Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Polar Bear Club gets dressed

April 6-12, in approximate order.
Individual photos and ghastly details are after the jump.

April 6 and 7
At 5:30 a.m. on Monday, April 6, I hopped out of bed and made a dress with a formfitting bodice and a gored skirt. I took it on the train to finish some of the details. I got it home, and it didn't fit in any way whatever. So I cut a straight sheath dress, and that went worse.

Whitney did not want simplicity. Whitney wanted -- would settle for nothing other than -- a sort of sexy version of the 1970s Gunne Sax dress. So on Tuesday, I capitulated and sewed that. It went together on the first try, including my first-ever waistband.

See, if you just LISTEN to me, I know what looks best on me!
Whitney is a 1990s-ish Barbie on a Liv body.

Wednesday, April 8
I had to go to Target and thus got home late, a circumstance that's supposed to give a bye on dress-making.

Thursday, April 9
My mother challenged me to make a 1970s "infinity dress." So I did that, based on my memory of having borrowed hers a few times in early adulthood, because once the 1970s were over, it made a splendid Generic Space Bimbo dress for occasions when one wanted cosplay but not very serious cosplay.

Veronica, however, wanted stretch leopard, which I just happened to have around. The deal with the infinity dress is that it can be worn in infinite ways, depending how you wrap the long ties (which I extended with ribbon for reasons of scale). Here's a basic look, appropriate for the office and business networking at the gastropub afterward.

Cosmopolitans are so last-decade. I'm into bitters these days.
With a different wrap, it's a longer dinner dress, ready for nights at the opera or lesser red carpets.

I go to every production of Otello. My favorite had Iago enter on a Vespa.
Or turn it back to front, with a different wrap, for a more casual look.

Are you my Uber? Just take me to the nearest bistro with outdoor seating.
Veronica is a Barbie Basics head on a Fashionista body.

Friday, April 10
Dena, a Chic clone, was supposed to get a leopard sheath dress, but doing tiny seams around the arm holes on slippery stretch fabric proved... perfectly easy on the back sections and disastrously impossible on the identical front sections. Closer inspection determined that she sits wide, requiring a full skirt anyway.

The collar and sleeves on her top are an illusion: it's constructed from the same shape as Veronica's infinity dress, but from a handkerchief (providing tidy hems on the "sleeve" edges). The crisper fabric helpfully makes its own sleeves.

My aesthetic involves Japanese simplicity with unexpected touches of color.
Saturday, April 11
Today's agenda was a dress for Nene (a Chic Boutique clone), whose personal style was perfectly expressed by the orange flowered Sparkle Girlz dress with the skirt from three tiers of ruffles, with the wide "leather" belt... except that it was way too small for her. Nene is built along Amazonian lines. So here's the same dress, sized up (and with a halter instead of shoulder straps).

All I need now is a turban on my head... or possibly a fruit basket.
The five tiers of ruffles are attached to an A-line base. The bodice requires five pieces but wasn't all that complicated to construct.

Here's a view of how my bodice goes together.
Then I figured four dresses wasn't much to show for the week, and it'd only take a few minutes to whip up a dress for Emma, especially as I'd bought the scarf for her dress at Goodwill last week. (Emma is a 1990s Barbie head on a Liv body). Doing a second dress on Saturday is cheating in one sense -- the idea is to practice every day -- but part of the goal was to become comfortable just sitting down to make a dress, so I ran with it.)

Yes, I absolutely do collect mismatched flowered china. How did you guess?
This was the same kind loose-weave scarf that completely defeated me last summer. This time, I did deeper seams and hems, gathered the skirt onto a waistband of a more stable fabric, and lined the bodice. It gave me no fight whatsoever.

However, no prolonged sewing session is complete without the Hubris Dress. This is the outfit that occurs when one should have hung it up for the day and instead vastly overestimated one's level of skills and cluefulness.

I'd originally intended to make Victoria (another Chic clone, this one with articulated knees) a slinky dress -- but since she can't sit like a lady, she needed a full skirt. This was going to be a circle skirt from a slinky scarf (also from last week's Goodwill trip), with a top designed to have fake sleeves.

Slinky fabric does not like being hemmed for a circle skirt. Victoria ended up with an underskirt to disguise that I couldn't get the original hem straight... in fact, Victoria could not let go of her origins as a Snow White and somehow ended up with this bizarre batique-esque pastiche/updating of the Snow White look.

My huge beads give me self-confidence.
So I capitulated and gave her some red hair hardware.

Not that my hair behaves or anything. I need a dwarf with a cosmetology degree.
This is the dress most likely to get redone when my brain cools.

Sunday, April 12
Esmeralda (on a Fashionista body) got exactly the outfit I'd intended for her. I may add some fabric bits to the lower loops eventually.

This is so much more "me" than that tennis dress!
Dressed, the gals enjoy a cool, sunny morning. Emma and Whitney plan the next lessons they intend to give at Julianne's dance studio. (All the dancers are from a large LDS family.)

Whitney: I think it's a good week for a foxtrot, Emma. You know you love foxtrots.
Dena and Veronica consider the stock market and the similar design of their bodices.

Veronica: The question, really is whether it's hypocritical to buy KORS
when you wouldn't be caught dead wearing a look that's gone so mainstream.
The three Chic gals have a moment together, uncomfortably, as is so often the way with family get-togethers. (Dena and Victoria are sisters but not always happy about it; Nene is a second cousin once removed.)

Dena: Do I mention that Victoria never returned my favorite piece of Pyrex?
Victoria: If I tell Dena her favorite casserole dish exploded in the oven, will I have to replace it?
Nene: Waiter, could we have some mimosas?
Victoria gets cornered by Esmeralda, who wants to discuss fair-trade imports.

Victoria: Sure, I'll buy the sustainably harvested coffee. Whatever you say.
And here's one last group portrait.

Veronica: It's not hogging the focus when the camera loves me this much.


  1. WOW Smaller Places, I love them all!
    You really nailed the right style for each of the girls. My favourite are the leopard dress and Esmeralda's outfit, but it's a close call.

    1. Thank you! My brain is still steaming from this exercise!

  2. Oh my god do you have mad skills!!!! Each dress is so awesome!

    1. Thank you! Thing is, any skills I have this week, I probably didn't have last week. This project is essentially forcing myself to go from barely being able to sew a straight seam with much tears and swearing to being able to make stuff when I want to.

  3. How awesome! I am so digging these.

  4. A dress a day. I love them. I am partial to Veronica's and Nene's outfits, but they all turned out nice.

  5. Whitney, Veronica, Nene, and Esmeralda are wearing my favorites of this lot. Impressive designs and execution!