Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

It's late, I'm pooped, no narrative tonight but here are my latest photos of Brittney's Wedding Dress and an awesome arrangement made by our friend Sandy.  I LOVE the cabbage!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Zippity Doo Dah

It was beautiful day in North Garden.  The long range weather forecast looks great for the wedding on Friday a week and one hour from today.  Outside the grass is greening, the trees are budding, and the forsythia is blooming.  I left the door open today and soft breeze blew through the house. The long cold winter has made me happy to greet Spring.  I am almost giddy.  

I took the dress to town to get the zipper put in today.  I haven't sewn in a zipper in 35 years and figured that this is probably not a good time to practice so I put it in the capable hands of my friend Carla at Les Fabriques.  She is a multi-tasker, she put the zipper in, helped a customer and talked to me all at the same time.  It didn't take her long...I know that because I only put 2 quarters in the parking meter and there was still time on the meter when I got back in the car.

Look how pretty the scalloped edge matches up.  All I need is to put a little hook at the top of the zipper and it will be ready to go.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Half Flower Woes

I have the most beautiful tulip magnolias blooming in my front yard that I have to share them.  The tree isn't very impressive but once a year it gives me these beautiful blossoms.

On to the dress...yesterday I pinned the lace on the skirt of the dress and realized that although it matches perfectly there really was not enough circumference for the lace to lay out right.  If I pulled it together in the back then the front didn't lay right so I decided that I would sew in a wedge at the train.  In the back of my mind I sort of thought this might happened so I squirreled away a piece just large enough to complete it.  This is no biggie.

Before I can put the wedge in the back of the train I have to sew the seams which I decided to do by hand.  When I hand sew there is only one thread and that is about as invisible as I can make a seam AND that is what I am going for.

Now the problem that I ran in with this seam is that it cut through some of the larger flowers and while it barely visible it bothers me so there is what the seams looks like at the seam.  See the flower that is cut in half?  This drives me nuts!

Here's what I am doing to solve the half-flower dilemma.

I used a little scrap of lace fabric and cut out all of the flowers.  Then I used my bottle of fray check to seal all the edges so that they won't unravel.  I've laid them out to dry overnight so they'll be ready in the morning.

I've put a pin in so that you can see where the half flower is and how it will look when I sew the lace applique in place.

I have 4 seams that I need to do this to so I am going to close and hop in bed...I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow and a lot of hand sewing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Something Blue

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a silver sixpence in her shoe.

Each item in this poem represents a good-luck token for the bride.  If she carries all of them on her wedding day, her marriage will be happy.

"Something old" symbolizes continuity with the bride's family and the past. 

"Something new" means optimism and hope for the bride's new life ahead. 

"Something borrowed" is usually an item from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in marriage is supposed to carry over to the new bride. The borrowed item also reminds the bride that she can depend on her friends and family.

As for the colorful item, blue has been connected to weddings for centuries.  "Marry in blue, lover be true."

And finally, a silver sixpence in the bride's shoe represents wealth and financial security. 

When I got married my something old, and something borrowed were the same thing .  My mother-in-law Elizabeth lent me a cameo brooch, my dress was new and store bought, and my mother gave me a hankie with blue lace on the edge. 

Yesterday I printed out "Brittney & Jon April 20, 2013" with a washable marker on the hem facing of the dress and embroidered it in blue.  When you turn the hem up the writing is right side up and it will make a cute photo. 

I like something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...but I really don't get a silver sixpence in her shoe...I know it rhymes but it seems to me that a purse would be more practical AND it wouldn't cause a blister.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I'm melting, melting, melting

The snow started to melt and once again I am hopeful that THIS time Spring is really on the way. 

The jonquils that I picked and carried when I got married have just started blooming.  I only had 6 at the time and now they have multiplied.  It looks like my blueberry bushes survived even though I never got around to planting them last year. A few little nails will patch up my badly weathered birdhouses and I might make a few of these boot birdhouses this year as I spied a couple of them under the bed.

Surprise!  No lengthy update on the progress of the silk skirt that goes under the lace.  I finished that up today...6 long French seams and one up the back.  French seams because every dress should be as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. 

Now it is time for another fitting.

On left one seamed is finished, the next is pinned & ready to go.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring? What happened?

Today it was nice and sunny and warm enough that my bees ventured out of their hive.  Somewhere they are finding enough pollen to load up the little saddle bags by their hind legs and bring it back to their hive.  

The bees have a flight path where they fly in to and out of their hive.  When the sun begins to set and there is a little chill in the air they all head back to the hive and one by one they file back in the opening to their queen Beatrice.  This evening I stood there for a few minutes and just marveled at all the activity...happy that Spring is upon us.

However after an entire day of lovely weather I just heard the weather forecast…MORE snow.  Then MORE snow on Monday, and MORE snow on Tuesday.  It won’t be much BUT it certainly won’t be Spring and the bees will have to hang out in the hive for a few more days and I will have to hang out in the house.  The bees and I all want to go out and bask in the sunshine.

The good news is that I have started on the silk under-skirt this afternoon.  I’ll take some photos tomorrow.  Just want to keep you up on the latest.

So goodnight to my friends in the West and Good Morning to my friends in Virginia. One day has passed and April 20th is drawing near.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


All the lace is on!!!!

I didn't figure out how to fasten the top but that's okay I left a little bit of the seam open so I will work on that tomorrow.

It's late so I am just going to post a couple photos.

Front neckline complete
Close-up of splice on front shoulder.
Back lace work complete.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Glass Buttons & Other Closures


When I was in the 4th grade my mother made me a green plaid dress and she let me pick out the buttons that went down the back.  I chose some rather large clear glass buttons about the size of a nickle and kind of thick. They had a cut design in them and I thought they sparkled like diamonds.

My mother sewed them on the dress and I wore it to school on my first day.  I knew that everyone would love my glass buttons after all they sparkled.

I made friends quickly and during recess I was invited to play jump rope.  Two girls held the rope ends and I began to jump.  I jumped and jumped and no matter how fast or slow they turned the rope I didn't miss a step.  About a minute into my jump one of the glass buttons 'popped' off the back of my dress and landed on the ground.  I leaned over to pick it up and two more fell off.  I scooped them up and embarrassed ran to find my teacher.

Miss Connelly was not in the classroom because it was recess so  I headed to the office and 'pop' another one fell off.  I ran to the school nurse in tears with my handful of sparkling diamond buttons.  She was very kind and wiped away my tears.  She decided that although Mom had securely sewn on the buttons, the movement of my jumping caused the glass buttons to sheer off the thread.

I'm not sure what happened after that but it was memorable as I am writing this down more than 50 years later.

So anyway now you'll see how this story fits into the next step of Brittney's Wedding Dress.

Late last night I started thinking about how to fasten the dress at the top of the back. For those of you just tuning in...this dress is being made up as I go along there are no instructions so here we go.

Today I am going to work the closure at the nape of the neck. The entire bodice sort of depends on this point to stay secure and as I have just told you my little story you can be sure that it will be super secure..

Here are a couple of ideas that I have for the top closure.

1.  I bought some spaghetti strap and I am going to make some loops that I would use in combination with silk buttons.  This might look awesome but the strapping is thick so I'm not sure.

2.  Hooks are also a possibility since I don't want to interrupt the line of the lace and they would be invisible but I don't want to worry about Brittney putting her shoulders back and her dress unfastens.

3.  Last night in the wee hours I crocheted with very very fine thread a series of button loops that I could use with the button AND hooks.

4.  I haven't ruled out sewing it together because there is plenty of room to slip it over her head.

I better get hoppin' because I have big plans for today.  AND tonight while I am watching TV I am going to fiddle with the closure.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Turning the Corner with Lace

I am beginning to realize that the best time of the day for me to work is in the evening and night.  In fact I got so wrapped up in what I was doing last night that when I looked up from my work it was 3:00 am.

Handwork is time consuming but it is my favorite part of sewing.  Last night I completed attaching the lace from the front where I left off from the day before and over the shoulder.  I spliced the lace in two places and this is the one in the back. It worked out perfectly!

 I have a ton so stuff to do so this will be a short note but I wanted to share the progress that I have made.  I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

11:00 pm Sweet!

It's is a quiet night in North Garden my home town,
where the women are preparing for bed,
the men are asleep in their chairs,
and Karen is dancing in her sewing room.

Puttin' on the Lace

Quick note while I am waiting for my pieces to dry.  I put little coral pennants (another project) under the lace so you can see the detail.,,,just ignore them they aren't part of the dress.

One of the challenges I have been having with this beautiful lace is that it is a couple inches wide and won’t go around neckline without puckering.  I debated putting in a small dart but it didn’t look as I envisioned.  See where the dart would have to be made?  I would have had to put in five darts to get around all the curves and bends.  

 I decided that I would have to cut most of the lace and apply it piece by piece. 

I you look close you can see the fine netting around the lace can cut thru the fine net with no raveling.  On the places where I have to cut across the design I am putting a drop or two of a neat product called Fray-Check.  It a little like airplane glue, clear, and it has a very find tip for applying it.

I started with the center using the motif that worked the best.  I centered it and clipped it out.  This is what it looks like. 

And this is what it look like when it is pinned to the dress.  I put Fray Check around the edges and set it aside to dry…about 30 minutes.

This is what it looks like pinned to the front of the neckline.

The next piece attaches to the center…you won’t be able to see it after it is sewn down.  

The scallop matches perfectly!  WOO HOO

At the shoulder I had to clip some flowers and leaves that hung off the shoulder of the dress.

Before the trim
After the trim.

I Fray-Checked the edges and as soon as they are dry I am going to sew it down.  It will take me a couple hours to sew it in place because I am going to sew all the little bits and pieces down.

It's almost 9:00 so I'd better stop talking and get to work.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Silk Covered Buttons

We did a 10 minute fitting on Friday. It fits perfectly. WOO HOO  I have three things planned for this upcoming week.

The first one is making buttons.  Since I was not able to find silk covered buttons, I decided to cover a few with the silk the dress is made from.  I found that the more I practiced the easier it got.  The directions are awful so I worked out my own method...cutting a square of fabric rather than a circle and ending the process with a whack of my hammer.  I photographed the steps and you can just flip through them kind of quickly to see the steps.

First I cut out a square of silk and center it on the button thingie.

Then I take the little metal cap and push it button side down.

It comes out looking like this.

Then I cut some of the excess fabric off  

Push it into the back side of the button.

Then I put the metal button backing on top of a scrunched up fabric

Put the little blue pusher thingie on top of the buttom and "push firmly"
I  give it a nice hit with a hammer even though it doesn't call for it

Pop the button out and there you have it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SPRING & Dress Shoulders

Today was a BEAUTIFUL Spring day.  There is a little activity outside around my bee hive as the bees come out after what I am sure they consider a long winter.  This has been the bees first Winter with me and as a novice with no knowledge other than my book "Beekeeping for Dummies"

Besides the temperature starting to rise during the day, my flowers are starting to poke up through the dead leaves and pine needles, a blue crocus bloomed on Sunday, and Spring peepers are beginning to chirp in the evening.  Last night while I was working on my little update, a little peeper landed on my notebook next to me.  Did I scream?  What do you think?  Of course.

My seeds have sprouted into little seedlings. My tomatoes (my most important seeds) are doing well, my spinach and chard...not so much.  This year I planted some surprise seeds, some red stem cotton and an artichoke.  I am anxious to play in the dirt.

Yesterday I sat down to sew at about 2:00 and before I knew it, it was 7:00 pm.  I got a lot done.  Today I began sewing the lining around the arm openings and turned everything inside out.  It looks perfect to me.  Tomorrow the back and then it will be time for another fitting.

How pretty is this shoulder?  Both sides are identical.  I love the creeping flowers coming across the shoulder

This week I plan to finish the bodice.  I am going to sew all the lace on my hand before I attach the skirt so I won't have so much fabric on my lap.  I love handwork so this is going to be dessert for me.

I continue to be amazed about how beautiful this fabric is.  Seriously if you are a sewer following along with me as I sew Brittney's dress... treat yourself one day to a few yards of double face is like butter.