Thursday, April 30, 2009

Froggies, The Flu, and The BlueBird of Happiness

So, first up, and out order of the title, is the Bluebird of Happiness.

So, remember this post? (Sorry, I still don't know how to do links correctly.)
Well Ahnalin wants this dress sooooo bad! But I made it in the size that will fit her next summer so that Fabrics on Mill St. can keep it on display as long as they need it. But Ahnalin has been mooning over the little scraps of fabric, begging me to make her something. And like India, she has gotten into the fun of designing her clothing. So, she presented me with the scraps and asked for a "Skirt she could hang upside down in."
She is quite the queen of the monkey bars, so she knows of which she speaks! We have yet to try them out on the monkey bars though, since India is sick and I am keeping Ahnalin home as well....... (more on this later).

See, she is not always ladylike.
Oh, and the top is just a cheapo RTW that I appliqued with a bluebird from Designs by Juju. I love her designs!

If you look closely, you can see the bias strips of the fabric coordinates in between the fabric blocks. And I was able to use some of my vintage lace on the edges of the bloomers and vintage rickrack on the skirt. I love digging through my treasures to embellish pretty clothes.

When Ahnalin was little I used to make bloomers for all of her dresses. And she has such a "tiney hiney" that I had to draft them to fit her. So I just pulled out that bloomer pattern and devised a skirt out of the scraps, and attached them at the waistband. I do see many more of these little skirts in our future.

Next up....The Froggies!
We have 6 froggies in our pond and they are LOUD! However I am having problems loading the videos. I will keep trying.

And lastly, India is sick again. I finally heard from the doctors office and it is "just a virus" whatever that means. This girl has been sick since Monday, no voice, bad headache, totally pale and listless, nausea and vomiting, and achiness. But her cultures came back clear. At least we are not dealing with swine flu. It is most likely just a different flu virus. She is on Tamiflu and should start to feel better soon. But this girl has missed more school this year than any other year, and really needs prayer. She was even too sick to perform on Tuesday night, and that is saying something. So please pray that my India gets well.

Let me know what you think of Ahnalin's new skirt, ok? Thanks!

Monday, April 27, 2009

India, her Dream Dress and her Dream Date for Prom!

Now I am finally posting pictures of my beautiful daughter India in her dress. Pardon me a bit while I dab a few tears from my eyes. How is it possible that my little girl just went to her junior prom? Excuse me, but she is a baby! Right? I mean the whole going to Ireland trip was one thing, but junior prom? And don't even try to tell me that she will be turning 18 in 5 months! No!

Ok, deep breathing.... whew.....

The theme of the prom this year was "Casino Royale". It was held at the Miner's Foundry in Nevada City, walking distance from Friar Tucks, the restaurant where Kevin took India for dinner. However, Kevin drove India in his blue truck. Kevin looked very handsome in his tuxedo.

Here is my lovely girl.

India wore jewelry given to her by her Auntie DiAnna and her Nana, and the beaded purse was from her Grandma Barbara.

Ahnalin was sad that she did not get to go to the prom as well. But she thought her Dida looked like a real princess.

Kevin brought India a beautiful wrist corsage. He remembered that yellow roses are India's favorite flower.

They arrived home before midnight, and as far as I know, Kevin's blue truck did not turn back into a pumpkin....sorry, bizarre reference to Cinderella....

India came home very dreamy, happy, and tired. It was a perfect night.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Dream Dress is complete!

I am so sorry I did not update earlier. I have been getting threats of "Don't make me come down there!" if I don't get these uploaded soon. I have a gazillion photos to share! I pretty much ate, slept and breathed teal taffeta all week.

Oh, and to answer a few questions, yes, I do sew professionally. I did, however, tell my clients that I was not doing any jobs this week so I could fully devote my time to India's dress.

I have an Etsy shop that I will be stocking soon as well. Then I will add a link to this blog. I do take custom orders though.

And, yes, I do sew bridal gowns. I should find some old photos of some I made and upload them. I know I at least have my own pics of my wedding gown, but they are not digital. So I will scan them and show at some point.

Ok, back to construction and engineering....

The skirt was rebuilt twice. The petticoat was an experiment and was redone as well. I am not thrilled how the wrap turned out. But India loves the dress. It is what SHE dreamed of. And she had a beautiful, wonderful, glorious prom night.

Since I was "making this up out of whole cloth" to use one of the H.R.H.'s favorite expressions, I had to take a lot of thinking time between some of the steps. Several people asked how I was going to attach the skirt and how I was going to work the closure of the dress. Both of these were challenges. I decided to add a panel behind the lacing, and stitch it permanently to the inside of the dress. This way, the waistline was continued so that the skirt could be attached.

I then followed the line of the waist to the point, and cut the excess off.
When sewing the skirt, I had to allow for the fact that the waist was higher and curved in the front, above the natural waist, then curving downward to a point at the center back, below the waist. So I actually cut the front longer, traced the curve of the skirt, and gathered it and attached it. Then I cut the back, seperately. I decided the best way to get India into the dress, would be an invisible zipper hidden in one of the back pleats. Oh, I used a really neat white pen to trace directly onto the fabric. I love this little fabric pen. It washes out, but I just used a damp cloth and it did the trick.

Big admission here! Ok, deep breath....and in the interest of honesty....
I was terrified of putting in an invisible zipper. Yeah, I know. Many people put them in every day with no stress or terror, but not me. So I talked to one of my favorite girls down at Fabrics on Mill Street (link is on the side bar, since I can't get the link to work in the post), Taylor, and she told me that I could do it. Ok, I did it. And surprise, surprise, it was Eazy Peazy!

I then traced the shape of the bodice onto the back skirt piece and started pleating by hand.

I stitched each side down, and the gathered the rest.

Originally, I had envisioned the skirt as more of an a-line with pleats. However, India's vision was of a very full, twirly skirt. That is not how she drew the design, but that is what she told me. So, I made it fuller and gathered.

Yeah, I wanted it my way, but it is HER Dream Dress, not mine. I already got to make my prom dresses, back in the 80s. So, good mama that I am, I made it her way.
The zipper hid nicely in the pleat, and the back closed up magically!

I then sewed up the side seams of the skirt, after the skirt front and skirt back were attached. This is kind of backwards, but had to be done because of the shape of the back. I am not a fan of serging, though I own two sergers. I will generally do any kind of seam finish other that serging if I can. I chose to just press under each raw edge and finish with a small hem.

After finishing the skirt, I had to figure how to make an attached petticoat without adding bulk around the waist area. This was important because India is sway-backed, and I wanted the back to lay as flat as possible. My mom had given me a flesh colored half slip that I decided to cut apart and use as the base or the petticoat. The tricot knit was kind of a pain to sew on, but then I remembered to change my machine needle to a knit ball point needle. It went much better after that! I measured off the tulle to the length I wanted and started gathering.

27 yards of gathering later, and more than a few mutterings of "this girl better appreciate this!" I finally stitched the tulle into place on the tricot. I then, laid the whole fluffy mess on the cutting board and drew out the shape of the waistline. I had heard of a cool tool that I had been wanting. I finally found it, again, at Fabrics on Mill Street. It is a tape measure that has wire in it so you can bend it and it holds the shape.

Neato! And it worked great! I cut it out, and stitched it to the waist band, only gathering slightly.
However, the late hour, and the lack of sleep were not a good combination. I ended up sewing the gathered tulle to the INSIDE of the slip, not the outside! So the itchy tulle was up against the skin. India very sweetly asked me to fix it. I thought of a few choice words in my head, but they stayed there, instead of coming out of my mouth. It was my mistake, not hers. Thankfully, I had not stitched the lining down at the waist yet. I am notorious for my use of a seam ripper, and had just broken another one earlier in the week. So, I sprung for a tougher model and was able to use it quite a bit on this project.

After this was ripped out, and restitched in the right direction, I had just finish work on the dress.

Oh, and I should point out that it was now 3:30pm on Saturday. India's boyfriend, date, and Prince Charming, Kevin, was due to arrive at 5:30. No problem....plenty of time...right?
I attached a hook and eye at the top of the zipper at the "V" and one at the top of the lacing panel. I added the rhinestones in the sweetheart neckline in front.

And now, another admission....... Yeah, this is a tough one for me. Ok, I know...I know. I SHOULD have done a beautiful, deep, handsewn hem on this dress which has so much of my blood, sweat, and tears. But I also know my daughter. She is a wild, energetic and not completely graceful dancer! Yeah, she takes after her mama! So in the interest of safety, and my hope of not having to replace the hem any time soon, I cut the dress off and did a machine rolled hem. Yeah, cheating, I know. But it is done and very danceable, as in hopefully as "trip proof" as I could get it.

After all this, I quickly, as in it was 5:05pm at this point, laid out the matching teal minkee fabric and cut a rectangle of teal taffeta and sewed up a very simple wrap to cover her shoulders. I LOVE minkee. Really. But that stuff, on taffeta, is a bad combo. It slid all over the place, grew, stretched out, and was generally nasty. I got it done, but let's just say that when the dress gets entered in to the fair, the wrap will not be going with it. It looks like I sewed it in my sleep, or while driving down the freeway.

So, here are a few pics of the almost finished dress.

These do not show the rhinestones, but you get the idea. I will upload the actual modeled pics in a bit.
Here are some of the new, fun, notions I talked about.

I am going to take a short break and then upload the pics of India in the dress, and her cute date picking her up.

Whew...that was long. If you stuck with it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Thank you so much.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dream Dress- Sleeves, lining, and boning

Not an interesting title, I admit, but that is what I have now completed on the Dream Dress.
It has been quite some time since the last major self drafted gown, as in many years, so I have been having to remember certain things I used to know. I mean, sewing play dresses for a 4 year old rarely involves boning.

India had envisioned cap sleeves that were elegantly ruched but would sit gently just below the shoulder. I had to make sure they were tight enough to not reveal too much "bosom" when they drooped, but loose enough to allow for dancing.

And then when working with boning, it is important to remember that, since it is coiled, it has a direction. If the boning is inserted in the wrong direction in the casing, the bodice will curve away from the body, rather than toward it. In addition, when curving down the ribs toward the waist, you want the curve toward the body as well. India wanted the curve of the back to stand away from the body at the lowered neckline so I had to insert the boning to curve properly there.

So, without further of last nights work:

I wanted to show the inside of the front with the interfacing before I lined it.

Boning casing being sewn into the lining seams

Full lining of bodice with boning casing

Lining showing casings and direction of boning

raw piece of boning showing curve

sleeve piece and ruche piece

I should have taken in intermediate photo here. To ruche the sleeve piece, I gathered the top and bottom of the large piece, and pinned it to the smaller under sleeve piece. Oh, and I used interfacing on the smaller piece as well. Once the top and bottom of the ruche piece were gathered, I pinned them to the smaller piece, and then made loose finger pleates on the sides. Then I just pushed the fabric around and tacked in places to make the loose fluffy areas.

Ok, sad confession, here is where I got on a roll and forgot to take pictures!
I fitted the bodice on India and then pinned the sleeves to fit her. Then stitched them the fronts of the sleeves to the bodice, leaving the backs free. Then I sewed the lining to the bodice, leaving gaps to add in the backs of the sleeves once it was trimmed, pressed and turned.

This shows the lining, with the boning casings and the direction of the boning. At the bustline, the boning is curving toward the body. At the side seam, it curves to the waist, and at the back it curves away at the top.

back view of lined bodice laying flat

lined bodice with sleeves on dress form

detail of lined back where sleeve joins.

back view of lined, bodice with sleeves and boning.

Next up: I need to make the panel to go behind the lacing, which will also attach to the skirt. Then of course, I need to make the skirt and attach it to the top. These things require less engineering than the bodice. I am hoping to get a lot done today. My vocal team schedule just changed so I do have rehearsal tonight. I will be sewing after rehearsal late anyway. And we all know that I never get to bed before 2:00AM anyway, so I will post more photos tomorrow.

If you have any questions, please post them. I am loving this process and want to share it. Thank you all for the positive comments. I appreciate them so much!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Bodice update on India's Dream Dress

This is just a quick update on the dress. I have much to do, but since I am drafting my own pattern and basically winging it, I thought you may enjoy seeing progress.
Please excuse the yellow tank top on the dress form. It is much more pin-able than the ugly gray fabric cover. I plan to make a pretty cover to match my sewing area, but that will have to wait until after the prom.

This is actually the second bodice. The first was made by me just pinning fabric to the dress form, set at India's measurements, and then totally marked up with white fabric pen. After I got it to fit, I took the original pieces apart and made the pattern pieces. I am sorry I did not take a picture of the first one, as it was quite hilarious! This looks pretty lumpy, but it fits on India's body better.

These were the pattern pieces I drafted from cutting apart the first draft bodice. Even these pieces have been changed now. But they were a good starting place. I used artist tracing paper because I like how transparent it is.

This is a side view of the bodice. It is actually quite smooth, though the taffeta reflects every ray of light. I sewed a non-woven interfacing to each piece to give it body. I felt this would lay smother on her body, especially when the back is laced up.

I made tubes of the taffeta, and cut into loops, sewn and secured on the back of the bodice. There will be a back piece underneath these so that her back is not visible. But at least this shows how the back will lace together. The ribbon is double faced satin ribbon which miraculously, matched the fabric perfectly.

Next step......I need to figure out how I want to make the little cap sleeves for the shoulders. This is a challenge because India is working after school, and then I have "Kindergarten Roundup" this evening. Fitting this dress is a challenge because the live body and the seamstress are rarely in the same room at the same time. Thank God for an adjustable dress form.

More updates to come.......