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Saturday, May 31, 2014

#15 Dress

#15 Dress. The Butterick B5209 tan polka dots dress. I love the way this dress wears. The fabric is so light and…wrinkle free. I almost feel like going to the fabric store for more. It was only $3.00 a yard. Can you believe it? As for the fit, wow! I’m so pleased with it. It was worth the extra time and effort. I’m also sold on the idea of boning. This dress would never hold it’s shape without it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

#14 Dress. Vogue V8974 Vintage original 1949 design

#14 Dress. Vogue V8974 Vintage original 1949 design. I made this dress in the beginning of April, 2014. I only made one of its kind. Tonight it went out for the first time. As much as I like this style, I thought it wasn’t a good fit for me. Even so, tonight everyone seemed to love it. Funny how sometimes we see ourselves one way and everyone else sees us differently.



Restoration of beauty - Original Post

Hello everyone! It’s been a few weeks since my last sewing post. It’s such a busy time of the year. Even so, I’m happy to have beautiful dresses to wear to all the holiday seasons events. Last night I attended the New Bedford 125th Annual Policeman’s Ball. I made the gown earlier this year. Some of you may remember it. It’s a restoration project from an old beaded dress with a whole new skirt. I’ve added the original post for those of you who are interested in the details. This gown is really special. I love making old things new again. In the upcoming weeks as the holiday season continues I’ll be posting some restoration projects from years past. Stay tuned. Have a great week everyone and thank you for sharing in my sewing journey.


 Original Post

New project. When I had my bridal shop, I did a lot of alterations on sequin, beaded and pearled gowns. Some of these sequins or beaded gowns were mass produced. Some others were delicately sewn by hand. The zippers are almost impossible to sew by machine. As I worked with this gowns, I could always tell which were mass produced and which were sewn by hand. Sometimes, I would find a blood spot as small as a head on a pin in-between the layers of fabric. I would wonder who’s little hand had worked on this gown and how hard they must work on their repetitive sewing, day in and day out. I always imagined some little hands of some possible child labor in some third world country. I became very aware as to how difficult it is to work with beaded dresses. I worked on them for a couple of decades. I too, would prick my fingers, bleed and break countless needles on my sewing machine. Sometimes, I would break the sewing machine altogether. So, needless to say I have a great appreciation for beaded gowns. I also like to go to thrift stores to see what dresses people depart with. I always head directly to the gowns section. I don’t look at sizes or styles. I look at fabric. When I spot something beautifully beaded, I grab it. I can’t stand to see them there lifeless. They need to breath. They need hope. It’s too much of a waist of human labor. I don’t care how old or outdated they are, they can always be made into something new. I buy them and bring them home. After cleaning them, I store them until I have time to do something with them. Last year, I made an incredible collection of beaded clutch bags. I sold a few and gave the rest for auction to some of my favorite local organizations.

This week, I brought out a beautiful black beaded dress. It is a mix of both machine beaded as well as some hand sewing. The fabric is 100% silk. I took it all apart and cut it into the same Butterick B5209 dress. This will be the last time I will be using this pattern for now. This is where I take all the experience of the past three dresses and go for the gold. This gown is looking remarkable. I have tried it on and it fits beautifully. The skirt is from Vogue V8470. It is extremely flared and circular. I made it tea length. I will post the process as I go along. As a warning, please do not try to sew sequin gowns on sewing machines. You will break them. I sew them on my industrial sewing machine. However, I have learned how to lift and hold the needle up just enough to clear the beads. Even so, I have already broken countless needles on this project. Is it worth? You bet! I do it for the restoration of the hard labor that goes into beauty.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mending is peaceful.

Here is the finished Butterick B5209 tan polka dots dress. I’m pleased with it. It was a great leaning experience. I learned to “slow down.” I actually enjoyed the amount of hand sewing on the side seams. It certainly slowed down time and brought me to another aspect of life I had forgotten about. Sewing machines are fast. We’re used to getting speedy results. When we don’t get what we want “fast” we ditch things and move on. I’m glad this dress slowed me down. Taking seams apart gave me time to contemplate. Holding a sewing needle in my hands gave me the power of restoration. Mending is peaceful. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this week’s project, the tan polka dot dress.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Hard to just let it go.

I am once again repeating the same dress from Butterick B5209. This time the fabric is soft light tan polka dots. I have mastered the pattern and it all went well, until the first fitting. It seems that due to the extra layers of fabric on the bodice, it tightened the side of the dress. I also forgot that I had added about one inch to the side seams on the last dress. I was furious. It was so easy to finally put it together. How could this happen? I left the dress cold and thought it was just over. The next day after much contemplation, I didn’t think it was right to just leave it. I had invested time and the fabric is just so beautiful. As a matter of fact, the lady who sold it to me, told me that Talbot’s had used this same fabric. Making dresses is a very real process. You have patterns that allow you to dream. You get to envision what every you want from them. They never complain with what you do with them either. So, I took the sides apart as well as remove the invisible zipper. Which took longer for me to take apart than to actually place a new one in. I couldn’t believe how long I spent taking it all apart. I lovely placed extensions on both sides including the lining. This allowed for me to sew on the edge of the seems. It made all the diffence in the fit. You would think after three dresses I would get this right. Sewing is very intricate. Different fabric sew differently. I actually build a relationship with each one of my pieces. It’s hard to just let them go. It would actually be easier for me to just start over. But, like life itself when we spend time with the things and the people we love, it’s hard to just let it go.




Sunday, May 25, 2014

#13 Dress

#13 Dress. This is from Simplicity pattern 2281 from Cynthia Rowley designs. I love her designs. I have most of her patterns. On this particular one, I can actually say, “I hacked it.” I dropped the bodice to the waistline and completely eliminated the midriff. On the back bodice I lowered the center seam for a longer back opening. I also replaced the entire skirt for a beautiful flowing “A” line skirt. No gathering at the waist. I love the way the fabric of this dress flows as I walk. I made about three of these dresses. As I wear them, I will post them. They are timeless. Feels like heaven. I’m such a pattern hacker. Sorry, Cynthia Rowley. I love your designs so much, I just had to make them my own. I’ve used this pattern over and over again. On this dress, I used 3 out of 17 pieces. The top of this dress is spectacular. I love the way it enhances a woman’s shoulder line. The pictures were taken this afternoon at Cotali Mar Restaurant in the North End, 1178 Acushnet Ave, New Bedford, MA. Beautiful place, great food and wonderful people.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

stroll along the pond

Here is the “The Black Bird Dress”  out for a short stroll along the pond.



Friday, May 23, 2014

#12 Dress

#12 Dress. I had another event tonight and I wore this dress. I made it several months ago. I used Butterick B5454 pattern and combined my own skirt design and this is what I came up with. It’s very comfortable and easy to wear. Behind me is my sewing studio. We are in the process of moving my sewing studio to another area in the basement. I hate change, but what am I to do? Tomorrow, I am hoping to wear the new dress I made this week. Let’s see what setting we are going to find to display the 47’ dress. Good night everyone. And thank you for joining me through my sewing journey.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#11 Dress. The Black Bird Dress

#11 Dress. I’m excited to say that I finished this week’s project, Butterick B5209 Retro ‘47
“The Black Bird Dress.” I’m excited that I made some very interesting changes to make it my own. The dress is fully lined in black cotton, boning in both the front and back midriff. This is so funny trying to describe this dress. A friend of mine called me this morning asking how the dress was coming along. By the time I started describing this 1947, “Black Bird” with inner cotton lining, boning and build in corset, we both started laughing uncontrollably. The more I described the details of the “1947 Dress,” the more it sounded like a "1947 car model." It’s hysterical!

Anyways, back to sewing, seriously! I shorted the front midriff by one inch towards the upper angle only. That made a big diffence in keeping the dress straight without any gaps on the fabric. I also like the feel of the back of the neck collar with the extra black contrast added to it. I like how it stands. Feels cozy. The whole dress is very fitted. The skirt made all the difference.

I ditched the skirt that originally came with the pattern and replaced it with another from Butterick B5951. Nice full skirt without any gathering. Keep me away from gathered waistlines. Just isn’t for me. The black midriff contrast makes the dress very slimming and elongating. The sides too, make for very interesting visual lines. The whole dress feels great. I can see why women get addicted to haute couture. Believe me, you know the diffence when you put on something that is custom made to your body. It’s very personal. It’s like wearing your own flesh poured out in fabric.

As for the boning, I regret that all my dresses don’t have them. I hope to explore more with working them into every dress I make from now on. It is so carefree to wear. It’s not tight at all. It just supports and keeps your body in good visual shape. Any woman can appreciate that. You don’t have to fuss about what to wear underneath. It’s all in there. It’s pretty much sewing in built in corset. Yes, it makes for an expensive dress. I not only fully lined the dress, but also added an extra layer to make it all work into the existing seams. A pattern is only a guide, the rest is just free form sewing. I like that. I like the challenge. But most of all, I like taking all the experience to the next dress.

Which brings me to next week project…I will be using the same pattern, Butterick B5209 Retro ‘47 with a total different fabric and plenty of polka dots. Doesn’t that sound like fun?


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

#10 Dress

 #10 Dress
Tonight, I wore another one of my Simplicity 1178 dresses.  I made this one at the end of last summer. I only wore it once. I was glad to wear it again tonight. I love anything spring. Especially dresses that are just as flowering as the trees.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Black bird dress update.

Black bird dress update.
Here is the dress all cut out and draped on the dressform. What do you think about the black contrast? It’s starting to take a form of it’s own. So far, I’m excited about it. I’m much more comfortable about the pattern on the second run. This time, I’m not following any pattern instructions due to the amount of changes I made on the dress. Let’s see where it all goes. I hope to give you another update in a day or two. Now, back to my sewing studio for my first sewing evening with the black bird dress.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

“black bird dress"

I learned a few things in the past week from my first experience in making Butterick B5209 Retro ‘47 dress. I learned that a gathered waist line just doesn’t look good on women over 100 lbs. Also, 100% cotton material, as wonderful and soft as it feels, never flows as wonderful as other sheer and flowing dress materials. Using boning in the foundation of any dress is always a good idea, however, I think I went overboard and will use less of it in the upcoming projects. And finally, we shouldn’t be fooled by the glamorous illustration on the pattern covers.

This week’s project will be a another dress from the same pattern with a different approach and a whole new style skirt. The fabric is once again cotton. Considering, I already bought it. I fell in love with the black birds. I decided to name this new creation the “black bird dress.” I’m incorporating black trimming on the neck, sleeves, lower bodice as well as on the hem. I drew one of my first croquis fashion figure to demonstrate my vision of this dress. It looks well balanced on paper. What do you think? In the past, I never really needed to draw croquis fashion figures. I was always working with garments already made to wear. Design is definitely very different. Math is key. And like the fashion industry says, “it’s never as glamorous at it looks.” I believe this is who I am. I need to create. I need to learn and perfect the creation. I’m fixated by the process. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Ok, let’s do this. One week for the “black bird dress.” Thanks’ for joining me on this very exciting “sewing journey.”

Saturday, May 17, 2014

#9 Dress - In search of the lilacs.

In search of the lilacs. I really wanted to take pictures of this latest dress near a lilac tree. They are so beautiful and so fragrant this time of year. The scent is just so heavenly. My husband and I went for a country ride in search of the perfect lilacs. They were plentiful. The only problem…most of them were on private properties. We just kept driving. Why not, it turned out to be such a beautiful day. By the time we knew it, we were in Plymouth. We found a beautiful setting in a public park and we had our usual Saturday picnic by the ocean side. It was a perfect day. Ah, “the power of the dress.”


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bones and all!

Well, I finished the Butterick B5209 “1947” dress. This dress has more bones than the cod fish I cooked for dinner. Lol. I’m very pleased with the way it came out. I spent more time altering and boning this dress than I did putting it together. As a matter of fact, I put it together and took it all apart at least three time. I can’t stand looking at it any longer. It’s become too familiar. It feels likes it’s been mine forever. I learned a lot from making this dress. Especially, about myself and how great my expectations are. I’m not looking to make another dress. Frankly, I tortured this dress in order to make it fit who I am. It’s all about defining what I feel and how I see myself. That’s what I’m after. That’s the beauty of expression of art. I’m hoping to clean it up tomorrow from all it’s threads. And possible wearing it this weekend. Wow, what an exciting sewing week. Bones and all!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On with the boning

Update on Butterick B5209 “1947” dress. I love the print of the fabric, it reminds of all the colorful lilacs in bloom this time of year. After assembling the dress and trying it on, it looked nothing like the picture on the pattern cover. Maybe it was the fabric, but this thing had no shape. Needless, to say, I was disappointed. Not at myself of course. At my age, I don’t blame anything on me or my body anymore. So, I got mad and took it out on the dress. I just took it all apart and decided that what this dress needed was major foundation. The only way to do that is by boning the whole darn thing. I remember when I used to have my bridal shop and did countless alterations, all the expensive gowns had beautiful inner structure with lots of boning. Boning gives an incredible fit to just about every shape of women. Why shouldn’t we have that same kind of perfect fit and great feeling in an everyday dress? On with the boning! Let’s see what this dress is going to look like when I’m finished with it.