Serendipity Dress 2012

by brae  

Yes, I know I teased you with the fall outfit and never followed through.  I do have some of it cut out for sewing, though no photos.  :\

But, I have finished my holiday party dress for this year's office party.  I have the pleasure of working for a generous company that holds a lovely holiday party for us every year.  It's held at a local country club, so I always go all out.  I've made dresses with trains and even a full Victorian ensemble.  I'll have to take photos of these at some point.

This year, I went for something relatively simple since there were so many other demands on my time.  This dress came about through a series of happy accidents, so I've named it the Serendipity Dress.  I don't name many of my creations, only sometimes.

I was planning an ensemble last year and ordered an olive green smooth satin for it.  This is what came....

Satin, yes...smooth and olive green, no.  But, I loved I kept it.  :D

I order a lot from, and they offer free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount.  I like to pick up yards here and there of fabrics I might not otherwise try to reach that minimum order.  One of those fabrics was this lovely embroidered organza.  There was exactly one yard left.

Now, together, they are just lovely!

I used two patterns - the skirt and sash from Vogue 8184 (Views DEF) and the bodice from Butterick 5351 (Views AB) - to piece together a dress using both fabrics.

I had to take in the bodice darts as I cut the fabric, but they were rather large and forgiving for this change.  To make the most of the scalloped edge, I placed the top of the front bodice and the bottoms of the skirt pieces along this finished edge.  I didn't have enough to also do this for the top of the back bodice, but I think it worked well design-wise.

Once the cutting was done, it was time to figure out the construction.  Because the organza was a heavier decorator fabric and very sheer, I couldn't just use the green satin as a lining.  Instead I sewed the pieces together along the dart lines and then made the darts through all thicknesses.  I basted the sides of the bodice and skirt pieces together.

I realized too late that it would be better for the green satin to hang below the organza scalloped edge along the hem, but I just added material to each skirt piece before sewing it together.  You can somewhat see the seam, but it is fairly well masked.  Besides, I'm hoping the dress wows you enough that you don't start looking for construction issues.  :D

My second time putting in an invisible zipper!  :D  I learned the technique using a regular zipper foot from this youtube video.  I need a lot more practice, but it gets the job done!  I've changed the slit construction since this photo, too...made it lapped instead of open.

I also added a plain green satin sash and beaded ribbon straps that bring out the champagne threads in the organza.  The white gold shoes are by Liz Baker from JCPenney.

It's not the cleanest construction I've ever done, but it worked and I was able to get the dress done in a weekend.  In case of disaster, Plan B was to make Vogue 8184 in all lime green satin, and I have enough fabric left over to do just that (someday).   Haaaa!

Oh, and seeing April's post reminded me.  Here's my machine...a vintage Singer 401A that belonged to my grandma.  She gave it to me when she upgraded to a modern machine and said while she didn't regret giving it to me since I used it so much, she never felt the same about her new one.

If it ever kicks the bucket and can't be repaired, I'll be hunting for another just like it.  :]


Comment from: April [Visitor]
Oh Brae, the dress is so pretty. Gorgeous organza, what a perfect find. I learned on an old mid 50's Green Brother that my Mother brought in her senior year from one of my Grandma's friends who was "upgrading". Sadly, Mom upgraded too and that poor machine got kicked to the curb. I actually see one up on Ebay right now, very tempting.
12/05/12 @ 21:08
Comment from: Elga [Visitor]
Lovely dress, Brae! I have a 26 year old Singer and I hope it lasts for my lifetime :-)
12/05/12 @ 23:27
Comment from: Terry [Visitor]
I have a similar model Singer. My mother bought it in 1960. She gave it to me when she bought a newer model in the 1980s. I wouldn't take any amount of money for this sewing machine! Your dress is lovely. You'll be getting lots of compliments at the party. Thank you for sharing the story of Serendipity with us all.
12/06/12 @ 05:35
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you!!! :>>
12/06/12 @ 07:22
Comment from: Jonquil [Visitor]
That is a wonderful dress! Such good colour matching, I hope you have fun in it! My Pfaff turns 32 this year, and though I have a couple of other machines, nothing comes close to the Pfaff. I hope she (because it is a she) lasts for another 32. However, am green eyed looking at your singer!
12/06/12 @ 07:35
Comment from: Lyssa [Visitor]
Beautiful, friend! You are so talented in so many ways. :) My machine hasn't come out since we moved to the new house. I like that yours gets loved often. :)
12/06/12 @ 08:07
Comment from: Marisa [Visitor]
when I first moved in with my husband my sister in law gave me her old singer and I never got to use it, our dog had pups and I kept them in the "sewing" room yep you guessed it..they chewed up the cords..all of them and since it was so old there was no way to replace all of them so it had to be thrown away (I was very tempted to make a Beagle coat like Cruella Deville but I didnt) I got a new one but I have never used it..may be I'll be inspired by your sewing blog :) Love Marisa
12/06/12 @ 09:09
Comment from: Janice [Visitor]
What a gorgeous dress Brae. Walk the walk!!
12/06/12 @ 15:15
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thanks so much!!! :D
12/06/12 @ 16:21
Comment from: Angie Martin Hall [Visitor]
Great job! I just love the red scallop trim at the top of the bodice. I, too, sew a little...very little. Your sewing machine reminds me of the one my husband purchased for me second-hand some 16 years ago from a thrift store. Since then, I've bought another one, but something about the feel of that old Singer really spoke to me. I love your work!
12/09/12 @ 09:07
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you! The party was a lot of fun! :>>
12/10/12 @ 12:14
Comment from: Betsy Rogers [Visitor]
Hi Brae! Your dress looks fantastic! I thought at first that you were doing the embroidery too.....! I like the clever use of layering the materials! I learned to sew on an Old Singer Featherweight that my Mom bought when she was a teenager! I used to make lots of my clothes, but don't have much time for it any more. My machine is an antique Singer that was originally a treadle, but was converted to an electric motor before I bought it. It doesn't even have "reverse" but I LOVE it and never use anything else! I think the old Singers are priceless!
12/10/12 @ 19:17

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