Friday, November 30, 2012

The Mermaid Tail : Where to start...


I will admit this one took a lot of mulling over.  Partly because pulling things apart is not what I do, but mostly because it was so beautiful and if I mucked it up I'd be left with nothing...

First stop was good old Spotlight to find some fabric that matched the fabric the skirt was made from, so I could lengthen it some other fabric for the tail piece, some ribbon for ties at the back, and wadding to give it shape (more on that later).

Sometimes Spotlight just comes through with the goods
At 30% off too!!!

Then I took a few days to formulate my plan, which ended up more straight forward than I thought (I have a tendency to over-think things).  Just turn the skirt into a rectangle!  So I started by opening up the back seam.  This was made harder than it sounds by all the sequins, so the first thing I really did was remove a couple of rows of sequins from either side of the back seam, then I cut it.

Part way there!  My next issue was the hem.  To give the skirt the fishtail look there were 6 inserted godets (triangular pieces) sewn in.  So I cut these out and hand stitched the sides back together.

Here is one of the godets

And here is where it used to be.  
I hand stitched the sides of the triangle back together

Then I had a hem that looked like this:

What a mess!

So next job was to even that up before adding the new piece to make the skirt longer.  From there I tapered the sides in so that it narrowed at the bottom like a mermaid tail should.

Stella likes to help!
Actually, she was still a bit groggy from her operation the day before so spent a lot of time lying about on things I was doing...

So you will see that the skirt, with its newly added piece and tapered sides, is lying on some wadding.  I'm going to be sewing another piece of satin to the skirt so the stitching etc is all covered and its comfortable to wear.  I'm then going to put a layer of wadding in between these layers - kind of like putting a pillow in a pillowcase...  What I want to achieve is giving the tail a bit of self support - the last thing you want is a mermaid with visible knees!  I'm hoping this will do the job.

Lastly (well for the minute anyway!), I removed all the sequins from the godet pieces, and put them together with the other sequins that I had removed or had fallen off:

So many sequins!!!

Right - the hard bit is done!  Now I know I'm heading in the right direction and I won't be throwing the thing in the garbage and calling Miss Sasha to tell her I've failed.  I'm feeling so positive about this project!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What do you do when someone asks you to make them a Mermaid tail...

... run away, screaming NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Hahaha just kidding.

One of my besties, the lovely Miss Sasha, has a company called Sherbet Birdie.  Sherbet Birdie is Australia's leading vintage pin-up photography studio, and her photographs are incredible.  Check out her Facebook page (or her website) for a closer look at what she does.  But here is one she took of me:

I don't want to ruin the magic, but I wasn't sitting on this carousel horse...

Anyway, Miss Sasha has a Mermaid themed shoot day coming up in a couple of weeks and its a fabulous opportunity to shoot with Miss Sasha with all the bells and whistles of her normal shoots, but for a reduced price.  And as an extra added bonus, the photos will be published in the US magazine Drive-In, which is also an incredible opportunity.

So yes, that ALSO means that my creation will be published in Drive-In magazine.  Oh! My! God!!!

Anyway, Miss Sasha gave me a wonderful starting point for this Mermaid tail:

How divine is this.  I mean honestly!!!

 I'm not sure where it came from, but its a Leg Avenue skirt that I'd say was initially part of a mermaid costume that you could wear to a fancy dress party.  The skirt is made from a cheap nasty satin (that I'd only use as a lining fabric) and is COVERED with coin sequins in graduating sizes from 1cm across to 1inch across.  And while the sequins have given me headaches, I am very thankful for them - imagine having to sew these all on from scratch!?!

So the plan is to lengthen this skirt by about a foot, have it open at the back with ties so it will suit a number of sizes, and add a tail to the bottom.

Sounds easy right!

.... I can't hear anyone agreeing with me....

Wish me luck!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Tropical Dresses and Sparkly Pineapples

Its a beautiful, warm (very warm!) day here today so I thought it would be the perfect day to wear my tropical print dress for the first time!

It turned out so well, I'm really happy with it.  The boning gives the bodice shape and the shirring gives it a fabulous fit!  And I recently purchased a dress (yes, I buy clothing too - don't even ask about my wardrobe) that had the perfect coloured pink belt!  And I'm sure you recognise the necklace too - its the one that the talented Lucy Luxxe made for me for my Melbourne Cup outfit.

Here's the back:

The shirring is in the side back panels, and when I make this again, I'm going to have bigger shirred panels and a smaller 'zipper' panel in the back - which means more shirring hypnotherapy for me!

And finally - here I am with the bag that started it all... sparkly pineapples!!!!

Speaking of which, did you see what I found last week...

Yes, you are seeing correctly - that bag has SPARKLY FLAMINGOS ON IT!!!!!!!  So the crazy make-dress-to-match-bag saga will continue!  Stay tuned!!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shirring - I think it might be addictive!

There is something meditative about shirring - feeding a piece of fabric through the machine over and over to make lines of stitching...  I found it quite peaceful!

I hadn't shirred anything before so I read a few tutorials (mainly this one) and went from there.  Mine is nowhere near as neat as hers but you get the idea :)

I shirred the whole piece and then cut the size panels I wanted, because I needed two - one for each side of the zip.  My idea for construction was based on a vintage swimsuit that I have - two shirred panels are inserted in the back, and the ends are sandwiched between two layers of unshirred fabric.

That doesn't make much sense does it...

Does this help???

I also wanted to put boning in the bodice, and at the back where the zip is going, to give it some shape and support.  I thought the best place was to run the bones along the seam lines of the lining, like this:

That white stuff is the boning casing

So I put the bodice all together so all that was left to do was add the skirt and put in the zip.  The skirt was pretty easy, just two big panels, joined together and gathered to size.  The hard bit was getting the zipper it, it was last of all and manhandling it through the machine was a bit of a pain - however we made it!

Ta Da!!!

I totally ran out of time after this, so I haven't even tried it on yet.  Next post will obviously be me swanning around in the dress and the fabulous sparkly pineapple bag that started it all!!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Inspired by a Sparkly Pineapple!

Yes, you read that right - I have been inspired by a sparkly pineapple to create a comfy tropical dress for summer!

Here is the sparkly pineapple:

Its a sequined pineapple with embroidered flowers and leaves on a soft woven handbag!!!  

Now I have absolutely nothing that goes with this bag, but I couldn't help but buy it when I found it online.  Its from the 90s, so its not my normal vintage purchase, but who could resist it!  I found some fabric that was tropical to go with the pineapple, but in colours that suited the rafia (that is if it is rafia - I have no idea what its made of...)

I liked the dark rosey pink flowers and the pale khaki green, and while its not a colour I would normally wear, it does suit me.

Now for the design of the dress!

I wanted a sweet-heart neckline strapless dress with some decoration on the bust, and a full gathered skirt.  But given that I had the picture in my head of what I wanted, finding the exact vintage pattern was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Add to that that I didn't want to pay any more than $15 for it...

This left me with drafting my own pattern - which doesn't scare me, I love chucking myself in at the deep end!

I started with the adjusted blouse pattern that I used to make the bodice for my Melbourne Cup Dress.  I chopped it and pinned it and drew lines on it and came up with these pieces:

And because I wanted to be able to use the pattern again without having to remember anything, I then re created the pattern with all the seam allowances and things:

Trust me - it sucks when you use something you haven't used for a while and you forget to add the seam allowance and you've already cut it out and you have NO MORE FABRIC!

And because I was enjoying pottering around and taking my time, I had a bit of a fiddle with trims, and I came up with this:

I've since found better buttons, but I liked the bobble trim so I've stitched that on.  Now thats the front taken care of, but I still haven't incorporated the comfort factor... thats where shirring comes in!  But more about that next post!!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Melbourne Cup Dress : Its Cup Day!!!

So Tuesday just gone was Melbourne Cup Day - so I got to finally put the whole outfit together and wear it somewhere appropriate.

Last minute I decided that no matchy-matchy outfit of mine would be complete without a piece of custom jewellery by Lucy Luxxe... and luckily the lovely Renee had time to make me this:

Didn't she do a fabulous job getting the colours right!

I spent the night before in my hotel room painting my fingernails and toenails pink, and studying the form guide so I might look like I knew what I was talking about.

And then the big day dawned and I got to get all dolled up!!!

The whole outfit came together so well I just couldn't have asked for anything better.  I felt really pretty all day and got a lot of compliments.  One of the bookies wanted to know how long it took me to find a necklace that matched so well - I told him not long at all - I had it custom made!  It helps to know the right people!

Here is a close up so you can see just how well the necklace co-ordinated

I couldn't decide which horse to back, so I went with a box trifecta of the top four favourite horses.  Basically if any of them came in first, second and third in any order I won!

I just noticed that the ticket says welcome to Grafton Races at the top.
I was not at Grafton Races...... weird!

But none of them did!!!

Actually, that was pretty much how the day went.  I was there with five friends and none of us backed a single winner all day!!!  Very disappointing.

Here is one last photo of me and my lovely husband:

Somehow we managed to co-ordinate our outfits without trying... thats true love right there.

All in all I had a fabulous day and I loved my outfit - total success!
And a reminder, for fabulous jewellery custom made, go see Lucy Luxxe, and for the most divine fascinators, Bobbie at Madly Hatted Millinery is your girl.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Melbourne Cup Dress : The Fascinator

So I was going to wait until next Tuesday to show you all the fascinator that I had custom made to match my outfit... but I can't.  Its just too beautiful to keep it hidden.

I've shown you this photo before:

I sent Bobbie from Madly Hatted Milinery a small scrap of my fabric with a bit of fence on it so she had the green and the pink.  From there she purchased the beautiful dusty pink fascinator base, some pink silk that was 50% off (gotta love an unexpected bargain!), the leaves and the feathers and the green ribbon with a cream stripe (which is vintage!)  And some other larger feathers that aren't shown here - ALL OF WHICH tone perfectly with the teeny tiny scrap of fabric I sent.

I gave her an idea of what I liked based on the things she had for sale on her website, and then gave her full control to create whatever she pleased.  I assured her I'm not the conservative type so she could go all out.

This is what she created.

Isn't it magnificent - lifting it from its nest of tissue paper felt like lifting a magnificent jewel from a velvet lined box! 

Even the back is detailed and beautiful!

Close up of the silk roses, leaves and braided cord that feature on the front

Close up of the silk and ribbon flowers on the back of the fascinator

Seriously, this girl is talented!  Head over to her website and check out her other amazing creations, and next time you need something fabulous for your head, drop her a line!