Monday, April 29, 2013

You Can Wear It Again -- Bridesmaid Series

If you are new to the blog, welcome! I've had a handful of new readers showing up from bloglovin', so ... YAY! Anyway, I sew, but since last September I've been working in the bridal industry as a Bridesmaid Consultant. From time to time, I plan to write about a few of my own insights. These opinions in no way reflect the opinions of my employers, and are my own.

OK, with that little disclaimer out of the way, let's talk about what bridesmaids wear!

You Can Wear It Again!

"It" of course, being the dreaded bridesmaid dress. Foisted upon best friends, sisters, future sisters-in-law, and occasionally the random friend that is in the wedding just to make sure the numbers on both sides are even. What? You thought brides only choose their very best and closest friends ever to stand by their sides? If only. But that's another post.

JCrew Bridesmaids
To be fair, I don't hear this every day. These days, it does seem most girls know the truth. But I do hear it, and sometimes most passionately from moms.

Bari Jay
But why aren't these dresses worn again more often? Or at all? Yes, some of them are hideously ugly. But the reality is that even the cutest bridesmaid dress is still a bridesmaid dress. And it has a very important role to play. The bride is wearing a dress that she will never wear again, so why should the bridesmaids?

Yet, the bride often feels guilty making her bridesmaids pay so much for a one-time worn dress that the maid did not actually choose for herself. She has foisted her "vision" on these hapless girls and it involves colors and styles that just don't suit everyone. Think about it though... how often do you wear a long (or short), strapless, chiffon dress?

Alvina Valenta - JLM Couture
I think that, ultimately, is the bottom line. This type of dress is just not worn that often.

Let's talk about it! In my next bridesmaid post, I'll show off some of the bridesmaid dresses I've worn, and the ones my own maids wore. What about you?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Three Muslins and a Pattern

I'm using a vintage McCall's pattern to make a dress for Laura's graduation next month. It's a Bust 38 which is more or less my size. For me, making a fitted, vintage pattern usually means that I'm going to have to tweak it to fit my 21st century body, and I often find that it's easier to tweak a larger pattern than a smaller one. Anyone else have that experience, no matter when the pattern was published?

I'll show y'all the pattern soon, but I'm feeling too lazy to go look up the number, etc. Suffice it to say that it is a fitted sheath with a waist seam and in a the back a faux wrap with a low V shape. Oh, to top it off, I'm using Colette's Macaron pattern for the skirt. I've made it before and know it works.

This fitted style definitely called for a muslin, at least for the bodice, and I ended up making 3! Not my usual MO that's for sure!

Number 1:
 No tweaks to the pattern except to take a 1/4" off each dart leg, and make the 5/8" seam allowance on the sides taper to 3/8" to the waist just to be able to zip it up.

Number 2:
You can see the pins at the neckline. Above the boobs, I am just much narrower than a Bust 38 size. I also had to scoop out some from the armscyes... the fabric just bunched up. In the back, I raised the "V" so that it will cover the bra. This style made it easy to shorten the back length, and I needed to add to the front length.

Number 3:
Above the boobs still needed tweaking, as you can see. That was pretty much it. All these alterations ended up with this:

The back piece is usable, but I re-traced the front piece to flatten out all those darts and tucks.

Finally, I've made the lining first, just to make sure. No pictures of that, but all is well. The bodice will be lined with a lightweight batiste for comfort, and the skirt will be lined with bemberg lining for the swish.

So... later this afternoon, I cut out the fashion fabric, plus 2 more tops. When the mood strikes to cut stuff out, you just have to go with it, amirite?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Me Made May 2013

Here's the deal. I wasn't going to participate in the Me Made May fun this year. I mean, seriously, I work 6 days a week most of the time, and can only wear black so that's really boring. I hate that part of my job, and just couldn't inflict that on y'all.

But then... wait! I'm taking a vacation in May, heading to Virginia for daughter Laura's graduation from graduate school. Five whole days of no black! I'm currently working on the muslin for the "graduation" dress. Fingers crossed it will work, because it's meant to go with an orphan jacket that I made a while back. This one. I've never worn it.

OK, I've totally digressed. Here's my pledge:

I, Ellen, hereby pledge to participate in a Mini-Me-Made-May, wearing at least me made garment on my days off, and on my
mid-May vacation. In addition, I'll feature one post where I show off the capsule of black things I've made to wear to work.

I haven't figured out the posting plan, but it'll happen. And I will by joining the flickr group to post the pictures.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mad Men Challenge Shirt Dress

Is shirt dress one word or two? Perhaps you call them shirtwaist dresses. Regardless of what you call it, this style dress was popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and was prominently featured in at least the earlier seasons of Mad Men. My inspiration for this challenge could have been any number of the dresses featured, primarily on the wives of the "mad men". This one that Betty is wearing, is one of my favorites:
I really wanted to find a stripe, to really replicate the look, but couldn't find what I wanted. You had a sneak peek of my heron covered fabric last week... and here's the dress:

As mentioned last week, I used Simplicity 4003. The changes I made include:

  • eliminated the side zipper
  • did my own button placement
  • the placket is backwards (oops), so the buttons/buttonholes are on the "wrong" sides
  • shortened the skirt a lot
  • added side seam pockets
  • gathered the skirt around the entire waistband.
And darn... I should have posed like Betty, complete with glass of wine!

Parting shot with styled with cardigan...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spreading the Love

As a serial non-compliant chain letter receiver, I have mixed feelings about the blog awards that make the rounds periodically, but at the end of the day, I am thrilled that a fellow blogger has noticed my blog enough to say... "I'm thinking about you and want to let others know about you too".

And I really do sincerely want to thank fellow sewing blogger Sarah, who writes Musings of a Seamstress, for bestowing the Liebster award on my little blog.

The Liebster Award is meant for new bloggers who have less than 200 followers – it helps get the word out about them, so go check out Kacie’s post for other great blogs!
With the award, there are a few rules: 1. Answer the 10 questions that were asked by the person who nominated you. 2. Nominate 10 new bloggers that inspire YOU.  3. Ask those bloggers 10 questions.
Well, not sure I qualify as a "new" blog, but I have been hovering just below the 200 mark for eons, so there you go. Click on Sarah's blog name in my "thank you" paragraph to discover other inspiring blogs.
Here are the answers to Sarah's questions:
1.  Why did you decided to start blogging? Oh, that's complicated. I started a blog when I opened my etsy shop to, you know, promote. Then I discovered sewing blogs, and I changed the name of my blog and shifted my focus to sewing with a side of Etsy and non-sewing life.
2.  What are your goals for your blog?  To document my sewing, but also to share some of my life experiences as a post-stay at home mom/now full-time bridesmaid consultant, and, well, anything else that pops into mind.
3.  Do you gravitate towards fabrics with texture, pattern or solid colors? Yes? That's a tricky one for me... while I gravitate to fabrics with pattern, I often find my solid color creations more wearable.
4.  What is your favorite season to sew for? Probably summer. Probably because it's my favorite season, period.
5.  What is your favorite fabric store to shop? No real favorite... depends on what I'm looking for.
6.  What do you call yourself (sewcialist, sewer, seamstress, sewist…) and why? I call myself "someone who sews a lot". Maybe sewist or seamstress. Never sewcialist (that's a new one for me) or sewer.
7.  Yes or no to sewing for others?  Why? I have to answer this one with "it depends". Mostly on what they want me to sew for them and if I have time. I do make sewing gifts for others though.
8.  What is your favorite garment sewn thus far? Why? I've had many favorites over the years... that's too hard to answer.
9.  What is one thing you hope to sew this month? A dress to wear at my daughter's graduation from graduate school.
10.  What is one thing in your must sew list for this year? Nothing at the moment is a "must sew". *see full-time job mention in question #2.
Go discover these 10 blogs:
Finally... 10 questions from me:
  1. How much time a week/day do you spend on your blog?
  2. Do you feel like you need to explain yourself if you don't blog for awhile?
  3. How much time a day to you spend READING other people's blogs?
  4. These awards posts can be time-consuming. Do you cringe a little when you get these kinds of awards? ;)
  5. Besides reading blogs and writing on your own blog, do you spend a lot of time on the computer?
  6. Is sewing your primary creative outlet?
  7. What are some of your other creative endeavors?
  8. Do you join sew alongs?
  9. Do you participate in other types of online challenges (sewing or otherwise)? What are they?
  10. Do you usually complete these challenges or sew alongs? Why or why not?
Not all the blogs I listed are primarily sewing blogs, but they are all inspiring! Thanks and y'all have a great week!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More Bloglovin...

Oops, I've put the button over there on the right, but apparently, there's a whole "claim blog" aspect that I've glossed right over. Here's my Claim Blog link:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hope I've done this right this time...

In related news... I just can't break my Google Reader habit. It's such a clean, easy to read reader. No gimmicks... just a list of the new posts from the blogs I read. Why, Google Reader? Ah well, I've still got a couple of months...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Herons and the Side Zipper

With the Mad Men Season 6 premiere airing last Sunday, that can only mean one thing! The Mad Men Challenge is nearing an end. My shirt dress is 95% finished... just needs buttonholes/buttons and a hem.

Great Blue Heron picture source

There we go... that's the heron portion of this post. The herons on the right? That's my fabric, from Cloud 9 Organics. The one on the left? Well, duh... that's a real heron.

And the side zipper? If you've sewn, or even looked at, any number of vintage patterns, you've probably noticed that they seem to have a love affair with the side zip. Even my shirtdress pattern, but I feel that buttoning up the front, and zipping up the side is a bit of overkill. I do know why my pattern, Simplicity 4003, uses the side zipper... the skirt design demands it.

My solution was to eliminate the side zipper, and make a placket extending into the skirt. I used another shirtdress pattern, Simplicity 3487, that has a placket, for the skirt pieces... mostly because I was feeling too lazy to figure it out on my own. {note... I'm finding that selling vintage patterns gives me a vast source of information that I can use for pattern tinkering... and if you're wondering why I didn't just use that pattern to start with... I didn't feel like grading up when S4003 is in my size}

My rough sketch from the instructions of S3487:
Basically... stitch along those long dart-like lines, slash to the point, encase the cut edges with bias tape. Easy, right?

How mine looks:

For the record... I think that second picture isn't folded correctly because you don't see the bias tape. And the next time you see these birds, I'll be wearing the dress!


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