Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Moment of TRUTH

Even the back of the fabric is beautiful! 

The muslin dress is a thing of the past.  Today I cut out the French lace and silk.

What a treat to be able to borrow the large cutting table at Les Fabriques.  I was nervous cutting out the lace panels but I got plenty of support.  The first cut was difficult but as I went along it got easier and easier.  I had to cut through sequins, bead, embroidery and pearls which freaked me out a little. 
The first piece was the entire from I removed the princess seam on the front so that it would be seamless.  It was important to match up not only the scallop around the bottom edge but also the border print and the trellis.  I pinned the front and back on the dressform to see how it looked.
Front of dress,
This is the front of the dress pinned on the form.  The front of the skirt falls right on the top of the toes.  On the sides where it touches the floor you can see how the train is starting to form.
Back of dress
When I made the final cut and put them side by side the back matched perfectly!  I looked at Carla, who was helping me and she said "I think I'm going to cry...it is so beautiful." 
Several people in the store came by to admire the beautiful lace.  What a great day!
100% Silk for the underskirt
By the time I got to the silk underskirt I felt like an old pro.  This is the softest fabric that I have ever worked on.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

It's All Good

I went to Les Fabriques this afternoon and Carla helped me lay out the skirt.   It's ALL good!  We modified the arm opening, talked about the button closing, boning and lining. 

I bought some two lining fabrics for the bodice silk and silk organza to use to give it a little body.  It is going to feel dreamy against the skin.

I'll write more about this in the next couple of days and include some photos.

Life is good.

"Carla I need some help"

After a cup of tea I started working on the dress this morning at 11:00.  I laid the fabric out on the table, smoothed all the wrinkles out, lined up the scalloped edges and pinned on the first pattern piece.  I picked up the scissors, got ready to cut and then the phone rang. 

When I walked back in the sewing room I came up with a totally different way of laying the pattern pieces out. 

So I re-folded the fabric, re-pinned the edges, and pinned on the pattern.  Hmmm I thought to myself, maybe I like the first way better.  I wrote to Ingrid my friend in Texas to see what she thought.  We sent about a dozen emails and I walked back in my sewing room...yes, I do like it the first way I had it pinned.  So I re-folded-pinned and got ready to make a cut. 

While I was pinning it back on I thought "what would happen if I pinned the front pieces together and eliminated the princess line that way there would be no seams and no matching."  I pinned the seams of the pattern together and laid it out "this might just work."  Whew am I glad that I didn't already cut it out this new method might be awesome.

Four hours later I am still standing in front of the fabric moving it one way and then the other trying to get it laid out perfectly, I still hadn't made a cut.

Cameron walked past the sewing room and saw me staring at the fabric.  He offered me some words of advice "you think too much.

"Thanks Cameron!"

I called my friend Carla at Les Fabriques my favorite fabric store.

"Carla, I have been standing her looking at this lace fabric for 4 1/2 hours and I am driving myself nuts, could I come to the shop for some advice" I asked.

"Sure come tomorrow at 11:00 and we'll figure it out," she told me. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Brittney tried her dress on to see if the length was right.  The lace showed just a little toe.  Absolute perfection!

Did I remember to take a photo?  :(  I was too late.

You'll have to visualize coral painted toes in these shoes.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Train, Horsehair Braid & I'm An Idiot

The other day I heard someone say "if you're coming over to see me. you're welcome anytime, but if you're coming over to see my house, make an appointment."  My sewing room is a mess please ignore or make an appointment and I'll tidy up. 

Yesterday I managed to cut out the 7 main pieces of the skirt it took me nearly 3 hours but I am glad that I took my time…”measure twice cut once is what they say.”  What took the longest was tapering evenly from the top of the toe in the front to the back so that there is a small train of lace.  I had to make sure that I stayed on track with the scalloped edge so that although the skirt has seven long seams that the hem look continuous.
This is the front panel and you can see how the curved hem
of the pattern piece and the scalloped edge of the fabric don't
line up.  That's okay because I will take advantage of it to
 make the tapered train.
Close up of scalloped edging pinned together.

This is the side view where you can see the panels tapering from
 the center front on the right side of the photo and then increasing
 in length as it moves toward the back on the left. 
I bought some neat nylon horsehair braid edging that sews in under the lace all around the edge.  It holds the edges and it does a pretty good job.  In this photo I have everything pinned together…the seams, the waist, and the horse hair braid around the edge.

Horsehair nylon braid barely visible.
 Even though the horsehair stabilizes the edge when there is movement the train doesn’t retain its nice shape so I think that the train will need to be arranged by one of the maids-of-honor.

I tried to put some light weight organza to line the backside of the lace but it showed through so I scrapped that idea. 

I keep peaking in my sewing room to see if any new ideas spark and hoping maybe the 'cleaning fairies' will have come to visit.  I love how the train looks but I don’t want it to hang up on anything and I somehow want it to kind of maintain the nice circular shape.

Oh and remember when I described my awesome idea for raising the height on the dressform and then locking the wheels?  I'm an idiot. 

I accidentally pushed the form just a little and it came off of the blocks.  I leapt and caught her just in time.  I managed to get her back up on the blocks so back to the drawing board.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine & Dress Length


Happy Belated Valentines Day! 

I haven't gotten a handmade Valentine since Jon was a little boy.  This particular was from my husband Cameron.  I was tickled to find it taped on the bathroom mirror. Actually at the bottom of my Valentine it said "and I let the cat out."  Ahhhh LOVE!

I'm drinking a cup of coffee preparing to start my day sewing.  I learned the hard way not to take anything other than water into my sewing room...thankfully not this wedding dress. 

I have been trying to adjust my dress form so that it is the same height as Brittney.  With her shoes on Brittney shoulders are much higher than the form.  So we raised the form as high as it would go and then Cameron and I cut out blocks to raise the form so that it is the proper height. 

We were quite the pair laying on the floor measuring the skirt to make sure that it was perfect because with this fabric the length can't be changed if it is too long or too short...there is a scallop on the edge.

The skirt has to be 2 1/2" off of the floor.  I am going
to cover the blocks with little 'block pillowcases.'

Sadly I didn't figure out how to lock the wheels so that it wouldn't fall off the blocks until it took a topple...we caught it just in time.

The cutting tables will be free at Les Fabriques the fabric store that we bought this fabric from so I will carry the lace and the silk to the store for the final cutting.  This week they are sponsoring a after school program and using the tables so I am a little behind the schedule I set for myself but I'll make it up.

While we lowered the neckline 1" last week, I am going to make it even a little lower because the lace is going to fill the neck line in considerably.

And with that I am off for the day...with a bottle of water of course.

Yesterday I learned... to lock the wheels if you're going to raise the dress from on blocks.  I was able to do it which is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lost in My Sewing Room

I am writing about the lie I told you last time...about more frequent posting.  I have a lot on my plate but I admit I could try a bit harder.

To begin with I need MORE room!  My sewing room is 11’x10’ and my sewing table is 4’ x 4’ plus I have a desk, ironing board and dressform all crammed in this little space.  I want people to come to see her dress so I am pushing hard for more space.  My upstairs is unfinished and it would be the perfect place to set up my sewing machine HOWEVER everything that was packed in the closets is sitting in the middle of the floor…it’s only been 30 years.  We are going to work on it this weekend so maybe by next time I write I will have more space.
Last Sunday Brittney and her friends Stacey and Krysta came by and she tried the skirt part of the wedding dress on.  I'm always excited to see the dress come to life.  If the part I have been working on fits perfectly my heart sings.  If no then I jot down little things that need to be tweaked.

The skirt has seven panels…fitted at the top and then flaring out in a full skirt more than 6 feet around.  Wearing her pretty coral heels the underskirt was the perfect length just above the toes.

As always with a fitting we had to try on the sash, and lay the lace over the fabric and then stand back and admire how beautiful Brittney will look on the big day.  Brittney was happy, I was happy, her friends were happy and life is good.
On Monday I put the overskirt together with some yard sale lace just to get an idea of what it would look like.  It is shaped differently than the underskirt as it has a bit of a train and it is a tad longer in the front.  I thought that this would be the most complicated part of the dress but it wasn’t and it went together in about an hour.  These panels are the same shape as the underskirt but as they move around to the back they lengthen.

We tried the lace on over the underskirt but it kept getting underfoot so we re-thought the skirt length and decided to shorten the lace so that it was just off the floor but keep the train length as is.  You are probably wondering about the lace on the floor or hayfield.  I was too so I talked to my friend Carla and she suggested that I put an organza lining around the bottom that can be removed after the wedding...And that is exactly what I shall do.
What did I learn this week? 
I learned that we are going to have an unusually warm April.  The long range forecast for April 20th 2013 is high 70 low 50...sounds like a beautiful day!

Jon and Brittney in the Hayfield