Friday, August 15, 2008

BASTE! How low can you go?

When will I learn?!? BASTE! BASTE! BASTE! ...ripping out collar seam on jacket (again).

I returned from vacation to find that my velour fuzz bunnies multiply like tribbles:

And though I got zero sewing done while in the woods, I did eat, sleep, and breathe dress ideas- so I've got a preview of the next two chapters :)

Chapter Three: First Christmas

My grandmother passed away early this year, and I've found myself clinging to every hint of her, no matter how silly. For instance, I found this cotton tablecloth in amongst the tons of spare linens she'd tossed at me over the years. (I am known to be a bit of a packrat, ha). It was probably purchased in a quick dash to the supermarket, judging by its questionable quality. I've had it for some time, despite not using a dining table or having any need at all for a tablecloth. I think I liked the shades of red and green in it. It has a slight yellow stain in one corner, but I can work around it.

So I was staring at this tablecloth wondering what to do with it, thinking about Grammy, and I suddenly found myself in a secret life of a dress. (I'm a HUGE fan, btw). "She was a Kansas farm girl who ran away for the big city- the prettiest in 3 counties by most opinions, particularly her own. She kept her mouth shut, except for a Kool, a sly smile and an occasional sharp wit. And she knew how to make a tablecloth into a dress for dinner at the officer's club..."

The seed was planted to make this tablecloth into a dress, and a little voice in my head said, "What would nicegirl do?" (I'm a HUGE fan, btw). I poured over vintage patterns online and came up with Butterick 4790.
I absolutely love that this is a wrap dress- you pull it on like a poncho. I think the practicality of it is totally in the spirit of what I was looking for. I will most likely be supplementing it with cotton solids when the time comes, but I like the thought of using the border decorations for the over skirt.:

Chapter Four: Ladybird
My name is E and I have a tattoo. It's kinda big. I never really remember it's there, because I never see it. Never really, that is, until I have to dress up. Then it's kind of a pain. I either go with a back exposure that looks like chickens with their heads cut off, or cover up completely- which is boring after the billionth time. I think the pursuit of the perfect ladybird dress is secretly what got me back to sewing, and may be the root of this formalwear obsession I'm enjoying.

I envisioned a dress that wouldn't obscure the tattoo, but wouldn't showcase it garishly. Luckily, my cousin is habitually tardy and I had the opportunity to rummage around the bridal shop in which I was waiting for her. I spotted this lovely. (sorry for the scan, David's website won't let me get the pic). I liked the beading on the back. Further perusing of their site turned up some other goodies, so I nabbed a catalog.

I like the idea of beading over a sheer layer to hint at the tattoo's design, rather than just have it skin. I already have Vogue 7267 in my stash, as well as a yummy silk charmeuse that I got on my trip to Metro.

I'm going to combine the views and use black silk paints to do the branching design on the fabric. The back lacing will be replaced by a smoky gray sheer stretch material, which will be beaded with black seed beads along the bird design. *ETA: (photo) The red folding screen is going to be the basis for the design on the back of the skirt- my sketch is incomplete, it needs more blooms.

And last but not least, I've finished the fabric stretching frame that I need for painting the yardage of silk. I used 1"x5' pvc sections and didn't glue the joints so it can be dissassembled. The one end slides and the long sides unscrew in the middle to lessen the frame size.

That's all for now folks, tune in next time for some PR jacket news, a stovepipe steamer and *fingers crossed* some lovely painted silk scarves.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


As in, "slow as".

I altered the pattern pieces for Milly's muslin and decided to put them aside to focus on the PR jacket. The wedding I'll be attending isn't until September 13, and considering it's taken me 6 full days to get through the cutting phase of the jacket fabric and lining, I think this a smart move. I'm leaving for vacation on Saturday, so I'll have precious little time when I get back to finish the jacket before the contest ends. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I rarely have to do much more than tweak a few seams on Butterick sz 12 anyway, so hopefully the process will go smoothly. Of course, not only is this my first lined jacket, but it is my first jacket!

I finally got the silk paints in the mail, along with all the silk scarves I ordered to practice on :) I am making design progress with my watercolors and chinese brush painting set. I've found the chinese brush painting more closely mimics the effect of the paint on the silk. I think it will translate well to the dress. I'm giddy with anticipation of finally getting to the dress, but I fear it won't be until the end of September at this rate.

And who knew sewing would have me in home improvement stores so often? Aside from the rolls upon rolls of duct tape we've consumed, I've now got a stovepipe steamer in the works, as well as a fabric stretching frame. The frame is going to consist of 4 lengths of pvc joined with one end that will slide to accommodate different sizes of fabric. With all this stuff I'm accumulating (did I mention almost 100 yards of fabric?), I have now officially taken over the dining room, much to the dog's disappointment- his bed got relocated to my daughter's room, and he hates being downgraded in status like that. I was geeked to find the extension leaf to my dining table, so my cutting mat has ample room. The room is almost completely converted to my mad sewing lab now (buildup of evil laughter here).

And since I don't have any pretty pictures this time, I'll leave you with a riddle:
I'm right-side-up even when I'm upside-down. What am I?