Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monthly roundup

I am taking a page out of Sarah's book for this one. I have decided that it will help me to review monthly what has come from my sewing room and then make some goals for the next month. In doing this, I do have a few overarching goals. Mostly, I'd like to make sure that my sewing is fulfilling a purpose and that I am not making a bunch of orphan items that I or my family is unlikely to wear. So, if this bores you, feel free to stop reading and click somewhere else. There are a ton of cool blogs on my side bar.

For those who are still here, September has been a very unusual month for me sewing-wise. It isn't every day that I endeavor to make a wedding dress. The components of the dress have been the major product of my sewing room this month - and it isn't even done yet!

I have completed:
- A petticoat for the wedding dress
- A veil, also for the wedding dress
- A tote bag for Logan's Joy School
- A backpack for Logan
- A couple of pirate costumes in their entirety
- A Mini Mod dress for Myra

For October, I am focusing on finishing the sewing for the wedding, and then beginning fall sewing in earnest. My goals for this month are:
1. Finish Kali's wedding ensemble: We are planning the final fitting and sewing this weekend!
2. Simplicity 3775 in a red and white floral knit from Fashion Fabrics club. I've already completed the bodice, so I am off to a good start. I am hoping to get this done in time to wear it to the wedding...
3. Dress pants and shirt for Logan from Ottobre 04/2004.
The pants will be repurposed from some linen slacks that Mitch has worn out, but still have plenty of usable fabric for a small tot! The shirt will be from a soccer ball print that he picked out. I'd love it if I could get the pants done in time for the wedding, but that may be a stretch.

4. PJ's from Logan's TNT PJ pattern, Butterick 4222. He selected this fabric himself as well. Anyone see a theme here?
5. This is the skirt that I am working on for my sewing group. I suspect that I will finish it when we meet next week. We'll see.
6. My skirt needs a top! I'm planning to make BWOF 08/2009-114 out of this cream sweater knit. It will be my next sewing group project, so it probably won't get finished this month.
7. Finally, my personal piece de resistance - I have been completely inspired by the Chanel SAL, and am now lusting for a Chanel inspired jacket of my own. I am planning to make it from New Look 6853. I don't have the sewing guns to do the couture techniques whole hog, but I am planning to underline and hand sew the trim. The sleeves are one piece, which will make this a little easier for me. This will be my first lined jacket. I am NOT expecting this to be finished by the end of the month.
8. I have also been thinking about giving jeans a try, once the jacket is done. I went shopping for jeans last week and noticed that trouser styles seem to be all that are on the shelves. That is fine with me! I have avoided sewing jeans for myself because I can't replicate the distressing that RTW jeans get, but these aren't supposed to be distressed. This pattern has very good reviews on PR, so I think it will make a good jumping off point.
Whew! That looks like a lot! We'll see how this goes...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


My friend Beth had to run an errand in Waco today, and she invited me to tag along so that we could go to Joann together. Woo-hoo! Thanks, Beth!

Flannel was 2.49 a yard!! Hello! I got a few pieces for jammies for the kids, although the ones that I got for Myra are so cute, they might end up as dresses...
I also got a couple of things for me!
The denim is planned for BWOF 07/2009-104. I've been looking for just the right weight of denim to make this dress, and I think I finally found it!
The grey pinstripe suiting will become either Vogue 8157 or 8131. Which one do you like??
The fabric on top is a red (I know, my camera makes it look orange!) poly interlock that I think I will use for BWOF 04/2009-110B. My April issue is in French, so I haven't yet made anything from it, but this top is pretty simple, so maybe my high school French is up to the challenge...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mini Mod dress!

I finally got to make my Kitschy Coo Mini Mod dress!! Ever since I got this pattern, I have been dreaming of this dress. I found the perfect fabrics, got them all cut out, then there was all this white satin I had to deal with first, so I had to put this little cutie on the back burner.
I LOVE this dress! The pattern is superb. It was unbelievably well drafted. Everything fit together exactly. The instructions were phenomenal. Full color picture tutorials printed on cardstock. Beautiful! Not to mention that this is the cutest dress ever!! I made my version out of a cotton/linen blend from Fashion Fabrics Club, with Free Spirit's Mushroom Friends for the inner pleat.
I love this fabric!

The instructions for this pattern were excellent, but I admit, I did stray just a bit. I wanted this dress to have a slightly more polished look, since I think Myra may wear it to the wedding, so I didn't want to topstitch the facings down.
Instead, I understitched the facings, then catchstitched them to the seam allowances at the shoulder and underarm seams. The linen fabric was quite loosely woven, so I also interfaced the facings so that they wouldn't stretch out of shape.
I think this little mushroom button on the back is my favorite part.
Parting Shot:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I think it is time for a new iron...

This is after I blew out the small fire that resulted from the sparks that shot out the cord. I just bought that ironing board cover, too! Grr!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ren Fest sewing: Pirates done!

After all that delicate wedding sewing, it was pretty nice to get back to plain old jersey and broadcloth. Whew! My iron was so relieved to finally get back to the "Yay, natural fibers" setting after being set to "Don't melt the polyester" for so long.

Of course, first up was to finish the pirate costumes for our trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival.
To complete the "look" I made a couple of fringed sashes. They are just big rectangles, sewn and turned with fringe stuck in the ends. Easy, but effective.I couldn't imagine our wee pirate lasses wanting to wear the coats for long, particularly since it is frequently still quite warm in October. So I made a couple of quick peasant blouses from Simplicity 5695, which you have seen before here. This is such a great pattern! I know I am going to get tons of use out of it. This version is made out of jersey, for comfort. I gathered the sleeves with clear elastic. Whoever invented that stuff should be sainted!! That was the easiest gathering I have ever done. It stretches like a mad fiend. I'd never have been able to get regular elastic to do that. The pattern calls for you to make a bias tape casing, which is fiddly to do. This was way easier! The neckline is cased the traditional way, since I didn't want a ruffle in the girls faces. Besides, I think this is a more traditional peasant blouse look. I also followed the sage advice of my friend Britta and made the top long, so that next year I can use it as a chemise. You can't see the extra length in the photo, since I tucked the blouse into the skirt. Myra will just need an overskirt for next year and she'll be the cutest 2 year old bar wench ever! Good call, Britta!

Although I didn't include them in this photo, there is also a pair of ridiculously cute (and easy to make) hats. You can see them here. The hats, along with the coats and skirts were made with Simplicity 2561, which also conveniently has an overskirt/baby corset that will be perfect with Myra's chemise. We are so set for next year!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The dress - overskirt

So, once I got going this binding wasn't all that bad and the overskirt is done!Here is the front. The hem on the underskirt is just pinned up, so it looks like it's sagging, but it won't once the dress is all together.
Of course, all the real action is in the rear. The overskirt is hand pleated into several small tucks to give it that rippling look. I tried several different arrangements and this one gave the best effect. The pleats are not pressed down since we wanted a very soft fold.
At a slight angle you can really see how the overskirt lies.
And here it is up close. I need to press the satin, but otherwise I think it is quite beautiful.

On a related side note, I used Metrosene poly sheen thread to attach the binding, as it blended well with the satin. That is a lovely thread!! It is beautifully silky, but quite strong. The slickness makes particularly great for gathering, as on the veil, without fears of thread breakage. What a great find!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The dress - Veiled

I know, I'm procrastinating cutting off the excess from the overskirt and binding it, but at least I did get the veil finished! I don't know why I'm afraid of that overskirt. I did get some practice binding the organza with satin. I usually don't pin at all when I am binding with cotton, but all this slippery stuff requires a lot of pins.
Anyway, here it is! Kali went for a waist length veil, so as to obscure as little of the back of the dress as possible, which I think will be perfect.Isn't is pretty? All that sparkly organza and shiny satin.The organza is so sheer! I know it isn't a very traditional veiling fabric, but I think it will be stunning. It will look like a glistening halo around her.I bound it at the top with more bias tape (I do have 50 yards!). Kali is wearing a tiara, so I plan to hand sew a comb or two to the inside of the binding and she can slide it in behind the tiara.

This part was really fun! Now I just have to buck up and trim and bind that overskirt. You may not hear from me for a while...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The dress - petticoat fininshed!

After the fitting this weekend I have a few things to tweak. I decided to tackle the petticoat first. Here it is - all finished and ready for the wedding!!
I was right about that waistband. It was too bulky. It was also too big, despite the fact that I cut it a size smaller than the rest on the petticoat. This pattern was terrible! I replaced the knit with a 1 inch wide grosgrain ribbon waistband that I just topstitched on. I added a little decorative stitch down the middle, both for fun and to add some stability.For the closure, I used a hook and eye sewn to the inside. Functional and streamlined.Even though it is just the petticoat, I am excited to have a little piece of this project all finished!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Made By Rae Toddler Backpack

I took a little break from bridal sewing to make Logan a much needed backpack for Preschool. Poor little guy had to take an old diaper bag the first day! He didn't care, of course, but I felt terrible. I've had this awesome pattern by Made by Rae, and I had fully intended to have it ready for his first day of school, but between bridal skirts and petticoats, just didn't get it done.Well, here it is! Logan choose the fabric and color scheme completely on his own. In fact, I had a dark blue embroidered cord in my head, but Logan wanted the animals on green.
Here is the bottom contrast fabric. Logan chose this blue to match the "hickopotimus". He also elected to go with a blue zipper and thread, but green piping and lower straps.
I think he did a great job!! The pattern is great and went together well. Since Logan takes a folder to school I did expand the pattern both length and width by 2 inches each. Rae includes directions for doing this in the pattern, but for the width increase, don't forget to also increase the front and back panel and to purchase a zipper that is 2 inches longer! You'll also need an extra package of piping, since your panels are bigger. Another tip that I learned the hard way is to stitch the front and back panels on with the "side loop" on top so that you can get really close to the edge of the piping. I ended up ripping out my front panel the first time because there was a huge gap in the stitching between the piping and the side panel.

This was such a fun project! I need some pink twill to make one for Myra - sometime AFTER the wedding!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The dress - second fitting

I know you are all wondering how the fitting went...

It was fun! Here is Kali in the skirt and bodice. Obviously, there hasn't been any trimming or finishing done, so this is a rough version of the finished article.
Mom is marking the neckline in this picture. The original pattern for the bodice is actually a corset pattern, so there were no sleeves and a low back and neckline. Mom had the job of raising the necklines and adding sleeves. She did an awesome job!Here is the back. The lacings are so pretty! I'm happy to say that the fit of the skirt was perfect. I was right about that knit waistband on the petticoat, though. It's bulky and had to go. I'll be replacing it with a simple grosgrain ribbon with a hook and eye. The fit of the petticoat was otherwise great.So we fit, then we went back to our machines to refine and get it just right!Dan and Kali had a rough night last night unloading her U-haul, so they took a nap. She was a serious trooper during all the pinning, marking and squeezing.

She's going to be such a beautiful bride!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The dress - petticoat

I finished the petticoat (sort of), just in time for the fitting later today. I haven't yet topstitched the waist seam or attached the back closure, since I'm not sure I'm happy with the waistline. But I'll get to that!
I have to say that this is definitely NOT my favorite pattern right now. It is not very well drafted. The notches didn't match up (or weren't even there) in a few spots. The skirt panels weren't all the same length. Worse than that, the pattern directions were terrible. The petticoat is essentially three layers. The top layer is taffeta. It is lined with lining material onto which tiers of net are sewn. The waistband is a knit (I used rib knit), which I like, in theory. Here's where it starts to get wonky. The pattern calls for a centered zip at center back. Most wedding gowns fastens at center back, generally with a zipper. Two layers of zipper seems like a bad plan. I elected to leave the back open (who's going to see it?) and put a hook and eye (or button and loop) at the waistline where the skirt portion joins the knit waistband.Here is that. The other thing that killed me about this pattern was the method of assembling the net tiers. Let me begin by saying that net is not the easiest fabric to work with. It slips and catches on things - totally not fun. Add to this the complexity of gathering yards and yards of this nasty stuff. Again not fun. The pattern instructed you to gather the sections beginning at the top and working down. I so know better, but I don't know what was wrong with me; I did it their way. Aaaargh! Have you ever tried to gather 9 yards of annoying, slippery fabric that keeps catching on itself onto a 4 yard layer that is already gathered?!? Don't do it!!!At least it gives the skirt the proper pouf.I am a little worried about the bulkiness of the knit waistband, though. The skirt portion fit on my dress form without the petticoat, but it misses meeting by a little more than 2 inches. I'm glad we have a fitting today, so that I can see what needs to happen with this.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The dress - hanging out

I'm at the point where I have constructed all of the various skirts and overskirts for the wedding dress, and it is time to let the bias hang. I wanted the skirts and overskirt to hang on the dress form so that they would be "in the round" as it were for the bias to stretch around. Alas! They trail on the floor when hung in the closet! The bias can't stretch out that way.Fortunately, Mitch recently built himself a chin up bar in the garage that hangs from the ceiling. Perfect!! I hope Mitch isn't planning on doing any chin ups in the next few days...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The dress - skirt constructed

Whew! The skirt is all put together! It lacks a hem, since I need to mark it with Kali here, and a center back seam, since we are planning to install an invisible zip down the entire back, under the corset lacings, so that will be one of the last steps.
Here it is! (Aside, I'm tickled that it fits on my dressform - Kali is so slim!)
And here it is with the organza overlay. Once I have marked the hem for the skirt, I'll bind the overlay to match the finished skirt length in the satin binding I made.
Look, I got all sparkly! That satin leaves a trail when you pink it!I went over and over in my head what I wanted to do to finish the seams. I thought that french seams and bound seams might be bulky, but this stuff ravels like the devil, so I had to do something! After discussing it with mom, I elected to straight stitch and pink. (Myra is pointing it out for you.) If I'd been smart, I'd have just used my pinking shears to cut it out, but I'm not that smart.

Next up - the petticoat!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I love the library - usually

When I got on board to sew this wedding dress, I was naturally a little apprehensive. I've never taken on a project this big and this significant before. So, I did what I always do when I feel unprepared - I hit the library. Now, I nearly always pick up a sewing book when the kids and I take our weekly trips to the library, but this time, I brought home a haul.
I checked out every book they had on bridal sewing. Both of them.How awesome is that hat?!? Dates this book, hey?

Then I got a couple of old friends. I knew they would help me out, and they both already have.
These two were just for fun.
I picked up this one because while I've heard of her methods, I have never seen them in use.
And I think this may be why...
She has 43 separate measurements that you are supposed to take before you ever even put scissors to pattern. Pul-lease!! I will say, though, the book has an excellent easier way for assembling a welt pocket. Worth checking out of the library for that, at least. She also goes through her method for making what she calls a "couture" shirt, pant and jacket. The instructions are spotty and don't always make sense. I'm also a bit at a loss as to what is so "couture" about them. All in all, useful for welt pockets, but otherwise - not so much.