much ado about… prom dresses!

Hello again!  I fear I’ve set another bad milestone – nearly four months without an update! Yikes!  Well, things have been hectic, and as ACen is now a terrifying three weeks away, I’m in full crunch mode to get the convention costumes done.  Unfortunately, I don’t have much more at this point to show than I did when I last blogged… double yikes!

Usually, the first week of April is when it hits me that it’s almost convention time again, and that’s when I really get cranking on whatever costumes I have yet to finish – which is, usually, all of them.  However, these last three weeks, I’ve been occupied with something else – a last-minute prom dress for my sister.  I wish I had lots of pictures or things to say about this project, but sadly, I don’t – the final product was not what I wished it to be, or could have been if I’d had maybe another week to work on it.  And I have a whopping total of….. one picture to show of it.

IMG_1299

So, as for the construction – I wish I could say it was simple, but everything about this dress gave me fits.  The base dress is constructed out of two layers of heavy lining fabric, and is fitted through the hips with a pleated skirt from the thigh down – building that was the easy part.  Over the bodice is painstakingly hand-stitched poly chiffon, carefully pleated, every minute of which was spent cursing.  The skirt, cape, and flowers at the neckline are all made of silk chiffon, which I hand dip-dyed to achieve the ombre effect.

I have dyed silk before, but I’ve never had to ombre dye anything, so that was new territory for me that I’ll talk a little bit about.  The silk chiffon is from Dharma Trading, and I used their acid dye in True Black as well to dye it.  I did a couple of test runs before I decided on a good process for doing it.  I set up two pots on the stove, one of dye and another one of citric acid bath, rather than the usual method of dying your fabric and then adding the citric acid to it to set the dye.  For the dye bath, I started with a minimal amount of dye – I dissolved about half a teaspoon of dye powder in a half cup of water, and then added that mixture to the pot by teaspoonfuls – and slowly added dye to build up the color evenly.  It was a pretty slow process, but went much more smoothly than I’d hoped.  After I was satisfied with the color, I sank the fabric into the citric acid bath to set the dye, which worked wonderfully.  I ended up dying each piece twice, because after it they were washed and dried the first time I found the color was a little too light.  The end result made me very happy – the lighting in the photo doesn’t really do it justice; it’s a very nice ombre effect.

And that’s about it!  I feel this project turned out very well, although I can think of a number of things I’d have done better if I had a little more time.  This is definitely the last time I agree to make anything this complicated on such short notice, I feel as though I’ve lost three years of my life rather than three weeks!

Now, it’s back to convention costumes, and I have a lot of work ahead of me…… I’ll be putting in some long sewing days over the next two weeks, so the silver lining is, you can look forward to some blog posts in that time!

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