Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The House dress

So, I have found my perfect dress pattern.  Or rather my perfect dress bodice pattern, and that's the part that matters when one prefers full skirts.   This pattern is none other than Christine Haynes' Emery dress, and Emerys are everywhere on the Internet now, so clearly I am not alone.

I have now made this dress four times.  I may make it four million times, because it's the perfect canvas to show off an awesome print, and when it comes to sewing, fun fabrics make my world go 'round.   It's one of the reasons I keep coming back to quilting fabrics: it's hard to find apparel fabrics with prints that appeal to me half so much.   I should probably try designing my own someday, though with all the good stuff already out there (and the expense of services like Spoonflower) the bar is pretty high.   But someday.  Especially now that I have the perfect pattern to use the fabric for.  I think that in the coming months I may bore you with my lack of pattern variety, but long-hoarded fabrics are going to be bursting out of the stash right and left!

Anyhow, would you like to see these wondrous dresses?  I have photos of Dresses 1 and 3, so I will show you those now.  We'll start with 3, because that's where I really perfected the fit, plus I have pictures of me actually wearing it!  I shall call it the House dress, because duh. The fabric is Michael Miller's "Mod Pad".

This is at the end of a long day ... I had an event to go to downtown and this is what I wore.  (I wore it on a stage, even -- I was handing out awards.)  You can see a seatbelt crease across the front of the bodice, but trust me it fits me better than any dress ever in the history of dresses!   

I chose to leave off the sleeves.  I did muslin the bodice with a short sleeve, and it was actually not far off fit-wise, but I really like the look of the dress sleeveless better, and I always wear a cardigan or hoodie anyhow.   

I used Butterick 6075 as a starting point for fitting.  They're a little different (Butterick 6075 has no waist darts in the front) but it guided me well in my pre-muslin pattern alterations.   Based on the muslin,  I made a few more alterations, then Dresses 1 and 2.  Here's Dress 1, which is made using Kate Spain "Sunnyside" raincloud fabric, drifting through my backyard:

I think it was between Dress 1 and 2 that I doubled the width of the back neck darts -- a common alteration for me because of my shoulder blades.  I had already completed Dress 2 by the time I decided that a slightly closer fit would be better.   The only changes I made between Dress 2 and Dress 3 was to sew 3/4" seam allowances on the bodice sides instead of 5/8", and to pinch out another 1/4" from the upper center bodice, tapering to nothing at the waist.  

I decided to drop the House dress into the Sew Dolly Clackett pool, and may add Dress 4 as well if I get it photographed in time.  Some fabric came out of stash for that one!

Finally, here's a closer look at the House dress, and Dress 1 ("Stormy Dress?").  You can see my contrasting facings.  The Emery dress doesn't come with facings, but I drafted a neck facing for a little extra stability, and did my usual thing of attaching it to the lining.

When I come back with Dresses 2 and 4,  I'll catalog my pattern alterations, and show the change I made to the armscye when I went sleeveless, which I took from Butterick 6075.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The "Signs of Spring" Butterick 6075

Here's something I made back in February, when Spring seemed as if it would never come!  Yet another 1950s Butterick 6075, that would be number ... five?  Six?   I've lost count.

With this much envelope wear it had to be good, right?
(That case holds a vintage sewing machine ....)
I've had this Amy Butler Lotus fabric (quilting cotton) for ages.   At the time I bought it I thought the print seemed kind of large, but nowadays I'm preferring big prints.  I stil love the color combo, and the stylized lotuses look like pale suns to me.

I took care to line up the print on the skirt (which is cut in four pieces, so there are seams in the front and back).  The pieces are wedge-shaped, and so the edges of each piece dissect the print diagonally, so I ended up with a slightly kaleidoscopic feel.  Here is a lousy picture of the front of the skirt ...

I used a couple of colors of my favorite Imperial cotton/poly batiste for lining: I was running low and had to work with the scraps I had left.  My local fabric store (well, local is a relative term now that I live 30+ miles away from it) stocks this stuff, but inconsistently.  So I hunted around and found an online seller:  "The Stitchin' Post".   Now the batiste coffers are full again and I'm a happy camper.

I did my usual and attached the facings to the lining.   I like that I got the print centered, even on the inside (though look closely and you'll see it isn't prefect).

This will be the last Butterick 6075 for a bit because I've found a new dress pattern love.   More on that next time!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Deer and Doe Arielle

Oh no, the projects are piling up while the tumbleweeds wander across my blog!   But I finally got some photos today, so it's time to catch up.   Without further ado ... back in January (I think it was, anyhow!)  I made up Deer and Doe's Arielle blouse.

I was set on a two-fabic Arielle from the beginning, so I combed through my scrap boxes (yeah, plural) to find some good pieces that worked together.  I did a trial run with leftover rayon challis from this dress in size 6.  Which I found was a bit too big on me.  (For some reason I used my hip measurement to choose size rather than my bust measurement, go figure.)  I used some poly-cotton batiste for the shoulder yoke and collar on that one.  The rayon challis drooped a bit in the front due to the weight of the collar:  it isn't one of the recommended fabrics, perhaps with good reason.  

Arielle enjoys the almost-Spring breezes!

For  v2, I used size 4 and Denyse Schmidt cotton voile fabric. (Left over from not one but two skirts, so I got some good mileage out of that piece!)  The yoke and collar are cotton batiste.  Unfortunately my interfacing was both too heavy and too white for this project, and you can see it through the collar.  

I added a couple of inches to the length, and vents to the sides since I don't see myself tucking this in.     At the time I was making it I thought I'd wear it under a cardigan to work, like I usually do with knit tank tops.  However this has not yet come to pass.  Perhaps because the cold weather demands warmer layers.  Or because that collar looks a little crappy up close and personal.    Or maybe it's just too different from my usual uniform, making it unappealing first thing in the morning when my brain gravitates toward the path of least effort.    I do think I like it though, so I think some day the stars will align and it will make it out of the closet.

Rounding out this post with the back view. 
I should have put this on my dress form for photos ... but then I'd need to find a matching bottom.  (Am I the only one who thinks dress forms wearing only a top look a little ... exposed?  It's worse than having nothing on them at all!)  However, I'm really only seeing this top with pants, which are a no-go for dress form-kind.  Incidentally, my dress form is named Ethel, after my grandmother, for this very reason:  my grandmother does not subscribe to the idea of women in pants.

Anyhow, back to the point ... final verdict?   Cute top, easy to sew, but I need to give it a real wearing come warmer weather to see if it's truly "me".

Sunday, February 16, 2014

January's skirt

I wanted to document my one and only sewing project for January.  Since it's just another variation of the same skirt I've made a million times, let's make it quick shall we?

Made of brown micro-corduroy with two shades of pink dots, and lined with a burgundy rayon.  Can't remember where I got this fabric.  I've been holding onto it for a while.

Yoke facing is a fat quarter that I've had for eons.  There wasn't enough to use for pockets too, so I used the last of my red and pink Lindy Leaf print, which has been used for a few facings and first appeared as this dress. I love Lindy Leaf. (After doing the image search, I want some of the green and yellow variant now!)

Happy Sunday everyone, I'm off to work on my current sewing project!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Artzona recap

Big barrel cacti were everywhere!

Artzona:  it was amazing!   As an introvert who doesn't usually "do" groups, I was a bit concerned that the overall experience would be more stressful than fun.  However, this is one of the few times in my life that I can say I genuinely enjoyed hanging out with a large group of people ... all the more amazing because they were a group of people I had only just met!  The Artzona crowd turned out to be a real "come as you are" bunch, ranging in age from 30-something to 80-something.  The majority had been to a past Artzona (this one was number three), but there were plenty who like me had never attended, and a few who had also never met any of the other participants before.

Chihuly sculpture and cacti just belong together.

So, what happened over the four-plus days I was in Mesa?  The event organizers did an amazing job thinking of how to make the most of the time. We made art of course:  in a conference room at the hotel, well-equipped with big worktables and snacks.   There were also some optional side trips:  an evening hike in the desert, an art walk in Scottsdale, visits to art supply stores, and a trip to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the botanical garden.  Also, on the last day I went to see Taliesin West, built by Frank Lloyd Wright,  before heading back to the airport for the flight home.

Taliesin West.  Beautiful, but totally worthless as an actual place to live.  Unless you like to keep your living room at 95 degrees in the summer and don't mind snakes in your bed.

I know not everyone loves to read about others' vacations, so I've kept it brief -- but hopefully this gives you an idea of what an art retreat might be like.  Suffice it to say, I had an amazing time, and it was over before I knew it!   My roommate was fabulous, and we had a great time from the moment we met for the first time at the airport.  I loved not only seeing other people's art, but also how they worked.  The woman next to me showed up with an incredible amount of gear, including a spray booth, and her art-making was almost like interpretive dance:  she was layering textures and collaging in layers, mostly working standing, with efficient, graceful movements.  Other people were sculpting items, drawing, painting ... you name it.  I saw lots of neat techniques I want to try.

Just part of my Artzona haul!

I had to travel for work the weekend after Artzona and have otherwise been busy as usual, but I am exploding with creative energy and am making stuff whenever I an squeeze it in.  In fact, I finished a sewing project this morning:  I'll share that soon, along with another sewing project I finished over a month ago.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Artzona bound

In just a few days I'm off to Mesa, Arizona for a little thing called ARTZONA.   I've been flinging most of my free time for the last six weeks into making items to trade with 39 other women I have never met, in a city I've never been to, as part of a schedule of events that are being kept under wraps by the organizers.  In other words ... I have no idea what Artzona will be like, but I do know we'll be making art, so whee!

Artzona is a three-day event for face-to-face ATC (aka artist trading card) making and swapping.  I heard about it over on the ATCsForAll forum.  ATCs are little 2.5" x 3.5" works of art that are traded between artists.  (there's a different acronym for cards that are for sale: ACEO, which stands for art card editions and originals).   I joined ATCsForAll a little over a year ago because I hoped the themed challenges would help get me back to drawing regularly.  And ... they did!  But building a huge stockpile of cards to trade at Artzona has helped even more.   I couldn't worry too much about what to draw -- I just needed to draw.  And I did.  And it got easier, and I got better.

Now -- to go give it all away!  Well, except for this baby hippo card, which my husband claimed.  He suggested several of the animals I drew, including the hippo, so I guess he earned it.  If you want to see all the cards I'm taking to Artzona (minus baby hippo), they are here.

For Artzona!  (Not.)

Hearts are another trading theme at Artzona.  They're palm-sized ... well, they're heart shaped objects, made out of whatever medium strikes your fancy.  I decided to sew mine, and then added some beads.  (Look, there is sewing in this post!)   The fabrics I used are leftover from other projects, and also from a bag of cool vintage fabric scraps that my Aunt Dora gave me eons ago.   I was glad to finally have a project that could use some of the beautiful but very small pieces.

Sure, art saves lives ... too bad we can't agree on what art is exactly ...
I didn't want to put my name directly on them, so I attached paper tags with my info.  Fun fact:  the "Art Saves Lives" stamp that I used for the front of the cards was given to me by my husband for Valentine's Day ... in 1991!  We'd only been dating a few weeks, and yet he picked out this stamp and several other items that were very, very "me".  

Finally, some folks bring "signature cards" to Artzona.  I've never seen one, but I gather they're like artist business cards, that represent the artist: their style, likes/dislikes, and other details of interest.  Often they're mass-printed, but also personalized in some way to make them unique.  I was toiling away at my ATCs, so I decided to just get Moo cards printed in lieu of signature cards, using some of the photos I've taken over the years.   This was actually super easy to do, and I think the result is really cool.  I'll probably try out other Moo wares at some point.  (Like the stickers ... ooooo custom stickers!)

The snazzy crown hides my personal details ... because teh Internetz haz a-holes.
So ... Artzona ... I'm ready!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Citrus skirt

Happy 2014!   The sun came out for a while this morning, and I was able to get a few pictures of my last sewing accomplishment for 2013.

Nothing too exciting here ... just another rendition of my "Fuller Moon" skirt.  However, this fabric really spoke to me.  I love the little mandarin oranges that are at their best this time of year: I've been eating them throughout the holidays.  I'm also a native of the great state of Florida, which is strongly associated with citrus.  I found this at High Fashion Fabrics in downtown Houston (back when I lived in downtown Houston -- maybe two years ago).  It's Michael Miller quilting cotton, but has a soft, almost plush-like feel to its surface.  Not all quilting cotton is the same, even from the same designer or manufacturer.  This is one of the good ones!  

For the yoke facing I used a fat quarter from a pack my mother in law gave me for my birthday, which coordinates nicely:

I fixed the waistband problem I'd had on the last couple of skirts I made by going back and re-tracing the Burda 7741 skirt waistband that I used as a starting point for this pattern way back when.  Somehow over the past few years I'd managed to gradually draft in too much curve, why I don't know!  The original waistband is pretty close to perfect.  

I've been feeling the need for new skirts (too many of the ones I made last year just didn't work out as I'd hoped) so today I'm squeezing in just one more, from the same pattern.  After that, I need to focus on my ATCs for the rest of January -- I have a deadline, which I'll explain soon.  Tomorrow, alas, it's back to work, but at least things should start slow, since many people will still be on vacation until Monday.