Friday, August 27, 2010

Sewing for Clients Part I: Current Project/ Loving the process

I'm still in AK working like crazy but things have slowed down enough for me to make this post. Upon my return I'll be exclusively working on a project for a client. This project has been a work in progress for the last two months since we were stalled due to schedule conflicts and other interruptions.   Well now I'm in full speed and plan to have this complete the 2nd week of September, since I'll be out of town on a work related trip to AK for 10 days.

My client came to me because she wanted me to make a version of this Mock wrap teal dress featured in the Metro (I think that's the name) magazine.The dress is stunning and is a great look for most any woman.
So my job was to find a pattern similar to what my client wanted and to modify it accordingly. The above dress has godets, a collared mock wrap top, and long sleeves with cuffs. So I got to looking and found Simplicity 3877. As you can see view A of the dress (the khaki one) is the closest match. It just so happens that my client loved this version of the dress and didn't want me to make any changes to it so it would look like her inspiration dress. The only change we plan to make is to remove the sleeve tabs which she didn't care to much for. Instead we'll lengthen the sleeve to convert it into a 3/4 sleeve. We picked a dark turquoise stretch sateen which is recommended for the project. It has the perfect combination of rich color, sheen, and stretch. I found the fabric at Walmart a year ago and only paid about $6 for a little less than 6yds of fabric (the fabric department closed shortly thereafter :( ). So the dress in the magazine is for $39.99 and the supplies for my version will cost about $9.  Since my Client is a dear friend of mine from church (whom I've been trying to dress for some time now) , I'm actually not charging her for my services (labor) on this dress. She's given so much to me and it's my honor to make her something so special.
(Pattern and fabric)

 I absolutely love the Simplicity 3877 pattern!!! You may recall that I made version D back in May. This is a pretty popular pattern on pattern review.
(Simplicity 3877 view D)

I'm super excited about this project!! I've already completed fittings with my client and actually didn't have to do any alterations with the exception of what I mentioned about the sleeve above. She fit perfectly into a pattern size 12 for this dress.

All in all, I really love to sew for people. I've done so for a variety of people and for a variety of occasions. You can see a few of the items I've sewn for others mixed in with some of my other sewing garments on my Face Book page HERE.  The pictures of clients featured here are from a couple of years back. I don't have any pics of recent clients. To be honest I probably would not want to do client sewing everyday (hey, I wouldn't have any time to sew for myself) but picking up several projects a year is pretty fun. Hey one day, I imagine having a shop where I can offer my services in such a way and for a broader range of people. Right now I have my studio and like to take on only what my schedule as Wife, Mom, and Full Time Employee will allow.

The thing I LOVE MOST about sewing for others is being a part of the process of making a woman  feel beautiful. No one can deny the power of clothing and it's effects on its wearer.  Most of the sewing I've done was for Women who've needed formal gowns for special occassions such as weddings, proms, etc. Making them a One-of-a-Kind garment that's customized and well-fitted just always seems to make their event that much more special. Plus, I find every woman I work with to be quite fascinating!!! They all come in different shapes and sizes and in no way are less beautiful. Some Women can be so critical themselves and their Body. It's amazing how the right clothes can accentuate any figure and just lift the Spirits of Women. I love to be apart of the process of helping Women figure out the styles and colors that look great on their body.

I also sew for people because I like a CHALLENGE. In that regard I'm a masochist in the truest since of the word. Sewing for myself is challenging enough but it's even the more so when sewing for clients. I'm used to fitting my own body but it's a whole other ball game when you have to do it for others. But for every new  challenge I encounter there's potential for a new lesson on fit and sewing. Case in point, I've never had to do a FBA in sewing for myself, but I've had a couple of clients I've had to do so on. Sewing for those clients helped give me experience in that area. There's been other cases just like this. Trust me I've learned a TON from the few people I've sewn for. Sewing for others will definitely test your ability to problem solve and improvise!

I understand that there's alot of people who either do not like to sew for others or have had bad experiences doing so. And I can understand this, I don't believe it's for everyone. Trust me I've had a few adventures of my own and have learned alot along the way. Out of all the jobs I've done in the last 4 years (roughly 12 or so) , I can say that there was only one that I would have loved to have a do-over. Although my client liked it, I could have picked a better fabric alternative. It was a lesson learned and definitely one I'll always remember.

Trust me, I know sewing for others isn't an easy undertaking. It's definitely not something everyone wants to get involved in. To do so you have to be alot of things and organized is just the beginning. Sewing for other is time consuming and a heavily involved process. For me the love of doing it outweighs its challenges. In the next post I'll share a little bit of my STRATEGY with you. More next post.......

But first, what are your thoughts on sewing for others? In your opinion what are the pro's and con's? Does one outweigh the other? I'm interested in hearing your perspective (smile)!

BTW, if you're interested in the FABRIC GIVEAWAY from last post, don't forget to visit it and leave your comment.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fabric Give-A-Way!!!

Tomorrow I'll be on a plane preparing for a 17 hour flight to AK for work. While I'm gone for the next 10 days, I thought it would be a great time to host a Giveaway! I always love Giveaway's and I hope you do as well.  Although I'm away I'll post when I can and of course keep up with all of the great projects many of you are working on. For the last couple of weeks I've been doing some Client sewing and thought I'd post about that work in the next day or so. But I digress....... are the two beautiful pieces of knit fabrics I would like to Giveaway!
The beautiful blue, aubergine, gold, & white floral Lycra print fabric on the left is a fabric that drapes and molds beautifully to one's figure.  The black and white abstract print on the right is a stable knit (one way stretch) and is a dream to work with. The prints on both fabrics are phenomenal. Both fabrics are 60"wide and the blue and white is 1 1/2yd while the black and white is 2 yards. So you can definitely get a dress, blouse, or skirt out of these. It's your choice.

 If you'd like to win one of these pieces please answer the following question:
How do you keep track of your fabric stash???
Yep, if you can leave your answer as a comment you'll automatically be entered for the fabric drawing.

Well of course I can't ask you a question without providing you Guys my own answer. This is how I organize my stash........

(These are the small plastic bins (shoe box size) that are perfect for holding swatches)

It's a pretty simplistic method. I have 3 containers of fabric swatches. There's a container for Wovens (including wovens with stretch), Knits, and Silky fabrics (polyesters, silks, etc). Whenever I get a new fabric I just cut a 3X3" swatch and throw it in the appropriate container. Trust me, with a packed out sewing closet, bins, and upright cabinet full of fabric it's easy to lose track of the fabrics I have. I know many of you have tons of fabric as well and I'm interested in how you organize yours. This systems works well with how I organize my sewing patterns which is detailed HERE. In this post you can also see one of my crazily packed fabric closets. Although it's packed out it actually is organized by fabric types:)

So again my question to you is, "How do you organize your fabrics?" Leave your answer and I'll enter you into the drawing for the fabrics. I'll be gone until Sept 2nd and will randomly select 2 people (each to receive one piece of fabric). I can't wait to read all of your answers. I'm sure they'll be insightful:)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Scaling Back A Good Bit.........

I made it back from vacation on Sunday and and am feeling pretty refreshed! While away I did my usual fabric store "stalking". I tracked down a few Jo-Ann's and Hancock's while I was in Florida. But I didn't end up purchasing very much. For the last year or so I've noticed I've been scaling back alot on the sewing items (fabric, notions, etc) that I purchase. This has become the new "Norm" for me. I've gotten to the point where

I've realized some important things.....

* I can't possibly have every pattern I want and let alone be able to sew it up.
*I know my body well enough that despite how cute a Vogue pattern may be, if it won't look good on me I'm ok with passing it up.
*There's only so many ways you can re-style a sheath dress or pair of pants so I don't need every new pants and sheath dress pattern. If I want to make changes to it, I can do that on my own.
*Plus my fabric & patter drawers are already overun with fabric and patterns so I need to be super selective of what I decide to cram in them.
.....and so many other TRUTHS!!!

It's funny, I feel as if I've graduated to a newer, more confident level of sewing. I'm able to make better purchasing decisions because of this. I don't know about you guys, but when I first started sewing several years back I bought EVERYTHING!!! I was so excited that I didn't have the know-how to buy good, quality fabrics and to buy figure flattering patterns for myself. In part it was good I bought the fabrics I did (I was pretty good at picking good fabrics on sale) because they served as the foundation of my current fabric stash. For me good fabrics aren't as available as I'd like so it's in my best interest to stock up on them when I run across them. I wasn't as good with selecting patterns and needless to say had to seriously clean out my pattern stash a few years back. Now that I select better patterns for my figure I don't have that problem. It's just nice not to be in that place anymore.

With all of that said, I must showcase the "bargains" that I did run across while on vacation and recently on

While away I found the following fabric:
(From L to R: Deep blue satin, Pink, Purple, marigold jaquard, brown & white matte jersey)

For the deep blue satin fabric I see a gown in my near future. Preferably one of the retro patterns I have in my stash. The jacquard in the middle was my best find. You may recall in THIS post that I went through a crazy phase of collecting jacquards. Well I'm all too delighted to add these 2.5 yds to my collection. I'm saving this for a cute, short, strapless number. The brown and white knit will make a cute dress or top.

I also found this book at Hancock's....
 I loved the pictures and step by step tutorials on sewing techniques. I have a ton of books but I love to collect. The pictures and clear instructions won me over with this one. Plus it's definitely for seamstresses of all experience levels.

And after running across a GREAT sale on Fabric.Com while on vacation, I purchased this fabric. What do all of these fabrics have in common? They're all STRETCH and have cool PRINTS. Both are my specialties.  I live for printed knits or stretch fabrics!!! I can't wait to use these!!!

(from L to R: Rayon polyester knit, Brown wavy line swimsuit fabric, tan,brown, black white jersey (reminds me of the Oprah logo)

(Beautiful blue fabrics L to R: Blue, black, white geometric prints, Cotton sateen)

And over the last 3 months or so I nabbed the following patterns:
 (There's just something really beautiful about the upper right pattern. It gives me a great reason to use a stunning satin print. That's an opportunity I don't get too often.)

So these are just a few of the recent patterns I nabbed.  I just didn't see too many new patterns worth having.  Even the new Fall Season Butterick's, Vogues, McCall's & Simplicity didn't really catch my eye. As I said before I'm scaling back. But I'm happy for what I did manage to get in the last few months.

How about you? Are you a beginner sewer and are building your stash of fabric or patterns or do you have a well established stash and are scaling back a bit?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When the Shoes Cost More than the Dress!

I was delighted to read an article on where the Actress Drew Barrymore wore a stunning $25 dress and paired it with $760 Yves Saint Laurent "Tribute" pumps (you can read the article HERE).  I chuckled when I read the article because I was reminded of something that most of us seamstresses know. This scenario is the "norm" for most of us. How many of us rack up on discount fabric and end up sewing gorgeous dresses, pants, etc for super low prices. One such "inexpensive dress" that immediately come's to my mind  is the $14 Prom dress I sewed for a friend, a few years back.  We found her fabric on clearance at Hancock fabrics for $1.99/yd.   It was a metallic gold satin with velvet embossed flowers. It was so luxurious and gorgeous!!! That fabric was such a steal. All I needed was 6 yards and an invisible zipper.  I loved the fabric so much that I kept a swatch. Here's the dress....

 And lets not even talk about the designer dresses we can sew for a fraction of the price. I love to do it and I see you Guys do it all the time!!! As seamstresses, we have the freedom to control the price of what we sew. If we want to sew an expensive dress we can but we don't have to. That's one of the things I love about sewing especially since I'm SUPER frugal. So although I probably won't ever spend $760 dollars on a pair of shoes, I take much joy in knowing that I save so much money in sewing my own clothes. In my world, the "inexpensive dress" will always be the norm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sewing with Embellishments: Exploring a New Frontier

I wanted to thank you Guys for all of the nice compliments on my "Greek Goddess dress" reviewed in the last post. I think I made a good choice to use ribbon to embellish the dress in my last post.  I believe it was the trim that made my dress, because without it it was just a BORING white dress. Trust me it really was. But believe me before I came to that idea I had to take a quick and unsettling journey into the world of embellishments and trust me, I was holding my breath most of the way. From trims, to ribbons, to beads, to jewels............there's a whole world of embellishments out there.  

Originally I was looking for some jewels or stones I could add to the dress. This idea came from the pattern envelope. You can see it here.

The use of jewels seemed like a good option right? So I looked for stones and I was terrified at what I found. Now I'm sure if I had more time to look or even explored the World Wide Web I would have found some better options. But all I found at my local Jo-Ann's, Michaels, & Hancock's were acrylic jewels. Since my dress was white I wanted clear one's and the one's I found ABSOLUTELY screamed cheap. Immediately I knew I couldn't go the acrylic jewels route.

That's when I began checking out the ribbon and trims. I must have went through a few hundred before settling on the one I picked, and even then I wasn't completely sure it would work. I'm not very comfortable with the idea of using trims in my work. When I'm making my daughter's clothes I absolutely love to use trims, ribbons, bows, rick rack, etc. but never usually with my own. I tend to refrain from using trims and such for fear of taking my garment from gorgeous to gawdy.  I think it's a fine line between the two as far as embellishments are concerned---at least in my World.  Plus I'm a huge fan of printed fabric (particularly knits) and prefer to WOW my garments through the use of interesting fabric prints and/or really pretty jewelry. But I know with the right embellishment choices you can really beautify a garment. There are two types of embellishments that I'm very fond of that I don't use as often as I would like. They are fabric flowers and beads.  I have this book which has alot of great ways to make and use fabric flowers.

I have a beading book but can't think of it's name at the moment. I love beading but again rarely have a reason to use it and don't usually have the time it demands. I beaded a dress for a client a few years back and the small space of beading on the midriff of the dress took me 12 hours. It was crazy and alot of work!!! But ooooohhh so relaxing. I loved hand sewing the beads on. I love hand sewing:)

Now although I rarely use embellishments (especially for sewing for myself) I would like to change this. I'm interested in seeing what's out there. I have to rid myself of the notion that if I add trim to my clothes they'll all look cheap. Now I know I won't use embellishments in everything I sew---that's just not my astetic. But I feel more open to the notion now.  I'm currently on vacation and am making my rounds exploring fabric shops here in the Tampa, FL area.  I'll be keeping an eye out for some embellishments that I can add to my embellishment bin and possibly incorporate into a future project or two. My last project definitely warmed me up to the notion of using more embellishments.  So instead of going into the fabric store and only looking at fabrics, I'll be sure to check out the cute buttons, ribbons, trim, lace, etc. It's time I let my creative juices flow a little more.

How about you, do you normally incorporate embellishments into your projects? If so, where do you get them from? Anyone know of any great online sites? I'll do some searching and let you know what I find.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Butterick 5212

  I'm so happy this dress came together  because I was sewing on it up until I walked out of the house this morning for church. A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I needed a white dress (the bride requested everyone wear white while she wore silver) for a wedding that would be taking place after our church service. I found out about the wedding and dress code on last Sunday so I had to move fast to pick a pattern, fabric, and complete a dress. Well I did (Thank you Jesus, indeed) and I'm so happy about the end result. Although I've never had any real desire to own, or even sew a white dress, this was a great first time experience. I'm not in any rush to sew another but definitely would love to sew a white pants suit one day. Lastly, I managed to wear it all day without getting any major stains. Hey, with an almost 3 y.o., that's a MAJOR accomplishment (wink)!
   Butterick 5212
Pattern Description:
Fitted, sleeveless, lined bodice with gathers in front, pleats at shoulders and side zipper closing. Optional stones or jewels on midriff. A: below mid-knee length.

Pattern Sizing:
I used the size 12 for my bust and graded up to a size 14 for my waist and hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very much so. Sewing this dress was a complete piece of cake, minus my stupid snafus!!!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The pattern was well drafted. There was really nothing not to like. I loved the fact that the skirt was cut on the bias. Anything on the bias just hugs you body much better!!! I also appreciated that the zipper was on the side as opposed to the back. The back of a bias dress always looks better and smoother without a zipper.

Fabric Used:
I believe it was a peachskin, by the way it felt. I have to look that up to be sure. I know that one side was shiny and the other was matte with the fuzzy feel to it. I used the matte side since the shiny side didn't look as good on my complexion. If I do white, stark white is the best bet for me:)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made the following changes:
*I added a lining for the skirt. I mean it's white, I really didn't have a choice:)
*I tried to find fancy stones to embellish my dress but that was a nightmare (I'll blog about that later). So I ran across this gorgeous  ribbon with Greek key design. This dress was reminiscent of a Greek goddess so I thought it would be befitting. After fumbling around and my Hubby's input, I ended up with placing it on the dress as you see it.
*FYI: Of course I hung my skirt lining and skirt fabric for 24 hours since it was cut on the bias and needed to stretch out. Hanging for me means pinning the waistline of back and front skirts together and draping over a hanger to hang.

(Rear view. Sorry for the wrinkles, I've been wearing it for the last 7 hours. The upper back wrinkles are part of the design and a result of the pleated shoulders.)
(Close-up on the trim)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I definitely will but I have to do it in a print. It's so hard for me to just sew solid colored pieces sometimes. It was even more difficult to sew this dress in white, but it turned out lovely and I'm happy I did.

Great dress. You can dress it up or dress it down. The silhouette is lovely and it's easy to sew. What more could you want (wink)!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: How to Use Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns

I'm supposed to be sewing up my white dress from my last post, but I wanted to take a quick break to review a book I deem worthy of sharing. You know I'm absolutely OBSESSED with sewing books. Hey, it's pretty much how I learned to sew. And furthermore, I like the best of the best books. The one's which clearly outline sewing concepts and help you understand fitting, altering, and sewing patterns. The book "How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan is one such book.

When I heard this book first came out I wasn't really interested in it. Many books make claims in their titles but fall short when it comes to their content. Well I just so happened to stumble on this book at JoAnn's yesterday when I was picking up my white lining for my dress. Out of curiosity I swooped it up and bought it with my 40% off coupon (wink). Well I'm extremely happy I did!!! Although this book has 144 pages, it's streamlined and packed with the essentials of working with patterns, manipulating them, and even drafting your own. It even goes into details about changing the styles of patterns, doing complicated fittings, dart manipulations, etc. I think it's a great book for any seamstress on all levels. It can help newbies understand fitting and alterations without overwhelming detail. If you're an intermediate sewer or beyond, I think it'll be helpful in reinforcing what you know and  help strengthen your understanding of patternmaking and pattern design. I'm mainly attracted to this book for the drawings and photos which are extremely clear and concise. Plus every technique has step by step directions accompanied with the appropriate picture. The photos are really superb!!! If you are a visual learner like me then you'll love this book for sure. I think with sewing, it's not only important to know how to fit or alter, but it's equally important to understand the underlying concepts with each. I'll definitely make this required reading for my sewing students along with Nancy Zieman's "Sew with Confidence" (which is an awesome beginner sewer book)!  Ok, I've gushed on this book enough. You don't have to take my word for it. You can check out reviews at HERE.

Here's a view of some of the book content. Much apologies that I couldn't fit the entire page in some of the shots. But hopefully you can get a good impression of the book from these.

Well if this book interests you, check it out!!! I'm happy to add this to my library. I love to share great new finds! Happy Sewing!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yikes, I need a LWD (Little White Dress) ASAP!!!

Ok, a week ago I was just complaining about not having a LBD (Little Black Dress) and I just found out that I need a LWD for a wedding I'm invited to on Sunday. Heck, I don't have a LBD (I used to but I wore it out), let alone a LWD. Hey I don't get invited to those fancy "shin-digs" that require all white outfits. Plus I honestly don't like to sew all white clothing. One of the reasons I usually refrain from sewing or wearing white is mainly due to its potential to get dirty and how bad wrinkles look in white.  My issues aside, the wedding calls for everyone to wear white so I don't want to be the one standing out!  What am I going to do??? I did a quick Google search on LWD's  but all I got was a ton of wedding related dresses. So I decided to skip the internet search to find inspiration. Plus, it's already Monday, and it would be better if I could find the fabric and pattern in my stash so I can begin the dressmaking process.  Well I searched through the fabrics in my stash and needless to say I didn't have much to choose from. I had a few yards of white stretch poplin, some other mystery stretch fabric, & what looked like peachskin type fabric. After seeing the white peachskin, I began feeling somewhat hopeful. It's a polyester fabric that has a great drape and has texture similar to the surface of a peach (which I think it's name is derived, but don't quote me on that). Furthermore it's not too heavy or too light and it's pretty wrinkle resistant. Now I had to find the perfect pattern for it. That's when I thumbed through my pattern binder and ran across Butterick 5212. The drape of the fabric would be perfect for this dress!

By the look of this pattern everything seems pretty straight forward. My only issue is the back of the dress which is cut low for my taste and given the occasion. I'll have to figure out a way to modify it so I can wear a regular bra with it. Anyway I've got much work to do with this new dress and I still have to wrap up a few other projects and tasks. So please pray for me. I'm going to have to be on the grind this week. I'll keep you posted on my progress (wink)!!! And for curiosity sake, I just have to ask "Do you have a LWD"? I hope I'm not the only woman out there who currently doesn't have a LBD or a LWD! LOL!


Related Posts with Thumbnails