Monday, June 13, 2011

Turquoise Satin Dress - Vogue 8556

For Jeff & Jen's wedding, my husband was best man, so I decided I wanted to make a fancy dress that would look good next to his tux.  I bought this pattern a few months ago during the Vogue pattern sale, and I was never really sure what I wanted to do with it.  I don't remember exactly how my vision came together, but I remembered that Davey Fabrics had some turquoise crepe-back satin, and I decided that it had to become this dress.
Now, I must explain to you my timeline the week of the wedding.  I worked with my Dad from Monday to Wednesday, as I always do.  Tuesday night, I came home and spent 5 hours and 40 minutes on Jen's wedding dress, hoping to finish it so my hubby could take it with him when he headed up to help with the wedding on Thursday morning.  I didn't make it on time.  I thought I was nearly done (maybe an hour left?!), but as these things often turn out, I ended up spending 3 1/2 more hours on it and finally finished it midday on Thursday.  I had driven Tyler to pick up the holiday trailer first thing that morning, and after I dropped him off at his truck, I went straight to Davey Fabrics and picked up my turquoise satin and a matching zipper.  And I must say, I looked at Fabricland, and nothing they had even compared to this satin.  When I was cutting it, I was forever marvelling at how wonderful it felt!  And it was only $8.95/m!  Score!  Anyways, I finally got started on my dress Thursday afternoon.  I started by making a waist corset (from the ribs down) out of 10 oz. canvas, and I finished that in about an hour and a half.  You can see the 'v' of the corset peeking out from under my bodice muslin.  I didn't finish any of my edges.  I just threw it together and said ok.  It does have boning in it, however.
Next, I whipped up a bodice muslin.  I was very wary of how the midriff section would fit, since there are no seams or darts on the front section.  I have to say, this pattern is absolutely brilliant.  The midriff fits like a dream.  And the pleated bodice is also wonderful. 
I cut a straight size 16.  I made a couple minor tweaks to my muslin.  I took in the side seams above the waist, and let out the side seams below the waist.  The only other change I made was to raise the underarm 5/8", and I raised the center back 1 1/8".  I'm impressed that I didn't even need a swayback adjustment!  Maybe that's because the corset sucked me in and made me stand up straight.  Either way, I'm thrilled with the fit of this bodice.  And from seeing it done up in cotton, wouldn't this make a super cute cotton dress?  I'm adding that to my never-ending list of must-makes.  :)
The skirt had me a little worried.  I didn't like the shape of the pattern pieces, plus they sucked up a lot of yardage.  Last year, when I was making skirts for Lindsey's bridesmaids, I had a heck of a time finding a decent skirt.  I ended up going with a semi-circle style.  So, that's what I decided to do for this dress.  I dug through my stash and found this pattern.  Bingo.
Since I was sewing this on well below the waist and needed more width, I simply laid my midriff pattern piece over the skirt piece and guesstimated how wide the skirt should be.  I ended up cutting the size 20 and I added 1/4" to the side seams.  (it matched up perfectly!)  Now, notice this is a floor length skirt.  I sewed it on several inches below the waist.  I still had to add 2" to the length, and it could have been an inch longer, because I barely had enough to do a 3/8" rolled hem, and it wouldn't have hurt to be half an inch longer.  How short are these people they draft for?  Nevermind.  This is exactly the reason I learned to sew in the first place!  Measure twice, cut once!  Apparently, I only measured once.
I guess now would be a good time to tell you that I had asked my friend Nicole (who is an amazing seamstress, and lives only 10 minutes from me!) to come help me pin my hem before she went to work on Friday morning.  She would be coming at 8:30 am.  That meant I needed to have the dress put together enough to hem the skirt!  Anyhoo, back to my crazy timeline.  I finished my muslin tweaking Thursday at 8:30 pm, at which time I cut out the rest of my dress.  I finished cutting at 12:40 am.  I kept sewing until 2:15 am, and what you see here is all I managed to sew together.  Can you feel my panic?
I went to sleep at 2:30, got up at 6:15, and started sewing by 6:30.  I sewed my back straps together, sewed my midriff lining together, and sewed my skirt together.  I then attached all 3 sections to one another, and I even had 10 minutes to spare before Nicole showed up!  Success!  She pinned my hem for me, and of course, we had to visit for an hour.  :)  After she left, I was considering going back to bed, but then I thought about all I had left to finish that day.  Not just this dress.  Did you see the sheath dress I made for Audrey?  Yes, I'm crazy.  I finished that dress for her on this same Friday.  I spent 2 hours and 40 minutes on her dress, and had a fitting with her.  Sigh.  It's been over a week since that crazy week, and I'm just reliving it now.  I'm having sympathy back pain for myself.  Tee hee.  ANYWAYS...
After Nicole left, I unstitched all 3 sections from what you see here so I could add the satin midriff, serge all my seams, etc.  By the way, in this shot, you can see my waist corset.  It not only sucked off 3 inches from my waist, but did you see my posture?!
I decided that before I put this dress aside to work on Audrey's, I wanted to get the midriff ruching out of the way.  This dress reminds me so much of Anita's blue grad dress.  It's similar in so many ways.  Especially the midriff ruching.  I decided to press creases into them, since I did that on Anita's dress, and I liked the effect.
Now, picture me taking a big chunk out of my day to finish that lovely sheath dress, do a fitting, go out and buy a strapless bra and some supper, and then madly getting back to work.  I was beyond exhausted.  I was bone tired.  I had been since the weekend before, when I was madly sewing for Jen's last wedding dress fitting.  But I wanted this dress, and by golly, I was gonna get it!  So, I worked through the exhaustion and back pain, and I did it.   I cranked out a 14-hour dress in 28 hours.  And here it is.  *lets out huge sigh of 'holy crap, I'm finally done!!!'*
This is my favorite part of the whole dress.  I love the back straps!  They are so cool!  And to think, I was almost considering changing them to plain old criss cross straps.  I'm so glad I went with it.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!
The front bodice ain't too shabby either!  I was getting a bit of gaping on the front, so I pulled the ends down about 3/4", and that seemed to cinch it in nicely.
I also like that it gives me a waistline!  Speaking of which, here's a funny story.  At the wedding, at the end of the night, I was getting pretty exhausted from wearing the corset all day.  So, I took it off.  And you know what?  The dress looked exactly the same!  Since the midriff has 3 layers, it sucked me in almost the same way, only much gentler.  It felt completely comfortable.  The only way I noticed it was snug was that I couldn't stick my tummy out.  So, fitting it with the corset was a great idea, but who knew I didn't have to wear the actual corset?  Next time, I'm wearing it without.  :D
I am so glad I took the plunge and took on an intimidating dress project 2 days before the wedding.  It was worth every single ounce of suffering.  I haven't mentioned how much I enjoyed sewing this dress.  Right from the bodice muslin, I was in love.  
How many of you sewists can relate to the crunch of a deadline?  This pretty much sums up what I do to myself during wedding season.  I always leave things to the last minute, no matter how early I try and get a handle on them.  And this year, it was mild.  I had one wedding to sew for (not counting the numerous alterations and other custom projects I had, but they're always on my plate).  Jen's wedding dress took me 21 hours.  Last year, Amy's renaissance wedding dress took me 36 hours, and Lindsey's wedding ... I haven't even added it up yet.  When I finished that project, I put my paperwork away and haven't looked at it since.  But I'm estimating that Lindsey's wedding took me between 150 and 200 hours.  So, I'm incredibly thankful that this year was a mere drop in the bucket in comparison, not to mention that the wedding was on June 4th.  It's not even summer yet, and I'm done with wedding season!  My weekends are free!!!

Okay, enough chatter.  If you've stuck with me this long, thank you!  We're off to the wedding now.  After I finished my dress at 8:00 pm on Friday, I packed up and drove to the wedding.  It was 2 1/2 hours away, and I got there at midnight.  And you can bet I had a great nights' sleep! 

A great dress needs a great pair of shoes!  I bought these high-tops last year to go with my new cargo capris.  I knew I wanted to wear them with this dress, but I didn't realize they would match!
You can see them peeking out under my skirt.  This is our formal portrait.  I felt a bit overdressed around most of the casually dressed wedding goers, but when I was with my husband or anyone from the wedding party, I fit right in. 
This is my favorite shot of the night. 
I love my dress! Aside from my wedding dress, I've never made myself anything this glamorous. I had a hankering to wear a long fancy dress, and I've fulfilled that. I'll be good to go for formal gowns for a long time. And you can bet I'm going to wear this as often as I can!
 Thanks for sticking with me all the way to the bottom!  I can get a little chatty sometimes.  :D


  1. Stunning and glamerous!
    Absolutely beautiful and I loved the entire story of it.
    That was definitely worth the back pain and the stress of 14 hours sewing.

    Lovely piccie of the yourself and hubby!

  2. Absolutely amazing work!!!! I love the back straps on your dress, the ruched midriff, and bodice. Plus the fabric is just beautiful. All of the elements made such a lovely dress. BTW, loved the high tops! Nice work!

  3. I love the colour , style and overall gorgeousness of this dress :-))

  4. Wow, this is amazing! The style is very flattering and the details and color are just right. The back straps and midriff band are very cool.

    BTW, your mullet comment was hilarious. I don't think I'll be able to wear the top without thinking of mullets, now!

  5. Amazing! I love this dress and it fits you just beautifully....I really enjoyed reading your blog post!

  6. I ROTFL reading your blog...I can certainly understand the last minute crunch time sewing,LOL! Check out my last Pattern Review ( mesewlot). You dress is beautiful~ you did an awesome job; you wear it well,and the sneakers are waaay cool. That seems to be the "in thing" now, sneakers with formals. :)

  7. Amazingly beautiful and in awe at the time put in just 2 days before the wedding.. You Rocked it!!!

  8. Wow, you have been one busy lady. What an incredible job on the wedding dress and this dress. You look absolutely gorgeous! The dress fits you beautifully. What a neat design those back straps are. So glad you decided to make them that way too instead of just crossing them. I can't get over how gorgeous the fabric is too and such a beautiful shade of blue.

  9. This was so much fun to read! I really enjoyed tagging along with you and seeing your progress as you made this BEAUTIFUL dress! I love it. You look absolutely stunning, I hope you know :) wonderful job. I hope I can become as talented as you in my sewing journey.

  10. Thank you for all the detail! I'm about to make this dress for my wedding in gold satin with white Chantilly lace over the skirt and bodice,leaving the midriff and straps in just the gold satin. I plan to sew some beading on the neck strap and on the lace bodice as well, and the dress will be tea length.
    I've sewed all of my life,but haven't made a dress in quite a while. So I'd like to ask your advice on a few things since you are a very talented and experienced seamstress!
    Knowing this pattern as well as you do, would you anticipate any problems when adding the lace over the satin on the bodice and skirt?
    also, I plan on using view C which is the fuller skirt.Since this pattern doesn't come in the tea length, I was going to simply use the pattern piece as is without adding the "11A and 12A" extensions pieces, which are curved at the bottom. Do you think it will be alright to cut this in tea length with the straight edge at the bottom, or should I add a slight curve?
    I plan to make up a yellow cotton one first to practice! Any suggestions (from anyone reading this) would be greatly appreciated!

  11. In googling the internet about how to sew ruching at the waistline for a dress, I came across your post for this dress, which is just lovely by the way! After reading your post and how you started with a waist corset, I further peaked around your blog and found 2 other posts about corsets, Nina and Christie. I noticed in your comments that this is your favorite pattern to use, however, I couldn't find an information as to what pattern you used. Would you mind sharing the make and number of this pattern? And I would assume that since the corset you sewed for Nina and Christie covered more than the waist, that you modified the one for this dress to be only for the waist, but it was the same pattern? Thanks