Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Diamonds - Dress - Part V

More embellishment isn't always better.

I've done a few more experiments on the Diamonds bodice, and although I'm getting closer to making this all work correctly, the muslin is getting uglier! Take a look:

Thank you to everyone for your input on the chiffon squares. I came to the same conclusions/concerns you did. First, the smaller squares look better. Second, the method of attaching might cause a flopping issue.

Let's address the size first. If you look closely at the new pictures, you'll notice I actually have two sizes of smaller squares on the bodice. At the top, I have the 1 1/2" squares and after about four squares, they get a bit bigger at 1 3/4". I didn't try 1 3/4" originally and if I hadn't, I 'd always be wondering if that was the perfect size. Hence, cutting another size. I think graduating the squares in 1/4" increments is the right answer. For the large attached sash, I'll start with the 1 3/4" squares and then gradually increase the size of the squares by 1/4" for each increase.

Now, let's address the real issue I worked on with today's experiements: the attachment method. This row of squares is attached with a bead/sequin combo only:

I see *at least* two problems. First, the squares tend to rotate which ever directions they feel like and don't stay lined up neatly. Notice the one with the gold center is now a square, not a diamond. Second, as is obvious with the second picture, there's some major flopping.

The next picture shows the next row of squares with another style of attachment. These squares are attached with a row of stitching. This is the method that is in the instructions of the Threads article.

This method works nicely. The squares stay in place and while there is some flopping, it's supposed to be that way for a little movement! I'll color match the thread to the blue - the only question now is, do I do a matte thread or a sparkly thread? I think it's going to be a matte one, because I really want the sparkle to come from the beads/sequins/whatevers. Speaking of which, I think this size of sequins are too small, so I'll need to hunt something larger down.

One more thing, those blue squares are the real chiffon fabric. I just took a small corner for testing purposes.

Parting shot: I found a picture of the cream/pink suit. It's pretty bad, but there's another small one of me in the same suit. It's 1989, and I'm 17 in these pictures.

Tomorrow I'll either work on Diamonds or another project, which I should introduce to you: Waiting for Spring.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Diamonds - Dress - Part IV

Embellishment Experiments

I apologize for not posting this yesterday - I actually didn't get to working on this until today. Between my husband's car being in the shop and my kids being sick last week, I didn't get out to run errands or shop until yesterday. The errands took part of my day and I'm working on another project, which now has a deadline. I'll post about that some other time.

Back to Diamonds. I haven't done the final fitting tweak yet - I need to play with the embellishments first and once I'm happy with those, I'll do the final fitting.

Just what is the embellishment? Chiffon fabric diamonds. I got the idea from Threads magazine, in an article entitled "All Aflutter with Chiffon". The featured garment, a skirt, isn't quite my speed, but I liked the idea of the embellishment and envisioned it used another way. My vision was rows of diamonds moving diagonally down the bodice of a gown, vintage gown, of course. Actually, this is how the whole projects of Diamonds was conceived. This also explains why I went to the trouble of altering the pattern for a smooth crossover bodice: I needed the plain front to attach the fabric diamonds.

Now we come to pictures of the first two experiments. I'm trying to decide whether I like this embellishment. I don't want to spend a lot of time working on a gown if I hate the embellishment. To start, I'm trying different sizes of squares. The original skirt's squares are smaller at the waist and get gradually larger toward the hem. I think I need to stick to one size - there's not a lot of room to work with on the bodice anyway, maybe I'll graduate the squares on the sash. At this point, I'm trying to determine what size will work for this gown. I've found out that if they're too small, they don't flutter, and too large looks, well, too large. In the first pic, the squares are 1 1/2", in the second they're 2". There will be more rows - I only did enough to an idea of what it was going to look like.

Other than the squares there are no other embellishments on this gown, so they won't be competing for attention. I'm also not sure how I'm going to attach the squares. The original skirt has the squares stitched in rows through the centers. I could do that or I could attach each square only in the center with a sequin/bead by hand. I like the idea of the added sparkle and the handwork doesn't bother me.

So here's what I think so far: I think I like the embellishment, and I think I like the smaller squares, attached only at the centers. I have bought the fabric, it's a sapphire/royal blue. The chiffon and the satin match exactly, so the whole thing will be monochromatic. I'll show you that soon. The embellishment really will be the diamonds/sparkle, lending texture and sparkle to a plain gown.

I know it's hard to tell with all the wacky fabric going on in those pictures, but what do you think?

The parting shot today is of Pix sitting on the ledge in my studio looking out the window. My daughter took this picture this morning, while helping me take some pictures of other things.

Tomorrow, I'll post the pictures Vicki sent me of American Beauty on display!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

American Beauty - Accessories

Guess what I just won on eBay?!?!?

These shoes! From the seller: "Sleek lines and great color on these VERY DESIRABLE VINTAGE 1950's RED genuine lizard skin 3.5" heeled pumps by "Frank Werner of San Francisco." Skins are soft and supple and in LIKE NEW condition with a gorgeous skin deco-style design on top! "

Aren't they great? Vintage, red, and lizard, too! I can't believe I found these in my size. As far as price, they're a little more than I like to pay for show/runway shoes (I like to pay no more than $15 for shoes that will see little use), but these are vintage. With shipping, the total is less than $50.00, so I'm very happy. Can't you tell?

One last look at my ruby slippers:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Diamonds - Part III

Where do I start?

First, I resolve never to buy another vintage pattern that is not my size. This one is for a 36" bust. Right. I find that even though I'm a 34" bust, the 34" patterns are still a bit big and the 32" bust patterns fit me better. For the moment, I need to deal with pattern I have.

Second, I learned that my dressform isn't my size. It's too big. It's supposed to be a small and a petite, but I can't adjust it small enough at the waist nor at the bust. The breasts are about right but the girth at the bust line is wrong. I can't zip up the muslin on my dress form and I can zip it just fine on me. The hips are good though! (Go figure!) I have suspected this in the past, but now I know it's true. Ugh.

Third, the changes. When you last saw the muslin, it looked like this:

So far, after 3 rounds of alterations, it looks like this:

It's not the best picture in the world, but I think you can see that it fits a lot better.

Three rounds of fittings sounds a bit much, but let me explain. I'm not the best fitter in the world. I'm still adding to this skill set, so I prefer not to make more than 2 changes per fitting. I can then tell if what I've done has made a significant impact or not. I also limited the changes to different areas, like one for the bust area and one for the hip area. That way I'm not changing the darts and the side seams at once and not knowing which one really was the problem.

I write down every change as I make it so that I can remember. Just marking the muslin doesn't work for me. By the time I'm done, there's quite a few new lines and I get a bit confused. I do use a marker to mark new lines, and try to use a different color for each round of changes in an area.

So, what have I done so far? Here it is:

1st fitting: I took in side seams 1", 2" total per side. I will have to redistribute this much of a change later in the pattern so it's not all taken out at the side, but evenly through all the pieces. I also took out 1" horizontally on the bodice because of my short waist.

2nd fitting: The side seams are not tight enough at the bust line, but fine at the waist, so I took out 1/2" starting at the top edge and tapered to 0" at the side bust dart. This was a bit better, but not perfect. I also discovered that the top edge was too low by 1" in the front and under the arms. Hmmm . . . what could be causing that?!? (See 1st fitting changes.) I decided to let out the 1" I took in at the waist - I mean if I shortened by an inch and then added back an inch, what did I gain, except the headache of doing it and messing up the bust dart placement? The bodice now sits where it's supposed to, and I like the waist seam where it is.

3rd fitting: The skirt is way to wide at the hip. I did add extra in the seams/center front just in case the skirt was too narrow for my wide hips. A mistake, but better to be safe than sorry. For this fitting, since the skirt back fit fine, I just took off the skirt front, recut it exactly as per the pattern and put it back on. It fits much better, but I might tweak it still a bit. I also lowered the vertical bust dart by 1/2"; this makes both bust darts equally distant from the apex.

Yikes. I still need one more tweak: I'm going to take out 1" total from the center front of both the bodice and skirt and see what that does. I think that will be the last fix. I think . . . .

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Diamonds - Part II

The Return of the Ugly Step-Sister

I think I'm settled on the sapphire/royal blue color for the gown. I was going through the Spring 2007 fashion shows on and saw some collections with the blue in them. The one that really sticks with me is the Oscar de la Renta show, where several blue dresses and gowns were shown. There were also several blue/white combinations in that show. As long as I can find a satin and a chiffon that match, I'll be set.

The pattern style changes haven't been too bad. First, for the straight skirt, I was able to take another vintage pattern for skirts only and morph the straight version right onto the bodice of the dress pattern. After all the alterations, the front and backs actually fit onto the bodice cut as is from the pattern pieces. Strange but true.

Second, the bodice. Let me explain about this bodice. There are acutally two bodices. For the front there are 3 layers. First, a underbodice, which has princess-sort of seams all the way from waist to top edge, plus a center horizontal dart for shaping. This layer is where all the boning and cups will be sewn. In the original pattern, this is the layer next to the body with a facing finishing the top edge. I will be putting in a lining to hide all the underpinnings. Here's the inside layer, with one cup removed so you can see the structure:

Close-up of the horizontal center shaping dart (I've read about these, and this is the first pattern I've used with one):

Second, there's the left bodice front which is smooth, and the right bodice front which is supposed to have all the pleats. These two pieces have completely different bust shaping - side and underbust darts.

Close-up of the shaping darts, you can also see the marker where I've been marking potential changes:

Now, for the bodice style change, I took out all the front pleats of the right bodice, here's the original pattern piece, followed by the same piece being folded out so that it's smooth. The right bodice piece wraps around to the back, so I need that extension beyond where the side seam is. I then cut the piece out. I needed to use part of the left bodice to get the shaping correct, you can see the overlap in the second picture and what's really going on in the third.

By now you're wondering why I changed the style. Wasn't the original style nice? Actually, I like the original pattern just fine. The problem is with the embellishment, it won't work with all those pleats and I wanted a cross-over bodice. I'll get to working on the embellishment eventually, once the fitting is done.

Brace yourselves - as you can tell from the pics above, the ugly step-sister is back:

Obviously, the fitting offenses are more numerous than the muslin fabric offenses. More on the fitting later.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend - Part I

or, Diamonds for short.

Don't ask why I picked a long title. It just fits. (No pun intended.)

What is Diamonds? Diamonds is another one of those long term projects consisting of an evening gown and short jacket.

Here are the patterns, first the dress. I'm morphing the top of the first one to the straight skirt of another pattern. Acutally, it's not that simple. I'm removing the pleats from the bodice, for a smooth drape across the front which will support the embellishment. I'm keeping the drape/sash like thing on the back, but ditching the drape/pleats on the skirt front. I'm still deciding on whether to keep the straps or not.

Secondly, for the jacket - you've seen this before, but here it is again. I'm going to be making the red one up in a snow white faux mink. I'm hoping for a channeled mink as there are some pieces cut on the bias and it will make the garment more interesting. I'm thinking of lining it in white diamond (what else?) quilted satin. I've got nice opalescent thread for the quilting. I'm considering hand made beaded/jeweled buttons, too. I've been wanting to make some and this is good place to try them out - there's only three to make.

I'm not sure of the fabric color for the dress yet. My first instinct was a royal/sapphire blue. I know it's not diamond white, but the contrast of the blue with the white mink would be striking. The embellishments (more on that to come) are diamond shaped, so I think it would work. Too much white might be too bridal, but I could see it as a retro bridal gown. Not sure yet.
I've tried out many colors in my mind and keep coming back to the blue. I guess it will depend on what fabric comes my way.

So where I am now? I'm about ready for the 3rd fitting. I can only change 1 to 2 things per fitting, or else I get confused and can't figure out what variable changed the fit or is causing problems! More on the pattern and fitting to come!