Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Surprise Late Christmas 'Gift'

When my children were little, Christmas  was time to put away old toys and keep out the new. Then, a few months later, when bordom set in, I would change back to the old toys, and it was like having Christmas all over again! Well, something kind of similiar happened to me yesterday.
December was one of those months where, even though I wasn't terribly busy with work, I was busy with lots of other things; trip to Vegas, making Christmas gifts, getting shopping done, baking, ect., ect., ect...  all those busy errands and chores that make up the Christmas holidays. And a few alterations. Straightening and cleaning my sewing studio was the last thing on my mind. So, when I entered it yesterday to try to put it back together, I was appalled! I had picked up 'Ella' in the morning, and there was no place to put her. My table was cluttered with everything from a box of vintage wrapping ribbon that was scattered and spilling out everywhere, to scraps of fur and felt, as well as boxes of  business cards that had just come in. The floor was littered with loose pins, more scraps, plastic bags, and ribbons used in a project. It took me a good 2 hours to clear the clutter and take out the trash. Finally I had Ella's place ready for her. She took her place of honor, and as I sat before her to take a deep breathe, I noticed the forgotten boxes that had gotten stashed and then promptly forgotten, in the corner. 
Forgotten packages!! They had been left so long ago that I could not remember what was possibly in them! They must have arrived at the peak of my busy weeks before the holidays. I was so excited! Anticipation had me reaching quickly for scissors to carefully open the packages. Even though I didn't remember what was in them, I was quite sure it was fabric - especially in the long roll. The small box though - I had no idea.
The long roll came open first - 

   I was right ofcourse - fabric!! A light weight poly chiffon; 10 yards worth. Can't for the life of me remember why I felt the need for it -probably got it on sale. I am sure I will use it. That is never in question!
Next,came the longer rectangular box.
Ah! Now I remember! I had ordered this lovely dotted voile for a dress I have had floating in my mind for some time. I had been looking for a sheer, dotted fabric with a bit of body, but still light weight. This was as close as I could get and I was getting impatient. It's a bit stiffer than I had planned, but I will wash it and hope that some of the stiffness washes out. 6 yards, for a tea length full skirt. Hmmm....may need more than 6 yards.
Finally, I opened the smaller box. Such a big box for such a little item -
A very pretty lace applique with 3 large crystal jewels sewn to it. I have no idea when or why I ordered this. Maybe it was sent by accident. Does anybody else ever do this? Place orders then forget you did so? I sure hope I am not the only one! I suspect that it is one of the signs of a (gasp!!!)  hoarder  fabric collector.
Now that these final packages have been opened, I believe that Christmas is truely over, and it's back to work I go. But that is ok - I have found that I have missed my work. I am happy to be getting  back to it. Although, I am not afraid to admit that I have greatly enjoyed my month or so of not doing much work at all.
Tomorrow it's back to ripping out zippers, taking in seams, replacing boning, piecing lace, and playing with bustles; all in my shiny clean room with my good as new Ella, who purrs like a brand new little kitten again!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Return to my Beloved

Tomorrow I will be reaquainted with one of the loves of my life! Unbelievablly, she doesn't have a name. Maybe Ella. Yes, we will call her Ella from here on out, for she is a Baby lock Ellangeo. So, the name seems to fit, right?
Ella went to visit the (gasp) sewing machine doctor a little over 3 weeks ago. Just before my ill - fated trip to Vegas. She goes in every year for a check-up. I put so many hard 'miles' on her, that a yearly check up is the least I can do for her. I knew, going in, that this year would be harder than in the past. It has been a difficult year for her, what with  not only the many hours she has put in, but the many DIFFICULT hours she has put in. Between having to jump over beading, mixing threads, and working with difficult fabrics, I had a feeling she would need major surgery at the least. I was not wrong. She needs a new needle plate. A new bobbin case. A new thread cutter. But that is the extent of it. It could have been worse. I am assurred that she will perform like new when I get her back.
In the mean time, I have been making due with a borrowed (dare I say it?) machine from a friend. It has been a good machine, and I have no complaints. It is a Bernina - of which I have had one of my own in the past.
 She is a work horse, and does a very good job. I had one just like her until Ella came along. Now my Nina resides with my daughter at college. I had forgotten the attributes of working with a mechanical machine as opposed to a computerized machine. There is a certain amount of personal satisfaction I seem to get from working with the mechanical machine, that I don't get when working with the computerized. I find that I have to do a bit more 'feeding' of the fabric with Nina. She's a bit more vocal; but doesn't seem to complain as much if I happen to use a different thread in her bobbin. She takes a bit more work, in that I have to actually snip the threads when I finish a seam. She doesn't have as many foot attachments, and I have to put more thought process into changing stitches. But what a little worker she is! Clackety clackety clack she goes, but she won't stop unless she gets a wad in her bobbin! Every stitch is perfectly even. Even though  she is loud and even though she isn't as versatile, she makes me remember why I love to sew. 
It's not the ease I find with Ella, in not having to 'feed' the fabric. It's not because all I have to do is flip a switch and Ella changes stiches. It's not because Ella does everything I ask without really even having to ask! It's because sewing involves a certain amount of 'finese'. A certain amount of artistic creativity that has nothing to do with the kind of machine you use or how much you use it. But it has everything to do with how well you use what ever sources you do have, be that a mechanical sewing machine, a computerized sewing machine, or simply your hand and a needle and thread. A love of the art is all you need to find a wonderful satisfaction and even a sense of purpose, in connecting thread to fabic.
So, though I will be very happy to be reaquainted with my beloved Ella, I will definetely miss Miss Nina. She has been a wonderful substitute, and a part of me will miss her very much. Hopefully, she and I will have an opportunity to work together again in another year, when Ella once again goes (gasp!) under the knife.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Adventures in Vegas

Vegas is the city of lights - and in the month of December, it always seems to be even more so, because of the Chrsitmas lighting and decorations.
We go there every year in December for a convention, where my husband spends his days scheduling airshows for next year or taking classes. Evenings are spent dining or visiting with good freinds, or taking in a show. This year was no different. except for 2 things. First, I left with an injury. A week before we left, I had twisted my knee while working on a very busy bustle. It was very painful. I limped my way through the airport and up to our room, where I quickly got some ice to put on it before venturing out. I soon found that I wouldn't be doing a lot of 'venturing'. We were staying at the Paris; which was fortunate, because we were right next to the Miracle Mile shops.   The first evening we were there, we walked through the mall (we were looking for a diet coke, of all things!) and this is when I think I realized that my walking would be minimal. By the time we got back to our room, my entire leg was on fire. So, the next morning, I decided that I needed to run back over to the mall and find a bandage to wrap my knee in.  While I was there, I thought a more comfortable pair of shoes or boots would help also.
This is where my adventure really began. I found the bandage I needed, and put it in my purse with my wallet, zipping it all up tight in my beautiful Jimmy Choo bag. Love that bag! My leg was sore, but I found that as long as I walked slowly, it was manageable. So, I wandered into a shoe store and tried on a couple pair of boots. Neither was going to work, though, so I picked up my things and went on to another store, where I found a cute and comfortable pair of ankle wedge boots. However, when I went to pay for them, I quickly discovered that my wallet was gone. PANIC. I dumped the entire contents of my bag on the counter - surely it was in there somewhere! If you have never had your wallet stolen, I can tell you that it gave me s sense of panic and unbelief unlike anything I have ever experienced. I limped/ran back to the other shoe store, where they found a security guard to help me. Can you believe it - there were no security cameras in the mall! This is Vegas, baby! No camera's? Are you kidding? I filed a report, then limped/ran back to the Paris, where I got on my computer and found phone numbers to cancel credit and bank cards. It was so surreal. It had to have been a pro, because my bag had been zipped, and for someone to get into it without me noticing, well, let's just say, it had to have been quick.
As unfortunate as this little adventure was, I can still be thankful for several things. 1) They didn't get my $260 in cash (which was saved for my spa day) because it was in a seperate envelope. 2) My husbands bank and credit cards were not affected, so I still was able to have access to buying power! And most importantly, 3) they didn't take the whole bag! I can replace the cards (which actually arrived the day we returned home) and my drivers licence, but how would I ever replace my Jimmy?!!

The Red Dress - Finally!

It's been a while since I've done any posting - even though December has pretty much been a 'dead' month with my business. I've been keeping busy getting ready for Christmas. Making gifts, a little shopping, ect. I finally, last night, got around to downloading the couple of pics we took in Vegas of my red dress. The photo isn't the best, and the pose I am striking makes me look like some kind of hussy (believe me - I'm not!!); but it does show the dress.
I made the lace flower attachment a little smaller; I think it looks much more size appropriate.   The dress fit like a dream. I do believe that of all the dresses I have made for myself over the years, this is my absolute favorite. Love the color, love the style, love the fabrics.

I especially love the back of the skirt, how it flares out fuller that the front. It was very comfortable to wear, also.

The evening was lovely - it was my opportunity to see people I hadn't seen all year, and may not see many of them for another year. We attend this convention in Vegas every year, the first week in December.
It is the ICAS convention, which stands for International Council of Airshows. My husband is a performer in airshows; and unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend many of his performances this past year. Thus the reason I hadn't seen so many of my ICAS freinds in so long. As always, Vegas was fun; and an adventure, this year, as never before (more on that later).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finally! All About Me!

I had planned to post this a week ago, but time got away from me. I was getting ready to head out of town to Vegas and found a couple days to whip up a couple items just for me!
I had ordered these pieces of fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics and had been just sitting on them waiting for inspiration on what to make with them. First up -
This is a lovely purple silk jersey; very lightweight. I am not used to sewing with Jersey fabrics, and this one wasn't easy to work with. I would much rather sew with chiffon! It is much thinner than I had expected it to be; I should have lined the whole thing, but only had enough to line the bodice. It is tunic length, though, so I will be wearing either leggings or pants under it! I used an old out of print McCalls pattern. I don't remember the pattern number. Very easy though. Whipped it up in about 5 hours total.
Next -
Another silk blend jersey print from Gorgeous Fabrics. LOVE this one! Again, I don't have a photo of the pattern, nor do I remember the #. It's a new one, though from McCalls. I think. Maybe Butterick? I should check. Anyway, this one took a little more time. It has tiny pleats at the sleeve hem, and at the bodice as well as the waist line of the skirt. This jersey was a little easier to work with, but I still prefer Chiffon! It, too, is tunic length. Very comfy and very flattering.
 I really don't get why so many seamstresses out there love sewing with knits. They are terribly unstable. You have to change the needle so much more often (yes I am using a ballpoint), and they don't press well. Just give me chiffon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Red Dress Finished!

It has actually been finished for about a week, just haven't made time to photograph it. I apologize. I know everyone is waiting on pins and needles, right?
Keep in mind that my dress dummy doesn't have my figure (as in my hips). I fill the dress out a little more.
Also, I am trying to decide whether or not to keep the lace flower or not. Opinions are greatly appreciated!  First up, you see it with the flower . . .
And here you can see it without . . .

I should have taken a photo of the back of the gown as well. The bottom of the skirt is very full and flows away from the body - very flattering.
I had taken it to the bridal shop to have someone there zip it for me (to make sure it fit before finishing) and praise the Lord! It fit perfectly!
All in all I am very happy with this dress. I can't wait to wear it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

If You Liked the 16 Pt Bustle - How About This!

I love bustles! They can make a wedding gown go from just pretty to fabulous! I especially love tiered french bustles. They look so elegant. They are perfect for very full skirts. The 16 point bustle I did  a few posts ago was just such a bustle. Full skirt that made a beautiful tiered bustle. 
Today I bustled a gown that topped the 16 pointer. This is another Justin Alexander Couture Gown. It is much fuller than the earlier gown, thus needing more bustle points. 
Figuring out where they would all go ended up taking more time than I expected. Lots of measurement taking, marking,  re-measuring, and rechecking. In order to get an even look all the way around, it is important to mark the bustles symmetrically on each side from the center back.
Each bustle is marked with color coordinated pins which are then replaces with matching ribbons.

 I was a little concerned that I would have enough different colored ribbons so I wouldn't have to use any of them more than once. Fortunately I had recently purchased a huge supply of ribbon, and had plenty!
Here is a view of the bustles all tied up -
And here is the finished view -
4 1/2  hours, 32 feet of ribbon, and 24 bustle points later, the bustling is finished on this gown.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Looking for Holiday Joy

One of the long lived traditions in our home has been to decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend. Usually on Friday, after Thanksgiving has been put away and before getting ready for the next week. The last couple years it seems our decorating has been getting done late in the day on Thanksgiving, so the kids can leave to go to their respective homes. And that has been fine.
This year has been different. My son will not be here for the holidays at all, as he will be spending them in Afghanistan. My oldest daughter choose to spend Thanksgiving with her boy friends family in Florida; and this is fine. She is old enough to  make this choice without censure from me. As much as I missed having her here, I know and understand that the day may soon be here when she has 2 families. So, that left just my youngest daughter to come spend the day with us. We so enjoyed having her with us. And the 2 of us planned to go ahead and get out the decorations anyway. But, as the day went on, I found myself finding excuses not to. I forced myself to put a smile on my face and help her dig them out. But even opening the boxes this year seemed to hold no joy. Unpacking each box usually is like opening Christmas joy every year. This time, all I felt was sadness. My youngest felt it too. It didn't take long to take out just a few of our favorite pieces; the nativity, my canister collection, the stockings to hang. Then, without really talking about it, we silently agreed - that was enough. No tree this year. Previously we had talked about putting it up at Christmas and leaving it up til my son comes home on leave in March. Then we talked about putting it up now, taking it down after Christmas, and maybe putting up a small one for him when he gets home. Which we may still do. But for now, it just won't happen. When my husband asked me about it (he and our son always go out to get it and put it up for us), I tried to explain my feelings. I don't know if he understands, but he told me that when I decide I'm ready for it, to let him know and he will put it up for me and help me decorate it.
Maybe it's because I know my son is so far away and missing being here. But I find myself missing my 'first' family more than ever. My mom, my sisters. They all live so far away and they all get together for the holidays and I know they are talking and laughing and enjoying the joy of the season. I can hear them all in my head, and I remember some of the laughter we have shared over the years and I find myself smiling or even laughing out loud. Then I remember years past of all my children together sharing holiday traditions and joy here at home or  wherever we are. And again, I find myself smiling a little smile.
So even though I know it will be a lonely Christmas without all my loved ones here with me, I will try very hard to keep my memories close at heart, and find the joy of Christmas within them.
                                         Christmas morning from last year -  '09
                 still sleepy-eyed and in pajama's but all together and smiling.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sewing Naked!

No nude pictures - sorry! If that is what you are looking for, well, you won't find it here.
Actually, this post is on my progress on the red dress. I'm just about done and will post final pics as soon as I am.
Over the weekend I worked diligently on the dress. I quickly found that it was much easier to sew (almost) naked than to strip, put the dress on for fitting, strip again, dress again, strip again, fitting again, etc . . . . than to just leave the clothes off. Nobody else was home to catch me in all my glory, so why not. It is surprising how little time it takes to start to feel 'comfortable' in your own skin! My biggest concern was that someone would happen to see me through the woods in our yard and then up through the second story window to the back of the sewing room. There are no curtains, after all.
I took Saturday off to spend with a friend, but by Sunday afternoon I had the lining sewn and attached; making an invisible hem with a 1/2 inch horse hair braid added to give the bottom of the skirt a little more body. Here is what it looks like on the outside -

And this is the inside view -
The 1/2 inch horse hair braid is sewn and hidden inside. The skirt lining will be hand sewn to the bodice -
Then on Monday I made the foundation. Basically a hip length bodice with boning that attaches at the bodice top and back. It is tacked down at the seams at waist level. I've got the foundation attached at this point, but forgot to take pictures; I will do so probably after Thanksgiving. I've attached the foundation at the top of the bodice, but not at the zipper or tacked at the waist. I have decided I need to make sure it will zip before I go any further. Normally, with a fitted garment such as this one, I've had either my youngest daughter, or my husband to help with fitting. My daughter moved out over a year ago, and my husband has been overseas for, well, way too long. He is supposed to be home late tomorrow afternoon. But that is another story. I digress . . .
With nobody here to help me with fitting, I have been doing the best I can. I believe it will zip, but since I can't do it myself, I am hesitant to finish it till I know for sure. So, tomorrow I am going to bring it with me to the bridal shop that I do alterations for. I will have Pennie zip it for me, or not(!) and go from there. I am actually able to zip it all but the last 2 inches or so, and that only because I simply can't reach.
So, until tomorrow - or probably Friday, since my husband gets home tomorrow and then it's Thanksgiving.
So - Happy Thanksgiving all - and Happy Sewing!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 1 on Red Dress

Believe it or not - I actually remembered to take a few photo's of my progress to day on my Red Dress. First, I spent a couple hours marking with tailor's tacks, all the darts and new seam lines. It shouldn't have taken so long, but I had help from my assistant.
Another hour later and I had the organza underlining attached and was ready to start putting it together.
I had found a pretty piece of gunmetal colored lace with silver threading in it that I wanted to use in the bodice. Originally I had thought to use a piece of black lace I had, but decided it was too harsh. This gunmetal color is more subtle and just looks better. 
So far, it seems to be going together very well. The pattern is vintage, and I am not used to sewing vintage patterns. I was surprised to see in the instructions that it only calls for a bodice lining! I am making some changes to the foundation structure. I am giving this gown a full lining, as well as an attached structured foundation that will fall to the hips. Since there is no waist seam, I don't want the foundation to end at the waist, thereby giving me a very noticeable crease at the waist. I added twill tape to the top of the bodice -
to stabilize it. With the curved edge, I don't want it to fall away from my chest. The tape should stabilize it enough to prevent that.
Tomorrow I will finish attaching the back and the bottom of the skirt,as well as the lining. Hopefully I will have time to atleast get started on the foundation.

So far so good!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Decision Finally Made!

Several posts ago, I went over the various fabrics I was gifted with, from Malaysia, and my frustration in deciding which one to use for my formal dress I need to make for an event in December. My decision was made to use the violet embroidered sari fabric -

to make an asymmetrical one-shoulder gown with pleating down one side of the bodice to the low waist, which flowed into an a-line skirt with the border at the bottom. I even had the muslin made up. It even fit! I went to bed that night content in my choice. However. I woke up about 3 a.m. second guessing myself. I know from past experience that when I start to second guess and loose sleep over something, it's time to rethink it. Back to the drawing board I went. I considered what my original choice was, back in August. But I really wanted to use some of the fabric that my husband had brought me from Malaysia. And the red shantung kept calling to me -
So, the red silk shantung it is. I started laying the fabric out today, and 4 hours later, it is ready for marking. I am underlining it with a silk organza, which I pinned to the shantung and cut out the pieces together.

I'm using an Eva Dress pattern (vintage) I had forgotten that I had purchased this summer. It is a strapless, fitted gown with a mermaid style skirt.
I rarely wear red. I almost never wear strapless. But, I know I look best in fitted garments, as opposed to loose, flowing items. And I really love this fabric. The color in the picture really doesn't do it justice. It's almost a raspberry color. I am going to try to remember to take pictures to post as I go. But, I know I usually get busy and forget. I am running on crunch time, too. It has to be done by next Wednesday; at which time I will be getting 4 bridesmaid dresses and a MOB dress, all of which need to be altered by the following Tuesday. And we leave for Vegas a couple days later. Leaving me no time for finishing on my own dress. Wish  me luck!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Return of the Lazy Assistant

Since having her babies in June, my Lazy Assistant had made herself scarce in the sewing room. She has (again) been neglecting her duties. Not that she has a lot of them, but she is an important part of the business that gets done.
Recently, however, she has begun making a re-appearance; taking up her former duties, as well as taking on a couple of new ones. She is also apprenticing her son in the art of sewing room etiquette.
She has taken on inspection of shipping-
One of the inspected boxes had too many styrofoam peanuts in it, so of course they had to be taken out.

Another job she has taken on has to do with some nefarious activity that has been happening outside the window. It seems we have attack birds living in the tree outside the window, just waiting for that moment when my Lazy Assistant turns her back - that is when they charge full force into the window. I am certain they are looking for bits and pieces of thread and fabric scraps to steal away to their fortress. Fortunately, this Lazy Assistant is on her toes and seems to be keeping them at bay.
When not practicing her new duties, my Lazy Assistant can still be found checking out the interior seams on items I am working on. Often, I have to physically remove her from the premises, in order to prevent further chaos. She has been known to get quite demanding in her project inspections.
I am glad to have her back helping (such as it is) in the sewing room; she brings a certain calm to me while I am working. She is a good listener and usually keeps her opinion to herself. As the days continue to get colder, I am sure I will continue to see more and more of her in the sewing room.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

16 Point Bustle

I can't even begin to count how many bustles I have done over the years. And I do love a pretty bustle! I enjoy experimenting and trying to come up with unusual and inventive, creative ways to hold up the train on a bridal gown.
This gown I worked on yesterday was one of the fun ones! Most of the time, it's the gowns with the huge trains that get the creative bustles. This gown is a lovely Signature Justin Alexander ballgown.
Right away I knew that this beautiful gown deserved an elegant bustle that would only enhance the beauty of the lace and not detract from the fullness of the ballgown skirt.
After playing with the skirt for awhile, I decided to do a tiered french bustle. There are 9 points on the top layer, and 7 points on the bottom layer.  Here is the finished look -

And here is what a 16 point bustle looks like from underneath -
There are 16 sets of different colored ribbons that tie together. I like to use pretty printed ribbons when I can. Some of these are plain, but most have either polka dots, stripes, even tiny little cupcakes on them!
French bustles don't have to be confusing or difficult! I use the colored ribbons not only to make it easy to bustle, but to make it fun!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Decisions, Decisions . . . .

Did I mention that my dear husband was in Malaysia for about 2 weeks? He returned home on Sunday (YEH!), bearing gifts (more YEH!).  Our daughter's - both being pretty big soccer fans, got Malaysian soccer shirts. He had received a couple gifts himself, from the people there that he was working with. They gave him a traditional Malaysian shirt (red silk with painted symbols on it) and a traditional ceremonial knife, called a Kris, in a display case. But I received the best gift of all. My loving devoted husband had spent half a day browsing through one of the huge silk fabric stores there, shopping for fabric he thought I might like. Now, granted, there are a couple pieces I'm really not sure what I am going to do with. Maybe you all can help . . .
Like this one -
It is a silk charmuese with this red and gold paisley print. It is kind of growing on me, but I just don't
know . .  .                                                                                                                        
Then there is this piece. A burgundy red raw silk with embroidery of sterling silver threads. At least this is what they told him. It, too, is growing on me. I'm thinking maybe a jacket. It's not very wide - only 39" wide, with the borders to work around. But I think it could be interesting.
This one is a silk chiffon in a red and black hombre. Again - only about 42" wide, but about 8 yards worth. What to do with it?
This fabric has definite possibilities. Silk charmuese, black and white flowered pattern, and it has tiny colored hot fix crystals scattered on it. You may be able to see better here:

This next one is one of my fav's. The color in the photo doesn't do it justice. It is a deep rich raspberry red shantung silk. Absolutely gorgeous!
 Again - about 8 1/2 yards - plenty to make a gorgeous gown!
The final piece may be my favorite. But, again, I'm not sure what to make with it. I need some creativity, please!

I adore the colors in this lovely double chiffon! I believe it is actually a piece for a sari, as one edge is the border, and the other is a heavy wide selvage. It is only 42" wide - and about 4 1/2 yards. -  doesn't even quite reach my waist from the floor. As a long skirt, it would have to sit at my hips.
Now, I have an upcoming event we are going to in December that I always make a new gown for. Originally, I had purchased some beautiful printed chiffon on my NYC trip that I had planned to use. Now I am torn. Do I still use my original fabric -

Or one of my new ones?
Decisions, decisions . . .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Back From the Bunny Hole

Remember my adventures in the bunny hole from a few posts ago? I believe I can safely say I am back from the bunny hole. The gown I was working on at the time is finished and delivered.
To refresh your mind - I had been working on a gown for a bride who had received a completely free wedding. The gown she had picked out was a lovely ivory draped and pleated Pronovious gown. It had a halter neck, very fitted to the hips, where it flared out with gathered godets at the sides, flowing into a huge - HUGE train. The first thing she wanted was to change the neckline to a sweetheart strapless. It needed taking in about 1.5 inches at the back; added padded cups, hem and figure out a bustle for this huge train. Oh - and she wanted a lightly beaded belt that was on a different gown. She also got free bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses, 2 mother of the bride dresses, shoes, veil, jewelry, cake, flowers, catering, event center, and yes, honeymoon. It was never mentioned to her that alterations were not included in the package. But it became quite obvious that she assumed they were. Perhaps I should have mentioned it sooner, but in all honesty, I didn't realize she was getting everything free of charge until after our first fitting was done and she was gone. At our second fitting, she was feeling quite sick (almost fainted on me) and it didn't get mentioned again. She was to let me know with in 2 weeks after our 2nd fitting how she was coming on her weight (hopefully she would not have gained or lost anymore and I could then go ahead and do the alterations, again). After 3 weeks, I finally contacted her to find out what she wanted me to do as far as taking the dress in again or not. She insisted she didn't have time to come for another fitting so she told me to just do what ever I thought I should do, but to make it unique and special in a way that would be different than any other gown. Hmmm . . . we had only discussed alterations, not design changes.  She asked me to just drop it off at the bridal shop and she would pick it up this week. The wedding is this coming Friday. And could I take it in just a tiny bit more than what I had pinned?
I did the alterations as we had discussed., but no design changes.  I have no idea whether it will fit or not, because, as I mentioned, she didn't come for further fittings. It was at this point that I became quite, well, irritated. She was expecting me to make her dress into some dream version of a dress that even she wasn't sure of. She expected it to fit perfectly, but wasn't willing, or able, to do her part. And she was expecting me to do all this for free. Hours - and I do mean hours. 22 to be exact. That I could have spent working on other gowns for much more appreciative brides.  Frustration set in as it never has before. And while I sat in my chair by my window with her dress in my lap, I decided to just pray about it. And I immediately found peace. I knew what I had to do. Whether or not I could do it cheerfully was another matter entirely. I finished the alterations and delivered it to the store.  I then sent her a message that I hoped she was feeling better, and I hoped the dress was done the way she wanted, and my blessings for a beautiful wedding and happy marriage. I didn't mention any payment. God helped me to see that as He had gifted me with my business, so I could gift her with my services. It was the least I could do to show Him my gratitude. It may not have been done with the most cheerful of hearts, but it was done in obedience. The cheerfulness will follow, I believe. In the meantime, here is the dress -
Here is the front view, finished; changed neckline, cups added, belt added, hemmed, taken in twice, left unbustled in this photo.
                                         A close-up of the bodice with the confiscated belt.
                                                                 The train full length.
The train is bustled here. There are 6 traditional bustle loops across the back of the skirt going to a single button at the right side, and 4 traditional bustle loops from the center back to the left that go to a single button at the center back.
The heavy satin underskirt is held up with 3 french bustles underneath.
It really is a lovely gown, and she will make a lovely bride. I do hope she is feeling well on her special day, and I pray daily for my own  attitude. It is a work in progress.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Littlel Corner of Heaven

I am pleased to share with you one of my favorite places. I am blessed to have it in my own home, and to be able to spend many hours everyday there. It is the place where I go to dream, to design and create. It is my sewing place. Come in and visit - and I hope when you leave, you take a little piece of my heaven with you!

Upon entering, I am always welcomed by a ray of sunshine streaming in through the front windows. I leave them uncovered, to get the most of the light.  The pale pink walls reflect the light, making the room that much more cheerful and welcoming.

Another view of the front wall - I LOVE my lamp! I found it at Hobby Lobby and it was so perfect for my room. It tells a tale all by itself. Behind the mirror and room divider (which is covered in a silk flower swag) is the Vintage wedding gown, made by my mother - in- law, back in 1957. I may have to do a separate blog on that . . . Below the mirror, are my sketch and photo books, as well as the box in which I store supplies for my latest passion - silk painting. The shelf above the window holds some very old Madame Alexander dolls that also belonged to my mother-in-law,as well as a very very old and tiny childs sewing machine. At one time it actually worked. It also belonged to my mother -in-law.

This wall holds a treasure of shelving! My father - in- law built  the shelving for us when we bought the house 19 years ago. Up until about 1 1/2 years ago, the room was used by my 2 daughters. Neither of them made as good a use of the shelving as I have though! The baskets hold lace trimmings, cordings, appliques,  & beading supplies. On the shelves you will also find a box for fabric paints, hot glue supplies, and more beading tools. Other shelves hold my 'stereo' (which only plays one station on the radio and the CD player doesn't work - but it plays my favorite station, so I am happy), business supplies, paper work, files, resource materials (books, mostly), and supplies for paper crafting. Below the shelving is where I store my patterns - in the rectangular decorative boxes; items I use at Bridal Shows are in the circular boxes. On the table, is a special box where I keep fabric I have set aside for special projects. You can see it is overflowing onto the table itself. What can I say, it's been a very busy summer with no time to sew for myself.

Here in the back corner is my sewing center. My idea board is on the wall behind, as well as a thread holder. The basket on the floor holds my mending.

This is my 'go to' shelf. It holds all those items I find necessary to have close at hand when at my machine. Needles, bobbins, the 2 large boxes hold thread; buttons, tape, scissors, machine tools and feet, etc, ...

A full view of the back wall. My machine is a Babylock Ellageo. It  does everything I could ask for. Don't have, never have had, and probably never will have a serger. Stacked at the back of the table is my current 'job'. I am putting new trim on all the local cheerleaders' outfits. Thus, the bag on the chair with overflowing trim. My pride and joy hangs on the back wall. 2 years ago at Christmas, my youngest daughter (the artist) painted this portrait from a favorite photograph taken years ago of all my beautiful children.

The fourth wall shows my storage cabinet, as well as my ironing station and my sewing companions. They are (from left to right), Polly, Dolly, and Molly. The top storage cabinet is where I keep mostly small to medium scraps. The lower cabinet is where I keep boxes and baskets of other supplies; interfacing's, ribbons, zippers, fasteners, boning and horsehair, stabilizers, shoulder pads, bra inserts, etc., etc., etc. . .
More storage for fabric scraps is kept in the round boxes under the table. You may be wondering why I have a childs plastic chair in my sewing room. Good question - I'm glad you asked! Often, in hemming a wedding gown, I dress one of my sewing companions in said gown, place her up on the short table that is kept under the shelving, and sit upon my little chair to accurately measure and pin the gown. Works like a charm.

Just through the back doorway and around the corner, is my storage closet. Here is where I store rolls of fabric as well as pattern making supplies. And hanging, you will find . . .

Lengths of fabric yardage hanging on hangers, several patterns on hangers, and most of my sample gowns in plastic bags.

Back out of the closet and you will find yourself in the bathroom. It is now my changing room for my clients, and also where I hang clients gowns. Not many there right now, as the season is finally winding down. But during the busy season, you will find it hard to make it through the doorway in to the bathroom. I will have bagged gowns hanging from every place possible, and packed so tight into the shower that it is hard to get them in and out.

Last but not least, is the sink and mirror across from my storage shower stall.
I hope you have enjoyed the tour! My sewing place is very special to me, and I am very proud of it. It is everything I need it to be. It is a pleasant and efficient work place. The only thing I would change is to have a larger sewing table. Sometimes those big ball gown dresses don't fit very well. I've been known to use unpleasant language when fighting with them . . .