The “Better late than never” dress | Adey Lim
Fabric: Scallop edge silver/bronze satin 3 metres $26, poly lining $3 from chinatown
Patterns: Simplicity 4826 and McCall's 4883
Year: c. 1950s/ 1960s
Notions: Invisible zipper, white satin bias tape, interfacing $1
Time to complete: Too long! Approximately 19 hours…
First worn: Not yet
Wear again? Hopefully, after all that effort tweaking it.
Total Cost: ~$30
It was my cousin Lorance and his wife Ivie's wedding last Saturday and I had originally planned to sew this dress to wear for the occasion.
At the start, I had envisioned the smocked bodice with view B skirt of the McCall's pattern but just before cutting the fabric, I thought it would be a waste not to sew a view A full skirt given that the fabric has a nice scallop edge and I had 3 meters of it. I should have stuck by my original idea. I finished the dress on Friday in time for the wedding. The fit turned out horribly, the midriff satin band was too long and reflective, making it unflattering and the full skirt made me look like I was expecting. All that after something like 13 hours of smocking and sewing. I hated the dress period. Here's a snapshot of it. Yikes! I'm sparing you from the look on my face.
I knew it was too late for me to make any changes as the kids were back home from school. The dress won't make it to Saturday's luncheon. Reluctantly I decided to let go, relax and work on it again on Monday morning. Subconsciously, I was very much aware that my project post would be up Tuesday. Oh gosh! To cut the long story short, after hours of massive seam ripper action through the zipper, skirt and midriff band, I shorten the band, re-cut the skirt and lining pieces using the view B pattern and sewed everything together again. At least now I have a dress I would wear, only with no occasion to wear it to. Well, better late than never.
I have always been intrigued with smocking and thought satin would be a good fabric to try it on. Indeed, as it turned out, I love how they looked on the front bodice of the dress.
This is the first time I've tried smocking and all by following the instructions in the vintage Simplicity pattern. I was surprised that the dot transfer paper still worked after 50 years! However, while the transferred dots were very clear on a piece of linen scrap, it disappeared rather quickly on satin. I had to manually dot them repeatedly using erasable fabric marker. The smocking process was a little time consuming but I found it pretty fulfilling. The neckline was finished with front and back facings followed by bias tape, most probably to complete the look of the smocking or to 'hold' them together. I love that even the shoulder pleats blended nicely with the smocking.
However, this satin fabric is truly not an easy fabric to cut, sew and unpick. It is my first time sewing with satin and I gasped as I felt my nails scratching it accidentally and was relief it didn't cause too much damage. It really had to be treated with care and I had to dedicate more time for each process.
I have an intense weakness for scallop edges and border print fabrics. I can't say no to them. With the smocking details on the front bodice, I kept the rest of the dress clean and positioned the scallop edges for the sleeves and hem. On hindsight, I think I persisted in making this dress work because it's a scallop edge fabric for goodness sake and I wasn't gonna give up on that precious hand stitched smocking :) My lil princess was home when I took these photos and gave me a paper flower from her art & craft lesson in school. Perfect color with the dress I think :)