Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jedi in Action!

Lookin' good, Matt!  Looks like you guys had a blast!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More photos from the wedding!

Me and Jen's daughter, Aurora.  She's my buddy.  :)
Zippin' up the bride.
Posing with Mom.
Me, Jen's Mom, Jen, Aurora, and Jen's sister and maid of honour, Larissa.
Thanks for the pictures, Terrylynne!

Matthew's Jedi Costume - Simplicity 5840

Matthew heard about me from a mutual friend, and commissioned me to make him a Jedi costume for a Comic Convention.  My first reaction was absolute excitement.  I love making costumes!
I think this is Ewan Macgregor.  Don't quote me on that.  :)
He had already done a lot of research, so I did my best to catch up, and we decided that this pattern would be perfect.
 I went to Fabricland and got some linen, and got to work.  This pattern is so easy, I don't know what to say about it.  My favorite part was the neck band.  It's just a straight band, and you sew it to the front edge and around the back of the neck, and voila!  It stands up and looks really spiffy.

Here is Matthew at his first fitting.  The white dickey is done, and the tunic is mostly done.  I just had to serge the sleeve/side seams, put in side slits, and hem it.  I made him a straight XL and it fit perfectly.  I added 1" to the sleeve length.
 Here is the fun part.  Now, let me educate you on the proper Jedi names for this thing.  The pattern calls this 'shoulder armour' and a 'belt'.  In Jedi terms, the shoulder armour is the 'tabbard', and the belt is the 'obi'.  Got that?  There's a test later.  Hee hee.  Just kidding.  But seriously, pay attention.

I have these pieces pinned on him where we wanted them to sit.  I also added extension thingys that hang down below the belt.
According to the pattern, the obi is separate, and the tabbard is attached to a narrow belt with velcro on it.  We didn't like that.  So, I sewed it all together as one piece.  This required some sandwiching to sew all the pieces inside out.  But it worked!  Yay!
 Isn't the white dickey cute?  It looks like a bib.  Not glamorous, but it serves its purpose.  Matthew is sure to stay nice and cool without an extra shirt underneath.  Plus, it saved me a lot of sewing time.  Who wants to make an extra shirt if you can get the job done with just the neck?  

Okay, for all you nerds out there, and I know you're reading this, aren't we all thinking of Howard from The Big Bang Theory?  He loves dickeys.  I can't help but think of the time he ripped his shirt open in slow motion to 'We Are The Champions' to reveal that scrawny chest and that dorky little turtleneck.  Bahahahahaha!!!  I love it.  :D
 Anyways, back to the tunic.  I put in my nifty little label.  Here you can see the texture of the linen.  It's nice stuff.  I enjoyed working with it.
 Matthew came for his final fitting, and I rigged him up with all the layers.  It's quite a production to get dressed in this getup.  Looks pretty good, don't he?  I like how the tie looks at the front of the obi.
 I didn't know if Matthew was as excited as I was, but apparently, he was.  As soon as he got home that day, he got dressed up again, including the accessories, and posted it on facebook and even gave me a shout-out.  Thanks, Matt!  I can't even tell you how excited I was to work on this for you!  I can't wait till you send me more pictures.  Complete with light saber battles.  I'll be waiting!  Have fun at Comic Con!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Turquoise Satin Dress - Vogue 8556

For Jeff & Jen's wedding, my husband was best man, so I decided I wanted to make a fancy dress that would look good next to his tux.  I bought this pattern a few months ago during the Vogue pattern sale, and I was never really sure what I wanted to do with it.  I don't remember exactly how my vision came together, but I remembered that Davey Fabrics had some turquoise crepe-back satin, and I decided that it had to become this dress.
Now, I must explain to you my timeline the week of the wedding.  I worked with my Dad from Monday to Wednesday, as I always do.  Tuesday night, I came home and spent 5 hours and 40 minutes on Jen's wedding dress, hoping to finish it so my hubby could take it with him when he headed up to help with the wedding on Thursday morning.  I didn't make it on time.  I thought I was nearly done (maybe an hour left?!), but as these things often turn out, I ended up spending 3 1/2 more hours on it and finally finished it midday on Thursday.  I had driven Tyler to pick up the holiday trailer first thing that morning, and after I dropped him off at his truck, I went straight to Davey Fabrics and picked up my turquoise satin and a matching zipper.  And I must say, I looked at Fabricland, and nothing they had even compared to this satin.  When I was cutting it, I was forever marvelling at how wonderful it felt!  And it was only $8.95/m!  Score!  Anyways, I finally got started on my dress Thursday afternoon.  I started by making a waist corset (from the ribs down) out of 10 oz. canvas, and I finished that in about an hour and a half.  You can see the 'v' of the corset peeking out from under my bodice muslin.  I didn't finish any of my edges.  I just threw it together and said ok.  It does have boning in it, however.
Next, I whipped up a bodice muslin.  I was very wary of how the midriff section would fit, since there are no seams or darts on the front section.  I have to say, this pattern is absolutely brilliant.  The midriff fits like a dream.  And the pleated bodice is also wonderful. 
I cut a straight size 16.  I made a couple minor tweaks to my muslin.  I took in the side seams above the waist, and let out the side seams below the waist.  The only other change I made was to raise the underarm 5/8", and I raised the center back 1 1/8".  I'm impressed that I didn't even need a swayback adjustment!  Maybe that's because the corset sucked me in and made me stand up straight.  Either way, I'm thrilled with the fit of this bodice.  And from seeing it done up in cotton, wouldn't this make a super cute cotton dress?  I'm adding that to my never-ending list of must-makes.  :)
The skirt had me a little worried.  I didn't like the shape of the pattern pieces, plus they sucked up a lot of yardage.  Last year, when I was making skirts for Lindsey's bridesmaids, I had a heck of a time finding a decent skirt.  I ended up going with a semi-circle style.  So, that's what I decided to do for this dress.  I dug through my stash and found this pattern.  Bingo.
Since I was sewing this on well below the waist and needed more width, I simply laid my midriff pattern piece over the skirt piece and guesstimated how wide the skirt should be.  I ended up cutting the size 20 and I added 1/4" to the side seams.  (it matched up perfectly!)  Now, notice this is a floor length skirt.  I sewed it on several inches below the waist.  I still had to add 2" to the length, and it could have been an inch longer, because I barely had enough to do a 3/8" rolled hem, and it wouldn't have hurt to be half an inch longer.  How short are these people they draft for?  Nevermind.  This is exactly the reason I learned to sew in the first place!  Measure twice, cut once!  Apparently, I only measured once.
I guess now would be a good time to tell you that I had asked my friend Nicole (who is an amazing seamstress, and lives only 10 minutes from me!) to come help me pin my hem before she went to work on Friday morning.  She would be coming at 8:30 am.  That meant I needed to have the dress put together enough to hem the skirt!  Anyhoo, back to my crazy timeline.  I finished my muslin tweaking Thursday at 8:30 pm, at which time I cut out the rest of my dress.  I finished cutting at 12:40 am.  I kept sewing until 2:15 am, and what you see here is all I managed to sew together.  Can you feel my panic?
I went to sleep at 2:30, got up at 6:15, and started sewing by 6:30.  I sewed my back straps together, sewed my midriff lining together, and sewed my skirt together.  I then attached all 3 sections to one another, and I even had 10 minutes to spare before Nicole showed up!  Success!  She pinned my hem for me, and of course, we had to visit for an hour.  :)  After she left, I was considering going back to bed, but then I thought about all I had left to finish that day.  Not just this dress.  Did you see the sheath dress I made for Audrey?  Yes, I'm crazy.  I finished that dress for her on this same Friday.  I spent 2 hours and 40 minutes on her dress, and had a fitting with her.  Sigh.  It's been over a week since that crazy week, and I'm just reliving it now.  I'm having sympathy back pain for myself.  Tee hee.  ANYWAYS...
After Nicole left, I unstitched all 3 sections from what you see here so I could add the satin midriff, serge all my seams, etc.  By the way, in this shot, you can see my waist corset.  It not only sucked off 3 inches from my waist, but did you see my posture?!
I decided that before I put this dress aside to work on Audrey's, I wanted to get the midriff ruching out of the way.  This dress reminds me so much of Anita's blue grad dress.  It's similar in so many ways.  Especially the midriff ruching.  I decided to press creases into them, since I did that on Anita's dress, and I liked the effect.
Now, picture me taking a big chunk out of my day to finish that lovely sheath dress, do a fitting, go out and buy a strapless bra and some supper, and then madly getting back to work.  I was beyond exhausted.  I was bone tired.  I had been since the weekend before, when I was madly sewing for Jen's last wedding dress fitting.  But I wanted this dress, and by golly, I was gonna get it!  So, I worked through the exhaustion and back pain, and I did it.   I cranked out a 14-hour dress in 28 hours.  And here it is.  *lets out huge sigh of 'holy crap, I'm finally done!!!'*
This is my favorite part of the whole dress.  I love the back straps!  They are so cool!  And to think, I was almost considering changing them to plain old criss cross straps.  I'm so glad I went with it.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!
The front bodice ain't too shabby either!  I was getting a bit of gaping on the front, so I pulled the ends down about 3/4", and that seemed to cinch it in nicely.
I also like that it gives me a waistline!  Speaking of which, here's a funny story.  At the wedding, at the end of the night, I was getting pretty exhausted from wearing the corset all day.  So, I took it off.  And you know what?  The dress looked exactly the same!  Since the midriff has 3 layers, it sucked me in almost the same way, only much gentler.  It felt completely comfortable.  The only way I noticed it was snug was that I couldn't stick my tummy out.  So, fitting it with the corset was a great idea, but who knew I didn't have to wear the actual corset?  Next time, I'm wearing it without.  :D
I am so glad I took the plunge and took on an intimidating dress project 2 days before the wedding.  It was worth every single ounce of suffering.  I haven't mentioned how much I enjoyed sewing this dress.  Right from the bodice muslin, I was in love.  
How many of you sewists can relate to the crunch of a deadline?  This pretty much sums up what I do to myself during wedding season.  I always leave things to the last minute, no matter how early I try and get a handle on them.  And this year, it was mild.  I had one wedding to sew for (not counting the numerous alterations and other custom projects I had, but they're always on my plate).  Jen's wedding dress took me 21 hours.  Last year, Amy's renaissance wedding dress took me 36 hours, and Lindsey's wedding ... I haven't even added it up yet.  When I finished that project, I put my paperwork away and haven't looked at it since.  But I'm estimating that Lindsey's wedding took me between 150 and 200 hours.  So, I'm incredibly thankful that this year was a mere drop in the bucket in comparison, not to mention that the wedding was on June 4th.  It's not even summer yet, and I'm done with wedding season!  My weekends are free!!!

Okay, enough chatter.  If you've stuck with me this long, thank you!  We're off to the wedding now.  After I finished my dress at 8:00 pm on Friday, I packed up and drove to the wedding.  It was 2 1/2 hours away, and I got there at midnight.  And you can bet I had a great nights' sleep! 

A great dress needs a great pair of shoes!  I bought these high-tops last year to go with my new cargo capris.  I knew I wanted to wear them with this dress, but I didn't realize they would match!
You can see them peeking out under my skirt.  This is our formal portrait.  I felt a bit overdressed around most of the casually dressed wedding goers, but when I was with my husband or anyone from the wedding party, I fit right in. 
This is my favorite shot of the night. 
I love my dress! Aside from my wedding dress, I've never made myself anything this glamorous. I had a hankering to wear a long fancy dress, and I've fulfilled that. I'll be good to go for formal gowns for a long time. And you can bet I'm going to wear this as often as I can!
 Thanks for sticking with me all the way to the bottom!  I can get a little chatty sometimes.  :D

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jen's Wedding Dress - Burda 7630

Jen is the fiance (now wife) of my husband's best friend, Jeff.  Back in the winter, she asked me if I could make her a wedding dress out of her Mom's old wedding dress.  As the months went by, we found out Jen was pregnant, so I had to put my thinking cap on and think of a new design.  I had bought this Burda maternity pattern last year, since I noticed they were slowly discontinuing some of my favorite maternity patterns, so I snatched it up before they got rid of it.  We ended up using just the skirt from her mom's dress, which had been gathered before, so I hoped it would be big enough to use with this design.  It had 3 tiers of lace around the bottom, and since we had to convert the dress to maternity and hike it up under her bust, it needed about 6" of extra length, so I had to add another tier around the bottom.
The old dress had 3 strips of lace running down the front of the skirt, and they had been removed, and there were stitching marks showing.  I bought some narrow lace that echoed the design of the lace around the bottom of the skirt.  I also found some wide lace for the bottom of the extra tier.  The wide lace matched the ivory colour of the rest of the lace, but the narrow lace was bright white.  It needed to be more ivory.  So, I attempted tea dyeing.  I snipped off 3 samples of lace and grabbed 3 different tea bags from my kitchen, and I tested them.  The red one on the left was obviously way off, but the other two were much closer.
This is how they turned out.  The middle tea is jasmine, and it matched the closest.  The left tea is green/mint, and it turned out rather yellow.  Obviously a no-go.  As you can see here, the jasmine hue is the winner.  I was quite happy with it.  I made a big bowl of tea, only used one tea bag, and soaked the lace for 15 minutes before rinsing with cold water and drying.  Success!  
Re-fashioning the skirt ended up being the easy part of this dress.  The bodice needed some tweaking.  I made no less than 4 bodice muslins!  The fitted bodice pieces needed bigger darts, as the one they provided gave hardly any shape and just hung flat in front of the bust.  I made the dart bigger, and drafted 2 darts; one at the side seam, and one at the waist.  This is Jen's first fitting.  I originally envisioned the skirt with 2 pleats at the front, which looked quite nice, but there was too much extra width in the skirt, and it would have required me to take in the excess.
This is Jen's second fitting.  You can see the sheer overlay on the bodice.  This is what required all the tweaking.  It took me a lot of trial and error to get this to fit right.  It was at this fitting that I decided the skirt needed to be gathered.  I have it pinned haphazardly to the bodice.  Sure doesn't look like much, does it?  Jen, thank you for being so trusting.  I myself had doubts when I saw this mess.  But I reassured you (and me) that it would look sleek and put together when it was finally finished.  
This is our last fitting.  I have the 3 strips of lace sewn to the front of the dress, and the skirt is attached to the bodice the way it's supposed to be.  I didn't put any gathers along the side seams for 8".  It's just gathered at the center front and center back.  And finally, I had a bodice I was happy with.  Neither the bodice lining or the skirt lining is in yet.  The skirt is quite sheer, so it definitely needed another layer.
I love how the gathers look at the back!  So pretty!  Here you can also see I have the first part of the lace hem extension sewn on.  This is the 'lining' part of the extension.  
Here is a side shot.  I love how it looks kinda shiny here.  And what a cute baby bump!
Here is a close-up of the bodice.  You can see how the organza overlay is ruched at center front.  I have pinned the lace and yellow ribbon so we could have an idea of the finished look.  The yellow was Jen's idea.  It's their main wedding colours.  I think it gives a nice pop of colour!
Here is my lace hem extension.  Click on the photo for a closer view.  When I first bought the lace, I measured around the bottom of the skirt and just added a bit extra.  I ended up with 6 meters.  I did a lot of measuring and calculating, but the length I bought ended up perfect!  I sewed the lace flat onto the organza, then I narrow rolled hemmed the top, and sewed gathering stitches 3/8" from the top edge.  I gathered it in 6 different sections.  The bottom of the skirt measured 200 inches, and the lace was 240 inches.  This gave me 15% gathers, and it looked exactly the same as the others!  Sometimes things work out perfectly.  I was absolutely thrilled with how this turned out!
And finally, it's showtime!  
I absolutely love this side view.  What a beautiful train!  And I didn't have to design it, cuz it was already there!
Here you can see I also sewed narrow lace and yellow ribbon to the waistline.  I matched it up perfectly in the back and sewed in a centered zipper.
And a beautiful close-up of the front bodice.  Aside from the trouble I had with the fit of the darts and the overlay, the neckline, shoulders, and armholes of this pattern were perfect.  The bodice is fully lined in cotton broadcloth.
And last but not least, some gratuitous wedding photos.  I love seeing garments in action, don't you?
Congratulations, Jeff & Jen!  It was an honour to be such a big part of your special day!