Enjoying the chill in the air and dreaming up designs in velvet and wool.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Green

A couple of wonderful people from my church are getting married in a week, and I'm having fun doing dresses for two of the bridesmaids. One of the gals chose my Lula Dress, only we had to match the paint chip given by the bride...which turned out to be a rather daunting task. With no time to order silk samples, we scoured the local stores so we could match the tone in person. We finally found the color in a linen-look rayon blend that gives the dress a new laid-back character (and doesn't have to be dry cleaned, woohoo!) I've got another (very different) dress that'll be in the party, and I can't wait to see how it all comes together with what the rest of the attendants selected for themselves.

We found the right color!

Sorry the green is off a little in this one - that's what I get for taking photos at night! - but you
can see the texture. This fabric is very soft and breathable and will be easy to wear all day long.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The past several weeks have seen very little finished, and quite a bit in process. It can be royally discouraging when supplier after supplier has none of the particular fabric you need, or the button you've been searching for; when prospective wedding-gown clients decide they'd rather go with a mass-produced dress; when, for all the work you're doing, there's nothing fresh to photograph and nothing new to go up in the shop. Weeks of alterations and hemming.

But these weeks are also necessary; ideas take time to grow, and just being in fabric, fixing old zippers, adjusting straps, and making buttonholes gives the time and space for new thoughts to form while my hands do familiar work.

I stretched out in a chum's yard a couple of days ago, while she planted herbs in long boxes. New, dark spring grass dampened my shirt and chilled my tummy as I listened to my dear friends talking. Pen and notebook in hand, I began drawing ideas out of the ground.

photography by photolodico

Thursday, March 3, 2011

H is for Hedgehog, or, How Many Links I Can Fit Into One Post

I'm finishing up a nifty business planning course and have the opportunity to join in the alumni showcase event held tonight at Chattanooga's Camphouse. I promised a one-of-a-kind pillow and a certificate for custom sewing work to the silent auction, and rather than using one of the many unique pillows in my Clever Fingers shop, I used the leftover bits from my Oscar party dress to make a new one.

I've loved hedgehogs ever since reading The Tale Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle! And this one is all wooly (the gray stuff is from a winter cloak I'm making for a friend.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Anatomy of an Inspiration

I have a dear friend who puts on an Oscars party every single year, even if it's only her and her husband - they dress in their best, make a feast, and watch and comment on the show. This year I happened to be visiting them on the right weekend to join in...so, of course, I needed a dress - and I needed it fast. Here's how it all went down.

Monday, 2/21 - What fabrics do I have? Um...mostly tapestries. Hmmm. What patterns do I have? Geesh. None of these seem right.

Tuesday, 2/22 - Oooh. What about that dress I wore to Catie's wedding last summer?

Yes, it was sky blue acetate, but it was vintage, and it fit really rather well. I've been planning on ripping it apart and using it as the basis for a pattern for a new dress. Now seems the time.

Wednesday, 2/23. I'd better get a move on. How about that tapestry left on that roll someone gave me? I think it was leftover from some couch cushions, but hey, I like the colors. Okay. Let's do it.

First we say goodbye to the ancient (well - sixty isn't young for a fabric) acetate-with-fused-on-lace. (This had to have originally been a bridesmaid dress. I lowered the neckline and shortened the sleeves when I wore it.) Then we start cutting it apart. Then we realize that this dress was made from a pattern which Simplicity has re-released as a retro 1960s reproduction, a pattern that I already own but never looked super-closely at...but why try to alter that one when I already have the dress half-dismantled, and know that it fits me perfectly? I'll continue as I began.

Ew. See the stains? I can't believe I wore this.

Then distribute the pieces on the suddenly very small piece (whose idea was it to make a dress out of a mere yard???) of tapestry fabric. Play around with it for a bit. Consider giving up before realizing you'll want the skirt a little less flared anyway. Remember in the nick of time that you need to make sure the one shoulder is on the same side front and back, and that it would really be nice if the pattern matched itself at the seams. Consider giving up again, say some choice words under your breath, and ease everything into place before FEARLESSLY, IRREVOCABLY CUTTING THE STUFF.

There! That wasn't so bad.

Zip it together (love a serger for the inside seams of unlined dresses! No way I was going to line this one on a time crunch - and with a fabric this thick, it didn't need it, anyway.) Panic a bit over how the diagonal cut neckline stretches - fix it by stay-stitching and very slightly gathering it before making facings out of some poly blend linen-look stuff - and, hey, that would make a nice big bow for the shoulder, too, wouldn't it?

Thursday, 2/24 - Take pictures in my cluttertastic sewing room.

The dress fastens under the right arm with an invisible zipper embedded in the side seam. I happened to have one on hand that matched the fabric. (Seamstresses! Are you afraid of invisible zippers? Don't be! They are ever so much easier to put in than other kinds of zippers, once you do a few of them. Contact me if you want some tips or step-by-step instructions. You DO need a good invisible zipper foot for your machine, but once you've got that - easy-peasy.)

Friday, 2/25 - Drive to Charlotte.

Saturday, 2/26 - Help out with a photoshoot of preemie twins (oh my word. Most precious beings. Hard to believe we all were that size at one point.)

Sunday, 2/27 - We had such a good time at the party!

All photos with people in them (except the one of me in the blue) are courtesy of Emily at Red Leaf Photography. Emily is the very cute lady who is great with child in that top photo in this post. The photo of me in the sky-blue acetate Dress of Ancient Magnificence was taken by Natalie at Photolodico, whom we missed greatly and wished were there with us to pile on the snark regarding Oscar fashions.

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