Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Golden Afternoon

The truth is that I actually dress up pretty much every day in real life, not just for the blog.  :)  Here are some shots of me on a picnic near Abiquiu NM a few weeks ago, in an old favorite GAP dress that my sister gave me about 6 or even 7 years ago for Christmas.  It is made of cotton jersey, but it has a 1940's feel created by the subtle ruffles that start on the front of the bodice and end up acting as sleeves. It is black with tiny white polka dots covering it.  So cute!  Most importantly, this dress is still as beautiful as the day I got it!  Not a lot of items of clothing can stand the test of time the way GAP clothing do. Also, hand washing and keeping clothes out of the dryer improves their life span immeasurably and this dress is proof of that!  

I am also wearing black leggings and my favorite scarf, a gold one from my sis (again) from a few years ago.  Both from Target, another store that makes really quality, long lasting clothes.  I was just there recently and I wanted so many things!!! 

If I look like I was having fun it is because I was!  Welcome fall fun, and welcome fall fashion!  

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Perfect Party Dress

Here it is!  The loveliest dress I have made so far!  Yes, I still made mistakes, but all-in-all, I think it is wonderful.

I actually made this dress at the same time as my other Party Dress (last post).  I made all of the bodice pieces, including the linings, and then I made the skirts and the rest of the two dresses.  Needless to say, it is a good thing that I don't have an active social life because I got to spend one whole day making both of these!  :)  The only thing I didn't finish in that day was sewing on one of the zippers, but at that point my fingers were practically bleeding from so much sewing- so I let myself add that one in the morning. 

I have always wanted a dress that looked pretty much just like this: with little bows on the shoulders, a cute sweetheart neckline, in an unusual but pretty pattern, and best of all-lined!  If only it had pockets it would be perfect, but I can for sure attempt that next time.

I am also excited that although it is fitted, it still fits perfectly (as does the last one from this pattern)!  I am so proud of myself right now for not only trying something new, but succeeding at it!  

Wouldn't you think this dress came from Modcloth if you didn't know it was hand made?   I would have! 

Dress front- clothes drying on the rack in the background.  Always hand wash hand-made clothes! 

Red metal zipper; yellowish green lining. 

Sleeve detail-dress ties at shoulders. 

AHHHHHH!!!  I wish I could stop doing anything but sewing and sew a million dresses right now, but alas, I am not aloud to do that.  I love this pattern and will for sure be using it again soon. 

Candy Land Party Dress

Here is a dress I made using the bodice pieces from The Party Dress Book (see last post), with the rest being of my own design.  The next photo is from before I installed the blue zipper, but I pined it to my dress form to show how the colors look together.  The dress is held up by the halter, which is adjustable and totally removable just in case I wanted to wear this dress as a strapless and use the halter as a belt that could tie as a bow in the back (PS-This will never happen-but it could!).  Doesn't it look like it belongs on a doll or in a fairy world?

I used cotton for the whole dress.  The yellowish green fabric is left over from my other "Party Dress" (next post), and the green striped fabric is from my scrap collection from high school that I probably got from a garage sale at some point but never used.   I loved it so much, but I didn't have a lot of it.  Lucky me-I found the perfect way to feature it with this dress!

As you can see in the next picture, this dress is fully lined in the yellowish green fabric.

I also wanted to show that I could totally wear this dress without a bra (pictured below) because the bodice is so structured.  That might be a nice feature in the summer when wearing a bra feels like just a little bit too much effort.  It would also be nice because I HATE STRAPLESS BRAS!  We will see if I am actually bold enough to go bra-less in public though.  :P

I am very proud of how this dress came out, especially because so much of it was my own design. It is a pretty unusual dress, but I just love it.  I can't wait to have a chance to wear it out somewhere!  :)


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book review: The Party Dress Book

Get ready for the two most beautiful and store bought looking dresses I have made so far- thanks to:
The Party Dress Book: How to Sew the Best Dress in the Room by Mary Adams
(click on the title above to find it on Amazon)

I bought this book months ago when I first started sewing and read it cover to cover.  It teaches you how to make a plethora of amazing dresses using just one simple dress pattern that is included with the book.  It is also an interesting read about how one designer created her brand.

For some reason, I was still too intimidated to actually try making a dress from the pattern, and I also don't feel like I had the right fabric to make it come to life.

I shouldn't have been afraid because this is one of the easiest patterns to use, and it also works with many different types of fabric because you use interfacing (a thickening fabric) between the top and lining layers of fabric to help hold the shape of the bodice.

I would absolutely  recommend this book to beginners, as well as more seasoned sewests, especially because the pattern that is included lends itself to so much embellishment and interpretation.

I will include photos of the first dress in my next blog post.  Stand by to be amazed (yes I am my usual humble self today).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My First Chantilly!

Okay, my newest dress is totally awesome!   So modest, right?  ;P    
"I am a girl who likes a challenge and I love excitement!" Is something some other girl might say.  I however, hate roller coasters favoring spinning rides that don't make me feel like I am plummeting to my death.  I  read the end of books before I am finished with them so that I can be sure that I will like where things are going before I commit.  Not a big adrenalin junkie over here.  I like to feel comfortable and safe.

So to the surprise of no one, I'm not too interested in challenging myself when it comes to sewing either.  I like to attempt projects that I can finish in a day and that I feel pretty confident are going to come out looking pretty close to how I see them in my head. I am not a perfectionist by any means, but I get easily frustrated if a sewing project gets too hard.  That is basically why I stoped sewing for so many years!  I couldn't stand to not be instantly awesome at it. 

However, I recognize that this dislike I have for pushing myself isn't my most endearing quality, nor does it promote personal growth which I do value quite highly.

SO- I drove on the freeway for the first time in years last week and lived (yay!) AND I decided to try my first intermediate sewing pattern.

It took more than a few days to get this puppy looking like more than scraps of fabric being sewn together randomly, but I am so proud of myself for sticking with it, even after I made some pretty hefty mistakes that seemed impossible to fix. 

Introducing my first Chantilly!  keep in mind, these are not Glamour Shots of me- no makeup and no shower for me yesterday (when I got my husband to take them), but I was too excited to wait to show this dress off!

"Hidden" side zipper.

Despite the fact that I made a ton of mistakes throughout the process, I think that it turned out great!  I won't go into all of the mistake I made because that would take too long, but every mistake became a challenge I put in front of myself and I concurred them all!  I had to be pretty creative a few times, but it taught me a lot about how to adjust without giving up.  Yay-growth! I am especially pleased with the fit of this dress, since that is one thing that can go horribly wrong in even a project that you have completed many times before. 

I used some old green fabric with tiny white flowers that I had saved from high school for the shell, and used some grey fabric with tiny white flowers that my friend Rachel Browne gave me from her stash last time I visited her.

The inside of the dress.
The dress is fully lined, has a side zipper, and one pocket (kind of messed up and made it too hard to put in the other).  I didn't have quite enough of the gray and white material to fully line it in grey, but I had just enough of the green and white to finish off the inside with that.  I used every scrap of both to make this dress. 

Since this dress is fully lined, I think that the next time I attempt it I am going to make it reversible.  Wouldn't that be cool?  The way the pattern is constructed, it is possible to make the inside of this dress as lovely as the outside.  I already can't wait to make it again, even though I am already a little bit grumpy about the amount of time it will take me.  What can I say?  Laziness runs deep!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wrap Dress Success!

Here is the finished Goat Dress. It turned out great, right? This is my husbands new favorite dress I have made so far, and I have to say, I am very proud of it myself!

I think the thick fabric gives it a really interesting structured shape, which is a little unusual for a wrap dress. I feel that this dress is very representative of my style as a whole because it is whimsical and fun, but still modern enough to wear out without looking like I am in costume.  I can't wait to make another one in a softer fabric with a bit more drape next time.  It is really fun to use the same pattern to make two completely different dresses. :)

Back of dress.
Front of dress.  This is such a weird stance I am doing-it looks like my legs are backwards! I had to add this photo to the post! ;P  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Part Two: The Party Dress

The second dress I wanted to post about today is my little party dress I am attempting.  I also got this fabric in Portland, and finally figured out how I wanted to use it.

Cutting into beautiful fabric can be super nerve racking because if you make a mistake, it isn't always possible to salvage the garment.  However, sometimes you have to just go for it!  I went for it on this one, and even though it isn't going to be the dress I saw in my head, it is looking pretty awesome and I have learned a lot in the process (which I probably wwouldn't have, had it turned out perfectly). 
I was trying to make a simple shift dress, but the back somehow came out all wrong.  I'm not sure what happened exactly, but I think that I had cut the back of the shoulder pieces too short.  Sooooo, I decided to make a cut, and then another, and this is what came out of it- a partially backless, half-finished, party dress! I still have to add snaps and bias tape, but so far I think it is looking really cool!

I do wish that I had more of this material so I could try again at making it into a simple slinky shift, but I am happy (so far) with how my backless dress is turning out.  And hey, it just reminds me that if you never make any mistakes, you never learn anything new!

The gaping at the top of where my butt will be is solved by the fact that I have a much bigger butt than my mannequin.  So, no, I don't think that the top of my butt will show when the dress is done.  Hopefully.  Tee hee!
Front of dress. 

Back of dress. 

Part One: The Goat Dress

I used to think it was best to start a sewing project and see it through to the end.  Then I realized that forcing myself to finish a project that was frustrating me lead to mistakes, rushed finished products and sewing becoming a chore.  I sew for fun, it is not a job, so when a project starts being less than fun, I put it away and start a new one until the mood strikes me to start up on it again.  Having fresh eyes can help a lot!

This has lead to me having a lot of half started projects, but that is okay.  I put all of the pieces of the unfinished items in freezer bags so that I don't lose anything, and put them out of site until I am ready to try again.  This is my process, and I'm not saying it is the best way to do it, it is just my way of doing it.  There is no right or wrong way to execute a hobby, which is part of the fun!

Right now, I am in the middle of several projects, but the most promising ones that I have started (for myself-I have a few started for other people too) are my first pair of pants (gasp!), my first non-beginner, "intermediate" level dress (double gasp!), a wrap dress (the Goat Dress), and a crazy party dress that I am designing myself (mostly).  I am excited about all of them, but I wanted to blog about the last two today.

First, here is my third attempt at Colette Patterns Crepe dress. It is still a work in progress- but it is really coming along nicely.  :)

Front of dress- the funny red and gold peaking out of the top is my new Party Dress underneath the Goat Dress on the dress form.  

Back of dress.  
My first attempt at the Crepe was a purple muslin I made out of broadcloth (gave it to my little sister this summer).  I blogged about it here:

It came out great, but I wasn't super inspired to try another one until I tried making one for my friend Willow this summer.  I tried using stretch material for the first time, and made it way too big for her. She lives in NY, so fitting was a little difficult, but really the problem was my inexperience using stretch fabrics.  I was pretty disappointed and it made me want to give up on the pattern for the time being. I blogged about that dress here:

Since then, I haven't been super inspired to try using this pattern again...until now.

I got this fabric at an amazing fabric sale the last time I was in my home town of Portland Oregon, and it has been waiting for a project to come along that was worthy of it ever since.  When I got the idea to use it for this wrap dress, I was skeptical  but decided to go for it.  The results (so far) are awesome!  This cotton fabric is very stiff and heavy which creates a completely different look than any of my other attempts.  I also shortened the dress quite a bit, which I feel makes it more wearable for my not so super tall frame.  It isn't quite done yet, but so far, I am very proud of how it is turning out.  It is actually inspiring me to try this pattern again, when I thought that it might be retired after my last failure in fitting.

P.S.- I named it the Goat Dress because the pattern has all of these little lambs and goats on it.  So cute!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Jasmine number three!

After not really feeling creative for a while, I am back in the grove and sewing up a storm!  I have been making a couple of dresses for other people lately ( a Hazel for my sis-finished!; a Peony for my step-mom- nearly done; and a wiggle dress for my sister in law- basically just conceptualized), but I am trying to make time for my own projects too.  Right now, I am in the middle of several in fact, but today I want to show you my newest Jasmine, because that is the one that is finished!  Here it is!

Even though this is my third Jasmine, I learned a lot from this project.  For one thing, I figured out why the interfacing at the neck is always funky on these tops- I have been putting them in upside down!  I did it again on this one before figuring it out, but I for sure wont next time!

I have no plans to use this pattern again for a while, unless I happen upon the perfect fabric.  I'd love to finally try the Jasmine in a nice light fabric for once.

All in all, I am pretty happy with how it turned out, although I did make it a little too big (as I have done on all three).

I am excited to share my next few projects soon.  I am trying some new stuff, so wish me luck!