I used many techniques to give the dress a “custom-made”, rather than a “home-made” look. The instructions did not call for underlining, but I included a broadcloth underlining to give the fabric a little more heft. According to Simplicity’s directions, the seam allowances were to serve as casing for the boning. To achieve a couture result, I used Rigilene boning and made casing from wide single fold bias tape that I pressed open, then pressed in half, and finally sewed into a tube.
I sewed the zippers in by hand using a handpicked stitch.
It’s not easy to find a tea length crinoline half-slip. So, to add fullness, I added a net ruffle between the lining and dress. I decided to pleat the net and not gather it. My daughter (who has a lean, athlete's build) is worried about looking fat. Pleats added less fullness than gathers. I placed the net at the bottom of the lining to keep the fullness away from her hips and waist.
I learned so much making this dress.
- Muslins are our friends. I could not have done this without one. I used to think they were a waste of time, but I certainly have changed my thinking about muslins.
- If I’m going to the trouble of making a muslin, I need to believe what I see. When DD tried on the muslin, it was big. I forgot how much ease is drafted into Big 4 patterns and ignored what I saw because her measurements matched the chart. I ended up having to make a second top because the first one was too big. (Good thing I always buy extra fabric.)
- Basting and hand sewing are also our friends. Hand sewn hems, hand-picked zippers, hand basting gave this dress a custom-made couture look.
Throughout my daughter’s life, I've looked forward to certain “Mommy Milestones”. One was getting my first “gift-made-from-macaroni” (in my case, a pencil cup). The most recent Mommy Milestone was making the dress for her first prom. It was an experience I will always remember.