Friday, December 7, 2012

The Pomegranate Dress... a Dress in Three Movements

I have a thing for pomegranates.  Not only are they tasty, but they feature quite a bit in history, mythology, and symbology.  Overall, I'm a fan.  In fact, I am enough of a fan that I spent 56 hours embroidering pomegranates into a dress.  I finished that "movement" of the dress for a competition, and while it scored well there were definite problems with it.  So, for the second "movement" of the dress, I fixed the dress up a bit and was happier for it.  The third "movement" of the dress is still forthcoming, but here are the pictures for now.

I started out simply, with a very simple a-line dress.  I knew I was going to have to alter the sleeves from a previous encounter with this pattern, but I love the line and shape of this dress too much to care.

I took some time to work out what I wanted to do for an embroidery design.  This is a blackwork design that I simply love, but for more practical purposes I wanted to simplify it and enlarge it.

My first step was to find waste canvas I could buy by the yard (not the easiest thing) and cut out the pattern piece I wanted to have all of the embroidery.  In this dress, I wanted the front panel to have all of the fancy-bits.  Of note is that the width of my waste canvas was not helpful to my cause, so I had to cut the pattern piece into two pieces.  This became problematic later on.

I laid out my waste-canvas pattern onto the satin I was working with, pulled out a quilting frame, and put that quilting frame to work!

And then I embroidered... and embroidered... and embroidered.  By the end of the dress I had gotten a single pomegranate down to about an hour's worth of work... and there are 56 pomegranates throughout the dress.  You do the math.

These are some up-close pictures to what I began to call "the split".  It was more difficult than anticipated to match up the squares in the waste canvas and just continue embroidering, so I ended up adding a line or two of space between pomegranates.  I probably shouldn't admit this, as I'm pretty sure that no one has noticed on their own.

Once done with the embroidery (upper left), it came time to start pulling the waste canvas away (upper right).  Eventually, I was left with a nice, clean dress-front with some awesome handwork (center bottom)!

Next came construction, and with such a beautiful outside, I was loathe to have a messy inside.  So, I "french-seamed" the entire thing.

This dress was also when I got into the habit of encasing my sleeve-seams in bias tape.  I've improved the practice *greatly* since this dress.

There was also *no* way that anyone was seeing the back of my needlework.
So, I lined the front panel.

This was the first "movement" of the dress.  You can see from the pictures (if you look closely) that the hem is a travesty.  I rushed it and that is something that you cannot do with a circle hem.  I also wasn't terribly fond of the sleeves, but they served the purpose.

And here is the second "movement" of the dress.  I got a bit of a head start on my 2013 goal of "Fix It!  Finish It!" and went to town.  The sleeves came off and all million-miles of hem were pulled out.  I also took the stiff cording out of the neckline.

I replaced the cording with some thin elastic.  I am still not sure I'm pleased with the result.  It felt like I was pulling the dress' neckline back into place an awful lot.

What was once the sleeve to the dress became the "lower sleeve" and I added cap-sleeves to the dress itself.  I like the overall look better, but I might add some kind of gather agent where the upper sleeve and the lower sleeve meet.  They seem too bulky as they are now.

I redid the hem with bias tape.  I hate spending money on bias tape, but man-oh-man do I love the pre-packaged stuff.  I pay for convenience in situations such as this.

In the third "movement" of the dress, I plan to let out the center-back seam a little bit.  You can tell from the picture that my bust is rather restricted and I'd like to fix that.  This will require that I redo the neckline, but I will be able to reassess my recent choice in using the thin elastic.  I will probably also put some elastic into the join between the upper and lower sleeves, just to give that a test drive.

... of course, there is no telling when *that* will get done...
Ha!  Ha!  Ha!

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