The ball at the Riverside Dickens’ Festival is quickly approaching. We recently moved and I can’t find the dress I made (well, my friends made while I watched, lol) for last year’s ball.
My mission: to get a dress, cheap, and Steampunk it, cheap, as quickly as possible so I’d have it in time for the ball.
The caveat: It’s a Dickens’ Ball, not a Steampunk Ball, so I want it to be different and spectactular, but not totally out-of-place.
The problem: I can’t sew worth a lick and am so not crafty. Also, after our recent move I have no idea where even to find a needle and thread let alone the sewing machine that I haven’t used in six years.
Step 1: I bought a Von Lancelot Costume off ebay for dirt cheap. The only problem was that the one I won was all white. What in the world was I thinking? But it was so much prettier than the other “birthday cake” style dresses in my size, and all the others were outside my budget as was a custom one. Also, I needed a full on ball gown, not a bustle-stule dress.
Step 2: I asked my friends to help me with very easy ideas and the general consensus involved dye in a contrasting color. I was leaning towards black. Black and white would be very striking, yet would blend in far better than distressing it and putting a corset on top (which would be the easiest.)
Step 3: But then I actually got the dress in the mail. It is beautiful, but the fabric won’t take dye. Also, the dress is all one piece, so it wasn’t like I could do something easy like cut out the underskirt, dye it, and baste it back on with fabric glue and duct tape (yeah, that’s how I roll, lol). I’m very tempted to simply pretend I’m a debutante and wear all white. I’d never seen an all-white Victorian ball gown, but white wasn’t the color du jour for wedding dresses so I might be able to get away with it.
Step 4: I took the dress to the fabric store. I’m going to have to bite the bullet and replace the back panel and underskirt with actual fabric. I obsess over fabric and decide on black brocade. I nearly bought black and gold brocade but decided it would be too busy. Less is more where I’m concerned. Less is also easier. Using my coupons, I buy fabric, ribbons, and giant satin roses. I also buy thread, needles, pins, and a large bottle of fabric glue.
Step 6: I laid out the dress and the brocade out on top of a blanket on the livingroom floor. Gluing the heavy brocade directly to the satin would make the panel really heavy and probably affect the drape of the dress. The panel would have to be to be cut out. I seriously reconsider the sanity of doing this myself. Usually, I either convince my friends to help me or pay someone to sew it for me. Did the sewing machine even make the move?
Step 7: Steeling myself for the possibility of ruining the dress, I cut the back panel off, trying to get as close to the ruffle as possible. If worse comes to worse, I can always bring the dress and fabric to my friend and plead with her to make it right.
Step 8: Using a white crayon, I traced the cut-out panel on the wrong side of the black brocade. Using my husband’s measure tape, I measured 1 inch around for a seam allowance. Then, taking a deep breath, I cut the brocade. Neither my cutting or my lines are straight. When I was an intern, I’d been forbidden to put labels on envelopes because I just can’t make things straight.
Step 9: I hem the fabric with fabric glue, so the brocade won’t fray. My husband wonders what in the word I’m doing and says he thinks he’s found the sewing machine.
Step 10: I’m afraid to fabric glue the back panel on. It’s a ball, with dancing, and well, people’s dresses tear. I have nightmares about the back panel ripping off entirely. Why am I doing this again?
Step 11: I pinned the new back panel on–it’s looking good. The hubby finds the sewing machine. It takes about two hours to do all this.
Step 12: The hubby didn’t find the power supply. But the sewing machine scares me as visions of ruining the dress swim through my head. I wished I still lived across the hall from people who sew. The idea of calling someone and going over to their house to use their sewing machine just seems like way to much work.
Step 13: I start to hand-sew the back panel on. Several times I consider shoving it into a bag and taking it to someone else and paying them to sew it for me. It takes four hours and the stitches are far from expert, even, or consistent, though I tried to sew over the original seams and make small stitches. Maybe I should reinforce it with fabric glue.
Step 14: I replace the white ribbon in the back with black ribbon. It’s time to go to bed. The front will have to wait for another day. But all-in-all, it’s starting to look pretty. I might just be able to pull this off.
To be continued…