Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Completed: Flower Girl Dress

Amanda had a lovely vision for Eliza's dress. She pinned a photo way back when (I'll show you in a minute), but it was from a photographer's site and not a sewing/fashion source. So I started with a pattern and did my best to replicate the dress.

We were unanimous in really liking the result. (What will follow is an exorbitant number of photos, for which I cannot apologize. The combination of the warm, fuzzy memories of the wedding day and the adoration I have for my sister, combined with the realization that Eliza will go from age three to 23 in the blink of an eye, has me feeling like there will never ever EVER be enough photos/memories of her at this age.)

I started with McCall's 6304 -- a wonderful romper pattern. A muslin revealed that the smallest size of the pattern was too big, so I made some serious adjustments to the width of the bodice and re-drafted the armholes. In addition I drafted a peter pan collar.

Here's the original photo Amanda pinned. I tried really, really hard to find the original source for this photo but had no luck. The watermark will have to do.

I forgot to add sleeves, and in hindsight I would have used the Norah Dress collar to aid in the beading.

The photos that follow are from the wedding day. My mom did her hair.

To bead the collar, I searched for tutorials and landed on this one. Through trial and error, I realized that the best way to bead the collar would be one pearl at a time. The first attempt resulted in pearls that were too crowded and bunched up. I ripped the whole thing and started over, giving more space between beads with more success. There are still gaps in places, and I can see how I'd do things differently next time, but for my first attempt I'll call it good and done.

We were kind of ambivalent about a belt. Originally we thought a gold sparkly one would work, but it turns out it's hard to match gold to gold. Last week I went to our local fabric store - Let's Sew - and Louis helped me find the PERFECT trim. Originally it just had the light-colored pearls, so I added in the gold pearls I was using in the collar to tie things together. The shiny gold in the belt trim perfectly matches the gold in the fabric. 

The dress is fully lined with cream-colored bemberg rayon on the bodice and a sweet linen with embroidered pink flowers for the skirt (it doesn't match, but it was in my stash and needed to be used).

The fabric! The fabric is from Mood. It's PERFECT (and sold out unfortunately). It's a rayon brocade -- you can really see the detail in the photos above.

Mom found this little shrug at H&M while we were in Nashville for our girls' night. It was great for keeping her (relatively) warm the day of the wedding.

This one also held up really well, and she'll be able to wear it for a while. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Completed: Bridesmaid Dress

My sister's a married woman! She and her lovely husband are honeymooning in the Caribbean as I type this post. The wedding was spectacular, and we all had a wonderful time.

My sister and parents did 90% of the decorating and 100% of the planning for the wedding. Unfortunately distance made it difficult for me to be involved as much as I'd have liked, BUT my sister asked me to sew some important pieces: my own dress, Eliza's flower girl dress, the garters (one she kept and one she tossed), and a veil for her reception exit. 

This week I'll be sharing details of my dress and Eliza's dress. I'll also share a brief post about the other two pieces.

First up -- my bridesmaid dress.

Amanda asked all six bridesmaids to wear black dresses with gold sparkly shoes. She wanted knee-length dresses, but other than that left us to our own devices. Originally I wanted a dress with a sweetheart neckline and sheer yoke, but I couldn't figure out how to drape the yoke properly. I found this LeAnne Marshall pattern, and in the end decided to stick with it as it was designed.

However, my fabric was much thicker than I'd anticipated, and when it came time to attach the silk yoke, the weight difference was a disaster. I tried to sew the yoke on five times (at least), and finally had a late-night meltdown and considered scrapping the whole thing and buying a dress. (This was less than two weeks before the wedding, of course.)

After much thought and prayer and gnashing of teeth, I finally had the idea to add sleeves in a style similar to the Sewaholic Cambie. It worked like a charm.

The fabric is a thick cotton, very twill-like with lines for texture. It has just enough stretch to make it comfortable. I bent over, squatted, and literally ran around all day Friday and was comfortable the whole time. (My feet -- now that's another story.) All of these photos were taken today after wearing the dress through the whole wedding prep, wedding, and reception. And wadding it up in my suitcase to bring it home.


Pattern:  Simplicity 1353 LeAnne Marshall Collection (View B)
Fabric: cotton from Mood. It has a medium drape and ridges for texture. I really, really like this fabric, but it's not the kind of fabric for which this dress was designed. I got lucky with the result (other than the yoke fiasco).
Adjustments: Lengthened bodice. Added straps.
Thoughts: I highly recommend this pattern. The instructions are well written, and it's a well designed pattern. The waist hits high, so I can see how the pleats might give too much volume in the hip area, but it gives me the illusion of curves, which is nice.

I had to re-work the pleats to line up with the bodice seams.

There are a lot of pieces to this dress: the bodice is in seven pieces and is lined. There's an underskirt and overskirt, too. My Elsa dresses prepared me as they're identical in the bodice construction.

Also -- pockets!!! Having pockets on the wedding day was awesome.

All in all, I was very pleased with the look and performance of this dress.

Up next is Eliza's! It beats mine to pieces.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sew Fab Sale: Margot Dress

I'm back to share another piece from the Sew Fab Pattern Sale: The Margot Dress by Violette Field Threads.

My first idea for this dress was inspired by a little girl's version I saw on their site. It was cream with a lace ruffle. Unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric to recreate that gorgeous version, but after some debating, I decided to go a totally different route.

Ashely and Emily sent me this fabric (from Girl Charlee) last summer, and when I saw it for the first time I gasped aloud with glee. It was destined to be a dress.

The Margot Dress is basic, but there are a couple of things that make it appeal to me: the neckline, the curved hem, the slim cut, and the simplicity of the design.

Thanks to my sister and her BFF, I learned how to style it for winter with tights, a cardigan, and skinny belt. But it'll work for spring and summer, too. I lined it with a comfy salmon knit from my stash.

I made three adjustments to the XS: broadened the shoulders 1/2" (using this tutorial from Colette Patterns), shortened the sleeves, and lengthened the waist 1" at the cut line.

The pattern includes 3/4 length and long sleeves, but I wanted short sleeves to be able to wear it every season.

The directions were good, but honestly, this was such an easy sew I didn't labor over them. There aren't any neck or sleeve bindings; the dress is fully lined, so if you omit the ruffle, there are only six pieces. It does take quite a bit of fabric, but it's straightforward.

The only challenge I had in sewing this up was the lining. In my experience, fully lining a garment and hemming the lining and main fabric together can get tricky if the fabric is not smoothed out properly. Because knit tends to stick together, it took some effort to make sure everything was nice and smooth before I hemmed the bottom. I did alright, but here are a couple of things to consider:
  • If your fabric weights are different for your lining and main fabric, will one knit stretch more than the other and hang differently? If so, it may affect the hemline.
  • Carefully smooth out the lining and main garment before pinning and hemming. It helped me to smooth everything while the dress was laying on the floor, pin it all around, serge the hem together, and then hem it.
(If any of you have suggestions for hemming fully lined garments, especially knit ones, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!)

The Sew Fab Pattern Sale is on through December 15th -- $29.95 for 10 brand new patterns! Here's the link with all the information and the giveaway! (I received complimentary patterns for my participation in the tour, but I keep it real about how they turn out.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sew Fab Pattern Sale: Extraordinary Girl Top

I've been sewing like gangbusters, so there should be a whole lot to share this month. (Um, could someone please tell me WHERE NOVEMBER WENT?!?!) Before I show you wedding-related goodies, there are a few other projects to share.

It's time for the winter Sew Fab Pattern Sale! A couple of times a year we get a chance to buy a big bundle of patterns at a price much cheaper than they'd be separately. This time the bundle includes 10 brand-new women's patterns!

When Jenny invited me to sew up a couple of things from the set, I landed on the Extraordinary Girl by Filles a` Maman.

The patterns in the bundle aren't available for sale separately, so if you'd like a description of the pattern and sizes and such, there's a nifty link here that breaks them down in detail.

The Extraordinary Girl is a boatneck knit tee with an envelope shoulder, 3/4 length or long sleeves, an optional pocket, and hi-low hem. 

It's been a long time since I've finished a project that I didn't want to take off. This one? I wore it two days in a row. It has just the right amount of ease to be comfortable and has unique details that make it interesting. 

It was my first Filles a` Maman pattern, and I was very impressed with everything about it. The instructions were incredibly thorough and the drafting was excellent. This one was a pleasure to sew up. 

The only adjustments I made were to the shoulder and length. The back neck gaped a bit, which happens to me occasionally. The envelope design made it a pretty easy fix -- I just had to overlap things a bit more to eliminate the excess fabric at the back neck. In the photos I can see a little pulling going on around my shoulders. I may need to add a little to the yoke width at the sleeve cap to accommodate my wider-than-average shoulders. Hmmm. I added an inch to the length of the shirt, per my usual adjustment.

It was so windy and cold.

The fabric for the back and yoke is a sheer patterned white knit given to me by the awesome Frances Suzanne sisters. *grin and wave* With a little camisole underneath, it's perfect for this top.

The teal knit is from JoAnn and is flimsy and thin. Lee says it looks like Neptune.

The Sew Fab Pattern Sale is live until December 15th! The price tag is $29.95 and includes all 10 patterns. There's a big giveaway, too.

Wednesday I'll be sharing another make from the bundle. It's super quirky. You'll either love it or hate it. (We can still be friends if it's the latter. Promise.)

See you Wednesday! 
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