Thursday, January 28, 2010


I am not working on the wedding dress tonight. I will see my daughter tomorrow and we will do a fitting and get the go ahead for the next step, the final details...

As an interlude, I was browsing through OLD photos. (pre-digital camera days, before computers, but a bit after dinosaurs). My sweet hubby has been amusing himself in these long golf-drought days, by scanning all my photos from years ago (years and years) and I have found a few sewing examples that may amuse you while you wait for more wedding dress photos!
This is a bean bag chicken! It was back in the days when all the cool dudes had bean bag chairs and mellowed out to the Eagles and Supertramp. I made our blue beanbag chair into a big chicken and Tim thought it was great.
This photo is my sister's wedding in 1984. I made her dress (the first of many wedding dresses I made in the 80's) and the three bridesmaid gowns (that's me at the back). I was 5 months pregnant and made my dress the week before the wedding. It fit that day, and when I tried it on the week after, I could not do it up! Such a fitted design! You could see the puff sleeve and teal colours were the style of the day!
This is a rare photo of the soft sculpture critters that I made for sale at several retail gift shops around Ontario. It was part of my cottage industry job (that included wedding gowns) that allowed me to work from home and raise my two small children, until they were in school. All the things you see in the photo were designed, and sewn solely by me. I made thousands of these over 4 years, but rarely arranged and snapped a shot!
Of course, I made lots of Halloween costumes, but here are a few... the whole away team from star trek... 6 costumes custom fit to me and 5 friends.... along with wicked makeup!

Kids costumes... Batman, and a princess on her own horse!
And my best makeup masterpiece! Sweet daughter with psycho yellow eyes and white skull!

And by the way, I have enabled the comment link, so feel free to leave your thoughts, you need not have an account to leave a message! Love to get feedback!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Bodice Designs.... Lace and Lacing....

I attached the lacing loops to the dress as so...
then secured a facing and flipped it inside, still pinned, I laced the lacing and tacked in an inset fabric (so as not to show the bare back through the lacing). This will be sewn to one side and hook and eye to the other side.
Still trying to work out the perfect bodice decoration. Here are two thoughts, both just pinned to try each one on.
The first is a version of the original, without the sweetheart shaping. Not sure if it is smooth and fitting enough (too bulky?) and not sure how to define the shape enough with this, but maybe tacking it down everywhere, hmmmm.

The second is a lace version, with perhaps some overlaid leaves (like the flower detail) and some sewn on beads (swarovski and pearls). This look is form fitting with texture, but not bulk. I have added some lace under the corset lacing on the back too. We will see which she likes at the fitting this weekend. Then attach while she is here and start the beading details.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Details, details....

I spent an hour making tubes. These are for the loops attached to the back opening and the ties that hold the back closed... think old fashioned corset lacing...

The secret to making this easy is a tube - turner. This is a long plastic stick that has a way to attach the fabric to make turning the tube easy. I made two sets of these, one about 1 cm wide and one 1.5 cm wide and both very long.
Next I started pining the over drape to the bodice. Two pieces that cross at the front with some gathering for shape, and two more gathered pieces for the back of the bodice. Right now they are just pinned in place, but will be hand stitched to hold them where we want them, and force the folds to lie where they look best.
In the photo you can also see the bottom of the skirt, where I have lifted and pinned lots of little tucks in the over skirt to the under skirt. This gives the skirt more body and draping.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dress Form

I was luck enough to borrow a dress form from a friend, and after making it the bride's exact size, I put on the gown. Here is the photo of the dress in progress. The flower is pinned to the hip, the bodice is still plain (without the rouched details) and it is without the underlining crinolin. Still, I think it looks nice... :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Garment Bag

Since we will be travelling to Jamaica for the wedding, and I will be taking it to Waterloo for fittings, I thought I would make a garment bag to transport it safely around. I had a length of purple taffeta left over from bridesmaid gowns years ago, and bought a long zipper. I cut it to 5.5 feet, and sewed the zipper up the long outer edges (to join the length into a tube). I then folded it flat with the zipper up the center (right sides together) and stitched the bottom seam across, and the top seam angled a bit like a hanger with 3 inches open at the center top to allow for the hanger.

Flip it right side out, and press the seams.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Dress Begins

With all the necessary ingredients at hand, and a few hours free... I begin. The wonderful silky fabric is laid out across the pool table (makes a perfect cutting table)

and all the pieces are marked and cut. I used a basic empire waist pattern with some drape at the waistline, and cut it 20 inches longer to allow for the lifting and tacking of the skirt in the design that we want, and further cut the back another 20 inches more, to leave the option of a small train and bustle. This is not absolutely the plan but we will try it for style and cut it off if we don't want that look. It's great to have lots of flexibility with the design.

Here the tucks are made on the front some on the right but most on the left hip...

The bodice has boning in several spots and grosgrain ribbon to stabalize the under-bust. The fabric is a little stretchy, but there are some spots that you don't want too much stretch. I also added a small pocket (yes, I have a thing for pockets) and it will be in the folds under the left side gathers, just under where the decorative flower will be. Good for hotel key and a lippy!
So the main part of the dress is assembled, mostly in basting stitch to allow for changes. I still need to assemble the lining and tack it into place before the first big fitting (this weekend I hope!)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Sketch

The wedding dress starts with the sketch....

It is based on several trips to bridal salons, and browses through wedding magazines. The top like this, the waistline like that, the hem like this, and the details like that....

The details may change along the way as we do fittings together, but you really need the basic cut to be perfect!

Next step will be cutting and basting the bodice and cutting and sewing the skirt (too long so we can rouch it up later).... They won't be pinned together until I have the bride to work the pinning on in person. (She is away for a couple of weeks).

Stay tuned.....

Sewing Machine is Overheating!

Not really overheating, but I have used two 250m thread spools and I am halfway through two more, in my race to finish my quilt... I want it done and cleared up before starting with the same focus on the wedding dress. I don't want dark cotton threads caught up in the white silk seams!

I stopped in at "Gone to Pieces", my local quilt s shop to pick up the batting and backing fabric required to finish the quilt. (The front side was made from quilt squares aquired during my Lancaster, Pennsylvania trip in the summer.) Nancy at the shop was helpful and chatty and even had a sale lingering from the post-Christmas clearances! Good deals.

I have the front in nine 20 inch squares, so the plan was to cut the batting and backing to 20 inches, sandwich together and machine stitch in a couple of cool pattern stitches along the blocks in the squares. The size is easy to handle on my machine and I have 8 of the 9 done as I write this (taking a break after four straight hours over the machine this afternoon!). The next step after I finish the last square is to cut 2.5 inch strips of front fabric and back fabric, attach the strips between the 20 inch squares, and place 2 inch batting in the chanel, then top quilt stitch along the strip to hold all the layers together. These will be only 22 inches in from an edge, so a bit of roll of the quilt should allow it to fit on my regular sewing machine. Last step is binding the edge.

I have always made my quilts with a machine for the pieces, but hand-quilted the layers together. I love that look, but it is very time consuming, and my new Janome makes the machine quilting fun and cool.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sewing Tuesdays

Now that golf is done and the long winter looms, and the Christmas duties are over, I can finally use my one afternoon off a week to really hit the sewing machine and put a dent in my pile of sewing projects....

I finished the batik jelly roll placemats, and ended up with seven of them (one was sacrificed for the cute notebook cover from last week!). Here are a couple of photos. I used the interesting quilting stitches that my machine is capable of Janome (mode 2 - 29 and 33).

I also spent an hour designing the simple bodice pattern for my daughter's WEDDING DRESS. I cut it from scrap fabric first and made two before I liked the shape and it fit the measurements....
Soon I will cut the beautiful white silk and begin. :)

I also hemmed five pants for a friend (a short one), and arranged the 73 quilt blocks into the order I like best, labeled for sewing (to keep them in the order I want while sewing together).
All in all it was a good sewing day, and I rewarded myself with some knitting and watching The Devil Wears Prada on DVR in the evening!
Love Tuesdays.