Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bands... No Piping

OK, I fiddled and fussed and pinned and adjusted the piping on the dress band.
The second attempt was worse than the first.

On the third attempt, I actually DID figure out how to get the piping around the pointed tips of the band without stretching and distorting the shape... After all of the above frustrations, it was an A-HA! moment and actually, pretty obvious. I'm annoyed that I didn't "get it" sooner.

What do you do prior turning a square neckline after stitching a facing or lining to the garment?.... DING DING! Clip the corners!!!!!!!!! So finally I cliped notches around the points, first on the piping before pinning in between the two band pieces prior to seaming. Worked like a charm. The only thing is, I felt the cording used for the piping should have been the thinner size. This would have given the polished result that the sleek lines required. It still looked lumpy.

Not 100% happy at this point, I'd already started formulating Plan B. Plan B consisted of ditching the piping all together and using a decorative stitch along the bands' edges. So I tested a strip and really, REALLY liked it. Plus, the stitch I chose matches some really elegant black buttons that I thought were too small and froo-frooey for the sleek lines of the bands as shown. The decorative stitching to me, softens the sharp angles.

The stitch I chose was not a one way design; it was the same regardless of which direction I was sewing. It had to be small and simple enough so that I could stop and/or turn at the points without the design repeat looking incomplete. I used a ruler and marked the band piece along the stitching line so that I had an absolutely straight line to follow; any wobbling would stick out like a sore thumb!

I'm happy with this. Hooray! This project can now MOVE forward!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bands and Piping

Construction of the bands and piping come upon you pretty quickly in this pattern. I don't know about you, but I love to make piping.

It's not difficult, it just takes a wee bit of extra time. But like most things, you get back what you put in. When you make your own, you can use any fabric you want to give the desired effect.

For this dress, I'm using black lightweight wool, the same as the red wool. To cut the strips, I use my handy dandy quilting ruler which has angles marked right onto it. I line up the bias angle to the selvage edge and cut the strips along the edge to the desired length.

To make the bias, you don't need a special bias foot. I use a zipper foot and then move/adjust my needle position over up to the edge of the foot. Then the stitching is right up against the cording.

So that's the simple part. I knew that assembling the bands with the piping and points would be challenging... I did one band and I have to go back and restitch some wobbly edges and redo the point at the top... which isn't really a point. My band came out more curved, which I actually like and prefer. The issue will be keeping ALL of the bands consistent in shape: two dress bands and the two jacket sleeves and two lower jacket bands.

So tomorrow will begin with me fiddling with the band to get the point shape the way that I want. I anticipated exactly this, but felt up to the challenge rather than taking the easy, dull option out.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And I'm Off!...

...I started sewing the red dress. It always feels soooo good to get started. Cutting is not one of my favorite parts of sewing. Others may feel differently, but I just want to get behind the machine and go!

This wool is lovely to work with. It's such a dream to press and mark. It starts with the big, diagonal bust darts on the bodice front. They're sewn, then trimmed and pressed open. Just holding that piece up to myself in front of the mirror is exciting! It's the first glimpse of the shaping. I did that and the two darts on the back bodice.
Pattern piece with the big dart:

Big darts sewn, prior to trimming:

Darts trimmed and pressed:

I just threw the black wool that I'll use for the piping in washing machine. The front bands are the next step so the black wool needs prepping. I hope this dress turns out well!

New Pattern

I just bought this pattern and simply put, I LOVE it. It's a Vogue Paris Original 1271 by Patou.

I'm not sure when I'll make it since the current red wool ensemble is likely the last winter project of the season. The gathers along the bodice and the buttoned band... mmmm. This requires some very special fabric. I've got time to think and get it right.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On the Cutting Table

I'm more than half way through cutting a new project. I guess all of the talking about losing my motivation helped me to get motivated!

This Advance pattern has been calling to me for a while, but I never really figured out exactly how I wanted to do it. Finally, it said "red, lightweight wool". I love, love love the deep red of this wool. I'm going to make the whole shebang, including the jacket.

Although I'm not a boxy jacket kind of person, the band detailing pulls the whole look together. I'm going to make the piping that surrounds the bands in the same lightweight wool in black and use black buttons.

All in all the small details of this dress are great: the banding with buttons and piped trim, the raglan sleeves and those cute pleats at the bottom front of the skirt...

And for a quick update on that other Advance 6316 dress... the sundress with the square neckline in the blue wavy fabric.... well, that project turned out to be a disappointment. There are two things that I don't like:

1) I goofed on adding extra to the bodice. I placed the center front slightly off of the fold and as a result, the shoulder straps are sitting too far out on my shoulder. I should have added the extra at the side seam. It's only 1/2", but just enough to make it "off".

2) The cotton fabric is too stiff and therefore, the skirt does not fall into nice, elegant drapes. Instead, it sticks out in more of an A-line, which ruins the whole look, in my opinion.

The only thing left for me to do is install the zipper. I'm not going to bother with the jacket. I'll finish the dress, but it's likely to find its way to Goodwill...

Oh, and one last thing. SHOES. Thanks for all of your fun comments! I still have many more pairs to photograph and store. But five days have come and gone and DH has NOT exiled me from the closet! hee hee, so I'm getting some sewing in while I can! More shoes will come.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shoes Take #3

Time is running short. Here is the next batch!

Zodiac: Black satin fabric with lots of straps! The thick heel gives them substance; there's nothing delicate about these!

Karen Scott:
Dark brown leather with a cute gold band accent. These are super comfy while still looking good.

Decadent black velvet with two styles of black and gold brocade! Worn with a black outfit, these shoes make a statement!

Liz Claiborne:
Blue denim with leather straps and stud detailing. These clogs are one of my fav's and I wear them A LOT. The studs have a tiny little rhinestone in the center. They are fabulous with jeans or jean skirts or the denim trench dress that I have.

Nine West:
Black leather with twist front and open toe. These are great shoes. Not too flashy with a touch of elegance, they never disappoint... and they are particularly comfy.

Yeah Baby! These shoes are outrageously fun. The colors are actually brighter and more vivid than in the pic... I just got these last week. How could I resist? I want to make a vintage dress in a solid color that is in these shoes. You could not possibly wear something patterned with these!

Black patent leather with black sequins. Another pair that makes me sigh... dazzling and classy, these are shoes for a special night out.

Marino Boutique:
Copper and gold leather band with straps crossing the heel and front that keep these nice and secure.

"Mitsy knows more about shoes than I do."
- DH (Mitsy is our dog.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Shoes Take #2

OK, DH has given me a deadline of five days to sort out my shoes. HE thinks they have taken over "his" allocated space on one of the closet shelves, which he describes as a puny 2 ft. x 2 ft. segment. (Is it wrong that I take up more than 3/4 of the entire closet?) Since he's taking a stand on this, and he's a very easy-going guy, I'd better work at a faster pace.

So here's what's up next:

Calvin Klein: Satin straps with rhinestone ankle straps. The rhinestones have strands of silver beads hanging from them. I used a stuffed footie in an attempt to show how these hang. They are HOT and perfect for a dressy occasion.

Tommy Hilfiger: Dark chocolate brown leather with a small "pebble" type pattern. The sole and outside edge of the heel are lined in suede. These are great looking AND comfortable; they dress up or down.

Talbots: Navy satin pumps. Understated elegance for any navy ensemble.

apostrophe: Dancing anybody? Silver metallic heels, straps and trim with a silver mesh sparkle... These will dazzle under the ballroom lights.

Keith Scarrott: Embroidered tans/bronze and gold overlaid on leather, metallic heel, sling back... sigh. I love these shoes; they are delectable in every way. Keith Scarrott is an independent retailer. I bought these at one of his exclusive stores in Cheltenham, England. At the time, they were a big splurge for me. While in England later this year, I may have to head back to Cheltenham to snag another pair or two... or ten!

Anne Klein: Black patent leather with gold buckle. Versatile and sassy.

"I don't know who invented the high heel, but all men owe him a lot." ~ Marilyn Monroe

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let's Talk About Shoes

Since I have sewer's block, I thought I'd talk about something else dear to my heart: shoes!

I'm addicted to shoes. There, I said it. Actually, I've said it before and quite recently ... but let me be clear, I don't seek help!

A few months ago, I bought 80 plastic shoe boxes from The Container Store so that I can organize and better preserve them. Many of my shoes are purchased from T.J. Maxx; others are from Zappos and occasionally, from other stores. A few pairs are older, dating back to the mid 90's. There was a great shoe store In Chicago on Michigan Avenue called The Season's Best. Their prices dropped regularly. I would walk past on my way home from work and "follow" shoes that I wanted until they dropped to a price I could afford (which wasn't much then). Do any Chicagoans know if that store is still there?

As part of getting them all organized, I thought I'd take pictures and share here in case any of you are shoe-aholics like me. One can never look at too many shoes. I'll post a few pairs every time I do it. Maybe getting this done will help me get my sewing mojo back... I'll be thinking of what to make to match my shoes!

Report Signature - These are new. The fabric upper actually has a light gold metallic in the weave. It is lined in leather and has a sassy zipper on the back heel. The lower strap is leather. These are delicious and I cannot wait to wear them!

Liz Claiborne - Deep purple suede with black patent leather and ribbon lacing. I love purple and these have a witchy feel to them. Positively FUN and yes, I wore them on Halloween!

Steve Madden - Black patent leather loafer pumps. I love the chunky heel and bronzy buckle.

Franco Sarto - Ivory patent leather with holes, bow and gold trim! Positively girly with vintage flair! They're GREAT with polka dot dresses!

"I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes." Oprah Winfrey

Monday, February 8, 2010

What Next?

I seem to have sewer's block. Every time I get excited about a new project, I either change my mind or lose interest.

On the cutting table now is a lightweight, 100% deep red wool intended for a vintage dress. It's been sitting there for over week, untouched.

I'd like to think I'd get around to it tomorrow or Wednesday, but my house is out of control. It needs a good Spring Cleaning and it's not even Spring yet.

Hopefully the sewing bug will kick in soon.