Monday, December 2, 2013
McCall 9777: THE Awards Gown
On Thursday evening, I had the chance to attend the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards Ceremony in London. It was a swanky, black-tie event and I just barely managed to finish this gown in time!
You may remember, when I first heard that I would be going to the awards ceremony, I held a poll on my blog for which gown I should make. I had wanted to make a gown from one of my 1940 McCall patterns. I ended up getting busy at work and waited too long to begin sewing the gown. When I pulled out the 1940 McCall gown pattern, I realised it would take an astonishing 6 metres of fabric! Eeps! I knew it would be too much to spend for a gown, since most of the nice dress fabrics are quite expensive here. Then I remembered about this beautiful blue taffeta fabric I had in my stash that I had bought a couple of years ago from Croft Mill. I had nearly 4 metres in total and knew it would be perfect for the event. The question was, which pattern should I sew to go with it?
I went through all my patterns looking for something that would fit and would show off the fabric but also didn't require copious amounts of material. Most of the patterns were for softer fabrics such as chiffon or crepe. Then I came across McCall 9777 from 1938 which I had picked up for steal on Ebay UK because of the damaged envelope:
At first it's easy to get lost in this gown pattern because there is a lot going on--ruffled dickey, fabulous belt, busy printed fabric…but if you look at the line drawings, you see a very chic halter dress gown. And I knew it was a match made in heaven!
I made several changes to the original pattern: The original pattern has a seam down the front which is partially covered by the ruffled dickey. I decided that I would go sans dickey and instead sew the bodice front on the fold and eliminate the centre front seam altogether. I also didn't opt to make the belt.
I tried my best to make the intricate embroidered flower detail of the fabric match up while cutting out the material. This was made all the more difficult in that both the skirt pieces are cut on the bias. I was able to match up part of the design down the centre front and centre back but less so on the side seams. Because of the bias cut, it gives an unexpected shape to the embroidery-which I really like!
I made the matching short collarless bolero, which cleverly catches the front facing in the shoulder seam..giving the illusion of a collar!
The back of this dress is amazing! I just love the low-cut scooped out back and how the little bolero completely covers it up. To give a bit of stability, I interfaced and lined the entire bodice.
The dress closes with a side hand-picked zipper and the halter has two hook and eye closures. I ended up being able to just barely get enough fabric for the full-length gown and matching bolero.
Oh, did I mention that I ended up sewing up this entire dress (bolero and all) the day before going down to London? Yup, things have been a bit crazy busy around here lately…I can't believe I got it done in time. A big thank you to David for helping me hem the dress and for sewing the hook and eye closure at some absurd hour in the morning!!
And the awards ceremony was AMAZING! There was a reception, followed by a grand dinner, the awards ceremony and the event ended with dancing. phew!
The set-up was very grand…
Javita and I had a great time with the other women who attended the ceremony with us. Unfortunately, our University didn't win in the category for which we were nominated…but the University did win in another category! Which was fantastic.
The other exciting bit of the evening was that it was hosted by Sandi Toksvig, a comedian and BBC 4 presenter:
She even came and sat at our table before starting--I was star struck! It was such a fabulous evening.
Hopefully I can revisit my 1940 gown patterns for a holiday or New Year's Eve dress!