What the heck is Wings of Goose?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Behind the scenes

Hello there, legions of fans! My post is thus titled because, having just gone through the photos of my latest project, I see that there are an awful lot of construction photos (no I haven't been visiting the local building site, I mean garment construction, obviously!), and I thought those of you who aren't sewers may be interested in seeing whats behind all those neatly finished seams.

To begin, take one absolutely vile dress (really, please do not ask what possessed me to purchase this dress - was I about to endorse Granny Chic or something? And may I tell you that I did actually wear this garment! Only one one occasion however!) I was pregnant at the time of purchase, so surely that accounts for my misled decision! Seriously though, I'm pretty sure I bought this dress because I absolutely adore the fabric. You may see nothing to adore here, and I don't blame you, but bear with me.

Mmmm, delightful!

So anyway, I've had this dress for about four and a half years, and I was thinking about a new project, and it kept niggling away at the back of my mind. Now this post could does (!) go on forever, so I'm going to try and be as succinct as possible in explaining how I transformed it into something, (I think) eminently more wearable.

So, see the dangley neck tassels which are cascading, waterfall-like, from the delightful bib feature? Well I couldn't let those ready made straps go to waste, so they dictated the finished design somewhat. I cut the dress pretty much into one third and two thirds, and decided the best approach was to just pin out the design whilst draping the fabric onto my body, rather than making a paper pattern. I'd not attempted this before, but I have to say, I found it worked easily enough for me to want to go further down the route of draping rather than paper pattern making. I pinned out and stitched bust and waist darts...

...then cut the lining fabric to size using the bodice I'd just made as a template...

You'll notice I'm using a rotary cutter here; since using my rotary to cut out my St. Mawes dress, I've decided to use it when cutting out patterns wherever possible. It's so much easier to get the right lines than with scissors.

I had hoped to be able to reproduce the darts in the lining without having to undo my bodice dart stitching to make a paper pattern, but I couldn't quite get it right, so I did end up undoing one side to make a quick pattern. It was definitely for the best though, as the bodice and lining do fit together perfectly, though I say so myself.

Some people may call my tailor's tacks old fashioned, but I find them so precise, and my lovely MIL showed me how to do them years ago.

Laying out the bodice and lining

I bought some gorgeous, bargainous, lace remnants from Fabricworld in Treforest a couple of months ago, and thought it would make it a bit more interesting if I embellished the top seam with some of it.

 I pinned the lace in place and handstitched it to the bodice with an invisible stitch.

I then assembled the bodice and lining and stitched them together, leaving an open seam on one side for a side zip.


Then I tried it on. You only get one view of this stage though; one that doesn't show my stomach!

The fabric is quite vintage looking, so I thought a high waistline would suit it best.

Then it was time to begin the skirt. I measured the size of the cut off piece of dress, which was just a basic rectangle, in order to make the lining.

I needed to measure how much length was left of the zip once added to the bodice, so I knew how much to unpick of the original sideseam, and also how much to leave unstitched of the lining, so I pinned the zip in place on the bodice so I could measure accurately.

I then constructed the skirt lining using a French seam, which was a new technique for me, and stitched the hem.

I pinned the skirt and lining together and then gathered them, using a long, straight machine stitch which I pulled up to create the gather (the most common method of creating gathers, and very simple).

 I pinned the bodice to the skirt and stitched them together. This is always a great point in the construction of a dress; it really starts to take shape from here.

Next, I basted the zip into position, which I sewed to the main fabric using a basic zip stitch and a zipper foot, and then pinned the lining into place on the zipper fabric (what is that actually called, anybody?) then handstitched the lining into place.

An invisible handstitched finish is so pleasing :)

I finally handstitched the bodice lining over the waist seam to hide all the edges.

It really is lovely to know that that the inside of your garment is as well made as the outside. This certainly is not usually the case with me, but I really want to perfect my finishing technique, and I'm certainly pleased with how this effort has turned out.

So, this post does have an (eventual) end, and I can finally reveal the fruit of my labours. I must apologise at this point for the extent of the detail above. I don't know what comes over me, the words just seem to stream out of my fingers. And I said this post was going to be succinct!

I'm calling this the Goose Island dress. Noting to do with the name of my blog, but rather because the shop I bought the original dress in was called Goose Island, and is actually a really lovely shop in Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales. I was with a very dear friend at the time, and I think she may have withheld her true opinion on the dress, and indulged me in my most peculiar seeming taste!

Creeping surruptitiously out into the garden

So there you have it. Do you think my new design is preferable to the original, or are you more drawn to the sack-esque style? Or would you have done something entirely different? I'd love to know; please leave your comments.

If you've got to the end of this post, you deserve a big cup of tea, so go on and reward yourself, and thanks so very much for reading :)

xxx Sam