The dress is finished!
I am quite happy with it overall. There are certainly things which I would change about it if I were to make it again, tweaking the patterns a little more (for instance: it was suggested to me that I put bust tucks in the bodice on both sides, but I think that on the section of the bodice where it sweeps down beneath the breast, the tuck spoils the line slightly; I would therefore omit this, despite advice from the tutors...) and definitely using heavier fabric so that I only work with one layer of cloth. But ultimately this has been a real learning curve. Making this dress has really put myself, and my skills, into perspective.
This was my very first attempt at bias-cutting, and as such I feel it looks quite good...but it is very imperfect! Certain dressmakers choose to specialise only in bias-cut dresses - such is the speciality of the skill. There was so very much to discover and learn about this technique which was so revolutionary to dressmakers when it was first developed. What I found the most surprising was how the fabric itself changed in quality; despite my hanging it on the bias for a week prior to cutting it, it continued to drape at certain points, according to how the bias was placed. Therefore, a lot of time had to be accounted for, simply to let the fabric change as much as possible before continuing to work on it. I had to manage my time carefully, making sure to do other things when I couldn't work on the top fabric, for instance.
Although the fabric I chose to work with was not ideal as it was quite thin, it forced me to come up with solutions for how to exploit the cloth chosen to make it suitable; in this case, by backing it on a glossy silk habutai. This is definitely relevant experience for my future work as a costume maker, for I am sure that I will often have to work with fabric that is not entirely suitable for a costume, and find solutions to make it work.
Interpreting the costume design was also interesting, for the fashion illustration was not a schematic diagram, and the lines described within it did not all match up! I therefore had to find a solution which was a good compromise, in order to get the right feel of the design.
Doing this project has forced me to be a more flexible and open-minded maker. I have also developed a more mature approach to making, in understanding and accepting my failures; instead using them as experiences to avoid for future projects. Overall I have worked quite independently throughout this project, trying my best to find solutions for making and for the problems I encountered, before checking with the tutors. The tutors lent me support, but mostly advised me to just 'go for it' and try it out. This advice I embraced wholeheartedly; and though as I mentioned I made mistakes, they make me a more experienced maker. I now feel more confident to approach projects with a positive, 'can-do' attitude - this will definitely benefit me in industry.