Okay, time to hammer out this last completed dress so I can get on to the final one. I *still* do not have a new computer and my productivity has been horrifyingly low since we’ve been gone for 13 days out of this month on various vacations. Also, we’re starting to poke around at possible new apartments, and I’ve developed a new obsession with color coded cleaning charts, and and and…

So, I’ll try to be better. Really.

Now, a bit of background. As you may have picked up, I have a sort of thing for the colors aqua and orange, even more so when they’re together. They’re terribly obnoxious, yes, but something about them just makes me so incredibly happy. So it’s not really surprising then that I have quite a few aqua and orange dresses in my wardrobe. There’s the embroidered silk taffeta, the striped ball gown, the plaid day dress, a pleated skirt I made from extra fabric from the day dress, a floral infinity dress… It’s a little ridiculous; to the point where no one should have been surprised that I came home from the fabric store one day with 6 yards of this…

Yes, aqua and orange paisley. How could I leave without it?! I couldn’t. Even though there were only 6 yards left (a full dress will typically take 10 yards for a skirt, bodice, and sleeves depending on the style), I figured I could pair it with another color to make up for it.

Inspired by one of Roo’s dresses, I decided I’d split the skirt into a top and bottom half, with the top being paisley and the bottom being white. This meant that I only needed 4 yards of paisley (cut in half to make 8 when the two lengths were sewn together) for the skirt and could use the other 2 on the bodice and sleeves. Great, no problem!

But for some reason I couldn’t just leave it at that. I couldn’t *not* go the extra mile on this dress to find a way to have it stand out from every other dress I owned. And then I thought of ribbon. Yards and yards of bright orange ribbon woven through the skirt. As I described my idea to my friends, I knew I’d hit the nail on the head when I started getting the ‘what the hell are you on’ looks. Onward!

This was not a quick process. It took longer just to finish the weaves on the top half of the skirt than the entire rest of the dress. But it was absolutely worth it.

Step 1: Lay out ribbon and pin it in place to the top and bottom of the fabric. I space mine out every 10″.

I laid the ribbon out a few different ways before deciding on diagonal stripes. I figured they’d open up more as I spun and din’t want to make them vertical only to have them lost in the pleats. I don’t recall exactly how much of the 1.5″ ribbon I had on hand, but by the time I was done laying it down, I had only inches to spare before running out. Whew.

Step 2: Mark the fabric where the ribbons will be woven, first with chalk, a pen, what have you so you know how wide to make the openings, and then with a pin to be able to find said marks.

Step 3: Start making buttonholes for the ribbon to weave through. Lose buttonhole foot. Try making a buttonhole manually, decide this is for suckers. Go to ebay, order new buttonhole foot for $20. Wait 2 days. Try to make buttonholes with new buttonhole foot only to discover it only makes up to 1″ wide buttonholes and remember your ribbon is 1.5″ wide. Start making all buttonholes manually like a sucker.

This was hands down the longest part of the entire process. What an absolute pain in the ass. I contemplated not making buttonholes and just cutting the openings, but Joe quickly reasoned with me that all it would take it one unfortunate tug for those holes to start ripping and then I’d be more upset than having to make buttonholes for 8 hours. Hmph, reason.

Step 4: Weave the ribbons through the buttonholes, pinning at the top and bottom of the fabric.

I alternated which ribbons went over and which ones went under. It made the effect slightly more nauseating. I then sewed everything down along the tops and bottoms to make sure it wouldn’t move after this.

Step 5: Attach the bottom half.

White was definitely the right color to help offset everything else, but I’m trying to be realistic about just how long I expect it to stay white after roaming the Cow Palace for 9 days…

Step 6: Pleat!

Finally! At this point, it was just like any other skirt. Pin the pleats, sew the pleats down, sew a waistband, attach the skirt to the waistband, add a modesty panel, and then add skirthooks. This last part took maybe 2 hours tops.

8 hours of buttonholes, 2 hours of sewing. But it was done. And it was amazing.

Next up – the bodice, in which our frazzled heroine discovers using cardstock for pattern pieces and learns to make straight sleeves properly.