Troubleshooting: Vertical Skirt Crease, Part II

Done.

We had this:
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Now we have this:
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We had this:
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Now we have this:Photobucket

And we have a new crown just for you, Aislinn!

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Troubleshooting: Vertical Skirt Crease

So, I made this dress for Aislinn last year:
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(Aislinn, Meave saw this dress on the dummy and asked if I could please make her a special dress just like it…and then she had to get a picture “in it”…so that is what this is!)

When I sent it off, it looked like this:
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Can you see the difference? Yes, it is on a hanger in the above pic, but the issue I have to deal with has nothing to do with whether or not it is on a hanger or a dress dummy. Here’s the problem:
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Looks like a belling issue caused by faulty connection between the bodice and the skirt…but is it?

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No, it is belling caused by a vertical crease…

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The creases that have been danced into this center front panel are faintly visible above.  Below I have drawn colors over the fault lines.  Pink are auxiliary lines to the main weak lines in red.

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When I fold the CFP, you can see the fold lines a different way.

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I can even feel them…which is what the gratuitous pic is below…I just love this lining fabric!

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So…what happened, why, and how do I fix it?

What happened?  Why?  Well, let me “free form think” this out:

One of the problems that Susan and I were seeing and trying to avoid, at the time, were the horizontal creases (hip to hip) that appear on single panel, flat front dresses…there was talk of it on the boards and evidence in pics everywhere.  I likened them to sandwich boards.  (Notice that trend seems to have died out…thank the dance costuming gods!)  That horizontal crease was happening because unless there were HUGE pleats behind the front side panels AND the dancer was flat as a board, the crease was going to happen in response to the stress caused by kicking and even sitting.  The weight of these dresses means that the creation of the crease was a faster and easier answer for the skirt to the power of the fast kicks…the crease could happen easier than lifting the whole front panel.  The swoop dresses had the same problem to deal with.

Our journey here: Swoop dress center front panel

According to the dancers, and according to the evidence, with this swoop dress construction, we eliminated the horizontal crease…there are none in these pics.  But, because the CFP is a separately moving entity UNDER the FSPs, there is stress being placed vertically, directly center on the CFP.  The FSPs are like walls that the CFP is trying to squeeze through…hence the vertical creases.  Does that make sense?

For me, now, this is big Duh.

How do I fix it?  I fix it with good old steel boning.

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I need two strips to stabilize the CFP horizontally: one near the top so the CFP can no longer be pushed through the FSPs, and one near the bottom to prevent any vertical folding when Aislinn kicks.  I am not going to put the bottom boning on the back side of the the CFP, however.

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I am going to put it on the front, underneath the pleated fabric.

First I have to prep these pieces of boning so that they are as unobtrusive as possible when they are on the skirt.

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First, I sew the pieces to strips of Firmflex.

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I apply wonder-under to pieces of the skirt lining, and the pleat underlining.

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Cut the fabric around the wonder-under and place the strips.

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Fuse the fabric to the front sides of the strips.

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Trim.

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Finish fusing.

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After I have carefully steamed the creases out of the CFP…

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…this is where I place the boning strips.

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These will be hand sewn.  Every few stitches, I will go all the way through the Firmflex to make sure these strips do their duty well!

I have a few quick alterations to complete on this dress, and then I will post pics of the dress with its corrected skirt hang.  You can see that here: Troubleshooting: Vertical Skirt Crease, Part II

(Suzanne pointed out that the ends of the boning should be finished off so there is no poking through at all.  I had forgotten in the pics, remembered at 3 am, so went back and added my usual which is either cloth bandaid tape or a bit of gauze and tape.  No pics though.  You just want to cover the sharp steel ends.)

Swoop dress center front panel

One of the things I have not liked about the swoop dresses I have seen and gotten to really inspect is the fact that the front skirt essentially functions as a single panel. They have kept the pleats between the front side panels (FSP) and the center front panel (CFP), but because of the shape of the FSPs, there can be no movement. Those pleats are useless and in some cases have been sewn completely shut. One dancer described her experience dancing in one as restrictive and even painful as she had to keep kicking against this sandwich board that did not move.

Some dressmakers have now come to the conclusion, rightly so, that since the pleats are useless, why not just make the front skirt a single panel from side to side? No pleats, no separate panels. But then there appears that problem of the side-to-side crease at hip level where the skirt has to bend when the dancer kicks.

Susan and I kicked this swoop skirt issue around quite a bit. It’s what we do, talk things to death while we check out photos of dresses. Sometimes, with the phone on speaker, we just sit there and stare as we analyze everything and propose answers for some of the issues we see. We decided to try a swoop dress with a totally free center panel.

This was the first one we attempted this on. First, I should clarify the size of this dress as it had bearing on the skirt hang. Many have told me they thought this dress was for a little girl, that it was a small dress. It is not. The young dancer is 16, and this skirt is 17 inches long. And, the dancer wanted the swoops to come pretty close together at the bottom to frame the cross.
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Considering how close in the swoops come, Susan and I both felt that the CFP did not need to be very wide, which I assumed would then make this very easy to dance in as not only would there be no pleats attaching the FSPs to the CFP, but the narrow width of the CFP would allow the dancer to move the FSPs more easily. Well, the swoops collapsed in and covered the cross. Granted, this skirt was fairly heavy because of its length and because of the 2 rows of pleated ruffles, but there was something else going on. Only option to fix this skirt was to sew the FSPs to the CFP. So much for this attempt at that idea.

There are still pleats behind the FSPs (front side panels).  In fact, we added to the depth of the side pleats to make up for no front pleats, therefore allowing kicking room.

I still need to ask the dancer how it feels to dance in this skirt.

So, Susan and I sat and analyzed the pics I took of that skirt before I sewed the panels down. It did not take Susan long…the tension in the skirt was all wrong, in fact, it was missing from very key areas. Susan’s design of the Feisdress skirt pattern in general is based on tension. She explained it to me in that scientific way she possesses, and off we went to the next dress.

And it worked perfectly.
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The front side panels are completely free, no collapsing, and the young dancer says dancing in it is very easy.
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So, what is different? The CFP is wider, and most importantly, wider at the top. This provides the necessary tension and support for the FSPs so they do not collapse. If you want instructions for this alteration of the Feisdress pattern, email Susan (susan@feisdress.com ).
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Next time I make one I will add boning to the CFP from the get go.  This dress made its way back to me because the CFP began creasing vertically.  You can read about that and the fixes here: Troubleshooting: Vertical Skirt Crease and Troubleshooting: Vertical Skirt Crease, Part II

There have been a few questions on the boards lately about stiffeners and how many layers to use. I use FirmFlex that I get from shopper’s rule. Love this stuff. I only ever use 1 layer. Go here for my little treatise on using this stiffener.

Aislinn’s Teal Solo dress

(I added the little girl’s name because she wanted her dress known by her name…you got it, Aislinn!)

Another custom solo dress walked out the door this afternoon…fastest one yet! I love the color of this one.

Please excuse the hanger…one of these days I will get a child-sized dress dummy.

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This is a Feisdress pattern…Susan has designed a pattern for this swoop skirt and it works beautifully. The skirt went on in one pass and hung perfectly.
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I even pleated the left side of the cape.

Here is a cool thing…the center front panel is totally free! No useless pleats (no reason for them with a swoop or wrap), and no need to sew the side panels to the front to keep them in the right place (sometimes swoop panels can collapse into the center). The center front panel itself is wide enough to eliminate using pleats for modesty’s sake, and the width & stiffness of it add the necessary tension to keep the side front panels in their wide spaced place. Very cool pattern, Susan!
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I will be interested in how it feels to dance in. I did get the chance to inspect an Elevation Designs swoop dress just after the Oireachtas…the mom brought it over for some repair advice. The young dancer commented that she found it difficult dancing in it because there was no give in the front. That one did have pleats at the sides of the center front panel, but everything was sewn shut. Essentially, there was no movement in the front skirt and it moved as a single panel. This one moves quite easily when you lift the skirt by hand, but the center front panel is wide which makes me wonder how it will move. Since it is not attached to the side front panels, will the skirt have movement for the dancer? As a dressmaker, I love this…now I am waiting for a dancer’s perspective.

Update: The dancer said it was very easy to dance in. Plenty of movement in the skirt, did not feel like kicking a board. This is a keeper!
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Love this lining.

If you are interested in the pattern, you can get Susan’s email on the Feisdress site.

Flower Solo Dress

Woo-hoo, woo-hoo, it’s done, it’s done (this is accompanied by my version of the cabbage patch dance…kids aren’t home so it is only me and I am not embarrassing anyone else…)! I always feel so proud when I finish a dress, like I really accomplished something! Once again learned many things making this dress. Also found that I am quite efficient with digitizing and stitching out the embroidery now.

Handed the dress off a bit ago and all seem pleased. I think it turned out beautifully! The design is based on the dancer’s concept…Susan gave it order and the knots. Susan also altered her pattern for me to make the swoop skirt.

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(That black spot is a weird sequin facing…no black spots.) Notice the claddagh cross? A design moment for moi…designed it in my digitizing software based on a cross that the dancer and her mother wear…fun, fun!

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Quite the pleat pro now.

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Cape was the dancer’s idea. I really like it. Nice clean lines.

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Diamonds and pearls…I wish I had gotten a better pic of the tiara. It is quite beautiful.

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I believe they found the skirt lining first and it inspired the dress.

Here’s a pic of the side and back skirt. For those who are not familiar with the Feisdress pattern, this pic illustrates one great feature…fewer seams! In fact, this skirt only had one vertical seam at the center back… sort of. This dress actually has a separating zipper so that the whole thing open up to get it on and off. There is a flower patch that covers the bottom of the zipper and continues the design line.
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Here’s the shape of the cape. Made a pattern based on the dancer’s drawing.
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Here it is folded up at the bottom and with the “pins” in place. The pins are now attached to the dress. The cape is attached under each with velcro and snaps.
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And here is what the young dancer wanted on the under side of the cape. Very sweet.
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So, now on to the next…dancer coming for a fitting this weekend!