Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Perfect Shade of Yellow

My current project is a beach reception dress for a former student. She and her new husband will be celebrating with family at a local beach, and she didn't want anything particularly formal or traditional. The party is fairly casual, so our design brainstorming session took a lot of back and forth with "How about this?" and "No, more like this..." via numerous Facebook conversations! She fell in love with this dress, but wanted it "fancied" up a little bit. She loved the chevron fabric, but was hoping for a white/cream colorway. Loved the hi/low skirt, but wanted a fitted halter top.

The only white/cream chevron fabric I found was for home dec, so her second pick was a white/pastel yellow chevron. Lots of bright yellow chevron fabric (in cotton) out there, but nothing in a pastel with more drape! Spoonflower to the rescue!!! Chevron: check! Pastel yellow: check! Silky Faille: check! Having never ordered from Spoonflower before, I was a little nervous... but, the fabric arrived faster than expected and is exactly what she wanted!
 
I headed to Haberman's in hopes of finding the perfect shade of yellow for the bodice. I'm marrying 2 Vogue patterns to create her look, 8470 (halter bodice) and 8870 (long hi/low skirt).



One more pattern edit... The top of the skirt pattern needs to be adjusted for a smooth seam, not gathered.  So, anyway, back to the color matching (and the reason for this post!)...
I first found a yellow taffeta, but it was a smidge too dark, too shiny, and too stiff. I carried it along through the store, anyway though. Then I found a cotton/silk voile, but it was a smidge too light and definitely too sheer.  Neither fabric was right, and those were my only options (with no time for swatches from online resources). Hmmm... what to do???
 
A ha! Lightbulb! Layer the fabrics, you silly seamstress! Use the taffeta as an underlining! PERFECT SHADE OF YELLOW!!!
 
So, I've got the bodice constructed, and it's time to edit, cut, construct, and attach the skirt. I'll probably have the finished project done to share with you in the next few days or so!  It's such an honor to be asked to make such a special dress for a special day, especially considering that I've known her since she was a 9th grader in my Student Council class!
 
 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quick & Dirty Tank Dress

I needed a quick fix, something painless and easy, something that didn't require detail work, something that I could start and finish in the same day.

Got it.  Let me introduce you to New Look 6210!

If you'd like to read my pattern review, here it is. Basically, I had a little over a yard of this lovely knit from Joann's (bought it a year ago), and it took a few hours to assemble. I originally bought this pattern a few months ago because I wanted more racer back tanks for the gym. This pattern would be easy to trim down to hip length and make a top, so this dress was my "muslin" version to test the sizing.

I cut and stitched the 16 according to the "finished garment measurements" on the pattern paper, but when I was done, I had a decision to make.  There was some gaping in the underarms and it was fairly loose through the sides, especially in the waist. If I left it alone, this would make a great swimsuit cover-up or nightshirt. If I took it in 3/4" along both sides seams (all the way from armhole to hem), it would be fitted and make a great summer tank dress.


I took it in. I love the fit now and want to make about a dozen more. I just love racer backs!!!

So, I used 3 machines to construct it. I used my regular machine set to the slightest zig-zag for the seams, and then hopped over to the serger to clean up the seams (I know that's silly, I really only needed the serger). Then the coverstitch came into play for the hemming.
So, my appetite for construction has been fulfilled, I've got a new TNT (for both a dress and gym tank), and it was done (start to finish) in a few hours today. Love, love, love! Best sewing day I've had in a long time!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Finished: The Dubai Dress





This lovely dress is currently making it's way across the country, headed from Michigan to California. I hope my cousin likes it, as it turned out to be such a lovely dress. Simplicity 2053 turned out to be a real winner, and I'd recommend it heartily to any sewer that is comfortable with pleats.

It took me a little longer than I anticipated, as the chiffon and silk are both challenging fabrics to work with, and my decision to use the solid silk as an underlining and treat the layers together as one. I didn't want all the side pleats to be visible through the chiffon, or the darts in the back, so this way all of that was hidden inside the dress. Basting the two layers together on all of the pattern pieces took some time, and I had to get creative about the facing of the neckline. Facing pieces are included in the pattern, but I wanted to make sure the facing really blended in (I hate when they peek out). I fused a very lightweight interfacing to the remaining fabric and was able to cut the facings from it. Bonding fusible interfacing to chiffon was pretty nerve-racking, but it came out great, and blended in perfectly! I used my serger to finish all the seams on the inside, as adding another layer of lining seemed like over-kill for a dress that's going to live in California!

When I get a picture of her in it, I'll be sure to share it here with all of you!



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Electric Party Dress

I wouldn't say that this project was a "perfect marriage of fabric and pattern", but I did make it to wear to the wedding and reception of some friends that are the perfect couple! Congrats Sarah and Eric!

The fabric was a "deal of the day" from Mood Fabrics a couple of months ago. It was the color (and the price) that sold me! "Electric Fuschia" is what the tag said, and for half off ($6.99/yd), I picked up 3 yards, not sure what it would become yet. It was exactly the amount needed to make Vogue 8997, and although I was tempted to make the typical black cocktail dress, this fabric just kept asking to become a party dress.

I picked up 3 yards of lining at Joann's and got started Tuesday night. I worked on it an hour here and an hour there during the week, and finished tacking down the lining at 4:30pm Saturday, walking out the door an hour later! Here's the inside of the bodice:
 
 
I don't think it was the perfect fabric for this project, though... I followed the pattern's recommendation to interface all the bodice pieces, but I should've also stabilized the skirt seams (at least at the top, through the waist area), as the puckering was really irritating me. It also wrinkled so easily... I knew that my back side would be a mess from the car ride before we even got there. This fabric is made more for blouses and tops... but, I sure did get lots of compliments on the color!


The pattern is drafted beautifully and the instructions are great. I only strayed twice... once for the cutting layout (they recommend cutting a single layer, but I folded my 3 yards in half (1.5 yd x 45") and fit all my pieces just fine (size 14) with all the pattern pieces following the grain line. I also lowered the center front neckline about 1", as I wanted it to be a little bit sexier. Once I had the dress layer done with zipper, I simply put it on, and pulled out the stitches from top down until I was happy with the neckline.

Please pardon the wrinkles, pics taken after wearing!
The sizing on the pattern paper was accurate, and this pattern offers the "custom fit" multiple cup sizes for the bust. I made the size 14, C cup, and it's spot on. I hemmed it 1.5" and *love* the swishing-whisper sound it makes when I walk! I forewarn you to machine hem this dress, though... 4 yards of hemline by hand will be time consuming!

Back view
I'm certain that I'll be using this pattern again in the near future (with the standard neckline provided), as it is a great dress for just about any occasion. It has classic style, with feminine lines (did you see the flutter sleeve version?) and was really straight-forward to make. In a "beefier" fabric, you could either line just the bodice, or forego the lining all-together and use bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes.  It's winning pattern, you'll see it from me again, I'm sure of it!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Visions of Dubai (Simp 2053)

While I'm not one that thirsts for world travel or international ports of call, I have to admit that this project has me feeling thinking of the exotic and amazing city of Dubai.

Why? Well, that's where the fabric came from! My cousin had a friend that traveled there, and brought her back 3 pieces of amazing silk as souvenir. Personally, I would love that friend forever! But, my cousin doesn't sew, and she wasn't sure what to do with these luxurious cuts of silk.
Silk Paisley Chiffon (1.5 yd), and 4 ply silk (2 yd)

She tried to find someone to make her some garments, but everyone she contacted said that they only did alterations, not actual dressmaking. Their loss, my gain! So, my cousin mailed me the fabric (she's in California) and after some discussions of garment style options with the limited fabric available, we settled on this Simplicity dress, 2053 view B (minus the flower).



Sewing long distance is a challenge, and when paired with the fact that this silk is irreplaceable... I've been just a little nervous with this project. Someone awhile ago called it "Analysis Paralysis", and I need to post this quote in my sewing room...
The pattern called for more than the 2 yards I had to work with, but by laying the pieces on the crossgrain everything fit (minus the facings).  I made a muslin, mailed it out, and the fit was nearly perfect (just need to take 3/8" out of the shoulder seams, as she is petite). Cutting chiffon can be nerve racking, and I wasn't about to spray starch it, so a roll of craft paper was purchased from Joann's and spread out underneath it for the pinning and cutting of the fabric.  After much thought and consideration, I decided to treat the solid silk as an underlining, and work with the two fabrics as a single layer. I didn't want the darts and pleats to show through, and seeing as how this dress will always be worn in warm California temps, I didn't want to add unnecessary lining layers. I have enough of the chiffon left over to make trim to finish the neck and armhole edges, I'll just use a lightweight interfacing to stabilize it and that way, there won't be a solid peeking out at the edge of the print, as sometimes neckline edges do.  I basted all the fabric layers together once the pieces were cut out, stitched the pleats and darts, and here's the front of the dress...

I'm really happy with it so far. I need to run to Joann's today to get some teal serger thread, since the seams will be exposed on the inside of the dress. The pattern is a good one, too, I really wouldn't mind making it up for myself.  I really wouldn't mind if someone gifted me some silk from Dubai, either!!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Prom Pretty #2: Coral Chiffon


This dress started out in my student's mind as something totally different, and evolved into a gorgeous gown with beaded accents.
 
Inspiration #1: Zooey Deschanel wearing Tommy Hilfiger at the Met Gala

My student originally wanted a black & white striped version, but when I showed her exactly what "Seersucker" fabric is, we changed direction and went with something more formal. She picked out this beautiful coral chiffon and coordinating satin (3 1/2 yds each) at Haberman Fabrics, so also supplied us with the beautiful gold beaded trim for the waistband and shoulder accent (1 1/2 yd). After our shopping expedition, she sent me this prom dress picture, so I had a clear idea of what she wanted.

Pattern: I used the top of a Burda dress pattern (11/2009 #106) and the bottom of McCalls 6893.
 I eliminated the top band from the Burda bodice, attaching the McCall's skirt at the waistline.

My only hurdle was the ruching of the chiffon over the bodice. No pattern pieces for this job, so I draped the chiffon on the bias and just kept pinning over the satin underbodice. I basted the chiffon in place along the edges, and then hand-stitched the pleats in place.

 
There were actually 2 gold beaded trims purchased, a wide one and a narrow one. The sales associate at Haberman's had a fantastic idea to border the wide trim with the narrow one, making it look more finished as  belt. For the shoulder, I stitched a few rows of the narrow trim together.
 
We were both extremely pleased with the outcome, and she looked gorgeous at Prom!

Another successful Prom season in the books... these two are my 9th and 10th formal dresses since 2008. Nothing makes me smile quite like making pretty formal dresses does!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Prom, Vogue 8150


Inspiration dress: Sarah Hyland's Marchesa gown worn to the 2012 Emmy Awards

Pattern used: Vogue 8150, view B. I only made 2 modification... I eliminated the armhole bands and simply used the lace trim for the shoulder straps. I reinforced it with a strip of clear elastic tacking underneath it. Also, the bodice top layer of chiffon hangs a little loosely,  but we wanted a tighter look. So I pulled the chiffon a little tighter across the bodice, and hand tacked the pleats in place.  It was a wonderful pattern to work with, the sizing was spot on (I used the finished garment measurements on the paper to choose the right size to cut), and the instructions were easy to follow.

 
Fabric used: Lavender chiffon and sparkle charmeuse from Cali Fabrics. This is my 2nd wonderfully successful purchase from Ron at Cali (aka "Fabric Warehouse" in San Francisco). Excellent prices, fantastic customer service (I tweeted if they had what I was looking for, and was immediately contacted!) 4 yards of charmeuse and 5 yards of chiffon, with a yard of sparkly silver lace trim from Haberman Fabrics.

Lightbulb Moment: After altering a few RTW bridesmaids dresses and seeing how they are constructed, I fused some interfacing to the back of the charmeuse bodice pieces to add some structure and stabilize. It helped enormously, since the charmeuse was so slinky and drapey.
 
I am extremely happy with the way this dress progressed. It was a great marriage of fabric and pattern, and has such a romantic and elegant look to it. My student was very happy, as you can see, and I'm thrilled.  In a day or two, I'll post details of the second prom dress, a gorgeous coral assymetric gown!