Monday, April 11, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Right now, we're into the swing of spring and I feel the need to surround myself with flowers. In the neighborhood all kinds of trees and bushes are in bloom - the bright yellow forsythia bushes, the various pinks and whites of the magnolia blossoms, and the ubiquitous cherry blossoms that the DC area is known for. There are some other trees around here that are blooming but I don't know what they are. Our magnolia is a magnolia grandiflora that doesn't have blossoms that frequently, so I decided to buy my own flowers. Normally I'd go for tulips at this time of year, but I saw these roses at the Safeway and had to get them. For me, buying roses is kind of hit-or-miss. Sometimes they look gorgeous but have no smell. Other times they smell lovely but the flowers aren't in the best condition. I lucked out with these Attaché roses - a really lovely hot pink color and a smell that is so delicious that I have to smell them every time I see them. This is important to me, because what's the point of having roses that don't smell??? I even moved them from the kitchen into the bedroom so they are next to my bed and I can see and smell them as soon as I wake up.

The roses aren't the only pink that's showing up in this house. I'm under the gun when it comes to projects that I'm working on right now, including a dress to wear to Scott's graduation in May and a dress for Gwyneth to wear to the graduation, as well. My dress will be the Chantilly dress by Colette Patterns, made up in a black eyelet and lined with hot pink silk. I'm not sure what made me think that this color combo would be good, since I'm really not a pink person and I sometimes feel like pink and black is too cutesie, but I think that the ratio of black to pink will make up for it.
Update: I started writing this post at the end of April and then never got around to finishing it. So here we are, it's September and I finally have a moment to talk about the dresses. I ended up making 3 dresses in all - the Chantilly for me, plus the #12 dress from the 2/2005 issue of Ottobre for Gwyn and its big sister version for Maeve. I can't remember what the pattern number is. Anyway, Gwyneth asked me for a dress that was made from the same fabric as mine, but at almost $20/yd for the black eyelet and somewhere around $12/yd for the fuchsia China silk lining/underlining, I wasn't about to do that. We compromised and made the dress from a polka-dot poplin with the same colors. This dress is super simple and fast to make. To dress it up I added a piece of Farbenmix Miss Ling ribbon in the grey colorway on the back.
Gwyn was cool during the hot ceremony and the craziness afterward, despite the dark color of the dress. She really liked it, and got lots of compliments on it. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of Maeve's dress right now - somehow we managed to miss getting a photo of her in it. Anyway, the only difference is that the bodice is more of an empire bodice and it's gathered, unlike the version I made for Gwyn. In spite of all my urgings for her to go with a black/white cross-dyed linen, she wanted something pink - light pink. Lucky for me I had some pink linen in my stash, left over from a mother-daughter project that my mom never did for me and her. A little black and pink ribbon at the empire seam made it simple but special. I'll post a picture of it next time.

My iteration of the Chantilly dress required a great deal of handwork - because the eyelet is naturally in need of an underlining, I had to baste many of the silk pieces to their corresponding eyelet ones by hand so that I could then treat them as a single piece. It also required a great deal of pinning to make sure that the pieces lined up exactly.

You can see from these photos how it looked before I put the dress together. I used a contrast thread so that I'd be able to see it and used very small stitches in order to make sure that the pieces laid flat and worked as one. The bodice was lined in the same silk that I used for the underlining. While I underlined the bodice, the skirt is not - I sewed them separately, as skirt and lining, since I felt that it would be too heavy if I sewed them as one, and I wanted more movement, and because I didn't want the seams to show on the skirt, I used French seams on the pink silk, with the seam allowances toward the interior (does that make sense?) so that you can't see them. As for the eyelet, I serged the seams against any possible fraying; then for the hem I sewed fine, soft black netting all the way around, then pressed the hem up on that seam line and sewed again, trimming close to the edge, so that the hem was lightweight but the seam allowance was enclosed. You can't even tell that the netting is there. The pink silk has a simple narrow hem. In all, I think the extra work was worth it and I got tons of compliments on this dress both times I wore it - for an honors dinner when Scott and some classmates were inducted into the medical honor society, and for graduation.

Fit-wise, I really like this dress because it doesn't require me to do a lot of adjusting for my figure. The fullness in the bust accommodates my large bust so that I don't have to do a Full Bust Adjustment, which I love, and the fitted waist is great for my smaller waist. And, of course, the fuller skirt works well for my full hips. The only adjustment I made to this was to shorten the skirt by 2 inches, and that was due to a mistake in my cutting layout and the way I got the fabric. I was unable to get continuous yardage of the eyelet; it came in 2 pieces, so I kind of had to make up the layout as I went. I thought I did it right, but clearly not, because it was just a hair off. Shortening the skirt made it all fit, and since I'm short, it made no real difference. The first time I made the Chantilly (I'll blog about that another time, I promise!) I made it up in a size 18 but found it to be too large. This version was a 16 and it fit much better, particularly under the arms and the yoke.

The best part of the fit on this dress? It shows off my tattoo on my back.See? It frames the tattoo perfectly. Of course, I went all out with the styling and accessories - hot pink 5-inch high patent sling-backs and a large hot pink silk rose in my hair. How could I not? If you're going to do the retro look, you might as well go all the way, right?

I'm going to try to get caught up on my posts about the things that have gotten sewn lately. Now that the move is done and we're well-ensconced in Washington, I can breathe for a moment. More to come!

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