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!