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!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Uh Oh.... Now, what?!?!

Thursday morning I reached for one of my favorite jackets... and guess what?

WHAT?!?! How did THAT happen? I don't recall seeing that when I put it away, but it must have been there.  The more important question is, HOW DO I FIX IT???? It's along the back center seam. I feel like the Hulk, must've flexed too hard...

Hindsight is 20/20... I should have block fused that fabric from the start, with it's loose weave.  Bad seamstress, BAD seamstress!!!! But, what's done is done, so now I need to know, have any of you done a repair like this before? Any ideas on how to attack it?

Thanks in advance for your help. I'm pretty bummed about it, as I only just made this up last year and the fabric was from my one and only trip to the NYC garment district. So, aside from the fact that I labored over the trim and love the way it turned out... I want to cry.


Thank you all for your advice on the pink floral print purchase. A went back to the Mood website, plopped a few yards in my cart, and... couldn't pull the trigger. Something in my gut said, "This isn't exactly what you want," so, I did more searching. And came across this:

Now, it's still not "right" because this fabric is mesh. I've found a lovely print, but the wrong type of fabric. Crap. And, I really like this fabric! So, I do a Google search for "mesh print dresses" to see what styles I should be considering for this fabric. Slinky. Tight. Short. Body Con. Not the vibe I was going for with this print. Ugh. But, then this dress popped up and I thought, "HEY!!! I really like that look!

Milly 'Natalie' Faille & Mesh Print Dress

Hmm... reminds me of another dress I've always wanted to make...

Which I bought a pattern for a year ago...

Funny how things come together, right?!  Granted, that Natalie Portman/Dior dress still HAS TO happen, when the right fabric crosses my path. And to make the most of my Mood credit, I filled my card with 3 yards of navy silk crepe de chine and 1 yard of Oscar de la Renta herringbone. Why waste fabric dollars on shipping, when I can maximize my purchase? The silk will be this McCalls top and the herringbone will be a pencil skirt to match. Mood Account credit now... ZERO!
My version will be navy blue...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Last Dress of Summer :(

48 degrees Fahrenheit.

That was the temperature this morning here as I left the house for work.
I miss summer already.

I finished my Banana Republic/Milly knock-off dress this weekend, and regardless of the weather, it had to be worn! My denim jacket did a great job as my "top layer" today, and since the day was going to warm up to a balmy 61, I chose my sandals over my boots, and headed out the door!

It was love at first sight when I first spotted this dress in InStyle magazine last year. I knew that the bodice would have to be changed so that I could wear it at work, but I *loved* the bias striping on the skirt! I tried to search for a similar fabric, but to no avail.  When I saw this blue/green/black striped voile (cotton/poly blend) on the bargain table at Joann's last year, I scooped up 3 yards and took it home. Sadly, it wasn't until the end of this summer that I finally had time to take on those stripes!
The inspiration dress by Milly for Banana Republic

I'm really very pleased with the final outcome, as the dress fits perfectly and is exactly what I wanted. The stripes matched up easily at every seam, even at the zipper (which I moved to the side so that it could be hidden, just in case I messed up.   It has a lovely drape and weight and was quite comfortable to wear at work all day.

Pattern: Simplicity 4070, bodice from view A, skirt from view E.

Perfect amount of circle skirt for the fabric I had (3 yards), I think I will get a lot of use out of this pattern in the future!  With the fabric being nearly sheer, I lined the entire dress with a navy blue poly blend.  Here are some pics and details from mid-construction.  The black belt was hanging in my closet (along with a brown one that will also work), so that was ideal!

 Look at that stripe matching!!! I'm SOOOOOOOO proud of myself!

I'm still trying to figure out if I can squeeze one more wear out of this with the addition of tights and boots. Anyhow, it's time to put the chiffons, batistes, and voiles away. Time to bring out the sweater knits, denim, and wool. Someone, hand me a pumpkin spice latte...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Should I? (aka "Step Away from the Mood Website")

Help! Not sure what to do...

Ever since I pinned this image on Pinterest, it's been repinned repeatedly. I love the neckline and the utter femininity of this look.

I already have a pattern in mind, Vogue 8633.

This fabric is available at Mood, and is "almost sold out".

The angel on my shoulder says, "It's September, what are you going to do with a pink dress?"
The devil says, "You'll sew it up and wear it in the Spring!"
The angel says, "You NEVER wear pink."
The devil says, "But, it's so pretty... you look great in pink!"
The angel says, "You have boxes and boxes of fabric already."
The devil says, "It won't cost you a dime, you still have that big credit on file at Mood!"


Friday, September 5, 2014

Back to School!

Tuesday morning found us bleary eyed, but reporting for duty! Little Miss started Middle School this year, and Little Man started 3rd grade. Seems like yesterday that they were so much smaller...

Anyhow, that striped dress I'm wearing was whipped up last week, along with another of the same exact pattern, New Look 6261, but in a different fabric and neckline (view D).

This summer I found that making two at a time is so much faster, and since I know how much I like the sheath style and the two fabric are so different, no one would ever think anything of it.

Apparently I have some kind stripe addiction going on lately? This fabric (2 yards) came from Gorgeous Fabrics a few years ago. It has some texture, like a seersucker, and some stretch (between the black stripes). I lined it with some plain white poly, and the pattern was a breeze. The fit was very good straight out of the envelope, and I was happy with the compliments that I received! (Sorry, no back view. Too crazy of a morning!)

The other version in the different fabric? I haven't worn it yet, so I'll post a pic next week. Today is "school spirit Friday", so I'm sporting the ever fashionable t-shirt and ponytail... Gotta run, school bell is ringing!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

What was I thinking?!

Under Construction...
I was thinking that I have wanted to make this dress ever since the day I stumbled across it inside InStyle magazine! When I did a Google image search for "Milly, Banana Republic, striped dress" look who popped up all over my screen!

You know that if Zoe Saldana is wearing this dress, that it deserves to be knocked off! Granted, I could buy this exact dress off ebay right now for as little as $50, but I've already purchased the fabric, and feel compelled to complete the challenge!

Fabric: 3 yards of striped voile from Joann's. I found it on the Red Tag Bargain table of all places, but it was exactly the print I wanted (and a great price, if I messed it up). It's a cotton/poly blend, and quite sheer, so I also picked up a couple yards of navy poly lining.

Pattern: Simplicity 4070. I'm planning on wearing this dress to work, so the sundress straps are non-negotiable. I'm using view F, but obviously not including the lace. I needed a semi-circle skirt, and the first pattern I chose (Vogue ????) wouldn't work because the skirt was too full for the 3 yards of fabric I had to work with. So, was perfect, even allowing me fabric to spare after laying out the pattern so the stripes would match!

I laid the pattern out for the skirt on a single layer of fabric, as stripe matching was a priority for me, with a center front seam. I marked my pattern paper with lots of lines 45 degress from the marked grain line. Once I had the first layer cut, I just flipped it over (now right sides together), and matched the stripes, pinning and cutting carefully.
I used the crayons to aid in moving the paper and cutting the 2nd piece, but flipping it directly over was so much easier!

The bodice pieces being smaller, I felt more confident being able to cut 2 layers of fabric and keep the stripes matched. I had about 1/3 yard left over, but may still use it for a band/belt at the waist.

I started assembling the bodice first, matching the stripes at the front had priority, but finding that the side seam matching also worked made my heart sing! When I moved onto the center front seam of the skirt, I paused. The skirt being cut on the bias meant my seams might stretch, and I didn't want anything wavy or wonky at the center front. I cut a strip of sheer ribbon the exact length of the center front seam, and once I had the stripes matched, I used the sheer ribbon as a stabilizer to hold the seam true.  After stitching, a breathed a HUGE sigh of relief... the stripes matched AND the seam was firm! I need to cut away more of the left over ribbon from the seam, as it's creating a small bubble, but I'm beyond happy with my progress!
So, this is where it stood when I made myself go to bed at 11pm last night. I was actually having fun matching the stripes, stitching the seam and checking to see if I had success. Sick, right?! I still have to cut and construct the lining layer, and decide what to do with the waist, as it seems like it needs a band or something... Thoughts?