Friday, September 22, 2017

The Wedding

Alex and Patrick MacMartin

Alex and Patrick were  married on August 27.  

I did not take any photos at the wedding and I forgot to take a photo or two of the bride before we left the house.  I have a few photos from guests and that's what I am sharing with you. It will be several weeks until they get the professional photos.

Burda called for the lining to be used as an underlining in the bodice plus a lining, but called for only two layers in the skirt. In the magazine photo, you could see the model's legs, not something that  Alex wanted so I added another layer of the georgette for the skirt.   We had a bright, sunny day and no show through. 

The dress is from Burda Style 3/17 #105
I bought 15 yards of silk double georgette I had about a yard left, purchased from Banksville Designer Fabrics.
4 yards of silk charmeuse lining also from Banksville. The bodice and the zipper area were interfaced with silk organza from my stash. Narrow strips of organza were used to stay the back neckline.
I used Mettler cotton embroidery thread.  I mention the thread because it was fabulous to work with especially since I hand basted all of the georgette layers by hand and not once did I have knotted thread.  
I had trouble sewing the long skirt seams and didn't think to use my walking foot which probably would have helped.  But I don't love using the walking foot and never thought of it until afterwards. 

The instructions were not very good, even for Burda.  They actually think that you can turn the dress through the shoulder straps.  No, not possible.  Even with only two layers I don't think it's possible.  I should have known better, but the last time I made a lined, sleeveless dress with narrow shoulder straps was when Alex was about 11, or 20 years ago.  I really should have looked at better instructions before, but I didn't. I ended up cutting strips of bias lining and making a doubled bias facing.  After sewing it to to the dress I pressed it to the inside and hand stitched it to the underlining. It worked.  I made a baby hem on the outer layer and ended up just serging the inner layers. It wasn't what I intended to do, but as  I had issues with the length due to an error I made early on and   I was running out of time and no one would see them.  I do not recommend not having any fittings in the real fabric, but that's what we had.  She lost a little weight but it fit reasonably well.  She loved it, which is really all that mattered!

Enough said.  Alex is planning on having the dress cut off above the knee and dyeing it red.  I gave her extra thread for hemming since polyester doesn't dye well.  She and Patrick are going on their honeymoon in December (between semesters) and she's going to wear it then.  
They are lucky that that they planned a later honemoon because Patrick's National Guard unit got called up to go Houston Sunday night after the wedding. He went with the second convoy that drove down from Austin. and ended up in Port Arthur at a Sears that had been set up as a medical unit.  He's a medic and he did lots of intake and gave tetanus shots.

Alex was the most laid back brides imaginable and everything worked out perfectly.  Alex and Patrick were happy with everything and
a lovely time was had by all.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Things I've Learned

What kind of ponte is the best seems to be a common topic on the boards.  Marcy Tilton says that rayon nylon lycra is the best recipe for high quality ponte.  It's more money, but is it ever worth it.  The problem and the allure is that interesting textures and prints in ponte are almost never this lovely mix.  I bought a rayon nylon polyester lycra ponte from emmaonesock.   It looked lovely, I made a pair of pants and wore them frequently because they held their shape.  But the more I wore them the more they pilled. All over, not just at the usual wear points like the inseam.  I had made a pair of ponte pants a few months before these with the magic mix.  They still look better than the newer poly blend. The poly is only 30% of the mix; not like its only poly and lycra.  It wasn't cheap either.  It's a damn shame since this blend doesn't bag out at the ass or the knee, but it's just not wearable anymore.  I've tried de pilling and it's useless at least with the tool I have. It's all over the place. They are not wearable except maybe to clean in.  What a shame.

Moving on:  I've made a bunch of things, I just haven't photographed them on me. Maybe I'll do a photo shoot on my dress form? We'll see how time goes this weekend.

The Dress:  Anyone who follows Burda on Pattern Review knows that the Russians post the newest issue well before it's out on their website and lo and behold March is wedding dress month and there is a dress similar to the Burda we picked for Alex but with a much better skirt. I am going to use the top of the pattern we have I think, and this new pattern for the skirt.
It has strange 'wings' on the back. There is no back view, but from the front they don't appeal at all. You can get a better view of the dress on the model I think but it's hard to see how the bodice is shaped.  The first pattern has a princess seamed bodice with a bias, shirred overlay.  I may make both up to see which we prefer. However, it does look like the waist is raised slightly, as the first pattern is. Alex has a tiny waist and we lowered the waist to reflect that. I am going to trace and make up a muslin as soon as the issue comes. I am unfortunately in a time crunch. While she will be here about 10 days, I will be on a Grand Jury starting February 27th.  In case you are not familiar, that's a 4-6 week commitment. It's not like regular jury duty where you call in every day to see if they need you.  I already used up my one postponement and when I picked the time I could show up   I picked February thinking that it would start at the beginning of the month!  At least I only have to go to Riverhead (30 minute drive).  Years ago a friend was assigned to Federal Grand Jury in Brooklyn.  Ah, well, such is life.

This is the original dress

The skirt is prettier, don't you think?  Very much in keeping with what I've seen in RTW bridal wear. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Dress

We had a very busy week between Thanksgiving, family visiting, meeting our future daughter in law for the first time, and working on the muslin for Alex's dress. Amanda is delightful and we already adore her. She and Josh are perfect for each other.  It was a great week and our Thanksgiving was wonderful.  

Onto the dress!
I traced the pattern and made a muslin.  It was too small. To me my dd doesn't look any larger than she was when I took her measurements a couple of years ago.  Don't assume anything.  She has done a lot of climbing in the last couple of years and she has gained muscle mass and about 10 lbs.  Wider shoulders too.  I decided not to retrace the pattern, so boring and time consuming and altered the larger size and did a tissue fitting, at least of the bodice.  I ended up using a size 10 at the shoulders and upper body and enlarging to a 12 for the waist and a 14 at her low hip.  This is going by her upper bust, waist and hip measurements.  The alterations I made were a 1" fba, a sway back of about an inch and a rounded upper back, and I lowered the princess seam.  I kept a piece of narrow elastic tied at her waist to check the length and it made pinpointing her back issue easy.  I then made a muslin of the bodice and skirt, fitting the bodice and skirt separately before attaching the skirt.  I used the size 12 measurements to enlarge the skirt and didn't recut it.  It was too big as was the bodice at the waist.  Afterwards I realized that while I had lowered  the skirt waist to where her waist is, because we wanted to emphasize it, I forgot that, duh, the waist gets larger if you lower it 5/8".  Even if I had lowered it by folding out the 5/8" below the waist it would have been too big because it was meant to be above the waist, so larger to begin with.  I ended up taking in the waist and the upper hip curve.  She is straighter from waist to hip than Burda drafts the hip.  I also have to move the shoulder seam back a bit.  When she tried it on she found the neckline too high, and this has got to be the only time I've ever found a V neck on Burda to be too high! I pinned it under until she liked it.  I also cut the back V deeper.  The gored skirt is very flattering on her and she was happy.  The biggest issue I have is that she was instructed to bring a good bra.  What she considered her best bra was sorely lacking.  She will be back at spring break with good underwear and shoes!  Anyone know of a good lingerie store in Austin?  She says that she is willing to travel to Dallas or Houston so any suggestion will be greatly appreciated!

The bodice is  princess seamed with a gathered bias overlay and I am concerned that the princess seam won't have the correct placement because the bra wasn't good. Since the upper layer is going to be either chiffon or georgette I don't want to have to rip it.  I am thinking of hand basting the dress to make it easier to alter.  I will also cut wide seam allowances.

I sent for fabric samples from Emmonesock, Alex picked up some samples from Mood, and I just called Banksville Designer fabrics for more samples.  I made Alex's bat mitzvah party dress with fabric from them 17 years ago, long before internet fabric shopping. I wish that they had a commercial website, but if you know what you want they are a great resource for well priced, high quality fabrics.

These were taken before I lowered the neckline front and back.  She wants a 'hint' of cleavage.  There's  twirling going on in the last photo. Skirt perfect for it.  There will be a gathered overlay on the waistband that I left off.  Fitting this was a lot easier than I anticipated, these are pretty basic alterations that were easy to pinpoint.  
I've got some winter sewing for myself before I tackle her dress.  I need to get a roll of tissue paper too before I cut the dress.  Does anyone have a good source?

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Wedding Dress!

Our daughter Alex is getting married!  It's going to be here on Long Island next August.  We live in a very pretty area and we've got a couple of places to look at for the ceremony that are close to the house where we are going to have the wedding lunch.  Yes, I am going to make her wedding dress. She is here for the week and I am working on a muslin.  I sent her to try on dresses, one for style, and two for color.  Texas is not the place to find a simple dress.  If you want lots of bling, lace and lots of breast exposure you will be in luck.  This is not at all what Alex wants.  I found this Burda dress pattern that we both like.

Dress B, but long like A.  It's an odd waist placement, about 5/8" above the natural waist.  She has a tiny waist so I lowered it.  I almost never make Burda envelope, make that never actually. I do sew from the magazines and have for years.  The addition of some illustrations do not make the instructions much better.  It's very clearly shown in sheer fabrics, but there is no mention of lining the skirt and no amount to buy.  The bodice has a ruched bias upper layer over a princess seamed bodice that has a lining. All in the dress fabric.  As I mentioned, the skirt is not lined.  That's one revealing dress without a skirt lining!  Even if you make it in an opaque fabric a lining is really necessary to finish it.  I have done very little fancy dress sewing in all of my years sewing, but I have some very nice sewing books for reference which this pattern really needs.  

I have actually been doing some sewing, just not doing any photography.  I do have some things to show you.  Hopefully I'll get to it after Thanksgiving.  We're going to have a house full of company.  Our son is also coming with his fiance and our grandson!  So, both of our children will be getting married next year.  It's exciting. 
In case you are wondering, I am not making a dress for myself. This is a small wedding and the black and white silk I made for my cousin's wedding will do perfectly.  Thank goodness!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving to my United States readers.  It's my favorite holiday.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

NYC Fabric and Bra Shopping

We were meeting cousins in the city for dinner and decided to drive in since it's often hard to get a convenient train in the evening.  Seth had a business stop to make and then we, or rather I, hit the garment district.  Seth sat in the car in a no standing spot just off 8th on 36th Street.  I wouldn't leave my car in such a spot, but his sitting there didn't seem to bother the two traffic cops who walked by and didn't stop talking.  
I bought some purse hardware at Botani since I have finally decided to make a leather bag. I took Don McCunn's class on Craftsy and it's time. I am going to  salvage a leather skirt I don't wear and maybe wore 3 times.   The pattern is Vogue OOP 7703 that I've had in my pattern stash for a very long time. It's copyrighted 2003.  I guess not everyone wanted or needed cell phone pockets 13 years ago.  There is one very small open pocket inside, it's use I have no clue.  The bag I'm making does have two outside pockets but I'll add a zipper pocket on the inside as well as 2 open pockets for my cell phone and a small notebook I carry.  Maybe a couple for pens and pencils or a large open pocket for my wallet?  I bought some black and ivory stylized animal print cotton at Mood for the lining. 

Fabric and hardware

Here's the pattern I using for the handbag.  Handbag A

I visited Elliot Berman  too, and bought an Italian double sided wool knit in an orange red on the outside for a cardigan inspired by this one from Eileen Fisher.  It's boiled wool, but my fabric will work.  Mine will also not have dropped shoulders which do not work for me.  I'm using McCalls M6844.  I'll add pockets. If you are in the city they have some gorgeous wool knits and what looked like a couple of Missoni knits. They also had a gorgeous wide stripe in red, white and gray from Prada. Or call and ask for some samples. There are so many more things in the store than they post on the website.  
I was looking for silk velvet for less than $40 in red and Meg McDonald   recommended Prime Fabrics on W 35th Street.  They had very nice silk velvet for $22 a yard, but not in the red I wanted.  Nor in any colors that work for me unfortunately. Not a must have so I didn't look further.

As to the bra shopping part of the day, Seth parked our car two blocks south of the Basta Pasta on West 17th off Fifth. Good and reasonable for a  nice restaurant in NYC. We were early and as he was walking up Fifth he passed a lingerie shop, Rigby and Pellier at 104 Fifth Avenue,  that had a nice display in the window.  We went in; (they have very comfy spouse chairs an important attraction for Seth). Lo and behold, gorgeous bras, in my size even, which turns out to be a band size smaller than I've been wearing and a cup size larger.  So a 36F instead of a 38DD.  A very good fitting by the well trained sales woman.  I look thinner, and I haven't had this much lift since I don't remember when.  It's also comfortable and stays in place.  Not cheap, but worth it for being pretty, fitting perfectly and being comfortable.  It's also been awhile since I had a really pretty bra.  So hard to find in my cup size. The cost of them would behoove me to learn how to make bras, but I resist.  
Here's a link Rigby & Peller

I just finished a pair of pants and next up is a last summer knit top.  Then on to the handbag. That and a few UFO's that will fit nicely in my fall/winter wardrobe.

As an addendum, I just saw Peter's post on Male Pattern Boldness that Paron, another small fabric store is closing. This is so sad.  I have been buying fabric from them since they were on 57th street, long before the internet.  They were a few doors down Greenberg and Hammer so it was almost one stop shopping for fabric and sewing notions.  When I couldn't get into the city I'd call and Lucy would send me samples.  I will miss them.  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bet This Wasn't The Dress You Were Expecting

Bet this isn't the dress you expected to see, is it?
After sewing 2 muslins of Hot Patterns 1201 Montpelier dress I decided that it was not going to work for me.  I thought that I could make a very loose fitting dress into the semi fitted vision I had in my head and that I had drawn on my croquis.  I was running out of time and I still needed a dress for the Orthodox wedding we attended this past Tuesday, which is why I just didn't wear the black and white dress I wore to my cousin's wedding.  It was a Boro Park wedding and very traditional.  Ok, if you are knowledgeable about Jewish custom, you're saying,  scoop neck?  bare upper arm?  Well, by this point I really needed a dress and it wasn't all that immodest. No comments or looks were made, but the other dress, really not suitable.  This is from oop V2882 by Tom and Linda Platt that I'd made a few years ago. It was published in 2005.  Wow, I must have made this a lot of years ago!  I made this top  but not this skirt.  This pattern, unusual in designer patterns these days, has two different tops, two different skirts and a pair of pants.  I had made the knee length skirt before and it doesn't fit me. While the top did fit, I decided to make both pieces in the same fabric.  I made the long skirt which I love and I envision wearing it with boots and more casual fall and winter tops.  The fabric is fairly heavy so I got lucky it got cool that day and that the catering hall was freezing! 

Fabric: 6 yards of Rag and Bone acetate polyester lycra stretch crepe from Mood.  I already had 3 yards of this and since Mood still had  stock, I ordered 3 more yards.  I wanted a pair of pants out of it too, which is what I had originally bought it for.  I managed to cut out the top, skirt and pants.  The fabric true to crepe, drapes beautifully.  The only issue I have with it is the description on the Mood website.  I often find that their overly flowery, wordy descriptions don't really give me the  information I need to understand if the fabric meets my needs, and this was true here as well.  It was described as 4 way stretch, or stretch in length and width. If I hadn't checked to make sure that it had the required stretch for this pattern I would never have realized that there was minimal stretch in the cross grain, and the required stretch was in the length. I ended up cutting it in a single lay on the cross grain.  

Changes made:   The top pattern was already cut out in size 14.  I use a 16 these days, which was in the pattern, but I stupidly didn't re draft it back to a size 16!  I had tried on the previously made top, which was made up in matte jersey.  Thinner, and maybe a bit more stretch. Anyway, I ended up lowering the underarm and using up about 3/8" of my extra seam allowances in the body and sleeve. Fortunately, I always use a 1" seam allowance to side seams.  The top calls for side seam slits at the hem, but I didn't find that they were flattering so I left them out.  The top also calls for a cb invisible zipper but I had enough room to leave it out.  I made a few minor fitting fixes, especially narrowing it at the front chest.  

Because I am larger than a size 16 on the bottom I added about 6" to the hip and waist. This pattern has 9 gores with 2 in the front.  I love skirts that have different size and shapes to the gores and this one works beautifully for me.  I don't find A line skirts flattering, but this fit and flare skirt works for me. The other big issue I had was getting the hem to be even without ruining the flare.  I know, I should have made a muslin but I didn't.  I could have actually marked the waist when I tissue fit this, but again, I didn't.  I have a very uneven waist, with the front waist needing to come down a good 4 inches.  My left hip is lower and shaped differently than my right side; the back was fine just where it was.  I stood on the stair landing(great stand in for a fitting platform) with a 1" wide elastic that I use for fitting with a velcro fastening,  while my dh sat a step lower and he measured from the floor up as I pulled the waist up above the elastic.  When the hem was level he marked the bottom of my elastic.  It worked really well.  I did however, need to really take the waist in and re shape the upper hip.  Lots of fit as you sew went on.  
When I enlarge bottoms of multi size patterns I usually add only at the seams that change size.  I decided that it was too much to add at each side seam so I added about a 1/4" at all of the other seams except the cb.  

There is an invisible zipper at the cb. The pattern called for a narrow waistband that met at center back with a hook and eye fastening at the waistband. I hate having a hook and eye that doesn't have any backing against the skin; it's uncomfortable.  Instead I made a version of my pants waistband with a petersham facing and overlap with a heavier pants hook and eye. It's flatter and much more comfortable.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Finally Figured Out How to Make an FBA In a Dior Dart!

I knew I had seen how to alter a Dior dart somewhere, but I combed my fitting books, and I have a lot of them!   Could not find it anywhere.  Finally this post from from Cenetta of The Mahogany Stylist on how to make an fba with the new or newish, Y dart made me remember that I hadn't looked in Palmer/Pletsch's Full Busted DVD, which is where I found it.  I've also been playing around with moving darts and dividing my very large dart into multiple darts. It's fun and kind of empowering not to be tied to that very large dart my DD bust needs.

In case you don't know what a Dior dart is, it's a short dart from a side panel. Burda often uses them and Hot Patterns used it for their new Montpelier dress which I am making.

As you can see, this dress has a side panel which extends as the under sleeve for this dolman sleeve, if that's what you call this cut on sleeve?  But, regardless It has a side panel with a dart in the front panel. The side panel is far from the bust apex.  A princess seam would run over the apex or close to the apex of the bust.  Here is an example of how Dior used it in the 2015 Spring collection. 

I love this example with the top stitching.  I turned my single Dior dart into two to make them smaller.  Jennifer Lawrence had a dress on  that had three small darts from a side panel that was very attractive too. It really molded the bust beautifully.

My alteration of the Montpelier dress looks like this, showing how  I've divided the dart into two, but I am going to make two front versions one with one dart and one with two as it is here to see which I like better.  I also shortened the dress since this is a very awkward length on me, to just below the knee.

Here's  the Y dart I made. Because I have a low bust I made a smaller Y section, about 1/2" with the remainder, about 1" in the side dart, because it widens the upper chest  where I am not wide.  The sleeve gets cut off in this type of sleeve so that you can make the second part of the fba like you would in a regular armscye. Then it gets re attached and any opening filled in with paper.  This is smaller than the usual fba I make.  But, when I tissue fit it this is the width I needed.  It remains to be seen if this sews up well in a muslin.