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Astar's Craft: The Perfect Ball Frock

With Astar

The Perfect Ball Frock

The ball season is almost here and I am sure there are lots of girls beyond worried at this point as to what they can or cannot wear.  I understand that there has been a lot of controversy over girls appearing at the same ball in the same coloured and styled frocks! And let's not forget the many parents out there in the community appalled at the cost involved in turning their teenage children out to attend these events...

Well, this might just be your lucky day... I've done some research into what's in, what's perceived to be out and what some consider being HOT! - And I have a solution.

Let's face facts - to those of you doing the paying and trust me, I might only have a son, but just as much attention went into the detail of his outfit as most of my friends with daughters.  My son is lucky that I can sew otherwise he'd have gone to the ball in rags because I certainly am not prepared to spend a fortune on, as indicated above - something that will be worn ONCE.

As I see it, most of the frocks are copies of those worn on the red carpet by SUPER RICH and FAMOUS people. These frocks are HAUTE COUTEUR, and probably specifically made to fit the person who is wearing it. Most of those SUPER RICH and FAMOUS BODIES don't have to pay for the frock, shoes, jewels etc, because they are advertising someone else's product.

Secondly, why are our children so intent on copying, when they should be starting to find their own unique styles?

Today and next week are therefore devoted to demonstrating how to for very little, produce the perfect ball frock.

My solution - a beautiful FULL and abundant circular skirt, in exquisite textured fabric, with a different textured top, but in the same colour-way, finished off with a gorgeous piece of fabric made into an interesting detail at the waist.

To accessorize - second hand vintage necklace and matching ear rings, or go to the Chinese Emporium and find something glitzy and sparkly&

As for the shoes - that will come in due course...

Things to gather
From Spotlight
Original 1957 Vintage design pattern V2962 or alternative pattern of your choice.
Personally this looks like a ball frock as do most of the other's within the vintage section.
Fabric - for the skirt look for something textural - I selected
- 4.40 meters Ombre eyelash - fuschia at 112cm wide
- 1. meter oriental brocade flower -hot pink
- 1. meter Winston satin fuschia
- 2. meters cherry crepe polyester
- 1 m poly interlock, flamgo - which is a stretch fabric for the top

+ pattern for halter neck top Kwik Sew 3063

You will also need a zipper, cotton, scissors, measuring tape, pins and a sewing machine.
Fusing or stiffening fabric for waist band.
Or - for those who are into sewing -
For the skirt - take your length measurement from waist to floor, and multiply this by 4 widths.  This should give a lovely fully skirt
+ to really extend and push skirt out, you will also need a really full  circular petticoat - which we'll make week three, after we've tackled the halter neck top&

If using pattern. All instructions for cutting and assembly and sewing are contained within the pack.

IMPORTANT - if using the Ombre eyelash fabric - ensure the lashes fall down open... you'll understand what I'm talking about when you view the fabric.  If left to drop flat, you'll notice you loose a lot of detail, but allowed to drop with the lashes extended gives a gorgeous fuller interesting visual&

For those of you who want to cheat the progress, this is what I did:
1. With the required drop lengths determined and with eyelashes falling out and away, pin each drop then stitch leaving sufficient opening at the back seam to insert zipper.
2. Open and press all seams - carefully.  Don't have the iron too hot as you might melt fabric. 
3. For the zipper, use a long machine stitch to stitch down lashes on fabric.  This will get them out of the way so that you can insert zipper.
4. Once zipper has been inserted, fold fabric over and make a mark in the centre. (See notes at bottom on how to fit a zipper).
5. To gather in skirt at waist.  Select the longest running stitch on your machine, then do two rows of stitching up to central mark, then repeat on other side - stitching should be a good cm down from waist&
6. Take your waist measurements&knot off center end threads, and then gently and evenly draw to gather in both ends to fit your waist measurement.
7. With this waist measurement, take a plain but matching fabric, and cut a long strip to this length, and depth of say 10cm or more depending on how deep you wish band to be,  with enough excess for sides and turning in seam allowance. 
8. Fuse stiffening to wrong side of cut waist band.

Neaten exposed hem
Bring right sides of skirt fabric together with right sides of stiffened waist band.  Pin around before stitching down.
Stitch to close both ends of waist band. Clip to remove excess fabric, then turn right sides out, push out corners to make neat. Press.
Fold up a good cm back up into waist band. Press, then pin band down. Either hand or machine into place.
Finish off with closing hook and eye by hand stitching into place.
You may need to finish off hem, but this will depend on fabric selection.
Simply fold over 1 cm, press then bring hem up to a depth desired. Pin before stitching.
For those who have never inserted a zipper:

On the back or side seam - which needs to be a good 1.5 cm wide, fold then press over the left side.  Make the seam on the other side marginally wider.
Open zipper, now bring the left side teeth of zipper up to left side of folded fabric.  Pin zip all the way from top to end.
Install the zipper foot onto your sewing machine.
Stitching down from the top - on the right side of fabric, until you reach the end.
Take the right side of zipper and pin to right side, but this time, place it further in towards raw edge of fabric, away from press edge, so that you have a portion of fabric that will extend to cover left side of zipper when closed& needs to be in a good 1/2 cm in.
Stitch down, from the top like you did on the left, but this time, stitching will be from the underneath or wrong side of fabric.
Close off bottom end!

(Broadcast 28 June 2012)