The Pregnant Wedding Guest

July 28th, 2015 - 

My friends are getting married in October just a month before my due date. I expect to be very large and possibly uncomfortable at that point but I still want to look cute at a wedding, if I can.

It’s hard enough trying to find DIY maternity clothes, but finding something interesting to wear to a wedding is a real challenge.

Here’s what I’m looking at so far:

1. The Tent Dress

INSPIRATION:

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PATTERN:

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Simplicity 1105 is the only pattern I’ve found that comes close to what I’m imagining. I love the illusion neckline swing dress I found online and would like to do something like that. *Maybe* even with embroidery(!?) plus a little petticoat underneath to help keep its shape. I think this could be really amazing. A lot of work — because I’d really need to adjust this pattern (change the back, add sleeves, create the illusion neckline) — but I’ve got three months so there’s time.

I realize this is the no-no shape that pregnant women shouldn’t ever wear because it makes you look EVEN BIGGER, but I think I might be into that. Especially with a fabric that’s slightly flowy and a hemline that hits above the knee.

There’s some precedent for people wearing this shape while pregnant…

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I’m not alone!

2. The Gown

(NO INSPIRATION)

PATTERN:

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Simplicity 1102 and Burda Style 7106 are appealing because of their cut-outs around the shoulders. I like that it’s mostly covering the body, except for that one detail.

3. The Crop Top and Long Dress

INSPIRATION:

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PATTERN:

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Burda Cap Sleeve Cropped Top 02/2015 #127 +McCall’s 6608 could work for this. I might even just make this to wear to work.

4. The Kardashian

INSPIRATION:

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PATTERN:

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I am so very into this dress. I think it’s amazing. I think I could achieve something similar using McCall’s 7122 (basic shape in a stretch fabric) and Vogue 2273 (fishtail/train). Wouldn’t want to do the built-in gloves, but I just think this whole idea for a dress is stunning and amazing and I love it. It’s so out there.

Leaning towards the tent dress right now and hoping to pick up that Simplicity pattern at an upcoming sale at Hancock Fabric. Wish me luck!

Coming Home

July 23rd, 2015 - 

I don’t know how to come back to this blog but I’m pretty sure I have to.

I started a few other blogs since abandoning this one but it wasn’t much fun for me. Their focus was more narrow and I wasn’t getting excited about them at all. I guess what I still want is a free-for-all format where I can write about anything and not feel like I’m cultivating a specific audience or maintaining a certain narrative. Which, somehow, I got it into my head was something I wanted to try.

Lately I’ve stumbled upon a few really great blogs and read them completely, which has been really inspiring. Many of them aren’t updated anymore either and I guess that made me kind of sad. I didn’t like to think of all the bloggers out there, like me, who neglected or quit their work. Even if their reasons were good, my mind just wandered back here and I couldn’t understand why I left when I kn0w how much I love blogging and would still find it rewarding.

You’ll notice many big changes since the last time I posted in 2013.

  • My hair is peach
  • I’m pregnant
  • We have a house
  • We have two dogs
  • I bought a new camera
  • I’m working to start an Etsy shop (to help pay off the camera…)

We went to LA (and Disneyland!) last fall for our big annual trip, but nothing like that is happening again this year because we’re prepping for baby. Instead, we’re taking a smaller trip to Tennessee in a few weeks to eat BBQ and look at Elvis’ house. I’m really excited about it, but I do spend an awful lot of time thinking about when I’ll get to take my next trip to a Disney park. (More so than even when I was a kid.) Probably because most of the people I follow on Instagram are there all the time and it looks REALLY FUN. Our honeymoon at WDW in 2013 reignited my interest in Disney for sure. Right now I’m re-reading the Harry Potter books as well and that’s been a lot of fun. Having a kid on the way is scary, because there are a lot of overwhelming stories out there about poop, health and behavioral issues, etc., but it’s fun to think about all the imaginative and fun things they’ll get into as well.

We’re having a girl, by the way. 😊

So, that’s it for now, but I’ll be popping back in from now on and I just didn’t want it to seem sudden if anyone’s still paying attention.

Memories of Sewing in 2013

December 30th, 2013 - 

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I returned to sewing this year with high hopes. I have exited 2013 with not much I’m proud of, but a lot of good experience.

Top 5 garments include:

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  1. Wedding dress
    – Might have liked a smoother hem line from front to back, but otherwise no complaints
  2. Adam’s second western shirt
    – Nice colors, looks good, well-loved, highly complimented
  3. Honeymoon shift dress
    – I wear this often with a cardigan, but don’t much like it without one
  4. Wiksten Tova
    – This shrunk and I grew, unwearable now, but loved in its time
  5. Pair of booties (unblogged)
    – Given to my mother-in-law for X-Mas, handmade leather foot bed, good color/fabric selection, stash-buster, and real cute

A message for me in the future:

  • Fabric bought on the internet could be see-through, ergo pain. Try not to buy it
  • There is muslin fabric to be had at every thrift store, cheap. Buy it. You now have no excuse to avoid making a muslin
  • Learning to embroider will make you want to buy an embroidery machine. Do not do this. Everything you want in an embroidery machine is $1000+ and you will never find it cheaper EVER
  • Figure out what RTW styles look good on you and search for patterns that match these styles
  • Stop making shift dresses, they look horrible on you
  • Spend time fitting one pattern in each category that you will actually wear and make them many times over
    – Leggings
    – Panties
    – Sleepwear
    – Pants
    – Cardigan
    – Fun dress
    – Work dress
    – Jacket
  • Please lose weight, you have gained too much weight, it is becoming difficult to fit you
  • Buy nice fashion fabric in-person that looks good with your skin tone
  • Stop buying fabric without a plan
  • Use your stash
  • Thin your pattern collection
  • You do not need another Craftsy class
  • When your wearable muslin does not fit, adapt the pattern and move on. Stop trying to edit the muslin. Just donate it if it’s nice. That’s someone’s size as-is and when you toy with it you always ruin it
  • Every four items you make for yourself, make something for him or a friend
  • Make one child’s pattern before buying any more children’s patterns, you are not even pregnant
  • You were right, quilting cotton does not look good in a garment, still avoid
  • If you finish the edge of your quilt, you will have a quilt, instead of a pile. Apply this wisdom to all areas of life
  • Continue to challenge yourself

2014 Goals:

  • Make a jacket
    – Minoru with existing canvas
    – Trace and remake favorite RTW coat
  • Test a new western shirt pattern for Adam
  • Make something from each Burda magazine
  • Finish both knitting projects from 4+ years ago
  • Make the window drape you planned to make for the kitchen
  • Make one vintage dress from a vintage pattern
  • Find at least one TNT pattern
  • Meet another who sews, attempt friendship
  • Make shorts
  • Finish and mail Dad’s shirt
  • Make Mom a cardigan
  • Create better fitting garments
  • Make better color and fabric selections

Overall, as a sewer, I feel very confident going into 2014. I’ve had a lot of missteps, not all of them blogged, but my think muscle is stronger for it, and I feel like I’ll see a lot of improvement next year.

Vintage Pattern Haul

December 12th, 2013 - 

Adam and I had a very successful trip to Savers last weekend and I found a ton of vintage patterns!

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These Vogue patterns are gorgeous. Look at these details!

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Ooh la la pockets.

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Love this silhouette.

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Side gussets! Ah!

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The way Savers packages their patterns, I lucked into these vintage patterns as well.

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Darling little neck ties.

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I will probably use this little V neckline in something.

I am beginning to see a need to thin my pattern collection. I’m overstuffed. But it’s so hard to pass these things up!

There’s just no way I’m getting through 2014 without attempting to sew my first vintage dress pattern.

Simplicity 1609 #2

December 3rd, 2013 - 

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I did it again! Simplicity 1609.

The fabric is a crinkled polyester from Vogue Fabrics bought on sale for $1.99/yard.

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As with my first purchase from Vogue, the striped pink cotton lawn, it is a little see-through, so I fully lined the dress.

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The lining fabric was purchased at Arc’s Value Village. I love looking for fabric and notions at thrift stores! I found a bunch of amazing stuff last weekend.

I used my old self-eased template from the first version. Except this time, I removed the center seam. I actually think it drapes a lot better! I will probably not make this dress again with two front pieces. I am eating my words about how much easier it is to size with a center seam. Derp.

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One thing I hate though is how long it was to begin with. I cut 4″ off the bottom hem. Sometimes the scale of things is not preserved in larger sizes, I’m finding. The envelope shows the hem falling just above the knee, and in my size, it fell a few inches below the knee.

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The cap sleeves were a nice addition this time. I used the cap sleeve option in Simplicity 1880.

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The collar called for interfacing, but my fabric was so stiff to begin with, and my main fabric so flowing, I’m not really sure the collar needed all the additional structure of interfacing. This was probably a job for organza and I just messed up. It did lead to the first time I ever edge stitched something to my lining fabric. Ooh la la.

The green buttons are a vintage find from my mom. My sole supplier of buttons. The collar fabric has been seen in the bodice of an earlier project.

Total cost: $10 fabric + $0 pattern + $2 thread + 8 hours

I thought this dress came together rather quickly, but there was some ripping out of stitches when I started to install the sleeves, and I did have to cut and sew the dress panels twice, essentially, to fully line the garment.

After this dress, I really feel like I can achieve anything. Again, I ignored instructions, and just did it out of instinct, which saves a lot of time. I sewed the shoulders, then the neckpiece, then the sleeves, then the side seams, then the back seam, then the hem. I’m really proud of the construction on this one!

Simplicity 4417 D #1

November 27th, 2013 - 

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I found Simplicity 4417 (size 6-14) at a thrift store and saw some potential in it as the basis for a simple negligee. The pattern was partially pre-cut, which didn’t bother me, since I planned to make a lot of changes anyway. To start, I would have needed a 16, plus I wanted to add in some ease to avoid the side zip and I needed to lower the hem to make it skirt length.

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I am into creating wearable muslins right now, considering my large remnant collection is getting out of control. The main fabric for this project was a remnant from Jo-Ann Fabrics. I had slightly less than 1 yard to work from and was very excited when it seemed to be enough. It’s pretty and silky, but polyester. I have some nice silks I’d like to make this in later, once I perfect the fit. The lining fabric is a silk charmuese.

This was my first time creating little delicate fabric tubes for straps. It was frustrating, but I did it somehow. I literally can’t remember how. I must have blocked the memory.

Lately I’ve stopped reading pattern directions and just dive in. Here, I made the tubes first, then sandwiched the end between the main and facing fabric pieces and sewed it into place at all four points, then sewed the sides of the bodice in a continuous line, right side to right side at the side seams, and pressed the seams open, before attaching it to the skirt, so there are no raw edges in the bodice. I also did a French seam in the skirt.

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To keep bulk out of the hem, I just serged it, turned it under, and stitched .25″ from the edge. I love when I can hem like this. It’s so simple.

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I thought at first I would enclose the raw edges of the bodice/skirt seam into the skirt somehow, but now I think I’d rather enclose the seam with bias tape. I ran out of the main fabric and have enough of the lining fabric to make bias tape, but it’s time to move on. This is something I will try to do on my second version.

I still don’t know a lot about adjusting pattern sizes (slashing and spreading and whatever). So while technically this “fits” and “works,” the side seams don’t line up in the bodice and skirt, and the shoulder straps are a bit too far out, I’d like them closer to the center of my body where they will not fall down so much and possibly feel more comfortable.

I have made some adjustments to my already-adjusted pattern, and hope to start a new negligee soon!

Total cost: $5 fabric + $1 pattern + 4 hours

Note: this would not take nearly so long to make if I was able to turn a fabric tube more easily and didn’t have to rip out and re-attach the skirt which I initially put on backwards. Derp.

Magic Kingdom Dress

November 16th, 2013 - 

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We left for our honeymoon the morning after our wedding, and spent 7 days going to theme parks in Florida.

I knew I wanted to make a few dresses for the trip, and this one was meant to be worn at the Magic Kingdom. I thought maybe it would equal the park’s optimism.

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The fabric is a cotton lawn I picked up on sale from Vogue Fabrics online. It’s my first time working with lawn, and I thought it was pretty nice! Mine was quite transparent though, so I backed it with a pink lining fabric. It showed through the fabric somewhat to make it look even pinker. I used a thrifted, vintage zipper that picked up some of the blue.

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The bodice comes from Vogue 8755 (a personal favorite, very comfortable) and the skirt is a modified version of…something vintage. I forget. Anyway, I used 5 panels for the outer skirt and 4 panels for the lining skirt. I used pre-made bias tape to finish the neck and arm holes. The lining gave me some trouble so I just used my serger to finish that edge, and I sandwiched the lining to the fashion fabric panels and serged those edges before sewing them together. Worked out pretty nicely!
magickingdom_dress_5I thought I would have to retire it after the trip, since it’s no longer warm and summery in Minnesota, but I still decided to wear it last week with a cardigan and boots.

Total Cost: $7 fabric + 6.5 hours

And how was the honeymoon? magickingdom_dress_1

Wonderful!

 

Wedding Dress Recap

November 15th, 2013 - 

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Having zero experience and moderate confidence, I believed I could sew my own wedding gown and I did.

A year ago, I had only sewn quilts and unfinished or misshapen garments. Knowing this, my then-boyfriend-now-husband still assumed I could make him a Western shirt. I like him, so I tried.

After completing the first Western shirt, I was utterly impressed by own achievement. So much so, I figured I could probably make more garments. Even a wedding dress. I was relieved by the thought.

I was already sick from looking at wedding dresses online, never finding the right one, and being totally put off by the price or quality of each one. I figured it was time to commit to making my own, cobbling together the best parts of the dresses I’d seen, and inventing something unique just for me.

I knew that this project was out of my experience level, so I approached it very gradually.

I found the “looks” I wanted in both the Burda Princess Dress 11/2012 #121 pleated skirt and the top from this Simplicity 4070 cocktail dress.

My hemline was inspired by this Embellished High-Low Gown by Oscar de la Renta:

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Oscar de la Renta can do no wrong.

The tone of our wedding was inspired by the prom scene in Back to the Future and I wanted something that fit our evening but also met my criteria:

  • Suitable for dancing all night
  • Something I wouldn’t trip over
  • A neckline I wouldn’t fall out of
  • Not white
  • Sweetheart neckline
  • Pockets
  • Tea length hemline
  • Could still be identified as a wedding dress

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I feel very happy that I have achieved most of my goals.

The bodice has boning in its underlining, for structure and support. This was a challenge for me. I spent a lot of time agonizing over how to properly insert boning. I read a ton of books about corsets and undergarment construction but never really found the “how to” guide I wanted, which would use exhaustive details and pictures to describe the process of creating a beautiful boning channel. You would be surprised how many books have words in them, guys. What I needed was photojournalism.

In the end, I realized that what’s in this dress isn’t visible — it’s not a sexy corset or anything like that, it’s just a support structure — so I cut corners. Considering I would only wear the dress once, it didn’t matter much to me if the boning was slightly distorted by the end of the night.

Therefore, I used Dritz Featherlight Twill Boning — a kind of plastic boning with a stiff cotton channel — and I didn’t bother ordering the spiral steel boning that more professional corset makers and sewers seem to use.

The invisible zipper in the back gave me some anxiety. When I started the project, I still had my old Kenmore Mini Ultra and I couldn’t figure out if there was a zipper foot available for that machine. While waiting for zippers to make sense and accessories to appear from thin air, I sewed more, grew more confident, and decided to buy a nicer machine with many presser foot options to avoid the headache of inserting a zip without the right supplies.

Buying my Janome Sewist 500 was definitely the right choice. I’ve never been happier sewing than I have been the past few months with a decent machine. To call the purchase life-changing is probably an understatement.

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I don’t mind saying that I did an incredible job inserting my first invisible zipper. I also found an innovative way of attaching the full zip down the bodice and into the skirt of the dress, hiding it in the folds of the pleated skirt. Bringing that concept together felt amazing.

The skirt had extra fabric in back, along the zipper, and the zipper extends about half-way down my rear. This allowed me to get into the dress more easily because with the flap and zipper open, I had a lot more room in the waist and bodice. Of course, that flap of fabric needed to be attached back to the skirt once I was zipped in, which I achieved through four “hidden snaps” in the bustle area.

The additional fabric also meant more fullness in the “train,” which is what I wanted. I really agonized over how to do this, but once I just bared down and pushed forward the answers luckily fell into place.

I’m so grateful that I spent time during this project to take breaks and work on other things. It improved my skill level tremendously and helped me build confidence for eventually returning to this project that was, at first, out of my ability and, at every moment, very important to me.

I did agonize and think on every little bit of this garment before making my decisions final in the cloth. I hope the end result is something, though, that looks effortless!

Elvis sang me down the aisle and married us, it was very special

I tried to build volume within the dress by lining the top pink and under magenta color with organza, but wasn’t convinced it did enough to achieve the full look I wanted in the skirt, so a few days before the wedding I bought a petticoat for more volume.

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There is horsehair in both layers of the dress hem. It was a real process involving a lot of hand-sewing and I didn’t document the process but it was pre-tty cool, guys. Pre-tty cool.

I covered a headband with my dress material so that explains the matching. My dad asked for a tie made of my dress material too, a few weeks out from our wedding day, but I was unable to deliver on the request.

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I actually sewed all of the gold table covers (20) in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I might go over this process in another post. It’s not mind-blowing, just interesting. Anyway, that project took up a lot of time at the last minute and I’m still sad I never got to make my dad’s tie.

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Not that he “needed” it. He changed into jeans as soon as he could after the ceremony. Classic Dad.

It’s good that I finished my dress early so I could accept a few additional projects like my headband and tablecloths that came up near the wedding date.

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BUT ALSO. Having our outfits ready a month ahead allowed us to get this photo stand made, which our guests clearly enjoyed at the party. Much love to Jacie of Moss Love Terrariums for taking the photograph of us that we used in the stand!

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Adam’s coworker made this Airstream cake. In lieu of gifts, we asked guests for money to help fix up our 1978 31′ Airstream Sovereign

Well, I had a lot of fun making this dress. I somehow paced the work just fine. I didn’t get too stressed or screw up anything or have to buy my gown. I did spill a lot of champagne on it that night, but I’m sure that’s just the hallmark of a good time.

Someday I would like to make another fancy dress. And I should. Because I still have 7 yards of this fabric.

Simplicity 1609 #1

November 4th, 2013 - 

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At some point I got the idea in my head that I really needed to wear Simplicity 1609 at my bachelorette party. Simply had to do it.

At the outset, I was clear on the pattern but not details of what the dress would look like.

Because the pattern is designed to be close-fitting, I really wanted a fabric with some give, so movement in the dress would be easy. I also wanted some flow to the dress, so adding in side ease was something I wanted to do as well.

Snooping at SR Harris, I found what I was looking for: a one-directional stretch knit in a fall color pallet.

I just love SR Harris. I think about not living near a discount fabric store at any point in my life and it sounds like such a downer. I never forget how lucky I am to have so many garment fabric options.

They also  have huge tubs of leather scrap, buckles, straps, and decorative cowl pieces, things I look at but don’t usually buy.

For this project though, I thought one of the cowl piece (lace applique) would be fun to use instead of making the scalloped Peter Pan collar, so I stocked up on a few possibilities and hoped one would work out.

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Very happy with my pick! I think it pairs nicely. Unfortunately, since I’d never bought one before, I learned after reading the receipt that they are $3 apiece. Probably buying 3 in one go with no plan was a mistake.

For this dress, I did make a muslin — two muslins.

I know, basically, that Simplicity is not sized like Vogue, since my earlier failed attempt at making a shirt for myself based on my commercial sizing. So, instead of cutting a size 14, which seems to be my commercial and Vogue size, I cut a size 20, going on bust measurements alone and hoping for the best. I think I will be better served next time by finding my shoulder measurement on the pattern and grading to the bust, but for now my wonky fixes seem to work.I know a lot of people hate that front seam, but I really found it useful for adjusting the fit. I took in about 2″ at the front center seam at the neck and graded it down to the bust, then let out the dress gradually from the waist to the hem for more ease. I took in the pattern from the top of the bust dart to the arm hole on both the front and back, and in back I took in the zip a little at the top and graded it out from “rear end” to hem. A lot of adjustments, but I’m very happy with the results. This could be my go-to shift dress pattern from now on.

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Photographed later in Hogsmead on my honeymoon.

I couldn’t find any “how to” guides online for applying the cowl, no matter how I looked.

Basically, I decided to approach it like lace. Which I’ve never done, but have read a lot about.I placed the detail over the dress front, pinned, sewed the shoulders with a zig-zag, and straight stitched the cowl along its U shape, closest to the neck. Then I cut away the underpart and left about 1/3″ — which I then edge serged, folded and pinned down, then straight stitched over through the cowl along its U shape farthest from the neck.

I used pre-made bias tape along the armholes beforehand, and used the same bias tape along the back of the neck hole after I applied the cowl.

At first I thought I would attach the applique with clear thread — but that was a mondo bust. It kept breaking and bunching and it’s very difficult to handle. In the end I machine sewed it to the fabric with matched Dual Duty XP Heavy thread I had in my stash. I thought it would be too visible, but it actually looks pretty nice. In the process, my machine did skip some stitches — some of which I ripped out and re-did — but what imperfections remain are a-okay with me.

Total cost: $13 fabric + $3 cowl + $2 pattern + $3 thread + $1 bias tape + $1 zipper + 14 hours

And how was the bachelorette party?

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I had a good time.

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They made me a sushi penis at Masu! AMAZEBALLZ.

I will absolutely be making this dress again, in a few different styles. I’m satisfied with this first make, but I’d like to revisit the pattern and use it to help me understand which shoulder size I should grade to in my next attempt at a Simplicity pattern.

I’d also like to make a few other shift style dresses to compare fit.

How To: Covered Headband

October 22nd, 2013 - 

I’m getting married on Saturday!

I’ve made my own dress, so I’ll post about that later.

When I bought the fabric at SR Harris I was brand new to sewing, so I had no idea how much to buy for a full-length gown. I was also concerned I would fail and have to re-make large portions — so I got 10 yards!! Still cheaper than buying a new dress, and more personal, but that’s a lot of fabric I have now to deal with.

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Which is why, when thinking about the kind of hair piece I wanted, I decided to cover a headband with my dress fabric and go all matchy-matchy. Here’s how I went about it:

  1. I found a hard plastic headband that was already covered. I wanted to see how “the professionals” did it. What I found was that most of the fabric had been glued in place. I decided I would sew mine instead.
  2. It was important that the headband not have teeth, it needed to be flat and smooth. The teeth wouldn’t do any good covered up by a silky fabric — it would have just been too bulky.
  3. I traced the headband on some paper (laid it flat and traced both sides while I rolled and stretched it along) and added .25″ seam allowance.
  4. I made a muslin and it was too small — .25″ seam allowance was not enough to account for the surface area along the edge of the headband.
  5. I cut one piece with a .25″ seam allowance (the underside) and one piece with a .375″ seam allowance (the top side) on the grainline (not on the bias).
  6. I matched the edges on one side and both ear pieces and machine stitched those areas with right sides facing using a .25″ seam allownace
  7. I trimmed down the seam allowance and snipped along the ear pieces, then turned it out, slipped the ear pieces of the headband into their holes — a nice tight fit!
  8. I stretched the top fabric around the headband to its underside, folded over the bottom fabric (trimmed it a bit first, maybe .25″ — due to stretch) and hand stitched it along the seam, using this method, making sure that the seam line fed along the bottom of the headband (not along the edge of the headband), and was hidden.
    photo 1
  9. DONE! The “pretty” machine stitching will go in the front and the hand stitching in the back. An enamel flower tie clip (I think that’s what it is) will finish the look.
    photo 3

Going in for my hair trial tonight!

UPDATE:
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