Monday, October 31, 2011

Belle Dress and Cape

I thought I'd blogged about this before, but apparently not!  I've been working on this Belle Winter Dress for about two years - it's not complicated, but I'm not making it for any specific reason other than the fact that it's always been my favorite.

The bodice and skirt are actually made from two different patterns:  Simplicity 9891 for the sleeves and skirt and Simplicty 4940 for the bodice.  The sleeves are pink chiffon that I had left over, the skirt is a low-quality, lightweight velvet, and the bodice is satin.  The cape is also made from a lightweight velvet.  I got the velvet and satin from

Well, the other night I decided to try to finish my Belle dress for the work Halloween party today.  It's not completely finished - I still need to add the ribbon down the front and around the waist, and I need to add the ruffle to the bottom of the dress.  However, it's good enough for right now!

I attached the ruffles to the sleeves and then the sleeves to the dress.  I was absolutely shocked at the fact that I sewed the sleeve on correctly the first time!  Sleeves and zippers were always my two worst parts of a dress, and I've made great strides in both over the last two years.
The sleeves were finished with the serger, which I think adds a nice weight to them.  They're a little long, though, so I'm going to shorten them up.  The top portion of the arm is a bit tight and the seams are cutting into my arms,  but instead of trying to rip them out and put in new sleeves, I think I just won't eat as much Halloween candy.

Here is the (semi) finished dress:



Because Belle's cape is really more of a capelet with a long back, I used two different patterns:

 Simplicity 5840 view B for the cape (only two panels).
McCall's 3033 view A for the front capelet.

I cut out the cape and attached it to the capelet, which I cut about three inches shorter than the pattern.  once because I had an error in the sewing, then I pinned it right sides together, then I got distracted and thought I'd already unpinned and repinned it and ended up sewing it right sides together, so I had to rip it out.  Oy!!!

I then made the hood and a hood lining so that you can't see the seams when the hood is down.  After attaching those to each other, I sewed them to the cape/capelet (yes, it's four layers of fabric - blech). The cape is actually shorter than I would have liked.  See, I had to open the fabric to a single layer and cut each piece at a time because the pattern is so wide.  And on the second piece, I forgot to flip the pattern upside down.  So I cut two of the same side.  The material that I had left wasn't long enough to cut an entire piece, so I ended up cutting about four inches off of the bottom of the cape.  (But I think it still works - I wouldn't want white fur swishing along the floor getting dirty!)

I then had to add the fur lining.  I found fake fur on a bolt at JoAnn Fabrics at $10.99/yard.  It was on sale for 40% off, so I purchased 1.5 yards in case I made a mistake.  I ended up cutting three 5" pieces from that 1.5 yards, and that's all, so don't get too much!

It was much, much easier to put on the fur than I thought it would be.  I pinned it right sides together to the bottom of the cape (with the bottom hem and the bottom of the fur together, just like if you were sewing a regular seam).  I could have just folded the fur fabric in half and sewed it onto the fabric that way, but because it's so thick, I found it was difficult to match up the edge of the fabric and keep it pinned in place.  Therefore, once I had the fur sewn onto the cape, I then folded it in half and sewed it right onto that same seam.  I did the same thing for the edge of the capelet.  Sewing it to the seam ensured that no stitches showed on the outside edge of the fur or on the fabric.  Also, there are a few spots where the fur had to overlap because the pieces weren't long enough.  I tacked the length of those together by hand, and you can't even tell where the seams are.

However, I had to sew the fur onto the hood differently, since I didn't want any seam to show.  I followed the first step, but then after sewing it on, I turned the edge over the inside of the seam, so that the fabric was between the two edges of the fur.  Therefore, the outer fabric of the hood was sewn right sides together, and the inside fabric was sewn "wrong" sides together (because the hood has a lining, it's technically not the wrong side of the fabric, but it is the wrong side of the fur).  I then hand-stitched the edge of the fur to the seam I'd created so that there would be no visible stitching.  Whew!

And so that's the finished product (so far).  The capelet looks great until I put it on, and then I feel, to paraphrase some of Kaylee's cut dialogue from Shindig, "like the clapper of a bell".   The problem is that the fur makes the fabric stand out more instead of just draping.  I'm going to rip it at the bottom of the shoulder seams and, while keeping the top two inches intact, cut some of the excess material out of the bottom portion of it so it lays a bit flatter.  I also need to correctly hem the dress - I was in a rush last night and just hemmed it to the floor.  It's about an inch too long!  And as I mentioned earlier, I still need to put on the ribbon, but that will take a while because it has to be tacked on by hand, and that's really nerve wracking, so I want to do it when I don't have to rush.

My husband thinks I look like Mrs. Claus, and at my work party, 90% of people also thought I was Mrs. Claus (the other 10% thought I was Little Red Riding Hood or Sleeping Beauty).  It didn't help that someone was dressed up as Santa (though he didn't suggest I was cosplaying his wife).

And here is the final-ish product!