Sunday, November 30, 2014

Post Thanksgiving Miracles

I can't believe it's the last day of November. Seriously where did the month go? This month was a bit of blur since I had a huge sewing project  to work through. I survived but afterwards felt a bit frazzled. I was pretty blessed with some miraculous moments that really snapped me back to my old self. Trust me they're by no means anything monumentous---so if you've got something better to do please go tend to it ----but sometime's it's the little things that mean the most, you know?  Like when I'm having a tough day and I get a homemade card from my daughter---you know like that.

Anyhow here's my 3 Special Little Miracles.........

Somehow I ammassed a LOAD of sewing fabric remnants from a ton of projects I've done since the beginning of the year.  I promise you it had to be like 50lbs. And I constantly tripped over this fabric as I tried to move about my sewing room. Well I had enough of it on Friday. I finally just packed it all up and tossed them in the garage---labeled of course. I plan to use them when I resume my draping on my body double from in addition to my half-scale form. The fabric will come in handy when I start design testing. Trust me this simple clean up was a HUGE deal. My sewing room was getting cluttered and out of control. I can't believe how much my life felt in control after that one move! LOL! Crazy I know! LOL

Miracle #2---I learned how to use a utility blade in place of a seam ripper. I've been doing a ton of alterations and if I can tell you the truth this little baby here (the utility knife) cuts down on alot of work. You can take things apart SO much faster. I was terrified to use it at first. I tried a couple of times but couldn't get my hand motion just right. On yesterday when I had to a a jacket apart I just picked up the blade--since I knew I'd be here ALL day trying to take the sleeve apart with a seam ripper---and proceeded to use it. Just like that!!! It's all about the angle in which you hold the blade and the tension you use to pull the fabric apart as you expose the thread. So delighted I figured that out. I'm pretty proud of myself. Mr. Jim (aka Gentleman Jim) inspired me to do so. His video is a good reference!

Miracle #3---And speaking of alterations and taking things apart I've learned to do alterations on Men's suit jackets. In the past I only took on hem jobs. Then with Mr. Jim's instruction I figured out how to take in/let out the waist. Now I can tackle suit jackets and perform operations like narrow the shoulders, take in the blade & waist, narrow the sleeve and lengthen/shorten the sleeve. These are pretty big steps for me. I'm actually working on 5 jackets at one time! It was an overwhelming job at first since everything was so new but now I'm happy to report I got the hang of it. I definitely have Mr. Jim to thank and his DVD---The Basic Alterations 2 Disc set has been a super help. They detail all of these types of alterations. If you're interested you can buy it on his site HERE. Needless to say I feel like a big girl!

Anyhow, I'm happy for my little post Thanksgiving miracles. They've got me back on track. I hope you two have experience some special moments this month. See you next---only 38 minutes to go! LOL! Until then, Happy Sewing!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

In just a few short minutes Thanksgiving, the Holiday will be over but I know for many of you it will continue as it should. There's something that happens when we slow down our lives a little bit and take the time to inventory our lives and express gratitude. Developing an attitude of thankfulness should be a daily habit and makes for a much richer life. No matter the negative there's always something to be thankful for. I'm SUPER thankful for you guys!!! Thanks that you consider it not a waste of your time to visit with me, leave comments & give great suggestions. I had a wonderful, quiet holiday with just the Hubby and my daughter. As we ate our Thanksgiving feast my daughter asked if all of us could go around the table and say what we were all thankful for. I was just so blessed by all of our answers. Kinda made me emotional.  I'm blessed to have a wonderful and supportive family, a nice home, health and strength and provisions for all that I need. I'm thankful for God's kindness and all of his many blessings. I pray that you enjoyed your holiday and it enriched your heart and soul with much joy and peace!!! ((hugs))

Friday, November 21, 2014

Color Inspirations In Nature

I have to admit that out of all the things that inspire my fashion designing nothing does it more than colors!!!! I love the blending of beautiful colors. I almost forgot these pics I took this Summer when I visited the Columbia Zoo. I mainly took them as color inspirations. And as all things that are beautiful they are meant to be shared. Hope the beautiful colors of these animals inspire you as well.

 This photo doesn't do the color of this snake justice. I'd totally wear that shade of green in a fitted dress and possibly bind the neck and sleeve hem in the off-white!

 The patterns on this snake are just marvelous. I instantly saw a shift dress with the pattern that has a tan border. Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous!!!

 Another vivid green I'm head over heels in love with!!!

 My Kiddo made it into this pic but I love the coral reefs and all the colors they bring. Heck, I majored in Marine Science and I believe a HUGE part of it was my attraction to the beauty of the sea as a whole!!! I can imagine a variety of silhouettes in these colors!

 Vivid shades of blue are so divine!

This red and white shrimp in particular caught my attention. I love the bold contrast. I'd love that kind of striping to go down the side of a dress or be used in a crop top & skirt combo! Love, love, love!

It's always great to put yourself in a place where your imagination and creativity can be excited. Nature tends to do that alot for me. I'm curious, what sparks your sewing creativity???

Sunday, November 16, 2014

McCall's 6796----The Floral Sweater knit Turtleneck Dress

So this week has been crazy! Had a few victories and a couple of bumps in the road.  I'm learning not to stress about the bumps.They are as they say "par for the course". I survived the week and thought it would be nice to make myself something to wear. Some people pamper themselves with pedi's or a nice meal. I pamper myself with a self-sewn cute outfit. LOL! I call it "sewing therapy" LOL!  I didn't have much time so I needed something I could whip out quick. I've had this floral sweater knit in my stash for over a year and have been wanting to make it into a turtleneck dress for a good while now. So I whipped out a turtleneck top pattern and lengthened the top into a dress and voila'------- a dress was born and in less than a couple of hours.

 I'll be the first to admit that this fabric is an interesting one. It reminds me for some reason of a really bad couch print. LOL!!! It's so busy!!! In a way it's pretty and ugly at the same time. You know what I mean???? It's hard to explain. BUT I JUST LOVE IT!!!! After I made this dress I let me Hubby see it and he had the same reaction. It took him a moment to process it but he ended up loving it! I love fabric/fashions that provoke you to ponder them! Anyhow enough about that here's the review.....

Pattern used: McCalls 6796, view B

Time to Sew:
2 hours or less

Sewing Ease (scale 1 easy to 10 difficult):
Definitely a 2

Pattern Description:
Turtleneck top that I converted into a dress

Pattern Sizing:
A size 10 for the top and graded to a 14 for a hips. The knit was really stretchy so I took another 4" off total---1" between each seam.
 (Full View)

(Back View)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?Yes but I made it into a dress

Were the instructions easy to follow?

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It was a great base pattern for a dress conversion

Fabric Used:
Floral sweater knit with hues of purple, gray, etc.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
*I lengthened the turtleneck into a dress---add 14"
*reduced back length 2"---my unusual short back adjustment
*added 1" to turtleneck height and and narrowed to fit better
*made sleeves 3/4"
*I stabilized the shoulder seam using clear elastic as usual

What would you do differently next time?:
Nothing. I loved it!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes and Yes!

Wardrobe Versatility:
Add a jacket, fur vest, etc.

CUTE DRESS!!!! I'm in love with it!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Construction Details: Lilac Wedding Gown--- Picture Heavy!!!

As promised here are the dress details below. The original gown & wedding pics are posted HERE. But before I get into details......

First off thanks to EVERYONE for all the kind words, comments, facebook likes regarding the lilac wedding dress I made! I'm humbled at how well this dress came together.  I definitely felt the love and really appreciated it!

For a dress that took a few months to plan, track down the right fabric and 2 weeks of straight sewing there's alot of details to this dress. I'd sewn gowns before but never one using so much fabric.Also, allow me to make a correction. The skirt contained 40 yards of fabric---the overall dress was about 45. I made a mistake in my initial blog post before.

Anyhow I took this dress on as definitely a challenge. I relied on my experience with gowns, much prayer (God knows) and learned a TON along the way. As with any piece of artwork in progress it's easy to be doubtful and I had those nights where I overanalyzed and second guessed myself. Despite it all you know you have to push forward and when you do you learn that you know much more then you give yourself credit for. I surprised myself with the production of this one (smile). Anyhow, enough with the sentimental reflection---let's get on to the nitty, gritty details of this dress.  If you're like me, I love to look at a pretty dress but oftentimes I'm most interested in how it's made. Here's some condensed info on how I made the dress  Ok, here are some pics and there are more details below.
(the Bride and I)

 (Front view with illusion belt. I really loved the color of the lilac and coordinating shimmery organza. Add the rhinestones and the whole dress just sparkled!)

 (Lace up in the back with modesty panel)

 (Modesty panel has snaps on one side to hold into place. And there's my business label:)

 (hanger looks included although I never use them & even discouraged my client in this case. The dress was a bit heavy so we just hung it over a hanger & stored in garment bag)

 (There were hundreds of these little "tacks" in the skirt. To get the fluffyness I pushed up the organza fabric and pinned in place. When I was happy with the positions I hand sewed each tack using double thread and only into the satin underneath being sure to not catch the lining).

 (dress on the table. It's so fluffy!!!)

 (Swarovski rhinestones up close. Notice the neat design. Came up with myself. All handsewn)

 (My client wanted a belt but I wanted one I could add afterwards instead of incorporating into each section of the princess seam bodice. After making a satin belt with organza overlay I noticed it didn't look right. I stressed over this for 2 days. Then I came up with the idea for an "illusion belt" (Thank God for that idea) so it gave her the belt she wanted to hold some extra "bling" and it wasn't bulky on the dress. I simply used double sided clear tape to hold it in place. Worked like a charm!)

(The dress was assymetrical and the front was really short---only 16")

(The lining and fashion fabric were sewn to each other. I did this before even attaching the bodice. So I sewed the 2 to the bottom of the skirt, uneven of course---One of the edges extended further then the other ---think it was the outer satin fabric--- so once I flipped it inside out and pressed it the lining wasn't visible from the outside.)

Ok, here's the deets..........

Inspiration dresses:
I was presented with  a gown my client had ordered but was the wrong style and didn't have a full enough skirt. From that I researched some gowns organza skirt wedding gowns online and was able to create and idea I knew she would like. Again, I wanted her to look like she was walking in a bed of clouds!

The Fabrics:
Lilac Satin- ordered online
Shimmery Lilac Organza- ordered online
Lining---in coordinating shade found at Fine Fabrics in ATL. Got is for $1.50/yard which was INSANE!!!! And it matched perfectly.

The Bodice:
It's 3 layers.
Layer 1: satin fabric with knit interfacing pressed on it, and organza
Layer 2: woven, mildly stiff interfacing sewn to satin fabric and boning was added
Layer 3: Lining fabric
I used some really cool bra cups that I took from another gown. They were tacked onto the middle layer. Although I used them my bride still wore a corset for extra support.

Swarovski crystal rhinestones Additions
Prior to this gown I'd only glued on swarovski rhrhinestones. This was my first time hand sewing them on. I ordered them from and talked to Darlene who gave me helpful info over the phone on how to install them. It turned out to be pretty simple and straightforward! I finished the bodice in about a day's time.

-I first drew out my design and then tested it flat in the same amount of space I intended to use on the gown.
-Once I was ready to get started on the bodice itself I used a heat erase marker to mark out the stone area. I left space for the upper bodice seam allowance.
-Used basting thread to thread trace outline. Ironed area to remove marker marks.
-Began with stone placement as outlined in trial layout. Started with adding center "circular" stone with hot glue and created design from there.
-"Glue baste" using hot glue a few stones down at the time. Always layout stone and check spacing before gluing. If you do glue down, hot glue makes it easy to pull stone off and tray again. Glue on the backs of the stones peel off easily too. The hot glue is what made this process easy.
-Again, not stones were laid in the seam allowance area.
-Once majority of stones placed I was able to go ahead and attach all bodice layers (organza/satin, interlining with boning attached & lining---3 layers mentioned above) then edgestitched.
-Resumed with adding stones around neckline edge using hotglue then sewing them in by hand.
Note: Use double thread, matching fabric and a normal to short length needle. You want to knot to secure after you've done each hole. Keep in mind the stones are glass so the double thread helps ward against possible cuts. You want to loop in each hole a few times.
I plan to do a video tutorial soon!

 (started playing with design flat using sheer tracing material. You can use anything, muslin, etc. Note how I drew in my SA and got everything fitted.)

 (Closer view)

 (Once I was happy with my design I moved on the the bodice front. I did most of my work flat as you see and as mentioned above used a thread traced boundary to mark my space. I laid out the rhinestones near the upper bodice seam allowance just for spacing purposes but DID NOT glue or sew them until I attached the bodice to the lining and underlining. Then I went back and sewed those on. That's the trick to doing it right!)

 (Making progress)


Corset Laceup
-I followed instructions per this website HERE. It was REALLY easy! It was my second time making one.

Skirt panel pieces were sewn together. Consisted of front center piece (16" long) which was the shortest, side front, side back, back---7 pieces total. Skirt was cut in 4 layers: Satin, lining, 2 layers of organza overlay. 9" Zipper was added to back panel piece.

Top layer of organza overlay was twice the length of each panel to allow for "bustling???"
Skirt and lining were attached at the hem. Small slit left in lining side seam to allow for "inner access" of skirt when I decided to close everything up.

Attaching Bodice to Skirt
Bodice was attached in it's entirety and basted at the edge before being sew to the skirt at the waist. I Then the skirt lining was attached to the bodice and skirt (by going through the zipper opening)over to create clean finish on the inside. The I hand stitched the lining to the zipper.

Creating the Poufy organza skirt

I wanted the skirt to look like my client was sitting in a bed of clouds.  I used safety pins to position the organza and create the busling effect. While my client was wearing it I started in the front of her dress and part of the sides. Once I liked the look I could fininsh up the rest with the dress on a form. I went back and handstitched using a double threaded needle. This took a considerably long time---over the course of a few days. There has to be 250+ bustles all over the skirt. The effect was well worth it! I started tacking the organza on the front of the dress while my client was wearing it for a fitting.

( I started tacking the organza on the front of the dress while my client was wearing it for a fitting.  I took it home to finish the rest. It took several days to complete!)

(I finished the rest of the tacking at home in my living room.  It took HOURSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! The trick with the tucks is to get the bottom of the organza placed and work your way up the skirt. You're pinning to hold at first so adjustments can always be made. Once everything was pinned I went to sewing. I was fishing out pins for days LOL!!!! This is the completed work but before there was organza fabric train everywhere. My Hubby and daughter were troopers. They were forbidden to occupy that part of the living room and were so gracious about it LOL!)

Calculating the Organza for each panel:
This by FAR was the hardest part. 31 yards of organza I had to put onto a 9 yard satin/lining underskirt. 25 of the 31 yards of Organza were continuous so the wrong cut would throw off everything. I planned, thought, strategized and planned some more. So glad I didn't cut until I was for sure! The goal was to make sure each panel of the overskirt had the same proportion of fabric despite each piece being different in length. After sketching and drawing diagrams I decided to go back to my Marine science research days and create an excel spreadsheet. I played around with different scenarios and came up with a plan that worked beautifully. The organza overly was done in 2 layers. The underlayer would be the the normal length pattern piece for each while the upper layer would be 1.5X that I added to the length of each piece. With that scenario I had just enough fabric for everything and could start cutting.

(Some of my Excel calculation work)

(This is what cutting out the Organza overlay (top piece) looked like. That's a very long pattern piece pictured---at least 3 yards long so see how much extra fabric I had to add to it to achieve the full skirt. That was ALOT of fabric to tack up!

And of course this was the result---see my Oct 26th post for all the wedding photos HERE!!! Ok, I think I covered most of the details.  Hope you found this info interesting/helpful:)

Again, I'm so thankful to have had this opportunity! It really helped me hone and develop my skills as a designer and sewer on another level! Hope I have more gown in the future (wink)!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Great News!!!/ Finished Projects/ Playing Catch up!!!

I'm SOOOO sorry for being away so long. It's been 11 days but that's wayyyyy too long for me! I love talking to you guys!!! If you can imagine I've been in recovery mode since making the wedding gown! THANKS SOOOO MUCH for your  kind words and compliments. You have no idea how much the validation means!!! I PROMISE my Wedding Gown Construction Details post will be next up. It's chalked full of details so I wanted to take my time on it.  In the meantime let me catch you up to speed on what I've been working on. Again, I've been in recovery mode since producing the gown. A project of that size required alot of time that I had to take from other tasks. I've nearly recovered and in the last couple of weeks have accomplished the following:

Made a costume for my kid. We don't personally celebrate Halloween but do engage in some alternatives. She went as "Kitty Galore" inspired by the "hairless" cat from the movie "Cats and Dogs". The costume consisted of a shiny gold, leopard printed cape, matching mini skirt, gold belt with bow, cat tail and store bought tights, shoes and modified cat ears. I used a basic cape pattern and modified it drastically narrowing it in the shoulder. The skirt is self drafted. As thrown together as this costume was she got a ton of compliments. I LOVED that she loved it and had a part in designing it!

 (showing off her tail)

(hanging with some princesses)

I made this Halloween costume for a Friend/Client. We converted his 2 year old son into Luke Skywalker as depicted in the Dagobah scene in the first movie. Here's a screenshot from it. I made the shirt, pants, yoda's backpack and the jacket in the next pic.

So here's the scaled down 2 year old version. I'll have pics of my 2 year old client in them to post soon!

I'm currently working on a pink, pleather overall for my client's Sweet 16 party and will possibly be doing the back-up dancers shorts as well. This is the inspiration pic but the pants will be much looser!

Ok, the GREAT NEWS I wanted to announce is that Gentleman Jim is teaching a Master Tailoring Course through BurdaStyle. I've had the privilege of benefiting from his teaching and superb tailoring skills and my sewing and tailoring skills have improved DRASTICALLY! I'm serious---DRASTICALLY!!! I plan on taking on tailoring a suit for my Hubby on next year. I'm getting ready. All I can say is that for most sewers they can achieve a high level of sewing but to go even higher you need to connect with an expert. That's why I always encourage mentorship. There's just some places you can't get on your own. Well receiving instruction from a Master Tailor is definitely quality instruction in a form that's yields exceptional results. In his 53 years of tailoring it's like he figured out most every short cut for professional industy methods. His talent definitely will amaze and enlighten. I don't mean to go on and on but I'm SO excited that everyone gets the opportunity to learn from his as I have. You can visit his blog site ( for more information on this course HERE or go directly to the course HERE
He's also giving away several of his DVD's to celebrate. Which you can also find on his blog HERE
Follow him on FaceBook HERE

That's it for now. I've got a pile of Men's suit alterations that won't fix themselves. BTW, I learned how to alter Men's suits through Mr. Jim. I'd always been intimidated by it but not anymore!


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