Since last years' ball, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I have a wonderful little black wool knit dress from the 60's that I wanted to recreate. The original dress is short, sleeveless and has a small stand collar. The ornimentation is what makes the dress a knockout. Around the hips are ovals of gold soutache and around each oval is a row of rhinestones. In the center of each oval is a slit that a belt weaves through. The ovals sit exactly on the hips, so when you move, well, you can guess where the eyes go. I wanted my dress to be white, strapless and have a small trane.
The first challenge was finding the right cording, in gold, to make the ovals. There is a great fabric store in Nashville, Textile Fabrics. From what I understand, it's a favorite among the country music stars. I found the perfect cording. This picture shows the stitching from the backside.
The coding was sewn into ovals. Once I had sewn all my ovals, I stitched them to the dress. This was a bit of a complicated process. In order to make sure that the ovals would lay flat, I had to stitch them to the fabric from the back side and anchor the entire oval.
Once I had the ovals stitched to the dress, I decided that I needed to frame the ovals with a small black cord. Although the gold was a very strong color, I felt that it needed the black in order for it to have some definition.
In the following picture you can see Susan fitting me and the rhinestones around each oval. In the picture it looks a though the rhinestones are pulling, but that is only because the dress was still in the fitting stage.
I brought the hat that I was going to wear with the dress and everyone was very excited to get a glimpse of what the finished look would be. John Koch made the hat. I just happened to be visiting him as he was finishing this hat. He had made it for a client that lives in Florida. I wanted the hat as I knew it would be absolutely perfect with my dress. Since this client lives in Florida, he agreed to make another for me. This began a search for elongated pearl drop beads that are no where to be found. I was heartbroken as John felt that he really needed that particular bead in order to make this hat. But, lucky me, his client didn't like the hat and returned it. She has dark hair and the hat disappeared in her hair. Since my hair is light, it pops. Again, lucky me.
I didn't get the dress finished while I was in Nashville, but made great headway.
Finally, the night of the party arrived. A friend came by to take our picture. I had held up the dress to walk through the garden to get to the fountain. I didn't realize that I had not straightened out my dress, but you can get a good idea of what the dress looked like. There's a bustier under the dress that is like armour. I love it. Susan introduced me to the best metal boning. It's flexible from all directions and gives the most wonderful support. If you are doing any type of garment where you would like to use boning, I HIGHLY recommend getting this boning. Susan sells it on her website, www.susankhaljie.com. The boning comes in lengths from 2" to 16".
In closing I have to say that there is something so very special about attending a special party in a gown that you have made yourself. That evening there were designer gowns galore. There is no better compliment than to be in a sea of designer gowns and have complete strangers come up and tell you how beautiful your dress is. Little did they know, I made it!!