Thursday, April 29, 2010

No dress....

... but aren't these cute!
A friend of mine makes these adorable diaper cover bloomers and matching dresses out of vintage sheets. She's Jennifer, and she is the brains behind iWunder, iWunderSews, and iWunderVintage, all on Etsy. Several weeks ago, she had a customer who bought a first set, and Jennifer sent her my way to personalize the bloomers. Then the lovely customer bought some more! Machine embroidery, and a day of shopping with a friend, were what was on my agenda today.

The lucky Mae and Amelia (and Atlee, too) will all have their diapers covered in style very soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are you a Fabric Snob?

I love sheath dresses, and really have never found any that fit me right. You know the story. My bottom just isn't the same size as my top. Re-enter the garment sewing world and discover that there are dozens (dozens?) of variations on the sheath dress theme. Well, if not dozens, then each of the Big 4 has several of their own version.

Go back several months, and find me at the beginning of my shopping for a MOB dress. Shopping at Neimans, Saks, and Bloomingdales, the dresses I kept heading for were those of designer Kay Unger. They fit really well, even if they were a bit over my price range.

And then, this came out, a Vogue Designer pattern by Kay Unger:
It's mine now, and I can make my very own Kay Unger. I've got the perfect fabric in mind, and want it to be pink. I was recently shopping at Joann's and I saw the fabric look I was going for only it was navy. Kind of a nubby-ish suiting kind of very, very subtle plaid, but not really plaid. There's hints of black. And it was 100% polyester. Only $4.99 a yard. I bought it and some navy lining.

But really, I couldn't bring myself to make the Kay dress from this cheap polyester. I seriously thought about it. Instead, I'm making this:
Pictures tomorrow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm working on it... I promise!

It's always like this when you have a big project, isn't it? Progress, then waiting. So, what's been happening on the MOB dress? Did I mention that I entered Pattern Review's Formalwear contest, so that's a motivation in addition to, well, hellooooo, the wedding! Since the muslin was finished, I moved on to the next step, which included ordering silk organza from Silk Fabric on Etsy. I plan to underline the skirt, and also use the organza as the interfacing on the midriff pieces. Next I ordered the lining from Gorgeous Fabrics (same place I got the silk shantung from... and, well, couldn't JUST order lining).

When I starting laying the pattern pieces, I had my first Oh %$@# moment. The skirt is a full, flared skirt, which means the pieces are like giant pie pieces. Butterick, in their infinite pattern drafting wisdom, has you cut it out on the cross grain. Whoa! Shantung has slubs running across it, and that means you really have to cut it out on the lengthwise grain. Which also is much more natural feeling besides. But the pieces are too wide at the hem. Only solution was to slash and slice my pie into smaller pieces, ending up with a 6-gore skirt.
Historically, I haven't been brave enough to just slash away, but I'm taking my scissors to a new level! I did make use of my red felt tip, so I don't forget any of my changes. Redrew the grainline, and made sure to make note of the need to add a seam allowance where I cut the piece in two.

And that's about it. The lining arrived tonight, so I'll cut it tomorrow, along with the dress I'm making for the rehearsal dinner. It seems that I can't wear the bright green silk frock to all the events.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First Look -- Butterick 5176

I guess technically this is the 2nd look, but I feel like now it fits and it's ready to go. I've made the 2nd muslin, and really didn't have to do too much. I had to add 2 inches to the waist band and achieve that by slashing the midriff band (what Butterick calls this piece) basically in 4 places almost to the top of the piece and spreading it 1/4" for each slash. Oh, and I did that to both the front and back piece. This accomplished exactly what I wanted it to do.
So, with any V-neck, you run the risk of gaping, and this was no different. On the right side, I pulled down the center part and took out the gap. I didn't do it on the left, and it doesn't gap, but I might go ahead and do the same thing. The 2 sides kind of don't match. I'm also a little concerned that there will be too much cleavage but it is a garden wedding, and I've commissioned a fabulous necklace that will fill in that space, so I think it will be alright.

This picture shows how I pulled in the right side. I had to sew that side first, and then did the left side, which is a little different than the instructions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Road Trip: Madisonville, Tennessee

This weekend saw us heading north up I75 to attend a His & Hers Shower and Engagement party for Wedding Daughter Laura and her fiance Thomas. Thomas' mom, sister and step-sister threw a great party on Saturday, and you can see that they got a little early practice in cake cutting.

It was also the first time the little flower girls tried on their dresses, and it was an almost perfect fit for both.

The littler girl, I'll call her FGZ, didn't need any adjustments, but the other one (FGK) needs to have the same bottom taffeta ruffle added under her lowest tier, as the lining is just a wee bit short. And I just need to finish the cummerbund's, adding the snaps. Right now, they are just pinned. I'll do a proper review tomorrow.

All in all, we had a great time, met lots of Thomas' extended family, and hit all the hot spots in Madisonville.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Vogue 8392

I took a little break from the flower girl dresses to make myself a top. I was inspired by other bloggers who think outside the box, so to speak, for their fabric sources, and used the Liberty for Target cotton shawl/scarf for my fabric. (Actually someone else gave me the idea, and I thought, why not!) I had to look for a top pattern that didn't take a lot of fabric (I didn't really measure the scarf), and was suitable for a woven fabric. There are plenty of patterns that fit the bill, but they were designed for knits.

Vogue 8392 fit the bill:
First, I have to comment on the sleeves. What was Vogue thinking? They must have designed the perfectly suitable top which is essentially a woven fabric tee, but needed to offer more options, so they said, "hey, what about funky sleeves?" Um, no. I made view A (the yellow one), but I left off the collar so I could add my own ruffle collar.

I tried to take all my pictures in front of the azaleas, but the light just wasn't right. But here you go. About the collar... you can find tutorials all over the internet to embellish t-shirts with this kind of ruffle, but here's what I did. I measured the neckline which is about 27", and then I cut 2" bias strips to equal, well, more than that. I didn't really measure. I also cut 1-1/2" bias strips. After sewing the strips together (the 2" and the 1-1/2" to make 2 long strips), I laid the 1-1/2" over the 2" and finished the end.
I didn't finish the long ends, though I did toy with the idea of trying a rolled hem done on my serger. After experimenting on scraps, I didn't really like it, and this fabric doesn't fray a lot, especially cut on the bias. So continuing, I marked the center, and a little off the quarter mark (the back neck length was less than a quarter of the length). The markings just made it easier to make the gathers more even. Speaking of gathers, I just ran one line of stitching with the stitches at the longest length for gathering.
The bias tape facing had already been attached, and I put the gathering line over the bias tape stitching for a guide, adjusted the gathers, and stitched right down the center of the ruffle. I pulled the 2 layers apart, but I think it will look even better after the first washing.

This is a super easy pattern, though somehow my brain completely forgot how to set in sleeves. I didn't do a great job with the easing, as there are quite a few puckers, but I'm just going with it. the busy pattern sort of hides them, and hey, they don't really bother me.

Bottom line, I think this will be a fun top, to wear all summer... now I just need to get a cute pair of black shorts!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Award Today

I got an award today! One of my new blogger friends, Julia, from Julia's Sew Sweet and Special blog gave this to me, and wrote such sweet things over on her blog. She always has such nice comments, too. She makes adorable things for her grandkids, and I love her Fat Fighting Friday posts (I can really relate)!

Only one requirement for this award... it must be passed on to 5 other bloggers. I'm passing it on to:

Design Inspiration and Fun by Kila Rohner. Kila is one of my good friends that I met on Etsy, and she makes beautiful earthy and beachy inspired jewelry.

a simple thought or two. My sister, Susan, writes this blog, and she is so artistic and crafty, you just never know what she's going to come up with next.

Rainy Day Art. Melissa is also one of my Etsy friends who knits and spins, writes knitting patterns, and also loves to try new things. Besides being artistic and creative, Melissa is a pilot, which I think is very cool.

Ophelia's Apothecary. Written by my friend, Deb, a multi-talented and VERY busy lady. She makes the most amazing bath and body goodies, but is never content to rest on her laurels, and has branched into vintage.

The Magpie's Daughter. Rachel is another jewelry maker and vintage jewelry seller, and she is currently on her honeymoon (congratulations, Rachel!!). A lovely, sweet girl from England who always has a kind word and snuggle for her friends.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Almost Done

How about a sneak peak of these cute little flower girl dresses? I think this will be my last post about them until after Saturday when the girls have their first fitting. Truthfully, it had better be the last as well, because there isn't really a lot of places I can do any altering.

In the meantime, I'll be working on the cummerbund which is turning out to be the hardest part. I am simply not happy with the way it's looking, and I can't say I wasn't forewarned, as a reviewer on Pattern Review experienced the same thing. The gathers at the end are simply not enough to hold up the fabric in the middle, resulting in an extremely unsightly droopiness. Ugh! I need to figure out a fix that doesn't involve a lot of ripping out, but I fear that's my destiny. I just don't have any more of this fabric, and don't want to buy more. I tried to take a picture to show you, but pictures don't really convey the whole problem. Ah well, the dresses really turned out well.
I did add a taffeta ruffle under this dress, because the lined portion just seemed too short.
And finally, the larger dress with 4 tiers:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Flower Break

Today I escaped from the sewing studio, and went with Laura to play with flowers. This is something that her florist, Carla, (On Occasions of Atlanta) does with her brides, going over the flowers and vases for the centerpieces, and then making a sample bridesmaid's and bridal bouquets. Some of Laura's flower choices weren't available today from the wholesaler, but of course on the big day, every Laura wants, Laura will get. After the fun was over, Laura got to take her bouquets home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More on Butterick 4967

I certainly feel like this flower girl dress project has been hopelessly drawn out, but I really do hope to finish them today. But before I end up with an incredibly long final post, I wanted to share a couple of more thoughts on the construction.

I decided to make the skirt portion first, as you all know from my ramblings on the tiers, mostly because I was waiting on the batiste for the lining I had ordered online to arrive. In the pattern instructions, they have you construct the bodice first and then set aside. With that out of the way, back to the skirt.

When you are making tiers on anything, you want them to be even, and that starts with the stitching line and where you measure it from. You start with the second tier down, and I measured from the raw edge of the waistband to the raw edge of the tier to make sure it was straight, using the placement markings as my initial guideline. For the 3rd tier, I measured from the stitching line of the 2nd one, to the raw edge, as you can see in the picture.
The top of the pic is the hem of the stay or underskirt to which you are attaching the tiers or ruffles. I have already hemmed it so I didn't have all those ruffles floating about. I clipped the seam allowance as necessary as you can see, which brings me to my next tip. Don't get clip happy! For one of the tiers, I decided to pre-clip before I started pinning. The result was that I had too many clips and it stretched out too far, resulting in my needing to do a lot of pinning and squooshing it all back together to avoid tucks and puckers.
You can see all my pins here, and it simply resulted in making an already slow sewing process even slower, as I pulled each pin before I got to it. Luckily, I only ended up with one tiny pucker, which, ssshhh, I just left in. Here's a preview of how the tiers are starting to look:
Do you see the sheerness below the bottom tier? I've already decided that I'm going to need to add a row of taffeta behind it, as I think the underskirt/stay is simply too short. I believe the original pattern is designed for the ruffles to be made of a non-sheer fabric that matches the bodice, but we veered away from that. Which leads me to my next point about the bodice. The pattern has you use the same fabric as the stay (here, the taffeta) as the lining for the bodice. For my design that would result in some pretty ugly seam allowances showing through the sheer organza. I basted the organza to the taffeta and treated it as a single fabric and used the cotton batiste as the lining which I think will be far more comfortable on what could be a hot June day. I hand basted, to avoid major slippage and stretching, seen here.
It's kind of hard to see, but the right side shows the organza pinned to the taffeta, and the left side, the basting. My next post should hopefully detail my final technique and construction challenges, and then the reveal. I'm seeing the girls on Saturday, so I'm right on track with this project (laughing nervously about all the other projects yet to be started).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Hemmer Foot Experience

Do you ever need to give yourself a BIG, visible reminder?

Today was time for tiers, and luckily no tears were involved. I wanted to share my technique for hemming what was basically the equivalent of sewing on kleenex. Organza or chiffon, a fabric of any other name would still be as frustrating (with apologies to Shakespeare).

I'm using my hemmer foot, and, while I've used it before, I wanted a refresher so I watched a couple of videos. First up, Bernina has great videos for all there presser feet, and this one was helpful. No search for "how to" videos is done without a stop at You Tube.

I really loved how she ran out of bobbin thread at the end. Don't you just hate that?!

OK, here we go...First, I practiced on scraps, but not too many because I just wanted to get on with it. In the process of sewing the side seams (I used a French seam, and now wish I had done it narrower... too late), and the staystitching, and perhaps just in the cutting process itself, I discovered the bottom was completely uneven. So, I folded it in quarters, made the raw edges at the top even, pinned and checked.
This one isn't too bad, so I left it alone. Several were way off, and I just took the rotary cutter, and carefully evened it up, without obsessing. Then I sprayed the bottom edge pretty liberally with starch, let it soak in a minute, and then pressed. I had pre-washed the fabric, so it's pretty soft and drapey now and the starch gave me just a teeny bit more control of the edge. Then it was time. How about an action shot?
I got better with each one, or at least knew what to expect. It was best to start in the middle where it was on the straight grain. I just folded it over twice, plopped the foot down, and took several stitches. Slowly. As I approached the bias edge, I held a single fold and eased it into the spiral on the foot. That went pretty well. Not surprisingly, it was easiest to feed and maintain when I was at the bias places, and hardest as it went from bias to straight and back again. And those silly seams, you're wondering? Well, I took Claire Kennedy's advice from the video and stopped about an inch before the seam, needle in, pulled the hem from the foot and continued manually until I was just past the seam. Then I just eased it back in like I did at the start.

These examples are from the same hem, just different areas. I didn't do any ripping out or stressing, but just let it all go. I can be a perfectionist, but this time ok is good enough. I did trim off any odd bits like you can see in the not so good example. Once pressed, it looked even better.

I did get even further, attaching two tiers to the inner skirt, but this post is getting kind of long so I think I'll keep y'all in suspense...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Progress (and a Decision)

I got my wedding invitation in the mail yesterday (for Daughter Laura's wedding). We're tempted to mail the RSVP card with our regrets, but, naaaaahhh, we'll be there, with bell's on. (OK, maybe not bells.) SOOOO, what am I going to wear? Some of my non-sewing friends were wondering about the muslins, so here are the rejects:
On the dress form, the white one doesn't actually look so bad, but trust me, it just isn't right. Sunflower there, well, you can see the gobs of fabric involved in the halter. It's crazy. Here's the one I'm going with, Butterick 5176:
It has the V-neck I love, a full (but not gathered) skirt, and the midriff area that is just waiting for some embellishment. The fit still needs a bit of tweaking, and I haven't decided if I'm going to add the ties. Your thoughts? I'm just not sure I need a big bow which I would definitely tie in back if I use it.

I've also started serious work on the flower girl dresses. These organza tiers are giving me fits. One dress has four tiers and the other has three and post it notes are hopefully going to keep them all organized for me.
Tomorrow, how I'm hemming these babies. Hint: it's not by hand!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

MOB Frustration

You've seen my fabric, and now you want some progress? Me, too! I've been making muslins all weekend, which is pretty unusual for me, as I'm not one of the "you must make a muslin for every project kind of girl." I've totally embraced tissue fitting.

But that's a lot of silk and I want my MOB dress to be perfect (well, not as perfect as the wedding gown, but you know what I mean). I'm also angsting over my curves in places where I'd rather not have them, so there's that, too.

And the results, please. Well, no pictures here of the said (and sad) muslins, but here are the rejected patterns:

Butterick 4919. Rejected because I didn't like the center seam (fixable), the "halter" straps are too fabric-y (also fixable), and I didn't like the wrap effect (not so fixable). Not 100% rejected, but at least for now. Oh, and it also looks a bit boring on.

Vogue 2962. Rejected because it is a halter, so there's a lot of back showing (not a total deal breaker), and those real halter straps have way too much fabric. There's not so much of a V-neck effect, as masses of fabric bunched up over the girls on it's way to strangling me. Really. I'm not exaggerating. Possibly fixable, but there's a pattern #3 waiting in the wings. Oh, and that gathered skirt. Not even an option. I would definitely use the skirt from the B4919 which appears in the drawing to be gathered, but really is a full, non gathered skirt.

Stay tuned.


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