So, that closet challenge….

Hey, it’s Friday! Let’s have some fashion!

I haven’t totally forgotten about my self-challenge. I just haven’t really been bothering to take pictures. Truth be told, now that temperatures have dropped to winter levels, I’m once again finding it difficult to be inspired by my wardrobe. All I want to wear are sweaters and pants, and I’ve been rather dissatisfied with my selection of those. Fashion diet or not, it might be time to make a run to the thrift store and see if I can at least swap a couple of things out. Especially the sweaters–I’m craving some color!

I’ve also been pondering the whole idea that’s been going around the blogosphere of cake vs. frosting and everyday wearable stuff. Now, I’m not one of those people who hangs onto every piece of clothing ever–my closet size just won’t allow it. But I do find it difficult to let go of me-mades that I still genuinely like, even if I have trouble finding ways to wear them. Since ’tis the season for all things shiny, here’s two that are giving me a bit of a conundrum:
silverskirtPlease pardon that expression on my face–this picture is basically me trying to take pictures of my me-mades while standing on my bed while I was in college! And this was the only one I could find of it. So this is a very simple skirt–bias-cut, elastic waist, silver satin. I like the shiny, liquidy, sci-fi look of it. And yet, I hardly ever wear it. It’s a very thin fabric, so it’s not very warm. And I kind of feel like I can only wear it around Christmas…it just has that sort of feel to it. It might be time to put this one into the refashion pile–with some careful cutting and maybe pairing it with a trim or another fabric to dress it down some, it might make a cute woven camisole/layering-type thing. Hmmm.


This one is a little tougher. Meet the “Inara” shirt. This was also one of my college-era makes, and this picture was taken the last time I wore it, in February. (Doug was taking me out to see the local orchestra for my birthday, and we decided to dress up some.) I do love this shirt–it’s shiny, it’s green, it fits well, and it has dragons on it. And yes, for all of my fellow geeks out there, I totally styled this one off of the shirt that Inara wore in the “Our Mrs. Reynolds” episode of Firefly. But this is also pretty much the only way I know how to wear it–with a black skirt, or maybe black pants. I would really like to put this one in more regular rotation, but I need to find a way to dress it down!

I guess it’s off to Pinterest and Polyvore to find some inspiration…especially since I have 2 more pieces of brocade in my stash that I need to use up at some point!

Edit: Double that number. I’ve been flipping through my stash notebook lately to scope out some possibilities for a couple of other patterns that I’ve acquired recently, and I somehow have two different pieces of white brocade that I’m pretty sure were hand-me-downs from a project that my mom didn’t do. I guess that’s what I get for having the sartorial sensibilities of a magpie and liking shiny things.

So, SO close

Does it make me sound like a horribly lazy person that I’m glad I got an unexpected day off of work? I didn’t have to go to the shop because the weather is gross and the manager predicted sales would be extremely slow. They’re selling Christmas trees now, and who wants to look for those outside when it’s rainy and cold? Not me. So I got to work on the dress this morning instead.

It took a little longer than expected, because I had to tweak some seam placements in the skirt again. But I think I am basically there, as far as the muslin goes. Except for one issue. (Pardon the iphone photos–the lighting around here is pretty terrible today due to the rain, and I figured I’d have more luck with mirror shots using the phone than I would my camera. Also, my tripod broke.)

Dress Front 2This is the front of the dress–now with spiral-steel boning! The stitching on that is completely wonky because I was having to stitch the channels on with the boning in it in order to actually get the boning inside. (I had to make these channels myself. I may have done it too tightly. I’m debating whether I’d be better off making new ones out of, say, grosgrain ribbon for the real thing.) For the most part, I think the boning helped, at least on the side and back.What I’m not sure about is all of those diagonal wrinkles right in the center front. I think it’s time to post in the Craftsy class again and see what Susan has to say.

One more note about those skirt seams–the black lines are not the seams. Those were the original thread tracings, and those seams were moved to line up with the princess seams.

Dress Front 1One change to the front that I do like is that I retraced the curve of the sweetheart neckline (the white that’s slightly showing above the original stitching.) I like this one much better.

Dress Back

And here’s the back. Not entirely accurate, since the very top will be tacked closed with a button. But I did add a zipper–partially to check the fit, and partially to play around with a lapped zipper. (It’s on my Check The Technique list anyway! Still needs work.) This is obviously not the zipper I’ll be using, since it’s grey–I didn’t have a white one on hand. And I think I’ll have to extend the zipped part an inch or so, because it’s just a liiiiiiiittle bit hard to pull on over certain curvy bits. (Ahem.) But with the zipper, the fit is actually quite comfortable. Even with all of those extra layers that the seam allowances made around the waist, so I think it’ll be just fine with the underlinings and such. Again, I added some boning to this, right over the darts, and I think it does do a nice job of smoothing it out. I will have to shorten the actual bones on both the side and back pieces just a little bit, though. Maybe about 1/4″.

Dress Side
Speaking of the side–I do think I am going to have to alter the curve of those pieces some. It does still pull towards the front slightly, though the boning did help that out quite a bit. I think that shaving 1/4″ out of the middle of the front and adding it to the back should do it. Again, the thread traced black lines are not the actual current seam lines. But it does look like things are laying pretty smoothly in the front, so I’m pleased with that.

Dress SkirtAnd although it’s not the most flattering view of my middle, here’s a view of the whole skirt. I tried it on with the shoes this morning to check the hem length, and I’m going to have to add at least 2″ plus the hem allowance. I might do 2 1/2″ just to be on the safe side, since it’s easier to make a wider hem than to skimp on the fabric there. The circumference of the skirt is plenty wide enough, though, and even with my long stride, I can walk comfortably in it. I guess I’ll just need to figure out if I need to add something to the hem to poof it out some, whether it’s horsehair or some tulle underlayers.

ShoesSpeaking of shoes–if you were curious, here they are! Since I rather dislike shoe shopping (mostly due to that lovely widening bony bulge you can see riiiiight under my big toes), I decided to be cheap and lazy and wear the same shoes I wore as a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding several years ago. (Incidentally, this is the same friend whom I just made the Star Wars bibs for, and she’s going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding as well, so the circle is complete.)

Since I don’t have too many occasions in which to wear strappy silver sandals–and when I do, I usually wear my gladiator flats instead–they’re in good shape. All of the little rhinestones are still there, and I just have a little bit of scuffing on the heels and the very edge of the toes. Nothing a little nail polish can’t fix, once I find the right extra-shiny shade.

A different test for the One Dress

Lace test- front

Lace test- back

I wanted to work on the dress some tonight, but I didn’t want to work in the basement, because I was cold. So I did this instead…
This is the real fabric! I took the swatch for the silk that I got from, and cut one of the lace motifs from the very edge of that fabric. I wanted to make sure that the edges of the flowers would be ok with that treatment, since the lace isn’t edged very well. But it looks like it’ll be fine.

And since this is the audience that would appreciate this sort of thing–the back. A little messy with the knots, but I’m quite proud of my hand-stitching!

According to the number of songs I got through on iTunes, stitching this one flower took me a little over an hour. Since I was planning on doing this all around the hem of the skirt….yeah, this is going to take awhile. Good thing I’m not doing a train.

Previous dress posts:
Tracing out the pattern
FBA attempt, part 1
FBA attempt, part 2 (with diagonal tuck adjustment)
FBA attempt part 3 (Bodice 2.0)
FBA attempt part 4 (Bodice 3.0)
More fitting 
Fitting with a skirt! 
Bodice speculation
Bodice test 4

I love it when a plan comes together!

I do still have some important details to figure out. Mainly the internal support structure. But I did get the new bodice basted together with all of my pattern changes, and if I may say so myself, it worked beautifully.

Final bodice test- frontI think the moral of the story is that when it comes to very fitted bodices, princess seams are going to work for me ten times better than double darts ever will. This made a HUGE difference in the look of the front. I also like the new lowered neckline, though I think I’m going to have to adjust those curves a bit to make it look a bit more sweetheart-y. (That somewhat pointy section on the right side is the result of the clipped piece sticking out. If this was the real thing, obviously I would have pressed it and stitched down the seam allowances and such, since the Bridal Couture book strongly recommends joining the lining to the upper edge of the bodice by hand. But this isn’t the real thing.) I also did a rather sloppy version of the cap sleeves, with the side seam allowances on both the lace and the organza just folded in, but it’s enough to tell that it will work, provided I can figure out how to conceal the actual seam allowances on the sides and shoulders as much as possible.

It looks like that waist on the front is really crooked, but it’s not nearly that bad outside of the picture. For one thing, I think I forgot to tug this into actual approximate placement before I took the picture, so the top will run a bit lower. For another thing, the jeans are not helping that visual.

Final bodice test- sideSee? It’s pretty straight from the side. On an unrelated side note, yes, these are the jeans I made, and for the most part, they’re washing and wearing beautifully! But I have noticed that the waistband has stretched a bit so that it gaps in the front–though the back is still gapiosis-free!– so for the next pair, I’m going to need to stabilize and/or alter and/or completely swap out the waistband for something more contoured. On the plus side, I was afraid that it would be too tight in the crotch area, and it’s actually quite comfortable!

Ok, back to the dress. There is that one diagonal pull there, but I think once the skirt is on, that will probably straighten out. The boning might help too, once I get that in.

My favorite new detail? The back is exactly how I pictured it to be. Check this out:

Final bodice test- backThe lace is one piece, and underneath there’s the “fashion fabric” on the lower part, and organza on the upper part. So the effect when I’m wearing it is just that my upper back is covered in lace. The pattern alteration was soooo easy to do–I took my french curve ruler, started where the front bodice meets the back armhole, and did a very slight curve towards the center back. Then I added seam allowances to both of those pieces. Given my usual lack of success when it comes to flat pattern alteration, it’s very gratifying to know that this worked. Again, there is some rippling, but I do think that will straighten out when the skirt/boning is in.

My next adventure is figuring out boning placement–I’m not sure I technically need it, since this isn’t strapless, but I think I’ll have a little more peace of mind knowing that I’m not putting all of that strain on the organza in the shoulder seams. Especially since I have no idea how much this skirt will weigh when all is said and done, given the length and the layers of lining and underlining and stuff. (Plus I need to figure out if I need to add tulle and such for fullness.)

boning placement- test 1I’ve never used spiral steel boning in my life, so I’ve been using this tutorial for cutting it. It was definitely easier than cutting through an entire length of metal, but still hard! My little wire cutters, which I generally use for jewelry-making, were not quite up to the task, so I ended up having to resort to just snipping it over the same area over and over until the metal finally weakened enough that I could break it. I did get all of the lengths that I’m pretty sure I’ll need cut (a bit tricky for the front, and some of the pieces are very, very short, since I was using where my bra ended as a guideline. See between those yellow pins and the waistline!). I got the tips on all of them. The website also recommended wrapping the tips in some plumbers’ tape to keep the tips from coming off while sliding things in and out of the boning. I don’t have any, so I’ve been at a bit of a standstill ever since. Not that I’ve had time to sew since Monday anyway.

On an overall plus side, the lace is behaving better in the actual bodice, so maybe I’ll only have to hand-stitch the seams and darts (just for motif placement), instead of all over the pieces, after all!

that sinking feeling…

…in which you realize that you might have to hand-embroider the lace on the entire bodice of your wedding dress. That’s what I’m experiencing right now.
lace test 1I’m currently in the process of testing the pattern changes I wanted to make for the lace–this is the back, with a new top panel of organza with the lace over top. (Thank you, Joann’s Casa Collection, for giving me a way to test this in cheap polyester before I mess with the real thing.) Even though this is still the muslin, I hand-basted all of the lace pieces onto all of the muslin pieces, just so they’d line up the way they were supposed to. This is why I’ve been quiet this week.

I’m a little worried, though–the lace isn’t exactly laying flat against the fabric underneath. I guess it’s to be expected with polyester organza, since that ripples out the wazoo, but the fact that it’s also doing it on the muslin is a bit concerning. So now I’m wondering if stitching all of the sunflowers onto the silk so the lace isn’t poofing away from the bodice is going to have to be the way of things.

I’m finally getting my usual November time off of my retail job this week, somewhat, so tomorrow has been designated as a sewing day. So my plan is to sew this entire bodice back together, make sure the new princess-seam pieces are going to work, and see what this lace is doing after that. Oh, and I also need to throw some boning into this thing at some point, if I can figure out how to cut spiral steel boning!  I also want to play with the zipper, since my thought is to only have it go to the top of the solid part, and then finish the edges and just have a button at the very top of the sheer part. I also need to figure out how to best finish the edges of the organza/lace sections, since that will affect the entire armhole section, but that may have to wait for another day. I’m thinking maybe hand-stitched bias binding out of the organza to camouflage the lace in the seam.

So if I do have to hand-stitch all of the lace to the underlayers, I guess I need to figure out if I would just do that through the top layer, the eventual underlining, or both. And also if I might want to just throw beads on the thing while I’m at it. I’m leaning towards not, since that might detract from the sunflowers and would certainly make the seams a total pain. But then, it would give extra sparkle, and I do like sparkly things!

A poll in which your vote actually counts!

With a Song in My Heart Cotton Jersey - Blue/Multi This adorable jersey knit is what I found at Gorgeous Fabrics today– I happened to glance at it since I noticed there’s a 25% off sale for today only. So since all of my fellow Americans are being told to vote anyway, I figured I’d run an unofficial poll (and see if I get any responses within the next two hours!) I should have known better…My stash guilt is warring with my desire for cute, colorful knits and my love for all things with a musical motif, so I’m leaving it up to you, the voters.

1. Should I buy this? Yes or No?

2. If you answered yes: Renfrew or pajamas?

Votes, if any, will be tallied by 10:30 Eastern Standard Time, because I’ll only have half an hour left to order if that’s the case.

(P.S. For the record, yes, I voted, mainly out of guilt from all of the women in years past who fought to give me the right to do so. But I’m not going to say who I voted for, because I hate political arguments and am equally apathetic towards both candidates.)

Edit, 10:51 pm: The people have spoken (all two of them–thanks!) and the results were unanimous– I should get it and make pjs! (Which is probably the better choice, since I am in need of some warm-weather pjs. I had about 2 sets for the entire summer.) Of course, by the time I noticed the time and got to it, there was only one yard left. And it cost more in shipping than the yard of fabric– I probably should have looked for something to coordinate, but there was no time. But anyway, the order is placed, so it’s mine.

pictureless progress

It’s been fun to see all of the costumey goodness around the blogosphere over the last few days! Nothing Halloweenish for me this year, alas. I had no parties to go to, and I wouldn’t have had time to make a costume anyway. I did go back to my retail job yesterday, which is unfortunately still an outdoor register thing, And Sandy apparently decided to bring winter with her, because it was in the 40s pretty much the whole time I was out. So the closest I got to dressing up for Halloween was as an Eskimo while I was at work, as I was wearing FIVE layers up top, the last one being a winter coat! (Though I’d taken the fleecy liner out, thinking that the thermal top/long-sleeved shirt/required work t-shirt/hoodie sweatshirt would be sufficient. That was obviously a mistake.) Plus a scarf, hat, handwarmers, and gloves. And I was still cold. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know how you people that live anywhere further north of here do it!

I did go to the mall later on Halloween with my fiance, and I wore my Cadence sweater because it was orange. And I was still cold, despite having been indoors for hours and having hot tea. Blah. Anyway.

So I’m doing what is now my 4th bodice front, as well as an entirely new back. I want to make sure the princess seams are going to work, as well as test the pattern change I’ve had planned for the back. And I also want to make sure the lace idea is going to work, period. I haven’t had a chance to work on it since Tuesday, so I haven’t taken pictures yet–between a dj meeting, a weekend of rehearsals for this evening’s flute choir concert that I’m playing in, and the usual work stuff, I just haven’t had time to sew.

I did also go to a craft afternoon yesterday hosted by a casual friend, and started knitting a scarf to go along with the hat I made for my fiance back around his birthday. He’s been asking for one now that it’s starting to get cold again, and I need to use up the yarn anyway. So I figured that this can be something I work on while hanging out with him and watching tv for awhile, at least until I get to a point where there might be wedding-related crafts that aren’t my dress.It’s a simple enough pattern, just a striped ribbed scarf, and so far I’ve managed to get about 6″ done, I think. No pics of that yet either.

We’ll see if I get more work done on that bodice this week (I haven’t even finished cutting out the new pieces yet). It’s a bit iffy, since this week also marks round 2 of the dental surgery, and I know that sewing that day is off the table based on how I felt the last time. (That, and having to work one-handed while holding an ice pack to your face just doesn’t work. I tried.)

So hopefully I’ll have something to show soon. On an unrelated note, I have been reading the reports of how different bloggers fared in the storm, particularly in the New York area, and I’m glad to hear that you’re all safe!