Friday, August 30, 2013

Bridal Bling

Where does one find beaded bridal appliques?
The wedding dress applique I'm trying to match.
Well, I started at Haberman Fabrics, my favorite (kind of) local fabric store with the most amazing bridal fabric boutique you've ever seen.

So, they had a number of appliques for sale...


None of which were a "match" for the appliques on the dress itself. Not a problem. I had a few other options...

I could remove the existing appliques, placing new ones in their spots and adding more new ones like the bride wanted. At $12-$15 per applique, that's just under $200 and all the bling would match!

Or... Haberman's had the most amazing lace with these metallic floral motifs. I *could* use glue or heat and bling them up myself, and create my own appliques. I like this because this lace was a very close match to the existing appliques, but... it would take me a long time to bling up 6 motifs, cut them out and then attach them. I've got the heat-fixing tool for the job, and can order crystals and pearls online.

Haberman's also had some gorgeous trims that I could cut apart to create appliques. Again, no exact match, but some really beautiful possibilities!

I searched the internet for more appliques, and found a few, but nothing that came very close.
Lace & Co. $40 for the pair

Shine Trim, $25 each

I've given the bride all of this information to consider, and we'll see what she comes up with. In my professional opinion, I think it would be best to remove the existing appliques (there are only 6), purchase a dozen new ones, and attach them over the old spaces and fill in the empty spots.

If any of you have thoughts on resources I haven't considered, please leave a comment!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Good Things Happen in Threes

I'm still plugging away on the Chanel jacket (I forgot how much detail work these things have), but in the mean while, I've got a few things to share with you...

1. Beautiful Fabric. No... that's an understatement!!!
The most stunning and breath-taking silks arrived in my mailbox this week, and I didn't order them. I didn't pay for them. I do get to cut and sew them, but I don't get to keep them!?

My cousin in California messaged me that she was gifted 3 pieces of silk. Her friend went to Dubai and brought her back some beautiful fabric, but... my cousin doesn't sew. She wanted to know what could be done with these pieces, considering their length. .

Black Floral Striped Chiffon/Silk: 1.3 yards, 45" wide
Turquoise Solid (feels like 4-ply silk): 1.5 yards, 45" wide
Turquoise Floral Paisley Chiffon: 2.2 yards, 45" wide

I'll likely be making up a couple of tops and a skirt, but we'll see. If you have any pattern recommendations, feel free to share! The best part of this project is that there's no deadline and no rush, so I can really find the right patterns and techniques to do these gorgeous silks justice!

2. Two and a Half Wedding Dresses
I've been hired by a friend of my husband's to make both her and her partner's wedding dresses for their ceremony in January. We've been sharing emails and pictures of dresses back and forth via email, and it looks like I'm ready to order fabric and start sewing. They are more casual dresses, as it's a small beach wedding. They like these Simplicity dresses, and chose a watercolor/tie-dye kind of print in white/blue/green.

Additionally, I got a call to do some alterations for a local bride. This is the wedding gown that was brought to me yesterday. The bride got a great deal on the dress but, it requires some changes to become her "dream dress".
-Create a sweetheart neckline
-Take in the bodice
-Remove the back zipper and create a corset opening
-Remove the back "loop" of the top black bow
-Add more "blingy" appliques
-Modify the skirt to be less "bubbly" and more "puckered", like the pic below

The wedding is in May, so again, I'm so lucky to have plenty of time to do the job right. And, yes, her alterations budget is appropriate for the time required to make the necessary changes!

Last month I joined Carolyn in a "fabric diet". I decided that for every 10 yards stitched or sold, I would allow myself a 2 yard purchase. Well, I've sold 9 yards and, with the completion of these 2 pieces, I've stitched 11 yards of stash! So proud of myself!  I haven't blogged everything I've made, as some of it is pretty boring, but I'll share these pieces that I made for a friend. She is an amazing hair stylist, and keeps me blonde and beautiful in exchange for a couple of handmade garments.
I've gotten to know her taste and color preferences, and have her measurements pretty much memorized. This top (Simplicity 4020 OOP) and pullover vest (Vogue 8854) are the latest "payments" for my cut & color, I knocked them both out on Thursday, and she loves them. After my hair appointment, I swung over to Haberman's and had such a hard time choosing a single fabric to take home! I settled on this green rayon print. It feels like silk, and will be a new addition to my wardrobe (I don't own anything green)! I'm think either a long swishy skirt (to be worn with black boots), or a knee-length dress.

When the first ten yards were gone, I had ordered a couple yards of this beautiful navy lace from Cali Fabrics.

It will likely become a simple pencil skirt, but I also spied this dress on the Ann Taylor website that has me intrigued...
Judging from Topics 1 & 2, I'll need to set aside a little bit of "me time" to sew this lovely fabric up, and finish my Chanel jacket! I'll do my best to keep you updated on the progress of these projects, but at least now if I go MIA, you'll know why! ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chanel Tweed Jacket Underway: Trim and Fringe

It's been 4 years since I made a jacket like this, so the details are slowly coming back to me.  This one won't be "couture", but there's still a fair amount of hand-stitching with all the trim and buttons!
I picked up 2 different trims at Joann's yesterday, not quite sure what combination would look best. Did I mention that I had 3 kids in tow, so I felt like I was on Project Runway... "Designers, you have 30 minutes before the children start screaming for Chicken Nuggets and French Fries and most trims will only have 3 yards available while you need 6. Ready? Go!"

I found 2 that I really liked, and while I knew they worked together, I wasn't sure how to work in some fringed tweed and what combination would look best. So, once we got home, it was time to play...
You can see both purchased trims in the top right corner, a ruffled chiffon and a flat embellished ribbon with a small black/silver chain bordered by a double line of beads.  I tried a plain fringe, a bias fringe, and no fringe.  The black on black was just too strong and stark, and the no fringe option was the opposite, just a little too quiet. The texture of the bias fringe stands out in a more "fun and young" way than the plain fringe of the top left, so that's the one I went with.
I used my clear ruler with the 45 degree marking on it, and made bias strips 1" wide. I ran them through the machine with a double row of small straight stitches, then used my finger to fray the edges.  I machine stitched the fringe on the top of each pocket, then hand-stitched the chained trim on top, folding the raw edges over each side.

 I'm afraid that I should've chosen a button with more black and less silver, but hindsight is 20/20. Time for more hand-stitching while I attach the pockets to the jacket fronts. I'm using Simplicity 2284 this time (I can't find my Vogue pattern from last time), view D with 3/4 sleeves and added trim at center front, neck, and hem.
Lastly, I'm using silver silk charmeuse for the lining (see top pic), which is the first casualty according to "Murph's Law".  Not Murphy's Law, but Murph's Law... "If you have a puppy that leaves various and numerous water puddles around his water bowl, your silk will get water spots when you go to refold it and it briefly touches the floor." I thought that I had cut around the marks, but I just noticed a spot at the bottom of one of my front lining pieces. It's faint and barely noticeable, and my own fault, I should've known better. We took him camping this weekend and were stopped no fewer than 1,000 times by kids and adults with requests to pet him, love on him, and comment on the size of his paws!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blue & White Vogue Dress

I think I figured it out. Why do I always fall in love with blue and white prints? Why do they make me think of summertime and warm weather? There is something nautical about blue and white, isn't there? But, I think it reminds me of waves crashing in the bright blue ocean and the beach. Or, maybe I just really like the combination of blue and white! Regardless, I'm in love with this dress!

Lori at "Girls in the Garden" did a slightly different take on this very same dress just the other day!  Her awesome version is a maxi dress with a slightly different neckline, in a gorgeous jersey print from Mood!

Pattern: Vogue 8241 "Very Easy, Very Vogue" collection

This simple dress pattern has a short/long option, elasticized waist, and single button closure on the top back. It's fully lined, and calls for roughly 1 1/2 yds of 60" wide for this version, but I only had about a yard, so I trimmed the length by 5 1/2".  I used a rayon challis from Joann's, purchased a few years ago, and the same amount of white poly lining.  I made the size ?? according to the printed finished garment measurements, and it's perfect.  My only recommendation is to stay away from stiff fabrics, as those gathers will puff and stand away from your body. Go for drape.
I did follow the instructions this time, as the dress was fully lined and the closing of the lining always makes me nervous. There are lots of curves to trim and clip and press, but it's worth it. The only warning I have is with the opening in the upper back and your bra choice. I wore a racer back, and it was visible through the deep opening, so I hand-tacked it at the correct level, and had no trouble still getting it over my head.
I should've added an inch to the bodice length (I always get so excited to cut my fabric that I forget... read as "too lazy for my own good"), so I have a little less blousing than I should. I used 1/4" elastic in the waist, and the casing is created in the seam allowance of the bodice/skirt.
Closures: I used thin beading cord elastic to loop over the button closure (and a single button from stash). I knotted it into a loop, trimmed the tails, and tacked it down. I've done this in the past with a pony tail elastic, when I was out of the beading elastic and needed to finish a project.
Worn Two Ways: Along with a racerback bra, you'll need a belt of some type. There isn't one included in the pattern, it calls for "ribbon for the belt". I grabbed a silver chain belt from my closet, along with matching silver sandals.

When the weather cools, I can use my brown leather belt and boots, with my denim jacket. Excuse the nighttime shots, we had just gotten home from a surprise party for my very sweet mother-in-law's 70th birthday.  I really did win the "in-law lottery", as she is so thoughtful and generous, a wonderful grandma to my kids, and an amazing cook of all things Polish! 4' 11" and a heart of gold.

Conclusion: I really like this pattern, it's easy to make, and easy to wear (read: "comfortable"). My shortened version is a great cure for eating up those small single cuts of stash, so I can definitely see myself making this up again in the future.
Happy Birthday, Grandma!
p.s.  I made a few changes to my blog's appearance, and as a result, the comment box is misbehaving (disappearing, only seen on Bloglovin', invisible in Safari, etc.). I'm doing my best to adjust everything, but I'm not very tech savvy. If any of you are good with Blogger and page settings, I'd love it if you could offer some advice!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Goodbye Cotton, Hello Wool

It's August already? It can't possibly be. School's only been out of session for like... 3 weeks, right?

I'm in the midst of Vogue 8241, using a yard of blue/white rayon stash.

It's fully lined, so there's lots of trimming and clipping and pressing going on. 
This is the back of the bodice, lining side up. I'll need a pretty button for the top closure at my neck.
The instructions have me finishing the neckline/armhole/shoulder straps in the weirdest way... which involves slipstitching the lining/fabric together along the top of the armhole.  I like to use a machine stitch here, to guide the fold when I press the edge over, and it also gives me a guide line for my hand-stitching.
I love blue and white prints. This is the end of my "summer" sewing, though.  With school starting just after Labor Day, it's time to hand me the wool, please...

I had BIG plans for sewing a beautiful new fall wardrobe this summer. Some really great coordinating wardrobe staples, like pants and skirts and jackets. I have the most beautiful fabrics from my visit to the NYC garment district a few years ago.  The Khalje/King "Sit and Sew" class seems like a lifetime ago, but it was 3 years ago. Nope... 2009.  4 years ago. Again, where does the time go??? 
 Why haven't I sewn this yardage yet?
- I wanted to get skinny first. There's always that, "I'll wait until I'm thinner!" voice. Well, I've gone from a 12 to a 6, so that excuse is gone. Thank you protein, veggies, and Crossfit.
The fabric was a kind of my "souvenir" from my trip. Cutting into it? Then, it won't be waiting in my stash, waiting to be petted and pouted over ("I wanna go back!!!").
- "I'm not worthy!" was running through my mind when I would think of working with it, like my skillset was just too lacking to risk ruining my awesome NYC fabric. I know I'm capable of sewing the classic pieces I had planned for this fabric. I think this is really just about reasons 1 and 2.

So, I'm over it. I'm doing it. I'm pulling patterns and cutting into that yardage, enough is enough. Because life is short, no one (namely, ME) is enjoying that beautiful fabric while it sits in a box in a closet in my basement. And, most importantly, IF I SEW IT ALL GONE, I HAVE TO GO BACK TO NYC AND GET MORE. Am I right, or am I right?!
So, first up on the list is this lovely suiting from Paron's that has always wanted to be a Chanel jacket. While I'll likely not go all "couture" on this (so much more stash to sew), I do have the silk charmeuse and pattern ready to go. I found the buttons on Etsy last week, along with some gold ones for another Chanel jacket in the works...
The Etsy seller was wonderful, quickly replying to my questions and creating custom listings for the exact number of buttons I needed. Also, she sent along 2 extra buttons, lovely pink ones, that perfectly match one of the NYC fabrics, a pink boucle...
So, if you need buttons, check out Lakesha at ChicButtonsExpress.  She's affordable, and in Chicago, so my order came right away. Now, I just need the trim... Does anyone have recommendations for trim vendors on Etsy???  Do you find yourself saving the best of your stash, too?