Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wedding Dress Progress and Digression

My delightful daughter was able to come home for a weekend and tried on the boned bodice and skirt muslin.

WoW! The bodice was spot on less a little bit of easing along the upper edges. The skirt? HOME RUN! Seriously, she looked so relieved I had to laugh!

Did she think I was a hack and that she needed to be saving money for a back up dress? I think so :) I believe she has been reliving a piccolo recital for 4 1/2 years. This may be enough to erradicate that memory.

DD is a wonderful flute and piccolo player. The summer of her junior year in HS, she won a district competition and was invited to play her piccolo at the Washington State Music Teachers Association conference at Washington State University. This was a great opportunity for her as she was planning on attending WSU, where she thought she might minor in music. She had played for the flute proffessor in Master Classes before and she was going to be able to have an hour with her while we were there on this trip.

I hadn't sewn for her for YEARS at that point. At least since the 5th grade when she told me it was "okay" if I didn't want to smock for her anymore. By that time, I was working quite a bit of overtime and there was really no time to sew anyway, but I very much wanted to make her something to wear for this performance.

It was going to be in June, which is wicked hot in eastern Washington. I had a sweet blue cotton floral print that did wonderful things to her eyes. I stitched up a surplice style dress with a bright yellow waist band covered with machine embroidery. Is was really very sweet and DD seemed on board.

As we checked in at the University, we saw the other students who would be playing over the course of the 3 day event. And to my horror, every single one of them had formal wear. They were going to perform in FORMAL wear and I had this sweet blue cotton floral print dress that suddenly looked like what it really was: a dress for a 5th grader. I hustled her up to our room, which was like an oven, dropped our luggage and said "Come on, we're going to find you something suitable to wear". To her credit, she would have worn that dress. She would have suffered the indignity in silence. But there was no way to mistake the look of relief that washed over her face.

Off we went to Moscow, ID, just across the border. That's where I went to college some 30 years prior. There was nothing there then, but now they had a mall, they had real human grown up girl stores, and we found a nice black skirt and an emerald green patterned top that did BETTER things for her eyes. She even got a new pair of shoes out of the trip as the summer sandals we'd brought wouldn't do, either.

In the end, she looked lovely. She played wonderfully. We both grew up that night. Correction. I grew up. She already had, I just hadn't noticed.

But I digress... Now that the fitting has been done, it's full speed ahead. Today I cut out the underlining layers. Swiss batiste will be next to the satin fashion fabric, followed by a layer of flannel and topped with organza. I wanted the flannel to pad the bra area but found the texture telegraphed through to the satin. the batiste solved that problem. The flannel isn't stable enough to provide a good surface to catchstitching the seams to, hence the organza on top. The samples worked great, so I'm ready to start assembling. Hopefully, I'll have something camera worthy by next weekend. I also made the bias tube spaghetti straps.

Next up is the full fabrication of the skirt muslin with all of the gores and train. I'd like to work on that next weekend so it's ready when she comes home for Thanksgiving.

Favorite Tool for this week: the knee lift on my sewing maching! It came in handy as a third hand as I got ready to stitch the bias tubes for the straps.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Wedding Dress pt 3 or "Who Me? Patient?"

It is another blazing hot day (high 80's, laugh all you want, that is BLAZING to me) here in the beautiful Pacific NW and I am spending it in the cool of the basement stitching away.

I have all the muslin pieces cut out and have basted the skirt together. One of the main alterations to the skirt, combining the center front and side pieces to make one skirt front with shaped darts, went well. The bodice is all cut out waiting to go together, but I, of course, don't have the patience to wait so here's what it looks like with the "muslin of the muslin" bodice pieces:
I have pinched out some excess in the back, but that may just be how it's fitting Elsa. My poor little dress form is not going to cut it for this project, at least not completely. This is DD's cover but there is NO WAY to raise the chest, at least not without out radically chopping away at her shoulders. I am not inclined to do that, so you will just have to believe me when I say this fits.

I'll work on the real bodice muslin next. I'll be stitching in underwires and using some plastic boning to get an idea of where it will need to go, as well as trying to determine where to draw in the lines for the bridal satin layer of the bodice and cut the pieces for the lace overlay bodice.

The plan was to mail this to her and have her approve, but I'm now thinking it would be best to wait until she's home at Thanksgiving to do this fitting. I think there might be tweaks required that she wouldn't recognize and I really only want to do this once.

As long as I have this part of the work completed and waiting for her, I don't think time is going to be an issue at all. Straightforward, easy construction techniques, only the hemming, beading and finishing the lace edges are going to require any real time.

Off to complete the rest of my tasks for the day, just very happy it's gone so well so far!


Friday, September 9, 2011

What I love today....

  1. My Delightful Daughter! She is 22 years old today and more, more, more than I could have ever hoped for in my girl child. I love you, Sarah!
  2. Connie Crawford's Pattern Making Made Easy. My drafting skills are about 30 years old when it comes to adult lines. I spent the day working on the muslin for above DD's gown and I decided to toss the bodice with the dart and turn it into a princess line. Worked like a charm. I've got A LOT of books, this is the one I go to for easy straightforward instructions.
  3. Richard The Thread. I ordered full size sheets of tracing paper Monday, on the porch today.
  4. Spiral Steel Boning. There will be enough metal in this dress to set off alarms all over the country. But her bust is going to OBEY in the wedding dress. It will have no choice :)
That's all for today! Bodice will be boned and ready to go in the mail Monday. If I get the thumbs up, the fashion fabric is UP!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Wedding Dress pt 2 - The plan

DD is wheeling her way back to school, but we got a great fitting in before she left.

Here is the inspiration dress:

Here is the base pattern we are using to recreate this look:

 And here are the fabrics:

The lace is shown over red for clarity. It's an ivory color and the bridal satin is champagne. Her colors are red, black and gold. I know that sounds odd, but she has this "look" in mind and assures me it won't look like a high school graduation.

The lace is rayon from Nancy's Sewing Basket in Seattle. When we went looking for lace, I tried to steer her towards Chantilly lace. Nancy's has some breathtaking laces. They are expensive, but I was prepared to plunk down a sizable sum. The only one she liked didn't have enough yardage and it wasn't reorderable. So we crossed the aisle to the special occassions fabrics to pick up the bolt of champagne bridal satin and she spotted this lace on a bolt. She nearly squealed, she was so excited. Myself? I was stunned. This was $18 a yard. I had been prepared to pay between $90 -  $150 a yard.

This should be pretty easy to work with except for one thing. The edge. This is NOT chantilly lace. I can't just trim the edge off and then use it to trim raw edges. I am going to have to use the flexible fray check along the entire selvage before I trim it off. I experimented with about  4 inches and this will work without being stiff. That is a load off of my mind.

There will be a few alterations required to make NL6401 look like the inspiration dress.

There will be a fitted bodice with spaghetti straps under the lace. I will have to add godets to the skirt to give it the "trumpet" effect. I've got a running list of the required alterations and tested them out by using what I thought was a pretty clever method.

First, I copied the line drawing of the pattern pieces from the instruction sheet. I blew them up about 600%. Then I applied what I thought needed to be done to these pieces, cut them out and stitched out a mock up. With a couple of changes, I got the thumbs up from the Pixie. She wanted less train and much to my surprise, wanted the cap sleeve eliminated.

Today, we fit the "underbodice". The only alteration required is a minor one: the front needs 5/8" more length. She is rather large busted, so I am taking special care to make sure this can be worn braless. I'll be inserting an underwire as well as boning in the side seams and the "v" in the front. I haven't used spiral steel boning in AGES, so I am happy for a chance to use these techniques again.

That's if for today! I'm off to mark the darts and add the length to the muslin and start the modified muslin construction, complete with boning and underwire. She'll be back at Thanksgiving for her next fitting and I'd like to have this and the skirt with godets ready for a fit check before cutting into the fashion fabric. The goal is to be ready for beading by Christmas break. If I finish early, I plan on making her going away dress. She'd like the same lace over red in a simple sheath. After the gown, that will be a SNAP!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Wedding Dress pt 1

This is going to be a multipart post with the finale on May 26, 2012. Hopefully,  I will not be putting the final stitch to the gown as the child glides down the aisle.

Here's the lowdown. My DD is adorable. She is not beautiful in the classical sense although she has the most beautiful dark hair, stunning eyes and full lips. She is a freckled Pixie and she will still look like a Pixie when she is 80. She mostly appreciates this, but Pixie is NOT what she is going for as she walks down the aisle next Spring.

She poured through Bridal magazines and websites, picking out the styles of dresses she wanted to look at. All were strapless. Most had volumes of skirt. When she was home last spring, we took a trip to David's Bridal so she could narrow her style choices down. She tried on dress after dress after dress. no. No. NO.

I could tell she was getting irritated and slightly depressed. She was not the girl in the magazine and the styles she had her heart set on were not going to work. I have to give credit to the saleswoman, though. She kept them coming. And then finally, out she stepped in the one style that had not found it's way into the pages of her bridal portfolio. And it is The One. And my Pixie looked totally glam.

Besides the hair..

And the "inappropriate pose" (her future MIL took this one while DD was explaining that she loved the beading).
This is the happy face we were waiting for!

THIS, friends and neighbors, is the dress. This dress retails for only $799. The materials would probably run around $200. The construction didn't thrill me. Still it's only going to be worn once, right?

I have always wanted to make her wedding gown, but only if she wanted me to. She does. And I'm going to.

She's home for the weekend and the muslining starts today. I am Terrifically Excited!

Next post:

Thanks for following the adventure with me!


Saturday, August 13, 2011


I think I will crown myself "worst blogger on Earth" and move on!

Life get's complicated, doesn't it? There isn't one among us who is still on the path they thought they would be walking 5 years ago. I know mine is dramatically altered. That does not have to mean bad, though. It just means different.

Work is sucking the life right out of me with the long days and commute. This past week's wild swings in market has left me feeling 'meh'.  The retired DH is grousing about funds, thinking he made a mistake leaving the work force early as he did. I say it's done and deal with it.

So it is time to drag out my inner PollyAnna. Happiest when I'm directed, focused, healthy and creative, it's time to put my Excellent Project Management Skills to work. At home.

1) Hitting the Farmer's Market tomorrow. Dragging DH with me. There are wonderful things to see and do that don't cost a cent and this is one of them. We will stop by the arboretum and the site of DD's upcoming wedding on the way home with any luck.

2) Joining the Company run Activity Center.Yes, that means longer days, but I will come home feeling less of a hag, a bonus for all who live with me. That would be DH.

3) Weave the towels OFF the loom! This pattern has been on the loom since DECEMBER! I only have 1 1/2 towels left and it is time to rewarp and weave something NEW!

4) Stitch up the muslin for DD's wedding dress bodice. Test the seaming of the lace. Find the trim and beads.

These are my August home goals.

Then there is work. The promised "helper" is still up in the air. We have made an offer to someone with no experience in my field that I can train as a replacement for my "upcoming" retirement. I plan to either go in 3+ years as a retiree or to a new position within the company, so this needs to be done. This person rejected the offer because the salary is too low. They counter-offered. For a salary as high as mine. WHAT? I have been doing this job for 27 years, am the highest pay grade available in the skill, and one of the few left who has experienced new programs from start to finish. In fact, I was brought over to this current position to bail them out. And I got a significant raise because of my skill in mitigating the impact of the impending disaster. So while I really want and need the help, I don't think this person will be joining me and it's probably back to the hunt. Dang.

But Polly-Anna has a place at work, too. At my recent performance review, that was one of the things my manager stressed as my stong suit: the ability to see the good, put my hand out and help anyone who needed it, teaching rather than lecturing. He said a lot of very nice things, but this is the one I am most proud of.

Today we are celebrating my Father-In-Law's 81st Birthday so I will wrap up my little missive and head out the door. I expect to actually have something related to what this blog is SUPPOSED to be about next week. Because if those towels are not off the loom by the end of next Sunday, Polly-Anna is going to have a stern talk with me...


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Back on Earth...

...not that I ever left but I certainly feel like it!

No postings since February, but I have been up and around :) I did meet Karen Roth at SewExpo, but alas, the stars did not line up to meet anyone else.

Weather here has been DREARY. Still feeling very and surprisingly run down. Still working a lot of overtime. Started a quilt, put off finishing my jacket, bought more fabric. The usual...

But my big new is that DD and D soon to be SIL have set a date! March 26, 2012! They will be looking at 3 venues and we go from there.

I am frugal in most things so a wedding is a tough thing for me. I can't see handing thousands of dollars over to an industry that smacks of keeping-up-with-the-Jones'. DH and I used our savings to put a down payment on a house instead of having a "wedding". But she is my daughter. She and her guy have gone through hell to get here. I want this to be really nice without breaking the bank. To my relief, she agrees.

Venue: $600 - $1000; there are several county facilities that are rented out for weddings at very reasonable prices.
Dress: I'm making it :) More on this as decisions are made. I am sure it will be my focus for the next year!
Tuxes: None, guys all wearing their dark slacks, white shirts and matching ties
Bridesmaids: No Maid of Honor, 3 bridesmaids instead. Her best friend in life from her days here at school, her best friend from WSU and her fiance's sister, her best friend in Family :). They will all be given a color, they can pick any style they want to wear, they just have to be "street lenght".
Flowers: Wildflower palette and we will get them through a local farm that sells at the farmers market. Bouquets in mason jars tied with ribbons will be the centerpieces for the reception tables.
Food: Trays from Costco, dressed up on nice platters
Drinks: Husband-brewed beer, decent wines and champagne, coffee, tea and lemonade
Cake: Best friend from WSU worked in a bakery in high school and has made cakes as a sideline for years
Photography: Good friend at WSU has taken classes as part of his major and will be doing the honors
Music: She plans on contacting her flute instructor to see if she has a student base that would like to perform for pay pre and post ceremony, then onto recorded music through the venue sound system.

I'd like to hire high school kids to set up, bus tables, and help with the clean up. Her best friend's brother will be about the right age to round up 3 of his buddies to do this.

So we think we can get out of this for under 5K, with the venue being the biggest expense.

She has never been a "fancy" girl, she's sometimes too practical, like her muther, but I think we have struck on a reasonable balance.

Here's the happy couple last week at a Residence Life banquet at school. I think they are adorable.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Summer in Winter

Last night, I cut out Vogue 8263.
I was drawn to the in-seam buttonhole and the structured/unstructured feel. I used Brussels Washer from Dana Marie in charcoal.

I'd heard this didn't hold it shape well and needed to be washed several times before use, but having seen it in several of Dana Marie's sample garments, I looked past these warnings and decided this would be a muslin. Wearable if I was lucky. I washed this fabric 5 times, followed by drying with tennis balls. It came out incredibly soft.

I cut a size 12 with a 4" full bust and hips alteration. This was not an easy thing for me to wrap my head around since there are front and back yokes. I use the pivot and slide method, so I taped the yoke to the body at the armhole to facilitate the alteration. After a couple of false starts, I was good to go.

The pattern is very straight forward. I could sew children's clothing in my sleep and rarely looked at a pattern sheet, but for some reason, I feel the need to follow every written instruction to the letter. So I do read the pattern sheets. I followed the suggested order of construction with one exception. Rather than turn the back hem up prior to stitching in the front facings, I did it after. I also chose not to understitch the facings. I don't think there is any way this fabric is going to hold it's shape after washing, so I edgestitched instead to hold the edges.

So where's my pictures? Sorry! The jacket body is complete, all that is left to do is hand stitch the lining to the side seams and stitch and insert the sleeves. But I ran out of thread and didn't have anything close enough to finish up. I have not gone into my quirks, but that is one of them. Unless contrast is required, the thread must match. Exactly. Or I just can't do it. This becomes a real issue when I use my serger. It has been really hard for me to overcome this "tick". Today, however, there was no overcoming the color issue, I couldn't go any farther. It will wait until I can hit the store.

Besides, I have no desire to leave the house on this nasty rainy day.

I've talked before about my weight gain and while I don't want this to be the center and forever of my life, it is a reality. Now that I am back to full time sewing for the love of it, it's a gentle balance between sewing things that fit now as well as things that I will still be able to wear once this "bundle of joy" is gone. This jacket may fit in that "between" area. We'll see. I'm not entirely in love with it yet, not entirely in love with the fabric, but I withhold final judgement until the sleeves are in and I can try it on with something lighter weight underneath.

I picked V1099 Badgley Mischka up at JoAnn's $3.99 sale. It's classified as a jacket on the pattern, I'd like to try a linen. I have some old old rusty red colored in the closet as well as a beautiful ruby red. One of those might work. This will definately start out with a muslin, though, as I've waited a long time to use that linen and do not want to waste it :). Instead of gathering the undersleeve (I guess that's what you'd call it?), I think I will pleat and smock. There's also a gathered organza under collar, almost like a ruffle. My first impressing was "That does not work for me", but it's growing on me!
It is hard to articulate how happy I am to be sewing 2 weeks in a row with plans for a third. I feel lifted and restored. At peace.

It goes farther than that, though. Husband has been busy in the garage, getting ready for his new workbench. Yesterday, I cleaned the kids' bathroom. Daughter only lives here in short bursts home from school, Son has moved into a house with two buddies and is in process of moving his things a bit at a time. That bathroom? I am not proud that that room was ever in my house, but I gave up cleaning it when they were in their late teens. Four times a year I'd go in and disinfect the entire pit as a defense for the rest of the house, but that was it. Today, it is clean as a whistle. I like to walk in it and take a deep breath, stand with my arms crossed, leaning on the wall, enjoying the clean.

This is empty nest syndrome. Time to sew, time to spend with Husband, time to clean the bathroom once, right and know it will stay that way. This isn't the trauma I expected. It feels like the natural order of things. I like it.

Time to go and toss an easy dinner on plates, cuddle on the couch, watch a movie and hit the sack. While I am in bed, falling asleep, I will contemplate the hard work that has brought us this far and joy this life is filled with.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Butterick 3625 Circa 2002 Floats to the top :)

When Stitcher's Guild started the Jacket a Month thread, I thought it would be fun reading. I had no idea it would lead to this! Me stitching two jackets in less than a month? Who is this person?! I do not have any visions of actually making one a month, but two by 2/1 is definately a sign that I may be emerging from this funk.
Here's what I did.

Butterick 3625 has been in my drawer of patterns since 2002. I am sure I thought it would be an easy addition to my work wardrobe and, like with so many of it's friends, never made it out of the envelope. I was actually getting ready to toss it when I had an *idea*.
Fabric: Black Wool coating left over from the SW San Diego Jacket that I made last year and gifted to Maryann when I lost my weight last year.
Pattern: Butterick See & Sew 3625, cut size 14 with no alterations. There are only 4 pieces: Sleeve, Fronts, Back and Hood.

Special touches: The hook and eye tape closure inspired by Robin at a Little Sewing On the Side, purchased at Sew Expo in Puyallup WA in Feb 2010. 

The fall leave embroidery from Martha Pullen's Mini-Collection  stitched on a little patch on the back, visible only when the hood is up, inspired by my favorite winter Woolrich sweater. I love the idea of a hidden surprise.

Modifications: I did the front a little differently only because of the tape. And that was it. I am probably going to add pockets as the lack of them is driving me crazy. And the sleeves are a little wide at the cuff, so I am considering using some of the leftover hook and eye to remedy that. Other than that, this is a good basic throw on topper that I can see myself making again.
Best Tools for the Job: Again, and I can't say this often enough, get thee an adjustable zipper foot. I couldn't have applied the tape in one shot without this. I also LOVE my edgestitch foot and 1/4" foot with guide. I used a combination of the two for edge and topstitching. They made the job go quickly with a great result.

Off to see what I can whip up next!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Verona - (Hem + Buttons) = Done for Now

Sewing Workshop’s Verona Jacket:

Shell: Seaglass Green and Blue Silk Herringbone Suiting from FabricMart

Contrasting Collar and Pocket Bands: Latte Cotton Featherwale Corduroy from stash

Lining: Floral Poly “Silky” from JoAnn Fabrics

I am going to hold off on the buttons until I decide what I want to do for buttonholes. I'm leaving the hem open for the same reason, as I might need to get in between the shell and the lining, depending on what I end up doing. I feel like I want to do something “special”, but I don’t want to totally mess up what I’ve done so far.

This is also not something I can wear now with my recent weight gain. So it is part of the fall wardrobe I am sewing as I know I will be trimmed back to my preferred weight by then. As slowly as I sew, Fall is a good goal.

What I did:

Cut Size Medium of the long coat based on trying on samples at 2010 Puyallup Sew Expo prior to the weight gain. Subtracted 6 inches from the length.

I followed the pattern instructions exclusively until applying the facing to the lining. At the suggestion of Terry K, I visited and followed Martha’s process of clipping and joining the two pieces. I am not sure I would do this again with something as “free spirited” as the floral poly lining. While I could join and stitch the curves, there was enough distortion to the poly that I ended up with some bulges in the floral poly. I think with a more stable lining, it would be the way to go. If I were to do this over, I would starch the heck out of the poly first. And breathe slower.

I had a couple of firsts with this project. Sort of firsts, considering I’ve done them before, just not in the last 20+ years, so it may as well be the first time!

  • Sewing on a silky. I debated with entitling this post “I Hate Silkys” while initially working on the fabric. Laying it out wasn’t difficult as I was careful and the Swedish Tracing paper kind of “gripped” the fabric. The fraying, however, was terrible. It was not as bad as silk dupioni, but it was close. I found that the less I handled it, the better. I finished every seam by stitching parallel rows about 1/8” apart, then trimming and zig-zagging.
  • Using my Point Presser/Clapper. WOW! What a difference this made! I can’t believe how much better the collar came out with so much less fiddling!
  • I made my own shoulder pads using instructions from Gwen. Thanks to her for her generosity!
  • I hand basted everything but the long straight seams. It took time, but it saved time. I only had to unstitch one small area where I caught a layer that wasn’t part of the seam. No sleeves going in backwards, which is my trademark. 
Special thanks to the fly for holding the jacket open so I could get a good picture of the lining!

Off to plan jacket two.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shank that Button!

Not to be confused with "Stab that Button".

A recent thread on Stitcher's Guild reminded me of this techique.

Detachable Buttons

If you have a button that can’t be washed or dry cleaned, you can make it removable by using special safety pins. Dritz and Bohin both make styles that work for this purpose.

If the button already has a shank, it’s easy to just pin it to your garment. But what if it doesn’t? Creating a thread shank solves this problem.
To create a thread shank on a button, follow these simple steps.

Thread a needle with about 16” to 20 inches of thread, drawing the thread halfway through the needle so you have 2 equal length tails.

Leaving about a 2” to 3” tail, tie the thread around a toothpick or large needle. I’ve used a #18 chenille needle in the photos. If you use a toothpick, make sure it’s a smooth one that will be able to slide out of the thread loops. This will become clear in step 5.

Hold the pick or needle on the backside of the button, holding the tail out of the way and sew several times through the button holes, just as if you were attaching it to a garment. You will be looping the thread over the pick or needle on the backside.

When you have sewn an “attractive” number of stitches through the button holes, bring the thread through to the back. Slide the pick or need out from under the thread loops.

Take several stitches through the loops, creating a shank.

Make a square knot with the tail and needle thread. Clip. Dab a bit of sealant on the knot.

The picture is blurry, but I think you can see the shank.

Attach with a safety pin! I’m using the Bohin’s Quilters curved safety pins. Dritz makes a pin especially for this.

The front of the button gives the appearance of a traditionally sewn button but it’s quick and easy to remove for cleaning.

My jacket is coming along. Shell is complete, lining complete less sleeves and only about 2 hours of finishing work.

The bad news? The extra 15 lbs I've been ignoring? They are really there :(  So while it fit when I tried on a copy at Sew Expo last year, there is no way this will fit until I'm back to my fighting weight. I am finishing it any way. Maybe a pic or two tomorrow!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

In Praise of a Useful Husband

I told him I didn't have one of these and guess what came out of the shop 2 hours later:

The base is probably ash, he's not sure. Top is maple.He borrowed the neighbors (she has a homemade one) and studied pictures on the web.  He made the opening with 'ergonomic' flair. I can't wait to get to the collar on my jacket so I can use it!

It's a lovely piece of work and he's a lovely man. Lucky me :)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Verona Jacket Progress Report

 These are my fabric selections:

For the shell, a mossy/sage green silk herringbone suiting fabric from FabricMart.

For the lining, a floral poly 'charmuse' from JoAnns.

For contrast, latte colored featherwale cord from the stash.

A last minute addition of lightweight wool as an underlining that I'm attaching to the lining is not pictured.

Here's my progress so far:

Shell has been assembled less sleeves (which I'll work on as soon a I hit "publish post"). The undercollar and pockets are completed and attached to the outer shell.

This is delightful fabric to work with. It's crisp and soft at the same time.

This was the point, however, that I decided I wanted something heavier and pulled the wool underlining out of the closet. I finished cutting out those pieces tonight.

 Here's a detail I'd change...

The pocket band is longer on the back than the front. It really shows when you apply it. If you blow the picture up, you'll see what I mean.

I do like my top stitching though! I was taught to change colors when working with something like this so the band has brown top stitching, the pocket has the green. This is Gutterman silk thread and I LOVE it. The nice thing about the way I do it is that there are no back stitches and you don't even notice the transition.
Thought I'd insert a pic of where I'm doing all of this since I rearranged the room. You can just see the cover stitch machine in the lower right corner. The serger is to the left of that. It's all very convenient now.

Notice the little Singer sewing machine on the top of my desk shelves? That's what I learned to sew on. Not the same machine, as my mom thought it would be a good idea to give MINE away when I graduated to something bigger. I loved that little machine, so last year, I snagged one off of eBay. Husband worked it over and it sews like a top.

I had a fairly stressful day on Friday. Full moon? I don't know but I dealt with several meltdowns until I had to just leave and take a walk. Since the Son works second shift, I met him as he walked in. It was so nice to see him, it reminded me again how lucky I am to have the family I do. The Husband, Daughter, Son... they make this so much easier to bear. Had I not left for that walk, resetting my internal Stress-o-Meter, I'm pretty sure I would have jammed a pen in my neck if one more person had let go with me. It's good to have a nice place to come home to!

more tomorrow if things go well and I find time to assemble the lining.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Heirloom Sewing for Dolls

Back in 2007, DD and I took a class with Judith Adams called "Fit for a Princess". The dress was based on Love and Stitches #556 Smocked Frocks, made out of fine Italian organza and embroidered English netting and laces. DD and I had different lace kits, so we would leave the class with matching but different dresses. We pleated and smocked the skirt in class and did a minimum of work on the bodice, primarily cutting everything out, rolling and whipping the lace to the sleeves and making a piece of piping. Judith's goal was to have us try at least one of every technique we would need to do to finish the dresses at home. We left the class at the end of the day and the kits never came out of the zip lock bags again. Until this past week.
I didn't take any pictures of the "out of the bag" configuration, but here is what my bodice looked like after attaching the backs to the front at the shoulder, applying piping and inserting the sleeves. I also applied the bias neck facing, handworked the buttonholes and stitched the ribbon casings in the sleeve prior to taking this pic.

 The piping between the sleeves and bodice and at the waist later on were made by covering cording with a bias strip of organza topped by a bias strip of the netting. This was surprisingly easy to work with. Here is where 2 of my favorite notions made a difference: An adustable zipper foot and the Darr Piping Magic ruler shown below. If you click on the picture to enlarge, you can see the layer of organza, the cord and netting and a finshed piece of piping under the ruler. After stitching the piping, the handy DPM ruler made it a snap to trim the piping to 1/4". The ruler has grooves in the bottom that the piping fits into, allowing you to zip your rotary cutter along and trim off the excess. I love this thing!

 Here is a pic of the bodice turned inside out. The neckline was finished using a bias strip of the netting. The sleeve seams are encased in bias strips of the organza. Remember earlier that I said DD and I had different lace kits... This is her bodice. The picture taken on the carpet above is mine. These pictures were taken AFTER I mistakenly stitched one of her sleeves to my bodice. Of course, the mistake was not noticed until I had graded the seams and the organza strip applied. Correcting that mistake took some time and patience!

This is as far as I got on DD's dress. The bodice is completely assembled and back into the bag it will go with the skirt and waist piping. As delightful as this dress is in it's completed state, I am not in the mood to finish this one as well!

Another better than useful tool... Glue Baste It. I used this to place the piping on the skirt until it was stitched in place. This allowed for perfect placement with little fuss.

One of the great things about working with netting was the ease of working a handsewn buttonhole. The holes in the netting provide perfect structure and guidelines. These were a treat to work, all four came out perfectly even and the same size! The ribbon is encased between the layer of netting on the top and organza on the bottom.

And here is the completed dress. I am happy to have actually finished something. It only took me 3 1/2 years!!!


Sunday, January 2, 2011


... The future Mr. and Mrs. my daughter! Yep, the young man proposed at the stroke of midnight on New Years morning, so they are officially engaged. No date yet as they are both still working on their degrees (and he's a little behind her now thanks to the Big C). Husband and I are happy to welcome this great guy into the family :0