Tuesday, November 27, 2007

...and play

Holiday time brings invitations to parties. Different types of parties; neighborhood “girls only” parties, work department parties, and appreciative business client parties. For some reason I really enjoy sewing holiday party outfits for the dressier type parties. I no longer sew a lot of gifts, or Christmas ornaments to exchange with friends. So to keep the holiday stress level up, I make party outfits. Every year, I go through the catalogs for ideas. Bloomingdales, Barrie Pace and NM are favorites. I also review my inspiration file of pages torn from magazines.
I typically choose a traditional dress or jacket pattern (my comfort zone) and make it in a glitzy, fancy fabric. This year the dress I have made for the cocktail and hors d’oeuvres party at the local botanical garden was inspired by the SFA ad for an Alberta Ferretti dress. All it took was Vogue pattern. 8229, silver and gold floral brocade fabric, and quite a few design changes.

I spent a lot of time studying the picture of the Ferretti dress in order to replicate the size and location of the design details correctly. The relationships I noted were; the pocket welts were the same width as the neck bands, the pockets were located in the waist to high hip area, the angle of the pocket welts was close to vertical, and echoed the angle of the armhole from underarm to neck band. The center front slit was longer then I felt comfortable wearing, so I exercised artistic license and shortened it to about 4 inches. I extended the bottom edge of the dress an additional 8 inches, and eliminated the ruffle. I used the pocket bag pattern and the welt form a raincoat pattern in a 2006 issue of BWOF. I have a packing tape dress form double that duplicates my shape very well. I pinned the partially completed dress to the dress form to make sure it fit, the fabric gathered reasonably well, and played with the pocket placement. The fabric is “cringe” …nylon. But it was lightweight, matched the look I was going for, and was on sale. I checked Sandra Betzina’s book More Fabric Savvy for info. on sewing nylon. “rip stop” was the only entry for nylon fabric and that sure didn’t make me feel good about using it for a party dress. I guess I can wear it camping and it will be water and wind resistant. The Vogue Sewing Book had a section on sewing metallic fabrics which was quite informative. Actually the rip stop recommendations worked well; cotton/poly thread, a new size 12 universal point needle, and medium heat with steam for pressing. The fabric was actually easy to sew. I used a low heat fusible interfacing for the bands, and to reinforce the front slit and pocket area. There was very little fraying, which was a pleasant surprise. I am hoping the party will be in one of the greenhouse rooms with lots of plants so that the temperature will be fairly warm. Of course that means the humidity will be high and I will need to use super hold hair gel. Just in case the temperature is a little cool, I am on the lookout for a cream colored shrug or shawl.


  1. Seriously, I can't tell the difference between Alberta's dress and yours. Your attention to detail really paid off.

  2. Great job duplicating your inspiration dress.

  3. You look beautiful in that dress - it really suits you. I especially like the colour. Well done!