Archive for August, 2011


New friends

August 31, 2011

I learned to sew on my mother’s Singer Genie when I was pretty young. I made capes for my Jillian Jiggs pig named Olivia (The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs By Phoebe Gilman, check it out). My mother had taken that sewing machine with her whenever she moved and when I left home, she let me take it with me.

It is a delightfully portable machine and I love it to pieces, but a few years ago it had an encounter with some overzealous girl guides who managed to tangle thread throughout the interior of the machine and it’s never quite been the same since.

So this summer I decided it needed a break and I snuck out and bought a secondhand Janome L-392 which has been serving me well ever since. It’s quieter and less temperamental and came with a few feet I’d never used before but will never want to be without again like the rolled hem foot.

Meet my new friend:


Like my wedding dress, only better

August 27, 2011

I love the pattern I used for my wedding dress: McCalls 4444 ; but even though it’s just a sundress, I have yet to feel comfortable wearing the dress again. It’s white and lacy enough that it’s a giveaway.


So I decided to make another version but this time I wanted to pay more attention to fitting the bodice. I usually have trouble wearing a sweetheart neckline because the fabric alloted to the bust is never enough to adequately cover my breasts. I mean it’s not obscene for me to wear storebought dresses like that but it’s generally a whole lot more skin than I like showing and I look like I’m poured in to the dress in question.

So this time around I played with the “cup size” until I felt like the bodice actually covered me and I didn’t look so much like I was poured into the dress. It was a really exciting feeling to put on a dress that actually seemed to fit my chest. It’s still a little low but that’s because the dress design is a little low cut not because it doesn’t fit.

I also altered the back of the dress by extending the halter straps so that instead of buttoning the short ends under the neck, I can tie them in a bow and let the ends hang decoratively down my back.

See, pretty strap ends.


Off to a Wedding with Anne Klein

August 25, 2011

So now that you’ve seen what I wore to one wedding this summer, here is the other dress I made.

I made Vogue 1223 by Anne Klein in New York. I usually like Anne Klein (particularly her shoes) and I was drawn to this dress because it looked light and airy, perfect for dancing at weddings. But, alas, in the end I didn’t like this dress as much as I thought I would. In hindsight I would say this had three causes.

1. The brilliant plan I  had to do it with two different fabrics and intentionally make the lining show as a flounce-like bottom layer failed to impress me when I basted it in place. This is likely because I did not add inches on each side of the skirt lining pieces to allow for the gathering that would make a fuller skirt and create the flounce look I was going for.

2. Because said brilliant plan was a flop, I did not get the visual impact out of the deep purple chiffon I used for the lining so the whole dress was a kind of pseudo lavender-grey non colour that kind of washed out my face.

3. I was in a hurry so I didn’t do a muslin first or do an FBA so it did not fit well in the bodice and was loose in lots of places I don’t usually need or want things to be loose

This is how it turned out.

I just don’t think it does me any favours.

I wore last summer’s Poor Decisions dress to the other wedding, and that was a good decision.


Badgley Mischka Part 3: cutting steel

August 22, 2011

So, because adding the foundation to the dress was one of the final steps, I put off dealing with the steel boning till near the end. I went out and bought clippers to cut the steel spiral chain to size but discovered that it’s harder to cut steel than I thought. My clippers just mangled the boning without actually cutting.

With a bit of help from the search engine so ubiquitous it is a verb, I found a techique that involved bending the piece back and forth until it  became weak enough that it came apart.

The only problem with this technique is that it leaves the ends messy and prone to poke into my body. I could have counteracted this by buying metal caps for the ends of my lengths of boning but i forgot to order them so I created little taffeta caps for the ends that allowed them to be threaded into their channels relatively easy.

I skipped the lining layer the pattern called for as the top fabric is sheer so I stitched the taffeta as though it were the same layer as the sheer fabric and decided that could serve as the lining.

Here is the completed dress:

And here it is in action:

So we’re not the greatest dancers…


Badgley Mischka Part 2: crash course in corsetry

August 20, 2011

The corset has always scared me a bit on principle. They sound impressive. You rarely see them in everyday life these days and people pay hundreds of dollars for them. So this dress has a full corset style foundation. It’s actually one of my favourite parts of the dress now but it made a muslin essential.

For the first time, I made my muslin out of real muslin. I usually use leftover pieces from wadders or whatever cheap broadcloth I can get a hold of  but I’d found some cheap muslin so I went for it.

I did my own rather unorthodox type of full bust adjustment that I have slowly been developing over the past months and then followed the directions to make the muslin version of the dress foundation.

I had to trim the sections at the side to make it fit properly.

I stitched the channels for the boning. I made the channels the full width of my presser foot and increased the seam allowance so I had extra layers of fabric for stability arond the bones.

Once I finished the muslin and got it fitting right, I took a deep breath and started cutting my fabric.

I used the taffetta for the foundation corset and I added a layer of tulle in between the taffetta layers for extra stability after Erica B mentioned using can-can lace in hers.

You can kind of see the tulle in this picture.

When all the cutting was done, I marked the fold and stitching marks for the darts and tucks in the bodice and skirt. The methods I use to mark fabric are old fashioned and probably not the best. I mark with contrasting thread. This means I put extra holes in the fabric but it seems the most accurate.

Here’s a close up of some of the tuck and dart detail on the finished dress

I don’t think the extra holes hurt it.

Final steps and pics coming up.


Badgley Mischka part 1

August 18, 2011

We’ve had a wedding filled summer this year (and that’s not including the royal wedding :P). We’ve gone to three weddings since May and while my plan had been to make one dress and wear it to all three, but I didn’t really like the first dress so I wound up wearing something different to each one.

Vogue 1154 seemed like a good challenge to take on. I’ve only tried a Vogue Advanced pattern once before and it was a bit of a disaster so I was nervous about trying it again. I always find Vogue directions to be just a little bit vague. Sometimes I feel like they are a secret family recipe that they shared but made a few changes to so it will never be quite as good as their version.

I checked out PatternReview and read up on the beautiful version made by the fabulous Erica B and the lovely pink version made by Ann at Sew Baby.

Both sewists gave me tips and reassurance that I used to formulate my plan.

 Since Erica didn’t make the jacket, Ann indicated that it was hard to fit when she did and I don’t need to make my shoulders look bigger, I decided to skip the jacket. Erica used steel boning so I thought I’d take a shot at it too.

I found some fabric that I’m pretty sure used to be a dupatta at a thrift store on sale and then bought some tafetta for the lining.

Here are my supplies, all ready to go:


Royally Inspired

August 10, 2011

So, y’know how in my Royal Wedding post I claimed that I was not a hardcore monarchist and that I usually never follow this stuff…

Well, it’s not so much that I lied but that I have since been completely suckered in. Maybe it was their visit to Canada and all the smiling they did…but these days I just keep paying attention to what the elegant Duchess of Cambridge is wearing.

And I started following this blog: .

Give me a bit more time and I’ll wind up trying to sew clothes like hers and dress like her which, considering the vast difference in our body types, is probably not a good idea.