Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Frou Frou Finale

Well, the Frou Frou Party Dress is a "fait accompli", and not a moment too soon.  Unlike the Prom Dress, I just had finishing touches to make on the dress, like adding the bow to the shoulder and pressing out the wrinkles.

Here she is trying the dress on before finishing the inside workings.

I must admit, I'm not terribly happy with the horizontal lines running across the overskirt-portion of the dress.  It fit her perfectly yesterday, so I'm not sure what happened today, but it looks like there isn't enough fabric going around her middle.  Unfortunately, I was on a time deadline and couldn't focus on correcting that issue, but I will make the needed adjustments later.  This dress is too cute, and I think she may actually wear it again, so it will be worth the effort.

Here she is all dress and accessorized up...

...and here she is with her girlfriends.  Can you guess which young lady is the Birthday Girl?

Oh, and here's Max...after Emanne descended it, he climbed up and balanced himself on my step.  I promised him that I'll make him something soon - perhaps a rain slicker for those moments he needs to go outside but hesitates doing so because he doesn't want to get wet.

Max, can you say "Bourgeois Bulldog"!!

Be blessed!!


P.S.  I'm going to give myself a break on the dress fit...I just noticed the pattern picture has horizontal lines on the overskirt, too!!  I think our version looks very close to the pattern, don't you?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fitting Issues

So, I noted yesterday that I only had to make slight adjustments in the waist and hip area of the dress.  I completely forgot the one fitting issue I consistently encounter when making a garment for my daughter, and that's her narrow back.

I remember when I made this dress for her 8th grade promotion, I thought I made some gross error in cutting because there was SO much excess fabric in the back bodice.  To adjust, I added back bodice darts.

But, when I encountered the same problem with the prom dress, I knew it was her and not me.

I tried the Frou Frou Party Dress bodice on her earlier today, and the front fit great, but the back was seriously hanging.  Look at the back seam allowances - I had to take in a total of 6 additional inches so the back can fit properly.

Well, the work continues...I'll check back in later.

Be blessed!!


P.S.  I told you that Max has been hanging out in my Sewing Room, and literally underfoot.  Here he is, lying right under my chair.  I have to watch out for paws, ears and tail before I can roll anywhere.  Oh yeah, and he snores, too!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Party Dress Update

I mentioned in my last post that I'm making a dress for my daughter to wear to her best friend's Sweet Sixteen party.  We went to the fabric store last Saturday, and I've been making adjustments to the individual pattern pieces.  Today, I am finally able to cut out the pieces from the fashion fabric and actually construct the dress.

I only had to make a slight adjustment in the waist and hip area, but I really, really dislike cutting apart and mangling my pattern pieces.  So, I've adopted the practice of marking the orginal pattern piece on blank newsprint paper and marking the needed adjustments on the copied pattern piece.  I like using the newsprint paper because it is soft enough to serve as a pattern piece, but is more durable than the tissue pieces from the actual pattern.

I bought this box of paper from U-Haul back in 2009 to pack my mother's personal belongings after her passing, and I still have quite a bit left so I'm putting it to fun use.  I know this paper is also available at storage facility companies, like Public Storage.

The dress's bodice and overskirt will be cut from crepe-back satin, and the pinched skirt from a sparkle organza.  Both fabrics, as well as the lining, are polyester so the dress will be easy-care... not that I expect she'll ever wear it again!!

I'll update with the dress's progress.  By the way, here's Max, my American Bulldog.  He's been hanging out in my Sewing Room lately, very much underfoot.  I guess he doesn't "recongnize" himself, because he started growling at this picture when he saw it on my computer monitor - too funny!!

He is so beautiful...oops, I mean HANDSOME!!!

 Be blessed!!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Frou Frou Party Dress

I've just been commissioned to create another "one-of-a-kind" garment.  My daughter is attending the Sweet 16 party for one of her closest friends and selected McCall's 6283 to wear to the party.  She likes the ruffled skirt and prefers the one-shoulder bodice with the bow detail.

I'll update with posts on the dress's progress.  I'm excited!!  I love special-occassion dressmaking!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Noteworthy Sewing Projects

Hello again.

I just wanted to share with you some of my favorite sewing projects I've made over the years.

When my husband and I decided to marry, like most first-time brides, I wanted a fairy tale wedding and accompanying dress.  I scanned through every bridal magazine on the market to find the perfect dress, and I narrowed down my choices to several differnt styles.  But, I fell in love with this dress when I saw it advertised in one of my magazines, so much so that I had to visit a local bridal shop in Birmingham to see it in person and try it on.  This gown was so beautiful and I felt like a princess wearing it.  But, I could not afford its $1,500 price tag.  Today, I believe this gown's workmanship would easily fetch a $3,000-$4,000 price tag.

So, instead, I made my wedding dress using Vogue 2590.

During a one-week vacation I took from work, I was able to cut out and assemble the entire dress, and assemble the bolero-type jacket, with the exception of attaching the sleeves to the jacket body.  I then had to return to work and sewing time on my dress became a concern.  So, I enlisted the assistance of a church member who also ran a home-based sewing business.  She attached the jacket's sleeves, made the detachable train, and beaded the dress bodice, trimming and train.

  I also made my headpiece and viel

With my son and niece

At the alter taking our vows

Mommy and me
In 2009, my daughter wanted a new dress for her eighth-grade promotion ceremony.  As student body president, she would deliver a speech conveying her thoughts and emotions regarding the class's collective experiences and the new ones which lay ahead of them.  So, I really wanted to make the moment special by custom-making her outfit.  After agreeing to let me make her dress instead of buying one, she scanned through my pattern collection and settled on Vogue 9323 (view B) for the dress and Butterick 6991 for the jacket.

The dress is made of a tropical-print crepe fabric, and the jacket was a linen-blend.

She had a touch of static cling...

Last year in June, her friend (yes, really friend) asked if she would escort him to his senior prom.  After meeting with him and his mom, my husband and I agreed to let her attend the event.  She checked out various prom dresses online and settled on this dress, but I couldn't bear the idea of spending $300-$400 on it, knowing I could make it for a fraction of the cost.

Instead, we found Vogue 2931, and I was able to crank this dress out in about a week - my fastest time ever, given its degree of difficulty.

I made the bodice top in a contrast color and omitted the halter strap, and I was literally hemming the dress minutes before she walked out of the door.  I felt an adrenaline rush when it was all done!!

Last October, she attended the Homecoming dance with her friends, and we used McCall's 8832 for the bustier top, and McCall's 9380 (view A, shortened) for the skirt.


She fell in love with a black faux leather fabric we found at JoAnn's, displayed with all of the other Halloween-costume fabrics.  I omitted the flounce on the top, and instead of gathering the skirt as instructed, I decided to place box pleats in specific areas of the skirt to minimize the fabric's bulk.  I do not yet own a Teflon presser foot, so I had to experiment using different things to get this fabric through my machine without sticking.  The temporary solution at hand - WD-40!!  Add this to its list of over 2000 uses.

The projects currently on my table include a black silk-linen blend skirt (Butterick 5966 - view C) and coordinating yellow/black silk-linen blend top (Butterick - view B).  Both of these garments are unlined, but I want to line each piece to extend their wear.  The skirt pattern pieces have already been adjusted and cut out, but I will detail the adjustment process I follow for the top in a later post.


Thanks again for visiting!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

A message from my Facebook page...
My wish for you all is to have a wonderful Mother's Day. You get only one mother, so cherish your time with her, for it is precious.  For those of us whose mothers have transitioned on, let's cherish their memories, the love they gave and lessons they taught us, and honor them in the way we live our lives.  I miss you, Mommy!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sewing Room Inspirations

One of my favorite activities is to think of ways I can improve the organization and decor of my sewing room, and I often go online to search for pictures of others' sewing rooms to serve as inspiration.  So, while I'm sort of laid up nursing my knee (had a little fall at work yesterday), I'll be looking through the links included on this website, Real Sewing Rooms.

So far, my favorite views were offered by Sew Many Ways.  I love her decor and all of her smart - and cheap - organizational tips!

And, the most chaotic I've seen was a video provided by Princess Katie.  OMG...all the patterns EVERYWHERE!!

I'll post pictures of my space in the near the interim, enjoy.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Pattern Storage Challenge

Back in anceint times a.k.a. the eighties, when I was 19 years old, I began working as a sales clerk for So-Fro Fabrics.  During the following 3 years, I transferred to a different store location, was promoted to Second Assistant Manager (for a whopping 50-cents more per hour - lol), met and worked with great people who possessed vast sewing knowledge and experience and was willing to share, and accumulated a pretty impressive collection of sewing patterns.  I look back on my time there with a great deal of fondness and nostalgia.  And while So-Fro Fabrics is no more - being officially bought-out by JoAnn's in the late 1990s - I still have that impressive pattern collection.

As other sewing enthusiasts know, the major pattern companies discontinue patterns to make room for new designs they're releasing.  Now that these companies sell patterns via their respective Internet sites, you are still able to purchase an "Out of Print" pattern directly from the manufacturer.  But, back in the day, you were only able to purchase patterns from an authorized retailer.  So, once that store's staff pulled those discontinued patterns from their cabinets and destroyed them, it was a done deal.  That pattern was gone least in theory.

One of the fringe benefits of working for So-Fro was they allowed us to scan through and keep those discontinued patterns prior to their destruction.  This was, without a doubt, my favorite time in the store.  I recall how excited I'd become when I'd get to work and one of my co-workers would announce "We have discards!!"  It was like going shopping for free.  So, as a result, I brought home LOTS of patterns during my tenure there.  So much so, that I purged approximately 100 or so about 4 or 5 years ago and donated them to charity.  I could kick myself now, seeing how popular "vintage" patterns are on the web, but what's done is done.

Owning so many patterns posses a storage challenge, and I've tried various methods over the past 20+ years:
  • An abandoned store display cabinet I rescued from the landfills - it later found it's way there, however, once I outgrew it.
  • Cardboard boxes I saved from purchasing Clorox Bleach from Sam's Club.  This was actually a pretty good solutions, once I trimmed down the box height and covered them with contact paper to make them look more atttractive.  My only issue - my patterns would be uncovered and vulnerable to dust and light exposure.
  • Quart-size ziplock bags - the perfect size for most pattern envelopes and contents, plus it blocked out dust - but, alas, not light.
  • Finally, covered pattern storage boxes I found at Hancock Fabrics - before they closed all of their Michigan stores.

While my current solution addresses the dust and light issue, I noticed these covered boxes are not as deep as my converted Clorox boxes, and therefore cannot accommodate the same quantity.  Plus, I'm not all that thrilled with the box's "decoration" - it's not really my color or style.  So, I'm still thinking about other, possibly better storage options.  But, it's working for now.

What storage solutions have you adopted?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nicole Miller's "Tidal Wave"

In case you didn't know, I am a fan of "The Wendy Williams Show."  I DVR new episodes each day, and try to view them later that evening, not so much because I just HAFTA watch it that day, but because I need to be diligent about viewing and deleting my recordings.  Don't judge me...I have quite a few programs set up as series recordings and I'm trying to prevent maxing out the hard drive storage.

Anyway, one of my favorite aspects about Wendy's show is seeing what she's going to wear each day, and I was quite taken with the Nicole Miller purple jersey dress she wore yesterday.  So much so, that I went on a search to find a pattern which could easily be adapted to look like this dress.  While I found many pattern options, there didn't seem to be anything out there with quite the same "tidal wave" detail of this dress.  "Hmm...come to think of it, I can't really see the design detail on this picture.  Maybe I should go check out Nicole Miller's site and find this dress so I can get a better view."  (Side note:  who else loves the Internet?)

So, I went to and while I didn't find the exact dress Wendy wore Monday, I did find a dress with the same design detail.  It appears the dress front is cut a little longer than the back, allowing for the asymmetrical pleating detail on either side of the dress.  The only "trick" is to figure out how to achieve the "wave" effect.
This will be something I'll have to play with, and I think I'll be able to use any basic knit-dress pattern to copy this style.  But, I think I will need to first focus on completing the linen top and skirt I cut out last weekend.  I sometimes get too enthusiastic about beginning a new project before completing an existing one.  Besides, it would be nice to be able to wear these linen garments this spring and summer, instead of five spring/summers from now.  I'm sure other sewing enthusiasts can relate.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Getting Started

Welcome to my new blog, Sew Couture, which will be centered on my love of sewing.  I plan to publish posts on various sewing topics, such as:
  • the projects currently on my sewing table
  • projects I want to sew soon
  • my Sewing Room (my second-favorite room in the house)
  • organization and re-organization of my Sewing Room, various notions, ever-growing fabric stash, the over 300 patterns I own, etc.
  • pattern and book reviews
  • and anything else that strikes my fancy
I have come to the realization that I am visually oriented - I prefer photos, diagrams and videos when learning a new skill.  So, I anticipate my posts will be short and sweet, and include a variety of visual media.  I will soon share photos and descriptions of past garments I have completed, so please come back soon and check them out.

Thanks for visiting!!