TSC: The "Modern Mary" Dress4:07 PM
Two months ago, we were watching the flower show episode of Downton Abbey on Netflix and I got my first glimpse of the blue and white dress that so many people seemed to be raving about. My initial reaction? "Meh." While I certainly preferred it to Lady Edith's (on which Lady Mary made a condescending remark), I didn't see why there was quite so much fuss. After the episode ended, however, a rather funny thing happened. "Wait! Horizontal bodice lines and vertical ones down the skirt... that actually has potential to be quite flattering!" And so, my obsession was born.
|We forgot to bring the original picture so, I gave my best "Lady Mary" pose from memory|
With fabric, and ribbon, in hand, I declared that I would be skipping the June Sew Weekly challenges in favor on working on this dress. While they had not yet been announced, I had no plans of participating. Too often does a Sew Weekly project skip up the queue and I very much wanted this dress. Which I henceforth, affectionately named "The Lady Mary."
Imagine my delight when the June challenges were posted and "based on a TV character" was set for the week of June 11! It would mean a shorter timeframe in which to work on my dress but, it would add additional motivation and a deadline. Darn you, Sew Weekly, you've trapped me again! heehee (And again for another TSC dress...)
|If only this darling hat had worked out...|
It's quite lucky that I over-cautiously bought three yards of fabric. For this project, I was rebellious as always and opted not to waste time with a proper muslin. Of course, when one is combining as many patterns as I did, there were bound to be issues. It's also very lucky that I chose to use facings rather than a full lining so, any re-cutting went faster than it normally would have. Not to worry, every seam is serged so, it looks nice and neat even without a lining.
Modifications to the bodice back were easy. I changed the shoulder slightly so that it would line up with the new bodice front and I removed the darts. I thought the chevron effect was an important element of the design and I didn't want the stripes disrupted. (To remove the dart, I drew a line from the bottom of each dart leg to the armscye notch. Then, I folded this new dart out and smoothed the bottom edge.)
For the bodice front, however, well... this is where the "muslin as I go" effect took place. I chose the two needed pieces based on the size printed on the pattern. But, after I assembled it and went to attach it to the skirt front, I saw that it was four inches too wide! Huh!? Really, I have no idea why the empire measurement would be so large. It nearly matched the measurement of the bust line. So, I hacked off the excess and attached it anyway. This worked reasonably well so, I pinned everything together and tried it on. Another problem.
Apparently, I have rather odd proportions and this pattern just wasn't going to work with them. Usually my bodice trouble lie in a need for a minor FBA and/or a need to make a minor petite adjustment (though I'm 5'10" it seems I'm somewhat shortwaisted). Since this pattern offers cup sizes, no FBA was necessary. And because it hit at the empire line, the was no need to account for my short torso. However, a whole new problem appeared. The bodice was too short! Wait, what!? I guess that means I'm tall above the bust (makes sense) and short between the bustline and waistline. Yep, I'm an odd one! Luckily, the problem was strictly in the length so, I added an inch at the shoulder, raised the neckline back up and cut a new bodice. Problem solved. Phew!
(I'm neglecting to tell you how many tries it took to actually get the shoulder seams to match, all the calculating that went into the stripe matching, and how many times I unpicked and resewed those pesky skirt darts to ensure they were symmetrical.)
From there, it was pretty smooth sailing. The sleeve needed surprisingly few adjustments given that it was from a pattern all its own. I installed my very first side invisible zipper and that went in rather easily also. So, with a little McCalls, a touch of Simplicity and bit of drafting (and re-drafting!) my dress finally came together. To hem, I simply folded under 5/8" and used a blind catch-stitch, grabbing threads in the white on the outside and in the blue on the inside. Using this stitch on a stripe is so much easier! And, it's almost completely invisible. Hooray!
I could totally use a lady's maid to get in and out of this dress but, I think it's worth the extra effort. I just have to put my dress on before doing my hair or makeup ;-)
I had a little extra time before my darling photographer came home so, I decided to make another hair clip to use in my Gibson Tuck. It's easy peasy: I bought a silk flower stem at Hobby Lobby, cut off the stem, and glued it to a special bobby pin with a flat disc welded on for just this purpose. I thought it added a nice touch since my hat search didn't pan out well. (We don't have many local options and the hat I ordered, and allowed myself to procrastinate while waiting for, was too big.)
I had fun dressing up in my sudo-period look but, in the future, it's much more likely that I'll wear this dress with fun heels and my hair down. The good news is, though, that this will definitely get worn again. I absolutely adore it! I find it so funny that this project went from a television costume that didn't impress me to a small(ish) obsession to a dress that I want to wear all the time.
By the way, if you've seen my "On my hook" bar on the left and are wondering where the lace is, know that it's in progress. I keep going back and forth regarding what size lace I want on the dress. Once it's finished, I'll share it with you. It will give me a chance to show how I actually wear the dress.
Next up: a simple sundress, which is currently half-finished. It will be nice not to have to stripe match ;-)
Then: another TSC dress. This will be another modern interpretation of a period costume.
The month is quickly coming to an end - Are you working on any last minute That's Sew Cinematic garments?
Thanks so much for reading and happy sewing! x