Top 5’s of 2013, part 3: Hits and Misses

Time to look back at what I actually made this year! Let’s start with the hits, shall we?

Top 5 Hits of 2013: 
Wedding dress front 1. My wedding dress, aka the “One Dress To Rule Them All”! Yes, I only wore it once, but this was easily the most time-consuming and expensive thing I’ve ever sewn, so I have to include it, right? Plus, I never showed a really good full shot of the finished product, so here’s my excuse to share some of the professional pics. Don’t worry, they gave me the copyright as part of the photo package! We did get a couple of outdoor shots, but the lighting on the ones inside the church actually shows off the details of the dress better, so I went with those.

At Gillian’s request, I’m including a mini top 5 of things I learned or loved about making my wedding dress.

a) I loved working with the fabrics! It’s not every day that I can justify using a whole bunch of different silks, so this was both a lot of fun and a very big learning experience.

b) I learned and/or developed skills in a lot of different couture techniques. I’d worked with underlining before, for instance, but this had underlining, sometimes multiple layers of underlining, boning (and not the cheap plastic kind ,either!), regular lining, the works! So I think my handstitching improved quite a bit in this process!

Wedding dress backc) I love that I was able to design an entire dress around that sunflower lace, since the only two things I’d wanted for my future wedding for ages was having sunflowers, and making my dress! So I got to combine them! I also love that my pattern modifications to the Cambie top worked so well for really showing it off. (Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of it, because I have probably at least 3 yards left! Any ideas?)

d) I learned that sometimes muslins, or even multiple muslins, are a necessary evil. I’m really glad I allowed myself the time to do that. My usual attitude towards them is to try to make them as wearable as possible, or just skip them altogether, because I have so little sewing time and “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But I’m glad I really took the time to perfect the fit before I started–especially since I was just barely able to squeak out the skirt with the yardage I had estimated! Plus, now whenever I do get around to making a “real” Cambie, I have it all modified and ready to go. Assuming I can find those muslin pieces. Gah.

(Disclaimer: I’m still probably going to stick more with wearable muslins for most things, because I still mostly don’t want to take the time for that.)

e) I love that being able to sew helped me keep the costs down significantly! All together, I think the supplies ended up costing about $500. I think the most expensive fabric I got was the dupioni for the outside, at around $16 a yard. Given that I have a hard time paying more than $12 a yard for most fabrics, that’s a LOT. But at the average bridal shop around here, that would get you a pretty low-end polyester dress. Mine was silk, custom-fitted, and I didn’t have to deal with sorting through all of the trains and strapless bodices to find something I was ok with!

And now, on with the rest of the hits…

Thurlow trousers2. The Thurlow trousers. I’m quite happy with the fit, they’re very comfortable, and I’ve worn them at least once a week since I finished them. In fact, I’ve washed and worn them so much that the fabric is already starting to pill on the thighs a bit! Not a huge loss, since this was only ever intended to be a wearable muslin, and the fabric was free, but that means I may have to make a new brown pair sooner than I thought. (After I finish the other 4 pairs that I actually bought fabric for.)

TARDIS-inspired skirt 

3. The TARDIS Hummingbird-esque skirt. Subtle geekiness for the win! This got a lot of love on Flickr (by my standards, which is pretty much anyone commenting at all), and I’m always happy when my pattern alterations turn out as I envision them. Plus, since it’s basically a denim skirt, I have a feeling this is going to be a rather versatile addition to my wardrobe!

Plaid matching4. My plaid flannel shirt. Even though I’m still not a huge fan of the collar, it’s warm and cozy, which is exactly what I need in my life right now. I’m also still feeling a bit smug about how many sewalongs I was able to apply this to! (And now I’m wondering if it’s a crime against fashion to wear flannel shirts that aren’t plaid, because I want a lot more flannel in my life!)

purple tank front
5. The purple Sadie tank top, which has proved to be quite versatile, even though it’s not the most exciting thing I sewed this year. (Aaaaahhhh, look how sunny and warm it is there! Much nicer than looking out the window–it’s actually pretty unseasonably warm here today, but it’s also grey and rainy, which is why I’m home to finish this post. Work is soooooo sloooooow on rainy days that the manager told me to stay home!)

Thankfully, since I didn’t have a huge output this year, I don’t feel like I really had a lot of misses as far as my actual finished projects went. So I’m taking a slightly more tongue-in-cheek approach to this.

Top 5 misses of 2013:
Pavlova cardi
1. The one true sewing fail I had this year was my Pavlova cardigan–the one that tore apart in the washer before I even had a chance to take a photo of me wearing it. I hardly even got a chance to wear it, either. Despite my usual cold-blooded ways, I was sufficiently comfortable both indoors and out to not wear it at all while I was in Jamaica, so I only wore it on the plane there and back. If I were to be honest, it didn’t turn out as cute and flattering as I’d hoped, either. I still plan to make a Pavlova top again, but maybe more of a wrap top as intended. Or with knit fabric so it drapes better.

2. My timing in finishing my Tiramisu dress. It’s not the dress itself, because I do like it. And if I’d made it earlier in the fall or even the summer, I think it would have been worn a lot more. But I only wore it once, because it got too cold almost as soon as I’d finished it! I’m definitely not one of those people who can go short-sleeved in the cold. I wonder how it would look with my brown corduroy jacket–too much brown in the middle?

3. Online fabric shopping. This wasn’t a 100% fail. I did manage to find the right shade of nude organza for the wedding dress. I do like the rayon challises that I picked up for a couple of dresses that I didn’t get to this year. And I recently got some organic cotton knit that is super-soft and I think it will make a great basic black maxidress next year! But I did have multiple issues here, from trying to find a solid emerald green to make wedding accessories (color of the year, huh?!), to the paisley I’d intended for a Darling Ranges dress that looked quite different when it arrived, to the stretch denim I recently ordered that looked like teal, but showed up more of a robin’s egg blue and a lot thinner than I’d anticipated! And, of course, I also recently had issues in buying both fabric and yarn online, because in both cases, the website said they had more in stock than they actually had by the time they got to processing my orders. Both times, I had to make substitutions for things that cost more money. Aside from higher cost, the most annoying thing in both cases was that they were things I’d spent hours searching for in order to avoid wool! Blasted allergy…anyway. Hopefully I’ll have more hits on that count next year, since I can’t necessarily rely on Joann’s to have what I need or want.

My pattern/fabric combo4. Pantsapalooza. It’s not that I regret doing it, though I think I really could/should have managed the sewalong aspect of it much, much better. I guess since it was my first time hosting one, it’s a learning experience, right? And I did get usable trousers, but only one pair out of my intended five. So that’s not a palooza, that’s just pants! (Guess what I’m most likely sewing first in January…)

5. Buying vs. using. Yes, a few of these were projects I intended to get to quickly–my Darling Ranges dress that I actually bought fabric for twice (see #3 above), or the Reglisse dress that I found the perfect print for almost right away, for instance. And then the summer just disappeared. A few of these I actually did get to right away–I’m thinking specifically of the Hummingbird pattern, since I actually managed to jump in on the official sewalong and use up some stash to boot! And I did buy and use the plaid flannel in a timely fashion, which is unusual for me. But overall, I think I acquired a lot more fabrics and patterns this year than I have in recent years past, and didn’t necessarily use things up in a way to balance that out. (And it’s not even Christmas yet, and I can usually expect to get fabric for Christmas from my mom, too!) My husband and I are planning to really crack down on the budget come January so we can pay off some debt and save for some things we’re hoping to do, so this is something I really need to get under control again, and focus more on using what I have and being creative with it. (Incidentally, I loved the idea of the Sewcial Bee that I did last year, since it forced me to jump on fabric and patterns that were already in the stash! I hear rumors that there’s going to be more next year, and I hope that’s true!)

I did also lose track of yardage in vs. out this year, which is something I’ve been trying to keep track of. If I do succeed in my plan to get the room straightened up to start the new year, I do plan to re-tally everything that has significant yardage (like a yard or more) so I can start keeping tabs on that again.

Honorable mention: My #greendecember project. I got it cut out, then got caught up in a secret sewing frenzy, so that’s as far as it got. But it only gets honorable mention, because it’s another Renfrew top, which means there is a chance I can still actually get it sewed up before January 1!

shameless pluggery

Or, in which my sewing, for once, has excellent timing!

I happened upon a little blurb in Craftsy’s Twitter feed yesterday, stating that they’re having a contest for wedding-related crafts. And, as you all know, I have a wedding dress! The project with the most hearts wins a free Craftsy class. So if you wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes to hop on over here and vote for my dress, I’d greatly appreciate it! My user name there is sunnyb64, and voting is only open until this Sunday, the 14th.

(In the interest of full disclosure, the class I’m eyeing is the recently added “Adjust The Bust”. Considering that I have never been able to successfully do an FBA, despite multiple attempts/reading multiple books and blog posts, and this very project took me 4 muslins to figure out due to this very issue, I think I need it!)

The post you’ve all been waiting for!

I mean, I’m assuming you do want to see that little dress project that took up nearly a year’s worth of planning and postings on here, right?

So, at last: the One Dress to Rule Them All. And other handmade wedding goodness. (These aren’t the professional pics, so I may come back and edit this post to add some of those later. But these are featuring the shots that I was able to get from my family and friends. I’m also making these larger than usual.)


Full-length dress shot! This is me with my friend/honorary bridesmaid Nicole. I wasn’t able to have her as part of the wedding party, but she did the artwork for my invitations and programs, and also did my hair!

6512_10151653159422980_1480637199_nAnother full-length shot, this time from the first dance. You can see the border sunflowers a little better on this one, I think.


Ceremony shot- not the best expression on my face, but it’s a good closer view of the bodice. And Doug’s tie. And my bouquet!

This was as we were all leaving the church–and a great shot of the back!
1044856_576995665679164_1044450457_nMe and two of my bridesmaids/long-time best friends, Cassie and Julie. The headbands turned out ok after all!
1014281_576995975679133_1477030337_nProof that the TARDIS/R2-D2 shoes made an appearance! We all changed into them after we were done with the outdoor bridal party pictures.
And I’m just including this shot because I think it’s fun, even though I look like I’m posing for one of those old Sure deodorant commercials! The DJ had Doug and I do this game where we each had to sit back to back while holding one of our shoes and one of the other’s shoes, and raise the shoe for the person we were answering for. I’m pretty sure this one was “which person has the crazier friends.” (I love my crazy friends!)

So there you have it–I hope the post was worth the wait!

(In case you’re newer to reading this blog, a few quick project notes: The bodice and waistband are based on Sewaholic’s Cambie dress. I modified it to make the upper back and sleeve caps sheer, and changed the darts to princess seams for fitting reasons. The skirt is from Simplicity 2442, modified to lower the waist. I also used a lengthened version of the Sewing Cake Pavlova skirt for the tulle underlayer. And if you want to see all of the construction posts and notes and multiple muslin attempts, you can click here.) 

The end is….

here!!! It took me hand-stitching straight up to midnight, because I was so easily distracted while sewing, but the dress is officially DONE!

I’m going to wait to do the big final reveal pictures until after the wedding, because then I’ll have the best pictures with my hair all done up nice and out of the way. But I do have two last detail shots from the lining, courtesy of my phone, since I’ve been working on this in the evenings over the last 2 days while it’s been too dark to use the nice camera.

Lining narrow hem

I did a narrow machine hem all around the lining–partially to speed up the process, and partially to practice the technique. I have another friend getting married this year, she already has her dress, and it fits perfectly other than it being too long, so I told her I’d hem it for her. She’s practically my honorary bridesmaid, so I don’t mind.


I also have a bustle, sort of–I discovered after pinning in and partially sewing the lining that the center back was hanging past the hem of the dress! At this point, I’ve stopped caring about perfection and just wanted to finish, so rather than rip out and redo that portion of the hem, I figured no one will see it but me, so I just tacked that up and secured it under the zipper.

I did have one tiny little mishap last night, where I was trimming a thread sticking out next to the zipper, and accidentally nicked the skirt with my scissors! I’m rather proud of myself for staying calm–it was small and hardly noticeable thanks to the zipper seam allowance underneath, so I just stuck some fray check on it this morning and left it at that. Trying to mend it would have made it more noticeable, and I don’t think anyone will know except for me (and now all of you who read this.)

So, aside from the final reveal, that’s it! Thanks to all of you who have followed along on this massive project and left encouraging words. And you bet my next couple of projects are going to be much less complicated!

good news, bad news

The good news: There is a possibility that I could conceivably finish The Dress this week. Next week at the latest.
Back w/ hangers
I took this pic on my phone, which may be why it’s not cooperating to orient right, despite having tried to fix it on Flickr. So ignore the gravity-defying act. You can’t really see it too well in his shot, but there’s ribbon hangers on the dress now– I wanted to reduce the strain on the lace when it’s hanging. The bodice is now fully lined, and the back has its hook and eye. The waist stay is also half sewn-in, along the bodice lining edge, which means the tulle is in the skirt as well.

I had an unexpected day off today due to a freak snowstorm (yeah, that’s right, it’s been spring for almost a week and NOW we get snow?), so I spent a good bit of time sewing the skirt lining together. It’s currently the second row of stitching on one French seam + the hem away from being done. And this is where we get into the bad news: I currently don’t have a working sewing machine. It was the weirdest thing. I finished the first half of the French seaming process, minus the back seam to make pressing easier, turned the machine off to go eat lunch…and then I guess it decided to go on strike, because when I came back, it wouldn’t turn on again. It had been working perfectly fine before that, so I really don’t understand what happened! I tried it in a couple of different outlets, checked all the plugs, etc. My mom had a spare machine that I could use to continue sewing, thankfully. But my dad, who is pretty good with mechanical things, took a look at it, and he’s pretty sure it’s an electrical issue. And not just a blown fuse. So I’m going to have to run up to the closest repair shop sometime this weekend and see if it’s a fixable one–which makes me rather nervous, because I’ve gotten rather spoiled on my hand-me-down Bernina, and if it’s not fixable, I’m not sure how I’m going to replace it!

the end is near

I have to admit, I was feeling a major sense of burnout near the end of last week. Realizing that I’ve been working exclusively on the same project for a solid six months was kind of bothering me, as was the feeling that I’m missing out on a lot of online sewing world fun with all of the new pattern releases and sewalongs and such. I’m really thankful for all of you who have still been following along with me on this project, leaving comments, and generally not getting bored by all of my in-progress posts!

I’m also thankful that I waited until this stage of the project to cut out the lining, because although cutting out is usually one of my least favorite things about sewing, it did make it feel like a bit of a fresh project.

I still have not sewed on that hook and eye. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, I should do ASAP because of what I have been working on today. But thanks to a day off of work on Tuesday, and again today, I have made some noticeable progress!
IMG_0511I did decide that some tulle to help give the skirt some body would be necessary. My original plan had been just to do a gathered rectangle with tiers, but I woke up on Saturday morning with the thought that I should probably keep the bulk down as much as possible. So the logical conclusion was that perhaps I should think about more of a circle skirt. Since my drafting skills are still rather abysmal, I decided to break out my Pavlova pattern that had recently arrived in the mail, and just trace that out in a lengthened form. It seemed to work pretty well, and when I pinned it into the dress and tried it on, it added just the right amount of poof! Of course, since I bought the tulle with the assumption of gathering and needing a lot of length, this means I have probably 8 yards of white tulle that will now need to go into the stash!

From my “Fashion Inspiration” pinterest board

Maybe I should consider making something like this? I mean, what else am I going to do with a bunch of tulle, since the decorations are already pretty much set? Anyway.

I also still need to put a waist stay into the dress, which I’m also going to use as the waistband in the lining. I want to sandwich the tulle between the skirt lining and the outer dress, so to make it easier later, I just went ahead and zig-zagged it to about the center of the petersham ribbon. I figured that would allow for a little more give, and still give me the space to hand-stitch the bodice and skirt linings to the waist stay. Notice that I did manage to get the hooks and eyes on that, but I ran out of time for the dress at that point. Plus I kept dropping the eyes. I think I still have two of them buried in my carpet somewhere.
IMG_0514I got the lining all cut out on Tuesday (with more leftovers to use up later, dangit!), but totally cheated on the couture end of it–no thread tracing this time, I just stuck my seam allowance guide on the scissors, pinned on the muslin pieces, and went for it.  (Note–this was my first time using it, and it was pretty nifty.) I did use my tracing paper for the neckline and darts, but that was it. And then last night, I didn’t have a whole lot of time, but I tried the half hour sewing session thing and managed to get all of the bodice lining pieces sewn together. Today has been mostly  finishing seams and pressing so far.

Which leads me to its current state. The lining is pretty sheer, so things like the tannish woven selvedge that I left on the one side of the bodice as a stable edge are showing through. Oops. But by this point, I’m not bothered enough by it to undo the catch stitching, trim it off, and redo it. Hopefully between that and the tulle, my skirt still won’t be too see-through…

Pictureless update

Just a quick update post:

I finished the last of the 23 lace appliques today!

I also put it on Donna, and it looks like I don’t have to tweak the hem. Whew.

Now, I’m one hook and eye away from finishing the outside of the dress entirely. Next step: Figuring out how to do a waist stay and tulle petticoat, while still leaving room to attach the lining to the waist stay, because I also figure that can substitute for the waistband piece on the inside and therefore add one less layer.

Also, it’s a good thing I wasn’t planning on sewing last night, because all of the brouhaha about Google Reader shutting down was very distracting. Thankfully, the Twitter sewcialists were quick to point out options for those of us who used it for our blog reading. (Of course, this does make me wonder if Blogger will be on the chopping block at some point too…)

Edit: I’ve started using Feedly and like it so far, but for those of you who use Bloglovin’, here’s how you can follow me on there:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hemming time!

IMG_0500As of last Thursday, the outer hem of the dress is done. It ended up being a bit of a process, since as you can see here, I didn’t do the greatest job of adding equal amounts of fabric to the skirt pieces. Fortunately, I had a little more seam allowance to work with than I’d originally thought, because I did end up getting talked into getting a different pair of shoes. Which are far more comfortable than the original silver ones, and have a lower heel. They’re also dyeable, so I’m wondering what color I should turn them into after the wedding! It’s not often my extra-wide feet will allow me the luxury of colorful shoes! I’m thinking maybe teal, because I do wear quite a bit of that.

IMG_0502I decided to use horsehair braid for a little extra body to the hem, and I also decided to use some lace on the inside to even up the hem allowance–it varied from about 1.25″ to maybe 6″! And my horsehair is 2″, so you can do the math. It didn’t take too terribly long to add the lace, since I did use the machine to attach it the the hem allowance and only needed to hand-sew the actual hem. After all that and the extra bulk of the horsehair, it did end up being a little too narrow of a hem to encase it completely, but it was pretty close and it really just looks like an extension of the lace. Since this is basically functioning as hem tape, I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on the lace, so I was pleased to find this vaguely sunflowerish pattern at Joann’s that was the same width as my horsehair.

IMG_0503After pressing, I concluded that I do need to do some tulle underlayering. The skirt does need a little poofiness–see how it caves in on that left side, which is actually the front? I also discovered that the seams do show through in the light, which means my legs will too, so hopefully that plus the lining will add enough opacity to counteract that.  Hopefully I can figure out how to sandwich it in without adding too much bulk in the waistband–I’m thinking maybe some tiers are in order. I also need to figure out how to make the waist stay, and what the best way is to deal with that and the lining.

Friday’s project, other than pressing, was to pin the sunflower appliqués that I’ve cut out around the edge, about 3″ from the hem. I was able to space them pretty evenly, but seriously overestimated how many I would need–I used 23 and cut out 40! But at least it gave me something to do during tv time. And it also means I can give you a sneak peek of what the final project will look like!

IMG_0506Ta-da! Please ignore the mess in the room, aka wedding planning central, and focus on the pretty dress, ok? The sunflowers can’t be seen too well, but they’re mostly only pinned on for now anyway.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to sew all of these on–as of the time I’m writing this, I have 4 done, and after the first one, I figured out a way to work on multiple flowers at the same time by doing it in rows. It’s also easier, because I don’t have to rotate the skirt and can work in vaguely straight lines. The difficulty is that I got called back to my garden shop job, starting tomorrow, so my sewing time has to cut way back after today. (I’m quite thankful I’ve had these 2+ months to get this far, or I’d be freaking out!) So I’m not sure when I’ll have anything worth posting about again, until this part is done. In the meantime, I need to ponder what to do with the 3ish yards of this sunflower lace that I still have left! Any suggestions?

A few small things

  • No finished project post yet. I still have been unable to take a picture, but I will as soon as I can.
  • Do you ever have dreams about sewing? I do, sometimes. Last night’s was that I made a Tiramisu dress. Except that for some reason, subconscious me decided to pair just the skirt from it (in a navy blue jersey) with a sheer, woven coral thrifted button-down with a peplum. Which a) I do not own such a garment, and b) dream-me had it as one giant v down to the waist. Which I would never, ever do in the real world. At least subconscious me did ok with the color pairing. (Incidentally, I do have a mental plan to make a test tiramisu in navy blue jersey, since I have some jersey bedsheets to play with.)
  • Today is my birthday. I’m 32 now. That sounds so weird.
  • The Swap Your Stash was fairly successful for me! I didn’t get rid of everything, but I did have requests for about a third of what I’d posted. And most of those were things that I had either already made things out of and was therefore stuck, or things I couldn’t use at all (like accidentally pink silk!) I’ve sent out 4 pieces to 3 people, am waiting on addresses for 2 more, and so far I’ve received one package, from Anne in the UK. I’m not sure how this will end up as far as yardage in vs. out goes, but I tried to be very thoughtful in the things I swapped for, so hopefully I will end up with things that are much more useful for me!
  • My future sewing room is coming together very nicely. Doug and I spent last Friday night moving my sewing machine table to his place–I haven’t been using it lately, because I get way too cold in the basement this time of year and have therefore been doing all of my sewing upstairs, like I tend to do every winter. We also did some organizing in there. Most of my scrapbook/jewelry related things are there now, as well as a little fabric and probably about half of my yarn. We’ve also been discussing fabric storage options, and stumbled across a good option on sale at Target. So we’re probably going to spend this Friday evening moving the bulk of my remaining fabric stash and organizing that. Assuming I get done the dress in enough time to actually sew something else before the wedding, I figure I can just stop by his place and grab the fabric that I want.
  • Speaking of the dress, I’m now working on the hemming stage! I also spent some time over the weekend cutting out lace appliques for the skirt. 

I think that’s everything for now…back to work.

back details

I’m keeping this one fairly short today– just wanted to show some details of the back that I’ve been working on over the last few days, as told on Twitter.


Yes, that’s right, I made my own hashtag. And yes, I also realized as soon as I’d posted it the first time that it looks like my dress is ruling the mall. Oh well. Anyway, my mom gets the credit for finding these fabulous rhinestone buttons, because I was having a really hard time finding ones that weren’t pearls. No offense to those of you that like that, but pearls just really aren’t my thing.


I actually had to do the wider side of it twice–the first time, I got it a little too close to the zipper and it was showing all over the place. It still shows a bit at the very top, but I’ve also discovered that if I unzip it about a quarter inch or so, the overlay hides it rather well. So I think I’m going to do that with a hook and eye at the top of the dupioni section.


And here’s a view of the back! It doesn’t quite button at the top when Donna’s wearing it (I have a thread loop there), and the zipper shows much more on her. I spent at least a good half-hour on Friday walking around in it and standing on a chair so my mom could pin up the outer hem, and it fits me much better. I didn’t actually do any sewing on Friday, since we were also messing around with centerpiece ideas, but I did spend a couple of hours cutting out sunflowers from the lace to sew on the skirt. So, minus that, the hook and eye, and the hem, the outside of the dress is done! I still need to cut out and sew/install the lining, but I’m waiting until the hem is done, since I’m not sure if I’ll need to add some tulle layers for fullness and I need to see how the hem will fall first.

And guess what? I have an actual finished project to show! But I need to take some pictures first…