Friday, December 31, 2010

Dressform Help, Please?

My birthday is coming, and I'm trying to decide how to spend my gift money.  Wanna help?
Silly question, right?
Singer Sewing Co Df150-g Gray Dress Form, M
My parents bought my dressform for me when I was in high school.  She's an adjustable model from Joann's and she does an okay job.  She's smaller than me though, and I've been giving some thought to replacing her.
Dress Form System
Super Conservative Route:  Fabulous Fit makes a padding system that would allow me to not only make her a better match to my dimensions, but also transform her into a pinnable dressform, so that I could learn more about draping (a New Year's resolution).  Upside: Lowest cost ($85 total).  Downside: No arms/legs/butt.

Which leads me to my first question: How important are arms and legs on mannequins?  I make lots of tops, but not lots of pants.  I'm really not sure how badly I "need" these parts...  thoughts???
Conservative Route:  A 3/4 body dress from would allow me to do pants, and I could always add an arm.  Fabulous Fit sells one, but the price she gave me on the phone seemed a little bit high, with the padding system to make her perfectly me.  Shipping alone is $84.  Or... a new half-body dress form with arms.  Pinnable, and an improvement... but how much different is this from what I have?  Again, how important are body parts, like arms and legs, on mannequins???
The Opposite of Conservative Route: A full body form.  2 legs, add an arm.  $400 for the whole shebang.  A wonderful addition to the sewing space, but will it make me a better seamstress?  I can get lots of other things for that amount, like classes, tools, books, etc.  One more time, everybody sing along... HOW IMPORTANT ARE ARMS AND LEGS ON A DRESS FORM?????

So, help a girl out.  There's no rush, so I'm going to continue to research and check out all my options.  The level-headed angel on my shoulder says, "Get the padding system, and make the most of what's already working for you."  The devil on the other side (wearing a fabulous red one-shouldered, sequined number) says, "It will make you a professional.  It will make you smile.  Why not?"

What say you?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2 New Tops and BIG PLANS!

Sorry, no pics. Yes, I know, I've broken commandment #1 of sewing bloggers: Thou shalt post pictures.
No work = No make-up, so there.  Deal with it.  I'll get some pics taken soon, promise.

DH has been fighting pneumonia since this holiday break started a week before Christmas, and he's doing much better, but still not 100%.  I've been taking the kids downstairs so he can nap and recuperate, so I've been able to finish these tops that I started weeks ago!
Butterick 5497

Simplicity 4020 - OOP
Both knits came from Gorgeous fabrics, and are wonderfully soft with the nicest drape.  I'll get lot of use out of these colors (ivory and cinnamon), and am toying with the idea of whipping up a skirt in a coordinating plaid that was in the stash.  We'll see how productive the next couple days are...

I've got the "Vintage Sew Along" brewing in the back of my mind, and have had some trouble choosing a pattern.  I really wanted to make up this one, as I love these tops!
But, it's a 32 bust (ha ha ha, isn't that hilarious?), and as I was trying to grade the pattern up to the right size, I realized that I already own this pattern, which has the same neckline.  And, I got a pleating board for xmas, so I want to try that out instead of the gathering along the front placket.
This skirt pattern is (nearly) the perfect size, so I'd like to start with it, and get warmed up with the whole vintage idea, as I've never made one up before.  Yes, I am a chicken...

If that all goes well, I'll dive into this lovely 50's era Patt-O-Rama.  It'll have to wait to be worn until summer, but that's okay.  I'm currently on the hunt for a cute polka dot fabric, just like in the picture...
Meanwhile, I have 2 projects on the table all cut out and ready to go.  A pair of grey wool trousers for work, and a new dress for Little Miss Princess.  I'm really trying to get these UFO's done before I cut out anything else new!  You can quit laughing now, really...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Each Man's Life...

"Each man's life touches so many other lives." -Clarence the Angel, It's a Wonderful Life

Thank you so much for your friendship, kindness, and support throughout the year.  Until I "met" you, I felt like a lonely "sewing geek".  Your passion and skill for this craft keep my inspired and challenged, and now I feel like part of a community.  Thank you for helping me share, question, and plan aloud, because your feedback helps move me forward. I'm really looking forward to actually meeting more of you this year, whether it is via your comments and emails, sharing of your blogs, or actually meeting you face-to-face!  It's really amazing how the technology of the internet has allowed all of us to come together, sharing laughter and tears, joys and sorrows, even though we are miles and miles apart.

Ok, enough of the mushy stuff... on to the goodies!

In the "Giving Department" this year, I ended up doing far more crafting than I anticipated.  All 3 of these projects came up just in the last week, which makes me pat myself on the back a little.

Apparently, the kids with "M" names were pretty naughty this year, as there was a surplus of these stockings at Target, but no "D" stockings were anywhere to be found!?  One kid's stocking was all set, but the other one was gonna take a little work.
So, I removed about 2/3 of the beads from the "M", and restitched them on to form the "D" I needed.  I was very grateful for grabbing the "M" to re-do, as it gave me lots of beads to work with.  It may not look perfect, but she is happy, so I am happy!
Also, my father-in-law is an avid mechanic, so DH had a great idea to pick up a Dickie work shirt, and add some embroidery.  He was thrilled to get his very own customized, personalized "wrenching" shirt!  The twill I've been using on the Vera Bradley sweatshirts came in super-handy on this!
Lastly, I warned you last Friday that I had decided to take on a last-minute, Top Secret project for DH.  It nearly got finished... but was "done" enough to wrap and put under the tree.
I just need to put the top together with the batting and backing, and he'll have a lap quilt to keep him warm, on duty or off.  The fabrics are various patriotic, Navy, Fire Dept. prints.  He's always said, "You made everyone else a quilt except for me!" So, now... he can't say that anymore!

In the "Receiving Department", I was happy to get a new Kai Rotary Cutter, a pleating board, and a grip handle for my clear ruler.  But, I was absolutely thrilled to open this:

A Consew gravity feed iron!  I never thought I'd be so happy to get a "domestic appliance" in my life!?  Anyone out there who owns one, feel free to drop me an email of tips and tricks of using it, as I am now scared and intimidated by the sheer weight of it!

Merry Christmas to all of you.  I'm wishing you a wonderful holiday with loved ones, making new memories, and cherishing the old family traditions.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vintage Sew Along 2011

Joanne of Miss Muslin had a great idea, and I'm hopping on board!

January 2011
*post vintage pattern choice
*share your muslin and fabric choice

*share construction adventures
*complete project and post final pictures of garment
* um, none.
*participate and have fun........

*Indicate your interest around/by December 31st. Here is the link for the original "invitation" where you can RSVP! (Notice that I'm the first to reply? So excited!)

My "backwards" plan:  I've always loved this dress Audrey Hepburn is wearing in the last scene of "Roman Holiday".  (Forgive the crummy quality, it's from my cell phone last time I caught it on tv!
The problem is that I have nowhere to wear such an awesome dress, so when I saw this Vogue coat pattern I was so happy!  What makes it backwards? It's not a vintage pattern, but it's inspired by a vintage garment. Counts, right???
It has the same collar and style of the dress bodice, with a fuller skirt portion.  Of course, I have other projects on the table, too, so I think the coat will be it for me.  (If I get really crazy, I might make a sundress for an upcoming tropical vacation. I have some great vintage patterns for that!)  When finished, it won't look much like the original, is it will be black wool with a black faux fur collar!  I'm so excited to have a feminine, figure flattering dress coat! My current  black wool coat is boxy, roomy, and the pockets are ripped! Time for something new, with an old-fashioned feel to it!  The Communion dress will still be in the muslin stages, and it will be a little birthday gift to myself!

I love the loose guidelines to this sew-along, and Joanne is a peach! We took the Khalje/King Sit and Sew class in August 2009, and she is such a sweetheart! That girl knows her way around the Big Apple (and Tiffany & Co.), and I am so looking forward to crossing paths with her again!  I hope you'll join in the Vintage Sew Along fun!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Most Useless Blog Post

So, last night I sewed for fun.  I thought about all the fabric and patterns and projects I could dig my fingers into last night... and came up with one that made me smile, jump up, and run downstairs.  I dug through my stuff and found exactly what I needed.  Would I have enough time to finish it?  It'll be a pinch, but it's possible.

What is it?

I can't tell you.

It's a Christmas gift for DH, and he's a reader here, so you'll have to wait a week to see.  Sorry!

See... I told you it was the most useless blog post!  So, I ask...

What gift are giving this holiday that brings you the most excitement to hand over?  It's okay to share here, your loved ones will never find it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Don't Bother Me, I'm on VACATION!

Two weeks off, baby! No more papers, no more books... no more students' dirty looks!

With all but 2 of the "xmas gift sweatshirts" delivered, I'm taking a night off tonite, and doing some "FUN SELFISH SEWING", like finishing the knit top that just needs hems.  Or, the grey wool pants that are all cut out.  Or maybe matching outfits for a certain DD and her American Girl doll (after bedtime, of course).   Maybe a cozy new sweater to combat all this chilly-to-the-bone weather!

It's the Friday Night Sew In, which is the perfect way to start a nice relaxing vacation from work.  I'm going to find my comfy sweats and make a cup of Chai Tea! I'll check back in tomorrow with my results.... Have a great night!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow Day (Round TWO)

We got hit on Sunday with about 8", but it was the combination of a bottom layer of wet, slushy with overnight single digit temps that froze every surface and closed school.  Two days in a row!  Yesterday was filled with unexpected little surprises that made for a great day off...

Last winter I was hired to embroider 50 knit caps for 2 fire departments.  20 of them were for the the Holly Fire Department (great town name at Christmas, huh?), but I got the acronym wrong.  I stitched 20 hats with "HTFD" instead of "VHFD" (Village of Holly, oops!).  I figured I'd sell them at some point, and that point came in October.  We were camping about an hour north of here, and I saw a lady walking around wearing a "HTFD" sweatshirt.  I approached her, explained my mistake, and asked if she thought someone with her department would want to buy the hats.  Her husband was very interested, so I gave him my name and phone number, offering to ship the hats in time for Christmas.  The next week I realized that I should've gotten his name and number, because he never called.  Yesterday morning, I sat down at the computer and Googled "HTFD" thinking this guy was long gone, and I needed to find a buyer for the hats.  It was only 7:30 am though, so I decided to wait on making phone calls for a few hours.  Then the strangest thing happened... he called.  Yesterday! The same day I thought to search and sell! Weird, huh?  Anyway, he drove all the way to my house and paid me $140 for the hats.  BONUS!!!!
Not the hat in question, but you get the idea...
With a day off of work, I revved up the embroidery machine (Brother PR-600 II, a 6 needle beast) and knocked out some more sweatshirts.  I was waiting for the last dozen shirts to arrive from the post office for the last of the "Christmas Gift" orders, so I was able to get caught up and clear the table for the last push.  By the end of this week, I'll have stitched up over 50 Vera Bradly inspired designs, in the last 3 weeks.  It's actually been the most fun I've had with the embroidery machine, since it involves playing with fabric combos, too.  Today I'll knock out that Paramedic school job (15 pieces), and have a empty workspace.  Woo hoo!!!

Housework is always a part of a snow day, so I won't bore you with those details, just that it got done, and it's always nice to spend time in a clean kitchen.  Paper grading, too.  Boring, but happy to get some done.

To top things off, my favorite new "reality show" was on last night... "American Pickers" on the Discovery Channel.  If you haven't seen it, basically they travel the midwest (and sometimes further) searching old barns, buildings, and properties, picking through people's junk collections and buying old lost treasures.  The people that collect this stuff are the real characters, but last night's episode highlighted Danielle, the young lady (my age) that works in the office at Antique Archaeology helping the pickers find properties and sell their goods.  She'd never gone on a pick before, and found (and treasured) the most awesome antique dress form.  In an old barn.  I really need to search old barns more frequently... Then, the next pick they went on she found a treasure trove of vintage clothes.  Leopard faux fur capelet, plaid wool vest, and numerous dresses.  Seeing the "softer side" of American Pickers made me fall in love with the show more, and become a "Danielle" fan!  She mentioned that she sews and makes clothing, so I checked it out, and sure enough... she's got an Etsy store and website.  Vintage sewing on a garbage picking show... who knew!?

So, to make a long story even longer, I smiled a lot yesterday.  It was a good day, and I  hope you had/have one, too!!!  Today, I'll get those medic shirts done, and maybe even do some "fun sewing" for myself!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Unexpected Reaction

As we sat in church yesterday (after her first reconciliation) waiting for mass to end, I leaned over and quietly asked my sweet little girl, "Do you know what fabric I'm using for your Communion dress?  I'm going to use my wedding dress!" with a big smile on my face.

At which point she promptly started crying.  She thought that I would be sad to cut my dress, and didn't want to be the reason for my sadness.

What?! I thought she'd be excited (like me), and it never dawned on me that she wouldn't want to use it for her communion dress.  And then I remembered how disappointed I was that my mom cut up her wedding gown to make my older sister's baptismal gown, and that I never got to see either the dress in person, or the baptismal gown for that matter.  I suddenly realized that I never considered my daughter's feelings in my plans for one of the most special dresses in her life.  Crap.

When we got home, I opened up the garment bag, and spread out the dress and the train on my bed.  I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief seeing that the train is constructed with plenty of satin.  I don't know how to photograph it to show you, but there's the long train (lace cut outs) part, and it continues around to a shorter side (that faced into the back of my dress) and attached to the back of my dress.  See?

So, I called her in, and proceeded with extreme caution...
"Honey? First I need you to know that the most important thing to me is that you are happy.  I'm not sad to cut my dress for you, so please don't worry that it makes me sad to cut my wedding dress.  Someday, you'll be a grown-up, and you'll get married, and I think that you will want your very own dress.  But, maybe you might want to use part of my dress for yours. If you don't that's okay, too.  Maybe you'll want to buy your dress in a store.  We don't know what will happen, because it's very far away, right?" (I emphasized the "very far" part!) "Number 1 is that you are happy.  And I am not sad.  Got it?"  Head nod.  Ok, proceed...  oops.  The phone starts ringing.  I go answer it, which takes a few minutes, and when I return she ahs questions.  "Where did you get your dress?"  "It's so pretty..."  "Was it expensive?"  "You were so lucky to have such nice dress, Mom..."  Wow.  How did I get so lucky to have such an awesome kid?  I answer her questions, and can see the wheels turning.  She likes the fabric, the lace, the pearl beads...

"Ok, we have 3 options.  Are you ready?
Option 1: We don't cut any part of the dress or the train. We put it away and someday when you get married, maybe we'll use it, and maybe we won't.  But we'll make your Communion dress out of some other fabric."
"Option 2:  We don't cut the dress, but we use the train instead.  See? There's lots of fabric.  So much fabric, I could cover you from head to toe... twice."
She's under there.  Promise.
"And we'll put the dress part away.  Again, maybe we'll use it, maybe we won't.  And see the lace on the edge of the train?  We can use that on the bottom of your dress, too."

"Option 3:  We use both parts, and cut the dress and the train for your Communion dress.  I think that when you're a grown-up, you'll want a dress of your very own, but maybe I'm wrong."

"What do you think?"  There is a brief pause (the wheels are still turning, but I can tell, she knows what she wants), and says, "I think we should do Option 2, use the train, but not the dress."

Phew.  Compromise!  Works for me.  Everyone is happy, and when I show her the Vogue pattern, she starts telling me where the lace will go.  I love having a daughter, and I especially love having mine.
The underside of the train, where I'll cut most of her dress from.
Now, how to get started?  I'm thinking I'll start snipping the threads that are attaching all the trim at the hem.  I don't think I want to jump into making a muslin yet, the girl is still growing and April is a ways away!

In addition, my "flowergirl" (who is now a college freshman), gave DD her flowergirl dress for dress-up, but it's too small.  In excellent condition, we will use the over-skirt of pearl-studded tulle for her veil.  I think I'll edge it in satin, too...

As an aside... the embroidery business is in full swing, with about 65 sweatshirt orders.  Friday at school was fun, seeing teachers and students all over the building wearing my stuff!  I'm officially a trendsetter (in my little world)!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Very Important Dress

I have a big project coming up for the spring, and my mind is already starting to be occupied with the daunting (but exciting) process...

Turning this:

into this, for my little girl's 1st Communion!
Vogue 7845

Where do I start??? With the skirt being gathered, I'm confident that there is plenty of fabric, not to mention that the detachable train supplies me with even more! Initially, I was thinking of using only the satin (and not using the beaded lace bodice of my dress), but now I'm wondering if that wouldn't be a good use of the little short sleeve over-jacket piece of the Vogue pattern?

Let me also say, my sister is very troubled that I cutting my dress up.  She's afraid that DD will want to wear it someday, but I'm confident that she'll want her own dress!  As nervous as I might sound, I'm really excited to share my wedding dress with DD in this way.  My anxiety comes from "I want it to be perfect!", not from "OMG... I'm cutting up my wedding dress!" (Ok, maybe just a little bit of the latter...)
Yes, I am posing in front of a firetruck on my wedding day...
I don't know if you can see, the skirt has a lot of fabric to use.  My initial thoughts were to use only the train, and not cut into the actual dress.  But, I forgot that the train has a lot of spots where the satin is cut out for the lace to show through.  But... it's a really big train, so maybe I can get around that? The skirt of the actual dress is all satin, with just a lace embellishment at center front, and the hem is trimmed in lace (all laces are beaded, too).

Obviously, I'm in the early stages here, just gathering my thoughts before grabbing the scissors.  If you have any experience in this process or advice to offer, please share!!! I've got until Easter (April), so there's plenty of time to do it right!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Going Gangbusters!

I've been very busy, busy, busy...

15 more sweatshirts ordered!

and, an order for 15 new pieces for a Paramedic class, too...

Life. Is. Good!  Just 9 more school "wake-ups" and I'll be on "Holiday Break"! Phew...