100 hours…or so…

…to make an Irish dance solo dress. From start to finish. And that is a guesstimate.

Erika asked me how long it would take to make a simple solo dress…just as I was about to go vacuum my house…damn, sidetracked again! To make a simple dress, it takes me less than 100 hours now…down from 6 months for my first dress!!!!

It would be very interesting to time myself on all the parts of a dress to really know the actual time…but that is the stuff of major OCD nightmares for me. Here is my process:

* Client makes contact. We send info letter and design cd.

* Exchange a few emails with the client, answer questions.

* Wait for the design to be finalized with Susan.

* Meet client to take measurements, and with Susan, decide on colors, fabrics, dress options.

* Make a bodice pattern to client’s measurements, make mock bodice.

* Meet client to fit mock bodice and hopefully finalize all dress details.

* Susan sends me the design, sized appropriately, in vector and JPG format.

* I start digitizing. Depending on the dress style and embroidery/applique design, this takes a varying amount of time. Spaces to be digitized are the bodice (front & back), CFP, FSP, back skirt, shawl, sleeves, any separate patches for shawl pins, zipper covers, etc. Panel skirts take less time to digitize because I only have to digitize 1 panel …even less if we are using panels all around, meaning there is no back skirt to digitize. Big spaces with lots of embroidery and applique take extra time because I must split the designs for stitch out.

* Alter the bodice and skirt patterns as needed.

* Interface all necessary fabrics. Prep and cut all applique pieces. Sketch out pattern pieces onto the base fabric to begin embroidery (I do not cut my dress pieces out until all of the embroidery is done. This eliminates the potential that the dress pieces will be distorted by the embroidery. When I cut, the pieces will be the correct sizes.)

* Start embroidering! This is usually the most time consuming part of the dress. The teal dress was an exception as there was only embroidery on the front bodice and the shawl pins. The embroidery process can take anywhere from one day to 10 depending on the complexity of the design, the amount of applique, the kind of thread used (metallics are sewn at a slower rate), and the number of times I make a mistake!!!

* After the embroidery is done, I put Fraychek on everything, cut all jump stitches and loose threads, and remove all the tear-away and other unnecessary stabilizer.

* Center pattern pieces over embroidered fabric, trace, cut out dress pieces. Cut bodice and skirt linings. Cut stiffener pieces. Serge pieces.

* Begin dress construction. Now I zip along. I can put a school dress together in one day (that is after all the other work is done). Solo dresses take varying amounts of time depending on the type of hems on the skirt, sleeves, neckline and shawl; number of panels; size and weight of the dress; how many rows of ruffles! So, construction can take anywhere from 2 to 6 days working at a reasonable pace, faster if I am in a hurry.

Added in here is a bodice fitting. I do this to make sure all fits well with all the embroidery and lining. Then I begin the wrestling match that is the skirt attachment phase.

* Last duties: Shawl creation, placement, securing. Crystal embellishments.

My quickest solo dress was the teal dress because it has very little embroidery. My most time-consuming solo (not counting the first one I ever made) was the flower dress because it took time to make all of those ruffles, had more embroidery than I would have thought and because it was white. I worked slowly and stopped when I got tired because there could be NO bleeding on that dress. The fire dress also took me quite a long time because of the complexity of the embroidery/applique. Many, many re-hoopings.

So, how long does it take? 100 hours…or so… Any one else want to share your perspective?

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Knitting Maniac
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 07:06:00

    I think the flower dress is by far my most ultimate of favorites. SO beautiful!

  2. Gina Foster
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 08:53:00

    Yep … easily 100 hours.

  3. Caroline
    Nov 11, 2007 @ 04:33:19

    Yep, 100 hours or so. I have made dresses in about 70-75, but they were beginner dresses with little to no embroidery, all straight lines, easy fabrics and dancers with standard measurements (so no alterations neccesary to the pattern pieces..how lucky can you get!).

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