Thursday, April 28, 2016

Part 1: Hamilton Dress (#Hamildress)

I'm so in LOVE with this musical!

One day my sweetheart of a husband sprung the biggest surprise on me: He said “Let’s go” see Hamilton in New York for our 10-year anniversary and... my heart... stopped. My mind was utterly blown at the magnitude of such an amazing opportunity and I immediately knew I needed to sew a dress to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event in my life. I envisioned my dress mimicking the poster art from Hamilton so I planned to print out the poster’s background across a yard of fabric (and then mirror the image across 5 yards of fabric) using a website like Spoonflower.

Planning the fabric:
It was a long road for me to come to the realization that I should just DYE the fabric instead of SCREENPRINT it. Here’s the details of my long journey:

First, I “inspected” the html code on to grab the 1400 x 842 background image but I knew I really needed something larger. I did some research to discover the marketing company in charge of promoting Hamilton (SpotCo) and I sent them and email asking if they could send me a hi-res image of the orangish-textured background. Then I sent them some more emails and realized they weren’t going to reply to me.

I then found some generous folks on Reddit who helped me resize the existing image from the official website. I went ahead and ordered 3 swatches of different fabrics from Spoonflower using that enlarged file, but when I finally received them I was not happy with the pixels resulting from the image being stretched across a YARD of fabric!
The dark bottom left corner of the Hamilton Poster Art

Then I thought I would try to find a similar (but larger resolution) image that gave the look and feel of the poster art, and stumbled across a stock photo website. I bought one image and was not happy with it and so I purchased another. Then I mirrored that second image and painstakingly edited every pixel to eliminate errors and ugly spots. This took FOREVER and in the end, after I uploaded my final YARD-SIZED image to Spoonflower… I chickened out. I had been doing some research about the lack of fidelity of their black dye and I was worried the whole print would really lack the rich beauty I was hoping for. I found a few other websites that were purported to have better blank ink fidelity but their prices were over $30 a yard and since I’d be buying 5 yards, I couldn’t justify the cost without feeling confident it would turn out the way I envisioned it.

So, I started to think about the more cost-effecting option of dyeing the fabric myself with Dharma Trading Co. dyes. I did some research about mixing colors and realized I probably wouldn’t be able to achieve the look I was going for without some assistance. At that point I decided I would fish around on Etsy for some skilled hand-dyers. Luckily I found Vicki Welsh who is a professional at this and assured me she could do this ombre effect! We discussed at length which seven dyes to use on the fabric. See the photo on the left for the five middle colors out of the seven. We later decided on adding one lighter shade at the top and one darker shade at the bottom to total the seven colors.

Hamilton Musical poster art fabric
Vicki's preview before mailing!
I bought Cotton Lawn fabric from Dharma Trading Co. and shipped it to Vicki and let the professional work her magic!  She sent me the preview on the right (of 1/4th of the fabric) before she mailed out my package! It looks so awesome!

Whoohoo! Now I’m waiting for my dyed fabric to arrive so I can get sewing!

Update: The Eagle has LANDED! And it's FANTASTIC!

Hamilton Musical poster art fabric

On the left is the pattern I am using for my #Hamildress. It's a Vintage 1957 reissue and I'll be making the V-neck (View A).

My Work Plan to sew this dress:
Thurs:              Iron fabric, Pin Bodice & Flatlining
Friday:             Cut Skirt, Bodice pieces
Saturday:         Flatline Bodice pieces, Cut Arm Facing
Sunday:           Watch Game of Thrones (and then mark pattern pieces with an air soluble pen)
Monday:          Go shopping for thread and notions
Tuesday:          Sew & Iron Bodice together
Wednesday:    Sew Skirt together & Gather top edge.
Thursday:        Add Zipper
Friday:             Sew skirt to bodice
All the other days up to today where I'm still working on it:         Sew belt, finish inner belt, hem, press, etc.

UPDATE: Gratuitous pic of the amazing variance in ombre gradient of my fabric!

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