Showing posts from July, 2019

Making Fireworks!

I have been wanting to make a 4th of July dress for some time now.  I have purchased a few fabrics for that purpose, some a little more subtle than others.  I had a dance party that was encouraging patriotic outfits, so I decided to go quite literal by using these two fabrics:

I had visions of what I wanted to make and was planning on using the Colette Moneta.  But, as it turns out, I only had one yard each of those two cotton lycra fabrics, which isn't quite enough for the Moneta.   So, I decided to colorblock a Seamwork Mesa again and created a sketch of what I was envisioning.

Once I had a sketch that I liked, I basically just followed the same steps I did for my rainbow Mesa a couple years ago.  The main difference in my process this time is that after I printed out two copies of the front dress piece, and taped it all together to make the full front piece, instead of cutting up that piece, I just drew in the lines I wanted for my two sections and I traced each piece onto Swedish tracing paper, then added the seam allowances.  That way I still have that full sized front piece to use for the next time I color block the Mesa.  (Spoiler alert: I already have the next one planned and sketched out.)

Ripley loves to help!

I cut a neckline band out of the blue and white, but then thought it might look cuter with a red and while one, so I laid it out to see and decided that was the way to go.

I also usually put bands on my sleeves too, so I just made them opposite on each sleeve too.  I really love how the dress turned out.  I was a bit concerned that the "waving" line would be hard to get to lie flat, but I didn't have any problems with that at all.

I managed to get the stripes to line up pretty well on the left side.  The right side, not so much, but it's the shorter seamline for the stripes, so it's not all that noticeable and I'm not concerned about it.

I like that I can just cut out each piece double with this pattern to make the front and the back of the dress without needing to modify each pattern piece separately.

We didn't leave the house, other than to take these photos on the actual 4th of July.  But I went to my party on the 5th and got a ton of compliments.  I like the way this dress turned out and I'm glad I finally have a patriotic outfit to wear for when the occasion calls for it.

Anna goes to Las Vegas

I have a special place in my heart for the By Hand London Anna.  First of all, my daughter's name is Anna, so that alone would make me interested in taking a look at anything named after her.  Plus, when it first came out, all the photos I saw were stunning.  I've made 3 versions already and I was incredibly pleased with each one.  So, when I needed a formal gown and didn't have a ton of time to mess with fitting, I decided to go back to my beloved Anna since already I knew the pattern pretty well.  I wanted to add some extra drama, and I sketched up a couple quick silhouette options, including one with a neckline capelet and had decided to go that route.


Previously, I had to grade up a size to a ~US 18 and I didn't bother doing any other fit alterations.  But I've lost a significant amount of weight since I last made an Anna, so this time around, I decided to make a size US 14 with a 3" FBA.  I read up quite a bit on other ladies' experience with doing an FBA on Anna and decided to not do it the way the BHL blog recommends, since I was adding a large amount.  I just used the normal Y method that I usually use, then rotated the dart and absorbed it into the two pleats, trying to distribute it equally.  It's very hacky looking, but here's what the finished piece ended up looking like.


This dress was going to be for the awards dinner of a dance event and it is always a formal evening with a theme and this time the theme was Viva Las Vegas.  I had this periwinkle/black/white shimmery animal print crinkle chiffon fabric that was gorgeous and just screamed Vegas to me.  So, I decided I had to go with it.


The fabric was too transparent, so I looked through my stash and I found a black charmeuse satin to underline it with. 


I thought the shiny side would feel nice against my skin, so I put the fabrics wrong sides together and I cut them together and cut a single layer -- not on the fold.  I also hand basted the fabrics together to keep the chiffon from shifting around too much and I'm really glad I took the extra effort to do so.  It made it so much easier once I started sewing all those skirt pieces together! I made cut and sewed up the bodice first and I finished the arm holes with black packaged bias binding, hand stitching it to the underlining layer only, instead of turning and sewing the edges in place as the instructions direct.  This is the first time I've done it this way, because I usually line my Anna bodice and I also have always added sleeves before, but I really like how clean this method came out.


After I made up the bodice, with the neckline unfinished, waiting for the capelet, I put it on my dressform and was looking at it sitting there, already second guessing my plan.  I was chatting with a friend/coworker who was working late out of town and sent some photos, she didn't agree with my plan either, so I started thinking of other ways I could add some extra drama to the dress.  I started thinking about cutting a V back and draping some long flaps from the V to create a little back cape thing (yes, I REALLY want a dress with a cape of some sort!!) and so I unpinned the back of the bodice to see what it would look like with a V back....


...and the fun side effect of underlining my dress with the shiny side of the charmeuse on the inside meant that the good side showed in the flap that folded out once I unpinned the back.  I LOVED IT!  So I ran with it.  I took out the basting stitches and stitched the two layers together on those edges right sides together and pressed.  I finished the skirt, attached it, inserted a shorter zipper and figured out where to insert it where it would cover up my normal bra.  I somehow misjudged and had to improvise, because by this time, I was running out of time before I had to pack it up to go to my event and there was no way I was going to unzip that invisible zipper.  So I found 3 big, shiny black buttons and added them so that I could close the V a little higher than the zipper did, just to cover up my bra.  The top one is the only one that actually does any real work.  The other two are only for show.  They get a little lost in the pattern, so now that my event is over, I might make some sort of change there.  Either use different buttons that stand out more or redo the zipper to be about an inch higher, I'm not sure yet.

But with no further ado, here are the professional photos that I conned the amazing Heather from Maude Productions to take special for me.

I have decided that this is my new favorite dress.  It feels amazing to wear.  It’s so slippery and nice against my skin.  And the fit feels just about as perfect as it gets.  I got several compliments on this dress.  People are well used to the fact that I often make my own dresses for these things, so the first question is usually, “Did you make this one?” and I was very proud to say “Yes I did!”

This is a post that was originally published on The Monthly Stitch on September 25, 2018, but since then, I modeled this dress in the American Sewing Guild's fashion show at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo and here is a video:

New look

Oh hey!  It's been a while.  I have actually been sewing all this time since that last post.  I've even been occasionally posting my makes over on Instagram.  But I miss having a nice write up on my work that I go back to look at, so I decided to dust off the ol' blog and start posting again.

I am a programmer, not a graphic designer, and I have never really been happy with the look of my blog.  So I've been changing it up over the past couple of weeks in anticipation of getting back into actually using it again.  I am liking this look much better, but there are still things I'm not happy about and I will still be doing more work to improve the look and functionality.  Please leave a comment if something doesn't work right (and what device/browser you are using) or if you just have any suggestions or feedback.