Friday, June 14, 2019

A Palate Cleanser

I made this dress in 2016 when I'd just changed jobs and lost 35lbs. I was really into maxi dresses because I couldn't wear them at my previous job. I was also still trying to get used to the fact that I could wear jeans to work. It was a culture shock to go from totally professional dressing to wearing whatever I felt like...so I gently slid into the whatever I want...meaning that I was a little overdressed my first year at the job.


When making this dress even though I'd washed both fabrics separately before I used them, I'd never washed the two together.  This is what happened when I washed them as the maxi dress...




At first I thought I would be able to shout or bleach out the stains so it sat waiting for me to do that. It sat for over a year. Sometime earlier this spring I started to think I should just take it apart and make a maxi skirt. I finally did that.

It was easy to rip apart as I watched TV. In the meantime, I've added another one of these maxi dresses in these fabrications to my "To Sew" list. Hopefully that match will fare better.

To make this a maxi skirt ~ 
- I added the skirt portion to a 2" wide black elastic cut a couple inches shorter than my waistline
- I purposely did not iron the skirt before pinning it to the elastic. 
- Since the top was already gathered, it made it easier to pin the gathered fabric to the elastic.
- I added one line of stitching at 5/8" and then again at 1/4" to secure it.
- Because it was already hemmed, once the elastic was attached, the skirt was done.

A few pictures ~







It only took a couple of hours to add a new skirt to my closet. This summer I'm concentrating on adding more maxi skirts, maxi dresses and wide legged pants to my wardrobe. I've accumulated so many maxi dress patterns over the years that I'd like to challenge myself by actually sewing a few of them!

...as always more later!




Tuesday, June 11, 2019

McCalls 7858 - Aleena's Version

I made Aleena's dress after Samantha's. I thought since I'd already made one I would better understood how the sewing order should go. However, since I was using an embroidered mesh with a scalloped edge, I started with the skirt portion of her dress...and therein laid my problem.


The darker fabric was purchased because it had the scalloped pink border. That would give the two dresses, two separate looks, from the same pattern. As I laid out the skirt pattern pieces, I realized that the embroidered mesh was only 45" wide and that my pattern pieces wouldn't fit.

Y'all this threw me into a true tizzy. It didn't help that it occurred in the middle of the night. I melted down...truly.  The fact that I have a dress made and that Aleena loves it is more a tribute to my daughter and Aleena than me! *LOL*

Anyway after they came by and we did a fitting with a bad hooped petticoat, I got back on track.

Let's start with the supply list ~
3 yards pink silk shantung from Chic Fabrics
3 yards of blk/pink/turquoise embroidered mesh from Chic Fabrics
1 12" pink zipper
1/2 yard white bemberg lining from the collection
1 yard of pink piping from the collection
7 yards lt. pink bias binding

Construction Changes ~
- I ended up piping Aleena's bodice with the same pink piping I used on Sammy's.
- Again the mesh was carefully chosen and placed on the front and back bodice before they were sewn together.



- Then I played around with the sleeve. My first choice was sleeves made from just the embroidered mesh.



- Then I added the pink shantung under the mesh and sewed it into the bodice for the try-on


- I had the two pieces finished and I stopped there for the night before the task of adding the bias binding to the hemline of the mesh.

It wasn't my intent to have the hemlines finished the same on both dresses. My original intent was to use the scalloped edge for the hemline. The fabric was just not wide enough to manipulate. I'm glad that I finished the hemlines the same though. It made both dresses look similar but not exactly the same and both dresses reflected the girls personality.

A few pictures of Aleena in the dress ~




I was thrilled when I finished both of these in plenty of time. The girls were thrilled with the dresses and so was I. This is the last post of the event dresses. I hope I've shared enough information about the dresses construction in case anyone else is interested in using the pattern.

As I said previously, I have a backlog of garments that will be shared in upcoming blog posts. Also, I'm headed to the Five Day Sew Camp at Carriage Corner B&B next week, so there will be much fabric shopping, laughing, talking and sewing with friends.

One Final Picture of the Girls ~



...as always more later!






Saturday, June 08, 2019

McCalls 7858 - Samantha's Version

Originally I was going to put all this information in one blog post! Then the long post started to get really long. I realized it was too much to read. If I wouldn't read something with that much information, why would I expect someone else too? So this will be two separate posts ~ one for each granddaughter's dress. 

I'm starting with Samantha's first because it was the easiest of the two dresses to make. 


First I need to say that it took me a minute to get started making these dresses. I bought the fabric from Chic Fabrics and posted a picture to Instagram...then the fabric sat. I had the same feeling I had when I made their mother's prom dress years ago.

I've made a few more prom dresses since then but the nervousness and importance of these dresses makes me pause...not because I question my abilities but because of the specialness of the ocassion! I really wanted the girls first "important and formal" dresses to be extra special!


I started with McCalls 7858 - a David Tutera special event dress for little girls. I cut out the dresses from the pink silk shantung and basted the shells together - to try on for fit. 

During the construction of the dress shells, I realized I was going to need to add several techniques to the dresses for them to be what I wanted. None of those details were included in the pattern instructions. I will detail all of it in the construction section below.


Let's start with the supply list ~
3 yards pink silk shantung from Chic Fabrics
3 yards of pink embroidered mesh from Chic Fabrics
1 12" pink zipper
1/2 yard pink bemberg lining from the collection
1 yard of pink piping from the collection
7 yards pink bias binding
2 yards of twill tape

This is a simple dress to make. I complicated it by the materials I choose and because of that I needed extra steps to insure the fabric worked well with the design.  Sammy's dress was first because I needed to make the most alterations/fitting changes to her's.

Fitting Changes ~
- Sammy's dress bodice needed to be given a closer fit after the first fitting.
- I removed 5/8" from the bottom of the bodice

Construction Information ~
- The motifs were added to the front and back bodices


- To get them to look like this I had to choose a specific piece of the embroidered mesh. I also added some additional motifs onto the bodice front and back bodice to fill in some of the empty spaces.


- The pattern instructions tell you to bind the neck with bias binding. Ahhhh no. Not with my fabric choices. So I cut and sewed linings for the bodice from a pink bemberg rayon. Sammy's choice.


- I added a pink piping to the neckline and inserted it between the lining and the bodice. I wanted a better neckline finish than the pattern offered.

- Bias binding was made from the satin blanket binding that I purchased. It was the only thing that I found locally that matched/coordinated the fabric.


- The bias binding was added to the sleeve edge and the skirt hemline.


- The twill tape was added to the crinoline, like suspenders to insure it hung well underneath Samantha's dress. Now while the crinoline had a waist tie, it just wasn't snug enough on her.

I don't consider myself a slow sewist. NOT.AT.ALL! But all of my sewing lately has been that. Slow, careful sewing with quite a bit of seam ripping so I can get things just right. And I've been fine with that...some because I have a wardrobe of garments and don't feel the need to bang out things to wear. Some because I want to take my time and make more sew challenging garments.  These dresses fall into the more complicated garments category.

A few pictures of Samantha wearing her dress ~





Samantha was funny. She ate everything that was served. Pasta starter, salad from her plate and her sister's plate especially after she realized the salad dressing was good! The roast chicken breast, mashed potatoes and veggies. She ate her cheesecake and fruit for dessert. Ten minutes into the program, she laid her head in her Mother's lap and slept for the next two hours. LOL! A five year old with a full belly!!!

Conclusion ~
A few things I learned not from the making but the wearing of the dresses. We never thought about how the crinoline would work with the dresses, when they sat or more importantly when they needed to go to the bathroom. She needed assistance with lifting the dress to clear the toilet - true talk. AND little girls go to the bathroom ALOT so it was several trips between the two of them with my daughter and I splitting the trips.

- I should have made belt loops for the ribbon belts. 
- They slipped up and down all evening and by the time we left, they had removed them. 
- I bought cheap hooped petticoats to go under the dresses which was okay for this instance. 
- But I'm using this pattern again for flower girl dresses for them. I'm going to buy the more expensive layered tulle slips for those dresses.

I'm glad I purchased the expensive fabric to make these special dresses for the girls. Their reactions to having them, the compliments they received and their smiles made it all worth it.  Aleena's dress is up next!


...as always more later!









Tuesday, June 04, 2019

My Evening Dress - Another Deer & Doe Myosotis

My dress has a backstory.  I found out about the Cotillon months ago and decided I was going to make me a billowy ballgown. I didn't want a tight and sexy dress.  I wanted a more classical comfortable look.


My plan was to make a black & white Lenox dress. The dress would have a white silk duppioni or shantung top, fancy glass buttons down the front to the waistline and from the waistline down the dress wouldn't button. Because the bottom of the dress would be a huge circle with a big crinoline under it. The shirt would have three-quarter length sleeves with cuffs and those same fancy buttons would be on the cuffs.

As you can see, that's not what I wore. I couldn't find a pure white silk duppioni or shantung in the garment district that didn't cost an arm and a leg. I found the black silk duppioni at Metro Textiles but the white...no where. Ivory, sure.  White embroidered, no problem.  Pure bridal white...not unless it was $40 a yard...more than I wanted to spend since I'd put all of my money in my granddaughters dresses. I found a white silk shantung on fabric.com and I hesitated. I was worried it wouldn't show up in time or the weight would be wrong.

My daughter and the granddaughters - 
the blog posts with their dresses is up next

Then I decided to put this all out of my mind because I NEEDED to concentrate on the construction of the girls dresses.  When I finally came to (after heading into work two of my days off) I was up against a time crunch. I went through my older evening wear and none of it either fit the way it use to or wasn't what I wanted to wear.

I started to lose it then. I even thought of heading to Macy's in NYC, because the plus size division has a 1/2 floor of evening wear, and buy something. I remembered Renee (MissCeliesPants) saying she no longer made her evening dresses and I sooooo get it. 

I'm now three days away from the event. The girls dresses have been delivered and I no longer have any excuses. I have to come up with something to wear. I thought about what drew me to the Lenox dress and what feeling I wanted to convey in my dress. 

That's when I started to wish I could wear my velvet Myosotis but it was too heavy for the weather, too autumn looking, blah blah blah. Though the dress embodied the comfortable look I wanted so I went searching for something in the fabric collection that would work.


I've been hoarding this fabric for at least a decade. It wasn't what I thought it would be when I ordered it but I loved it and KNEW it would make a special dress.

A quick trip to the garment district Friday afternoon (after I spent the morning at work) and I had piping and buttons from Joyce Trimmings. Then it was just getting myself together to sew it.

Supply List ~
Brocade & Sheer fabric from deep stash
Blackish gray silk charmeuse also from deep stash
3 - 1" black sparkly buttons from Joyce Trimmings
4 yds of black & silver metallic piping from Joyce Trimmings

Construction ~
There is nothing new in the construction of this dress. I made it exactly the same way as I did the velvet version except I added a collar.

Some construction photos:

I added a collar with piping and piping to the front of the top 

Deciding whether to add piping to the sleeves or not

Added piping to the bodice bottom before sewing the skirt on

Close up of black & silver piping and black enamel & CZ buttons

I'm always on the fence about adding pockets but from previous versions
I did know that I wanted them just a little deeper

The bodice front and back was lined with the grayish black silk charmeuse. I cut the pockets from the silk too. The hem on the dress is 3.5" deep and as you can see it was still grazing the floor. I walked with a portion of it in my hand the entire night or I tripped over it.

My daughter and I at the Cotillion holding my skirt - LOL!

Since I was short on time I didn't line the dress ~ hoping and praying that the crinoline I'd ordered from Amazon would be delivered in time! I don't know what I would have done if it hadn't arrived! Hahahahahahaha!

A few pictures of the dress ~




The only back shot we took but there's a lot of fabric in this dress
and you can see how sheer the fabric was at the hemline

Me and my sweet Samantha

Also a few pictures of my niece at the Cotillion ~




And the curtsy which takes months to learn to do properly

Finally ~ 
I loved my finished dress. I loved that it was comfortable and easy to wear. I loved that it was me...classic with a side of drama. I'm wearing extra hair because I sewed until 12:30am on Sunday morning. We needed to be at the Event at 3pm on Sunday so I had no time to go and get my hair done. However, I think the curly mane works really well with the dress.

Like I said earlier the girls dress posts are up next. But y'all I have a backlog of posts. I have three finished garments that I had no time to photograph between the all of the rain and making these dresses...so quite a few new posts will be coming to the blog.

...as always more later!







Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Making of the Granddaughter Ball Gowns

I've been so involved in making the dresses for the granddaughters that the dresses' construction has consumed the last 10 days of my life!  

First fitting of the dresses

There will be separate posts for both dresses, detailing all of the sewing information, after the event.  But five days in one dress done and one almost completed and I decided that I needed to do a Intro Post because there is sooooooo much information regarding the construction of both dresses.

Here are a few pictures that I shared on Instagram of the dresses construction.

Samantha's ~




Aleena's ~






I finished Aleena's late yesterday evening.  During the day, I hand stitched the zipper in, added the hook and eye to Sammy's, so they're both hanging & ready to be picked up. 

One quick note ~ this is an easy pattern to sew. As usual I complicated the dresses by my fabric choices and choosing to use the best sewing techniques I know. I wanted the girls dresses to not look homemade and thrown together. I wanted them to be as special as the event calls for.

I will have a lot more to say about each dress in the next couple of posts...as well as my own dress...which I've finally decided upon AND decided that I need another trip to the garment district for fabric. The drama never ends! *LOL*

...as always more later!

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