Sunday, March 29, 2015

Advance 9441 (1950's kimono sleeve dress) and bluebonnets!

Hello, everyone!  I finished the dress I was working on in my gusset tutorial, and, most importantly, finally got around to photographing it.
First off, the pattern I used was Advance 9441, a 1950's dress pattern with kimono sleeves.
I used an African cotton fabric I bought from one of those world import stores, this one in Roanoke, VA.  It was originally a six-yard cut of fabric, and contained three different prints.  I used the print from one end for the bodice, and the print from the other end for the skirt.
In addition to the print, there's a pattern woven into the fabric.
Here's a close-up of the woven pattern.
As far as the construction went...I really didn't follow the instructions at all.  First off, I inserted the gussets using lapped seams, which you can read about in my tutorial.  The standard way would have been fine, but it doesn't play to my technical strengths, and I probably would have mangled it horribly. 

I also constructed the bodice in a completely non-standard way.  Most patterns of this era have you assemble the bodice, assemble the skirt, sew the bodice to the skirt at the waist seam, and then insert the zipper.  I have tried this approach many times, and I have never managed to get the zipper in cleanly.  I always insert my zippers by hand as a hand-picked zipper, and this approach does not give me enough room to work.  Instead, I assemble the bodice front and skirt front and join them at the waist, the bodice back and skirt back and join them at the waist, insert the back zipper, and then join the back and front at the side seams.  This approach has the added bonus of letting you make last-minute adjustments at the side seams if you need to.

The pattern didn't call for a lining, and originally I did not plan for one, but after I tried wearing the dress, I found that all of the silk organza interfacing was extremely itchy.  So, I lined the bodice with black silk habotai.  I didn't interface the gussets, but I did provide an inch of ease in the side seams, so hopefully the lining gussets won't wear out prematurely.  Sorry about all the wrinkles-- after the photo shoot, I changed clothes, shoved the dress in a bag, and went hiking. 
I also added 1" horsehair braid to the hem for added poofiness.
In short, I think this is a fantastic pattern and I highly recommend it.  It went together easily and required very few alterations.  I took out half the fullness of the bottom front bust darts as a small bust adjustment, and took in the side seams by maybe half an inch.  This will absolutely become my go-to pattern if I need a kimono sleeve bodice.

Now, the photo shoot!  It's a tradition in my family to take bluebonnet pictures in the spring, and I thought this fabric would work beautifully with the blue and white flowers.

I hope you like it!  Two technical notes about the photographs.  First, if you want to take lying-down-in-the-flowers pictures, you really have to bring a stepladder or something like that-- if you have someone stand over you and use a wide-angle lens, not only will you get perspective distortion, you're also likely to get your photographer's shadow in the picture.  Second, if you're taking a photograph of a very dark dress which takes up most of the frame, your camera's first impulse will be to overexpose the picture to keep the dress from coming out too dark.  If you have very light skin, like me, this will blow the highlights in your face.  You'll want to play with the exposure compensation.  I didn't, and even though I could salvage the photos in Lighroom, it was pretty rough, and it would have been better if I had gotten the exposure right the first time.

I hope you enjoyed this!  I'm looking forward to getting a lot of wear out of the dress, and making this pattern again.

1 comment: