Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tutorial: Satin'N'Lace Corset Back Dress Part 2

The Satin'N'Lace Dress is complete! We went to the wedding last night, amid torrential downpours of rain as Irene made her way toward us. I must say, today might be windy, but yesterday was the crazy rain, at least where we were. I'm pretty happy with how this dress turned out, although it was a bit of a rush between the storm and being in the middle of passing the monster kidney's a slow moving one and still seems to only be halfway passed. Ugh. But, on this stormy day, I have plenty of time to post the tutorial for the rest of the dress! Here's Part 2.
When we left off, the boning was done, but our lace was still not sewn down. We start Part 2 by pinning and sewing the lace along the seams. I did not want to do this, but the way the material pulled, it would have looked quite wonky. I think it would work for a much smaller bust. Next time, I will either get a lace with more stretch, or sew the panels with the lace to begin with. Lesson learned!
The lace is sewn down, so next, you can tweak with the neckline a little bit.
I put little pleats along the neckline of my bodice, and will actually have to go back and add some much bigger ones...more on that later. This helped to make my neckline lay more flat against my chest.
This is how mine ended up. You can add yours to shape to your body. 
Next, we will cut our skirt piece. I wanted my skirt to be straight, with some small pleats, so I measured around the largest part of my midsection, while sitting, to make it comfortable, and added an inch or two for even more give. I measured the length and cut a single panel rectangle skirt with those dimensions. You can play around with different cut and shapes depending on the silhouette that you want.
Next, fold over and zig-zag stitch (if you have stretch like me) your hem. Do this first so your lace can be cut to hang just past the hem. 
Next comes a fiddly part...I wanted to have the trim of the lace hanging just past my hem, rather than sewing it down and hemming. Take some time and pin your lace on a flat surface all the way around before cutting the lace. That way, if there are mistakes, you won't have wasted all that lace. Once that's done, cut the lace and sew with a small zig-zag stitch so your edges are sewn together and are all set for frays in one step.
Now we can finally put the bodice and skirt together. Pin your piece right sides together along the bottom bodice and top skirt hems. I did easy gather on mine by pinning evenly (I just pulled the fabric up and eye-balled middles..I was in a hurry, but I'm sure you could be more precise if you had time), then sewing.
I used my index finger to check and make sure they were the same size. Again, someone might be able to show you how to do these with more precision, but I tend to work on the fly.
I started on the edge and sewed to the center. 
Then I switched sides and did the same to the center again. I wasn't sure if this would turn out slightly pleated looking, so I wanted everything to lay evenly.   
Now we have a big flat dress. We're going to sew the skirt pieces together, right sides together, to ALMOST the waist...this way the dress can slip over your head and then lace up tight.
I wanted a modesty panel, so I cut a strip of fabric about 3 inches wide and the length of my open seam, tapered at the bottom. Zig-zag around the edges and hem the top.
Pin the panel to the open edges of the back of the dress, right sides together, to close the dress.
It should look like this when you finish.
Now it is time to put in the eyelets. We're going to start by measuring down the back seams of your bodice on the inside of the dress and marking at each inch with a fabric pencil.
Here's how to install the eyelets the cheap way, without the expensive kit. I bought the cheapy kit and you can install them with a hammer. Once your spots are marked, snip a small hole in your fabric with a pair of scissors. 
Slip the eyelet through the hole, right side of the fabric first. The smooth part of your eyelet should be on the right side of the fabric. The kit comes with a two-piece tool. The small piece is placed on the table (make sure there is something sturdy underneath so you don't ruin your table). The smooth part of the eyelet is placed on top in the circular groove.
The large part of the tool is place on top, the groove lining up with the rough side of the eyelet. Hold it steady, and give it a few good, strong, even hits with the hammer. There are splits in the eyelet, which will curl down and secure in the fabric. It may take a few to make sure the eyelet is smooth and won't scratch your skin.
When you're done, the wrong side will look like this....
And the right side will look like this.
Oh, look! It's daytime! Hehehe. Here's the finished pretty!
Lace up your string, or whatever your call this, and then we need to fray-check the ends. You can buy fray-check glue, or use the heat seal method I did. It doesn't look as pretty, but it dries almost immediately.
(Like my pink star PJs??) Light a candle and carefully hold the frayed ends above the flame. You do not want to catch the frays on fire, just use the heat to make the ends melt a little bit.
...which looks like this.
Gently pinch the melted bits together to create a seal. And you're done! Looks a little burned, but I don't mind. I had a wedding to get to! You can also tie a knot in the end when you're done so the strings don't slip back through the eyelets, but I didn't.  
Now for photos! These are post-wedding, at about 1am...the photos at the wedding just didn't have great lighting.  
One thing I need to fix is the neckline. I didn't like the boning, it got uncomfortable at the end of the night (very pokey! Can you see the one in the picture? Sigh.). My neckline was just too loose, so I had to cinch the dress up really tight so I didn't end up exposing myself in front of my boyfriend's family. In future, I will put more pleats in the neckline so it is much tighter, without losing the waist and whatnot. And so I can wear it the right way, like this!
Instead of like this! 
Not as pretty. :( 
I also made a quick and easy headband by cutting a strip of fabric, hemming the sides and hand sewing this line of sparkly awesomeness. Then I tied it around my head and voila!
I love the back!
There's Little Kitty getting the photo shoot!
I really loved this dress, and hope to make the little tweaks and wear it again. It made me feel so pretty and I was really proud that I made it myself. I'd been looking for a pretty grey/silver dress for a while but they are always so expensive! I made this dress for just under $50, and still have fabric left over. What do you think? Will you give this design a try?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tutorial: My Satin'N'Lace Corset Dress Part 1

I've been having fun making dresses now that I have a bodice block. My latest project is a lace overlay dress for a wedding we are going to next weekend. It will have boning and a lace-up back. This tutorial requires a bodice block, which you can make following the instructions here. It takes some time, but is totally worth it.

You will need: (part 1, part 2)
bodice block, cut to form
stretch satin in color of your choice
lace in color of your choice
matching thread
corset boning (I chose the most heavy duty Joann's had)
eyelet kit with tool (also called grommets)
corset threading
adornment (I chose a sew-on sparkly trim)
cat for moral support (optional)

I made my bodice block several weeks ago. From this, you can make a pattern for your top. Just get separate paper and trace a new block with a neckline you'd like. I chose a strapless sweetheart neckline.

It turned out like this.

Cut out your satin on the fold so you have both right and left sides.

Pin the darts together, right sides together and sew.  

I used a straight stitch for my vertical seams and zig-zag for any horizontal seams, because my material stretches horizontally, but not vertically. Yours may be different, so check before you sew. The straight stitches won't allow your material to stretch and move the way it was intended to.

Sew your right and left sides together. When you're done, your bodice should look like this.

Serge or zig-zag the edges of your bodice. I zig-zagged since I don't have a serger yet...the trick I've found is to sew, then pull lightly on the edges and clip off any leftover threads. The zig-zag will save the fabric from a lot of fraying, but you'll need to cut it close and be vigilant about strays.

Cut out your lace, and repeat the pinning and sewing of the darts. I don't have pictures of these steps, but it's the same as above. Lay the finished lace bodice over the satin and line up the seams (you could also sew each panel together separately, then assemble the bodice, but I wanted to minimize the appearance of seams on the lace later'll see what I mean in a bit.) Fold the satin and lace neckline over once (like a hem) and sew. Now your lace is attached to the neckline, but not the sides or bottom.

Lift your lace away from the satin and turn to the wrong side of the satin.

Next, cut your boning to fit the length of each seam. I came into some trouble because I ended up lowering the neckline and messed up my measurements, so make sure your neckline is set first. That is why the lace is not attached yet in this photo. 

Cut strips of satin slightly longer than the length and slightly more than twice the width of your boning. Pin right sides together lengthwise and sew.

Zig-zag the seam and trim loose threads.

Sew the bottom of one end, leaving an open end to insert the boning. Insert the boning and close that end in the same way.

Pin your boning case along the seams, centered over the seam itself. This took a lot of time and fiddling, but the end result is worth the care. 

Sew your boning case along each long side.

You can see not all of my boning cases meet the waist...not sure if I will add or take away to make this even...we'll see. Yours will be perfect though. ;)

And here is where we are at the end of Part 1. Next, we will sew the lace down and add the corset back. Until then, happy sewing!