Remember the Christmas dresses that I made for my repeat customer Martha? Martha’s family was featured in an online magazine and they even made the cover. The shots they used for the story and the cover were of the family dressed in their finest. Ya, that is right, the Christmas dresses I made. Whoot! The article photos look so great. They were taken by my nephew. He is quite the budding photographer. Have a look.
Last post I determined the pattern and fabric that I would be using for the baby dress I am making as a gift for a friend. In this post, we look at the embroidery. The pattern called for Lazy Daisies, but I opted for bullion daisies instead. Really, any flower could be used here, but I just like making bullion knots, so this was my personal preference. If you have never done this type of knot, here is a tutorial from one of my favorite needlepoint and embroidery sites.
As you can see, I have not cut the piece out, but rather drawn the outline of the pattern piece on the fabric. The reason for this will be clear in the next post.
Close up of the embroidery unit. After completing the embroidery, I read and re-read the pattern for assembly. I could still be wrong, but at this point, I have decided that this pattern (Simplicity #2392) has an error in it. The pattern tells you to cut 2 of the hem band. This is what I did. One piece for the facing and one piece for the actual band that I then embroidered. From what I can tell, the pattern actually needs two bands and two facings in order to accommodate the entire hem. So, I cut another band and embroidered it as well. If, somehow, I don’t need it later on, I will just use it for another dress, or something.
Finally, here is a quirky thing that I do while watching period dramas (my favorite type of movie, tv, etc.). When I see a costume or a part of a costume that I like, or would like to recreate, I pause the film and take a photo with my phone of the screen. This dress (above) is from the movie Impromptu and I really love the smocking detail on the sleeves. Cool, huh? Am I the only one who does this?
Well, not really a sew along, unless you somehow have the pattern and want to dive in, but it is more like a follow along. I thought I would start to document the process of the dresses and things I make so there would be a record of how I create these things and so you can comment (please do) to let me know if there might be a better way.
Since Scott works for the church, we have know quite a few people. At any given time, any of them could be having a baby, getting married, etc. So, there is usually a gift project of some kind in my queue at all times. This time it is a gift for friends who are having a baby girl. This is probably my favorite gift to make. I know you can understand why. Here is the dress I chose for this project:
I am making dress B complete with bonnet.
I won’t show you how I cut out the pieces, because I rarely follow the cutting diagram (see above), but I do always follow the grain-line arrows on the pattern pieces. More often than not, I have found this one detail to be of extreme importance.
Before cutting out any of the pattern pieces, I separated out those that would be needing embroidery on them and set them aside. All other pieces were then cut. The pattern gives some really wonky instructions for doing the embroidery after the dress (and bonnet) have been partially assembled. I don’t like this method, so here is how I do this step.
Taking the pattern pieces for the yoke, bonnet, and hem band, I laid them on the fabric and cut rectangles/squares that would accommodate the layout of each piece. Then I cut and fuse the appropriate fusible webbing to one of each piece of fabric square/rectangle. Taking that prepared fabric and using a washable marker, I trace the outline of the section of the pattern piece where the embroidery needs to be placed. Then I take them square to my light table where I can transfer the markings for the embroidery to each piece. Once this is done, the embroidery can be done on each piece and then the pattern piece can be cut out afterwords. This allows for the embroidery to be done on a larger piece of fabric that won’t stretch out or become distorted. It makes for much easier handling. In addition, if your markings are off, you can then cut your pattern piece accordingly, rather than having to redo the embroidery, etc.
Next post: Embroidery
Every time I think about sitting down and telling you all about my latest projects, I get distracted by another project. This year has started off as busy as ever with year end reports for work and tutor evaluations, etc. In the little spare time I have had I have been completing orders and planning new projects. The first order completed this year was a set of green (flower girl) dresses for an Etsy customer.
Immediately after completing that order, I had to quickly turn aound another blue heirloom dress for another order. The start of this order was delayed a bit by the flu bug I caught in December. Having made the dress 4 times before, it was not too difficult to quickly complete another one.
My Etsy listing for preemie gowns has been getting a lot of traffic this month, as well. I have completed and shipped three so far for 2013.
We received a surprise belated present from my aunt in Texas. It seems that my maternal grandmother (the one who I owe all my fiber art talent to) crocheted this piece for us several years ago. She was apparently waiting to give it to us until she had it properly framed. My aunt was able to persuade her to part with it and go ahead and send it as it was. I purchased a frame and solid, uncut mat and framed it myself. We love it! I am so grateful that we are able to have it hanging in our home where it belongs.
Finally, I used my Amazon gift card from my boss to purchase this little gadget of joy. It is a foot massager and it works great!!
I have several projects in the works now that I will post about soon and I was thinking about posting about my next dress project in a step by step fashion. A follow along project, if you will…we will see.
Not much time to blog today, but I wanted to let you know about a video that I found this morning. This is such a cool technique and it will probably show up in one of my Etsy dresses very soon. Enjoy!
The top is finished and it does fit, however, there are a few things that I would do differently next time. Overall, I like the top, but, I don’t really like the construction of the sleeves to the bodice, as they tend to fall off the shoulder. I did fix this problem, but would preferred not to have had it in the first place. Here are the remaining details on the top construction.
As noted in the previous post, the sleeves in the pattern were not long enough for my taste. I like long sleeves or short, not in between. Extending the sleeves on a pattern is usually not really a problem. This time, though, I had the added issue of not having enough of my main fabric for the job. Since I generally wear black as my “base” color in my clothing choices, here is how I solved my sleeve dilemma.
I added 7.75″ to the end of the sleeve pattern (when I thought I had enough fabric). Once I realized that I did not have enough of the main fabric, I “sliced off” the added extension from the pattern piece, added a seam allowance to the extension piece and the main sleeve piece, and cut it into equal triangle portions, making sure to add seam allowances wherever I cut two triangles apart. By adding the seam allowances, I was able to “reconstruct” the sleeve extension after I had cut the fabric pieces. Using these triangle pattern pieces, I cut pieces of black and remaining main color remnants and sewed them together to “reassemble” the extension. I hope that all makes sense.
This top called for bias binding and I make my own. To do this, I cut 1.75″ strips of bias fabric in whatever color I prefer. For this application, I used the main fabric. If I had used a commercially available color, like black, it would have created the look of a noose around the neckline of the top. Not something I find flattering. Once the strips are cut, fold in half lengthwise and press. To use, open up fold, stitch strip .25″ from edge of neckline (or whatever edge you are binding), right sides together. Fold binding over seam and fold under .25″ on other long edge. Stitch in place along back side by hand, or machine.
There are many different techniques for gathering edges along sleeves, necklines, and waists, etc. I use my pleater to do the job. Insert a needle at position 1 and another at position 3. This creates perfect “gathers” and allows me to sew between the two rows of pleating thread when I attach the item to the main garment. After the piece is attached, remove the pleating threads.
Once the sleeves were assembled, I assembled the top according to the pattern directions. Because of the smocked panel and the looseness in the sleeve caps, I had to make an adjustment in the bias binding around the neckline and sleeves. To do this, I made a slit in the back of each bound section and inserted elastic that cinched up each section just enough for a great fit. This pattern does not have much of a cap for the sleeves and they are not bound to a collar for support, so without the elastic insert, they tend to slide off the shoulder, a feature that I don’t like, for sure.
There were many places in this process that I could have done a better job of explaining what I did, but for a first attempt, I think blogging about the process turned out pretty good. There are so many more projects in the queue that I want to tell you about. Please let me know if you liked this series, or if you have any questions at all about fiber arts that I might be able to help with. I would love to have an ongoing dialog here about all things fibery
A few weeks ago a customer contacted me and asked if I could make my Annika dress in the University of North Carolina at Wilmington colors. I said certainly and started looking for the exact colors of the school. This was a little harder than expected and so the customer graciously sent me a t-shirt with the logo and colors on it for comparison purposes. This dress is the result and I believe the colors are as close to exact as one can get. What a fun project this was.
I’m starting off 2012 with a positive surge of energy and eagerness because I know this is going to be a great year! This year, although I don’t set new year’s goals or resolutions, I am looking forward to staying out of the hospital for the entire year, seeing my Etsy shop, Arwen’s Child, take off, and finally, voting in a new president! Don’t know what your political affiliations are, but I am leaning heavily toward Ron Paul at this time.
All the gifts I made throughout the year and stored for Christmas seemed to be appreciated and loved by all recipients. We had Christmas dinner and desert with the parental units on Christmas Eve and I made these.
Christmas Day we shared with the kids in Colorado via FaceTime.
We were able to open presents with them and visit for a while, which was really nice. It was still not anything like having them here, where I could hug them and enjoy their extended company, but it will have to do for now. I started thinking about it and realized that I saw Luke the day he was born, and I won’t see (touch) him again until he is walking. Life…
As far as I can tell, EVERYONE liked what I made for them for Christmas. Everything fit every recipient, which was a plus! I think I am going to continue to make or (in rare cases) purchase Christmas gifts throughout the year. It really saved a lot of stress and $$ at the end of the year. So, if you are (or want to be, I’m happy to make gifts for those who will cherish them) on my list, please make sure I have your sizes and pertinent information so that I can make you something that fits.
Christmas for me was pretty cool this year, in terms of gifts, also. I pooled my saving stash with my Christmas gift money (and Scott’s) and picked out this baby.
She is a Janome 9500 and is totally awesome! I haven’t done any embroidery on her yet, but I will very soon. Over the Christmas holidays I was able to finish up one of the two wine colored dresses that had been commissioned last year before I went into the hospital. Unfortunately, I had to refund the deposit to the customer because of the hospital and recovery issue, but I still want to finish the two dresses for Arwen’s Child. Here is the first one of the pair. This dress is called Hope and is available. The dress is size 6 and would make a wonderful special occasion dress for a lovely little girl. If you visit my shop, please make it one of your favorites. I would appreciate it!
The second gift I received was an Amazon gift card. Yep, it is spent! Those things don’t survive long in my hands. Here is what I procured with it.
Finally, I did finish one other project over the holiday. In 1995, I stitched “Blueberry Homecoming” and now I have, framed, it’s twin piece “Raspberry Homecoming.” Sixteen years between the two but I can cross them off the bucket list.
Here’s hoping everyone who reads this has a super 2012.
…and so, I have finally added two new dresses to the collection on my Etsy shop. One is another adorable Auburn dress. It is navy blue and has Auburn across the front. The other dress is probably the most classy and detailed dress I have made to date. The detail on this second dress is awesome. These two dresses have been finished for a while, but had to wait for life to calm down and photos to be taken.
Now that I am back from teaching Hand Quilting at the Estes Park Fiber Festival (which was enormously gratifying) and I now have one graduate class, instead of three, on my plate, hopefully, I can get back to smocking, knitting, sewing….etc. It felt really good to get back into the teaching mode at the festival. I really love it when I can see students actually understanding and improving their skills throughout the duration of the class. Thanks to my minor afternoon contribution, I can say that there are 20 more people out there who have a better understanding of the art of hand quilting. Fabulous!
Now, on to the dresses. I have the fabric in the stash for an Alabama Roll Tide dress, but have yet to put a needle to it. Also in the works is an Auburn toddler bubble outfit that is just adorable, complete with paw prints. So, if you haven’t yet visited my Etsy site, please, please, please do. I would really appreciate it!
As always, comments are welcome and appreciated!