Sunday, November 29, 2009

Short black

This is one of two formal dresses that I'm making for my DD. It is a refashion from a French lace pencil skirt that I've had since before she was born. I bought it from a recycled fashion store then, so I think is from the mid 80s.
The base is the original skirt cut at the hips and pleated in to fit the bodice.
The bodice is made from my self drafted pattern using Thai silk and cutings of the lace for a modern, edgy look. I've used boning and it fits well except for just under the bust. This could have been cinched in more.
I was really reluctant to take it in further because we had a disaster with the purple gown. After inserting the zip, it was too tight to do up. The combination of DD going "tighter Mum, tighter" and the gathering in effect of my pleating made the bodice much smaller than the original fitting. After shedding tears, I got out the seam ripper, added some black tape very close to the edge of fabric that the invisible zip will now sit on. I also removed the waistband and added some absolutely gorgeous purple and pewter beaded trim. I will definitely finish it a day or so. It is being worn on 9th December so I am running out of time.
I don't think I'll get my outfit finished - but I have plenty of party frocks. Besides, I'm the Mum. Who cares what I'm wearing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nearly there

As you can see DD's formal dress is nearly done. The linings needs to be sewn in by hand at the zip edge and the side seam, hem and skirt to top lining. But I need your advice on a couple of things.

FIRST QUESTION: How to handle the skirt lining? My original plan was to attach a silk organza skirt lining to the hem and attach it by hand to the upper lining at hip height. I still want to use this method but my trouble is silk organza is ridiculously expensive (much more than the silk fabrics used in the garment!) Should I use left-over chiffon (which would have been a kaftan for me...oh well not really my colour) or an acetate lining? I have left over silk from the underskirt and upper lining, but it is too heavy for the purpose.

SECOND QUESTION: Embellish the waistband ro not? To me this waistband screams home made and is my least favourite part of the garment. I've seen some very high quality diamante trim in Tessutis and Bollywood Trims also has some interesting trims in purple and silver.

Next up, I'm refashioning my 80s vintage pencil skirt in this beautiful black French ribbon lace into a strapless cocktail mini for DD's other leaving school function. The top half in in black Thai silk and I'm trying to integrate some of the lace cut from the top of the skirt. We're using the same pattern as the formal dress but with a higher back. Straps may or may not be added depending on how different the two dresses look.

I'm also trying to finish two garments I started on my sewing weekend away with Sharon and her sewing buddies, so that I can look nice too!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Before Patty Palmer there was....

The BookServer is a growing open architecture for vending and lending digital books over the Internet. Built on open catalog and open book formats, the BookServer model allows a wide network of publishers, booksellers, libraries, and even authors to make their catalogs of books available directly to readers through their laptops, phones, netbooks, or dedicated reading devices. BookServer facilitates pay transactions, borrowing books from libraries, and downloading free, publicly accessible books.

I decided to check if they had any sewing books and found an absolute treasure trove of 82 sewing books from the 1890s to 1921 that were sourced from Harvard Library. My favourite and by far the most useful is the Butterick Publishing Company's 1921 edition of The New Dressmaker. It is 176 pages of text and illustrations covering every conceivable hand stitch and machine sewing technique (albeit invisible zips and knits weren't invented yet) as well as complete pattern drafting instructions.

If you are teaching anyone to sew, the site has school sewing manuals from throughout this period. I think I'm doing sewing at the level of the 6th grade based on these books!

The best part is that they can be downloaded as PDFs or epubs free of charge.

Will post shortly on my sewing away weekend and update on the formal dress (nearly there!)...but just had to share my excitement about this.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

All you need is love

The dress is slowly but surely taking shape. Next steps: attach the over skirt and pleated waistband, finish attaching the linings and handsew the zip. I'm planning to use the couture method of attaching a silk organza lining to the hem and hand sewing it to the upper lining.
I love how this dress has developed. I sewed all weekend and migrated the project to the living room to get this far. There are nearly 1000 handstitches in this garment already...I really love my daughter.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Formally speaking I'm making progress

I'm prepared to concede at this point that the dress will not look like the original design drawing. That design could only be achieved cut straight at the top which my DD didn't want as she was fearful of the "uniboob". DD also decided that strapless is more timeless than the faddish one shoulder look. As for me I'm having fun seeing where the fabric takes me.

Each row is set individually with tiny handstitches which add to the ruffly marshmallow effect. I love the waves that have formed. The other side will run upwards in the other direction.

Next big embellish the waist band or not? What do you guys think?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cup glamour

Here are my picks in the satorial stakes at the Melbourne Cup

Sunday, November 1, 2009

And remember turbans

The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops the nation and a celebration of fashion. Check out this short video history of Cup fashion. I wore this fascinator and frock ensemble to a charity MC luncheon today. As you can see, I'm 'following trend' but very low key. I have a another 2 metres of this fabric which I hope to make into a more casual long dress featuring the spots on the sleeves in a panel down the centre front.

And the cryptic title of this post? Comes from a piece of Cup fashion advice from the early 70s that my friend Di and I still giggle about.

And here are a few more work in progress shots of the formal dress. I am getting faster.

Some skin on the bones

I'm feeling dangerously smug. All is going well. I'm making the garment in stages - front first, then the back. It will be fitted and secured with a hand-picked zip at the side seams.
While I was most worried about the boning and shell, these tasks were relatively simple. The draping is another matter. The little bit shown in the picture is the result of three hours work! I have a whole front and back bodice to do. It is hand stitched onto the upper bodice, being careful not to go the lining. Progress is not helped by Mini-Me becoming agitated that I'm not following her design drawing. Indicative only I tell her. Which is my way of saying, I don't know what I'm doing!