January 30, 2013

the edge-finishing experiment (a poll)

I know, two posts in one day, right? But I did some playing around with options on how to finish the back bodice/sleeve edges this afternoon, and I really need some feedback! If you could take just a moment to look this over and vote in the poll below, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I've come to the conclusion that there's really no way to finish this invisibly. Except for adding a second layer of organza to enclose the seams, and that would make the color difference between that and my skin way too obvious, and therefore defeat the purpose of using that nude organza in the first place. But here's what I've tried:

Option 1: A hairline seam finish (a very narrow hem-type thing, turned under twice to enclose the raw edges. The first two lines of stitching were done by machine, but I sewed the third by hand.
Pro: This was the easiest/least fiddly option, as I didn't have to deal with narrow strips of anything and the stitching did most of the work for me. And if I do the stitching with a thread other than white, this could be fairly invisible.
Cons: There's still that darker finishing edge where the organza is tripled up. And matching the thread could be problematic.

Option 2: A bias (more or less) binding, overlaid with the lace. Again, interior finishing was done by hand.
Pros: This looked like the cleanest finish at the end around the curved area, and was also the easiest to hand-sew the inside.
Cons: The edge is really peachy looking, because it has the most layers of the organza. It was also kind of stiff, and the binding was pretty tough to work with at that width.

Option 3: Just a strip of the lace.
Pros: The whiter parts where the sunflowers were looked pretty good.
Cons: The netting parts look kind of sloppy, and I'm concerned about the organza edge fraying within that. Also, again, the strips were fiddly and hard to work with. It's also going to be virtually impossible to avoid some kind of thread line, because that row of machine stitching was pretty much necessary to give me something more stable to anchor the netting parts of the lace to.

So what do you think?



IMG_0460Aside from that, I did get to do a bit of actual construction work today. I spent some time constructing the top and bottom of the front sleeve bits, and sewed those on this morning. I did end up using a French seam for this part, so hopefully the color difference won't be terribly obvious when I'm wearing it instead of Donna. I'm a bit more pale than her! (I guess most people won't be looking down at my shoulders anyway, right?) I'm also hoping that it fit ok, because dummy me, I didn't realize until AFTER I trimmed the seam down that I should have sewn it a little away from the stitching line rather than right on it! But I don't think it was so skintight of a fit that it'll be a huge issue, losing that little bit in the shoulders. And anyway, I haven't secured the straps in the front yet, and probably won't until I have the zipper in and know the fit once and for all, so I can always compensate by adding a little length there if needed.
IMG_0459
Minus the really wide seam allowances/inside-out seam in the middle/sagginess from no securing at the top, this is essentially what the back looks like. I did try to match the pattern in the back, but I think I'm going to have to take some extra out of the top of the main part, so we'll see how I did. For the record, I didn't even try to match the seams at the shoulders, because I was able to make the placement work out so I had a sunflower cutting through both the top and bottom sleeves, and I kind of needed that for gathering purposes. (Sort of gathering, that is. I ended up having to pin and tack it all down by hand, because the net was just a total lost cause for the basting stitches!)

I'm going to hold off on those edges for now-- on to the waistband!

(Edit: Rats, how did my blog suddenly get all ugly?! Not that I have time to mess with it now...)

Post-wedding dress wish list(s)

The other sewing dare I received from Gillian was to make a list of things I'd like to sew after the dress. As it turns out, I have a bunch of different pieces of fabric bagged up with patterns and ready to cut and sew....and absolutely none of those are things I want to make right away! (I'll get to them sometime. Really.)

I actually have two entirely separate lists, because there's things I'd like to make for the honeymoon if I have time before the wedding, and a different set of priorities I need to think about if I don't. So here's the lists!

If I have a couple of months after the dress:
I am going to need some new things for the honeymoon/summer, I think. I don't think I can realistically expect that I'll be able to sew everything. But ideally, I would at least like to sew something new for it. (Is it weird that the thought of retail shopping feels like such a drag now? Hopefully I can at least thrift a few things, because that's more fun!) I've been plotting out possibilities in my head from my current wardrobe, and I think I can put together a decent travel wardrobe for a Caribbean getaway, but here's a few additions I'd love to have:
  • After such a time-consuming, fitting-intensive, couture EVERYTHING project, I think I'm really going to need a palate-cleanser. Since I already have the fit tweaked and I know it's a quick one, I'm thinking another Renfrew will be just the ticket. I'm thinking the short-sleeved, scoop-neck version, so I don't have to mess with altering the v-neck front just yet. The only catch--I'd want to make this something I could wear for the honeymoon, and would you believe that I don't think I actually have any knits that would work for that purpose? They're all either cool rayon prints that have way too much yardage for me to "waste" on a top that will only use about half of it at the most, or the cotton/poly blend solids that I picked up at Joann's. Which I think would be too hot for summer in the tropics, you know? If I'm going to stick to my stashbusting pledge, I need to think of a way around this.
  • I have about a yard of denim leftover from the jeans, and since I am desperately in need of shorts that fit--most of mine are WAY too big around my waist because it was the only way I could find any that fit my hips at the time--a wearable muslin of the Thurlow shorts would be great. The fabric is wide enough that I think I could just manage to squeeze them out. To save fabric/speed up the process/make sure it fits first, I'd probably leave the welt pockets off, and then just go jeans-style with patch pockets if I had enough fabric left.
  • Another wish-list item would be a wearable muslin of the Tiramisu dress. I have quite a bit of navy jersey, from bedsheets of all things. (When my brother got married, he gave me the now-too-small jersey sheets that he'd been using so I could use them for fabric purposes.) I think a basic navy dress could be great for things like the "resort formal" dress code at some of the ritzier restaurants at the resort we're going to.
  • I may actually do some sleepwear/lingerie. (Gasp! At my fiance's request, of course.) I do actually need some summer sleepwear, since I had about 2 things I rotated between all last summer and just never had the time to make anything else. And I do have a few patterns I've collected recently to make some appropriate things.
If I don't have much time before the wedding...
Then I'll probably have to just suck it up and take a break from sewing. (Nooo!) And then keep a knitting project around so I don't go crazy from complete lack of craftiness. But there's definitely a few things I'd like to do once I get settled in after all of this:
  • I need to make some curtains for his townhouse. I've figured out that I can recycle my bedroom curtains for the office, because the beachy stripes are masculine enough for his taste and the color just happens to go very well with the walls in there. But I also need to make a new curtain for the sliding glass door, one for the kitchen window, one for my sewing room and two sets of curtains for the bedroom. The bedroom would be the highest priority, since I need the light blockage. I do have fabric for all of these, and I'll probably keep them very simple in style, because fancy-schmancy draperies aren't really my thing. Also, rectangles are faster to sew, and that means I'll be able to get back to clothes sooner!
  • Pants, pants, and more pants. I easily have materials for about 5 or 6 Thurlows, and once I get the fit figured out, I think I'm just going to assembly-line sew all of them at once. I'm so sick of wearing pants that are too short for me, and I rarely am able to find RTW pants that fit me well enough to justify buying them. Since she specifically designed the pattern for the larger hips/smaller waist types, I'm hopeful that this is going to be THE pants pattern I've been looking for! Also, more jeans, because I've been wearing my one me-made pair pretty much every time it's clean, and therefore I need more.
  • A knit dress for the fall would be good. Perhaps the Tira if I can figure out how to lengthen the sleeves, or perhaps revisiting Butterick 5206. I do have a couple of fabrics in the stash that I think could be good options. If I can figure out how to get around the fact that both prints are fairly thin knits with white backgrounds, and therefore I may have to be concerned with opacity. (Has anyone had luck with lining knits?)
  • Yeah, I'll probably still end up doing that sleepwear/lingerie at some point. He's been asking so nicely.

January 27, 2013

I'm a sucker for a good sewalong

Just a quick administrative note--I removed the Disqus, since I've had a few mentions of issues with commenting since I installed it. Plus I don't like that it won't let me see links to your blogs--I find a lot of new reading material through my comments! So I hope this resolves any issues. (I did lose a few of the more recent comments as a result, and I do apologize for that.)

So I'm sure you've all heard of the Stashbusting Sewalong going on over at Cation Designs by now.

I mean, ninja sewasaurus rex. How can one resist?


Since this one is fairly self-paced, I figured I might as well go for it.

"I, Becky, commit to using 6 pieces of stash fabric in 2013. I also commit to not buying any new fabric, other than interfacing/notions, things for the wedding, or absolutely necessary home dec fabric. In addition, I commit to evaluating my current stash and getting rid of the things that I honestly can't find a use for."

Obviously, I'm not going to even attempt the monthly challenges until The One Dress is done. But I figure that setting a goal of one project a month after the wedding is totally manageable, and if I bust more than that, awesome. I did need to give myself a loophole, since I don't entirely know yet what I may need to make for the house, and I actually did have to buy one more piece of fabric for wedding-related stuff this past week. 

As for the getting rid of stash, I'm already working on that. And for those of you who are still interested in acquiring fabric, you might be able to help me out! Stay tuned...

January 25, 2013

puzzle solving



IMG_0454After the great lace disaster of last week, I've managed to get to the point where the front is basically done, and am now applying lace to the back! Which, surprisingly, has turned out to be more complicated than princess seams. Between trying to somewhat match up the motifs that are going over the seamlines and trying to keep it flat and intact over the organza part--I'd like to avoid having to stitch that down so it looks nice on the inside--trying to do this one side of the back has become like trying to solve this complicated puzzle where I'm carefully trimming around bits of sunflowers and overlapping other bits to try and make a fabric that still looks nice but stays flat. All this while trimming and stitching as I go. I tried putting the bodice on Donna and trimming out a piece of lace to put on this piece yesterday, and it didn't work, so I had to resort to basically having the entire piece of lace hanging off of this thing at some point and stitching as I go. I had to make some overlap, but I did have a couple of flowers touching on the front as I tried to work around the princess seams, so it will have to do. There's not many other options for a lace with a lot of netting in between flowers. Most people probably won't be looking that closely, right?

IMG_0458At least those other cut pieces won't entirely go to waste, as I can recycle the sunflowers as skirt embellishments. I'm having my leg model here so they really pop! There's about 6 fully trimmed out so far, and others in various stages of cutting netting away. I've been working a little of this in between things so I can break up the mountain of hand-sewing on occasion.

UntitledThe other major thing I've gotten done this week was sewing twill tape around the top of the bodice to help shape and stabilize the neckline, and turning and stitching those pieces down. It took some re-reading of Bridal Couture and a shoutout for some clarification on Twitter to figure out exactly how best to go about it, but I think the results turned out well. I grabbed this pic on my phone in-progress...










IMG_0455And here's the result! It did make a rather nicely-shaped neckline, I think--maybe a little pointier than I would have wanted on the right side, but we'll see if I redo it. I did do this part with some negative ease, so it should help the thing curve in and fit me better, too.

IMG_0457




In continuing the tradition of showing the guts of the dress, here's what it looks like inside, with the photo seriously filtered to really let it show. For some reason, this side was way more ripply than the other side, and I may end up re-doing this particular section to attempt to get it to lie flatter. (I think this is the pointier side, come to think of it...maybe that explains it.)


One last order of business before I get back to work-- I was recently given the Premio award by the lovely Hana. It's to thank the last 9 people who have commented here, and I'm all in favor of more commenting (and have been making an effort to leave comments more often myself this year!) So I'd like to send a shoutout to Hana (still the most recent commenter!), Donna, Murieann, Helen T, Gwen, soisewedthis, Allison, Christina, and Carolyn.

I apologize to those of you whose blogs I didn't link-- I discovered as I was doing this that apparently Disqus won't link me to the blog for the commenter like the default settings do. I also learned from Hana that apparently the comments don't work on Internet Explorer! Has this been an issue for anyone else? Would it be better if I try to undo the Disqus and just go back to the default commenting?

January 21, 2013

sewing lace and sewing dares

IMG_0438For those of you who are following this, here's what I've spent the last four days doing. That is, if you count me being about this far before, and then having to rip off all of the lace and start over. On a side note, while I've been trying to avoid that bubble in the chest area around the princess seam, I'm hoping it'll lay better on me. Admittedly, I do fill out the top better than Donna.

IMG_0439I'm working on the first of the two side front pieces currently, and it's somewhat of a beast. I've been having to do some very careful trimming and overlapping and tugging and lots of little tiny hand stitches to keep fragile edges from unraveling. As you can see at the top, I did have to overlap the sunflowers a bit in that one spot, and I'm having to patch together a leafy bit in the middle there. I'm hoping that since I won't have that extreme curve to deal with in the back, it'll come together a little easier there. But I did have an easier time with it the second time around--the first time, one of those sunflowers landed right at the curviest part of the princess seam, and that was being awful to sew around! (Not to mention visually just BAD.) So obviously, this is what I'll be working on again for the next several days at least--I do want to make sure that I get both side fronts done before I do the back. Also, I need to do some seam work before I can lace-ify the back, since I do have that organza/dupioni seam in the middle to deal with. I recently got a few supplies from A Fashionable Stitch, including some narrow twill tape to help give me a good stable edge there (based on the Bridal Couture book instructions. So I might get a machine sewing break, maybe?

In other news, I'm sure many of you have seen the "Sewing Dares" thread over at Crafting a Rainbow. It looked fun, so I sort of dared Gilian to come up with a sewing dare that didn't actually involve a new sewing project. Because, you know, this dress thing. So she, in turn, dared me to start a Twitter account! (And a secondary post topic dare, which I'll do later after I can collect my thoughts.) So you can now also find me on there as @sew_and_so. So far, the bloggers over there have been super-welcoming. And if you're on Twitter, let me know so I can start following you! I'm still getting the hang of it, so bear with me.

January 18, 2013

Yesterday was not a good day.

So far, I'd been feeling pretty good about my rate of progress on the dress. I got the nude organza sewed onto the back on Tuesday, though I'm holding off on the shoulder seams for now, and spent probably a solid 7-8 hours over the course of the next two days carefully hand-tacking the allover lace to the main fabric on the front of the bodice, cutting around motifs to try and make the seaming as invisible as possible, etc. (I'm so glad I've got my seasonal unemployment going on right now, or there's no way I'd get this done.) I made it all the way to the point of being able to add lace to one of the side front pieces. And then, after a couple of hours fussing with one flower in particular, I had this sinking feeling...

So I held it up to myself, and sure enough: I had a flower centered right in the worst possible place it could be on the princess seam. And this was after spending quite a bit of time pinning, unpinning, and even getting a second opinion to make sure I avoided doing this.

I tried unpicking as little as possible and just shifting that particular flower as much as I could, but it was a no-go. So I spent much of yesterday evening undoing nearly two days' work, and panicking over the thought that I might not be able to avoid doing this again because of the large-scale motifs, and "what if I have to buy new lace I don't have options around here and none of my usual fabric websites have anything that would work right now and I designed the entire dress around this lace!" It was not a good night.

Now that I have it all unpicked, I think I've found an alternate placement that will help me avoid this. I'll have to cut a new piece of lace, but the original one can be salvaged either for a side front piece or just using the motifs on the skirt, as originally planned. It's a good thing I went with dupioni for the main fabric, as I think a less textured silk probably would have been wrecked in the process of undoing the lace and then I would have lost all of the bodice work, too. So now I just have to make up for lost time...

January 16, 2013

A bodice update, and I need some advice!

When we last met, I basically had an organza corset. Now I'm proud to say that I have what is turning into an actual bodice!

Bodice seam gradingThis one was a bit more of a process, since the more opaque nature of the fabric necessitated hand-basting everything together first, and then later removing a lot of that basting. Also, I have two underlining layers, so grading the seams was a must! (On a side note, LOVING this new camera.)
Inside bodice
Then I had to stitch down all of those graded seams to the underlining, which was much trickier around the princess seam curves this time. I was having a bit of difficulty getting the seams to press flat, and ended up having to re-do the darts in particular a couple of times-- I finally resorted to slicing those open and pressing the majority of them flat to try and reduce the bulk. The side seam in particular looks much less bubbly now, since I re-pressed it after taking this photo.

Inside bodice post-boningThe next step, which has taken the last couple of days, was hand-stitching that organza corset layer into the bodice. It was more time-consuming than anything else.

Inside bodice post-boning closeupI did have an interesting time trying to figure out what to do with the princess seam part in particular. I finally settled on this whip stitch, which actually does go into the outer layer-- I think I probably should have made the stitch length a bit shorter here, because I noticed that there was a little gapping between stitches after I pressed it. So while you can't actually see the stitches from the outside, I did take it into the seam just to reinforce it a bit.
Bodice front, in progress
Here it is on me so far. I know there's a little rippling in the center front, but I think the weight of the skirt will help that. If this were a strapless, I'd have to do a bit of tweaking to the fit at the top, but I think that having those sheer sleeves will help a great deal.


Bodice back, in progressThe side seams are sitting in a good place, but I will need to take in the back some, I think. At least at the top of the bodice, it fits well where it meets the waistband. I'm thinking my best bet will be to wait to sew the center back seam of the skirt until I know just how much to take it in, just to make the zipper easier to install. Plus I still have to figure out that whole lapped zipper thing.

So here's where I need some advice--the next step is going to be to add the nude organza for the upper back, and possibly the sleeve, and then get some lace on this thing. What I need to figure out is how best to tackle finishing the edges--the back neckline, the armholes, the sides of the sleeve cap, and the center back. Here's my thoughts so far:

  1. 1. The center back seam is going to be open above the dupioni part of the bodice -- I don't want to put a zipper here because it would show too much--although I think I'm going to have to put one button at the top to keep it closed. To further complicate things, since I'm doing a lapped zipper and not a centered one, there will be different widths of seam allowances on these parts of the bodice.
  2. I think that for this particular edge, if I'm really careful where the organza meets the dupioni, I might be able to just turn it under with the lace and do a narrow hem sort of thing. Which I'll probably have to do by hand to keep the lace from snagging on the presser foot, but that's just how this dress rolls, I guess.
  3. To keep the finishing nice on the inside where the shoulder seams meet, I plan to sew those two seams wrong sides together, though I am leaning towards just using the pinking shears to finish those edges rather than stitch them down for maximum invisibility potential.
  4.   Where I'm most stuck is how to deal with getting the lace on these sleeves, and the back neckline/armholes that go into this.
  5. For the sleeves, I've resigned myself to having to hand-gather the lace, since the net parts of it are open enough that machine-basting would be ineffective and likely to tear the lace to shreds. But I'm not sure how to do the sides of those pieces, since sewing and turning the raw edges to the inside would really show through. Unless I do something like take a piece of the nude organza and layer that on top of that inside seam allowance and stitch that down before turning, to camoflage the seam allowance as much as possible. The only other option I can think of is binding the edges with the lace. Or more likely, a layer of organza plus the lace, since I can see the raw edges of the sleeve lining organza fraying and poking through the netting otherwise.
  6. For the back neck and armholes, probably either a narrow binding or an organza facing would be best. The binding would look best if I do binding on the edges of the front sleeves too, I think, and the facing better if I do turn it into the inside, but the facing wouldn't look as nice on the inside and may show through more.
So, if you were making this dress, what approach would you take? Or can you think of any solutions that I haven't come up with yet? I've got some time before I need to decide, since sculpting the lace around the darts and princess seams will take me at least a few days. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

January 10, 2013

so, who wants to see some dress guts?

I guess I can cross something else off of the list of "things I never thought I'd actually make but did", because I just spent the last two days making, of all things, an organza corset. Sort of.

IMG_0353I'd figured that the most sensible place to start in actually sewing this thing together would be the underlayer with the boning, which I cut separately from the double-underlined bodice pieces just to simplify actually adding the boning. Thanks to the transparent nature of the organza, it took me maybe an hour to get to this...

(And yes, those seams are right side out for a reason, I wanted to keep the more finished side towards the inside of the dress for this one!)








IMG_0355
Of course, then it took me four more hours to get to this! My catch-stitching definitely improved on this one, but I think it actually looks kind of cool on the organza since you can really see all of the stitch. Maybe I should always practice my hand-sewing on see-through fabric! It probably wasn't entirely necessary to go back to each place where I cut the curved seam allowances so they'd lie flat in pressing, but I really wanted to make sure this wouldn't get all frayed and weakened in the process. And, actually, the hand-sewing was surprisingly relaxing! I'm not sure what this change says about me, because I used to HATE hand-sewing when I was making my clothes as a teenager, and would do all I could to avoid it. Maybe I'm maturing?

IMG_0356
I'd made the boning channels a little too snug before, but I wanted to keep the muslin channels to make the dark boning less likely to show through. So I just cut strips of the scrap organza and stitched that on top instead to give it a little extra width and slightly more camoflage.

(Also, I waaaaay overestimated how much organza I'd need, and I've probably got a solid two yards of this left! Oh well, at least silk organza is supposed to be infinitely useful for sewing things.)

So then I ended up with this vaguely corsetish-looking thing....wait a sec, what's up with that side?

Of course, the first thing I did was check to make sure I didn't do anything dumb like sew the piece on upside down. I didn't. It was a perfect mirror image of the other side, which was pretty straight. I think what this is telling me is that I need to tweak the sizing on Donna...
IMG_0361...because this is what it looks like on me. At least, as close to fitted as I could get it considering that it was over top of my shirt and cami, but this would definitely NOT be internet-safe otherwise!I think that one of my first post-wedding projects should probably be to try and make a cover for Donna so that I can really pad her out to my real measurements. Though I'm not really sure how best to do that-- I've seen tutorials, of course, but trying to get the bust area shaped right for fitting v-necks and such will be....interesting.

Anyway, not bad for two days' work, and it's SO good to actually have visual progress going here! The next step will probably be a bit slower, as I need to sew together the actual bodice, and I think I'm going to have to hand-baste this together for accuracy purposes first. After all, it's not nearly so easy to see the thread-tracing on that as it was on this!

January 9, 2013

And there was much rejoicing.

It's not that I'm done hand-sewing on this thing by any stretch of the imagination....but I'm FINALLY at the point where I can start using an actual sewing machine again! YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH!

The spare bedroom has been (mostly) set up as Wedding Dress Central, and if all goes well with the shopping trip with my mom today (mother of the bride shopping time), I just might be able to get this thing rolling with actual visual progress! Stay tuned....

In other news, the wedding is 150 days from today, 5 months from yesterday. I've still got plenty of time to finish this, right?

January 6, 2013

Culling my closet

I've reached the point of the winter where I have a pretty good idea of what I am and am not going to wear, so I've started the process of weeding things out. I always have a hard time with this process, but I'm trying very hard to be more ruthless than I usually am, since I do have a move to think about. Most of the things I'm ditching are things that were either store-bought or passed along to me, but I do have several  me-mades that are on the chopping block as well. So here's what's going, and here's why:

silverskirt1. The silver skirt that I'd posted about before. This decision was actually made for me-- I pulled it out around Christmas with the intent to wear it to church one day, and found that the elastic is shot. I wear it so little that it's really not worth it to me to replace it. So I'm sending this one to the refashion pile--it's bias-cut anyway, so maybe I can turn it into some strips for a fancy Hong Kong finish or something. It would be a shame to waste such perfectly good shiny fabric, don't you think?


SSS, Day 21









2. The Kaylee top. This one is more of a durability issue than disliking the top itself--sadly, the fabric is pulling out of the darts, and I've noticed a run in the actual fabric starting to form on one of the back shoulders. Which is really odd, since this is a woven! I'm thinking that this one is a candidate for the refashion bin as well, because it could make a really nice lining for a small bag or pouch.











MMM '12, Day 13. The Lizzie top. I liked the concept, but found the execution to be somewhat lacking--I always had trouble getting the neckline to stay in place, even after hand-sewing it down, and it was always really saggy on that one side that's facing out in the photo from the attempt to pleat it. Refashioning it is probably more trouble than it's worth, given the thinness of the fabric to begin with (I'm not sure it would stand up to being taken apart again to try and tweak those things), so I'm just going to let it go.








4. The jacket portion of the band teacher pantsuit. Because let's be honest, now that I'm not doing that job anymore, I really don't need a pantsuit in my wardrobe. When I do reach for a black layering piece, it's always either my military jacket or a purchased cardigan that I have. I am keeping the pants (for now), because they fit decently enough and black pants are definitely a wardrobe staple for me, to the point where I do need a backup pair when my one purchased pair that actually fits is in the laundry hamper.








shrug5. A white shrug that I made pre-blog. You can tell this is an old picture, since it's on Donna 1.0! I think it's been at least 2 years since I've worn this, and I have a short-sleeved white cardigan that I tend to wear instead. It's warmer in the air conditioning, and I need it because I'm pathetic about being cold like that. Also, the longer length of the sweater makes it more versatile--I think I only had about 2 things that this looked good with. (To be perfectly honest, I've noticed that I'm tending to keep things that are a cream color over things that are white--I think it's a more flattering color on me, and less likely to get ruined if, say, I spill some tea on myself. In fact, the only reason I'm going more white instead of ivory for my wedding dress is my inability to pass up that sunflower lace!)




SSS, Day 19 (part 4)
6. And finally, the pirate t-shirt that I stenciled. It's too short for my comfort, and I have lots of t-shirts that I like better. Too many t-shirts, actually, but I do still regularly wear those!

There's also these three tops--sadly, I started this pile to go to the thrift store back in August, and I haven't gone yet! My "Autumn In Asia" bag, which I've been using for the last 3 fall/winter seasons, has also gotten too worn out to keep using--the strap is totally falling to pieces! But I do have enough usable quilted fabric in there that I think I can recycle it into a new checkbook cover, which I do need. So that one is going to the refashion bin as well.



All in all, I've managed to purge 3 jackety-type things, 3 dresses, 1 skirt, 2 pairs of shoes, 3 sweaters, a bag, and a whopping 17 tops so far. (This does not include the couple of things I'm sending to the refashion bin.) My closet still looks pretty full, but this is actually quite good for me.I still need to go through my refashion bin as well, to see if there's anything there that I just don't want to bother with anymore. I should probably go through my bags and scarves as well....it may be possible that I have too many winter scarves, but the truth is that I do rotate through them (depending on my mood and what colors I'm wearing that day) and wear nearly all of them!

Edit, 1/7: Gail talked me into keeping the pantsuit jacket. But I've also managed to pull out about 5 scarves to get rid of, as well as a few purses and bags. Out of what I've made, I basically salvaged the slide buckles off of the Diana bag and am just tossing that one--I've kept it for the last 4 years thinking that I might be able to go back and reinforce it to the point where it might be usable, but I think it's time to admit that it was a wadder. I still had the Gothic Rose bag and  the Daisy Chain bag-- both are worn out and kind of dingy, but I'm going to try running them through the washer to see if the fabric will clean up enough to recycle some of the fabric, at least. (The Daisy Chain may be a lost cause, but I do think there's still some decent usable fabric on the Gothic Rose, too!) Finally, I also have one pre-blog messenger-style bag that was black denim and a blue gore-tex lining, that I made to carry my supplies, namely some very thick books of music, a cd case, and my lesson plans,  when I was working as an early childhood music educator at a local Montessori school. (I wanted something easy to wipe out, since I was dealing with very young kids.) It's way too open at the top to be very functional for other things, I haven't used it for awhile, and I have other me-made bags that I think would work better for things that I would need messenger-style bags for.

January 5, 2013

Award time!

 




Gwen was kind enough to nominate me for a blog award! Thanks! :)


The rules for this one:
1. Thank the person who nominated you. 
2.  Add The One Lovely Blog Award/Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
3.  Share 7 things about yourself.
4.  Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
5.  Include this set of rules.
6.  Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

For the 7 things about myself, just to do something different this time, this edition is going to be all crafty confessions!

1. As I've mentioned before, my mom started teaching me to sew when I was still in elementary school. The first thing I remember making by myself from a pattern was an elastic-waist skirt, a bit on the fuller side, from a lavender twill that was printed with white heart outlines and the occasional pink or blue heart. This is odd, because I very quickly outgrew pastels, pink in general, and hearts. Also, I'm not sure I ever did iron the hem, so it looked pretty awful.

2. My one foray into the vintage pattern world was a vest I made in high school. I may have mentioned it before. It was a 1970's pattern for a cropped, button-up vest, from my mom's pattern stash before a major purge. I made it from a snakeskin vinyl that I found among her things, probably also from the 1970s. I couldn't pin it, so I traced the pattern pieces on it with a sharpie. And wrote the labels for what piece was what right smack in the middle of the pieces where anyone could see it, because this vest was not lined. I actually did wear this quite a bit. (I really wish I'd been taking pictures of my creations back then. I made some wacky stuff as a teenager.)

3. Since I still consider myself to be a beginner knitter, though perhaps an advanced beginner by this point, my last two previous attempts to become a knitter were the following: A scarf that I knit in college, made from that Lion Brand Homespun stuff, which I only finished one half of because Homespun is seriously awful to knit with and I ended up with so many extra stitches on my needles from the splitting that the thing looked awful. The sides curled up like crazy and one end was probably a good 4" wider than the other, at least. (As a side note, all the crocheters I know love that yarn. I guess it's easier to work with on a hook.) The other attempt was a never-finished bit of knitting that I made in high school, solely as a costume prop--one of my friends decided to do a Dickens-themed costume party one year around Christmas, and I decided to go as Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities. Needless to say, I no longer have either project.

4. I started scrapbooking as a teenager as well, due to a kit that an aunt gave me for Christmas one year. I did some wacky stuff with that, too, like taking one of the flowers from the centerpiece at the "junior-senior banquet" (aka Christian school version of prom, where dancing was only allowed at the afterparty that some parents would usually sponsor so it wasn't officially done by the school, and kids whose families were opposed to dancing for denominational reasons just wouldn't go), sticking it in my flower press, and gluing it in. So to this day, I have a flattened, glittered carnation in that book along with my prom pictures. (For the record, they were giving the flowers away after, so I got it fair and square!)

5. I've talked before on multiple occasions of the highly ambitious projects that I've wanted to do, and are now either sewing or have sewn, i.e. jeans and a wedding dress. But there's a few things that I'm rather scared to attempt sewing myself. I think the top of that list would be bras, or swimwear.

6.  Given that I have yet to successfully make any of the standard fit adjustments (FBA, etc), or to successfully draft my own pattern for anything that's not a bag, I'm seriously beginning to wonder if I have the capability to do flat pattern alterations at all. I'm going to blame math--it's not that I was terrible at it, but it certainly doesn't come naturally to me and having to deal with numbers honestly gives me a headache very fast. (I always tell a people that since I'm a musician, I'm very good at counting to four repeatedly...)

7. I wouldn't say I've attempted all crafts, but there's a few I've dabbled with that just never really stuck. Stuff like cross stitching--I've started and never finished multiple projects, and I guess it just bores me. I've also played with polymer clay to try and make my own jewelry, and that didn't really work out, either. (Though I do break that out occasionally for scrapbook embellishments or geeky crochet hooks.) My bestie also tried to teach me to crochet once, and I've since discovered that I generally like the look of knitted projects better, and it seems to be easier on my wrists. A few things I haven't attempted, and probably won't, are weaving (unless you count those nylon loop potholder things that kids make), and spinning my own yarn, because, you know, wool.

As for ten people.... I know this one's been going around for awhile, so I apologize if there's any repeats. I'm also trying to go for blogs are not quite as well-known, because the people who write them are inspiring and they deserve recognition too!

1. Claudine at Rolling In Cloth
2. Alexandra at Alexandra and the Cuckoo Clock
3. Christina at her brand spankin' new blog home, Clever Crafty Creative
4. Hana at Marmota's Dress Diaries 
5. Allison at A Fabric Fixation
6. Kristin at Quiet and Small: Adventures in PhD Land
7. Gail at My Fabrication
8. A more recent find-- Sophie at Monbouton's Needles
9. Dawn at Two On Two Off
10. Kelli at True Bias




January 4, 2013

still underlining

But I'm getting closer. I've been working on the skirt pieces today. My new favorite tool for working on the dress?

Lightbox!


A light box! The waxed marks on the underlining were frustratingly invisible, so I had the thought to try this. Fortunately, my mom still had her old light box. I'm pretty sure this thing is from the 80s, I remember her using it at her work-at-home job when I was a kid, so it's this big bulky thing. I've also found that I can only thread-trace one piece at a time, which is about a 45-minute process, because the box gets pretty hot on the bottom and so I like to turn it off and give it (and my legs) a break. It's probably better for my carpal-tunnelly wrist that way, anyway.

For the record, and since this is an excuse to quote The Princess Bride, I am not left-handed. I just needed my right hand to hold the camera. Also, my fabric is obviously not green, but after playing with a few different settings and the lights always turning the white a different color regardless, I decided it looked cool this way! 

I've been leaving the muslin pinned on while doing this in order to keep the pieces from shifting as much as possible, and catching that bottom layer hasn't been much of an issue at all. I think this will actually save me some time, because I can totally see the machine-stitched thread-traced lines through the two layers of white, and so I'm not seeing much point in bothering to do the waxed paper tracing if I can just follow those lines.


January 3, 2013

Talk about cutting it close....

skirt cuttingI barely managed to squeeze out the skirt pieces for The One Dress. And in order to do so, I ended up having to flip two of the pieces the other way, after much deliberating and turning pieces of fabric over to determine if there was a nap or not. I can't tell a difference either way, so I figured I'd take my chances and save myself the trouble of ordering 4 more yards of fabric from 2 sites to cut out one measly skirt piece! I suspect that if this was a colored dupioni, I'd be in trouble, so it's a good thing I went white. (And these aren't all the pieces, I had already cut out 3 other skirt pieces when I got to this point.)


As it is, I managed to squeeze it out with approximately one yard of the dupioni and maybe half a yard of the crepe de chine underlining to spare. I'm not sure how the other ended up shorter, because I think I ordered the same amount! I guess I can probably use the leftover crepe de chine for a small lining. I'm not sure about the dupioni yet.

I still have the rest of the organza to cut out before I can actually start construction work, but I have to do the underlining/thread-tracing basting first. That is going to be a serious challenge with these skirt pieces, because while the white waxed tracing paper is marking much better without that extra layer of paper, it's barely visible! And I can't baste through the muslin like I did the paper, so this might take awhile to figure out. I do have a couple of posts in the works in the meantime, though, including a blog award that I was recently given! So I just need to finish writing that one up.


January 2, 2013

Aaaaaaand we're off!

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm pleased to report that as of last Wednesday, The One Dress is officially started for real! It may be possible that I'm feeling some anxiety about it--my dream last night was that I was in the Project Runway All-Stars finale and my entire collection was done except for this one couture dress that I hadn't even finished getting cut out. Somewhere in the course of the dream, it shifted from this periwinkle chiffon number highly reminiscent of a certain elf dress to a very structured strapless white dress with about 10 layers. Some of the underlayers were black, and several were heavily beaded. I'm not sure how that was supposed to work. And I was frantically trying to sew it and getting nowhere fast, and had finally resolved to just take the thickest layer and the outside and serge the neckline together and flip it just so I could get something on the runway, but the serger was this bizzaro model with about 10 needles and they all kept breaking. Fortunately for my sanity, the alarm went off right around this time and I woke up.
chop chopAnyway, I've mainly been working on cutting out and thread-tracing all of the bodice pieces so far. I found this tutorial that suggested cutting the silk between two layers of paper so that the silks behaved more like paper. So this little sandwich is paper, organza, crepe de chine, dupioni, paper again, and then the actual muslin. This worked really well for the cutting. It did not work so well for the pinning or the marking! I discovered that apparently, even the waxed tracing paper of awesomeness has little effect on paper plus 4 layers of fabric, and I had to resort to doing the stitching for the thread-tracing/underlining attachment through the paper, where at least I could see the impression of the lines, and then trying to tear the paper away as carefully as possible.
thread tracingCan you see those stitching lines? Yeah, me either. And this was with purposely using a slightly off-colored thread. So I'm thinking I'm seriously going to have to hand-baste these together before stitching for real to make sure that it all actually does stay on the lines. (And yes, I know this looks kind of wrinkled--believe it or not, this was after pressing the dupioni. At least this part will be covered by the lace. And I am going to attempt pressing it again on the smaller scale before sewing, I think.)

I'm actually doing a 4th layer of underlining as well that's just the straight-up organza, so I can sew the boning to that before I add it to the bodice, and then just hand-tack it to the other layer of organza. I was originally thinking of doing the organza sandwich anyway for the corset-ish layer, but I figured the crepe de chine would help with opacity. This part was cut out on Saturday, and I just finished the thread-tracing on that this afternoon. This time, I did one layer of the paper underneath, and the muslin on top, and the pinning, marking and paper removal processes went much, much better. I think my paper is too thick for the job, but it was the only stuff I could find that was wide enough.

Note to self: I should probably sew that layer wrong sides together, so the seamed side is what's facing me.

I did cut out one piece of the skirt/underlining, though I haven't marked it yet. This was solely for the purpose of giving my brother some video footage--he's making the video for the wedding, since he's had some experience in filming and editing those while working freelance for a local professional photographer. (We couldn't work with this particular photographer, though he was our top pick for awhile, because even with the slight discount we would have gotten from hiring my brother, the prices were way out of our range. But my brother still agreed to make the video, and I am quite thankful for that.) Anyway, he wants to include some video of me making the dress. Hopefully that one piece will be ok--I had the center front pinned on first, but had to pin and cut one of the side pieces instead because the center front line on the muslin didn't mark right about halfway down, so I had no grainline to work with.

Just for fun, I'm keeping track of how long it's taking me to make this dress. So far, I've put in nearly 17 hours' worth of work on the cutting and thread-tracing alone! I'm going to see how far I can get on cutting and marking the outer skirt pieces tomorrow, and I still need to cut the necessary pieces from the nude organza, but I'm saving the lining and lace for a little later into the process. I'm not going to need the lining for awhile, since I've got a rather complicated bodice to construct before I can even think about adding that--my Bridal Couture book recommends hand-stitching the lining to the bodice anyway. And before I can do that, I'll have to add the lace, and figure out how best to deal with the organza/lace only section. As far as that goes, I'd prefer to wait until the main bodice is constructed so I can stick that on my dummy and drape the lace over it so I can play with pattern placement. I just don't want to wait on the skirt entirely, because if I underestimated the amount of dupioni that I'll need, I need time to order more!