Monday, August 6, 2012

PROMABALLOONA Dress Reveal!

Simplicity 4257 dress made from IKEA curtains


I thought of so many names for this dress: the Marimo Ball Dress (look, it's also my late inspired-by-nature Sew Weekly challenge! Because the fuzzy green patches look a little like algae, and also prom is kind of like a ball, right? get it get it get it???), the Scarlett O'Hara Dress (it's made from plush green curtains!), the Aggressively Green Like Seattle Dress (for obvious reasons), or Lowest Ratio of Professional Finish to Time Invested Dress (for having used so many couture techniques, the execution is remarkably sloppy). I'll leave you to pick your favorite, or maybe even come up with your own title. At any rate, having dreamed about, planned, and worked on this frock for so long, I'm mentally exhausted enough to just ignore the messy bits for now. Maybe at some future point I'll go back and finish the last two seams, but I just can't stomach the thought at this moment in time.

You can really see the bubbliness of the curtain fabric on the bodice from this angle. Even though I stitched down the middles of all the darts, as per usual for underlined bodices, but they still didn't come out very well.

Close-up of the front of the bodice. You can see how incredibly nylon the sheer net is...its iridescence did not agree with my camera. Also the ostentatiously large locket that my mom said was the sad best of my necklace choices.
The skirt is quite delightfully swishy and full (it makes a splendid rustling like the sound of angels' wings, thanks to all the stiff artificial fibers), which sort of makes up for how much trouble it gave me in the gathering and hemming.


Friends, I really had such high hopes for my Promaballoona dress, but lo! how the mighty have fallen! It started so well: my muslin only required a few adjustments, and I purchased my curtains for a mere quarter at a garage sale a block away. Then it all went to pieces: my lining fabric was fraytastically awful (never let me be bewitched again by $3/yd "habotai" from sketchy Chinese discount fabric stores), I discovered that it was impossible to press the seams on my already warped "fashion fabric" (velvet on the thinnest nylon = ironing nightmare, as the plush would flatten and the nylon bubble and melt), Gummy took a nap and drooled on the skirt lining, and the full, gathered skirt was impossibly puffy. I persevered, though, and more or less completed the dress, even though I'll confess I hated it more and more as I worked on it.

The back is the worst. This is where the lining was the rippliest, the fashion fabric the most heat-damaged,
and my hand-stitching the laziest. But hey, there are pockets!

Since my curtain panel was so sheer, I had to underline it with the aforementioned polyester habotai. It was ridiculously slippery and probably slightly off-grain; this, combined with the bubbly, unpressable sheer piece means that none of my pieces quite matched and honestly, the whole dress looks like sh*t. Friends, I don't like using strong language at all (in case you couldn't tell from the fact that I just called that strong language!), but I have never felt so strongly the need to let loose with some choice invectives. Especially tragic was the discovery that my painstakingly-hand-blind-catch-stitched-horsehair-braid hem looked terrible and needed to be all picked out and and redone without the braid. Thank goodness there were Olympics to watch! I'm not even going to bother showing you the insides of this thing because frankly, they're downright appalling (think: four colors of seam binding, Pochacco fabric facings, the center back seam allowances untrimmed and unfinished, and gathering threads left in because the thought of picking them all out of the velvet was too daunting).

This face pretty much sums up my feelings about the dress. Also, you
can see a hint of my lavender seam binding peeking out at the hem.
Summary:
Fabric: One panel of an IKEA curtain, sheer green nylon net with plush starbursts, that had already been somewhat abused by the previous owner's dryer, as it was all bubbly and weird to begin with; three yards of thin, misbehaving polyester lining.
Notions: 18" kiwi green zipper, grosgrain ribbon, hooks and eyes, seam binding
Techniques used: Center back lapped zipper, waist stay, underlining, catchstitching the facings and hem, patience
Hours: Please don't make me count. If I have to figure out how much time I wasted on this dress that I will probably never wear, I will cry. I really will. I could've made so many other (wearable) things in the same amount of time!
Will you make this again? This pattern, yes (thank you, Jane!). I actually quite like the fit on the bodice. This mistake of using cheap artificial fiber material for a dress? NO.
Total cost: $13. Ugh. That could've been four sheets right there.
Final thoughts: If you're thinking of protesting that it looks just fine in the pictures, let me just say that it's a six foot dress. You know how in kindergarten they teach you about six inch voices? Where you talk just loud enough that you can only be heard from six inches away? Well, this dress only looks normal from six feet (or more) away. If I ever have to make a speech on a dimly-lit stage, I'll wear this dress. Otherwise, people would be able to see my bubbly seams, rippled underlining, unevenly distributed gathers (gathering through the velvet parts was extremely taxing), and weirdo hem. And the tears streaming down my face. Just kidding. I mean, I guess it's not all that bad, and I learned a lot, but gosh, it feels so disappointing to spend so much time making something I don't like very much. I guess I could've stopped and not finished it, but I had already invested in the lining and because Promaballoona guys...I couldn't just show up to Oona's bash with nothing to wear! Oona, consider this a testament to how much I adore you that I powered through on this dress.

A congratulatory twirl for the birthday girl! I know, I know, I should refer to grown female adults as women, but there isn't a good rhyme for woman. And the shadows here make it look like I'm wearing leggings under my dress.

All of these photos were taken near my husband's childhood home in the lovely East Bay hills.
The view there *almost* rivals the view at the reservoir near my home.

I kind of want to wear this dress and go back to the house where I bought the curtains and be like, hey, remember these? Only I don't remember the exact house and I'm afraid that I'll end up standing there awkwardly while the homeowner stares at me and tries to figure out why this girl is standing on their steps in a vaguely formal dress.

45 comments:

  1. Way to go for persevering, though! I hate when a project fights you the whole way. It does look good in the photos.

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    1. Thank you! It really looks fine from far away, or in photos, but honestly, when I was working on it I really despaired of what it would ever look like!

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  2. Well, I don't know about a 6-foot-dress, but from the images you posted, I think it looks fab. Actually, when I saw the first photo, I thought it was some kind of vintage silk!

    I sewed a very, very simple dress (the Victory Patterns Hazel dress) from thrifted poly crepe and hated every minute of it. I switched to cotton voile and LOVED IT! The 1960s said that synthetics were miracle fabrics - my ASS. Give me natural fibres any day.

    Sorry for the terribly salty language ;)

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    1. Wow, an IKEA curtain mistaken for vintage silk! That's an excellent thing to be mistaken for!

      When I was making my muslin from a cotton bedsheet, I loved it and couldn't wait to make the dress out of "real" fabric. But yes, I feel you on the horrors of synthetic fabric! I think they definitely deserve the salty language :)

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  3. I think it looks beautiful! Maybe after you get some distance from it you can be okay with the little imperfections and enjoy wearing it :)

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    1. You know, even twenty hours later, I already feel less anger toward it, so you are probably right! I'm glad it looks okay to others...I think I've just been staring at it too long!

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  4. I like that you include patience as a technique used!!

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    1. Oh, trust me, it was the most difficult of all the techniques!

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  5. I think your dress looks great. No one will ever know the frustration it caused you. Interesting backdrop for your photos. Is this the view from where you live?

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    1. This is actually the view from my husband's childhood home. We went out there this Sunday to visit his parents and it made for a great backdrop...much better than misty, gray, freezing cold SF!

      I'm glad that the frustration doesn't show in the pictures! Maybe if my husband got closer you all could see the not-quite-blind hemming, because by that point I just couldn't be bothered anymore!

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  6. was the $3 terrible fabric from the fabric spree we did in oakland?

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    1. It was not! It's from another place in SF, Discount Fabrics. I'm actually kind of scared of my Oakland lining fabric now, since I know it's polyester, too.

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  7. How frustrating! I'm sure this is a case of "thank goodness the camera lies!" I've had projects like these every once in a while and I completely understand the worse in person. Put it away for a couple months and then look at it again - sometimes staring at a project up close for too long will make it seem worse and if you wait a while, you will forget some of what bugs you.

    I really like the shape and the color though! =)

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    1. Thanks, Brooke! I think this would be a perfect stage dress (other than the fact that it's not sturdy enough to hold up in a real theater production) because it looks fine from the audience's seats :) I think time will really be the key here...I already hate it less a day later!

      I love the color and shape, too! The green fuzzy patches do make me happy, even if they were a beast to sew/gather/press!

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  8. That sounds like Absolute. Fabric. Hell. I'm so sorry. (I know Oona's sorry too!) What a PITA (is that too strong?)!

    All that being said, it looks great in the photos---the somewhat, ah, blousy darts are to be expected with fabric like this, and the stiff fabric works really well with the full skirt. I want to say maybe it's one of those dresses that will be more loved after some time apart, but I'm not sure how into wearing random prom-ish dresses you are. (I, on the other hand, have been wearing nothing but dresses for most of July, the fluffier the better, which has been fun as hell but definitely isn't my usual thing...)

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    1. Hahaha I have no objection to other people using strong language; I've just never been in the habit myself so it's weird when I do. But yes, it was definitely a PITA.

      I'm hoping that if I ever get around to wearing this dress, the blousey darts won't be as noticeable to non-seamstresses. I will probably end up wearing this to some wedding next year, when it's had enough time in the time-out corner... I wore my floofy black dress, which I also hated at the time, to a wedding earlier this year and it was fine, so I think time will do it.

      I wish I could wear dresses this summer! It's been cold and gray and misty in SF, so it's jeans and me-made tops the whole way.

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  9. Love how the pockets are secretly hidden away. You'd never guess! And what a crazy untamable fabric! Ah well, no matter - the end result is still totally wearable :)

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    1. Thanks for the encouraging words! I do like how the pockets turned out...at least the huge skirt is good for hiding my hands!

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  10. Your dress is gorgeous and I can hardly believe it was made from an Ikea curtain panel. Oona must have been very flattered :)

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    1. Thank you! I think IKEA needs to pay me a commission every time I make something from one of their textiles :)

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  11. That fabric! I would ahve persevered too- it's too lovely not to work with.

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    1. It is pretty spectacularly unique, isn't it? I guess it was worth it...

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  12. I also thought it was silk, it definitely passes the six feet test, it looks gorgeous. The fit is perfect and I'm so, so happy you made it from the swapped pattern, I KNEW it was the perfect pattern for you! What a pain that the curtain fabric was such a nightmare. X

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    1. Thank you so, so, so much for the pattern! I think it might be my new favorite go-to bodice. And thanks for mistaking my nylon for vintage silk :)

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  13. Really enjoyed reading about your mishap. Love the colors in the dress and since I'm 6 feet from the screen, I think the dress is quite lovely. LOL

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    1. Haha thanks for staying six feet away!

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  14. Bravo on powering through! The fabric is a lovely color on you, though I totally understand having to work on a project that ends up beating you to pieces. I've given away quite a few of those because I couldn't get over the heartache that came with making the piece. I think the style is very flattering on you, and I definitely think you should make more versions of this pattern! And wear more of this color, please :)

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    1. Thank you, Meg! Good thing my whole cosplay pinterest board is full of green things of this shade...I was surprised by how much I liked it, too! Hopefully I can get over the heartache of this piece, because I really want to love it!

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  15. YAY! Another Promaballoona dress! Despite the horrors of making it I do hope you had fun wearing it, and celebrating in it! ^__^ Say what you will... I think it looks smashing on you - you're one of the few who can pull off green so nicely :)

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    1. Thank you for all your kind words! I just hopped on over to your blog and my goodness, your promaballoona dress looks hot! I love that neckline and the side gathers...methinks it's the Gertie dress, yes?

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    2. It sure is! Thanks so much, you're so sweet! ^__^

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  16. You may hate your prombaloona dress but do not fret! I think you did the best you could do given the fabric, and from these pictures it looks pretty stunning on you! My poor promballoona dress had it's issues too, who knew stretch lace was so challenging?

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    1. Thanks, Angela! I think your promaballoona dress looks lovely, too, so maybe this is all a case of issues in our heads?

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  17. At least it does look gorgeous in the pictures! I'm just going to believe you about the problems, because trust me, I can't see them! And that colour is so utterly delicious.

    I actually just helped a student make a dress out of exactly the same kind of fabric. It is indeed evil!

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    1. Leimomi, it makes me feel so much better that even you feel this kind of fabric is evil! And you'll just have to believe me about the insides...I would hate to think of what someone might think if they discovered this dress fifty years from now!

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    2. Leimomi, it makes me feel better that even you think this kind of fabric is evil! And you'll just have to believe me about the insides, because I'm not showing pictures for everyone to see!

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  18. i think your dress is fabulous, color is great and the fit is fantastic, and you look lovely in it

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    1. Thank you! Your prom dress is awesome too!

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  19. Wow, you made that out of curtains?!!? I am in awe...

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  20. I understand your frustration, it has also happened with some clothes on me, but this is a great way to learn in the future. I see some imperfections in the seams, but this dress is made with such love, that love can cover everything.

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  21. That dress is fantastic! I love it! You are so creative and so smart to re-fashion things like drapes into fantastic wardrobe items.

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