Monday, April 30, 2012

The Journey through childhood....

It is inevitable--it will come. Socials, cotillion, Debutane balls and graduation. It is the same rite of passage that mothers and daughters have made for years  and now it is time for Fiona and I to cross the threshold as she leaves middle school. She will be entering the IB program this fall. If the program suits her needs she will remain in that high school--if not she will go to our local community college. Admittedly, I am not thrilled with the thought of having my 13 yr old daughter sitting in a class with a 18+yr old person but it is far better than her wasting her time in the local high schools plus it will allow her to bring her fine arts studies in house and our local colleges both are Steinway colleges which will offer her an amazing programs in all of her areas of interest. But first, we must cross the bridge of the spring social and graduation. I have loved the magnet program she has been a part of for the past 3 years and the kids have all bonded and become a force to be dealt with carefully. Why the admin team made the incredibly stupid decision to price the spring social at $15 per couple and $10 per single I don't know but they did. Being my daughter and knowing that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree my wonderous musician daughter and one of her musician friends decided that they didn't like that price inequality one bit. They don't date but what is there to stop them from going as each other's date and taking advantage of the special price? Why not a thing they decided so they are going as each other's date for the special discount rate of $7.50 each. HHHMMM--not sure what the Admin will do about this but they set themselves up for it far be it from me to interfere with the natural law of nature when it comes to their stupidity and challenging these kids. 
SO--next obvious step would be THE dress. Fiona knew exactly what she wanted and it was NOT in this color. Pink is no longer her color of choice but she wanted something very similar. She wanted the dress that Hermoine wore to the Yule Ball in Harry Potter

But she wanted the neckline up higher, more than just spaghetti straps and the back up higher. The girls had to be safe and nothing could fall down. Ok--yep--sure I can do that. 
Off we went to find fabric--which we found in a lovely teal color with a lighter blue and a teal overlay (two separate colors of overlay) 
Now the fun begins. 
FIrst you need the right tools--my cuppa Chai, handy dandy calculator, pencil and measurements. 
Taking those measurements was eye opening--I will admit--I keep thinking of her as my little girl. The one that went off to kinder every day with her hat, purse, beaded socks that all matched her outfit. She was the only kid allowed to break the "no hats" rule because she always accessorized her outfits and had since she was the ripe old age of 1 yr old (thank you Dr. Hirsch). Those measurements quickly told me that she was no longer a little girl but yes, a young lady. Yikes! How did that happen! So the plan was to make a square yoke bodice with a back zipper and T-straps. Then add a 6 gore skirt that is layered (to be able to add on the overlays-5-6 of them). Next was to draft that pattern--oh what fun that was.  
Now one can't do work without a great assistant and I certainly have my share of them. From Ziggy the cat who follows me around to Pumpkin my African Leopard Tortoise. I got Pumpkin two years ago as a hatchling. He was the size of a quarter--now he gets to roam the house a bit now and then when we can keep an eye on him. Our one yr old kitten, Athena LOVES him. She cuddles up to him every chance she gets. It is never dull around here. Pumpkin loves hanging out when I'm sewing though as he gets to look out the windows and see the world--I have always wondered what goes through his mind.

He does love the window though and I love having him around. He will grow to be around 100 lbs and the kids are already fighting over who will get him as he has a life span of around 100 years:) 
Back to the dress--first up was drafting the pattern and putting it onto the muslin. I would loved to have had musician daughter as the model but she was at Disney for a band competition all day Saturday and since she left at 5am I was left with my other fave model--Matilda.
Fiona thought it was pretty cool that I could set Matilda up to be her. The only draw back was that Matilda's headlights were not in the same spots as Fiona's but that is a minor issue--we can make adjustments for that:) 
Next up--that muslin. 
I chose a square yoke for the top and added in a bodice--drafted it to her measurements and put it together. I wasn't sure if I would need to add a midriff to it or not--she is rather long waisted. 

I put it together and being the wonderful model that she is Matilda modeled it for me. The bodice didn't come down to the waist like I wanted. I was going to add on a 6 gored skirt with overlays that would give room in the hips and would have one gore down the front--so this just wouldn't work--needed to add in a midriff. Which as it turned out--worked great as it was just the extra length needed for the zipper too. 

Now this is the look she wanted--looks a bit on the vintage side?
It sure doesn't look like much right now does it? The dream is in the head and on the paper--this is just the basics.  Ok we've got the top part now to make the bottom gown part work with the skirt and overlays.

 The straps were made wider and angled to stay on better. Side zipper changed to a back zipper. 

The skirt is a 6 gored skirt--the front gore is one continuous gore as the center gore for part of it does not have an overlay. At the bottom it does. The gores I cut into 5 parts, added seams and pieced them so that I could add the overlay into the horizontal seams as well as get the flare of the gore in the skirt. The overlay is not a ruffle it actually drapes very smoothly. I am using sewer paper ( sewer as in plumbing sewers--I have found it is great for many uses and way cheaper than muslin for doing mock ups) to see how this drapes. 

The overlays are shorter in the front and longer in the back, slightly gathered but not ruffled. Getting that vintage vibe again?

I"m not sure what Matilda is thinking about this dress at this point--have to admit if you don't have the "vision" of what it will be it is looking a bit strange:) Here is the second overlay--there is a total of 5. We decided that 6 would be too long and too much. Again --shorter in front and longer in back. Sewn into the horizontal seam of the pieced back 5 gores. In the overlay fabric, which drapes much softer, the overlay will hang softer across the front of the front gore and not look so stiff. This is all that can be done for the night so--once I have musician daughter's approval on the muslin then we can begin. We will check the fit with the muslin and then---take it apart and start with the fabric. 

The scariest part of creating is the first few cuts. Especially when you only have a certain amount of yards and there is no more --thanks JA-you can always be counted on for great things (insert extreme sarcasm here). But I will say--we did price the original dress online without our modifications and in costume quality is was over $200--dress quality was over $1000. So I'm thinking that our cost of $60 including the supplies for the hat, purse, shoes and the dress plus tax (did I mention we belong to OA--Overachiever's Anonymous)was fabulous. The color is a teal  blue for the dark base color and one overlay. The other overlay is a very light blue. She chose to keep the sleeves like the original dress--even though it was very "princessy". SO--hold the tongue just so, fingers all crossed, toes crossed, breathe held and start cutting, sewing and praying.  One thing we did find is that musician daughter's muscles in her shoulder area are different---from playing her instruments--one side is more developed than the other so I had to make adjustments for that which may make it look a bit lopsided on Matilda but it works great on musician daughter. 

And so this is where we ended our weekend on Sunday night--3 days of work and we have a completed bodice with sleeves (made in the overlay fabric) ready to have the zipper inserted in the back. The bodice is completely lined and it actually fits beautifully. Wonders of all wonders--how did that ever happen? Monday will be zipper insertion day:) By hand because a dress like this can not have any machine stitching on the outside. Go ahead--call me crazy but if you're going to make the journey might as well make it one really awesome one where you slide into home base, battered, bruised with welts on your backside and raspberries on your head. Besides--there aren't many things I can do for my little girl anymore--I can't hold her in my arms and rock her, I can't cuddle her in bed and read, I can't lay on a blanket and watch the cloud animals but I can make her dream dress and make it a dream I shall:)