Monday, September 23, 2013

Under Pressure

So it would seem (and by seem, I mean that it's totally true), that I like to procrastinate and work decently okay under pressure.  My previously mentioned friend who's getting married in a few weeks (3 weeks), asked me to be the hostess/greeter of her wedding.  She was kind enough to give me free reign to create my own dress. The two dresses that her brides maids are wearing are these.

My thought is to make something similar.  I found a pattern at JoAnn's, Burda Young 7388, that is carries some of the same style elements.

I'm going to do a mix of the two, a gathered sweetheart neckline bust but a flat waist and a gathered skirt.  The material is a dark blue silk dupioni from and will be lined with a black polyester lining. I'm actually going to belt the dress with a blue African print fabric that I bought and I'm hoping it's not going to look like too much with the gathers and the belt. And I was thinking of piping the top of the neckline and the seams for the waist in the print fabric to tie everything together.

I haven't seen too many people make this dress up on the interwebs and the ones that do seem to run into some issues with the pattern pieces.  I'm going to muslin this up since this is the most expensive dress I've had to make since I started and take care of some fit issues in the bodice.  It's boned and I'm not too adept at it, only used it once, so we'll see what happens.  All in all, i'm excited and a bit worried.  Fabric should be here in a couple days and then it's off to the races!  I'll let you know how it all goes!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Look Up! Laurel Blue

Earlier this year I picked up the Laurel dress from Colette Patterns. I had been in a sewing slump and figured that this simple dress with only 4 pattern pieces would be a quick fix to pull me out.

Six months and one non-related skirt later and I finally started and finished it. I started with a different fabric choice but ended up going with something a little lighter and more summery.  I picked up this fabric from Fabric Mart.  Its currently my favorite place to buy fabric online, I like how they drape the fabric to give you a sense of what you're buying.  My fabric knowledge isn't good enough to buy things on name alone.  I think this is a Marc Jacobs fabric that I found on sale.  It's really thin and drapes well and my attempt to make it out of one layer was quickly shot down by my common sense.  And I'm glad I listened, this fabric is SUPER thin for a non silky.  Ripping out stitches left holes that had to be coaxed out. I underlined the dress in another Fabric Mart find and left the sleeves without the lining to lighten it up.

Pattern-wise, it was indeed simple.  The things that took the most time were the hand stitching and making my own bias tape.  Woo hoo for my first time making bias tape.  I found this really great tutorial that I previously pinned on Pinterest on creating appx 5 yards from a fat quarter and i immediately jumped to it. It was pretty simple expect I got some of the measurements wrong which made it so that I couldn't pull it through my bias tape folder thing.  Which meant I had the pleasure of hand folding and ironing the entire strip (yay me).  Thank goodness for TV, Netflix and the first season of 24.

I enclosed all my seams with store-bought bias tape and overlooked the arm sleeves. One thing to mention was the way the sleeves were built.  The pattern indicated to make 3 rows of basting stitches along the top which we then pulled on to ease the sleeve into its arm hole.  I had never seen that before and I enjoyed the finished look with tiny gathers across the top.

Bias Tape binding:  The black is the center back seam, the orange is single fold tape along the hem. 

Bias Tape binding:  Purple Double Fold Bias tape binding along the side seams.

The only alteration I made to the dress was to add darts on the front.  I'm not used to super look fitting dresses, especially if they're not cotton.  I was prepared to make this a simple shift dress but after pinning the front, I liked it so much and couldn't NOT add the darts.  I left them open to create a sort of pleat, which was inspired by A Handmade Wardrobe. I haven't yet decoded if I'm going to iron the pleats in or just let them fall where they may but I would like to add some sort of visual interest in order "seal" the end of the dart.

All in all, I really enjoyed sewing this dress and I've already worn it once and I'll be sure to wear it again. I hope you enjoyed my selfies!  The light wasn't what I wanted it and I don't know my camera well enough to compensate for it yet, but I'm working on it. Continuous improvement!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bridal Showers

So, this post is in recognition of my failure as a budding blogger to take decent pictures of my creations.  I will do better.  But in the meantime, you will see terrible pictures of things that I created yesterday for a good friend of mine. She's getting married in a month and I'm uber happy for the current couple/soon-to-be-newlyweds.  

This is only the second bridal shower that I've been to and the first one that's been a female only affair.  In classic Renee fashion, I waited until the last minute to think of gift ideas and started brainstorming 3 days before the scheduled event.  Also, in true Renee fashion, everything worked out thereby continuing to enable her bad habits.  I wanted to create something personal, that would be remembered and that she could see and use everyday.  Those discounted the usual items that I THINK get given at bridal showers, such as lingerie.  Given these restrictions, I decided to consult with my dear friend, Pinterest.  Oh Pinterest, how I covet thee.  Thankfully, i have enough spare time (cough) to scroll through a forever scrolling webpage of ideas that pop up when I type in 'Bridal Shower'. They ranged from terrible involved to just not being right, but after xx amount of minutes hours, I was able to come up with 3 gifts that would amount to less than $50 in monetary value (i think, I didn't really do the math) and would take me less than 6 hours to do.  Since I would be starting these projects on Thursday, everything would work out fine.

Unfortunately, I was unable to procure one of the necessary items for gift number 1, but fortunately, gift number 1 was the most time consuming and was instead replaced by an equally good one (that got blessed by the groom) and was a hell of a lot simpler.  I still ended up making three items and they all turned out well, if I do say so myself. Presenting....

Gift #1

These magnets are of cities that they've been to together.  Zurich in Switzerland, Cancun in Mexico, St. George in Burmuda, Ponce in Puerto Rico, Cincinnatti, OH (where the Groom is from) and Manasas, VA (where the Bride is from).  I decided to do the cities because it's pretty easy to remember the countries you travel to, but a lot of times (at least for me), the cities are forgotten.  This way it will be a constant reminder/quiz of where they've been. As their travels increase, I'll possibly consider building on the collection. 

Gift #2

This picture frame lists famous couples in history and in story with the couple's names front and center.  I spray painted the frame purple as it's the Bride's favourite color and knew she would find a good place to put it.  I made sure to include some recognizable African couples as well though I didn't include as many as I would have liked. 

Gift #3

CC stand for Chris & Candace and i put their last name on it.  I played with just putting CJ as a universal nickname, but I felt as though the Groom has had that name for so long that people would automatically associate it with him.  The CC helps to establish their union along with sharing the last name.  The symbol on the right is an Ghanaian Adinkra symbol "Eban".  It is a fence which symbolizes "Love, Safety and Security".

This was the centerpeice.  I FINALLY used my Silhouette Cameo for good (and not pack rat evil).  I've had this thing for almost two years and prior to yesterday, had yet to put it to good use.  With the discovery that a $2 roll of contact paper from Big Lots is a cheap alternative to throwaway stencil material, I'm hoping that hurdle has been jumped and I'll continue to find good uses for it.  It was simple to use, a little tedious at the weeding out process, but intuitive and worked out well.  I still need to figure out how to properly import some images into the software but it worked out well.  

Gift #4

This was because I tend to go overboard, but I needed something to "wrap" the casserole dish in and this "Market Tote" at JoAnn Fabric's was 60% off so I grabbed it.  It folds up nicely and will definitely be put to good use. Note to self: always walk with JoAnn coupons in purse

All in all, it took me about 6 hours including shopping and travel time to complete all of these, and a good chunk of that time was trying to find the parts to the cutting machine and the remainder of my supplies that I KNOW I own but hadn't touched since I moved here. The Bride loved it and I LOVED seeing the expression on her face when she realized the thought that went into each of the gifts.  It's reactions like those that make me love what I do and inspire me to continue putting in the extra effort to make things that people will use and enjoy.