Friday, September 30, 2011

Adventures in Upholstery - Boat Covers

Dad and I have been working on a few boat covers lately.  Up here in Alberta, most folks take their boats out of the water after the Labour Day long weekend.  It's a great time to take the ol' boat to the upholstery shop to get a new cover!
I love working on boats.  This was my first experience helping Dad make a fitted cover, and I loved it!  It's a lot like draping, but the boat is a solid object, so once you fit it, it stays put!  It's amazing to see the progress.

 We start up front at the windshield and lay a piece flat and trace around the edges, then we take a huge piece to cover the back of the boat and do the same thing, then we sew the 2 seams together, and little by little, we fit it around all the edges, and eventually, it turns into a lovely, custom-fitted cover!
Dad riveting snaps to the side of the boat
Ta-Da!  Doesn't that look great?  So much fun!   
Here's hoping the weather stays nice.  We did this one in August, we just finished 2 this week, and we have 3 more boats coming in October!  And no, we don't specialize in boats.  Sometimes, things just come in groups.  Tis the season!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Emily's Tinkerbell Dress - Simplicity 3902

My friend Nadine's daughter, Emily, had the most awesome idea.  She had this Tinkerbell play tent, and she thought it was so beautiful, it had to be turned into a dress.  So, she gave it to me and I got creative!
Here are the 3 panels I used:
I knew I wanted a dress with princess seams, so I could get the most mileage out of those panels.  I found Simplicity 3902, and I fell in love with view B, which is the sleeveless version with lacing at the waist.
I found some dainty yellow ribbon in my stash (I used it on Jen's wedding dress), and I stitched it down in a cute criss-cross pattern.  I think this detail just makes the dress.  
Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?  I had so much fun with this!  I didn't stop until I was done, and after that, I hung it up and admired it for a while.  So pretty!
I cut the size 10, and I added 6" to the bottom of the size 14 hemlines, so it would be floor-length.  Tink's panel was slightly shorter, so I left it hemmed as is, and just swooped the sides up to meet it.  It ends up giving Emily just a little room for her toes to peek out.  Super cute.
I eliminated the center back seam so the blue fairy could really shine.  I moved the zipper to the side seam.  The other fairy just couldn't be left behind, so she ended up next to her friend.  Isn't this fabric gorgeous?  The shading, flowers, and lights are just spectacular.
I serged all the seams, topstitched down the neck facing, and serged, turned and stitched the armholes, and the hem.
This was intended to be a play dress, so I whipped it together as fast as I could.  I did this dress in 3 hours and 20 minutes!  Not bad!  
I called Nadine and got her to do Emily's hair before I brought the dress over so we could do a photo shoot.  Emily was so cute!  She was kinda shy, but I could tell that she absolutely *loved* her new dress!
This is our "princess coming down the staircase" picture.  Gorgeous!
 Emily, you look like a Fairy Princess.  I hope you love your new dress and wear it to bits!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Adventures in Upholstery - "Extra Fabric Required to Match Plaids or Stripes"

Here is a simple little project that I did a few weeks ago.  It's a plaid ottoman, and I love the challenge of getting plaid lined up just right.

I cut the top piece and centred the plaid stripes on the sides and the middle.  Here I'm peeking under the fabric to line it up with the center mark underneath.
I stapled it down at the center mark on all 4 sides, then pulled the corners down and folded them nicely.
I trimmed off the excess and prepared to attach the skirt, which I already had sewn up, and all my pieces were centred.
I'm stapling the seam allowance underneath the skirt, pulling tight to get my corners to fit.
TA-DA!  Ain't she pretty?  I think it's cute as a bug's ear!
I definitely know how to take pride in my work.  My dad has taught me well.  You should hear the two of us get going when we get to the "pretty" stage on some of this furniture.  Man, we're good!  :D
This is the seat of a chair.  It's tricky to get the fabric on straight, and with a stripe or a plaid, it's essential that you get it perfect.  I enjoyed the challenge.  I was so proud of myself!  
Here are a few more examples of striped furniture that Dad has done in the past.  The stripe has to be in the center.  The majority of the work gets done in the cutting stage.  You really gotta pay attention!  After that, it's easy to line everything up.
Isn't this just the cutest thing?  I love ottomans.
We like wingbacks.  They're very classic.  
I hope you enjoyed my second entry of Adventures in Upholstery!  We're currently working on some really awesome furniture, and now that I'm blogging about it, I'm taking lots of pictures!  Stay tuned!

Ana's Navy Bridesmaid Dress - Simplicity 2338

In the beginning of June, at Jeff and Jen's wedding, I got a chance to hang out with my friend, Ana, and her daughter, Kiana.  Ana asked me if I could make her a bridesmaid dress for a wedding in September.  She was tired of buying dresses that didn't fit her right.
It's fitting that I'm introducing you to Ana with a picture of me in my turquoise satin dress.  I love this satin, and I knew I wanted to work with it again, so I went to Davey Fabrics to find some in navy blue, the colour Ana's dress needed to be.  They happened to be out of navy, so I asked them to order it in, and I checked in with them for a couple weeks, and got my hands on it with just enough time to get the dress done a week before the wedding.  

Other than the colour, she gave me free reign to choose a design that would be flattering to her figure.  I browsed through the pattern catalogs and picked out Simplicity 2338.  I liked that the dress had lots of seamlines to make adjustments on.  We chose the long, sleeveless dress with the shawl collar (the red one).
I wasn't sure what fitting issues we would have, but I knew I needed to do an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment).  I found some great tutorials.  One is from Sew Mama Sew, and the other is from Debbie Cooke at Stitches and Seams.  It was surprisingly easy.  I've never done an FBA before, but I did learn how to slash and spread patterns in Fashion College.  I cut the bodice one size smaller and did a 2" FBA (1" on each side). 
I sewed up a muslin, and for the most part, we were in the right ballpark.  It was a little too tight, the armhole needed to be filled in, and I made a little fold in the middle of the armhole.

Here you can see that the dress fits her, but there is no ease.  I also released the pleats so they would start at the empire waistline instead of being stitched down for several inches.  If you look really closely, you can see on the left side of the back of the collar, I made 2 slashes to spread out the collar, as it didn't have enough curve to fit over the shoulder and lay nicely.
These are the changes I made to the side front bodice piece.  I folded out the tuck in the middle of the armhole and released it into a dart at the bottom, I filled in the armhole, and I added 2" of ease to the bodice by adding 1" to the side seam of this piece only.  If you look at the side shot above, you'll see that it pulls to the front, so this seemed logical to me.  I also added 1" to the side front skirt piece at the waist, since it was doing the same thing.
Here is Ana at her second fitting, the lining stage.  I used cotton/poly broadcloth for the bodice, as I always do for linings.  This lining is the same as what I used for my turquoise satin dress.  I happened to have scads of it, so I got to use it for 2 dresses!  I still have a bunch left.  As you can see, the center front waist seam is dropping down a bit, so I took that up by 3/4" at the center front.
The bodice fits quite nicely now!  
Adding 2" of ease made a huge difference in how this dress fits.  Doesn't that look so much better?  So, there you have a simple lesson in what 2" can do.  Amazing.
Here is your first look at the muslin of the shawl collar.  I added 2" to the bottom, which was quite a brain teaser, let me tell you!  That pleat was confusing!  I adjusted my pattern piece 3 different times, which included cutting, slashing, taping, cutting, slashing, and more taping.  I'm not sure if I even know if I learned how to do it the right way is now that I'm done.   Oh well!  I achieved the length I needed, and that's all that matters.
Here you can see a little more clearly the slashes I made to the back of the collar.  I spread 1" at the shoulder, and 2" closer to the back.
I know this looks like a finished dress, but looks can be deceiving!  This was Ana's second last fitting, the satin stage.  I have the satin assembled, but there are many finishing details that are not done.  She's not even wearing the lining layer here.  I had to take a few pieces apart and put them back together with the lining in the right order.  But look how nice it fits!  And now that she's wearing heels, we got to see how the dress hung without getting caught on the floor.  I was so excited to see it turn out at this point!!!  I just love this satin.
After spending a few more hours finishing said details, here is Ana in her finished dress.  I was happy that this shot shows off the shawl collar quite well. Shiny satin is kinda hard to photograph.
I'm very happy with how well it fits, and the waist seam actually sits parallel to the floor!  I'd say that's quite an achievement!  The skirt hung so straight, I didn't have to pin it, I just measured an inch all the way around, and it was perfect!  I love it when that happens!
And last but not least, the back shot.  I don't know why, but I really love it when garments fit perfectly at the back.  Maybe because it's difficult to acheive, and when you see it, it's a thing of beauty.  I just love this dress, and Ana looks absolutely gorgeous in it!