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Made by a Fabricista: All That Glitters (Holiday Edition)

Hey all!  Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Now that the turkey and pumpkin pie have been consumed, it's time for Christmas cookies, latkes and holiday parties of all sorts!

But, what to wear?  Maybe something from the Sequins & Sparkles section!


That's where I found this Betsy & Adam sequinned stretch velvet, which is unfortunately now sold out, but you can find similarly adorned gorgeous textile goodies here.

This is Butterick 6415.  I'd originally planned for a knit dress with this fabric, but it turned out that this stretch velvet knit wasn't quite as stretchy as originally indicated.  I wasn't too surprised, since it's completely sequin encrusted; how COULD it stretch more than 10-20%?


And so onto this Plan B: this Butterick, which is intended for woven fabrics.  The plus of using a highly stable knit fabric with a woven pattern is you have just a little more give and fitting doesn't have to be quite as precise.

Lets take another look at this gorgeous sequinned border "print" fabric.


And a close up of some of the spectacular motifs.


The first issue I faced with this project was a ton of crocking with the fabric.  Crocking is when there's so much excess dye in a fabric that it transfers onto other surfaces...like my hand here.  It's like bleeding but without the water factor.  The yardage took a soak in my tub with a very gentle detergent and vinegar for the good part of a day, which seemed to resolve the problem.


The first design decision with this dress was how to use this gorgeous array of sequins in a pleasing manner.  I decided I wanted some swirls on the front bodice panel (this is a princess bodice dress, so there are center front, side front and back panels), but they needed to be somewhere that didn't create an unfortunately lady-high-beam effect.


To make it match up I laid the center front I'd already cut back on the yardage, matching it up with the pattern perfectly (upper left).   With the curve of the side panel it's not possible for every part of the panel to match up to the center front, so I had to decide what was important, and I decided the large swoop coming down from the swirls was it (pointing to in upper right), then found where the 5/8" seam allowance would hit (lower left) and placed the line I'd drawn on my side front pattern piece in that location (lower right).  It still felt like a bit of a crapshoot, I'm pretty pleased with how the matching of this turned out.


I decided to cut the top edge of the skirt at the edge of the border, so there wouldn't be any sequins to remove from the upper seam allowance (AKA the join to the bodice).

So, once it was all cut, how did I attack this project?  With this tray of medieval looking torture devices...also, here's a before and after sequin removal!


I spent an entire weekend more or less ignoring my poor kids (shout out to my husband here) while I removed the sequins from the bodice seam allowances.  I used a double pronged approach:  completely ripping the threads out on the outer half of the seam allowance, but then cutting the sequins and removing them with tweezers, once I got closer to the stitch line.  All told I'd say it was a 12 or more hour endeavor.



But the craziest part was finding these things every-dang-where.  They were on the couch, on the carpet, in the mac and cheese water, and I know for a fact that the toddler grabbed and ate some directly from my tray, but we never did see the resulting sparkle poo.  Sorry girl!



The best/worst part of the sequins was running out of time to remove the them from the skirt seam allowance.  I decided to just plow through them with my machine and was able to do so without any issues.  Not one broken needle.  So perhaps I didn't need to go through the pain of taking them out of the bodice (but I also feel like it's nicer to have less bulk in the more fitted portion of the dress).


For the yoke I used a black stretch mesh and point d'esprit from my stash that I purchased at Fabric Mart many moons ago.  You can find similar fabrics here.


I ended up fully lining the dress in a stretch poly lining fabric, also in my stash from Fabric Mart.  It was a really great choice to allow the dress itself to stretch slightly along with it, for both comfort and fit.


This pattern only has you line the bodice, so I had to decide how to line the skirt, taking the pleating into account.  I basted the skirt and skirt lining wrong sides together, except for about 4" or so on either side of the center back, pleated the skirt as directed, and then sewed it all onto the bodice (starting and stopping on either side of the loose lining).  Then I hand-picked the zipper and hand sewed all of the lining down to it.


Between the interlining for the bodice, the full lining, and the hand finishing on the mesh, there was a significant amount of hand sewing.  There would've been a little less of it if I hadn't accidentally finished on of my mesh sleeves inside out wrong TWO TIMES.  Whew.  Even after almost 2 and a half decades of sewing I still make these silly blunders, and I'm sure I always will.


With all of the sequins, the dress is just a tad heavy for the lace yoke, is definitely part of the pulling issue you see. But, part of that is also fitting, as this whole dress turned out just a little bit too big for me; definitely a function of using a knit fabric for a woven dress pattern.  I used a pretty straight 14 C cup here, with the bust point lowered 1/2".  If I were to do it over again I'd probably do a 12 C or D cup in this same fabric, and would've shortened the bodice 1/2" (a usual for me, but it's been so long since I've made a Big 4 pattern that I forgot!).




That all said, I feel like this is a pretty successful make overall!  A plain black crepe for the skirt would have been much lighter, but there's just nothing like a whole lot of sparkle for the holidays, right?







What are you planning to sew and wear for your holiday parties this year?

Jess

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