our office holiday party was on friday, which obviously required a new dress. not only was it my first time to dress up in a little while, my company was recently acquired and there were 300 new co-workers on whom to make an impression.
i had been wanting for a while to riff on one of the series one downton abbey gowns of lady mary’s, a neat bit of sheer work with applique and a green underdress. however, as i started chewing on this idea, i realized i needed to do more than riff, i needed to adapt.
(interesting side note – at what point does a design idea go from rip-off to “inspired by” to “i sort of saw this picture i liked once”? at what point do you start to claim it as more your own? i’m pretty sure i’m squarely in the “inspired by” camp, but where i once would have been slavishly attentive to the details in the photograph, i felt completely free to sub in details that i preferred.)
so i started with vogue 1043, which had a surplice bodice i had already fitted and worked on. i changed the side zipper to a CB because i wanted to hand-pick and bead the zipper. i went for a high-low hem, because even though this trend is EVERYWHERE, i sort of love it. it adds a major element of fun to a garment, and i cannot help myself. so i took the quarter-circle skirt of V1043, adjusted the hems, and added gathering in the back two panels for an almost-bustle and some skirt volume. i almost went super-trendy and did an even sheerer dress over a shorter skirt, for that au currant long-sheer-skirt-over-hot-pants look, but i decided that was taking it a bit too far. and also, all of the really gorgeous sheer fabric was more slippery and harder to work with than this lovely light cotton voile.
i didn’t want to use the cut-on, fifties-style sleeves WITH A FREAKING GUSSET on a dress that i wanted to wear in less than a week. i knew that one bad session with the machine on that gusset piece would banish the dress straight to area 51. so i used my sloper sleeve to draft a tulip sleeve, and then spread the tulip sleeve hem to something absurd. i used some sheer black pleated cotton from paron’s to get a cool sleeve, sort of like another lady mary dress i am fond of.
instead of the crazy detailed embroidery, i found a completely brilliant butterfly applique at mood fabrics in exactly the colors i was trying to play with. i love a butterfly motif like nothing else – for a period of time i had a co-worker who called me “madame butterfly” because i always wore a butterfly necklace and earrings.
for the underdress/slip, i pulled out a long-neglected UFO portion of vogue 1160, and modified the hem to match my dress. i got some spot-on hem lace at M&J trimmings, but to be honest, both of my hems on this effort are really, really pathetic. for some reason i seem to be incapable of doing a rolled hem on any of my sewing machines. but black fabric and black thread can overcome a lot of sins!