It's taken me a couple of days to put a blog entry together, but oh man, did I have a busy sewing weekend. And let me just cut the suspense right here: SAINTS BE PRAISED, my alterations worked.
On Friday morning, the dress was still a bunch of flat pieces in a shopping bag. On Friday evening, it looked like the photos above and below.
I'm glad I took these because it's easy to understand from them just how unusual the construction of this pattern is. As you can see, there are no side seams, nor are there front and back seams in the top portion. The bodice consists of three main pieces: the center front, and two long, oddly-shaped pieces that angle down and backwards until they meet at the center of the lower back, creating a deep V with fold-back lapels. Each of these side/back pieces is attached to the center front with an edge-stitched diagonal seam, like so:
Actually, all of the lines joining the skirt to the inset to the bodice are diagonal edge-stitched seams. Which maybe gives an inkling of why I sweated blood over figuring out a way to alter the angles of certain diagonals (without messing up the angles of others) in order to take inches out of the center lower back (but not the upper back, or butt). Those two back pieces, the facings that match them, and the center back of the skirt where it joins to those four, were the parts I had to modify, and you can see in these photos that they passed the first test: once they're all finished and folded, they are the same length and the same angle. Good news indeed.
And now, here's what the dress looked like on Sunday morning!
That ripply-ness on the left isn't a nightmarishly-tensioned seam; it's only pinned in place, and the right-hand side wasn't sewn yet at all. However. You can see that the alterations pass the second and third tests: the bodice back pieces fit the angle of the prepared center back piece, and the whole shebang FITS. At this point, after hours of intense concentration, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and went to bed.
I usually stay pretty relaxed and don't worry about "ruining" good fabric and so on. I'm not a reluctant cutter - I usually whack into my fabric unreservedly, as soon as I've done a tissue-fitting. I'm not one to stash fabric for years and years because it's "too nice" to use. But I have to admit that knowing this silk color was sold out and I didn't have time to start over before the Partnership Celebration did ratchet up the suspense. I'm looking forward to returning to lower-key sewing projects in the future...but I'm also thrilled about how this is turning out. I've reached the fun part, where all the soul-searching-in-the-desert stuff pays off!
Here's what the front looked like on Sunday morning—you have to imagine a belt in the same fabric bisecting the diamond-shaped inset; and it also looks less blousy on my body than on Gert. But from this photo you can get a sense of the whole construction, and the way the inset plays into the design as a whole. Lots and lots of edge-stitched diagonal seams!
It's further along now, although I took the sewing slightly easy on Sunday after Saturday's breathless stitching marathon. You can see the tailor's tacks at the bottom of the photo above; those are the placement lines for adding the two drapes to the back of the skirt, after which I'll just have to add the shoulder decorations and back closures, and hem the skirt.
I may just make it after all.