Monday, 3 December 2012

Can you make me 23 charleston dresses in 48 hours???

The doorbell rang on Friday morning and in came my dance teacher laden with sequin fabric and a last minute request for the concert on Sunday! Could I make 20s style dresses for the teens, just 23 of them!!! Luckily she'd bought the dresses and I just had to sew on the fringes...except that there weren't actually any fringes, I had to create those too  :-o

After making the 27 circle skirts for the younger girls in the concert, I knew I had to work FAST to get these done. I took some photos along the way to describe what I did, just in case anyone else is in need of a quick and dirty way of mass producing flapper dresses!

Ideally, these dresses would have been made with ready-made fringing, sewn on in rows. Unfortunately, because we needed so many dresses, the shop didn't have enough fringing and the dance teacher bought this gorgeous sequinned fabric instead. Having to cut the fringing added significant time to the making of these, but they did look fantastic when they were done.

First I cut the fabric across the rows of sequins into rows. Each row was 17cm long and went the width of the fabric (150cm). I needed approximately 1.5 rows per dress. The dresses were simple, black, stretchy dresses in a fitted, t-shirt style.

Cutting the strips of fabric
I laid out each dress and marked with dressmaker's chalk where the strips of fabric needed to be stitched on. I marked the first line just below the underarms and neckline and the other rows in 16cm  increments down the dress. This meant that the 17cm strips would overlap slightly down the dress and hang just below the hemline at the bottom.

Then I got stitching! Luckily the mesh backing of the sequin fabric was stretchy so I could just sew it on to the stretchy dresses using a simple zig-zag stitch without any stretching adjustment. If you were sewing non-stretch trim to stretchy dresses, you would need to stretch the dress as the trim was being sewn on to it. The needle mostly went through the sequins without any trouble and I only broke two needles in making all the dresses - not bad.

Here is a dress with the rows of fabric stitched in place. When I reached the end of a strip of fabric, I just butted the next strip up to it and carried on sewing (see join in second row from top). I only did the front of the dresses and left the backs plain.

Here is a close-up to show how the rows overlapped.

Next the cutting. At this point it was necessary to call in the volunteers. There is no way I could have got these dresses done in two days without helpers to cut the fringes as it was taking around 45 minutes per dress to cut it properly. What we did was to cut along every third gap between the rows of stitching that were holding the sequins in place. We avoided cutting the sequins or the stitching holding them on so as to maximise the number of sequins left on the fabric, rather than on the floor! However, one of my lovely helpers took more of a shortcut and didn't worry too much about these rules. She ended up getting a lot more dresses done in the time and I don't think you could really see the difference in the end ;)

Thank you so much to my wonderful helpers. Between us we performed a miracle and got the dresses done!

Here are some of the gorgeous girls backstage ready to perform. I am told that the dresses looked incredible under the stage lights - Yay!


Marianna said...

Wow, Megan what a weekend! All worth it in the end though.

But they should start calling you SuperMeg.

Megan O said...

Thanks Marianna, it was a huge weekend, but the concert was fantastic and I'd do it all again (after a quick rest!). Thank you for the comment :)


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