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 . . .