Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dress Rescue 2: Black Velvet Dress

While I was browsing through the racks at Savers, some black crushed velvet caught my eye. I pulled it out and found this:

I was rather taken with the silhouette (fitted bodice + full swirly skirt=win). I liked the scoop neck, and it's a great length. Alas, there were a couple of drawbacks. The first being that it, like yesterday's dress, buttons down the front. ARRRGH! Once again, the nefarious button-front rears its ugly head. This must be dealt with. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but trust me, it's not of the good.

And, also like yesterday's dress, it has weird sleeves. They're sort of puffy/bunchy at the top, and uncomfortably tight at the bottom. They hit at that weird length that's just about two inches about the wrist. They are just bad, bad sleeves. Sleeves of EVIL. Armed with only my pinking shears and imagination, I must defeat these sleeves before they can take over the world. (Or just be fugly forevermore, which is just as bad.)

So, how am I going to rescue this dress? Well, first things first, the buttons go. I'm going to remove all the buttons and the edge with the buttonholes, then seam the skirt down the middle from the waist. Above the waist I'm going to put grommet tape so I can lace it up the front with a variety of colored ribbon. I'll cut the sleeves to cap sleeves and maybe put a little white lace trim beside the grommet tape for contrast. I'm looking forward to this one- it should make a very pretty, versatile goth/medieval style dress that should be unique without being costume-y. Come back tomorrow for part 3 of Dress Rescue: Fort Collins Edition.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dress Rescue 1: Brown Renaissance Dress

I am a complete sucker for things that need to be rescued. Be it a scruffy kitten, a beat-up or broken doll, or a careworn tea towl, there is little I love better than finding something that needs a little TLC, cleaning it up and making it better. Such creatures are three of the dresses I bought in Fort Collins on my recent trip to visit my cousins. (Hi, Shannon and Tasha!) All of them are decent at heart, but need a little work to become the fabulous dresses I know they can be. I believe in their potential! C'mon, dresses, reach for the stars, achieve your dreams, [insert more inspirational twaddle here]! This is the first one, and the one that I think will be the most challenging. I picked this dress up at Repeat Boutique for $5:

Isn't it pretty? It's about six sizes too big for me, (I think I could put another person in there with me, as a matter of fact. A skinny person, granted, but still another person), but it's chocolate brown, brocade-and-velvet, and covered in lovely, lovely embroidery of the kind for which I am a major sucker. And did I mention it was only $5? (I'm also a sucker for a bargain.)

The catch? Well, there are a couple:
First, it has these weird, cuff-button balloon-y sleeves. I'm not much in favor of cuffs, and I'm definitely not in favor of them on otherwise huge, billowy sleeves. It makes them look like they're eating your arms or something. I like loose sleeves, so to me the idea of sticking a tight, itchy cuff on the bottom of 'em seems highly nonsensical.

Second, it buttons down the front. I don't like this at all, to be honest. To me, flowy renaissance-gypsy-boho-whatever and buttons just do not mix. Button-down brings to mind first professional, then Western-wear aesthetics that really don't fit with the rest of this dress at all. It's rather jarring, and more than pointless for a really billowy pullover garment. (It has a sizing tie in the back, for heaven's sake! Why do you need buttons?) And the buttons are kind of ugly.

So, how am I going to rescue this dress? First, I'm going to recut it so it fits in the top and flows down to a looser skirt. I'm going to do a little tailoring underneath the arms so that it actually fits there and doesn't have thirteen yards of extra fabric flapping around like wings. Then I am going to take off the buttons and seam it down the front, eliminating the buttons and buttonholes altogether. Finally, I'm going to cut the sleeves on an angle so they have a sort of pixie-hem look to them. I hope to have pictures of the successful reconstruction soon! Tune in tomorrow for part deux of Dress Rescue for the dresses I bought in Fort Collins.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Best Prom Dress Pattern EVER!

Ok, so I just finished 4 hours worth of geography and physics. On the bright side, that puts me two weeks ahead of schedule on both classes. On the not-so-bright side, I am now officially brain-dead. And a bit frightened-I think if you showed me a map or a physics formula I might run screaming in the other direction. So, to give my brain a little happy time after all I have done for it, I decided to browse the dress patterns over at Vogue. And I found it: THE pattern for my prom dress! And yeah, yeah, prom isn't until June, but with this pattern's complexity I may very well need all 10 months to get my sewing skills up to scratch.
Here it is in all it's head-splodin' glory!
image of V2880

I literally squeed with excitement when I saw this dress. Is it not GLORIOUS? It's pretty much everything I love all in one perfect, amazing, incredible package. The sexy-yet-demure off-the-shoulder neckline. The drapey, layer-y ruffled asymmetrical skirt. The lacing on the side, which gives it that lovely modern-medieval twist. The soft ruching that plays up curves in a subtle way. And it's even on sale right now for $5.75! Could it be any more awesome? I'm really picturing this in a soft gold chiffon shot through with a subtle sparkle, trimmed in chocolate brown velvet ribbon. I read the reviews on patternreview, and it looks like this dress is basically exceedingly hard, but worth it. Oh-so-very worth it. And if anyone could tell me where to get soft gold chiffon shot through with subtle sparkle, I would be very much obliged.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Change In Plans

So, for the fall concert dress I have decided to ditch the brown lace overlay. This has come as a result of talking with my wise, wonderful, and vastly more experienced mother. She correctly pointed out that a non-stretchy lace and a very stretchy jersey probably would not combine very well, and would be a major pain in the ass to sew. Thanks, Mom! Plus, I decided I liked the sheen of the jersey and the color too much to cover it up with the lace.
I actually have some old yellow satin sitting around that has the same stretch (or lack thereof) as the lace. I think I might use it and make a cute little dress. As I recall, the satin has little sparkly-bubble thingies on it that make it look like something that should be used in a five-year-old's dance costume, so hopefully the lace will mature it up and make it useable for everyday.

I start school tomorrow-ugh- but, on the bright side, it is my senior year! (Yay!) I actually go to school online, which offers many advantages, not the least of which being I have a lot more time to sew. Since I live a half-hour out of town, that's an hour round trip every day that I don't have to take, which means I have another hour I can spend sewing. I motivate myself to do work with sewing. I'll say-ok, so when I finish my English for the day, I can spend 15 minutes cutting out a new pattern, pinning, ironing seams (depending on where I am in my current projects). It's a very good incentive, and I can actually get a lot done!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fall Concert Dress

*drumroll* Ladies and germs, I am very excited to bring you the Very First Blog Dress! It's a dress for the fall concert with my community band. (As if you couldn't tell that from my post title!) I saw this gorgeous stretch jersey at Wal-Mart for $2 a yard, and I had to have it. Like most Wal-Mart fabric, it's of middling quality, but since I'm still learning, I don't exactly want to buy really expensive fabrics. (And I don't have much money to spend on really expensive fabric anyway, so there ya go!) Here it is:

Isn't that a great color? I got this gorgeous brown lace at Hobby Lobby for an overlay; I thought the autumn-y orange and brown would be awesome and entirely appropriate for a fall concert:

I'm making it in this pattern, Simplicity 3785:

Sorry for the crummy pic, but their website won't let you copy and paste the pattern pictures. Here's a link for those of you who would like to check it out further:
I'm making the short sleeveless version. It's just about the perfect concert dress. The bodice is low enough to be sexy without being so low as to make anybody faint. (Not that my barely-B's are going to be making anyone faint soon, but you get the idea.) It's flowy and non-binding, so I won't be getting unfortunate belly bulges when I breathe in. The length is perfect too. I don't like wearing floor-length or ankle-length dresses to concerts since they tend to get caught on chair legs, stand legs, and instruments, and disentangling yourself, while amusing for the audience, can be very embarrassing for you. And if you sit in the front row like I do (I play oboe) you can't go above-the-knee either unless you want to show your lady bits to the audience, which I really have no personal desire to do. Mid-calf isn't really an option for me, as it gives me a really bad case of the dreaded Stumpy Legs Syndrome, so just-below-the-knee is the most optimal concert length for me-long enough to give coverage but short enough that I'm not getting tangled in things. If this dress works out, I have some gorgeous red crinkled satin that I might make in this pattern for a Christmas concert/party dress.

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Post, Yay!

Hey, all you folks out there in the world wibe interwebz! My name is Jamie, and I just decided to take the plunge into the blogosphere by writing a blog about one of my favorite things-sewing. I have had a passion for sewing since I was very young. My grandmother was a professional seamstress, and my mom has sewed from a very young age, so I guess it's in the blood! I have had aspirations of sewing since I was about five or six, and I did a couple of projects in middle school that...well, let's just say they're best forgotten. It is only recently that I have begun to sew "seriously" (aka make garments that were actually wearable in public), so I'm still very much in the learning stages of how to sew properly. I hope you will come with me on my sewing journey and enjoy the ride along the way!

Before you start reading my sewing blog, you probably ought to know what I like to sew. I'm a 17-year-old girl with what might best be described as quirky sensibilities and style. I love love LOVE to sew and wear dresses, so you'll be seeing a LOT of dresses on this site. I am very fond of cotton prints with animals on them and stretchy jerseys. I especially love frogs and bats. My style could best be described, well, it kind of defies description, as it's basically anything I like and I think is pretty. However, if I had to pin it down I'd say my two favorite personal styles are elegant Victorian and fifties bombshell, with a touch of the bohemian/medieval thrown in as well. So lotsa laces (I ADORE lace), velvets, ruffles et. all, and things in zingy oddly printed fabrics with fitted tops and full skirts. Maybe not *entirely* compatible with each other, but definitely fun. In addition to sewing from patterns, I like to reconstruct bought garments, whether it's just a simple resize or a full-on remake. I never shrink from a challenge in sewing. I try to make pullover garments as much as possible, as I really loathe putting in zippers and buttonholes. (I'll do it, but damn, do I loathe it.) My biggest style icons are Helena Bonham Carter, Marilyn Monroe, and Katharine Hepburn. Fair warning: I'm kind of random, so don't be surprised if I throw off segues about toast or something in the middle of a post. I'll try not to, but I can't guarantee it won't happen. That said, welcome to my blog; I hope you like it!