Tuesdays with Gertie: The Completed Bombshell Dress

This summer I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.  A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to make perfectly fitted bombshell dresses using Gertie’s Sew Retro Perfect Bombshell Dresses class. This post marks its completion.

After posting every week about my progress on this dress, I’m not sure what more to really say about it. The good:  I like the color and that it has dragons on the inside, I like that it really does makes me feel like a bombshell, and I like that I learned so much during the process.

The bad:  despite going into this class with the anticipation of making a “perfectly fitted bombshell dress”, the fit isn’t perfect.  I wouldn’t blame the class or the instructor though.  I’ve never attempted anything like this dress, and I think my skills were too novice to pull off “perfect”.  As notes to a future me attempting this pattern again, next time take out just a little bit of the length that you added to the bodice.  I overcompensated for my long waist just a wee bit too much, and I think it led to the horizontal wrinkles in the bodice.  (It’s taken all of my willpower not to rip the skirt off the bodice and resew it just a bit higher.)  Next time fit the cups using a dress form that’s been padded out to match yourself (or, better yet, make yourself one of these – for some reason I think they’re so cool!).  The cups work as is, but they could also use a tad bit more fabric.  Next time add just a little bit to the side seams to account for the multiple layers of fabric and bones that will be in the final dress.  And, next time make sure the bones actually go from the bottom seam to the top seam.  No more eyeballing when cutting the spiral steel boning!  (Also, think about perhaps interlining your lining, so that you can make channels for the bones by stitching together the two fabrics.)

And, though I’m a big fan of Clint, there’s thankfully no ugly to speak of.  In fact, there’s even more good!  A close up of my favorite part, the skirt draping:

And, a view of the back:

I’m thrilled I made it through my first Craftsy class, and I now have my very own handmade bombshell dress.  Thank you, Gertie!

Hooray!

Though the bombshell dress might be finished, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to sewing well.  I plan to continue my Tuesday with Gertie series, only now I’ll be working my way through Gertie’s second Craftsy class, Sew Retro:  The Starlet Suit Jacket.  I’m going to start a bit more slowly than Gertie does since I want to make a muslin and Gertie moves pretty quickly into cutting the fashion fabric.  This first coming week will be a baby step:  print and tape together the pattern.

Signed up for either of Gertie’s classes but haven’t yet started?  Join me!

Check out the progress Petite Mess has been able to make these past few weeks on her bombshell dress. She’s got the right idea about fitting.

Haven’t yet signed up for the class, but would if you could get a discount? Contact me.

Happy sewing!

Update: I always forget to mention that a garment was part of my SWAP. This dress was actually completed item number nine.

Tuesdays with Gertie: Final Touches

This year I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up through the Craftsy online community to make perfectly fitted bombshell dresses. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Well, friends, the last stitch is in place. The bombshell dress is complete. After finishing the bodice alterations, I tackled the hem, the subject of the last video lesson. I even fancied it up a bit with the hem lace that Vicki Kate of VickikateMakes sent me with the Fashion Sewing for Everyone book giveaway win. I’m so pleased with how the baby blue lace goes so well with the bright blue dress. Thank you Vicki Kate! Also, though it’s not what Gertie did, I beveled the corners of my hem. I liked the look better.

I tried it on, and, well, it’s pretty and passable. I love the skirt, but the bodice still has quirks to it. Now that it’s not skin tight, there are these puckers, perhaps because I didn’t cut the bones long enough to go all the way from the bottom of the lining to the tippy tippy top? The center of the bodice between the cups also doesn’t sit flush against my skin despite all the structure that I anticipated would be the solution to my fitting woes back in the muslin stage. In the future I’ll try fitting this kind of bodice on a dress form that’s been padded out with a well-fitting bra, like Lladybird did. One thing that did help was understitching the lining to the bodice. I don’t remember Gertie talking about understitching, but then again there’s so much going on in these videos that she might have and I just missed it. Most likely all of these little things are only something I’m noticing because I was striving for perfection these last sixteen weeks. All that time and effort makes one a bit overly sensitive.

I’ll have photos of the completed dress for you next week. This week I have a giant bandage on my right breast from having a biopsy done last week, and this dress is revealing enough that it would show it off. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I said biopsy. I found a mass in my breast a few weeks ago. My primary care physician checked it out and referred me for an ultrasound and mammogram. The ultrasound determined that it’s a smooth, moveable mass, which likely means it’s a benign fibroadenoma. The biopsy is just a precaution to be confident of the diagnosis. I’ve been very open with friends and family, and I’ve been surprised at the number of women who’ve been through something similar. Maybe 20%? Most unknown to me before this incident. Anyway, the moral of the story is that pineapples don’t have sleeves. No, really, the moral of the story is to know thy breasts. I should get my results back any day now, and the bandage can come off on Wednesday. And then I’ll make time for photos.

UPDATE: I got confirmation today that the mass is a benign fibroadenoma. Whew!

Tuesdays with Gertie: A Week to Reflect

This year I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up through the Craftsy online community to make perfectly fitted bombshell dresses. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

This past week was dedicated to reflection. Instead of watching the last lesson (yes, there’s only one to go!), I assessed the alterations that were needed to turn this dress into an actual wearable garment and started addressing them one by one. I let out the side seams so that the bodice would fit more comfortably. I messed around with the cups but decided to keep them as is for now.  I did switch out the cotton batting in the cups for needle punch, which is what Gertie actually uses in the class.  Hopefully that’s all that was needed to give the cups a smoother, nicer structure. I still need to put the bones back into the lining since altering the side seams meant taking some of them out. I plan to do another round of fitting before completely sewing the lining back in… Just in case. Hopefully all will be well, and it’ll be on to the hem. If not, I imagine it’ll be another week of reflection!

Grab the button and join me! If you’re interested but have yet to sign up for the class, contact me about a discount.

Tuesdays with Gertie: The Insides

This year I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up through the Craftsy online community to make perfectly fitted bombshell dresses. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Well, the lining is in the dress.  Or, at least it was.  I should only have the hem to go, but I made the mistake (fortunate chance?) of trying on the dress.  I could barely get the zipper up, and the cups looked awkward.  But, I loved the drape of the skirt.  If it weren’t for my husband, I would have taken my seam ripper to the waistline and turned the bottom of the dress into its own skirt and hidden the bodice away for another month or so.  I tried to make the argument (to myself?  to him?) that I’d eventually fix the top, that I’d eventually make it into its own bustier that I could then wear with the skirt to get the bombshell dress look.  My husband cautioned me to slow down and sleep on it.  The same thing happened the next night.  Again, my husband cautioned me to sleep on it.  He figured I’d put so much work into this dress that I really shouldn’t give up on it so easily.

Now that the shock has passed, I’m happy to say that the bodice is still attached to the skirt.  Currently, I’m in rescue mode.  I let out the side seams a lot in the bodice.  I took the cotton batting out of the cups and replaced it with the needle punch that Gertie uses.  But, I haven’t yet gotten the courage to try it on again and reevaluate.  Maybe I’ll wait until I finish the hem?  Actually, since the bust cups may need more work (translation:  may need another round of fitting), I should probably try it on again before redoing all the little fell stitches needed to attach the lining to the bodice.

Also, I made a little widget-button-thing in case anyone else wants to join me in posting weekly, bi-weekly, or any-random-Tuesday-you-want posts about their progress on Gertie‘s Craftsy courses. (As an aside, I did ask Gertie for her permission to use her image.)

Having a weekly goal has really helped to push me into actually participating in this class. I’ve learned so much more by actually going through the motions instead of just watching the videos.  Once my bombshell dress is complete, I plan to continue the series with the Starlet Jacket course and then perhaps Gertie’s book as well. Join me!

Finally, if you are interested in taking this Craftsy class or others and want a discount, then contact me.

Tuesdays with Gertie: A Lining with Structure… and Dragons

This year I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up through the Craftsy online community to make perfectly fitted bombshell dresses. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

This week’s bombshell dress video lesson was all about adding spiral steel boning to the lining.  After watching the video last summer, I used the lessons to add boning to the sides and back of my Lonsdale bodice since I wanted it to be a halter and not rely on the ties for support.  Back then I’d purchased one continuous length of spiral steel boning and cut it to the lengths that I needed.  I had more than enough left over for this dress as well.

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that there will be dragons hiding in my dress.  I also can’t tell you how happy I am that there are only two more weeks left in this course.  I’m so close to having a finished bombshell dress!

Tuesdays with Gertie: Inserting the Lapped Zipper

This year I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up through the Craftsy online community to make perfectly fitted bombshell dresses. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

In this week’s Bombshell dress class, Gertie took us through inserting a lapped zipper. She effortlessly inserted her zipper in no time using only her machine. But, after sewing the underlap following her method, I realized that I wanted to handpick the zipper to the overlap. This dress already has so many fine hand sewn details, why not the zipper as well? Plus, the tiny little pick stitches nearly disappear into the nubby silk.

It’s hard to believe that the dress is so close to being complete. Just a few more weeks!

Tuesdays with Gertie: The First Signs of a Dress

This year I’m sewing along with Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up through the Craftsy online community to make perfectly fitted bombshell dresses. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

I’m excited to finally see the dress take shape, but this week was a doozy.  All I had to do was sew the skirt, right?  Easy peasy, especially after sewing in those bra cups.  Well, the video lesson started with Gertie saying she’d already sewn together the back skirt pieces.  What?!  I was already behind five seconds into the video?!  And, the video was over thirty minutes long?!

Anyway, it all worked out.  I changed up one tiny detail from the lesson in the video:  I always like to sew three lines of gathering stitches instead of just two.  It’s hard to know if it really makes a difference, but I’m really happy with the way the gathers look.  That said, it was tough to sew the bodice to the skirt over all of those gathers while also matching all of the seams and not catching any extra fabric or any of those giant seam allowances (which still felt large even after being trimmed down!) in the stitches.  I may have taken the seam ripper out.  Nearly ten times.  But, again, all that matters is that it all worked out.

One thing that I was never quite confident about was which direction to sew the side seams of the skirt pieces.  I learned to sew from the bottom of skirts to the top – from wide to narrow.  Gertie sewed her skirt pieces from top to bottom.  Maybe with a skirt this narrow, wide to narrow is actually top to bottom?  Or, maybe with this shape of skirt either way is okay?

Next up:  the lapped zipper.