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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Butterick 5209 Redeux - Emerald City

I'm pretty sad that I've not had much time to spend in the sewing room these past couple of months and the time that I have spent there has been focused on finishing up gifts for others (more posts on those this week as they get passed out to the recipients) or working on special occasion dresses. Let's just say I'm ready to start focusing on some work and play separates for ME! You know, after a few baby gifts get sewn up first. :/

Anyways, we had a family wedding to attend on May 1st and I really wanted to do a short version of the purple ballgown that I made in March. For some reason silk dupioni was stuck in my head as the fabric of choice this time around and I found a beautiful rich emerald/teal silk at Mood. It looks super teal in all of these pics, but it's actually much more emerald in person. The lining fabrics left a bit to be desired, but I finally settled for a gray/green china silk which worked out okay.

With all of the workouts and rehearsals for the dvd shoot, I was pretty zonked and kept putting off working on the dress for more than fits and spurts. By the time the 26th rolled around though, it became apparent that I *really* needed to get the show on the road if I expected to have a dress for the wedding. Whoops.

I was fairly apprehensive sewing the bodice again after all of the headaches I had the first time around. But amazingly, the bodice went together like a dream this time. I was thrilled! The only change I made was to trim about an inch total off the width of the bodice (1/4 inch per side seam) to accomodate my shrinking body and it fit like a glove. In fact, the bust area looked even better than it did with the purple dress - and in a fabric that was much more stiff. Who knew?!

I finished the outside of bodice on Tuesday night and was feeling incredibly confident about the rest of the dress going together quickly. Friday, you know, the DAY before the wedding, was my day to finish the rest of the dress. The bodice lining went in very well and I had what my facebook friends were calling a "tankini" by lunchtime. Which just left me to attach the skirt, add a zipper and a hem and it would be done! This is where the wheels started to come off.

No matter what I did to the gathering of the skirt, the fabric just would not hang right. I looked 6 months pregnant, which would be fine if I was, but after having just lost 15lbs, I wanted to show off the hard work, not hide it under a tent. :/ I must have attached, ripped out, recut and then reattached that dang skirt a half-dozen times. I tried fewer gathers, I tired pleats, but nothing was working. The fabric just had too much body to lay flat when any sort of gathers or pleats or whatnot were added. By 8:30 at night, I was at the end of my rope. In a fit of madness, I ripped out my favorite straight skirt pattern (McCall's 3830) and used the hipcurve to make the gathered a-line skirt into one that was fitted through the hips with a slight a-line flare at the bottom. It still wasn't perfect, but with some tweaks here and there along the waistline it started looking, dare I say it, quite cute. At the very least, it didn't make me look pregnant and was something that I would wear out of the house, as opposed to the previous incarnations of the skirt.

By that point, I just needed to get it done because I had no back-up plan and really needed something to wear the next day. I got the zipper in with no problems, hemmed the lining and left all of the hand work (blind hem and attaching the lining to the zipper) until the next morning.

Here is the front of the dress. See, it looks pretty good, right? I love the color and I love the way the bodice fits. Much better than the purple dress in my opinion.

I'm absolutely loathe to show you this picture, though. See those lines/bunched fabric around my lower back? Yeah, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get rid of them, so I fixed it as best I could and then called it a night. See anything missing?

Um, I DIDN'T ADD ANY DARTS!! For the love of all that is holy, how did I forget that you have to have DARTS in a fitted skirt?! It dawned on me Saturday morning as I was driving back from the gym that the lack of darts was causing all of the issues around the low back and bum area. I obviously didn't need darts when the skirt was a simple drindl, but as soon as I switched gears, I needed to re-engineer the whole thing. Which, I obviously didn't do. I'm still beating myself up over it, almost 2 weeks later.

My problem now is that I was hoping to use this dress over the summer for work events with my husband. What I really need to do is cut a new back piece, but I'm worried about picking everything out, especially since dupioni shreds like crazy. Thoughts? Should I just suck it up and fix it or leave well enough alone?

Even though this wasn't exactly the dress I set out to make, I'm still fairly happy with the overall product. In retrospect, the fitted skirt is more versatile for work events and is still fun without looking like a bridesmaid dress.


One last funny story about this dress. We're all at the wedding have a grand 'ol time at the reception. I'm standing with Jim and his immediate family, a good song comes on and we all start dancing and bumpin' booties. Fun times, except that my father-in-law (FIL) and I bumped into my brother-in-law (BIL), who was holding a full glass of red wine... that proceeded to spill all down the back of my dress and into my shoe.

We all just froze with shocked looks on our faces.

My MIL and BIL's girlfriend jumped into action, hustled me into bathroom and started dabbing at everything with wet paper towels. They questioned the use of soap, but I waved it off saying that we should just get as much of the wine out as possible and then let the cleaners do what they could to remove the stain. My poor MIL had to get more up close and personal with my backside than she ever wished to. The quote of the night, from my MIL "Just pretend I'm your mother sweetie" before she stuck her hand and arm up the back of my dress to wring out the wine. God Bless that woman. :)

I think all of us had written off the dress as a goner, but we got back to the reception and the party continued. About 20 minutes later, BIL's girlfriend runs up to me and says "Look at you dress!!"

Folks, the fabric had dried and you couldn't see a damn thing! Silk dupioni is like magic fabric or something. If you don't believe me, take a look. Can you see anything?

So, the moral of the story, don't dance around full glasses of red wine and always make sure your special occasion dresses are in deep colored silk dupioni. :D


  1. Fantastic dress, love the color! And stain resistant, too? Wow, you are amazing!

  2. Really gorgeous dress, Amber. I can't believe how many projects you've tackled in such a short time!

  3. Impressive as usual! Your MIL is funny. Glad the dress was saved.

  4. yay for tankini+skirt! and that red wine story is amazing.

  5. its a stunning dress, glad it's going to live to see another day! I don't think it's a big deal, but is it possible to just pinch out some darts in the back - like fisheye (double ended) darts so you don't have to unpick anything?

  6. Your dress is gorgeous!
    I think Allison C is right, you might be able to pinch out some darts without cutting a whole new back and taking the dress apart. Check out this blog entry from Claire Kennedy where she does just that in a little video on a shirt she has made.

  7. That is gorgeous!! The color and shape are perfect on you. I agree with the above comments to pinch out some contour darts and call it a day.

  8. That's a great color on you! And you looked great despite the lack of darts. (What are those, anyway?) Glad the red wine didn't stain at all - that's pretty amazing! :)

  9. You look really cute! Great job, once again. I don't know what dart is so...whatever. Looks great anyway...and stain-free!

  10. the tankini turned out beautifully ;)

    your MIL is awesome. ha! and haha, yeah - darts would've been good, but don't beat yourself up. the dress is gorgeous!

  11. You look amazing in that- the color is so lovely on you. Hot halter dress is definitely the way to show off the new killer bod too!

  12. I am so impressed with the way that you managed to turn a near disaster into this truly fabulous dress. (I'm sure that I would have just had a hissy fit and given up). You look wonderful - the colour and style of this dress really suit you.

  13. impressed, as usual! and love that color. you should wear it all the time. :D

  14. Beautiful dress and story. Glad the wine didn't leave a stain. Looks like almost the same color I wore to a wedding on the 1st of May. Silk too.

  15. Ha - so cray that you forgot to sew the back darts! Woops!

  16. Emerald City dress with power stain releasing agent built in!!! lol Glad you were able to get the stain out of the beautiful dress. You look great in it and I am sure the comopliments were aplenty.

  17. I just did a search for examples of this dress made up and not only did I find yours (as one of the best) it also led me to your lovely blog. Glad that I found you... Im off to read more! :-)