On July 9th I had the privilege and pleasure of emceeing Dr. Sketchy in Wellington. The featured models were three of the beauties from Miss La Belle’s House of Burlesque. From putting the music together to flirting with lovely door babe Crystal Mischief to seeing the art take shape, I had a wonderful time, plus I got crabs (you had to be there.) My cup of burlesque joy was full and I look forwards to being in the audience next time and sketching.
If you don’t have any interest in sewing, you can stop reading right here. Believe me, it’s for the best.
Two emceeing events in a row, and I’d blown my costuming budget on Frolic Lounge on July 2nd. For Dr. Sketchy,on July 9th, I hit up my pattern and fabric stash to make something. This is what the fabric stash is supposed to be for. (Quick, everyone, run out and buy more fabric for your stash! Because you never know!)
I’d wanted to make a dress from this pattern, New Look 6912, for a while. The eternal question with evening wear patterns is, “Where will I wear it?” Emceeing a burlesque event with a cast dress code of “sleek and elegant” was the perfect opportunity.
This is the first sewing post I’ve done here, so, a word about where I am on the seamstress continuum. After several sewing classes, my sewing skills are mediocre to average. I take up pants, nip in waistlines, and make the occasional skirt or dress. I’ve tended to specialize in knits, because I like wearing them. No, I don’t have an overlocker. When it comes to sewing, I always think of something I read in the Sloane Ranger Handbook: “Slightly wrong things look better on people than on furniture.” Yep, that’s the stuff I make! I’m looking to up my sewing skills over the next year.
If you want more than “I made a dress, here’s the picture!”, below I review measuring, cutting, and making; the pattern fit; and what it was like to wear this dress for an active event.
My stash had1.8 meters of forest green rayon doubleknit from Wellington’s Fabric Warehouse. I’d been visualizing a top or a sheath. When I needed a midwinter evening gown in a hurry, I thought I’d try it.
Measuring , Cutting, Making: I made three changes to the pattern. First, I took the skirt to full length. I’m short (5’2″/157 cm tall) so meant that 1.8 meters of fabric was exactly enough to do this. As a fabric miser, I really appreciated this pattern’s efficient use of yardage. There’s a simple slit in the back to help you walk.
The asymmetrical neckline worried me. In working try-ons, it seemed to have a gape or dip on one side. Adding the neckline facing cured this entirely, much to my relief.
Fortuitously, I’d worked with this fabric before, in a different color. So I knew that it really loved to be sewn with a stretch stitch wherever possible. I used a straight stitch only on the shoulder seam. Because this was a heavy stretch fabric, and I was in a hurry, I didn’t add a zipper, or interfacing. It seemed fine without the interfacing. To reinforce the bust, I double-stitched each side.
Fit: The empire waist and high neckline meant that, for my height of 5’2”, this pattern still looked OK. The one shoulder is drawn in with a gather, so I could adjust this to my slightly narrow shoulders. I shaped the skirt a little bit. If I was making this in a non-stretch fabric, I’d definitely want to do a muslin and implement a full bust/swayback/full behind adjustment, and take the “low” side of the bodice up higher for a little more bust coverage. But the stretch version was extremely forgiving.
Wearing: This is cantilevered underneath with a bra that has removable straps. So one side, under the sleeve, has the shoulder strap, and one side doesn’t. A side zipper would add some support on the bare-shoulder side, which needed a strategic safety pin to stay where it needed to be. That was the only problem! The doubleknit crepe did NOT wrinkle or stretch out of shape, keeping me sleek. I need all the help I can get with that – I’m one of those people who can crumple linen just by looking at it. I felt comfortable and confident, and hopped and darted around as an emcee without any problems.
- Good for beginners. Or if you’re in a rush – total sew time was 6 hours.
- Good for a fabric with some stretch (bengaline, double knit) If you are using stretch, I recommend either the 2 shouldered cowl-necked version or 1-shouldered with the sleeve. I think that if I hadn’t had the sleeve, with the long skirt, the dress might have dragged under its own weight.
- Good for petites – so much so that you may want to lengthen the bodice if you are above 5″6 tall.
- You get a lot of dress from 2 yards/1.8 meters, making this great for fabric misers, or for a dress using something costly. The official pattern includes a version with the waistline band made out of sequins, which would be a blingalicious variation.
- One shoulder is different, glamorous, and stands out!
- I’ll probably make this again – with the zipper. I’m thinking cobalt…