Monday, July 25, 2011

Black, Red, and Tan Party Dress!

This party dress has been two years in the making! Not two active years, but two years filled with longing looks (you know, the sort that you gave that sandwich earlier today) and exaggerated sighs. "Oh imagined dress...when will we be together?" The answer the fabric always provided was, "Shut up and start sewing already!" I took this abuse from a (beautiful and charming) piece of fabric for TWO YEARS. I had put the fabric on a pedestal and I suffered mightily.

I'm just stoked to be here!
What makes this fabric (from Preet, natch) so awesome and worthy of two years of reverence would be that festive, vibrant border of not just flowers, but also scallops! Because this seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a hemmed skirt and a mess of appliqué completed without me lifting a finger, I was holding off on using the fabric, not wanting to spoil it with my normal mishmash of mis-sizing, wobbly seams, and hard cider.

So, flashback a month to mid-June. I'd been working my fingers past that first somewhat-unnecessary layer of skin to complete Michelle's dress (a future post, I promise!) in time for Clara and Brendan's wedding. It was the day before Chris and I flew out to St. Louis and I had no idea what to wear for the wedding. I bargained with myself. "You did such a good job on Michelle's dress, you DESERVE to go by something new!" I fully intended to hit up Sugar Shack with a purpose after work on Thursday evening. Then I ended up working until 7 and the store closed before I got my shop on. Sugar Shack waits for no man.

I wandered about the house, a puddle of despair seeping from one room to the next, wailing, "What am I going to wear!?" Chris, crazed man that he is, suggested, "Why don't you make something?" Because we both know that I am so skilled at whipping out perfectly-sized dresses in short amounts of time. In fact, as soon as the words escaped Chris's mouth, he looked like he had struck an infant: "what have I done?" However, I was just despondent enough to go for it!

I flipped through a mess of Burda Styles trying to find something that would work for the wedding and dug up dress pattern 108 from the March Issue. It was conveniently included in a wedding spread, in case anyone was having trouble figuring where you would wear a bubble skirt. Weddings and proms, folks!
They're bubble skirts...for a party!
Though I'm a closet fan of bubble skirts, this dress would have no such party at the knees; it would have a gathered poufy skirt starting somewhere near where most people have a waist. It would make the most of those pretty flowers and delicate scallops! Then stuff happened. 

First off, they didn't have my size listed--the highest size they did have for this dress came within centimeters of my measurements, so I figured it would work out well enough. I traced the pattern from the magazine and cut out the skirt, then sewed up the side seams to form a large rectangle with an open top and bottom. I then readied the fabric (not much left at that point) to cut out the the bodice pieces. I cut them. Then I remembered that Burda Style does factor seam allowances into their patterns. I can't type what I said. 
Hair in motion, dress in motion!
I didn't have enough fabric to cut out new bodice pieces, so I had to force the cut pieces to work in spite of their torso-hatin' ways. That is why the lines of the dress bodice don't look a whole lot like the lines on the pattern sketch above--the V in the back is much deeper and wider, the neckline more boatnecky. Also, the fabric was a heck of a lot more sheer than I ever needed to be lined and I didn't have anything that would fit that bill. In most lighting, you can see the polka-dot fabric showing through the bodice. However, all of these oddball flaws are quite dear to me and add to its eccentric charm.

Never giving this belt back to Michelle. Never!
Sadly, I don't think this dress is long for this world. I damaged the fabric by ironing it with a too-high heat setting, so there are fractious sections on the brink of deterioration. That was a lesson I would have really preferred to not learn the hard way.

These pictures were taken in front of the Governor's Mansion on 14th and H. Sadly, it is on the list of state parks to be closed by 2012. Fortunately, it is still open for the summer! Someone should go with me! Anyone interested? Or we can go look at our feet in front of the mansion, your call.
Very important shoe discussion

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rainbow Collection: Yellow Playsuit (for Mishunky)

AWESOME! I have now completed my "yellow" requirement. This was kind of a cop-out because my yellow mission was pre-determined--Michelle bought this fabric in early June (along with some other no-strings-attached fabric) and demanded a playsuit. Well, a playsuit she shall have!
Disaffected? Disinterested? Pensive? Furious? Lost?

She demanded a playsuit after I completed the turquoise playsuit from March. The benefit of having made this pattern before is that I had a better handle on the sizing this time. You might notice that it...ya know, fits. We stuck with the Colette Rooibos (wonderful stuff!) and a sturdy yellow linen-like material from JoAnn's. The blue and white contrast fabric is also from JoAnns from some wonderful sale that was going on when we stopped by for notions for her bridesmaid dress. The blue and white contrast fabric is a little on the sheer side (I am forming plans for its next use!) and super soft like a face full of puppy bellies, but without the puppy breath or needle-like teeth. Pile-of-puppy fabric.
Close up of the contrast fabric on the neck.
In other exciting news, I finally used my double needle! It was rather easy, too! That wasn't a surprise, since I had read about how it is a really easy technique to make hems look more decorative; however, I used the double needle because my belief is that two rows of stitching are sturdier than one. Playsuits should be as strong as my will to eat chocolate!
Thus, I declare Rainbow Collection: Yellow Playsuit a success! Doesn't she look like a daffodil of a geography teacher?
So much sass for one geography teacher...
Next up, I was planning on making a blue skirt from this linen I've had since last November...then I wore a particularly ugly shirt to work today with my suit. I also happened across this free pattern and though I'm not crazy on the pink there, I imagine many of my sheer fabrics would light up this pattern and make something box-of-crayons-wonderful to fulfill the "top-bits-covered" requirement of suit-wearing. With a slip, naturally--I ain't no sexretary! 
What do you think should come first? Skirt that I've been talking about FOREVER or new summer top?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Romper Quest Meets Rainbow Collection: Red

I'm pretty freakin' stoked about this. I FINALLY made a romper! After roughly six years of wanting one! Yes, this harkens back to that New York trip to an American Apparel store when Bryce tried on an "obscenely cute" romper (emphasis on the "obscene" part of that statement) and I thought to myself, "this is the most critical item of clothing I could ever own".
It's blurry because I'm excited!
As you well know, most female clothing items from American Apparel are more trampy than not, so I searched other places to find that wonder-playsuit of my dreams. Most of them were too short in the torso, or only fit one part of my body (take your pick, top half or bottom half: which will look good?). The rest were ugly as sin and/or made for underage prostitutes.
I found a pattern for shorts in the June Burda Style. The original pattern has side-seam pockets and back pockets, drawstrings to pull the shorts up at the sides (a cute detail that I always fall prey to), and a side zipper instead of a front zipper and button. I scaled it back a bit, so there are no pockets to be found on this romper--midway through construction I decided that I really wanted pockets, but since I never put pockets in I royally messed up the process and ended up ripping them out. Angrily. After that debacle, I decided I didn't even want to mess around sewing back pockets in, though I might try to add them a little bit down the road. Same goes for the side drawstrings.

Instead of putting the reinforced top waistband on the shorts, I threaded one-inch elastic through the waistband. From that point, I took a shot in the dark and cut a large trapezoid (since I'm pear shaped) and sewed to the waistband to cover my top half. From there, I tried it on a couple of times, (re)installed a zipper up the left side a couple of times, and finally found a spot that was close enough to magic for me. I made a casing for 3/4 inch elastic at the top of the romper and stitched everything into place, and ta-da! Romper Quest 2011 fulfilled!
Some serious wackness going on with the back due to the inevitable buckling of the zipper. Also check out my horrible swimsuit lines--those were not there last week.
The"red" fabric for this Rainbow Collection is a piece I got from Stone Mountain and Daughter for my birthday last year. It was on sale and I can't resist a sale...I think you know where this is going. When I bought it I had absolutely no idea what I would use it for, which is why I still have it a year and a half later. Ideally, the fabric would be a little heavier and I need to find the perfect belt to go with the romper. Next time, I suppose. Speaking of which, I think I should make a sleeved romper before the summer is up! Will I have time?
Who's that happy boxy girl?!
What do you guys thinks would work best for a belt? A sash style in a matching fabric, something in a contrasting fabric, leather, fresh mint? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The First Step Towards a New Project is Admitting You Have a Problem: Project Rainbow Collection

And boy, do I have a problem. Behold! My sewing area!
Please disregard Susan--she hates having her picture taken.
It's appalling, isn't it? It's like a six-year old quilter threw a tantrum. It is even worse when you peak behind the built-in counters.
Not-so-nice stacks.
Oh, the shame! And the June Burda Style bizarro photo shoot with the sexy family.
So, this amazing mess is what I refer to as "my stash". This massive stash is full of yards of fabric pieces and sizable remnants I've acquired since I started sewing three and a half years ago, and it has a lot of stunning designs and vibrant colors. Yet I still buy more fabric! Whenever I get the chance!

With this awesome stash (and my roaring, angry budget) in mind, I decided it was time to do SOMETHING about it. Enter Project Rainbow Collection!

The rules are fast and loose. I have to use fabric from my stash to check off every broad color category: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. I'll probably throw in black/grey and brown, though they aren't really in the rainbow that you picture gracing mountains and lakes. That's it, so I guess there is really only one rule. I'm not making myself go in color order because that is a surefire way to make sure I don't sew for a month or two, but I am going to focus on wearable items because lady likes new clothes! 

Another confession: I conceived of this idea a week or two ago, so I already made the red item. It's actually kind of a coral shade, but it is filed with the reds and pinks in the fabric library. Yeah! Good start!
Thanks, Kermit.