Apparel: August 2010 Archives
Being a full-fledged, pledge-swearing Disney nerd, I was so excited when the Thomas Kinkade Disney collections arrived. I could not WAIT for the Snow White collection in particular (she's my fave Princess, without a doubt). Looking at the deep hues of the wooded glade where the dwarf cottage nestles contrasted by the parchment style script print gave me an idea for a summer skirt that would have a slightly rustic feel. I cut a simple a-line skirt with a band of green color on the bottom, assembled it, and then started to have the real fun. I cut the large portrait of Snow White from the collection's quilting panels, and multiple small elements from the patchwork print, and then I just had fun playing with placements until I got the look I wanted, then I straight-stitched everything in place, leaving the raw edges exposed. The wave live of smaller pieces wraps all the way around the skirt.
A quick run through the laundry to get some fray on the cut edges was all I needed to complete the look - a slightly grown-up take on the adorable Disney Princess clothes I see little girls wearing, but can't fit into myself!
Alice in Wonderland has been incredibly popular this year, thanks to Tim Burton. As much as I love the design of the movie, it made me think back, longingly, to the wonderful Alice illustrations of Sir John Tenniel. Lucky for me, the British Library Board licensed Tenniel's drawings to Quilting Treasures to create a cotton print collection! This particular project was a very quick affair, a mishmash of colors and patterns all jumbled together, much like Alice's time spent in Wonderland. I just cut 6 panels of equal size from various fabrics, with a waistband cut on the bias and cinched slightly with elastic. A "garland" of imagery around the bottom and voila! A patchwork vibe skirt that keeps me relatively cool in the Georgia heat, and makes me smile every time I look down.
I've got plans for more endeavors of this nature, all in the long project queue. Skirts like this are like art therapy for me; there's no wrong or right way to combine things, and they go together quickly so there's a sense of immediate gratification.
I've got plans for a dress made with the Haunted Oz collection, a Royal Peacock skirt, some kind of delicious silliness made with Viva! and heaven only knows what else. I have no doubt that some other collection will come through the door and trip my creativity circuit. I can't wait!
As the summer draws to a close, so too ends yet another wedding season, leaving closets full of retired bridesmaid's dresses. I know, bride's are always saying, "But I picked a dress you can wear outside of the wedding!" Let's be honest - you never do.
I have had several bridesmaid's dresses over the past few years (luckily, I have been a bride as well). Some I have donated, some I have burned (come on, you've been there, too...), but there have been a few I can't stand to just be done with. Two brides in particular have been fantastic friends, and I have always wanted to do something special for them.
The first bride, Alyson, was married to my husband's best friend (and the best man at our wedding) in July of 2009. Chad, my husband, reciprocated best man duties, and I was a bridesmaid (actually, my main job was keeping the bees from stinging the flower girls during the outdoor ceremony). Our dresses were a taupe colored and tea-length with a halter top and a brown sash for accent. The wedding was in the Lake Tahoe area (GORGEOUS!) and the weather couldn't have been better. The ceremony was beautiful, the reception was a blast, and the bride and groom were as wonderful and gracious as could be. Much fun was had by all, and the couple is still happily married and still very good friends with us.
I will confess that I started out with the intention of making something for myself out of the dress. I never seem to have a clutch that can function with both a dressier outfit and something more casual, so I sought to find something to pair with the satin to balance out the elegance. By the time I finished, I decided that I loved the bag so much that I simply had to give it to Alyson (my mind works like that).
Here's a quick summary of my project:
* For the pattern, I chose the Ruthie Clutch from Anna Maria Horner with a few small edits.
* I made the main body of the bag out of the satin from the dress (unpicked and cut carefully so that I had plenty left over). You could recreate this look with duchess satin.
* The top band and the flower are made from a lilac colored microsuede, which was a little more difficult to work with than a regular cotton would have been since it is thicker and didn't make fusing the peltex an easy task. Still, I like the contrasting texture against the satin.
* The pattern calls for a button closure with an actual button hole in the strap. I'm too lazy for that (I'd just leave it open all the time) so I modified the pattern to include a magnetic snap closure. I still used a pretty button for decoration.
* The lining and closure strap are made from a cotton print I had laying around (for the life of me, I can't remember the name of the collection).
* I used some pretty, complimentary trim to hide the craziness of my seams... I mean add an elegant accent.
* The flower is from a tutorial (that I LOVE), found here.
The pattern was mostly straight forward, but it got a little tricky when it came to putting the stabilizer in the band. Admittedly, it probably would have been a lot easier if I had read all the instructions before jumping right in. It wasn't hard enough for me to give up. It did, however, make me realize how badly I needed a pressing ham (the most underrated tool ever). In the end, I decided that I couldn't keep it. Instead, I am giving it to Alyson for a rather belated birthday present. I hope she enjoys it.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks for the answer to, "What the heck do I do with a full length, ball gown bridesmaid's dress in midnight blue satin with a whole lot of fabric (to accommodate my then-pregnantly-round figure)?" I'll give you a hint - both the bride's daughter AND son should benefit from my creativity (if I can disassemble the dress correctly).
If pressed, I would call it the fabric equivalent of Ravelry. That is one way of describing Sewing Pattern Review to a 'T' but also missing it entirely. Sewing Pattern Review (SPR) has an awesomeness that is its own; this makes it a valuable tool for sewers and seamstresses. You can find pattern reviews there, sure, but you will also find reviews on sewing tools and machines, contests, forums, and online classes. It is a Girl Scout camp for the fabric minded. Before I purchased my new sewing machine (I say new but she and I have been together and happy for 3 years now) I scoured the internet for reviews. No site had more useful info than Sewing Pattern Review. If it wasn't for this gem of a site I would be shackled to another machine I had my heart set on that would have spent more time in the repair shop than my sewing room had I not read the reviews.
I have found many a good tip for a planned pattern on SPR that has saved me time, frustration and one or two times, I just put the pattern aside. When I was a beginner, it virtually held my hand while I attempted more challenging projects. I have not utilized the site as much as I should. Well, that is not true. I have used the heck outta SPR but I have not given back as I should. I only house two reviews of my own on SPR and those are just recent. But writing this blog has brought this problem to light and I will rectify it. My two patterns reviews are the Nancy Dress and the Bossa Nova Skirt. Submitting and writing your pattern is easy. There is a template you can use to write your review and you need a good picture of your finished project. Submitting your own may lead you to check out others and inspire you to make another from a fabric or with a technique you saw from another review. The same can be said for your review. Inspiration runs wild on this site so prepare your wallet and be still your heart. I would love it alone just for the window shopping. I encourage all to use this site; it is wonderful, helpful and an unending resource for all that is sewing.
I love using fabric scraps- for anything I can. Luckily for me, fabric necklaces are very popular right now! I've seen bib style necklaces in magazines- with felt backing, swirls of fabric and beading scrolling around your neck. I prefer to go for something a little less bold- but still make a statement.
Lightweight fabric is best to use- lightweight lining or chiffon is best. You can choose a print or solid, or both; just remember both sides of the fabric will show. All you need to do is cut a 17'' X 6 ¼'' rectangle- finish the edges with a roll hem, or use pinking shears for a raw look without having to worry about unraveling! I used a decorative hem stitch on my serger, with a different color thread. Once the edges are to your liking, fold one side over, not quite meeting the edge. By hand, or by machine, baste stitch across the center of your folded fabric- then gather to create the ruffles. Thread a necklace chain through the generous loop you've created and you're done!
You can secure the edges of your fabric ruffle to the chain, or not, depending if you want to switch out your chains. Heavier weight chains are best to use because they help weigh-down the lightweight ruffle.
This ruffle fabric necklace is an elegant way to add color
to any outfit, with a fun, flirty twist. In my upcoming wedding, I plan on
presenting these DIY gifts to my bridesmaids to wear with their black cocktail length
bridesmaid dresses. I love the idea of adding pops of color! I'm still debating
whether or not to give them all the same color or mix and match. Much of my wedding is DIY- with loads and loads of precious fabric scraps. So keep that stash going, and I'll show you more creative ways to put those scraps to good use!
I feel ashamed to say that the Bossa Nova Skirt is my first Hot Pattern experience. I have long coveted the patterns but my plate has been so full since I first discovered them that I kept putting it off. The Hot Patterns free pattern downloads for Fabric.com have given me an excuse to clear my calendar for some quality time with my machine and a good pattern. Let's get started
I loved the Bossa Nova Skirt! Most of my love was gained because it was so quick and easy. It was laughable how quick and easy. About 2-3 hours from prewashing, ironing, laying out, cutting, pinning, sewing and finishing. This is definitely for a beginner. The Bossa Nova skirt should be a first project for most beginners because it will make them feel so confident that they will never want to stop sewing. Another significant portion of love is due to the fit and form of the skirt. It is just as cute and glam on as in the stylize rendering on the pattern download page. I scoured my closet for an equally cute shirt to match the model but I had to settle for something different but no less good looking (I am sure you will agree). The skirt is very flowy, swishy and forgiving, perfect for a night out, date night or luncheon with the girls.
The variety of fabrics that this skirt can be made from is another notch under the Love column. Woven and knits alike. You can make it casual with some Rayon Jersey, glam it up with some Ultra Sateen, or let out your wide side with Animal Print Satin Charmeuse. I was amazed with the variety. Since it is a gored skirt you can even make it bolder by alternating colors or coordinating prints on each gore. The skirt also uses a small amount of fabric, just 1 ½ yds. I choose some Hanky Weight Linen because it is still hot
here in GA and I love a good linen skirt. I choose a neutral to try something different (you all know how I love bright colors). With the hanky weight, I definitely recommend a slip under the skirt but the weight is very nice for swinging and swishing that I love in a fuller skirt. I over-locked the edges to prevent fraying so I just pressed all my seams to one side instead of open (as recommended in the pattern). I am playing around with an idea to either embroider the skirt around the hem a bit or add some ribbon detail down there. Jury it still out. The hem length is just right for me; I am tall -- 5' 7'' -- so if you are shorter, I suggest playing with the hem before the final stitching.
I am putting this pattern on my list of favorites and will make another out of some jersey in the near future. I think the gathers around the waist and the fullness of the pattern will lend itself well to a lightweight knit, maybe in a fall color to wear with boots or leggings. I think leggings will call for a shorter hem. Oh, the possibilities!
Throughout my years of sewing, I have stitched countless
custom gowns for brides to wear on their big day, including my own. I always
feel incredibly honored to be the person trusted with creating the dress that
is so central to the moment that two people are united as one. In situations
where I have the freedom to create a gown that has a historical slant, I am in
total bliss. I adore historical costuming, and I think weddings that borrow
style from times gone by have the perfect combination of flair and elegance.
Here are two of my favorite bridal projects, created for two of my favorite
My friend Stephanie has always had that vibe that she's actually from another era. She's also cute as pie, so I have used her as a 1:1 scale doll on several occasions throughout the 14 years we have known each other. She's an incredibly good sport.
Back when Stephanie and her now
husband began dating, I was flipping through a book of historical garments on
display at The Kyoto Costume Institute, and I came across a photo of an
incredible beaded gown from 1911. Stephanie and I were working together at the
time, and I walked to her desk and said, "If you and Josh ever get
married, I found your wedding gown." When I showed her the picture, she
loved it and asked, "But where am I gonna get that dress?" "I
will make it!" I replied.
I'll admit: at the time, I thought
Josh was a rebound boyfriend. Little did I know, I'd have to make good on my
offer! (I was thrilled to do it, though.) The dress was made using a silk
charmeuse under slip and an overlay of english net, which I spent the next five
months beading. Seeing her descend the grand staircase in the venue where she
was married was worth every moment spent hunched over all those hundreds of
thousands of teensy beads. Every inch of the dress was covered - some areas
with clear, slightly opalescent seed beads to give it a bit of soft sparkle,
others with more obvious pearls and silver beads to replicate the design we so
loved on the original garment. She wore the dress beautifully, and it meant the
world to me to have contributed to her wonderfully unique big day.
Carrie is another dear, darling friend, and when she first got engaged, I immediately wanted to talk about her dress. She and her husband are film buffs, so I began instantly trying to think of fun ways to borrow from classic movies to find the perfect gown for her. We even talked, at one point, of subtly referencing Elsa Lanchester's gown from Bride of Frankenstein.
Carrie wanted something unique, but she also wanted to please the members of her family who had envisioned something slightly more traditional. We talked about iconic movie gowns for a looong time. I have always thought Carrie would look divine in a Victorian bustle gown, and thankfully, I had a flash of inspiration and Carrie loved the idea. We decided to use Mina's red gown from Braham Stoker's Dracula as our inspiration, but we chose a subtle shell tone of dupioni silk instead of the red fabric used in the film. I altered some of the details to suit Carrie's taste and make it more wearable for a full night of eating, dancing and celebrating.
The best moment of that wedding? Carrie's adorable mother Polly telling me I had created the perfect dress for her little girl. We had so wanted to please the fantastic Mother of the Bride, and we had. Mission accomplished!
Don't forget to check out our entire collection of Special Occasion Fabrics when you're tackling your next formal wear project!
I will not mince words: this will be a bittersweet review of the Serendipity Monique Dress (Bittersweet like chocolate chips. Yummy chocolate but not as smooth as milk chocolate). I will summarize than expand. I love the finished dress and I will make more in many different fabrics because the design is versatile enough to be more or less fancy depending on the fabric used (more on this below) but the pattern gave me trouble and needs some tweaking to be as easy as it should be. I give the dress an A but the pattern a C.
Let's deal with the pleasantries first since that is more fun. I love the dress. It makes me feel very pretty when I wear it. The skirt flares a little when I twirl (Bonus!). The details and embellishments included in the pattern are the cat's meow. I love how you can "choose your own adventure", if you will, with ruffles, trim, hems, and flowers. The pieced bodice option is also very fun and looks amazing. I went with Variation 4, which called for 2 fabrics. I choose a lightweight rayon blend fabric as the main fabric and Chateau Rococo by Free Spirit as the trim fabric. The fabric combo turned out much more fancy than I had anticipated from the pattern. The pattern images gives the impression of more of a sundress, fun and flirty, but I have learned that if you choose your fabrics carefully you can have a fun, casual dress (Retro & Mod quilting cotton) or a sleek cocktail dress, fit for an evening wedding (think Dupioni Silk in tonal colors). I love the versatility of this dress. The fit was another plus. I did not make any additional alterations to the pattern to fit my shape; I made the pattern as was to give a good account to you in the fit department. The dress fit exactly in the bust and waist. I was amazed. It should be noted that I am busty so if you are not, you may want to fiddle with the darts before you call the bodice finished and move onto the rest of the dress. I made a size small which was based on my measurements taken as specified in the pattern and the fit was wonderful.
Now for a quick run through of the stumbles I came across in the pattern. The front neck facing was too big and when I sewed it onto the dress, it pulled the front of the neck out for a very unsightly look (I left this intact in the pictures to give a true representation. The facing was about ¾ in. too long. Also the notches on the neck facings didn't match leaving me to refit 2-3 times before they lined up. Lastly the front and back bodice pieces do not match with the front being ½ in. too long. All problems were fixable and not huge deals but for a beginner sewer they would have been. These are also not issues I expected to have.
The hem was a good length. The overall shape of the dress was very complimentary. Oh, I almost forgot: I decided to go for the whole visible zipper as a design detail and it worked well. I really like the look. It gives a different feel to the dress in the back but you should be warned this may be a dress you need a hand to finish zipping up. That being said I can't wait to get back to my sewing room and make another!
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