Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spiderman Dress, the Reprise

Looks like an ordinary house, except it's actually No. 4, Privet Drive!
And it looks like an ordinary girl in a mostly ordinary tie-dye-ish blue dress, except it's actually another Spidey dress!

Unfortunately, it was just chilly enough that I never
got around to taking my cardigan off.
If you were paying close attention to my Harry Potter Studio Tour pictures, you might have noticed that there were some telltale spiders and web motifs on my dress. Actually, who am I kidding, nobody should be looking at what I'm wearing when there are gorgeous sets and props to look at (not quite as awesome as I imagine the LOTR ones to be, but a very close second). Which is good, because Spiderman is totally the wrong type of fantasy universe, the wrong franchise, the wrong movie studio, etc. And since I never took my long cardigan off that day, there was even less of a chance that anyone would notice that I had a web-slinger, and not a spell-slinger, flying (but not on a broom) across webs (not spun by Aragog or his descendants) on my dress.

See, I had some leftover fabric after making the first Spiderman dress, and of course it would be too sad to let it go to waste. I decided to use it for a muslin, which happily turned out wearable. In fact, it's way more wearable than my first dress, at least as far as London/San Francisco weather goes, seeing as how it's not backless. Unfortunately, the amount of fabric I had left to work with meant that the back has a different sort of (unintentional) special feature:

There are two random grabby hands coming out of the back seams! And a random knee, but it's not grabby.
However, as the some people have pointed out, at least the hand wasn't going the other direction...

This was actually the dress I brought for show and tell at the Canada College blogger meetup. I had drafted this pattern with two inspirations in mind:
  1. Devra's dropped waist dress: I never thought that dropped waist dresses could look good on anyone, Tanit-Isis excepted, but Devra regularly makes dresses with the fitted-top-full-skirt-gathered-at-the-waist look that I like, so if she can make a dropped waist dress look good, maybe I can give that look another chance. I have bad memories of the eighties and all of its shapeless, dropped waist dresses; I knew I would have to make the top at least somewhat fitted so as to avoid recalling that horror.
  2. Laziness: Even though I've gotten much better at darts, princess seams, and zippers, and even though I'm no longer as petrified of buttonholes as I used to be, sometimes I just want a quick, easy-to-make fitted dress that doesn't require fiddling with shaping or closures. The answer to that dilemma, of course, is cutting on the bias. That way, I can still get the figure-hugging look, but the stretchiness of the bias means I can just pull it over my head. It's my first ever dress that's passed the Mena no-zipper test!
  3. Bonus inspiration: There's a costume I want to make that requires a dropped waist and a more or less fitted bodice with no darts, but it can't be made of knit. This is a wearable muslin for that costume. 
I sketched a vaguely torso-shaped piece for my front bodice piece, based loosely on a shape that worked for a knit top, along with some necessary measurements. The back bodice piece was a little trickier since I have both forward-sloping shoulders and a swayback to contend with. I ended up having to make a lot of trial and error corrections after sewing it up; let's hope that I transferred all of changes to the pattern piece accurately! The skirt was just a basic half-circle skirt shape cut in four pieces so as to fit it all on my remaining fabric. Technically, if I didn't have to worry about squeezing the dress out of my scraps of sheet, I could have cut the bodice and skirt as one piece by just extending the lines of the bodice pattern pieces.

It's really only warm enough to take off my cardigan indoors, and even then that's a stretch. Apologies about the poor lighting.

Summary:
Fabric: I had about 2/3 of a twin sheet left, but in lots of oddly-shaped pieces instead of one continuous piece. There were also questionable stains to cut around; as it was, I had no useable fabric left to speak of. I'm pretty pleased, though, that I managed to squeeze out two dresses from two sheets -- one very full skirted one and one cut on the fabric-greedy bias!
Notions: Bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes. I wish I had had the foresight to put seam binding on the seams, but I hadn't expected to wear this muslin when I first made it up. Hopefully, between the pinking and careful hand-washing, it'll be okay.
Techniques: Finishing with bias tape, sewing on the bias, baby hem
Hours used: Seeing as how I made this before my vacation, I don't really remember. Several, I'm guessing, what with the pattern drafting and the trial and error corrections.
Will you make this again? Yes! It wears nicely and should sew up quickly now that I've figured out the pattern.
Total cost: $3 or so, but really it's free, considering that it's made of scraps from another project.
Final thoughts: I am a total convert to cutting things on the bias now. I can't wait to try variations on this pattern with different fabrics. I actually feel like I could successfully make one of those Vionnet-esque gowns that Justine talked about, now. I just love how the bias drapes and moves so beautifully...even if the skirt isn't all that full, it still makes for some good twirling!


Have you ever made a non-stretch dress that passed the Mena test? Have you discovered the wonders of bias-cut garments yet? And is anyone interested in the pattern for the bodice? I don't think I'm up to grading it, but if you're more or less my size (RTW size S/Burda size 34/Big Four size 10 or so) and have a tiny apple dumpling shop, leave me a comment and I'll try to get the pattern pieces into a pdf.

25 comments:

  1. lol. That's very cute and I love the whimsy!

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  2. This dress is totally wearable! I like how it looks like a cool pattern with the cardigan over it--but it's really Spiderman.

    I would love a PDF of the bodice. I like the dropped waist look. I find it's more flattering on me than an empire.

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    1. Alright, I'm going to work on that PDF next week! And yes, it's kind of awesome how the cardigan disguises it as a normal dress :)

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  3. Very cute!! Hmm...a bias-cut drop waist, I'll have to keep that in mind :-)

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    1. Thank you! I think the bias cut is particularly suited to the drop waist.

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  4. Cute cute cute! Don't think of just the 80's with the drop-waist - it's very 20's. (The Eighties were all about the ugly boxy style, which is what made it bad.) Because you used the same fabric for bodice and skirt, the fit of your dress is more about the silhouette and line, so you don't really see the seams first. Another great dress! =)

    And the grabby hands on the back are quite amusing, hehe.

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    1. I'm just going to keep mentally channeling the 20s as I explore this cut more! I was actually wondering if I should emphasize the waist seam more, since it kind of disappears...

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  5. Yes, please! I'm much the same size as you, and I'd love to make a dress like this!
    -Sandra

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    1. Okay, going to try to finish the pdf by next week!

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  6. I think it looks good on u, and still gives you shape, can definitely see your waist! Hahaha at the gabbing hand not pointing the "other way".

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    1. Thanks, I can always count on your to be positive, Neeno! And yes, that grabbing hand the other way just might have rendered this unwearable!

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  7. I love this dress, you look gorgeous in it and it's so beautifully made! Would love to go to the Harry Potter studios! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You should totally try to go! It was an amazing tour. And thanks for your kind words about my dress!

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  8. It looks marvelous!!! AND YAY PRIVET DRIVE! I have not had a dress pass the Mena test yet, but I am uber hopeful that my day will come.

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    1. I was starting to get really depressed that I never had a passing dress, so I'm so relieved now! You will get there too!!

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  9. wow, when you said you were inspired, you took it to an amazing place! i am in love with how long and lean it makes you look, and the flare on that skirt is absolutely perfect.

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    1. Thanks! But seriously, your dress caused me to look at drop-waists in a totally new light. I never would've tried this otherwise!

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  10. Wow, this dress works out so well. I've made one bias dress in the past it was challenging getting it as fitted as possible while still being able to put it on. Yours is way more fitted than mine was.

    Just a question, if you pink a bias seam, wouldn't that make it so that the cut edges again become straight grain? Is that really better than just leaving it alone?

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    1. Yeah, getting it fitted was definitely challenging, but I was fortunate in that this fabric had quite a bit of give on the bias...I think different fabrics may give less.

      That would indeed make it on the straight grain; in this case, I only pinked the skirt seams, which weren't cut on the bias.

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  11. I had to rush here to tell you but two days ago I saw that very sheet on a pèpè line by the side of Canapé-Vert road between Port-au-Prince and Pétion-Ville (Ouest, Haïti). First thing I thought of was "I have to email Cation!!!!"

    So, potentially, I could make one too!

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    1. Do it!!! One doesn't find sheets like that every day!

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