Sunday, December 6, 2015

Craft Bazaar - Doll Dress Display

I promise I haven't gone AWOL on you. School, homework, work, homework, farm stuffs, project deadlines for homework, more work, and finals have taken all my time and energy. Yep. I haven't sewn a stitch since my Regency ballgown. And that is a tragic fact. 


I did have an opportunity to sell my huge (I am not exaggerating here) stock of pillowcases and doll dresses at the Christmas brunch and bazaar at my friend's church because my former venue (the tent that we have set up while doing Christmas trees) didn't pan out this year. 

One thing that has been driving me bonkers all these years of selling doll dresses is my lack of a display for them. I've tried just about everything under the sun for showcasing the pint-sized dresses from the store using a coat rack, to spreading them all across a table to only have a cat jump up there and leave her little paw prints all over everything. :glares: This year, I decided that it was time to invest in a dress rack specifically designed for 18" doll dresses, but I didn't want to lay down a bunch of cash for a display. And all the ones that I found were shorter (in length) which meant that my collection would get scrunched up and make things difficult to view. 

Then I found this on pinterest. It was exactly what I wanted. But again with the scrunching of the dresses. And the spending money. I can be such a scrooge when it comes to some things. Why couldn't we totally DIY it? We had railing left over from building the house. We have a massive collection of wood scraps in the shed that would certainly have a piece that would work for a base. The only things we bought for this was a dowel and the world's smallest can of paint. 

My awesome dad rigged up the entire thing. Minus the paint. After applying a coat of paint and waiting for it to dry, our creation was finished. 

Isn't it the cutest thing?
Do you know how much I would have loved having something like this growing up? 
I also like how tall the dress rack is. It means that I can do dresses with a train and it will still hang. ;) 

Until I actually sew something. Which shall be very soon because Christmas is right around the corner. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tickled Pink

You might recall that last year, I made two dresses from Frozen. One was Elsa's ice queen dress and the other was Anna's toddler dress. I purposefully made them a little larger than the specified measurements and used a tie to make them fit better until the little lady grew into her dress. Because of this, both of the young ladies were able to wear their dresses a year later to see Disney on Ice's production of Frozen, and honestly, I'm thrilled that they were able to wear their special dresses for this long. :) 

Until next time!

Monday, October 5, 2015

1808 Ballgown - 'Caroline'

It got finished in time for the ball!!! 
Granted, it was finished the day of the ball after I had stayed up til 11:30 the night before working on it. 
All that trim.
Hand sewing.
I have gained a new-found respect of seamstresses of old. 

The construction of the dress and open robe was pretty straight forward (it helps that I've done these patterns in the past). For the dress, I sorta came up with the pattern as I went since I was changing the Regency Simplicity pattern as I went. I wanted a drop-front gown so that I could dress myself and not have to worry about having someone else lace me into my dress. The open robe is an altered version of the spencer/pelisse pattern from Sense and Sensibility. I can't leave patterns well enough alone, can I? ;) 
After I finished the machine sewing portion of the open robe, I set that aside to do all the hand-sewing while watching TV, listening to sermons, taking my break at work, or sitting the resource room at school in between classes.  That dress was hauled all around town in my project bag along with my portable sewing 'kit' and the invisible thread. Oh yes, all that gold trim on the train is tacked down with invisible thread. That added a whole new dimension to things. Why did I use it? The trim is gold and the fabric is teal. I didn't want thread to show. There are my reasons. 
How many hours in the open robe? I have no idea. The day of the ball, I timed myself. How much time am I actually spending on this thing? Turns out it was about 15 minutes for 10 inches. Whaaaat? Multiply that by 5 yards 10 inches... I'm not going to do the math. All I know is that I love how it turned out. Just like I imagined it would be, even better than the sketch that I drew (because I don't draw very well). 
While I was hand stitching in the evenings and in spare moments, the dress was being machine sewn whenever I had a moment in the craft room. Rather simple and straight forward. Using sketches from the Hungarican Chick, I drafted pieces from my Simplicity pattern that would be transformed into a bib-front. After working out the kinks in my pattern, I chopped up the sleeve pattern (don't worry, it was a piece that I traced from the original) to make the slits and button closures work. And it worked on the first try. Since when does that happen? 
The final result? 
There is an insurance building across the street from the ballroom that had these fantastic pillars. We just had to use them as a backdrop for pictures. 
And the open robe has a loooong train. :Squee!: But how is one to dance with such a long train and not trip? I attached a strap to the hem so that I could sling it around my wrist to keep it out of the way. After I did that, I was going through some fashion plates from the era and realized that they bustled it at the waist (Regency waist - not actual waist) to look like a chunky flower. Kinda cool. But I had already done the work, so the wrist band was going to stay. 
As I was spending goodness-knows-how-much-time sewing all that trim, I came up with a name for the dress. I've decided to dub it 'Caroline' because it strikes me as something that Caroline Bingley would have worn to a ball. 
Until next time!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

1808 Ball Gown WIP

I apologize in advance for the lousy picture, but I'm so excited with how the open robe is turning out that I had to share a quick peak with you! 
It's looking even better than I imagined it. For the October ball, this will be about as much detail as it will get because of time constraints, but there are other balls coming up later in the year that I would potentially add even more detail to it (read: embroidery).

As for the trim, I bought five yards. FIVE YARDS! And it still wasn't enough. My estimate at the cutting counter was off by 10 inches. Not bad for not actually measuring the train. 

Until next time!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

1808 Ball Gown Inspiration and Planning

The Netherfield ball is coming up, and I got the Regency sewing bug again. I could wear one of my other dressed inspired by the early-1800's, but who wants to wear a plain, cotton day dress to an elegantly-themed ball? Not I. It's time to pull out all stops and power sew to get this ball gown done in time. 

My main inspiration for the dress is a collection of actual dresses, paintings, and modern re-enactors.

I love the concept of a loooooonng train. But I don't want to be tripping over it while dancing. The solution I came up with was an open robe. From what I can tell, there seem to many interpretations of the same concept: a bodice of some sort, a stylish closure in the front, and an over skirt. I really like the idea of sprucing up the basic white Regency ball gown and adding the color pop of the open robe. 


PS - Holly Madchen photography is INCREDIBLE!

Next up comes the actual ball gown. Apron-front (or bib-front), is certainly my preferred style, but I'll need to alter the pattern that I have to make it work (because I'm a cheapskate and don't want to buy :another: pattern). So it will all depend on how much time I have after finishing the open robe. Next part of the ball gown planning is the sleeves. I really don't like how the puff sleeves look on me; my shoulders are wide enough without the added puffiness of sleeves, thankyouvermuch. But then I found this painting: 
I adore those sleeves. I'll just be altering the sleeves on my pattern. 'Nuff said. 

And no dress is complete without accessories! I really wanted to make a pineapple reticule, but my knitting skills are very lacking to figure out the pineapple bag pattern on Ravelry. So sad. But then, the Dreamstress did an inspiration post and sewed her own. I shall be making a pattern for that too, apparently.  
Then it came down to scouting out materials to actually make this dress. 
I already had left over peacock teal chantung in my stash (left over from an 1860's ball gown), and there would certainly be enough to make the open robe with that. Random side note: I think I have a thing for deep, saturated teals because that color is starting to dominate my ball gown selection. Now, I know that chantung is no where near historically accurate, the material is too nubby. A smooth fabric would have been a better choice. But, honestly, I'm not aiming for a perfect look. Yes, I do want to look the part, but you can't argue with a stash-busting project that can certainly do a fine job of things.

For the actual dress, I found a simple dotted Swiss at Joann's (of all places) that would do the job credibly and pearl buttons for the fancy sleeves. 

The sketched out result from lunch breaks, blog hopping, and Pinterest cruising.
All that being said, I should probably get sewing. ;)
Until next time!

Summery Lemon Dress

And I have time to sew again. This past summer has been spent at work, farm stuffs, school, and an internship at school. Between all those things, I've been thoroughly whooped with little down time, so the time that I did have was spent sleeping or doing homework. ;) But now, I'm on summer break. And I have grand plans for these short, precious weeks. At least, plans that my adrenals can handle.

First on the sewing to-do list was a cheery lemon dress inspired by on designed by Kate Spade for her 2014 spring (or was it summer?) line. The price tag was a bit steep, but my sister adored that beautiful dress. Lemons. The dress had lemons. Vintage lemons. And it was adorable. That dress had a lot going for it. 
After much searching of the fabric stores and web, we finally found some fabric that suited her taste. 
And it sat on the fabric shelf. 
For a very long time. 

Until I finally sat down and told myself that no other project would be touched until that one was finished. (See what it takes to motivate myself?) Two afternoons of focused sewing time, and the dress was done. Seriously? That's all it took? Why did I procrastinate this long?! Oh well. At least we have some nice weather still in the forecast so my sister can wear it before inclement weather sets in. 
Pattern: Simplicity 2591
The only thing I probably would add to it would be a small yellow bow on the waistline. But besides that, it's ready to wear. The bow probably won't be added for another few years. :P 

Until next time! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Burgundy Medieval Gown

On top of fixing up my own costume for the Celtic ball, my sister, Jessica, needed a dress that fit the theme. She came up with the general look that she wanted, and I had to bring it down to realistic expectations since I had classes, homework, work, and ball decorations to do too. ;) 

We found some burgundy sheets in my mock-up material bin, and I started cutting things out. Thankfully, I had done that pattern a couple times before, and it went together very quickly. Which was good because I finished it the night before the ball.
The next thing to add to her costume would be an embroidered belt. With floral swirls. Yeah, that sounds cool. 

After I finished sewing it, I stepped back and realized that we had essentially created Mother Gothel's dress from Tangled. Completely unintentional, but still pretty awesome. 

Until next time!

Scottish Country Girl

I'm still here!!!
After finishing the MotB dress back in January, I needed some super easy projects (pillowcases anyone?), and then I sent my machine off to get a servicing. After goodness knows how many hours have gone onto that thing, it needed some R&R, or just a tune-up, ya know. Then I got it back and started chipping away at the sewing to-do list that grew while the machine was away. First up was making alterations and additions to my costume for the Celtic ball (which was on Saturday). 

Ever since the theme for the ball was announced late last year, I've been planning this get-up. I already had the dark blue skirt/'petticoat', blouse, and yellow over vest thing, but I wanted to add more Scottish flair to the mix. I found a plaid that I absolutely adored (from Joann's, oddly enough), and whipped it up into a floor length skirt. Then I made the shawl. Do you know how long it takes to pull all those threads to make the fringe? Anyways... Those two plaid pieces done, I put the ensemble on Lady Catherine, the dress form, and stepped back. It was quite the mishmash of things. To clean up the look, I made a stomacher using a piece from one of JP Ryan's patterns  and stitched it into place. Much better! The day of the ball, I was able to get into it quite quickly (which was good because I got a late start to getting ready) and topped everything off with a woodsy crown that I found at a Renaissance faire last year. The finished look was exactly what I was aiming for: a Scottish country girl with fashion influences from the 1700's. With flower crown. :P A friend of mine said that it was like a Celtic fairy or sprite and that I needed a special power. Invisibility. That's my super power. But that's a story for another day. ;)
I could probably have dedicated a bit more time trying to work with the tucked in part of the skirt. Oh well! It worked. 

The shawl is tucked into a :really: cool belt loop that was given to me (by a complete stranger, no less!) and held in place at the waist by grosgrain ribbon. 

Until next time!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mother of the Bride Silk Dress

Every once in a while you get a real stumper of a project. Despite all your planning and research, you still can't make the darn thing work. Much gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair, and spilled blood (YES!) and tears, but nothing will cooperate with you. Thus is the tale of this dress. 
A bride-to-be reached out to me asking if I could make her mom a dress for the upcoming nuptials since all their shopping attempts were for naught. We got the conversation rolling, details ironed out, and the patterns, fabric, and trim was acquired. Little did I realize what I was getting signed up for when the bolt of fabric was handed to me. The gorgeous lightweight silk would prove to me more challenging than I initially thought.  

I first made a mock-up our of old sheets to figure out the quirks of the dress and jacket patterns. They turned out decently enough, except the jacket gave me some grief. More on that later. 

I felt comfortable enough with the dress to cut that one out first. Pretty straight forward, the dress came together quite nicely. Except for my poor finger. I sewed through the tip while installing the zipper (and this was shortly after I had commented on not knowing how people sew through their fingers. What are they doing? Focusing on the fabric obviously). Don't worry about the dress - not a drop touched it. ;) I want to say though - this was the best zipper that I've ever installed. First time putting in an invisible zipper, but using the right foot on the machine made a world of difference. 
Sewed up the seams, hemmed, and stitched on the sequin trim, and it was done! The jacket shouldn't be too bad if the dress came together that easily, right? Uh, no. 
Issues with the jacket? It's a Vogue pattern. On the bias. Out of lightweight silk. 
Cutting was a slow, tedious process with many, many, many pins. That fabric was slipperier than a politician. Despite my best attempts, the fabric did what it did best - stretch. 

You see, fabric has the warp and the weft (the directions of the weaves in the material) and they aren't necessarily that stretchy. The dress is a prime example of that. It's cut out lined up with the weave so you don't get stretch-age. Then there's the bias which is the stretchiest part of the fabric. When you cut on the bias, your project gets this gorgeous, flattering drape. Some fabrics have more give than others, and delicate silks are apparently stretchier than Gumby or Stretch Armstrong.   
After getting through cutting, I carefully went through everything step by step with things stretching every which way. I finished assembling the jacket and put it on my dress form, Lady Catherine. After letting it stretch even more overnight, I came to it the next morning and saw how much one side stretched. Are you kidding me? I trimmed it to line up with the other side and moved on. 

Then came the interfacing. Unfortunately, I didn't have the right interfacing weight in my stash, so off to the fabric store I went. I can't visit that store without spending $30 at least. I try to minimize how often I go for that very reason. ;) Waiting for my cutting counter number to be called, I blissfully shopped through the store, then chatted with the folks at the counter (who know me and my crazy sewing antics), and meandered towards the checkout counter. I wasn't in a hurry to get home, but I also wasn't aware of what was in store for the rest of my afternoon and evening. 

With the interfacing and then some in the front seat next to me, I toodled on home. La-di-da-ed through cutting out and ironing the interfacing to the pieces, and hummed along while the sewing machine did its job. I top stitched the pieces in and put it on the dress form. 


It was hideous. 

Even the lightest of interfacing was still too heavy for the silk. The sides stuck out like a Mad Hatter coat. This was bad. Very, very bad. I tried trimming it, but then it stuck out in the most unflattering of ways. It had to all come out. The next few hours were tearfully spent with the seam ripper. I have a love/hate relationship with that thing. 

The rest of the evening was spent trying to figure out how to hem the thing. Narrow hem seemed to outweigh all the other options. I pinned everything then went to bed. 

Next day, it was hemmed, and the sequin trim stitching began. I turned on some happy music (2Cellos!) to get me through. After the last stitch went in, I put it on the dress form to see what damage had been done this time. Not horrible, necessarily, but definitely NOT what the desired outcome was. Some fiddling and ironing later, it was as good as it was going to get. The deadline had come. 

At the mock-up fitting, everything fit perfectly (which was surprising), so I anticipated things at the final fitting to at least fit. Which it did. But it didn't look at all what everyone was hoping it would. The jacket was given a big 'no-go.' The dress fit well though! But essentially back to square one in terms of the jacket/dress combo. 

Why was this jacket giving me so much grief? Because of how the pattern was designed: it's meant for heavier fabrics as noted on the pattern. I should have looked. I've never had that problem before, but then again, I wasn't working with airy silks.  
I am my own worst critic when it comes to anything. So I feel like I'm to blame for the mess that the dress situation became since I didn't notice the suggested fabric list. Lesson learned. Check. Never forgetting that one. Unfortunately, since I was working on the dress, I put off quite a bit of homework, and now I don't have time to make another jacket. :/ I've left the mother-of-the-bride in a lurch just over a week before the wedding. :sigh: 

I'm off to make some cotton pillowcases, eat chocolate, and watch me some Pride and Prejudice. Maybe some gardening too. This weather has been way to nice to not be outside. 
Oh, wait. I have homework. 

Until next time,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Princess Anna in Disneyland

I just :had: to show you pictures of the little princess in Disneyland. ;) 
She ran and ran and ran, and didn't trip on the dress. 

Despite being a cotton, it wore well! (you should have seen me at the fabric store crumpling all of the cottons) There was minimal wrinkle-age. 

I could just pinch those cheeks!

And she got to see Anna and Elsa twice! 

Until next time!