the dress was completed well in time frame with the lines neatly matched up, which I am sure you understand gives a much more professional finish. And the line ups were my only mistake... well that and sewing a button hole for the belt to go through onto the bodice back through 4 layers of material.... lesson learnt, unpicking buttonholes is the suckyest of all unpicking.
As a side note the whole thing is lined in cotton (white) that is part of the stash for just that reason... sometimes you just have to line things.
So the update is now in - Shiela has the dress and really likes it - however she has noted that she would like the back to be split as her natural stride reaches the limit on this one. I have promised to make the amendment.... yes more unpicking.