Thursday, January 9, 2014

Long-Promised Post: Part 1

As said, a long-promised post… one of them, that is, because there have been two long-promised posts. I’m going to wisely start with the one that happened several months ago… starting about last April in fact… gosh, that was a long time ago. In any case, last year was my (Hannah’s) first time to go to an event in our town called the Father-Daughter Ball. 
Now, I am not a person to keep prom-type dresses just hanging around in my room. I’ve never gone to prom. Don’t see it likely that I ever will. So I needed to dress up formally and I didn’t want to wear my sister’s dress from the previous year. (I didn’t want to buy a new one, because, doncha know, formal dresses, new or used, cost anywhere from about $60 - $CrazyAmountOfMoney).
Fortunately, around that time my aunt gave us some of our now-grown cousin’s old prom dresses, so I rifled through them and found one I thought I could alter into something I’d like to wear.

I couldn't find the original "before" picture I'd wanted: this is one with pins stuck in various places.
Originally it was just a plain straight skirt.
The color was not my first pick, but it was the closest to my size. I set about to sketching ideas:

Then I was struck with a conundrum. Where would I put this dress while I was adjusting and altering and snipping and sewing and stuff? My sisters would not stand (literally) for being my models for my hours of pin-pricking and needle-pricking and scissor-pricking and so on (hee hee, sew on...).
So instead I convinced Sarah (with a great deal of difficulty) to let me use her as a model for a duct tape mannequin I decided to make, based on this tutorial.
I believe the question, as I worded it when asking Mama for permission to do this craft, was: "Can I wrap my sister in duct tape and then cut things with sharp objects very near to her?"
She said yes. 
I love our family.

The process of making the mannequin took several hours in and of itself, but once it was finished I could begin work on the dress.
The idea was to make something called "pickups". For example:

Not my image... I seem to remember that this particular one was from 
It makes the skirt look all ripply, in simple terms. To achieve such a look, Mama gave me very complicated instructions that I don't really remember and a demonstration. In short, I used quilt-binding on the inside of the dress and gathered the skirt to the quilt binding and sewed it there. It's very difficult to sew something on the inside of a dress from the outside, so I turned the dress inside out and hung it up again, but then there was an underskirt thing (Crinoline? I'm not sure what it's called... here you can see the depths of my knowledge in designing) getting in the way, which I hiked up and tied around the top of the mannequin with a measuring tape. Resourceful me.
By the way, the mannequin thing is only a bust, not a full body deal. I didn't have quite that much duct tape. But I had a hanger on the inside of the mannequin and rigged it up hangman-style to our ceiling fan. This rig was there for several weeks and got pretty annoying, so occasionally I took it down to appease the other people in my house. (This is why I would like an art studio. I can do all of this stuff without me or my materials getting in everybody else's way, or vice versa).

Here is the lovely shapeless-looking monstrosity as I'm working on the pickups. Of course, it looked much better on the outside.

Once the pickups were done, I wanted to add a little bit of sparkle (cause I'm a girl... go figure. Besides, when shopping around for dresses I was always drawn to the artfully glitzy ones). Originally I had wanted to Swarovski crystals or Schwarzenegger crystals or whatever you'd like to call them... rhinestones. But there was nothing available at Walmart (we live out in a small town, there's no Tiffany's or whatever to shop at, don't judge... but we are getting a Hobby Lobby soon, which I am uber-excited about), so I picked up some assorted sequins instead.

Then I painstakingly sewed them to the skirts - all the sewing I did was hand done - in an asymmetrical pattern (asymmetrical makes me sound all smart), and added some along the empire-waist-line in a wave pattern. All this, due to my amazing procrastination skills, was finished on the night before the ball. I also did adjustments to Trinity's dress, since she would be joining me at the ball after volunteering all day for the younger age groups, and Mama and I made Papa's fabulous bow tie.
Now, I do have to say that Mama voluntarily took in the sides of the dress, which involved the sewing machine and was beyond my skill level.

The finished product.

Me and Papa right before we left for dinner, posing and being awesome.

To God be the Glory,

1 comment:

  1. Great sewing, Hannah, my little sister would love that dress. I'm definitely showing her your link. I have to go to a prom in MS in April, said yes before I really thought about what I was getting into- I can't even dance, doggone it!