Constructing Sparkle

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on Jun 11, 2006 at 10:55 pm / Sewing / Trackback

I recently entered the Gen Art/Perrier Bubbling Under design competition. If you got picked as a finalist, you had to schlep your butt to New York to attend the event, where the winner was announced. If you win, you have to make one of the pieces you sketched and take it to Miami for another event. As Kathleen was kind enough to announce, I ended up winning this competition (insert happy dance here) so now I have make one of the outfits.

If you read my blog, you’ll know already that I chose to make the dissolving bows dress. The event is July 27th, but I have to finish it by the 20th, because I fly out to New York for tradeshow season the 21st.

I want to share with you how I plan to construct this dress and I’d like to hear any feedback or suggestions you may have. Basically, it’s a dress with a lot of stuff on it, and a pleated underskirt. Okay, it’s a little more difficult than that. Whenever I sit down to think about it, that Geoffrey Rush character in “Shakespeare in Love” pops into my head.

Some character: “And how the bleep bleep are you bleep gonna bleep bleep bleep?”
GR’s character: “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”


Here’s the sketch of the dress (a larger version -410kb- of this sketch is here).

It’s a gold charmeuse. I want to line it with white habotai so the gold self is clear and you get soft slinkiness next to the wearer’s skin. I rarely like to do a matching lining. Just a personal quirk.

The straps are lengths of chain. That way, I can easily hook on the draping chains and show a bit more metal in the back.

First of all, I decided to detach it from the dress itself so the dress looks and feels lighter on the body, especially the top part, which everyone looks at first. It’ll have a grosgrain ribbon waistband, 2 layers of very fine taffeta sandwiching a row of bias wool pleats.

1. Prep work. Cut all pattern pieces. Body is on-grain, spaghetti, bows, ruffles all on bias. Make spaghetti, bows, lengths of ruffles.
a. Need spaghetti for straps and waist drawstring.
b. Bows and ruffles to be raw edge.
2. Attach chain straps to front. And how exactly am going to do this?
3. Hand-sew bows all along right spaghetti strap and down the front. Machine-sew smaller ruffle pieces onto front. (Hand-sewing for pieces to be sewn in one spot, machine for longer stitchlines.)
4. Sew 2 tiny buttonholes for the drawstring opening under one of the ruffles. I want the gathers to be adjustable so the wearer can just pull the dress over her head and also have some wiggle room for different body types.
5. Sew front and back together at right side seam. (French seam)
6. Add right pocket-hand-sew from inside. I don’t want any topstitching on the dress, except the DNTS drawstring waist, but I don’t have the proper equipment so I’ll have to hand-sew. Any suggestions are particularly welcome here.
7. Add right long wrapping ruffle piece.
8. Attach chain strap to back. Again, it’s a mystery.
9. Sew lining pieces together at right side seam. (French seam)
10. Attach lining to self along top. Edgestitch and press. No surface topstitch.
11. Sew self and lining together with a double row ½” apart for drawstring channel. I might have to create a seam here so that there’s extra body as it’s a high-abrasion area and it will be easier to mark for sewing.
12. Sew left side seams of both lining and self. (French seams)
13. Hem self and lining separate from the self. (1/8″ babyhem) Hem of self will be hidden under the ruffles. I also want the dress to shimmy with the light layers as the wearer moves, as opposed to a thicker double-layer skirt that doesn’t move.
14. Run a length of spaghetti through waist.
15. Glue on rhinestones.
16. Put together chains/rhinestones/pearls. Hook onto chain strap on dress.
a. Chain around neck will require a clasp.

Here are the sewing steps for the underskirt:

1. Prep work. Cut all pieces. Taffeta underskirt is on grain, pleats are bias.
2. “Make” check pattern.
a. I actually turned the charcoal wool pinstripe into a check, by sewing perpendicular rows of metallic gold and silver thread into it.
3. Sew all wool panels together.
4. Press pleats.
a. Wool is raw-edge and deliberately frayed a bit with gold and silver threads running off the edge.
5. Sew white taffeta panels together, both layers, but separate.
6. Sandwich pleats in between 2 layers of taffeta for a clean finish inside and out, press.
a. I’m not doing all over wool to 1. reduce costs 2. reduce weight and 3. I don’t want a lot of charcoal under the gold to muddy the color.
7. Sew together the lengthwise edges of the taffeta, flip right side out, press.
8. Sew on double layer grosgrain ribbon waistband.
a. This is a trick learned from making corsets understructures. You tack in a grosgrain ribbon with a slide clasp to suck in your waist before you hook and eye the full length. Grosgrain ribbon is really strong and doesn’t stretch at all.
9. Sew on slide clasps, 3 for adjustability.
10. Sew on small snaps to the ends of the wrap skirt, so the skirt doesn’t open up too much when the wearer walks or sits.

Feel free to attack my methods, tell me I’m doing it all wrong, and I should be doing it this way or that way. I’m tired, everything’s a mystery, my brain wants to wander off and work on the next project and I’m no construction pro. Not by long shot.

19 Responses to “Constructing Sparkle”

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Gidget
June 12th, 2006
9:08 AM

What a gorgeous dress! So many fun things, from the elegant fabrics that shimmer and the glisten of chains and rhinestones. I can just hear the soft rustle of layers and chinks of the chains. I love your design and color schemes.

The only hesitation I felt, was if small snaps would hold together with the weight of the skirt? The slide clasps in the dress waistline is a really kewl idea. Will you be posting construction pics?

Els
June 12th, 2006
9:19 AM

I would love to see the picure but I can’t, already disabled popup stopper.

Alison Cummins
June 12th, 2006
9:39 AM

Not sure why a popup stopper would prevent you from seeing things on the page you’re looking at, but this is the url of the sketch by itself:
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/dissolvingflat.jpg

Kathleen
June 12th, 2006
10:05 AM

I edited this post so the page would load faster. Specifically, I put up a smaller version of the jpg and included a link to the original sketch.

amanda rodrigues
June 12th, 2006
10:46 AM

Glue? On such a gorgeous dress as this?
Sew on stones would be the best to keep the value of this piece up.. for time constraint, if necessary, I think hot fix would be a better choice.Just a suggestion.

Els
June 12th, 2006
12:09 PM

Thanks for the picture.It is beautifull designed and drawn.

jinjer
June 12th, 2006
5:34 PM

2. Attach chain straps to front. And how exactly am going to do this?

it looks like the chain is attached at a narrow point. You could do it with a tiny split ring–like a key chain, only smaller. I’ve seen these at a bead store. try General Bead, on Minna between 7th & 8th.
…after you’ve attached the chain to the split ring (which is VERY secure) slip some spaghetti through there, and sew the doubled spaghetti ends into a seam somewhere. You could attach the back chain to the same ring, or get some nice, flat, secure chain to bridge the shoulder, then repeat the split ring in the back.

4. Sew 2 tiny buttonholes for the drawstring opening under one of the ruffles. I want the gathers to be adjustable so the wearer can just pull the dress over her head and also have some wiggle room for different body types.

neat idea!

6. Add right pocket-hand-sew from inside. I don’t want any topstitching on the dress, except the DNTS drawstring waist, but I don’t have the proper equipment so I’ll have to hand-sew. Any suggestions are particularly welcome here.

I saw a tutorial for machine-sewn non-topstitched pockets somewhere, sometime. Maybe on This Blog??? anyway:
*Use a jig to press your pocket seam allowances under.
*Use wonder tape or some other washable adhesive that doesn’t gum up the needle to stick the pocket where it goes. maybe put some pins through the very corners to keep those extra secure. *Then sew the pocket on the foldline. The foot of your machine will be spelunking in the pocket, but as long as you keep pushing fabric aside so you can basically see what you’re doing, you’re golden.

15. Glue on rhinestones.

I second the hot fix suggestion. I’ve heard good things about a tool called a Kandi Kane, despite the incredibly cheesy name. Never tried it, so this is hearsay.

pleats are bias.
what’s the advantage of bias pleats?

Grosgrain ribbon is really strong and doesn’t stretch at all.
Depends on what it’s made of! the cotton grosgrain I used for hat bands stretches really well, that’s why it’s great for hatbands.
Anyway, I concur that grosgrain waistbands are the bomb.

I can’t wait to see photos!!!!!!!!

verbalcroquis
June 12th, 2006
6:35 PM

thank you, especially jinjer, for all your feedback!

re: glue-on stones
there are just too many to sew on by myself. i work full-time and my day job is my priority. also, the stones are applied after the ruffles have been ruched and sewn onto the dress, so the hotfix wouldn’t work either. and i like the control i get of glueing stuff individually.

re: bias pleats
mainly because i’m sewing a check pattern onto the pinstripe (i’m using the pinstripe as a guide), and i want the check pattern to be on the bias.

Judith
June 12th, 2006
11:21 PM

Oh la la!!! What a great dress. I don’t have any feedback for you tho. Alas, I do not have any education in this area. I would love to see the final product finished and I’m rooting for you to win.

Tracy Holzman
June 13th, 2006
8:00 AM

Good luck, great dress! I wish I was in NYC I would help. These ideas come from costume land where I currently reside.
Re: The pull up gathers. I have been recently interested in the banding for blinds that has two drawstrings in it. You may not be able to find one light enough, but it is based on twill with the strings riding though holes on the binding.
Grosgrain ribbon is great and can be modified.
About the modifying the fabric to check, with metallic threads. I have had success threading the metallics with a stronger thread through one needle and using clear in the bobbin. I don’t know if adding “ANOTHER” element in would be any help, but I recently saw some glow in the dark thread too. Best of luck, and I would like to know how many hours this takes could you please keep track and let us know?
Tracy

Kathleen
June 19th, 2006
9:54 AM

6. Add right pocket-hand-sew from inside. I don’t want any topstitching on the dress, except the DNTS drawstring waist, but I don’t have the proper equipment so I’ll have to hand-sew. Any suggestions are particularly welcome here.

Imo, this pocket should be done like the bluff pocket I’ve been talking about.

I don’t see any part of this dress as being a technical impossibility but there is one element of it that keeps hijacking my screen every time I look at it. It’s that back overlapping ruffle. I don’t understand how that can be managed readily. Usually you have a ruffle like that hanging off of something, attached to an upper skirt or something. If it’s just a loose piece, extending from whence it was attached, you’re going to have to get the drape just right -which may vary according to figure types. Otherwise, the hang of it may not end up hanging as evenly as it is illustrated. If that edge of the ruffle is attached to the left side, the hang of it will depend on the left hand side drape.

Then, there’s the issue of the process of mechanical attachment of the loose ruffle. Since the right ruffle will be crossing over the left ruffle, there will be a bit of awkwardness (for lack of a better description) where it makes the transition over the depth, gathers and fullness of the ruffle underneath. You don’t want to crush the depth of ruffle gathers underneath yet the top ruffle must be well anchored. With all the weight of it (the ruffles are wool) can the body support the weight?

Then, I also note the ruffles are bias. Wow, you’re brave :). That’s going to be fun (not). Not that I don’t agree that the effect of bias on wool is not worth the effort either. And not that allocation is an issue here but that’ll be lots of fabric. I can only imagine that you’ll have to make up the ruffle in advance and hang it for some time (at least a week; the books lie and say 24 hours is good -AND- *if* you can add weight by wetting it, so much the better) so you can handcut it evenly. In summary, everything looks totally doable production wise but the ruffle is really the only challenge. Everything else can be managed as you’ve detailed.

Carol Kimball
June 21st, 2006
6:01 PM

Kathleen wrote:
With all the weight of it (the ruffles are wool) can the body support the weight?

A stay that runs through tiny eyelets in the other layers and attaches to the waist stay will support the weight of this ruffle. I’ve done this a couple times when the client wanted something “impossible”. The most extreme was a very heavy lace as a waist drape over silk of the weight and hand of tissue paper.

Alison Cummins
June 22nd, 2006
5:27 AM

As I understand it, the ruffles are silk charmeuse on a silk charmeuse body. The pleats are wool on two-layer silk taffeta underskirt.

Same issue though… silk supporting wool.

verbalcroquis
June 22nd, 2006
8:45 AM

The wool pleats are the bottom half of an underskirt completely separate from the silk. The silk dress portion, with the silk ruffles, floats on top.

Alison Cummins
June 22nd, 2006
8:49 AM

Ok, you mentioned taffeta for the top half of the underskirt which I assumed was silk. But I guess it’s poly or nylon?

verbalcroquis
June 22nd, 2006
8:51 AM

Polyester. I want the underskirt to bear the brunt of the weight of wool and be indestructible and stable to hold the bias pleats.

Aless
July 24th, 2006
12:17 AM

It is such a thrill to someone sewing such a beautiful garment as this.Can’t wait to see the finished article.

DelawareSkater
August 13th, 2006
7:11 PM

I use both hotfix crystals AND glue-on for skating costumes. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Glue-on are fine IF you use really good glue AND a small enough drop of glue so it doesn’t ooze out from beneath the stone (a common mistake). Using a toothpick or similar tool to apply the glue to the stone or garment, then applying the stone with tweezers works well. Put something underneath the fabric so the glue doesn’t stick through to another layer (this goes for the hotfix also!)

Hotfix can sometimes give you problems. Sometimes the stone falls out of the contraption (and onto the wrong spot!). Sometimes the stone falls off if the glue got too hot or not hot enough.

Either method you use requires practice on scraps first, before messing with your dress! The most stones I’ve applied on a garment was 850. I have a dress that is going to require twice that….I hate it already! I will be glueing them on.

stephanie
December 7th, 2011
3:53 PM

I do a LOT of gluing rhinestones. I use GemTac, by the same folks that make MagnaTac. Doesn’t matter if a tiny bit shows when you glue the stone on, as it retracts as it dries and dries very clear anyway. Dont cut the tip off the new bottle, use a big pin to poke a hole in it, and you can just touch the tip to the fabric to place the glue, then use a crayon to pick up the stone and place it on the glue-dot. The crayon will stick just enough to pick up the stone.

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