Monday, April 30, 2012

The Anatomy of a New Dress - The Details

The dress is finished.  I sewed the last stitch in last night.  Now don't go scrolling down to see pics of me in the dress because there aren't any.  I plan on taking this dress with me to Chicago this weekend to wear to the Haute Couture fashion show on Sunday. I will have pictures of me in it then because I knew when I started this journey that I was making the dress for this trip.  So how about some details...

First, this dress has ALOT of hand stitching in it.  All of the piping was hand basted in before being machine sewn down.  Since there is piping at the neckline, the sleeve hems and two rows of piping in the waist insert you can imagine that this took some time. Then the lining is hand stitched to the zipper tape and the hem at the bottom of the dress, as well as, the sleeve hems.

Even though this dress is similar to other dresses I've made before with the base of the dress being made from my TNT dress pattern, there were some details that stood out. Some because I've made them before and some because of the time and effort associated with bringing them to fruition in this dress.

The piping at the neckline is a common detail in my dresses.  I like the way it defines the neckline and I will continue to use this feature in my dresses.

The piping at the sleeve hems were a journey and I'm planning a post on how I added them to the sleeve for later in the week.

The bias inset at the waistline is the eye-catching detail (the money shot) in this dress.  It was the most challenging part of the dress and caused me to change direction after the first insert didn't work.

I love lace on the hem of my lining.  It makes the lining feel like a slip (luxurious lingerie) and adds a special-ness to the dress.  

Finally a pic of Lulu wearing the dress...

Now that the dress is done, I'm much happier with it.  Yes, the silhouette is familiar but this is a silhouette that I'm most comfortable wearing and that I believe I look prettiest in.  Since confidence is a huge factor in making you feel better about anything, I'm gonna keep on wearing and making this silhouette! *smile*

I've already moved on...starting my first piece on "The Ten Yard Adventure" wardrobe. This dress is pressed and hanging, waiting to be packed for the journey to Chicago... always, more later!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Ten Yard Adventure

I know I'm not alone in having fabric speak to me.  Fabric speaks loud, often, insistently and it's quite clear about what it wants to be.  No matter if I'm touching it in real life or if I'm visiting it on an internet website, fabric speaks to me.  So does this make me a fabric whisperer?  *LOL*

What does this have to do with the title of the post?  Friday morning I was reading my email on the bus and flipped into Fabric Mart's site after reading an email from them.  To be perfectly honest, I flip into Fabric Mart's site at least once a day...and 90% of the time I flip out without purchasing a thing.  But this time, when I saw this fabric, it wasn't just speaking to me, it was shouting at me!

I was on my iPad on the bus so I flipped out of the site...but I couldn't get the fabric out of my mind.  I just knew that I needed 10 yards of it and before the bus pulled into Port Authority in New York City I had planned out the items I wanted to make from the fabric.  I had also gone through my fabric collection mentally and pulled some coordinating fabric pieces to use with the base fabric.

By the time I got to work I was itching to purchase the fabric.  Of course, I had to do a few work related things...really didn't they know I had fabric to buy!?!  But I have to keep my handlers at my day job happy or I won't have an income to continue to buy fabric...y'know what I mean?! *LOL*  I got around to purchasing the fabric at 9:30am.  So imagine my surprise when I got the email later that afternoon that the fabric had shipped.  Now that's customer service! Yes!!!

Even better, the fabric arrived Saturday afternoon...Shams I'm telling you I love Fabric Mart way more than you do girl!  So when I should have been sewing, I was pulling patterns, coordinating other pieces from the fabric collection and dreaming up an entirely new wardrobe.  

As with other magpies, I love new and shiny things...and I couldn't possibly let this fabric sit.  So after the dress I'm working on is finished, I will be working on these pieces...and I'm so excited!  A picture of the coordinating fabrics is below:

Ivory Poly Crepe base fabric with coordinating fabrics

Acrylic "missoni-type" pink/brown fabric, ivory wool/silk blend plaid
brown ikat ltwt linen, blue print cotton/silk blend, 
silky beige & taupe print and a printed pink/magenta cotton voile

I'm using some new patterns and some TNT patterns for this wardrobe.  I know I need a better title than "The Ten Yard Adventure" but that's what I'm rolling with right now.  Once I've started working on the pieces, I will list pattern and fabric combos and possible additional fabrics cause already I'm thinking of more combos...but now I need to get back to the dress. always, more later!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Morning Musings

Walking away from a project is always a good thing because when you walk back, the project looks so much more appealing.  Somehow the new dress has managed to lose those things that were annoying me when I hung it up last Sunday evening. So it's back to working on the dress and finishing it up this weekend. Hopefully pics of me wearing the garment will be up soon...

I am as enthralled with the new Vogue pattern offerings as everyone else.  Of course, I hurried up and bought the four that I liked before the sale ended.  Here are my picks:

Another one of my favorite eye-candy blogs is, "Couture Allure Vintage Fashion Blog."  Several days ago, they did a blog post on Gilbert Adrian's suits.  I knew that he designed RTW years ago, but I really admired him as a movie costumer for the old movie studio system.   But what really caught my eye in the blog post was the stripe suits that they featured.  I really want to manipulate some striped fabric like that for a future garment.

Then my June/July 2012 issue of Threads arrived last night, featuring an article called, "Sewing with Stripes!"  The article showed a sheath dress with an interesting applique application for adding stripes to the dress.  I'm not feeling appliqueing striped fabric to the dress but thought that actual seaming might be more appealing.  The seamed dress reminds me of my Macy's Dress so I'm thinking about making another one this summer in linen with the striped insert. One more idea to add to my already burgeoning spring/summer sewing list!

Stripes though have been in my thought process.  I'd already purchased this one from Fabric Mart earlier this year:

I want to use it to make a simple dress for summer with a design feature added to the fabric.  Now I'm more inspired than ever to sew it because of the blog post and the magazine article.  There must be something floating around in the creative atmosphere that's making stripes such a big thing this year!

Lastly, this IRL photo was taken last week to go in the Talbots Women post that disappeared into cyber space:

Talbots ruffled front sweater worn with 
silk faile dress from my TNT dress pattern always, more later!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Do you sew all of your clothes now?

I will admit that I'm stealing the title from a comment on Shams post, New Spring Vogues, Hurry, Hurry for Sale!  Robin, who authors the blog, A Little Sewing, said that she's ended up making all of her clothing.  And my thought to her comment was, well of course you are, because the clothing you make fits you so well.

I know that I'm making about 95% of what I wear...jeans and some sweaters being the exception...but it made me wonder.  How many sewists aim to sew EVERYTHING that they wear?  How many sewists sew more than half of what they wear?  And if you don't sew the majority of what you wear, what percentage do you sew?  Finally, how many of you strive to sew your entire wardrobe?  Is this a pie in the sky dream since retail is so easily purchased?  Or do we as sewists use our bodies as a canvas to showcase our work and our talent?

This is the Question of the Day people, so talk back to me! always, more later!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Anatomy of a New Dress - Pt. 3

"Or the Construction of the Band..."
In the middle of making this dress, I just got the feeling that I've made this dress before.  And in all actuality I have, if you consider this:

and this:

and finally the Birthday Gala Dress.
I'm a little disappointed because I thought I was going somewhere new on this journey when actually I'm just treading the same path.  So is there something new here I'm suppose to learn?  Or do I have this silhouette stuck in my head?  Or even worse still have I no creative imagination left to elevate the level of my TNT dress pattern to?  Believe me, those few questions gave me great pause yesterday and even caused me to stop sewing for a minute.  I put the pieces down and watched television, played Boggle with my niece and nephew and bought some stuff from QVC.

After pondering on this, I realized that there really are only so many dress silhouettes and interpreting a silhouette season after season in different fabrications with distinct embellishments is not a bad thing.  It's just not the journey I thought I was making. *sigh* So I left the pieces for the night and headed upstairs.

Today, I decided to just go with the flow.  It's not a new silhouette.  It is the same journey but maybe there is something to learn here...and there was...the thing I learned was to dig deep when your original idea isn't working, to ramble around in the creative ideas stored in the back of your mind, and find something else when your garment is just.not.quite.there!

Which brings me to the purpose of this post because my dress is not finished yet. However, the center band deserves it's own post because of the detailed construction process, and as you can see from the three examples above this detailed waistband is predominant in all of these dresses. As you know, my original idea was to cut the center band on the bias to give the dress some added drama and to emphasize my non-existent waistline in a flattering way.

The band pattern pieces were cut 5.5" deep with 5/8" seam allowances on either side.  I realized that the bias bands will have some give so I needed to stabilize them.  My choices were to use a fusible interfacing or a silk organza underlining.  I went with the silk organza thinking the fusible interfacing might shorten or make the band too rigid to match the bodice and skirt pieces.

I hand basted the silk organza to the front and back bands.  Then I added a line of machine basting in the center of the band to avoid poufing. This stitching was removed later.  The bands were then stitched together and the piping added to the top and bottom of the band. After that I sewed the dress bodice and the dress skirt to the band.

The invisible zipper was next.  I used Somerset's tip of marking the invisible zipper where you want it to meet the seams in the back and basted the zipper in.  Since the match worked and believe me I was holding my breathe while inserting the zipper, I decided to try the dress on at this point...something I never do...but boy am I glad that I did.

Because the band was too big!  
It puckered in the middle of the dress front.  It puddled in the dress back.  It looked horrid for all of the work that I've put into this dress.  As I was standing in the mirror I thought, "just add a tuck to the center."  When I added the tuck, it lifted everything up and the dress had the look I wanted.  So I take the dress off and head back to the sewing cave.  I take the perfect invisible zipper out, sew in the tuck and this is what I ended up with:

As you can see I sewed the tuck into the back of the band instead of the front...and I love how it added dimension to the band.  Okay, I'm now so far away from the dress that inspired me that's it's not funny!  But, this dress is me, even if I have made this silhouette several times before.

One last thing...the reinserted invisible zipper is not my best.  There is a lot of bulk in the center back seam and even though I've trimmed the seam and hammered it down with my clapper, I had to sew away from the coils by the bulkest part to get the zipper to slide up and down.  However, the piping matches!!!  

Here's the dress on a hanger as it is now:

It still needs a lining, piping added to the neckline and the sleeves sewn in. Hopefully, I will finish this up next weekend...though I'm thinking maybe I should sew a few skirts, just to prove to myself that I can sew something up quickly instead of everything being a journey... always, more later!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sewing Flotsam & Jetsam

Things that have been on my mind...

1.  I think one of the reasons that I love designer gear so much is figuring out how to make it work for me.  Not just the making the silhouette work but also how the dress would be constructed. I've spent the last few works working out several designer dresses construction and I like the challenge. I just hope that I can get some of them made this season.

2.  I don't need clothes anymore.  I sew now for the creative outlet, for the chance to try something new and to answer the questions of how it's done.  So this season's sewing will be about new techniques or revisiting techniques I haven't used in awhile...making some pieces I haven't sewn in a minute...stretching my talents to make more "whoa" and "wow" outfits than basic pieces.

3.  I'm even going to do quite a bit of casual sewing this season.  I'm cruising and I want to make some of my pieces not purchase all of them.  I haven't done alot of casual sewing in this will definitely be something different.

4.  There will be no spring sewing vacay this year.  I'm taking the last two weeks of August off, one week to cruise, one week to sew, and because I have to spread my vacation days out...the spring sewing vacay is gone.

5.  My Stitches Magazine subscription is expiring and I don't know if I should renew.  If anyone out there is a subscriber, could you leave a comment either pro or con.  I need some discussion on this topic.

6.  I'm using crayons, seriously I am, to draw up some garments that I have ideas about.  I'm so tickled that I'm using crayons.  Isn't that silly yet fun?

7.  I saw the movie Hunger Games and because of that I read the first two books of the trilogy in 3 days, and now I'm intrigued about Katniss' outfits.  Which is so silly because it's not like I could wear them to work...the book has truly wormed it's way into my subconscious.

8.  My friend(s) do not help me with my fabric addiction.  One of them sent me a link to a new website (to us) and now I'm trying my hardest not to buy anything from them.  The new site is:  Has anyone purchased anything from them?  How is the service?  Any info would be appreciated.

9.  I've got two posts of the same name...*sigh* I think I'm going to have to get more creative in naming my posts or I'm going to have to search my blog before labeling them from now on...

10.  I'm addicted to a new fashion blog, The Curvy Fashionista.  I am naturally a fashionista and only lately have I begun to follow fashion bloggers.  I love how she features designer plus size gear but also writes informative posts.  This one is especially deserving of note.

11.  To all the new owners of the fabric that was offered in the giveaway, it all went out depending upon where you should be getting it soon.

12.  Sorry but somehow my Friday post (I'm a Talbots Woman) got lost.  There were quite a few inspirational pictures in it and I was so annoyed that I just didn't take the time to recreate it.

photo courtesy of The New York Times

13.  There is a really kewl article about the designer, Tadashi Shoji in the NYTimes. I've always loved his designer evening wear for plus size and larger women but I didn't realize that he designed for women of all sizes...check out the pictures in the photo gallery inbedded in the article.   

So now that you've entered the murky waters of my creative mind...*LOL*...these are a few of the things floating well as the list of garments I want to sew. always, more later!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A "Moods" Lunch

Today I met my girl, Elizabeth, for a quick lunch date at Mood. Once there we met up with Meg, who has a new gig working at Mood...can you say envious!  Yeah that would be me, having a job where I'm surrounded by fabric would just be mind blowing to me!  

Meg is also blogging at Mood Sewceity Blog, so follow the adventures of Swatch the Dog, hear about new fabrics that are in the stores and online at their online site and meet some of the wonderful and incredibly helpful staff. Seriously this ain't propaganda, remember this outfit?  It wouldn't have been so wonderful if Jeremy hadn't taken so much time and helped me get "the perfect fabrics" for the Christening Gown.  

I also want to encourage you to get a Mood's Reward Card.  I love any fabric store or site that rewards me for doing something I do naturally ~ buy fabric! *LOL* So if you're a local to either store, get a card!  I've already put a dent in mine! 

I've got some photos to share from my Mood Lunch:

standing in the aisle at Moods

And what followed me home:
On the left a cotton print
On the right black silk satin

I've got plans for the black silk stay tuned!  The cotton print is rattling around in my brain so I don't know what it will become yet, but isn't it lovely? This little junket has definitely jump-started my sewing mojo and I'm raring to get next to my sewing machine and sew sumthin'! always, more later!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Anatomy of a New Dress - Pt. 2

The first part of bringing this dress to reality is the pattern alterations.  Of course, I began with my TNT dress pattern because it has all of the basic elements of the ASOS dress that I'm interpreting.  I've made a similar dress to this one in the past. So I thought about looking for the pattern pieces but that dress is a little tight on me now and I would rather trace new pattern pieces than alter the old ones.  I really want to insure that this version fits me now.

So starting with the dress front, I traced a dress bodice, waistline band and dress skirt in full cut on the fold pieces.  This will allow me to lay the pieces on the fabric singly and match the plaid without any difficulties. 

For the back pieces, I traced left and right back bodices pieces, left and right back skirt pieces and the same for the waistline band.  Again to make it easier to match the plaid at the back and side seams.

As with all pieces I trace, once I've traced the pieces off, I lay them back on top of the original pattern piece to make sure that I've got all of the pieces traced correctly and working well together, as well as, insuring that the patterns are exactly like the original pattern piece.  

That's why if you look closely at some of my pattern pieces, they will have darker lines that aren't part of the original traced piece.  It's where I made sure that all of the pieces work together and if they didn't I redrew the lines.

After all the pattern pieces were cut out, then laying them onto the fabric and cutting the fabric happened.  But I did take time my time because I really want to match as many of the seams as possible even if the original dress' side seams don't match.  Zoom into the picture and you can see down by the hem, no pattern match. 

Making sure the pattern match worked was a little more difficult when I realized that the fabric is slightly off grain.  I will make it work, though.  So the weekend should bring the construction of the dress.  I hope so because I'm pretty excited about getting this one finished.  

And on another note, I've decided that no matter what the temps are saying outside, I'm gonna sew spring.  If I can't wear it yet, I will be able to sooner or later...summer is coming! *smile* always, more later!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Anatomy of a New Dress

I was struggling this weekend.  I knew I wanted to sew but I had no idea what I wanted to make.  I've had an idea for a dress, and it will probably make an appearance in the future, that wasn't really singing to me yesterday. But I really wanted to I found another piece of fabric that was interesting and left it on my cutting table and went to bed.

This morning, I decided to read some blogs before working on the new dress.  In the back of my mind, I'm stashing away ideas for my summer vacation, a cruise to the Caribbean in late August.  On EricaB's blog, she has a great flowing long skirt...and as I was rereading the post, I clicked on her links and stumbled upon this blog, "Atlantic-Pacific."

Of course being the Nosey Nellie that I am, I went back to the last/first post and started reading and that's when I found this:

photo courtesy of 

I've wanted a soft plaid dress like this since forever.  I know that I've diligently searched for fabric like it but obviously haven't found much because I don't have a lot of it in my collection.  But being persistent, I decided to carefully examine every shelf to see what I had because even though I've just recently put it all away, believe me I don't remember every piece. 

Touching, looking, pulling...I found this:

...a silk/linen blend that I have 3.5 yards of...that I purchased at least 15-16 years ago from a little fabric shop (Sevens) in Bloomfield, NJ...when I was living in Montclair, NJ.  I use to buy quite a bit of fabric from this shop because it was local and because she had great it was inexpensive and I had two little girls and a teenager at home at that time.  Not a lot of fabric money was in my budget.  

I was thrilled to find it after all of these years of hiding in the collection and it's perfect for my version of this dress.  Yes, the check is a little smaller but the color is comparable.  Now I love her dress' close fit but that won't be happening on my plus size body.  To achieve some distinctiveness, I've decided to add a waist inset with the fabric cut on the bias.  I will also add some piping to certain areas of the dress.  And of course, I'm starting with my TNT dress pattern.  So that's what I'm working on today... always, more later!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Even though I haven't been sewing, I've been making plans and I've been inspired by quite a few online here is some of my inspiration...expect to see it appear in one form or another in my spring/summer sewing...

Lace dresses...
from Piperlime

from QVC

from The Avenue

from Jessica London

Coldwater Creek

Print & Tweedy Dress

Lace maxi dress from QVC

Hot Patterns Plain & Simple Dress

Burda Color Blocked Dress

Vogue 8786

Black n White dress from 
BlackHouse/White Market

Cloud dress from Victoria Beckham

Vogue 8799

black/gray ponte knit

magnolia dogwood print 

coral ponte knit

linen border print

lace and plaid fabric

...and a sewing room inspirational pic...

from HGTV

Tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend...and I'm so thrilled!  I need a weekend in the sewing cave working on some new garments. always, more later!


Related Posts with Thumbnails