Mrs. Parks Sew-Along: Mrs. Bennett finishes the dress (just in time)

from Mrs. Bennett

It’s 3 pm on the day of Mrs. Parks’ infamous ROUT! If you don’t have your tickets, you can still attend and purchase your tickets at the door! Mrs. Parks and Lady Strong are hosting tonight’s Assembly for the benefit of the community, so please take advantage! It’ll be great fun! Remember, costumes are admired but not required!

I left off my Sew-Along diary at having completed my mockup and lined the pieces for the bodice.  That is typically the point at which I really start tackling the sewing. I don’t have much time before I am due at the dance, so I’ll give you as quick an outline of putting together the gown as possible:

Friday: I put together the pieces of the bodice and tried it on again. Sometimes additional adjustments need to be made with the actual fabric.  One of the best pieces of advice I can give is that if you are working with a very high quality fabric, listen to it. It will tell you how it wants to hang and how it wants to be crafted. In this case, the two darts I had in my mockup were less successful with the actual silk and lining I was using. So I played with it a bit and made the appropriate adjustments in the panel.

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I also noticed that I had set a sleeve in backwards (remember me saying that this was super easy to do?). So I too my seam ripper out, took it apart, and reset it.  Then all was right as rain. Once I saw how the bodice was going to look I got really excited about the dress. There is always a point when putting together the actual dress that you can see what it is going to do for you (or what it might not) and you get excited (or a little disappointed). In this case, I got excited.

I got so excited I decided I had to do a little extra than I used to do for dresses, and work at finishing the inside of the bodice.  I had some burgundy double-folk bias tape in my stash that I finally broke out and used. I reinforced the armscyes (a place that can often come apart pretty easily), and the bottom of the bodice all the way around, so that there was something substantial to hang the skirt pleating off of. I’m pretty proud that I took this extra step, as this dress is probably the neatest dress on the inside that I’ve done in a long, long time.

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Once all of this was done, my phone alerted me that I had 24 hours until the Rout. Oy!

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My dear Mr. Bennett and I went for dinner and upon returning I tackled the skirt while he watched the first Star Trek movie. Here’s the thing about the skirt: A) I didn’t feel like I had the time to get super fussy with it, and B) turns out I was about 8 inches shy of fabric to manage the full skirt.

So I improvised. Here’s the piece of skirt I had left. . . one long rectangular piece.

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(I don’t have pics of this section because I was pretty much pushing to get this done before going to bed!)

  • I looked at the instructions again and saw that I needed a front piece and a back piece, with the front piece being about 1/3 the width of the back piece. So I cut a third off and called it the front.
  • In the back piece, I measured the slashes on the pattern piece and duplicated that on my rectangular skirt back piece.
  • I went ahead and sewed the front and back pieces together along the long, vertical seams.
  • Then I attached the front bib piece to the front skirt panel, adding in a few small pleats to give the rectangular piece of fabric a more circular shape.
  • At that point, I shifted my focus to the back. I figured out how far on the bottom of the bodice I would need to attach the skirt for full coverage. Marked those spots with white pins. Then proceeded to pleat the skirt onto the bodice from back to front, pleat by pleat.
  • Then I sewed the pleats into the bodice. At this point the skirt and dress was mostly complete.
  • I tried it on and noticed a weird place of pleating in the back center, but decided I could live with it. It was midnight, so I scratched out on a notepad: HEM! TIES! TRIM! IRON! to remind me what I needed to do on Saturday before the dance.

THE NEXT MORNING!

I had a long night because of some family matters to tend to, so I awoke bleary eyed. Luckily, some friends invited me out for breakfast and I went and got some coffee in my system.

Upon returning home, I looked at the pleats and realized that the weird pleating in the back center was an easy fix. So I fixed it! – Morning eyes are often way better at fixing problems!

At this point, it was a matter of the finishing details.  I hemmed the skirt and added the ribbon tie at the waistline, as well as the trim at the neckline and sleeves.

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A note about Trim. Trim is awesome for covering a multitude of sins in your sewing. If you have places where your seams don’t match up or where the hem on your sleeves looks terrible, putting some trim on it smooths over those rough edges.  Braided trim is also very good for strategic spots for using straight pins – thick enough for the pin to get good purchase AND to tuck that sharp end into so you don’t stick yourself!

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And it wouldn’t be a successful gown if I didn’t run out of bobbin thread right as I was putting the last length of trim on my second sleeve – literally, 8 inches of sewing, and the bobbin is like, “Yo, time to stop everything and change me!” Awesome.

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But change it I did. And the gown is done, but for a light iron.

Here’s the inside of the bodice with the pinned “liner”:

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And here’s the front and back – as best as I can get it with the mirror selfie:

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And there’s the Sew-Along!  I hope to be able to admire your fashions at tonight’s dance!

All the best,

Mrs. Bennett

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