Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You SHALL go to the ball, Cinderella!

This weekend just gone I attended a fundraising ball - the theme of which was 1960s Vegas Glam.  Right up my alley!  Of course, I decided to make my own dress, and of course I decided to make my life as hard as possible by making it without a pattern from a design I dreamed up!

Thankfully I have a dress makers dummy.  I honestly don't know how I would have done this without my headless friend.

My first step was to take some calico and make a pattern.  My design was for a tight fitting dress with shoe-string straps.  The skirt of the dress would be tight to the knees and then flare out in a fish tail.  There would be a triangluar shaped godet in the back seam of the skirt that started 20cm (8 inches) above my knees to help with movement and to make the skirt bigger.  Basically think sexy, slinky Marilyn Monroe.

Here is the lovely Marilyn singing Happy Birthday
(I didn't use any photos as inspiration for this dress - but this one has the godet just like mine does! )

I purchased some stretchy woven fabric from a local discount store for $3 A METRE!!!!!  I almost fell down when they told me the price!  I was so excited that I bought WAY to much of it!  It has a silver metallic thread running through it to give it a lovely shimmer.

So with the pattern made and the fabric purchased, I went about cutting out the pieces and thinking about construction.  I realised that there were a few bits that would need reinforcing to limit the stretch of the fabric.

Where the zipper was going, I decided to put a strip of cotton down either side.  Not only would this make my life easier putting in the lapped zipper, it wouldn't get all stretchy.

The bodice/bra section would also need reinforcement because I didn't want that bit to stretch with tight straps.  And lets be honest - no one wants to look like they have saggy boobs!  I also purchased some sew-in bra cups to help with the sag factor.

This is the inside of the bodice section - the black bits are the cotton fabric reinforcement

The straps would also need reinforcement for obvious reasons.  I thought about this one for a while and eventually came up with wrapping bias tape in my stretchy fabric.

My final piece of reinforcement was a 1.5 inch wide strip of thick cotton bias ribbon stuff (I'm sorry, I have no idea what the technical name is!) which I attached from one side of the zipper, around under the bust and back around to the other side of the zipper.  The idea of this was it would keep that area tight, and would give me somewhere firm to attach the bottom of the bra cups to.

A lot of thinking went into this dress!

So at the end of the first day I had most of the dress together, and it looked like this:

I was so proud of myself at this point, you have no idea!
Yes it is far to long...

The next day I worked out what to do with the straps.  I wanted them to be slanted in some way so they didn't fall off my shoulders (one of the most annoying things ever), but I also wanted them to be a decorative feature.  I came up with this:

Slanted main straps, with decorative-but-functional 
'branch' straps that hold up with side of the bodice

There was a lot of very boring hand sewing at this point... and I must thank my Mum for helping me find where to hem it, cause doing that yourself is next to impossible.

So at the end of the day this is what I wore to the ball

 Thank goodness for my vintage mink fur stole - it was a FREEZING night 
and this was all I had to keep me warm...
that and the champagne...

  I was really happy with the fit and the look of the dress
And the feel of it on too - I felt sexy!

You know you're feeling good in an outfit when you actually ask someone to take a photo of your bum!!

I'm very proud of myself and my dress, and luckily I have another ball to attend this weekend, so I get to do it all again!

Thanks for reading


Thursday, June 14, 2012

The AHhhh Cardigan - finishing details

So in yesterday's post I tried to explain how I embellished my cardigan - and I gave up because it was too hard.  Pictures tell a much clearer picture!

If you want to read about the start of this cardigan and see how it looked before I stitched stuff to it, go here.

So first I stitched on some pretty scalloped-edge lace

Then I stitched on this bobble trim - each bobble is about 1.5cm in diametre

 Then I stitched on a line of these natural coloured glass pearls.

Actually I did it twice.  The first time I stitched them on with the cardigan in my lap, and they all puckered and wouldn't sit right.  So second time around I put the cardigan on my dress form and stitched them on whist standing up.  Not quite as relaxing.  Thank god for good movies!

And in the end I had this - very atonal embellishment, which is just what I wanted so I could wear it with anything.

Gee - that was sooo much easier with pictures!  I purchased more bobble trim yesterday, because now I'm going to do the same trim around the sleeve cuffs.  THEN it will be finished!

Thanks for reading


PS. Please excuse the size of the font - blogger is playing silly buggers

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do you matchy-matchy???

I love matchy-matchy!  And one of the wonderful things about sewing your own clothes is being able to take matchy-matchy as far as you want.

This outfit started with a vintage headscarf.  When it arrived, it wasn't the colour I thought it would be, so to wear it I needed to get some fabric and make something.  Luckily for me, my local fabric store had this fabric that was a great match, and had polka-dots.  A win-win!

Head scarf on the left, spotty fabric on the right

So I made a skirt, and with the rest of the fabric I made a blouse.  Then I realised it was cold out and I'd need a cardigan (which I couldn't buy, so I made one - you can read about it here).  Then I started thinking about jewellery...  Miss Renee from Lucy Luxxe hand makes fabulous resin jewellery, so I approached her with a custom design, which she was happy to make me.  I sent her a piece of the fabric so she could get the colour just right.

And what do you get when you put all that together?  You get a complete head-to-toe matchy-matchy outfit!

How cute is it!?!

I even had a watering can in the same colour!

Last weekend was the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend here in Australia.  Mum invited me around for tea and scones in celebration, so I thought I'd wear my new outfit!

Mmmm - scones!
I drank my tea out of a golden jubilee cup - Mum doesn't have a diamond jubilee one yet

And thankfully I didn't spill any jam or tea on my white cardigan... because to be honest I'm a little worried about washing it...  

For those who read the post on my cardigan last week, I hadn't yet embellished it.  I still haven't finished, but I'm working on it.  In the photo above you can see I've stitched a bobbly trim to the neckline, what you can't see is that underneath that is some lace.  Since this photo was taken, I have stitched a row of pearls next to the bobbles.  Really its very hard to explain without photos, so how about I take some tonight, and do a bonus post tomorrow.

But one more photo to finish... here is the custom necklace (which has been named after me by the way), with the headscarf and the blouse I made from the spotty fabric.

It doesn't get much more matchy-matchy than this - and I LOVE IT!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"You can't always get what you want"

"But if you try some time, you just might find
You get what you need"

Thank you Rolling Stones for that sage piece of advice.

I have been searching searching searching online and in (god forbid) actual stores for a white cropped cardigan.  And do you think I can find one anywhere in the world?  No!  So last weekend I realised it was not going to happen before the end of winter, and I just needed to make my own.

Here is the cardigan that is my inspiration.  I've been looking for something just like this in length and shape.

Gorgeous knit cardigan by my favourite Australian designer, Alannah Hill

My aim was to copy this cardigan pretty exactly, and this meant my first explorations of pattern making!  I traced and pinned and cut and fiddled and came up with this, my calico pattern:

I did make a pattern piece for the sleeve too, just didn't bother pinning it to my dress form...

Now, retail fabric selection in Australia is not awesome, so I was unable to buy any actual knits to make my cardigan from, so instead I bought a lovely soft fluffy fabric that I think you are supposed to make baby rugs from... (and by the way, I bought WAY too much of it, so in the future I'm going to have a go at dying it).

It was pretty easy to sew, but very quickly I realised that I was going to have to bind each seam as there was fluff EVERYWHERE!  Here is my cardigan part way through construction:

You can see that my calico pattern wasn't awesome, and I had to take the cardigan in at the waist
And you can also see (if you look really closely) my seam binding on the darts

Then it was time for the sleeves.  Dun Dun DUN!!!!  SET IN SLEEVES!!!  One of my sewing nightmares.  All that gathering of the ease and making it fit... then sewing it together and turning it through and realising that its all puckered and looks AWFUL and you have to unpick it and START AGAIN!  Not with this fabric!!  It went together like a dream and any puckering was hidden by the fluffiness of the fabric!

Next problem was the buttons.  The fabric is soft and I didn't like the chances of my sewing machine doing buttonholes in it easily, so to get around that I stitched some wide bias tape behind where I would sew the buttons and do the buttonholes.  My machine did the buttonholes like a dream, I finished all the unfinished edges and ended up with this:


Not that you can see from this photo, but Spotlight actually carries the exact same buttons from my Alannah Hill cardigan, but in white!  Beutron makes them...lucky score!!

To make it not so plain, I am doing some embellishments.  This really is a homage to my favourite designer's cardigans, so I have named it the AHhh! Cardigan.  Yes I do seem to name all the items of clothing I make...

So, back to the Rolling Stones, yes I didn't get what I wanted, (from a shop), but I did find that I got what I needed.  And that was a boost to my sewing confidence.  I now know that I can make simple patterns, do set in sleeves, and problem solve as I go.  And I'm also going to have a go at fabric dying!  

This cardigan was made for a particular outfit that I've also had some custom resin jewellery made for, by the divine Miss Renee from Lucy Luxxe.  I'm going to put the whole thing together this weekend and get some photos, so you can look forward to seeing the completed, embellished cardigan next week!

Thanks for reading