Saturday, December 28, 2013

Baby got Bling!

It may not be obvious in the picture, but this dress is covered in "rhinestone" bling!  My oldest daughter was inspired by this rhinestone covered chiffon gown.  

I recently took an online class called Fast Track Fitting by Joi Mahon on Craftsy.com, which creates perfectly fit basic pattern pieces based on detailed measurements.  I really like the class and used the muslin it made to create a cover for my dress form that can be used over and over again for each individual client

For this dress I drafted the bodice and lining by adapting the basic patterns created by the Fast Track Fitting pattern.  The skirt is simply multiple layers of tulle gathered and attached to the bodice.  Trimming the bodice is double strands of the "rhinestones" in an optical illusion of waist definition.  Draped from the waistline of the skirt is a rhinestone mesh separated into single strands that hang loose and move with the skirt.  The necklace is made from a rhinestone piece of trim held by two "rhinestone" strands.


Pattern Description: - A satin and tulle cocktail dress with "rhinestone" trim and drape.

Pattern Sizing: Custom fit using techniques from "Fast Track Fitting by Joi Mahon on Craftsy.com" for a curvy apple figure with a 34D bust.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? This dress was only intended to be loosely based on the inspiration dress.  It did look like the sketch.

Were the instructions easy to follow? There were no instructions for this simple dress!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The "rhinestone" mesh had to be cut into individual strands and hand sewn to the bodice and waist.  It was a lot of work!

Fabric Used: White satin for the bodice, nylon lining material and "rhinestone" mesh from the home decorating department.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This was a simple dress, flattering to the client.  I will probably make a similar silhouette multiple times for this particular client. 

Conclusion: This dress was designed for family Christmas pictures, and hopefully prom, but ultimately to wear to my 20th wedding anniversary party. This daughter loves all the shiny bling!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Chiffon Cocktail Dress adapted from RTW

Inspiration dress
Cocktail Outfit Contest

My youngest daughter tried on this dress -->
and instantly fell in love.  It was very expensive (about $300), but my main concern was how much leg showed on her 6 foot tall frame (she's obviously taller than this model because it almost showed her panties!).  She especially loved how it fit her elongated hourglass figure by accommodating her (substantial) bust, clinging to her tiny ribs and flaring over her hips.  She also asked that the hemlines in front look a little more blended and wanted a little bling added (like this other version of the dress that we found on the website).  We also created a necklace to draw the eye from her decolletage to her pretty face!

http://www.bellanovaaustin.com/proddetail.php?prod=LaFemme_15033






I looked everywhere for a pattern, since I'd never worked with a pattern with this particular fit and drape.  I finally stopped procrastinating, took a deep breath and drafted my own pattern using some techniques I'd learned in an online class called Fast Track Fitting by Joi Mahon on Craftsy.com, which created perfectly fit pattern pieces based on detailed measurements.


Pattern Description: - A hi-low cocktail dress in multi-layered chiffon with rhinestone details.

Pattern Sizing: Custom fit using techniques from "Fast Track Fitting by Joi Mahon on Craftsy.com" for a 6 foot tall elongated hourglass figure with a 34DD bra size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? This was an adaptation of RTW LaFemme 18049 I believe it looks a lot like the original with the exception of a few requested modifications.  I wish you could see this dress in motion. We didn't have a fancy wind machine like the RTW models!

Were the instructions easy to follow? There were no instructions for this complicated dress!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really struggled to get this dress to cling to the ribs and still flare over the hips without using any darts and very few seams. The top layer was bias cut, but the fabric wasn't wide enough to do the same for the rest of the layers.

Fabric Used: Fabric from my stash, in this case Nylon chiffon drapery fabric! Yes, this is another dress I stole from our family room curtains.  "Rhinestone" mesh for the trim and necklace.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The original RTW dress was waaay too short in front for this 6 foot tall girl. She also wanted the hemlines in front to look a little more blended and wanted a little bling added (like another variation of the dress on the website ).

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I actually would make this dress again. Once I got over being intimidated by all the layers and how form-fitting the dress needed to be, and actually started on the construction, it turned out beautifully, and my incredibly picky client loved it!

Conclusion: I made this dress for my youngest daughter, who is a total fashion diva, to wear for family Christmas pictures, and hopefully prom, but ultimately to wear to my 20th wedding anniversary party. Over the years I've made a lot of dresses for this daughter, and she has never been totally happy with them... until this one! I tried a lot of new fabrics and techniques on this dress and I am proud of how this dress turned out.

Monday, December 23, 2013

20th wedding anniversary

1994 Original Wedding Dress 
My original wedding dress, from 1994.  Custom sewn by me, with all hand beaded lace, including the hem and train upon which was appliqued 8" deep, hand- sequined and pearled lace.

Inspiration Dress
The modern 20th wedding anniversary gift is platinum.  I wanted to wear a wedding dress for my anniversary party, but instead of white, I chose to wear a silver (platinum!) dress.  I tried on many dresses in my search for an inspiration.  This side draped dress was close to the preferred silhouette.  In my fabric stash, I found a pale silver fabric to pair with some white chiffon.

Recently I took a class called Fast Track Fitting by Joi Mahon on Craftsy.com.  I really liked this technique of creating and altering patterns based on detailed measurements, and used it as the basis for this dress and cocktail dresses for my daughters (future posts).

The final results.  A side draped dress with a sweetheart neckline.  Rhinestones follow the drape, leading to a chiffon inset (in person the rhinestones stand out significantly more dramatically).  The necklace was made from the same rhinestones as the dress.  (More details about the rhinestones in a later post).

Due to fabric limitations, the dress was not quite as full as originally planned.  Hopefully I'll lose a few pounds before the actual anniversary which will add a little more draping.  (I'll also not be sewing right up to the time the photo was taken, so I'll have time to iron!)

Final Version!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Corset - Lingerie contest - Vogue 9273

Lingerie Challenge Contest 2013

Pattern Description: Vogue 9273  Lined top has princess seams. A: front zipper. I modified this pattern so extensively I'm not sure you can still say it's this pattern.

Pattern Sizing: 14-16-18 - Modified for a 36GG cup!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Only superficially. I changed the cup dramatically and extended the torso to a long-line princess waist.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Honestly I never looked at them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? * In order to fit correctly it NEEDS an underwire (I made this pattern once before), and it still didn't fit flat to the ribs in front. * The zipper/buttons in front are pretty far apart which shifted part of my breasts into my armpits!

Fabric Used: Sheer ivory polyester chiffon. Made a previous version with red vinyl - not comfy!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

  •  Self drafted bra cups from one of my bras. 
  •  Added boning since I didn't have any extra bra underwires. 
  •  Extended waist to a long-line (like B) that came to a point in front (like C) and in back. 
  •  Extended top edge of sides and back to provide more support for cups. 
  •  Added elastic to top edge. 
  •  Added self binding to bottom edge. 
  •  Used heavy duty zip ties for boning - used a modified version of a french seam to encase them between the fabric and "lining" (both layers are the same sheer fabric).


Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? It's a pretty pattern and I love the corset styling. I'll probably tweak it and try it again.

Conclusion:  I really want a pretty corset and this is a fun pattern - I just wish it weren't so hard to modify to get the cups right!

Not modeling this one as it is totally sheer (you can see the bra pads I used to try to make the mannequin look more like my measurements!)!
Actually, I'm not modeling either one, as my cups runneth over in the red vinyl!!  
(Obviously the mannequin is not set up for my measurements!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New Bags!

I've been designing custom bags for awhile now, but keep forgetting to show you guys!

This cute little bag was purchased by the winner of the Trauma Mama auction.  She requested a smaller purse in bright colors, especially greens and purples, and loved elephants, monkeys and Cloisonné.

The elephants' ears can flap and the lavender elephant's trunk is free standing.  The inside is lined with pockets.

The back of the purse is a sunset with gold stitching.  The strap is adjustable.




This purse is one I designed for myself!  I love the bright colors and that it's big enough to hold my design book!  I've been stopped frequently by people asking where I got it!

The inside is lined with a red vinyl that gives it some body.  The outside is a decorator fabric with extra circles embroidered on.  The strap is decorated with abacus beads!  Inside is a self designed "wallet" with 8 pockets (4 on each side) for all the cards I own (insurance cards, loyalty cards, business cards... all labeled). 




Purchase:  If you're interested in purchasing a custom tote or bag, please leave a message on this post -
your e-mail / contact info will not be published  
20% of your purchase of a custom-designed tote or bag will be donated to BeTA 
- a support organization for parents and caregivers of children who have experienced early trauma and have attachment issues.  They offer scholarships to an amazing annual retreat and  provide continual support to caregivers of children of trauma by organizing regional meetings, networking, and education. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mini Wardrobe Contest Entry

This is a contest to create a 4-piece wardrobe in 4 weeks. You will determine what clothing pieces you use in your wardrobe.
The 4 garments must combine (without adding additional garments) to create at least 4 "looks".

Look 1 - 
Look 2 - 
  • Blue drape top
  • Purple pants
  • Optional: (not sure if it counts since it's using the reverse of the same piece) - Purple side of the reversible jacket, unbuttoned with the lapels opened and the purple side of the reversible buttons in the top 2 buttonholes of both sides of the lapel.
Look 3 - 
Look 4 - 
  • Plaid wrap dress

PatternReview.com Reviews -
  1. Reversible jacket (Vogue 1643 view C - Modified)
  2. Blue drape top (McCall's 6563 view A) 
  3. Purple pants (Butterick 5403 view B)
  4. Plaid wrap dress (Butterick 5101 view C)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Butterick 5101 Dress for Mini Wardrobe Contest



This is a fun wrap dress using Butterick pattern 5101 version C, which I recently made for a client in a gorgeous hot pink silk.  I love the way it drapes, and that it's not too low cut, even for my full bust.  

 Pattern Description: Wrap front top and dress have all-in-one sleeve, pleated collar extending into front neckline, side tie, sleeve length and hem variations. Designed for knits, but works well with woven fabric as well. This pattern is now out of print. 

Pattern Sizing: XS-XL. I made an XL. 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, although my version had no sleeves.

Were the instructions easy to follow? They were fairly clear throughout although I didn't follow them too closely and did have to add some edge finishing since I wasn't working with a knit fabric. I did remember that the instructions told me to put the belt loop on the wrong side, so I didn't make that mistake again. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love that this pattern is very forgiving. It fits a wide variety of figure types and the wrap top doesn't gap and crosses fairly high (it fit nicely on me too, even though I'm very busty) meaning you wouldn't have to worry about safety pins or some other form of closure which is often an issue with wraps. I did have some issues with the skirt not staying closed when I sit down and blowing open in the wind - both to be expected with wrap dresses.

Fabric Used: No idea what the fabric is! It's a slightly shiny, medium weight bright, abstract plaid that's been in my stash, waiting for me to find a good excuse to finally make it!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Since I wasn't using a knit, I serged and finished the edges differently than those called for in the directions. Someone suggested cutting the back on a fold if you're working with a print - a great idea for plaid! I left off the sleeves and shortened the hem. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I will most definitely be making this again. It's easy and classic.

Conclusion: This was my favorite piece I made for the contest.