Saturday, July 14, 2007

Waiting For a Dress - Final Post

I finished it this morning! Here it is, without the vest:

Here it is with the vest:
Here's a detail shot, the cuffs have clear snaps and the neck has white hooks and eyes, and you can almost see the whole label. I just did a label with the Pigma Micron pen, as described in this post.

As with all my projects, I always either learn something or confirm something I already knew. Here are a few of those things:
  • I have meet some of the most encouraging, helpful and understanding sewers on the Net. Thank you all for your encouragement and compliments - it really helps when I'm stuck on something or am not motivated to work on the project.
  • The 70's really is not my fashion era; the mod potato sack like dresses don't do anything for me, I need clothing with a *waist*, or at least waist dart shaping through the body.
  • Underlining is very important; don't skimp - use it if the project needs it! The cotton underlining made a world of difference in the dress' shape and stability.
  • It's good to get out of the comfort zone and sew something different once in a while.
Now, back to Diamonds! (Finally! Right?)

Parting Shot: Here's my son with his shorts. He finished those today, too. He's super excited and plans to use them as pajamas. They're not perfect and he did have some help from mom, but he's just thrilled anyway.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Waiting For a Dress - Part 8

Almost Done!

I got the embellishment completely done last night and today I worked on getting the hem ready to finish. Tonight I'll finish up the hem, put in the label and show you the final result tomorrow!

The body of the dress has already had wavy stitching done in opal Superior Glitter thread and only needed beads and sequins to finish it. I just put pins in where I thought I wanted a line of snowflake sequins and beads and then stitched them on:
The hem is finished with a bias piping/facing. This is a technique I got from Threads #104, Dec./Jan 2003 , and I think is my most favorite finish and most used of everything I've ever read in Threads.

To make the piping, cut bias strips equal to 2x's the width you want the facing plus the amount of fabric it takes to go around the piping. Once you've stitched enough pieces together for the proper length, fold the strip in half so that it's now half the width you originally cut. Fold the raw edges around the piping cord and baste. Here's what it looks like from the right (on left) and wrong sides:

You then attach the piping to the item, the hem here, of course. I always place the folded edge at the edge of my fabric, stitch as close to the piping as possible and then trim the seam allowance. This is not quite the method proposed in the article, but it works for me. Make sure that you place the wrong side of the piping to the right side of the fabric!

After trimming, turn facing to the inside, and yes, you guess it: fell stitch folded edge in place.

Here's the hem from the right side and from the wrong side. Clean and neat, either side.

Parting Shot: I finally got a hollyhock bloom! I say finally because there's some sort of bug here that eats my hollyhocks and they never get a chance to grow properly. This is the first one I've had in 3 years. I planted the hollyhocks because my grandmother had them in her garden at her old house in Omaha, NE; so they remind me of her. This one's for you, grandma!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Waiting For a Dress - Part 7

The Armhole Finish

Today I'll show you how I finish the seam at the armhole when there is a sheer sleeve, but a solid bodice. There are of course, many ways to finish off seams, and one popular method for this combination of fabric is to bind the trimmed seam allowances. I've done that, but there are some cases where I'd like a finish that doesn't show the seam allowances at all through the sheer sleeve.

I got the idea for this finish from an article Susan Khalje did for Threads in July 2006, for a Master Class article on a couture method of applying a lining. The garment featured was a green sleeveless top. I liked the method and have used it on sleeveless garments, but figured there would be very little difference to the method if there happened to be a piece of sheer fabric in between the fashion fabric and lining. Here's how to do it:

1. This method works best if you underline the bodice. With that in mind, set in the sleeve in the normal way.

2. Turn, clip and press the seam allowance to the bodice side. Catch stitch the seam allowances to the underlining only (see why you need an underlining?).

3. After stitching the major seams of the lining (shoulder and side seams), stay stitch around the armhole and turn, clip and press the seam allowance as for the bodice. Be sure to roll the stitching line just a hair to the inside.

4. Pin lining in place around the armscye and fell stitch in place.

5. Prick stitch around armhole so that the lining doesn't have a chance to roll outward.

Here's the finish product from the inside and outside; neat, clean and no visible seam allowances. I just need to do the last step and prick stitch around the armhole.

Today I'm working on embellishment and after that it's just the hem to finish!

Parting Shot: Yellow lilies! These have been in bloom for quite a while now, and they just keep on blooming. We saw large plantings of this same variety of lily when driving through either North Carolina or South Carolina (can't remember which one) in the median and on the side of the freeways. They've done a really nice job in making their freeways lovely to look at!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Waiting for a Dress - Part 6


I have made real progress today on the dress! This morning I had a front and 2 backs and 2 sleeves. The underlining wasn't even cut out! Look what I have now:

I got the underlining constructed and hence the dress body constructed, plus the sleeves are set in. Tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll show you one of the ways I deal with the finishing on set in sleeves when the sleeve is sheer and the body is solid.

What's left? Let's see, putting in the lining, putting on the collar, embellishing the body, and putting in the hem. I think I can do that this week - embellishing the body will take the longest. Oh yeah, and probably a really good pressing!

As a side note, the Diamonds jacket is also complete up through the buttons and snaps.

Parting Shot: It looks like my children are destroying this wallpaper. Actually, they are. My daughter wants her room repainted and redecorated. I told her that she'd have to help. One of her jobs is to remove the old large wallpaper bottom border. She's enlisted her brother to help her get the remaining paper and residue off the walls. After a little instruction and help, they were on their way and doing a pretty good job!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Waiting For a Dress, Part 5

Foiled Again!

Happy 4th of July!

Yesterday I had planned on embelishing all the body pieces of the dress. That didn't happen because I got the thread too late in the day. By mid-morning today, I had completed the stitched portion of the embellishment - it's tone on tone white, so it's not exactly easy to see, but it doesn't scream at you either. Obviously it still needs a good pressing, too:

For the rest of the day I had planned on putting in the zipper and sleeves. That didn't happen either. Why? Well, I got all the machine stitching done on the body pieces, and while it looks good, it's only stitched on one layer of silk. That means it's pretty flimsy on it's own - not substantial enough, nor opaque enough even with a lining for a dress. I do plan on putting sequins/beads on the body, so it definitely needs something for support.

I'm thinking of underlinig in either a bastiste or a light weight cotton in white. I did run a few experiments this afternoon regarding underlining color. I want to make the dres a bit more opaque and thought that a flesh colored underlining might be a good idea. Someone suggested this back when I was working on American Beauty, so I tried it out. Actually for this project, it isn't a good idea. It makes the white fabric a bit too cream colored. Since the white fabric represents snow, I really need it to be ultra white. So, white it is unless anyone has any advice or ideas - please let me know what you think!

I'm actually a little bummed about this, but I should have been thinking more clearly when planning the whole thing. I think that was right at the end of the school year. Next time, I'll have to do some better planning! The only good thing is that I didn't get the zipper, sleeves and lining in and then decide I didn't like it!

Parting Shot: My other lilies are starting to bloom! This one of the fun parts of summer - seeing all the perennials flower!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Waiting For a Dress - Part 4


The dress is still in pieces, but I have managed to work on it a section at a time. This worked out well for me since I was traveling.

First, take a look at the sleeves, and then I'll explain:

I had originally intended the sleeves to be made of 3 layers of tulle, with the same stitching and snowflakes as you see above, plus with sections of the tulle cut out forming open spaces in the sleeve. It would have been a neat effect, but the tulle was too flimsy and sagged which didn't fit into the mental picture I had of the sleeves. I don't have any pictures of the first sleeves, but trust me, it didn't look right. I needed a sheer, yet stiffer fabric. Crystal poly organza was the answer; hence the trip to Hancock's. It's got shimmer and body, and the second set of sleeves are much better.

Here's a close-up of the cuff (I still need remove some of the blue marker!). Compare it with the picture of the green side of the vest below it. Isn't it interesting that the exact same threads, beads and sequins look so different with just a change in background color?

The cuffs were a bit annoying; I think I constructed them about 3 times before I was happy with them. I used different colored threads for the various portions of beadwork, and usually this isn't a problem. If you're using a white fabric with white lining, you're going to be able to see all those threads on the back of the beadwork. Not thinking, I cut the facings for the cuffs and collar out of lining fabric. Don't even ask why, as I don't know either. I stitch the cuff, piping and facing together and the facing is too sheer. It *finally* occurred to me to cut the facings out of the dupioni, and while not completey opaque, they're much better.

Second, the collar is almost complete. The beadwork is done, but I need to reattach the facing because I had to reposition some of the piping. I wasn't quite 100% happy with it, so you know I had to take it apart.

Third, the body of the dress is in progress now. The lining is assembled, but I'm working on embellishing the body - once the stitching is in I can put everything together and then finish the beadwork on the body.

Parting Shot: Max is *so happy* that I'm home. He follows me around like a dog, and of course wants lots of attention. Here he is, right in the middle of the photo shoot: