Archive | October, 2012

Finished object: the skull and roses dress

11 Oct

My skull and roses dress makes me happy. It brings together three of my favourite loves – 1950s style dresses, rock and roll dancing, and a little bit of subversion! And it is associated with so many happy memories!

Miss La Belle and I both got dolled up in 1950s style for the ball – except Miss La Belle set and styled her own hair and I got mine done! None of the photos show very well the victory rolls I had though, disappointingly

I started learning rock and roll dancing in June 2011 with Feet with Heat, and in September was the annual ball and show. Ooh how I wanted a fancy dress to wear! I wanted to turn up to that party looking as hot as I possibly could.

So I did what all women in such situations do – I agonised over decisions with my dear friend, MrsC of The Hectic Eclectic. We settled quickly on a great pattern, and then MrsC enabled my print addiction introduced me to eQuilter, a fabulous site for craft cottons in amazing prints. After emailing options to each other, I eventually ended up surfing the site with her on her couch before buying four different subversive and funky prints to choose from when they arrived. (For what it’s worth, I have never had any problems making beautifully handling dresses from craft cottons.)

While I anxiously waited for my fabric to arrive, I made a mock-up of the bodice. MrsC, being both a dear friend and my colleague (before she quit to open a craft haven) pinned me into it in the ladies’ room at the office. I went through three versions of the bodice before I was happy. At the time we were under the opinion that I am quite broad across the back so MrsC suggested cutting the back one size larger than the front. But I ended up having the make the back significantly narrower and move the strap placement a lot further towards centre back, as well as deepening the front darts to increase the fit under the bust. Thank goodness for mock-ups! (We’re now contemplating the opinion that I am regular through the back but broad through the shoulders. I have to figure out properly how this impacts my fitting.)

Fuzzy, grainy, low-light picture of me and the dress in action at the ball. The polka dots on the edge are Miss La Belle also getting some dance floor time.

Finally the fabric arrived from its long and arduous trip across the globe. On the Monday before the Saturday night ball. EEEEK! There was no way to get it made. For a start, I’m not a very competent sewer (yet) so tend to take my time. Secondly, I had several nights of classes that week to make sure I was as dance-fit as possible for my first night out social dancing. I didn’t want to give up the dance classes to make a dress to wear to the event that the dance classes were for! So I settled on my back-up plan, a regular dress out of my wardrobe.

But I have EXCELLENT taste in friends! MrsC, upon seeing my dilemma, did the most awesomest thing in the whole world. She offered to make the dress for me! She took the fabric home on Monday night, along with my carefully re-drafted pattern, and came back in the following day with a bodice. We had to make some additional tweaks to the darts, but the overall placement and height was right so that was not a big deal. Finally, on Friday, a mostly-complete dress came to work. All I had to do was put in the invisible zip into the side seam (MrsC not being a fan of them) , finish the shoulder seams and the contrast band with a bit of slip stitching, tack the bodice lining down, and hem the sucker. So I got to work on Friday night and worked solidly through Saturday. At 2pm I was pressing the last of it, just in time to race into town for my vintage hair-up appointment. (I have yet to master the art of victory rolls or other snazzy looks!)

I made it to the hair appointment just on time, got back home with just enough time to meet up with the lovely Miss La Belle and slap on my makeup and false eyelashes, pull on my petticoat (another MrsC wonder), and arrive at the ball fashionably late – just in time for dinner to be served.

Cropped from another terrible photo of the dozen of us still going at 1am when the venue tossed us out. It’s a terrible photo but look! I have a cleavage!

The dress performed amazingly well that night, fitting me perfectly and comfortably and most importantly swirling wonderfully! I love that it gave me a subtle improvement in my normally lacklustre cleavage! And I especially love that several people had to do a double take when they realised that there were cute wee skulls and crossbones peeking out from behind the roses. Hehe.

From the retro cheesecake pin-up shoot, used courtesy Toya of Digitalpix

Unfortunately I have very few photos from the ball, and as you can tell, none of them are very good! But there are plenty of it in action at my first rock and roll competition. But I was lucky enough to be invited by another dear friend, Sadie von Scrumptious of Ever So Scrumptious to participate in a retro-kitchen-cheesecake-pin-up photo session early this year, along with the amazing Miss La Belle and the fabulous Winnie Chester, with pictures taken by the extraordinary Toya of Digitalpix. As explained, I have a history of avoiding cameras, so I decided last year to take that on by getting as many pictures taken of me as I can, and learning to like them. I’m succeeding in getting more photos of me taken, but only slowly progressing towards liking them. A natural model I am not! But it was wonderful fun and I am so grateful to this fabulous collection of women to have them in my life and to get to participate in this day and have these pictures to commemorate.

Cheeky! It’s amazing what mischief one gets up to with Miss La Belle’s encouraging voice in the background! Image used courtesy Digitalpix

Vital statistics…

Vogue 2902

Pattern: Vogue 2902
Year:2006
Fabric: Alesander Henry craft cotton from eQuilter – bought especially for this project and used straight away, shock horror!
Notions: invisible zip
Made: September 2011
Techniques used: inserting an invisible zip into a side seam
Time to complete: for me, not much. Thanks MrsC! Even so, there’d be a few hours in the mock-ups and the hem. So much hem.
What I learned: I have awesome friends. I still don’t know how my back and shoulders affect fit. The internet is great when it comes to things like putting an invisible zip into a side seam. How to put an invisible zip into a side seam.
Wearable? It was my go to dress for rock and roll events, until this year’s ball and this year’s dress. I haven’t figured out how to wear it socially/casually without feeling a bit weird. I intend to fix this.
Likeability: Love it. Love it.
Unsolicited comments: frequently. And I won best dressed at a dancing competition in it too!

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