Monday, January 19, 2015

Valentine's Dress

DH and I are going to a dinner dance fundraiser for Valentine's and I'm so excited to make myself something fancy for once!

The Fashionary sketchbook was a Christmas gift this year, and I'm loving it! I can't draw to save my life, but I can connect the dots... each page has 3 silhouettes, very faint and dotted silhouettes and you just have to draw the style lines on the figure! I found it on the Mood website and am so glad to have this new resource in the tool kit! I took it with me to Haberman's this weekend and it was so nice to have a hard copy of my "vision", along with my shopping list of yardage and notions.

The dress is a composite of 3 different Butterick patterns... the skirt from one, the bodice from another and the sleeve from the last. But, it won't be as easy as it sounds since 1) I need to grade the sizing up and 2) I want the bodice pleats to end at the side seam.

The skirt will be the straight skirt from 6019 (the easy part), with the surplice bodice of 5814, but I'd rather have the complete off the shoulder look of 6129 (just can't talk myself into the easy route). Haberman's was having a silk demo and sale Saturday (my birthday!), so I grabbed some classic red silk taffeta to come home with me. If I was more brave, I'd have bought charmeuse, but it's one of those fabrics that I "love the idea of", but working with it frustrates me (even after paying close attention during the demo class)!

I've already traced off the pattern and re-graded for my size (and added 1" length to the bodice), but all those changes make me nervous, even though I'm going to do a muslin and there's nothing to be afraid of. Out came the pattern drafting reference books and I'm quite tempted to just start from scratch.

Since I already have it all traced off and ready to go, I'm going to attempt to "frankenpattern" the bodice first and if it's awful, I'll make my first ever attempt at pattern drafting! Is it weird that I kind of hope it is awful so that I'm forced to take this first step toward gaining a new skill that I've always wanted? I'll keep you posted (sooner than my last post, sorry)!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Progress in Organization

  Before and After

So much better!!!
I still need to make the ironing board and make the base with casters, but so far... I am in love! DH came up with a possible tank holder fix, too... So stay tuned!

The blue bridesmaid dress in the picture is one of two that are in for altering. The hems are both done and one needed taking in, so that's out of the way. Left to do is stitching on the straps that the bride wanted everyone to add to their gowns. Everyone had to pay the dress shop an extra $15 for these lovelies...
Can you believe it?!?! I was in shock when the customer handed me these. I couldn't hide the look of disbelief on my face, and she admitted that they don't look right. She pulled out the pair for her daughter's dress to compare and they are not only as poorly made, they are even wider?!?! Oh, and the shop only gave her daughter one strap, they shorted her a strap!  I told her that I wouldn't want them looking different from the other girls, so I won't re-do them, but I will adjust her daughters to be the same width and I'll make another to match!  

Have you ever seen anything like this before???

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vogue Jacket 8839

I feel silly that it took me so long to see this project come to fruition, when the actual construction time was next to nothing! Leave it to me to turn a simple unlined jacket into a complicated project...

What came first: the pattern or the fabric? The fabric!
I picked up this lovely brocade from Emma One Sock last winter during a roll end sale. I fell in love with the red/black/silver print, but knew that a yard and 2/3 would limit my options. When it arrived and I saw that it was also flocked... it had to become a jacket of some type.

Pattern Description: Vogue 8839
MISSES' JACKET: Loose-fitting jacket has contrast reverse side, front extending into collar, collar/front/sleeve/lower bands, side front seams, welt pockets, darted sleeve cap, no shoulder seams, and topstitching. Bands (collar, sleeve, lower): cut on crosswise grain of fabric.
FABRICS: For Moderate Stretch Knits: Wool Jersey, Sweatshirt Fleece, Double Knit.

Hmm... Moderate Stretch Knit? Nope. Going to move forward anyway? Yup!
NOTE: There is no hem allowance included. Raw edges. This issue (since my fabric was not a knit, frayed and unraveled) altered my pattern layout (causing said complication). Once I cleared that hurdle, life was good!

The pattern also makes use of the wrong side of the fabric as the contrasting bands. The EOS fuzzy brocade didn't have that different of a wrong side, and since I needed more fabric anyway (the pattern calls for 2 1/4 yd for size M), I was on the look out for a coordinating fabric to make up the difference. I got super lucky at the American Sewing Expo in September when Haberman Fabrics had the perfect red/black/silver wool, so I scooped up a yard!

Pattern Sizing: XS - XXL, I made up a Medium, and it's nearly perfect. As usual, the sleeves are about an inch too long, but it's winter and I'm cozy now!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, I think so.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, but remember, I chickened out on the welt pockets. Good instructions, though.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
LIKES: Super easy and fast sew! No hemming at all!
DISLIKES: Slightly shapeless. No hemming at all?

Fabric Used: 1 2/3 yards of fuzzy brocade from Emma One Sock, 1 yards of wool tweed from Haberman Fabrics. No closures.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
1. I eliminated the welt pockets. Lazy bones here. I just finished a really complicated project for a client and desperately needed a quick sew. Welt pockets (do not equal) quick sew. While I'm slightly ashamed, I'm don't regret my decision.
2. I did NOT use a stretch fabric. The sleeves do have a more narrow fit, so you may want to double check arm circumference against the pattern if you choose to break the rules, too. One piece (I think the sleeve cuff) did need an additional 1/2" since it had no stretch.
3. I used my serger to finish the edges of the pieces that didn't have a fringy selvedge. I used my serger A LOT, as it's an unlined jacket and the front inside seams flip out as part of the intended design.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes and Yes. I would definitely make it again, if I found the right fabrics. With a slightly loose fit, this would also make a great gift for a friend.

Conclusion: I really do love this alternative to a cardigan. Now that I've done it once, I know what to do next time, so this already "easy make" will be even easier! Love, love, love!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

In Progress: B6104 (Inspired by Gucci)

Last month McCall Pattern Company was sponsoring a Pinterest contest for Fall/Winter sewing inspiration.  As I was combing the boards for ideas and filling up my own inspiration board, I stumbled across the Gucci Fall/Winter 2014 collection and fell in love...

This coat just took my breath away. The silhouette, high collar, and row of buttons... I was instantly obsessed. It's such a stylish feminine coat... and exactly what I needed for fall. I have a long winter coat, but I really need something of a medium weight and length.

Butterick 6104 grabbed by attention, as it has a similar collar and opening.  The addition of the patch pockets wouldn't be an issue, but how closely did I really want to match the Gucci coat? I love the single row of button extending up, but... wasn't so sure about buttoning all the way to my shoulder. I love the high collar (looks so regal!), but did I want it to fit that closely?

I decided to leave the coat with the Butterick collar and front edge opening, but add the single row of buttons, patch pockets and 1" of length to the top bodice pieces (I always need a little extra length in the waist on the "big 4"). I'm not thrilled about losing the "useful" pockets hidden in the seam, though. Patch pockets aren't very useful, in my opinion, and I know I'll want at least one useful pocket for my keys. Hmm...

Fabric: 2 1/2 yards from The Wool House (Toronto). Oh my goodness, the fine wool fabrics they brought to the Sewing Expo in Novi!!! The owner found me petting a bolt of camel wool, complimented me on my taste and explained that it was $85/yd.  Would I like some? Oh my... too big for my budget! Even after he adjusted the price (since there was only 15 minutes left before the show floor closed for the night), I still couldn't pull the trigger. But, he had this lovely rose/mauve wool at $35/yd, and still discounted it further, so I splurged and bought it.

Buttons: Soutache (Chicago). Maili (the owner) had a small booth just across from The Wool House, and had just what I needed when I showed her the picture of the Gucci coat. It was narrowed down to 2, but the varying metallic tone on this looked so "warm" with the color of the wool... and the emblem on them is very "smart", so it was a sale. Another splurge, at $4/button, but I'm working from a Gucci perspective, so what do you expect?!

When you consider that this dress (similar, but no sleeves) is $1950, then I was able to purchase "my version" at a 95% discount! ;) Look honey, I saved you $1800!!! Geez, when you put it that way... maybe that camel fabric was a deal!

The buttons are only pinned on. They make me happy.
So, here is where I stand... I followed the pattern instructions and used fusible interfacing on just the front bodice piece and the collar. The wool has a lovely drape and I want to keep it a "mid-weight" coat. It went together very quickly and I'm loving the length.

I need to decide on the lining, though. I've got beige silk charmeuse that I bought from Ressy's co-op years ago. I'm wondering if I shouldn't go for a better match, though.  The pattern doesn't include self fabric facings for the lining, so I'm afraid that the beige will peek out from the button placket. I do have about 3/8 yd left, so I could make my own facings, couldn't I? Hmm....

I also picked up this buckle at the Expo from Vogue Fabrics (50 cents!). It's the right color and shape, but I've never made a buckled belt before! Embroider the holes? Use eyelets? I'm afraid they'll fall out. Maybe I should just buy a slide buckle? This part of the process will require more research...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Finale: Vogue 8946

"Mrs. B, I like your dress! Did you make it???" 

Here's the final look... I think I spoke too soon in saying, "Go ahead, use a woven... it'll be fine!"
You can see the drag lines across my shoulder... I think I'll remove the sleeves, and see if that helps. I can always put a jacket or sweater over it when the cooler weather arrives.
The inspiration garment.
You can see that there also pull lines in the back, too.  Nothing terrible, but enough for me to know... "The fabric recommendations are on the envelope for a reason!" Here's my previous post.

Other than that, I really like the pattern and am still happy with this version. I have some black ponte (with copper threads) that will make a wonderful holiday LBD, so I'll definitely be pulling this pattern out again.

It's 6:15am... A real smile is a challenge!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Under Construction: Vogue 8946

Don't you just love Pinterest?
When I stumbled across the image of this dress, I had to make one similar.

I love everything about this dress, from the color and the asymmetrical folds to the shape and silhouette. With a couple yards of gray suiting on hand (and the lining and zipper even), I was ready to dive in.

Vogue 8946
The print hides the style lines, which is a shame.

There aren't any finished garment measurements printed on the tissue, so I made my usual size (16). I made no fit adjustments to the pattern, as they usually fit pretty well straight out of the envelope.
I'll admit though, that I didn't notice that the fabric recommendation is for a stretch fabric until I double checked it.  Oops... now what? My suiting has no lycra in it, so... what to do? I went back to the stash closet and dug around for a knit (and found one), but my heart wasn't in it. I wanted the gray Pinterest dress, damn it!!! Hmmm... if I only knew how the sizing ran!? Lightbulb! Check the PatternReview website and see!  Sure enough, people have said that the dress runs just a bit big, so out came the gray suiting again, and I was ready to start! I decided on view C, but the shorter version.

Construction has been pretty uneventful. The pleats and darts were pretty straight forward and not tricky or anything.  There is a separate front lining piece with darts instead of pleats, which is nice as it reduces the bulk created by all the tucks.

Invisible zip at center back and 2 darts
The fit is actually pretty awesome, considering I'm not using the recommended stretch fabric.  It's a wee bit snug in the hips, so I'll likely just decrease the side seam allowance 1/4" on both sides and move forward.  I really like it a lot, and although it's not a perfect replica of the Pinterest inspiration, it has the same vibe... a polished (and sexy) business look.

I've worked on it here and there while the embroidery machine was running Sunday (an hour, cutting fabric and pleating the top), and last night it had my undivided attention for about 2 hours (skirt pleats, cutting lining and construction), which ended with getting the zip inserted and the lining closed at center back.  So, I've only got the sleeves and hem left to go!  Super excited, I think this will be a great addition to my wardrobe!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

American Sewing Expo 2014

I attended the annual American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan this weekend and I left feeling re-energized and excited about so many new projects! I attended 4 classes that covered a range of topics, from colorblocking and industrial techniques, to spandex and sewing for profit. I learned new techniques that will be so handy in the sewing room, and new concepts that gave me lots of food for thought about my business...

When I think of the expo, I really do associate more with the people it's brought into my life... The first year I attended was 2007, when I got to meet Chloe Dao (Season 2 winner, Project Runway) and left feeling so inspired and excited. I remember calling my mom and telling her how much fun I had and all the things I saw... She had been sick and I was amazed at how good she sounded on the phone. It was the best conversation we'd had in weeks, and it made my day even better.  Sadly, it ended up being the last "good day" I had with her, as she passed away one week later. So, every year as I attend the expo and leave the show, I always think of that, and how my mom was the one to introduce me to this "hobby" that I've so deeply fallen in love with. From the time I was 13, I've loved to sew and create.  In the pre-internet days (yes, I am that old), the only other people I could talk "sewing" with were the customers and people I worked with at Joann Fabrics. 25 years later, I found this sewing community of blogs and boards on the internet, and have made friends around the world. Then, I attended the expo and was connected with this community face-to-face. The first sewing classes I ever took were at the expo, and when you add in the vendor floor of fabrics, trims, embellishments, and other techniques... well, I've attended almost every year since.

Angela Wolf is a fantastic teacher and gives me so much inspiration. I've been reading her book, "How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Design Business", so I was already lit up with about a hundred questions on that topic. I attended her class about Color-blocking, but quickly learned that you don't have to use separate colors (or even separate fabrics) to utilize this technique. She was gracious and kind, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her mom and sister at her booth. I'll definitely be signing up for her Tailoring RTW courses on Craftsy.

Rhonda Buss and I first met and became friends at last year's expo, when we both participated in the Passion for Fashion competition. This year, she was attending as a teacher, and I was lucky enough to land in one of her classes about sewing with Spandex. She answered all of my questions and offered such good information... and I was thrilled that we were able to find additional time to sit down and have a one-on-one visit, too! (Thanks for the private instruction, I'll send you a pic of my progress!)

Janet Pray is the owner of Islander Sewing Systems, and also organizes the whole entire expo every single year. Islander is known for their instruction of industrial sewing techniques, so I enrolled in a 3 hour class about sewing without pins or basting, even zippers! It was a fast-paced course, but very helpful. The instructor says she only really ever uses 2 or 3 straight pins at a time during a project. My husband would be forever grateful if I could reach that point!!! Lol...

Haberman Fabrics and Vogue Fabrics (among others) had some beautiful fabrics, and too many came home with me! The McCall Pattern Company was there, and I was able to meet a few new faces there that made me feel like I had arrived at the "cool kids lunch table"! I picked up the pattern and all the necessary supplies for 2 garments: The MotorCity Express Jacket (Islander) and a Butterick Jacket (Gucci knockoff). Fabric, buttons, zippers, even a buckle, so I can start the muslins today!

Trims On Wheels has a great selection of trims, elastics, appliques, buckles, and bling, which is always a favorite on prom dresses and formal wear. She was my saving grace on last year's Passion for Fashion dress, having all those crystals for the bodice of my "Saturday Night Fever" dress.  Her prices at the expo were amazing, which is why so many pieces came home with me!

I had a lovely dinner with long-distance sewing friends Connie and Kyle. We were missing some of our dinner buddies from last year, but maybe we'll be reunited next year (I hope). Thank you ladies for a wonderful evening of chatting and laughter! No matter what the expo holds, it's that time with you that I look forward to the most these days!

There's so much more, but I'm sure I've bored you by now.  If you've never attended, you're missing out. It's educational and inspirational, and I'm so excited to get creating new garments now!