Friday, December 28, 2012

Finished Project: The Holiday Dress

My sewing plans for this month kind of turned out to be the opposite of what I'd originally thought. It seems as soon as I announced I wasn't going to sew a holiday dress and mentioned I would be sewing a Christmas gift for someone, I began working on just the opposite. This season, my sewing ended up being rather selfish, but sometimes that's what it takes to get you out of a little sewing rut!

I had been looking on Etsy at vintage party/cocktail dresses to wear for the holidays and wasn't really finding anything in my price range that I was in love with. I really wanted something green and preferably with a bow (or two). At one point, I decided to have a just a glance through my pattern/fabric stash and found myself pairing my lightweight, emerald green, cotton sateen with New Look 6910.

Once I had them unearthed from my stash and waiting for me on my sewing table, there was no turning back - I dove right in! I didn't even deviate from the versions provided in the pattern (no mixing and matching of bodices and skirts, like I usually do). I made a straight view C because it had the straight skirt with two little pleats, strapless boat-neck neckline, princess seamed bodice, and all-important bow at the waist.

Action shots courtesy of Mom & Dad on Christmas Eve.

Because the fabric I'd chosen is so lightweight, I lined the bodice with muslin and underlined the skirt with it as well. Then I cut a 3rd skirt (the first 2 were fashion fabric and underlining) out of some synthetic, swishy, mystery fabric that's white with a cute black and red pattern to line the skirt. I'd picked it up at an antique store in my early days of sewing (I think I'd planned to use it for a blouse? Ew.).

side - front - back   ...the back doesn't look so rumpled and strained on me when worn, just on the dress form. ;-)

some detail shots. the beloved BOW, and the bodice and skirt lining

This project held a few "firsts" for me. It was my first (successfully) fully lined bodice. Luckily the directions were right there in the pattern and I was FINALLY able to wrap my mind around the way to do it. It was also my first time doing this type of combination of lining and underlining, which worked out well, I think. The last "first" ?, I did my first ever hand-picked centered zipper. I glanced at Gertie's instructions from her book, and just went for it. The thrilling part was having such control over the zipper insertion. Normally I am a mess when putting in a zipper and they pretty much always turn out somehow wonky. This one is by no means perfect, or even very pretty to look at, but I was in control of the placement and didn't have to wrestle with my machine. It was great! I can't wait to try more hand-picked zippers so that I can eventually make some that look nice.

dress' insides and hand-picked zip. for some reason my fabric coloring would not photograph well at this point...?

If I make this pattern again, I'll cut a size smaller (I had to take it in a LOT!) and lengthen the skirt by a few inches. I did a tiny hem and the finished dress is still a little shorter than I'd really like. All in all, I'm quite pleased with this little dress. I'd been really wanting something in a deep green shade and am so glad I was able to make this fabric work. I even managed to finish sewing it just in time to wear for the holiday. Merry Christmas to ME!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 5 Makes of 2012

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! Thanks for your comments sharing my excitement about my latest completed project - I'll have a full, detailed post coming soon. In the meantime, since I'm playing along with Gillian's Top 5's of 2012, I've rounded up my 5 favorite projects from the year.

Up first are my top tops of the year: my Vintage McCalls 5970 double-knit top with little peter pan collar, and my Simplicity 2154 bow blouse.

These two have been my most-loved, most-fun-to-sew, and most-fun-to-wear tops I've ever made! They're both a little retro, both have collars (my favorite!) and are both definitely comfortable to wear - all things to keep in mind when planning upcoming blouse sewing projects.

My most favorite 3 of my top 5 have to be my party dresses, though. They were so fun to sew, though a bit more time-consuming than the quick & fun tops I just mentioned, and were definitely learning experiences, but have tended to give the biggest bang for my buck/time & effort investment. Each one turned out wearable, flattering even!, and really...special! They don't get worn as often, since they're designed for parties and special occasions, but they're the projects I'm most proud of and feel giddy just thinking about wearing them.

New Look 6910 - more details soon!

My Polka Dot Wedding Guest Dress

My Milly Wedding Guest Dress

It seems that tops and dresses are my favorite things to sew & wear and that doesn't really surprise me. They've always been my favorite things to buy, too.  I'll likely be sewing even more of them in the new year, but am also thinking I should try to FINALLY sew a skirt that I'm at least 90% pleased with, since I've yet to do that. Maybe Sewaholic's new Hollyburn skirt...? We'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Miracle!

This morning I've finished my emerald green holiday dress, baked my pumpkin spice cake, wrapped up all of my presents, and am getting ready to spend Christmas with my family. Perhaps it's not an actual miracle, but I wasn't quite sure I'd be able to get everything done in time!

Here's a peek at my completed dress.

I hope you all have a very happy and relaxing holiday break!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Bad News First...

I'm sure most of you have heard about Gillian's "Top 5" reflection on 2012. She, and any other bloggers who participate, are sharing their top five favorite creations, sewing fails, lessons learned, blogs & bloggers, and goals for the new year. I thought I'd play along, and just to get the bad news out of the way first, I'll share my 5 suckiest sewing fails first!

Up first (these aren't in any real order),  is my swiss dot Colette Violet blouse. It was a great learning experience to make and I enjoyed the process, but the final product just does not flatter and never gets worn. EVER. The entire silhouette is baggy, the neckline is gapey/floppy on me, the armholes are too big? and I didn't space the buttons quite right, so the placket is a little ripply.

You may be surprised to see my Colette Peony on this list, but I've honestly only really worn it twice after I made it. I love the idea of it, and had a (mostly) great time making it, but there are some bulky issues going on in the shoulders and neckline, the waistline isn't in quite hitting in the right place to feel good/flattering (especially without a belt), and it's overall just a little bit too big.

Now, this blouse, I know you're not surprised to see on my list of fails. My "easter egg blouse" was a joy to sew but has never been worn. Mainly due to the huge floppy collar. Like the Violet, I'm glad I sewed it, and learned from it, but it gets NO wear in my wardrobe. If I were to make this blouse pattern again, I'd definitely reduce the shape/size of that massive collar, and not try to use muslin instead of actual interfacing.

This poor, sweet looking little top, has gotten zero wear because it has never been completed! It looks just great on my dress form, but just horrible on me. I was so annoyed upon trying it on after putting the collar on that I took it off, didn't hem it, couldn't figure out how to change the thing to make it fit nicely, and threw it in the closet. It's basically been there ever since. I can't bear to get rid of it because I'm in love with the adorable fabric. Every time I see this photo of it, I think, "hmm... I could probably revisit that and make it work," but each time I've dug it out of the closet, I've failed, and it's gone right back in.

Same goes for my Colette Jasmine blouse. Never hemmed/completed, and never worn. It went straight into the back of the closet, but I don't even dream of salvaging it. I'm OVER it. The collar looks kinda cute, but everything else is wrong. 

The End!

It's kind of therapeutic to reflect on my fails, as negative as it seems. Do you ever go digging through your UFO/fail stash and find yourself reliving memories and getting inspired all over again?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Going green

Well, you guys, I did it. I wanted Green and that's... kind of...what I got! I threw all caution I'd expressed in my previous post to the wind and threw this beige/grey eyelet dress into the vat (my kitchen sink) of Kelly Green dye. Here's how it turned out.


...and after!

The cotton fabric part of the eyelet took the green dye really well and is a little, tiny bit more saturated looking in real life than in this picture. The thread of the eyelet embroidery and the matching grey lining, however, did not take a drop of dye and magically look exactly the same as where I started. This is what I'd been afraid of, but I'm actually finding myself liking the way it looks now! The (now) contrasting lining and stitching make the flowery pattern of the fabric much more pronounced and ...interesting.

Here's a closer look.

The one downside of this project has been that the cotton part of the dress, mainly just the skirt, though, has shrunk a little bit from the hot water and subsequent washing/drying of the dyeing process. Now the grey lining peeks out and is longer than the hem of the skirt. That can be easily fixed, though. :)

I also threw a bit of bright white, synthetic something-or-other, lace in the dye solution in hopes of making it some shade of green. Surprisingly, it came out baby blue! It's pretty but, I'm not sure what I'll do with it.

Those cut pattern pieces you're seeing are part of my latest sewing project, which also happens to involve the emerald cotton sateen I picked up at G. Street fabrics during the sewing blogger meetup earlier this month. I'm hoping for a cocktail dress to wear around Christmas. It was totally unplanned, but after looking on etsy for something vintage, and drooling over this dress pinned to my inspiration board, I decided to just make something...and if it doesn't quite work out, I'll just wear something I've already got. :)

Hooray for green! More details on my WIP soon.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


This weekend, I had a couple of good thrifting trips. Some of the items I picked up you'll be seeing more of in the coming months (so secretive!), but one you'll get to check out right now. It's an eShakti grey/beige eyelet dress that I found at Goodwill.

As you can see, the color is a little bit ...meh, but the fabric says it's 100% cotton (I'm assuming that excludes the shiny, matching greyish lining), so I was thinking I might try to dye it. I've got a couple of packs of Kelly Green RIT dye that I'd bought with the idea that I'd dye a length of white (probably synthetic, not receptive to dye) lace I've had laying around and try to make some kind of blouse out of it. Sound weird? Well, it looks great in my head.

When I showed Tom the newly thrifted dress and held up the box of dye next to it, he was like, "Green...??," which got me thinking, maybe this is another idea that only sounds good in my head. I have no idea if 1) the lining that peeks through all of the little holes in the eyelet will take dye at all, and if it does, how much; and 2) if the silky (rayon?) thread used in the embroidery of the eyelet detail on the fabric will take any dye either. This means my results could be crappy. I'm thinking maybe a more subtle color might be better...but what?

Duke is by my side for support, but doesn't have much advice to share.

Also this weekend, I've been trying to do a little mending that's been waiting in the mending pile for far too long. More of Tom's shirts that need taken in with some darts (copied from the job the tailor did on another of his shirts recently).

I was initially surprised when I saw the tailor had made two long darts down the back of the shirt he'd asked be adjusted so the fit was more...fitted, but it seems to be the best/easiest way to take care of it. Taking the shirt in at the sides might sound simpler but would probably actually be more annoying than darts, I'd think, due to the fancy (flat-felled?) seams there.

Anyway, I'm working on those shirts. Mending, blerg.

Another update: remember that holiday gift-making sewing I'd mentioned briefly before? Well, now I'm starting to think I might end up waiting on that. I'm actually feeling rather un-motivated to sew lately. So those holiday gifts might end up being belated... or just random late-winter (think...January/February) "just because" gifts. We'll see.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A little meetup...

As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, I went to a mid-Atlantic sewing blogger meetup over the weekend. Lisa of As I Said organized the get together and Robin of A Little Sewing hosted us for a swap and meet-n-greet at her house before we shopped at G. Street Fabrics in Rockville, MD.

The whole group! - image courtesy of Robin (Robin has listed and linked to everyone in her post)

It was a great time and, in addition to the lovely company, there was SO MUCH fabric to look at and SO MANY patterns to browse through. It was a little bit mind-boggling.  You can see the huge table that was covered in fabric - I think this is what was left over after we went crazy and filled our bags with everything we could manage, giggling to each other and making little piles of our finds around Robin's house to stash them out of the way.  As much fabric as there was, I think there was probably just as many patterns, or maybe even more.

Another image, courtesy of Robin, of the bounty we got to dig through. This was just a fraction of the total patterns we ended up piling up onto that table for the swap.

And what did I manage to snap up during the lovely chaotic scramble to look at every piece of fabric and every pattern? Honestly, I kind of restrained myself, considering the damage I could have done. I mainly focused on patterns, grabbing everything that looked cute, even if it wasn't my size. I'm not sure just how I'll use them all, but here is a peek at some of what I brought home with me from the swap and following shopping trip to G. Street Fabrics.

The emeralad green pima cotton sateen as well as the cute purple/orange/brown print next to it were snagged at G. Street, but everything else came from the swap. The other two fabrics are a deep purple, drapey peachskin(?) and a slightly shimmery silvery grey rayon. I don't have distinct plans for these items just yet, but it was thrilling to pick them out!

I think I can say my first sewing blogger meetup was a success. Here's hoping for another meetup soon! Maybe one in the spring? One can hope... :)

Have any of you ever gone to a sewing blogger meetup?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

And the winner is...


Mika! of Savory Stitches. I can't wait to see how you use the book and pattern!
Congratulations, Mika, and thanks again to everyone who entered!

I went to my first, real-life, sewing blogger meetup today! It was fantastic - I got to talk about sewing and meet bloggers while browsing mountains of up-for-grabs fabric and patterns. I'll be sure to share more details from the day soon!