Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Self-drafted pattern-- Tube dress with elastic shirring!

"Pattern" is putting this really strongly.  I bought about a yard and a half of silk crepe de chine, cut it to a length appropriate for my height, ran some shirring with elastic thread, sewed the tube up the side, and hemmed it.  A really quick and easy dress!  I'd write this as a how-to, but I made this dress a few years ago and don't have pictures.  I'm sure I'll make another one at some point, though.

I bought the fabric from Thai Silks, which remarkably still has some but in a different colorway.  Around the time I originally bought the fabric, I also saw some at F&S Fabrics on Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles, though at a much higher price.

It took some trial and error to get the elastic shirring to work out.  I wound the elastic in the bobbin thread, and after several tries, I realized that you can't use any tension when you wind the elastic thread.  Also, once you've completed the rows of stitching, you have to spray the fabric with water to get it to crinkle up like that.  I don't know why this is necessary, but it's MAGIC!

The fabric I used has a very busy print, and so even though my lines of stitching run about as straight as a drunk rabbit, nobody can tell.  Win!
Naturally, even with a dress this simple, something had to go wrong.  I sewed the side of the tube of fabric all the way down the side, which didn't leave me enough room to walk in it.  Oops.  So, I unpicked part of that seam and left a slit up to my knee.
Also, for whatever reason, the elastic-shirred section isn't enough to hold the dress up.  As I wear the dress, it keeps wanting to slip down to my midsection.  I tried adding straps, but it didn't look good.  So now, if I want to wear the dress out, I have to pin it to my bra.  Have any of you encountered this?  What did you do to fix it?  I'm wondering if a band of strong elastic at the top of the bodice would solve this problem.

Anyway, I love this dress.  It was easy to make, it looks awesome, and it's incredibly cool in hot weather.  Plus, it looks good with my boots ;-)
The first and last photos were fun to shoot.  I tried a new technique this time-- using the flash to light myself, and then using the length of the exposure to control the brightness of the background.  Most of the light on me comes in a brief instant from the flash, but leaving the shutter open longer allows more light to collect on the sensor from the comparatively dim background.  The exposure on the last photo is 1/15 sec., and the exposure on the first photo was 4 sec.  For the four second exposure, even thought most of the light on me came from the flash, I could still cause motion blur and weird ghost images if I moved around too much.  Standing that still was hard.

The main reason I used such a long exposure in the first photo was to blur out any cars that might drive down the busy street, but it looks like I lucked out and didn't get any cars close up in that particular image.  The other reason was that I wanted to stop the lens down enough to get starbursts out of the streetlights.  That seems to have worked out well-- the aperture I used was f/11, and I like the way this lens renders starbursts.  Horray for starbursts!

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