Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some dress action!

Well then. I'm still unburying myself from christmas work, but I snuck in the first wedding dress muslin this afternoon!

McCall 8635, an Alicyn design. Empire waist, front princess seams, back darts, gathered back skirt.

m8635 cover

You know what the one bad thing about making a dress rather than buying one might be? If you want to try on a style, you have to put a few hours of work in first. ;-) On the bright side, there will be no big ugly "Say yes to the dress" clips wielded around here to hold a dress in place.

This afternoon I finally got a minute of peace so I put on a movie, cut open my bolt of muslin, and got to work....




Wait, you want to see it on me not on a hanger? ;-) You have to ignore the silly faces I'm making for that.



It looks OK, but the bodice fit is terrible. I can't raise my arms because the armhole begins so low on my chest. If I pinch out about an inch at the shoulders, the armhole settles into place and I can lift my arm.... I've got a ton more patterns to try, though, so I'll do those first before I perform major surgery on this one. But this is the general look I'm going for, so it was very nice to get to how it looks!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry christmas....

Sledding with declan
Originally uploaded by wck

We're having ourselves a tiny little white christmas here- just snuck outside for some christmas eve sledding just as the sun was going down. And yes, that's my dog sitting on my lap there, he looooves to race down the hill.

happy holidays to everyone!

Here's one last little sewing bit, another american girl dress that I whipped up for a niece.

christmas present

Monday, December 21, 2009


Help, Christmas has eaten me alive! ;-) OK, not really, but between work and finishing presents it almost has. So here is a small link and a photo.

Vicki's fantastic pillowcase tutorial!. I made about 10 of these Sunday afternoon. Here's one with a quilt for Tom:

I hope everyone's digging out from the snow OK...or enjoying the summer in Australia. Perhaps someone would be able to package up some warmth & sunshine down there and mail it to NJ? Please?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

a Nutcracker dress

Kate and I are going to see the Nutcracker over Christmas break, so of course she needed a sparkly dress to wear. I know her flower girl dress is going to be navy blue & sparkly, so I wanted to try out sewing something similar and a holiday dress seemed like a good excuse. I found some blue rayon/silk satin with a bit of sun fading on it in the outlet at Parons, and some blue beaded trim at Joyce Trimming on W 38th. The dress is lined in ambiance, and the lining actually has a bit of cranberry lace for the hem. The satin was really wonderful to sew. It didn't curl too much, and pin holes disappeared after ironing.

It was hard to photograph, so here are two pictures.



It's hard to see, but there are sequins sewn into little 3D roses on the trim. I hand sewed this on just above the empire waist seam using some navy blue thread. There's not actually a dip in the trim or waist seam, it just was hanging a bit weird when I took this picture.


This is the same BWOF dress pattern that I used for her birthday dress, but I cut the neckline higher so that I don't need to add some lace to bring it up. Here's her birthday dress:


And finally, the PJ factory is whipping up dolly PJs and quilts as well! Here is molly, modeling a pair of christmas PJs for an american girl doll. I made a few little pairs of flannel PJs for the girls' baby dolls and then teensy doll quilts with the extras.

Pjs And Quilt

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Pajamas

The PJ factory is gearing up for Christmas again! These aren't presents, just warmups to try out some patterns. Here are PJs in Kate's choice of flannel...


and PJs in my choice of flannel.... (penguins AND polar bears!)

These are both using PJ pants patterns from the November BWOF, Kids PJ pants 143 and PJs 132. Cozy sewing for a snowy day. I hope everyone in the Northeast enjoyed the snow and didn't actually need to go anywhere yesterday afternoon. ;)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a peacoat

Warning, super cheesy. ;-) Since most of my family has never met my sailor, I got asked the same questions quite a bit after we got engaged. "what does he look like again? who is this crazy boy you've been with for years?"

Sooo.... I talked him into getting a photographer to do an engagement photo shoot. It was pretty important to me, also- my photography professor talked all the time about photographs as your history, and how women photographers frame their relationships especially within their families, and being aware of how you, as a photographer, are interjecting yourself in a scene as opposed to being a passive observer when you're taking pictures of people you know. Seeing your personal history as you've photographed it and shaping your view of your life through pictures that you look back at. Yeah, women's college photography classes, exactly as you might imagine it. ;) I wrote about this a few times over the years ago on my non-sewing blog. Here's a quote I put up there, from my professor, about this:

"Photographs look so honest and truthful," she said. "But it all depends: All photos have the problem of interpretation. It's the person taking the picture who's doing the editing, not the camera. If you were writing in a journal or painting a portrait, you would be much more aware of the editing."

All of which is a long winded way to say that I really wanted some pictures of us together instead of the 3 or 4 snapshots we have. We had a wonderful photographer & went to the back bay wildlife refuge at Virginia Beach. I brought my camera, and for the most part we just walked around and the two people with cameras took pictures. ;)

Since I sew... well.... I had to make a new coat to wear. It's BWOF 08-2009-102, a double breasted pea coat. You can't really see it, but the lining is a BRIGHT turqouise silk. The buttons are mother of pearl, from an old coat from my grandma.

(this is a flash slideshow- it takes a little time to load, and you need flash in your browser to run it)

OK, enough silly pictures, on to construction details! I interlined the coat with black flannel and it came out super warm and cozy.


The front is interfaced with fusible weft interfacing. I made the pockets out of flannel, and made sure to put a back pleat in the lining so that I'd have lots of room to move around. The coat has princess seams that eased together really nicely with this tweed, and I actually managed to pull off the buttonholes on my sewing machine at home! I marked the buttonholes on freezer paper, ironed that onto the front, and stitched the buttonholes onto the freezer paper over the markings. Then I ripped it off. Viola, decent coat buttonholes from my little Viking!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What to do with a long weekend, part 2

This is one of the 1960s dress patterns I bought recently- this one for the neat back pleat. I wanted to get a good look at how it was drafted and sewn with the closure above it. Well, as it turns out, I'm not in love with the exact way that this pattern sews the pleat, but it was nice to get a chance to walk through really making one, handling the lining, and thinking about construction methods.

simplicity 7386

Last year I bought about 4 yards of black stretch wool suiting at one of the teensy hole-in-the-wall stores in the garment district. It turned out to be perfect to try out this project with. Since I only paid about $20 for the whole 4 yards I wasn't terribly concerned if it turned out horribly. That said, I wanted to practice some of my fancy dress and jacket making techniques that are often skipped over... this is was a "slow down and do things the correct way" project.

The jacket is underlined in silk organza, and the markings for darts were transferred to the organza using chalk paper and a tracing wheel. I basted the underlining on the first two pieces using the sewing machine, but I didn't really like how it came out, so the rest were hand basted. When I made my BWOF coat a few weeks ago (I'll blog that soon, really!) the machine basting went fine, because it was flannel being basted to a tweed. This one, however, was very thin stretch wool being basted to shifty silk organza, and it just didn't work. Hand basting came out much smoother and honestly went faster. The bolero is so tiny that it only took a few minutes to do each piece. You can see the top piece below is hand basted and the bottom one is machine basted.

The darts are at the back of the neck on the jacket. Another vintage detail that I always love since it makes the jacket hang easily from your shoulders! Here are the darts all sewn up:
back darts

The pattern came with separate top and bottom collar pieces- both cut on the bias- which stitched up and went in with no fuss. Gotta love good drafting, thank you Simplicity pattern maker! For a lining in the jacket I used some ambiance scraps. Let me repeat my least favorite things about ambiance: it shifts when you cut it. It shifts when you pin it. It acts all squirelly when you sew it. I singe my fingers trying to press the seams open. Sigh. And yet I still keep buying it because I forget the pain too quickly or something. Here's the lining hand sewn to the outer sleeve.


The dress is lined in a navy blue silk habotai, because that's what was in my stash. It feels *fantastic*. Wow... the silk is very light, and the dress is rather loose, but it has this very wonderful presence when it's on. So I rather think that there will be many silk habotai lined dresses coming out of my sewing room in the future. ;-)

There's a front seam in the dress, which has a little bit of shaping to it, but I chose to be lazy and just cut the front of the dress on the fold. This is a B36, when I really wear a B34, so I figured the minimal shaping in the front seam wouldn't make too big of a difference. I did take the side seams in a smidge at the very top, but otherwise I just let it be a bit loose. I'll be wearing this in the winter, and you'll never see the lack of extra front shaping under a sweater. I'm not sure how much wear this will really get, since it's very dressy for my office. I suppose it might be good for going out to dinner with my sailor, or worn with a warm coat and tights to go out to lunch in NYC or something. I enjoyed making the bolero but it feels like a 1960s costume with the dress, so they might get separated.

So these aren't the best pictures ever... I got my dad to go out on the deck to take them since photographing black is so difficult. The jacket and dress are both in massive need of a good pressing. My excuse here is that I was deep into cooking dinner when my dad came back with the dogs, so I hopped into the dress and dragged him out on the deck before the sun set.

simplicity 7386

simplicity 7386

The dress does kind of pull at the very front of my neck, because the weight of the pleat kind of tugs down in the back. I talked this over with my mom, and we think that it will be OK in a wedding dress because the front neckline will be lower, and it will be much more fitted around my ribs. Also, the wool I used here is much heaver than the silk for my dress will be. So. that was my holiday weekend wedding dress research. ;-)

What to do with a long weekend, part 1

....sew a super girly pink quilt for Kate. This is her Christmas present, but not a surprise because she helped lay it out.

French Hatbox fabric by Tanya Whelan



Fold up binding being pinned

Quilt With Pinned Binding

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for....

....coming home for a long weekend to a bookshelf full of fabric and a new BWOF. Aaaaaah. It's better than any trip to a spa, I tell you. ;-)

....a visit to the ocean with my sailor
Back Bay Wildlife Refuge

.....the cutest little nieces and nephew ever

Kate & Ana

more stories?

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Will you slip in any time to sew?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some more vintage wedding patterns....

Bride Chic blog has a post today about some gorgeous vintage wedding patterns. Just in case, you know, you haven't gotten enough vintage wedding dress pattern overload from here. ;)

Friday, November 13, 2009

vogue 1776 - Carolina Herrera wedding dress

vogue 1776

Now how's this for a cool pattern insert? This Carolina Herrera pattern had a sweet little booklet on wedding dress sewing tips inside it!


vogue  pattern booklet

Considering that I only bought it for the instructions anyway, this was a nice bonus! I first saw this pattern a few weeks ago on a vintage pattern site, where it was $75. Last week I stumbled over it on ebay for $6 so I snatched it up. I didn't realize that all the "couture gown tips" were in a little color booklet, along with the huge instruction sheet specifically on the dress. I'll be browsing through this, picking up some tips...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lace inserts

I found these two lace inserts on Etsy... I've been thinking about the neckline at the front of my dress, and I might try the white one as an overlay on the bodice. The last dress on this blog post has a cute little bit of lace peeking out from the neckline, and it's super cute.
lace insert

The navy applique would be for a flower girl dress or my sister's dress.
navy blue lace insert

Another adorable bridal pattern made it's way here... this is McCall 8527

mcall 8527

And a dress pattern with a nice back pleat:
simplicity 7386

I'll have to think about how to incorporate the back pleat with my empire waist, like doing the pleat entirely below the band of the empire waist.

happy veteran's day


That's my sailor, back when we first started dating, with a real, live penguin. In antarctica. Happy veteran's day, sweetie. I miss you when you're underway, but it's all bearable when you find cute surprises like this in your email inbox! ;-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

lunchtime sketching

lunchtime sketching
Originally uploaded by wck

Working on christmas card designs at lunch. If you've never played with them, watercolor markers are So Much Fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Comment Catch Up and 2 small dresses

Here's Ana's dress from the other day. My apologies for the bad photo, I had a terrible time photographing a white & black dress. I was hoping for a photo of her modeling it but we didn't get a chance for that.

dress for ana

Top has a sweetheart neckline. The skirt is bemberg ambiance with a stretchy net double layer overskirt which was 2 inches longer than the underskirt. I pinned the skirt up in places and stitched it there with little red ribbon roses. I absolutely don't want a wedding dress with pickups like this on the skirt, or a tulle dress, but I've been looking at so much of both the last 2 weeks that they kind of worked their way into my system. So here we are, I worked them out on a little holiday dress for Ana. :-D

Next up, a dress for Kate from a vintage 1950s girls pattern. I love that it came with a circular petticoat pattern! The material is a white swiss dot with real thread dots. I have Karen to thank for that purchase- she was looking for some 'real' swiss dot, so I've been paying attention to swiss dot fabrics the last 2 weeks, and this sort of jumped into my cart.

white dress for Kate

McCalls 1979 from the 1950s

The pattern is adorable and very 50s. My mom pointed out the gloves and hat and said that's what she always wore when she was growing up. It has kimono sleeves with little cuffs
kimono sleeve

And a full circle skirt that took just under 4 yards of lace


Here is a picture of the sweet little elastic waist petticoat

So, comment catchup!

Antoinette wanted to know what my timeline was for choosing a dress pattern. That's a good question... we're hearing where he will be deployed next in March, so we'll pick a date then. We were originally planning to scramble and do the wedding in May before his next report date, but that looked like it was going to be very difficult to pull off. So right now we're in a wait and see mode. I will probably make some muslins over Christmas break, but otherwise not do too much until we have a date. This could all change... the one thing you learn quickly when dating someone in the military is that everything is subject to change at the last minute. ;-)

meredithp asked if my pink skirt was cut on the bias- nope, this pattern is for the straight of grain, both front and back are cut on the fold.

Toby commented on the sleeves on the vintage wedding dress patterns- yes, this is what I really like about them. Every wedding I've been to in the last few years, the bride spent the whole reception tugging her strapless dress and bra into position, which just doesn't look like fun, so I'd like to sidestep that whole thing.

And finally, a small wedding dress inspiration photo from a wedding blog. I LOVE the dress back in the upper left, and I'm thinking of trying that, but with a single inverted back pleat.

That dress is by Sarah Arnett.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


OK, I confess. I've been buying far too many vintage wedding dress patterns. WAY too many. It's too much fun, and most of these were in the $6-$12 range, so it's too easy to justify buying them. Sigh. (You can click on them to go to flickr, then click "all sizes" to see a larger photo)









When I was at the grocery store a few days ago I noticed that they had some pale blue and white hydrangeas, so I bought a few stems. I've had an idea for the wedding centerpieces floating around in my head for a few days, and I got a chance to try it out. The milk glass bowl was given to me by our nieghbor's children after she died- I was always fairly "eh" about milk glass before, but this piece made me realize that some of it is really pretty. I used a florists frog inside, and inserted 3 hydrangea stems, and- viola. I'm thinking I'll get some more cheap milk glass pieces from ebay & the thrift stores around here, and use florist foam (cheaper than frogs, it seems) to hold some hydrangeas. Probably with a candle on the table as well- shouldn't be *too* expensive, although it will depend on how hard hydrangeas are to track down. I might do another trial run with carnations or something else that I'm a little more sure of being able to buy come the week of the wedding.


There are tons of wonderful photos of centerpieces like that around on the web. If you'd like to lose a bit of time browsing, here are two. One here on The Knot, and a DIY milk glass centerpiece. Someday I should do a list of all the wedding blogs I've found and been sucked into reading. There are quite a few really fantastic ones with gorgeous photos.

And thanks to Carolyn for catching that my prom dress photo was set to private. Ooops. It should be fixed now.