Have you ever watched a high-end designer's process start to finish? One of Christian Dior's is documented in the video I'm sharing with you below. Thanks to Brooke of Custom Style
for sharing it.
What things strike me the most about this:
1. Look at just how many people are involved in making this. I'd figure ~ 10 or more people have a hand in this dress.
- Does that explain the cost? Yes! Absolutely!
- As an independent sewer, that is also so freeing. Well jeez! I don't have to feel bad about taking a while, taking my time, to make a dress or any piece of clothing. Relief washes over.
2. The use of older, tried & true methods are still alive and used.
- This is SO wonderful (cup runneth over feeling for me). The pleating! The
embroidery (did you see that rough old frame? Still good dammit!)
3. The design houses have to do the same thing I do when I sew - use pins, cut it all out, rough cut, then trim down, fit and adjust as needed... etc. etc.
- They wha? They use pins? They have to hand thread before cutting? Oh, I guess we
all have to go through the same process. Whoa. Duuuuuuuude. And we find common
ground. I'm shocked that I'm shocked. I guess I figured they had fancy tools or it
took them less time or ... fewer people? Did this shock you too?
Now I want to go tour and learn from the embroiderer and the pleating house. I've only ever seen pleated fabric in it's paper, never the process. If I could just get my hands on some. Wouldn't it be fun to actually do some of the pleating? Does anyone know of a pleating house around Seattle or Portland?
In August I started my muslin for the Colette Parfait pattern. I wasn't sure I'd really look good in this, but after making all my pattern adjustments to fit my body using the Jan Bones Papertape Dressform
, I'm thrilled and sure it's a perfectly cute style for me, except for the pockets. Do you ever change or remove the pockets on a dress?
I put the Parfait tissue pattern on the form and saw that I probably needed to make a full bust adjustment. But, I felt it wiser to cut the original pattern in a muslin for just the waist & bust pieces and adjust from there.
Below, you'll see I have odd wrinkles just under the bust toward the sides. I folded that out,then looked at where the gathered line hit my bust. Having an underbust line hit at mid or low, but not under the bust is a pet peeve of mine. It's like, "Hey, look, I'm wearing something that doesn't fit me and is made for someone with a smaller bust."
So, adjust the bust I must! Full Bust Adjustment (FBA), here I come!
I started by slicing & dicing. But, as I looked at the piece, it added more to the sides where I had just folded out ~ 1" of fabric. Well, that won't do. Hmm, think, think, think. Voila! I can just gamble, do what is "not to be done" and add seam allowance to the pattern edge where I need it. Why is that a "no. no."? Because typically it alters the pattern lines, mating edges and in some cases the grain. But, you know what?! It actually worked. Adding an inch to the underbust did it. I have a few more gathers than anticipated, but it's perfectly full and just what I wanted.
I'd like you to note that last bit: Doing the Taboo, lengthening a seam instead of doing the accepted FBA, worked out to be Just What I Wanted.
I've spent lots of time trying to do the right thing, but am just now giving myself permission to explore with the possibility of success or failure. This might not have worked, but because it did and because I tried something taboo, I learned, made it fit and could move on! WOOT!
Then, I got brave and cut the whole damn thing out of my long adored and stashed apple fabric. Even after I did the FBA, I put the pieces back on the form to check fit. The form showed I needed different darts than the pattern called for in the back. So, I modified them. The sides didn't line up as I wanted and the front waist line swings forward in a weird way (I'll add more to that bottom front edge next time). But, I got all the pieces to fit and line up. I'm glad I did this because they don't match up straight. Some are more like darts as you sew up side seams.
This has been so educational. I'm just trusting that the form fits and that no matter what shape I'm sewing, be it odd dart shapes with the side seams, that it will fit and fit well.
At last! At long last, this November, pre-Veterans Day weekend I made huge amounts of progress on my Apple Parfait. I'm totally in love wih the final results. I'm super glad I trusted my dress form, instincts, and took my time finishing. I'm still tweaking as I go, but that feels comfortable to me. I may make more mistakes, but I'm learning as I go without wasting, and that is very important.
Now to the pockets. I adored the pattern to begin with, pockets and all on the models and other sewists. But, as I put them on the dress, it goes from glamorous with a fun, kitschy (but not over the top) twist to hokey, cliche, and very jumper esque. I thought maybe it was the red on the pockets, but it's actually the gathered pockets. I feel like I have a second bust at my waist like some sort of strange alien. Well, if I'm feeling that way now, likely not to change. Having the pockets at a lower or their actual drafted level tends to over emphasize my ultra round rump-us (fanny).
The smooth, sleek look of the front seems just too compromised for my body and taste. Usually, I choose flat pockets that blend into the seams or panels so that they seem a natural part of the dress. It's hard to give up a place to store goodies like gemstones, but for the best, most flattering look, I think it necessary.
However, thanks to my awesome Instagram community, the feedback is "All Systems Go!" on the pockets. Or as @TarotandTea so aptly put it, "Pocketses Precious." Hmm... maybe I should reconsider. It is 6:1 in the votes so far.
Hope to post some photos of me wearing it soon as I finish the hem and the facings. I'm in love!
I need sports bras, but I'm tired of wasting gobs of time in malls, stores and shopping online. During Jan Bones' class
, after I discovered how much I love her techniques and patterns, I bought her "Front Closing" Sports Bra.
This is how the bra started. I measured myself, matched up my measurements to the pattern and fully intended to follow the pattern. I swear. (those who know me, know I prefer to experiment rather than follow directions on some things, recipes and patterns in particular). As you can see, it's destined for front closure.
Then, I tried it on.
I realized then that I'd forgotten to adjust the pattern for my narrow shoulders. And, I really prefer my sports bras to fit and be somewhat firm. Not constricting, but I do like the girls lifted into a decent shape. I had ~ 3" too much on each side and had to compensate for the wider shoulders. So, I played with placing. I wrapped it crisscross on the front to see if I could get a nice snug feel and pull in the straps. It worked!
So, this is how it looks finished with the crisscross stitched in place. I'll admit, I was nervous about doing that because it totally F'd with the pattern design. But you know what? I'm REALLY, really happy with it. I love the rest of the desgin and it now fits better than the standard U-shaped, uniboob sports bras you can buy, which don't usually do diddly squat for lifting or even supporting anything on me. Another bonus, I have a V-neck sports bra now! It does show on lower cut shirts and tanks, but it's such a different line that it's a refreshing change.
I put this on right after I stitched it down and went out for a walk. The girls moved a bit as I walked, but it wasn't painful. AND... are you ready for this?! I didn't get a headache. "A what?!" you ask. A headache. Traditional racerback style bras give me a headache within hours of wearing. Probably because of where they pull on my neck muscles. But this bra saddles your shoulders like a traditional bra. So, it doesn't pull on those muscles. Woot, woot for me!
Early in September, Seattle had a Fabric Show
where all the reps for fabric vendors like Alexander Henry
, Kona Bay
, Free Spirit
, Michael Miller
, and so many more all had "booths" or in this case rooms where you could see the latest fabric trends. This is where industry folk, like shop owners or clothing/quilt designers, could meet and buy for their business needs. Judy & Sandy of ZPRZ, by the way, gave great samples and also followed up just a couple days after the show. Color me impressed!
How my friend Charity & I attended is that this show happened to also be open to the public and I was fortunate enough to find out about it through Tacoma Sewing and Design School
newsletter that Ryliss puts out regularly.
The show was held at an embassy suites where the rooms all face an inner court yard. Those who have been to Art and Soul in Portland
years past, same floor plan. Some vendors were not interested once they learned we were not fabric business folk. But others were very kind and showed us their many products. Dan Rimmon had many fabrics that could be purchased in small quantities (2-15 yards). See the photos of the yummy purple and blue hemp knits, oh swoon! And he had tons of liberty. Very nice guy. I will definitely be in touch.
Upon stumbling into the Riley Blake
rep, Carrie Strong, I asked her advice on what a budding fabric designer would do to get started. Wow, such a kind, helpful woman. In short, she said, get your body of work together, make it outstanding, then go to one of the major quilt shows (it travels around the US and was in Portland last year), then schedule to meet with the manufacturers. She knew we were "the public" and still was nice to us and helpful anyway. Now that is the sign to me of a sales rep who thinks holistically, and cares about all customers at all levels. One never knows the impact a single person could have even if they are not buying wholesale, they could be a huge influencer. Treating everyone as though they matter is a gold star sales rep in my book.
Last, we met Melissa McGill
who reps for Alexander Henry and Robert Kauffman, two of my absolute favorite manufacturers. She also had a table of these hand-dyed fabrics that totally caught my eye. If you read my post Vintage Apron Grows up to Become a Skirt
, you know that I am totally infatuated with African fabrics since watching Wild at Heart written by Ashley Pharoh (writer of Bonekickers I might add) see below.
Because of this African fabric infatuation, I'm working on a few wardrobe pieces and have been looking for just the right fabric. Well, Melissa's pieces turned out to be perfect. I inquired a bit about the history of the fabric. Turns out, her husband started a school in Uganda for the handicapped so they could learn a trade, have a safe place to live and earn their own money. Melissa visits every 5 years and teaches the women new techniques. These fabrics were shibori dyed or batiked on a huge scale. They lay the fabric out on the ground, then they fold or batik it. Folding occurs lengthwise many times over then dyeing.
A woman at the Kampala school wears a skirt made of a hand-dyed print very similar to one of the bolt pieces I bought. Image Source & Copyright: Melissa McGill (Facebook: NW Textiles Melissa McGill Fabric Sales Rep. Click picture for link)
The other method they use, because wax is expensive to obtain, is to make a cornmeal paste and cover spots with a broom, let it dry, then dye. Think of it like a resist. How fantastic is that? And the colors are rich and remind me of the beautiful images of African sunsets and landscapes.
Kampala School dyers laying out their fabrics to apply resist. Image Source & Copyright: Melissa McGill (Facebook: NW Textiles Melissa McGill Fabric Sales Rep. Click picture for link)
Even better, is knowing that I am directly supporting another crafts-woman and helping her continue creating. Yes, the tears are welling up and my heart warms at this thought. Supporting a fellow artist or crafts-person be it in Africa or be it in your hometown is a valiant and worthy effort. Every choice is an opportunity to ..."be the change you wish to see in the world" (Gandhi). How are you creating a better world?
The day with Charity finished by a visit to Phinney Ridge where we stopped into the Fiber Gallery
, a lovely shop that had a Rowan book I wanted, followed by lunch at Hummus Cafe
and hot chocolate across the street.
I must tell you, do not miss trying the eggplant+falafal sandwich at Hummus Cafe
Totally and completely amazing. I haven't found middle eastern cuisine this good since I lived in Detroit. Plus, the service and the owners were wonderful! Highly recommended.
I have many loves in the world of fabric and sewing. It can be hard to pick just one, so usually I don't pick I get them all! Mwa ha ha. But that caught up to me and now I have my own giant stash that is demanding my attention. I've been wanting an Islander/African inspired skirt in a big way. Let's blame that fascination my incessant serial monogamy with Wild at Heart
that features several actors I grew to love while watching other long and delicious TV series:
But, I digress. Back to the skirt. In an effort to burn down my stash (let's go shopping in my own home stash eh?) and apply re-use principles to objects that already exist (i.e. vintage), I decided to use some Heather Bailey fabric, Pop Garden in Poppies - Green because it felt so much like a large African print, but could also double for something fun and Hawaiian or Island like.
Now a little about the pattern and the stripes.
I adore vintage patterns. I've quite a collection. I had to stop at one point because a) I ran out of room and b) I wasn't using them. I also love quilting cotton. I want lots of clothing in all the fun prints and colors. But, it's just not conducive to movement. Meaning I prefer stretch fabrics for my daily wear. I think of myself as a big kid in a lot of ways. I'm rough on my clothing and I like to be able to move freely, unrestricted by what I wear. Because I adore quilting cotton so much, I have quite a stash of it, and I'm not even quilter (only 1 made ever).
But... a few years ago, I was digging through my vintage patterns and stumbled on a really neat apron pattern. Aren't apron patterns just the most fun & inspiring things? This one looks like a skirt to me, not an apron. I just added a back panel so my bum wouldn't flap in the breeze. The pockets on an apron are just what I like - big, roomy and ready to fill with lots of goodies. I made up a skirt in a brown/aqua batik, added a built-in/matching lining or slip with coordinating brown star trim and have gotten miles and miles of wear out of it. You may recognize a wee portion of it from these two photos.
From Feb Photo a Day 2012
I forgot to write myself notes after I made the brown & aqua skirt about how much seem allowance I used (it was more than the pattern called for). So, this time I cut to the pattern (silly me!). When I began to sew the panels together, I realized, "Oh crap, this thing isn't going to fit around me." White bias tape to the rescue! Thank God I've a big stash of the stuff. I cut double fold in half (again, using up the stash) and insert ~ 1" + 1/4" SA in-between each panel. Then, to make the white less shocking, and less dirt collecting, I put a ribbon of green rayon seam tape. Kinda sporty and it matches and it solved my problem! Toss an elastic waistband on the top, introduce the sewn-in slip with a coordinating trip, more scrap use-up and voila! My 2nd Apron skirt was born. I finished it Saturday and have already worn it 2x. I think we're in love. ;)
This month I decided to take a couple classes from A for Artistic
. They're online classes on all forms of doll making - sculpted in polymer and art clay through cloth dolls. One class even shows how to make a cushion chair for your doll to lounge in. They're very inspiring. Since, with the alters we're working with such wee spaces, I thought these classes would prove useful. Then, I can also use the skills learned for my other creations.
The 2 classes I'm taking are taught by Deb Wood
, "Turn that Frown Upside Down" and "Sculpting Feminine Hands and arms". I find making hands without armatures quite easy. But, introduce the armature and I wanted to see how someone else approached it. That's the great part about a class, you're paying for someone else to teach you the best method so you can avoid making some of the same mistakes they did during their trial and error period. That is something very worth paying for because it saves Gobs of time if you actually listen and follow their guidance.
I'm fascinated by hands and holding objects at present. And, I found these super awesome doll (maybe barbie) tea cups at an estate sale and am thrilled to put them to use. I created the armature, followed Deb's instructions for creating the hand and arm, but kept it simple so I could just experiment and try. To me, it looks a bit cartoon-y. And the armatures were totally see through in many parts of the hand. But I kept on with Deb's instructions and it didn't turn out too bad. I didn't add fingernails or the other knuckle wrinkles, but I did add "meat" to the heal of the hand and the padded spot just under the first knuckles of the hands. All in all, not to shabby for the first try.
The background was created by using heavy drawing paper and yellow and green Dylusions sprays finished off with a good shaking of salt. Then, I just cut a wee bit off to use for background. See the arm is a tight fit, so a full box would only get in the way.
Next, following a suggestion from Peg, I added a sleeve. She suggested polymer, but I wanted to try my hand at hand-stitching and doll costuming over the polymer. It was really fun how fast this little puff sleeve went together even with the step of gathering above the cuff. Faster and easier than I would have expected.
I chose a wee bit of my clown pants
and floral skirt bias trim so that this alter would carry a little bit of me - bright and tropical color choices to remind us of the more cheerful side of life. We see plenty of grey, let us rejoice in the experience and shifts that colors can bring. Even if these aren't your favorite colors, what do they make you think of? I once took a painting class and only worked in colors that I didn't like. It was hard at first, but then it yielded paintings that were beautiful even in my least favorite colors.
For the final touch, I used more of the background paper to create little cards that will sit inside the tea cup as wishes for the receiver, Kathy. I wish you time to unwind, day dream, rejuvenate, rest, and find your bliss. Those are all things I feel when I take a sip of hot tea and let myself rest. I know you are always on the go. So, this will be your reminder (from bright and colorful Gwen to take time out for yourself and enjoy your favorite tea. It's amazing what things occur, shift, become realized or resolved, or ideas that click into place when we quiet our mind from the tension of the world around us.
Image Source: http://www.sewexpo.com/index.htm. Screen Shot of their great website! Thank you Sew Expo team for continuing to bring us GREAT content!
When deciding on which classes to take at Sew Expo this year, for those instructors with whom I had no knowledge or previous experience, I researched each instructor of interest online via websites, youtube, or blog posts others had written. I love knit clothing and have run into some snags, rippled seams, etc as I've sewn my own and the Craftsy class I took on "Sewing With Knits" taught me a couple things, but I needed better info from an experienced pattern designer or instructor who had worked with and fit knits for adult bodies.
Voila! My desire was answered when I discovered Pamela Leggett
, the talented woman behind Pamela's Patterns
had seminars on Cool Cardigans and also Knits That Fit. She has a super helpful & well designed website
. I was amazed, thrilled, and learned a great deal from two of her 1-hr seminars at Sew Expo followed by asking a couple specific questions at her booth. Ultimately, I walked away much more knowledgeable, clear on how to adjust problem areas I'd never known how to handle or identify (arm hole shortening for too low garment neckline), and several patterns I'd purchased that will give me beautifully fitting everyday basics that my wardrobe desperately needs. Yay! No more time wasted searching for or wearing ill fitting Ready To Wear (RTW).
Pamela is the nicest person you could meet. Super helpful & elegantly dressed showing the many ways her patterns can be used. Her voice & persona are so cute, genuine, sweet and totally characteristic that I may be inspired to develop a puppet or character for an audio book after her (a compliment to be sure!).
Image source: PamelasPatterns.com in the Online Store section. Item is Pattern #104 The Perfect T-Shirt. To buy your own, go to PamelasPatterns.com
I love meeting unique and knowledgable people like her. After her "Knits That Fit" class, I asked Pamela about the sway back adjustment I recently made on a knitted shirt without a back seam. my concern was that folding it out, then re-truing the line for a fold only added the fabric back in at the Center Back waist where I had just pinched it out. She told me that when knits first came out in the 70's & 80's, they had back seams to allow for better fit. But the fashion industry has eliminated them to save time and money. Her patterns already have the sway back adjustment and instructions. That eased my mind. She has many great tips and videos posted FREE on her website: http://www.pamelaspatterns.com/you-tube-videos
Then she showed me a couple finished versions of her T-shirt pattern, from her own closet, that she put a back seam into for better fit. After talking with her, buying her T-shirt and Tank patterns, I'm definitely going to put the back seam into my knits. Because, I'm a curvy girl with a sway back adjustment and I like a nice fit. There are too many people running around in RTW with ill fitting clothing. I want to be the one people look at and think, "Damn she looks good. I wonder where she bought that shirt. Probably paid a fortune!" But it'll be our little secret. ;)
I'm currently working out the fit on my copy of Pamela's Pattern #104, The Perfect T-shirt. In a future post, I'll include the multitude of mods based on my conversations with Pamela and comparisons with my own RTW and other shirt's I've made. This is the 2nd step in the process (after taking photos of my RTW fits) toward getting a great fitting T-shirt. Yay! I'm on my way!
Making dingleballs. Some with, some without haircuts.
"Oh what fun
it is to make
Yes, I do make up my own lyrics to songs. It's a family tradition. I was singing about dingleballs to the tune of Jinglebells. Kinda fun, huh? Yeah, I thought so.
I've been saving this bag of yarn scraps for ages. On 4th of July, I blogged about making potholders from my leftover dreadlocks making days (see pics below) and knitting project scraps. That project wasn't enough to satisfy. Besides, I had lots of different colored scraps. I needed a way to pull all the colors together. And they weren't really colors that I typically worked with. I'm a bright and bold color girl normally. But these colors were soft, muted and nature toned. I do love those colors and enjoy working with them, but they're not usually my first grab from the yarn or fiber basket.
Then, my mom found this color work style, ready-to-wear, sweater with some crazy long fringe all round it. When I say long fringe, I mean long... 4". I looked at her like, "Uh, what do you want to wear this for?" She said, "Dingleballs!" Oh. my. goodness. That woman is amazing. The sweater was perfect and already had holes in it, from the fringe, that would be perfect for tying on a few dingleballs.
So I took the sweater home and dug through my bag o scrappy goodness. Wonder of wonders, all these leftovers that didn't have a purpose or a project all of a sudden fit the sweater perfectly. Various shades of blues & purples (dusty to royal), tans and browns, and a variety of olive greens including a few forest green. I even used some of the fringe (it had polyester in it though, ick!) to make itsy bitsy dingleballs.
I made dingleballs using the tool from my kits. But, I wanted to have big and small dingleballs. I thought that would give the sweater some character. I do love the wee kit tool, but, the tools aren't offered in any size smaller than 3/4 inch. I recently learned on Pinterest how to make a dingleball using a fork. Using a fork doesn't give the same uniformity that the pom pom tool does. but the dingleballs are still super cute! Below are a few photos of the finished sweater. I think it would be adorable with a belt and a fun olive colored skirt instead of my amy butler tunic. ;)
Kits will be posted to my etsy shop this weekend. So you too can make your own amazing dingleballs.
Gwen here introducing my alter ego clown self, Birtha, as today's guest blogger. She's going to tell you about the wicked pants I made her. I've actually allowed myself to go into character to write this. Birtha is unpredictable, brash, mocking, and self serving. I think you'll really love her when you get to know her better. Without further ado, I give you Birtha.
| || |
I. Am. Birtha!
I'm Birtha the clown.
Yes. I spell my name with an "i" because I was birthed in a clown class.
That's all you get today, because I don't feel like telling stories. Today, I'm showin off.
See those glowing things in the pictures below? Those are my happy pants. Yup! They make me happy because they scream loud with color. And, they're most comfortable. >_<
These pictures I took my own self. I used me a barbie-Q and the help of a nice little iPhone app that has a self timer. Self timers are good when you want to take your own pictures. Plus, I could set it up so that it took my picture every 4 seconds. How wonderful is it to fill the world with Birtha pitchers? Wwwwonderful! I'll have you know tho... I iz not in nose above and below. So, I'm not fully in Birtha mode. But, you can suspect that I'll be back to parade my new pants more one of these dayz.
Feets are good to photograph.
My feets like to be free and nekked. Specially when it's summery. I likey that. A lots.
Do you see how I have red dots on pink? That makes me happy cause I glow and offend your sweet wittle eye balls. Get used to it. Cause there's more to offend where that came from. :P
I’m working on a pair of gloves. Here I pinned the pintucks atop the
“back of the hand”, but I decided having a couple extra mm was more
important than fitting the wrist. See all the pins round the thumb
hole? They are to mark where I needed to cut. That helped. They are
working out nicely, I must admit!