Monday, July 28, 2014

Sailor Inspired Vintage Natalie Dresses for A Family Portrait

Oh I love these girls!

Last week I wrote about the dress I made for India
to wear at a family reunion celebrating my parents'
50th anniversary.

Today I will be writing about the dresses 
I made for Ahnalin and my niece.

Once (and twice) again,
I am using my beloved "Vintage Natalie" patterns
that my friend Janet Gilbert
designed for Sew Beautiful Magazine. 

for my niece and the pattern

You can purchase the patterns by clicking
on the bolded links above.
If you don't have them already, 
I suggest buying them right away.
 Sew Beautiful is no longer being published
and I have no idea what the plans are for the availability
of these amazingly beautiful patterns.

I love this pattern.
I am pretty sure it is my favorite pattern.

I know I have also sewn it a few more times for
custom orders,
but somehow I put them in the mail before I took photos.
Not smart, I know! 

But you can see how much I love this pattern!

For these dresses,
I cut the traditional mid-calf length.
I cut a size 8 for Ahnalin and a size 6 for Cherish.

My mother had requested a sailor style
navy dress with white and lemon yellow trim.

After being unsuccessful in finding 
ribbon trim with a nautical theme in those colors,
I chose my beloved white rick rack
and lemon yellow ribbon as accents.

Ahnalin chose the yellow flower buttons. 

My darling niece.

I used the tab belt with ribbon for the back.

I used the same navy blue cotton sateen,
with 97% and 3% spandex for these dresses.

My mom ordered the hats online.

This pattern is so well written and the fit is so perfect!
The instructions are very well written and
the construction goes together beautifully.
It is a very versatile pattern!

I think next time, 
and there will definitely be a next time,
I will use a border print!


Our three lovie girls and my dad photobombing with his
yellow shorts!

Grandpa John John and Grandma Barbara with their grandgirls.

Me and my girls.

I have a few customs to finish today
and I hope I remember to take some photos
before I pop them into the mail!

Happy Sewing!



Friday, July 25, 2014

Simplicity 1353- A Leanne Marshall Confection for India

Oh how I love this dress!

And I love the girl who is wearing this dress!
And I love the reason why this dress and this 
girl came to be in the first place.

Let me back up a bit.....

You see, my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage
on May 16 of this year.

We had all been trying to get together as a family
to celebrate for several months.

We finally all met up at their home in Sparks, NV
last weekend!

My mother decided to ask a photographer friend
to take family photos, 
as we are rarely all together in the same place.
And she wanted a color scheme
of navy blue, white and yellow.

And she thought it would be fun if her three granddaughters
wore coordinating dresses with a sailor theme.

This cracks me up, because nearly 26 years ago,
I had a navy, white and ice pink scheme with 
a sailor theme for my wedding.

None of us are, or ever have been sailors.

But we like the theme!

I would be making three different dresses for three girls,
aged, 5, 9 and 22. 

Ahnalin picked out the patterns for her dress
and for my niece Cherish.
She chose Janet Gilbert's "Vintage Natalie"
pattern that she designed for Sew Beautiful Magazine.

India chose Simplicity 1353,
also labeled as S0573
designed by the fabulous Leanne Marshall
of Project Runway Season 5.

I will say it again, 


Whenever I make a dress for India, 
or an adult client, 
and especially for myself,
I always start by making a muslin
or trial bodice.
I made a muslin of 
this pattern for India's dress and the muslin fit perfectly!


I actually plan to finish the muslin so she will have another dress
in this pattern in a different fabric.
Now that I know I can sew it directly from
the pattern and know it will fit her,
she may end up with a hundred of these dresses!!

One of our favorite details of this dress is the
accent piece at the top of the bodice.
 It offers just a peek of a print
on an otherwise solid dress.

For the main part of the dress, 
I used a cotton sateen
from Joann Fabrics that is 97% cotton with 3% spandex.
I have used this fabric in nearly every color they offer
and I love it every time!
 The white is a cotton sheeting
and the yellow polka dot is from 
Jennifer Paganelli's new line "Jenny Eliza"
which is also available at Joann Fabrics.

Both of the accent fabrics are cut on the bias,
requiring 3/4 of a yard.

So I ended up with plenty of extra fabric to line
the bodice and even....
sneak in contrast pockets!!!!!!


Pockets are always a must for India's dresses,
so that she has a place to put her insulin pump.
She adores these pockets and she adores this dress!

I found matching navy blue bow flats
on clearance at Macy's and bought
a pair for each of us.
They were perfect!

And my mom bought the sailor hats for the girls.

Some of my favorite things about this pattern
are the fit of the fully lined bodice and the pockets.
I love how Leanne explains how to insert an invisible 
zipper right in the pattern instructions.
I love the little details and explanations 
in the directions that are often left out
of most patterns.

I will definitely make this pattern for India again.....

and maybe one for me!

Next up, I will talk about the other two dresses.

Happy Sewing!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ahnalin As "Cinderella's Mother" for "Into The Woods"- McCall's 5499

Back in May, Ahnalin performed the role of 
"Cinderella"s Mother" 
in her school's production of 
"Into The Woods".

Since Cinderella's late mother is also the
"Fairy Godmother", her teacher
requested that her costume would be rather "ghostly".
Yet she wanted her appearance to reflect youth and beauty,
as Cinderella's mother was still young when she died.

Ahnalin chose McCall's 5499 for her costume.

As usual, I made a few changes.

I purchased all the fabrics from the red tag racks
at Joann Fabrics.
The shimmery ivory fabric was a very soft and flowy acetate
that I found for $1.50 per yard.
I don't usually love acetate satin but
the price was right for a school costume!
As the fabric was nearly transparent,
I lined the entire gown with the same fabric.

In addition, I found a very soft
cotton drapery organza for the sleeves and overdress.
The drapery organza was 120" wide so I only
purchased 1 yard.

The slit in the neckline was MUCH TOO LOW
so I added eyelets and laced the opening closed.
I love this look and it made the dress much more comfortable for my girl.

Because I lined the dress completely,
I used twice the amount of yardage required on the envelope.

As I had only one yard of the organza,
I had to cut the overdress much shorter than the main dress.

I cut the hem at an angle so that I could use
as much of the fabric as possible,
while adding to the "ghostly" appearance of the gown.

The overdress pattern calls for the bodice
area to be lined.
But I felt it the sheerness added to the ethereal look of the costume.
I shell hemmed the entire overdress,
including the neckline and arm openings.

Here she is with Cinderella during the show.

Ahnalin is very slim but growing taller.
I cut the Child's size 5-6 but lengthened
the satin gown to approximately a size 10.
She will be 10 years old next month.

Ahnalin was the youngest and smallest child in the whole show.
The cast ranged from 4th grade through 8th grade.
This was her first school musical and she loved every minute!

India even got in on the act.
She was the assistant director!

Happy Sewing.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Recovered My Adjustable Dress Form

I love all dress forms and mannequins.

I have been very blessed with some of my dress forms as 
gifts from sewists who no longer needed them.

That was the case with my beloved adjustable dress form.
A dear friend from Grass Valley handed her dress form to me
when she was no longer sewing as often as she liked. 
She knew I sewed nearly every day, between garments
for my daughters and myself, custom creations for clients,
and alterations, especially bridal gowns.
This year, I have been quite busy with making
aprons and pillows for custom orders,
as well as many, many alterations.
I have altered several bridal gowns this year,
but none needed to be worked on while on the dress form.
So, I had not noticed how sad my form had become.

Her cover was literally crumbling off her!

I am currently working on a Vera Wang bridal gown alteration
and I could not bear to put that gorgeous gown 
on my poor sad dress form. 

So, it was time to clean her up and recover her.

Now this was a daunting job, but last year I recovered my sofa,
so I knew I could do it!

I just pulled a little and all of the old fabric came off easily.

I started to take apart the pieces by unscrewing the adjustable wheels
that held together the pieces of the form. 
I am sure there is a name for them but I have no clue what they are called.

These are the adjustable wheels that held together the form body parts.
They were specific to the bust, waist and hip so I labeled them.

As I got the form pieces apart, I realized that the cover and old glue 
needed to be removed and the form parts needed a good washing.

This is the pole that held the form.

I gave them a good scrubbing with Dawn Dish soap 
because I am convinced that it holds the secret to all things.

I let the pieces dry.

I tried to use the old fabric as a pattern but it was pretty stretched out,
however I was able to use the width and length as a general idea.
I chose a cotton lycra fabric with a moderate stretch, 
so that it would conform to the shape of the body pieces.

I used Aleene's Tacky Spray.
It would probably work as well with a different glue
brushed on the inside edge of the body pieces.

I worked one part at a time, spraying each piece,
then carefully covering the part with the fabric.
I probably made my job harder by choosing a stripe,
but I really liked how fresh it looked.
Once I sprayed the glue onto the outside of the plastic,
I worked from the bottom up, smoothing the fabric onto the part,
and carefully adjusting the stripes.

Here are the hip pieces all ready to assemble.

 I reattached each adjustment wheel by screwing the tiny screws directly through
the fabric. I had to feel around for the little holes.
The fabric kind of puckered a little bit but it was so much nicer than before.
So I decided to just leave it.

As we attached each hip piece, there was a metal piece that had to be
screwed back to the pole. This was tricky with only my two hands.
So Ahnalin offered her hands to hold the pieces
while I screwed them in place.

Here is the lower half hip area of the dress form all attached,
and ready for the upper torso pieces to be attached.

I followed the same "spray and smooth" method on the upper torso pieces.
I took special care to stretch the fabric over the "Fronts"
as Millie calls them in "Thoroughly Modern Millie",
which was playing on the DVD player while I was working.
This is where the need for a moderate stretch in a fabric
really shows it's importance!

I should have shown this earlier, but this is how I fixed the 
inside of the body pieces.
I sprayed along the inside edge and pulled the fabric
snuggly from the edge.

And then I trimmed off the excess.
I probably should have trimmed it more
evenly but at this point, my hands were really sticky
from the spray adhesive.

This is how the inside of one of the upper torso
pieces looked after it was all glued and covered.
There was a little metal hook piece on the right and left
side of the bottom that slipped onto the waist of
each hip piece.

After the torso pieces dried,
I slipped each piece over the waist
of the hip pieces.

Then I reattached the adjustable wheel pieces for the upper torso pieces.

This is how the inside of the dress form looked.
I normally want the insides of the things I create 
to be just as lovely and perfect as the outside.
But to be honest, I was just ready to get this done,
so I could get back to the bridal gown alterations!
Not a great excuse, but it is the truth.

At the very top of the adjustable dress form, 
there is a little knob that screws into the neck plate.
This knob is then turned to adjust the back waist length
of the torso. 
But it also acts as a pincushion.
To cover it, I cut a small circle of the fabric
and stuffed the edges into the rim using a butter knife.

The neck piece attached to the upper torso 
pieces with four tiny clips, which were slid 
into grooves at the top of the pole.
One of the four clips must have been lost
in one of our many moves,
so one of the torso pieces didn't fit snugly onto the neck.
I will need to find a fix for that. 
But for now, I tied a piece of fold-over-elastic
around the neck to hold it in place.

By this point, my hands were a sticky gooey mess!
That Tacky Spray is sticky stuff that does not
want to just wash off!
The answer for me was coconut oil!

I put about a teaspoon into my palm and rubbed it all over my hands.
The oil was very effective in breaking down the glue so it 
washed off my hands, without having to use something toxic.

At this point, I was ready to show off my lovely "new" dress form!
However, the wind was blowing so strong that she blew right over!

Yes! The wind was blowing 21 MPH!

So Ahnalin helped me out again by holding her up!

All in all, I am pretty pleased with how the dress form turned out.

Now, back to my alterations!

Happy Sewing!