Thursday, March 20, 2008

42. I'm Moving

Now that the wedding is over, it didn't seem right to keep posting under the heading of "The Wedding Dress Saga". So, I've decided to start a new blog for my sewing projects.
I hope you'll join me at: After the dress...
Wishing you all the best in your sewing adventures and lots of beautiful creations!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

41. Reflections

(To see pictures, scroll down to post #40.)
Some people have expressed amazement that I took on this project and they seem to think that it says something about me. In fact, I think it says just as much about Susan. Obviously she is a dear friend, but I wouldn't have attempted this for "just any" dear friend.

Part of the reason I made this offer to Susan is that she sews too. To me, that means:
(a) being able to pick the pattern, the fabrics, the buttons, etc. and make a lot of design decisions would be important to her,
(b) she would truly understand and appreciate the efffort involved,
(c) she would understand and be interested in the details - where to put french seams, whether or not to underline, etc. and
(d) she would have realistic expectations of the level of quality that I could and (more importantly) could not produce.

But the bigger part of my decision stems from something more fundamental to Susan's makeup. Susan is the kind of person who looks at the dress I made and sees her design vision realized, the beautiful fabrics and lace, and the love I put into it - NOT the hem's tendency to flip up, the left-over wrinkles at the small of her back, or that one stupid bodice lace scallop that doesn't stand up perfectly... She's like that about life in general - she appreciates the good things and doesn't fuss over little imperfections. That makes her a good candidate for a handmade wedding dress, and an even better candidate for a friend! :)

Things I Wish I had Done Differently
  1. I should have started with pattern pieces that were more closely matched to Susan's size. The pieces I started with were not a good match, so I had to do a lot of adjustment, and each time I made an adjustment was an opportunity for error to creep into the product.

  2. I should have done a better job with time management - realizing that one month on the calendar was really only 5 or 6 days in the sewing room... I was rushed at the end - that was not good.
  3. I wish I hadn't washed the silk organza - while I didn't really need the stiffness for the silk satin, I could have used it for the godet and the bodice lace scallops.

  4. I should have stuck with the muslin until it was perfect. I allowed myself to move on to the silk when there was "just one little change" needed to the muslin, figuring that I could incorporate that change into the silk as I worked. That decision led to 2 scary episodes with the real dress fabrics.

Good Decisions I Made
  1. Joining the Pattern Review community! I NEVER could have taken on a project of this magnitude without the resources and support it offered - from the online classes, to Julie's review of Susan's pattern, to the advice and encouragement available through the Message Boards from some of the most skilled and generous people in the world...

  2. Bought high quality fabric.

  3. Bought high quality fabric on sale! ;)

  4. Underlined the fabric.

Thank Yous

My first "thank you" goes to Susan, for believing in me and trusting me with what could arguably be the most important outfit in a woman's life - her wedding dress. She never doubted me - not even when I made stupid mistakes or when I fell behind schedule. It's a pretty wonderful feeling when someone has that kind of faith in you... :)

My second "thank you" goes to my husband, Scott, who supplied an unending stream of support, switching seamlessly between choruses of "Don't worry, baby, it'll be okay..." and "Wow! That's gorgeous!" at the drop of a hat. He also gave up a whole month of Saturday afternoon climbs, so that I would have the extra time to work on the dress.

Next in line are Barbara for her help hand stitching the underlining to the silk satin, and Julie H. and Sarah Veblen - for their technical advice and encouragement via email.

Thanks also go to Scotti, of The Sewing Superstore in Maitland, Florida, who guided us through our first foray into the world of bridal fabrics and laces and helped us pick out the gorgeous fabrics in Susan's dress.

Last but not least, I'd like to say "thank you" to everyone who read my blog and left me comments - if you blog yourself, then you know how much those comments mean! If you don't blog, then you'll just have to take my word for it - they mean a lot!

Bottom Line

I am SO glad that I took on this project! It was a wonderful experience to share with a close friend and I think my sewing skills took a big leap forward!

If you've read my whole blog, then you know that there were some stressful and distressing moments along the journey. But, in hindsight, I wonder if those are just part of the territory when you push yourself?

I had a friend who made his living on the stock market for a few years. I asked him once how much money he could make on a single good day. He said that it depended on how much money you were willing to lose on a single bad day.

Maybe the same is true of other endeavors in life. I could have stayed in my comfort zone and kept sewing easy patterns - I would never have felt as horrible as I did on the day when the lining pieces didn't match up, but I would never have felt as happy or proud as I did when I first saw Susan, on her wedding day, in our dress...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

40. Wedding Day Pictures

Note: While I "took" all of these pictures, the professional photographer, JR Sterling, really deserves the credit for about half of them. He graciously let me follow him around and take advantage of his excellent set-ups. He was really great! If you are looking for a photographer in the Central Florida area, check him out!

Friday, March 7, 2008

39. Miscellaneous Details

I started this week a bit behind schedule, since I had spent the weekend dealing with the unanticipated waist length issue caused by the back darts. So, I took Wednesday, March 5th, off to work on the dress. It was a productive day during which I focused on a number of relatively small details.

Following advice from
Julie, I added straps so that the dress can be hung. I used ribbon with Susan’s wedding colors: yellow, blue and green. It’s kind of wild, but I think she’ll enjoy it. :)
Following more advice from Julie, I attached boning along the back darts. Hopefully this will help the back of the dress to lay flat. I used plastic boning this time, because that was all I could get at our local Joann’s. I used a combination of sand paper and melting with a candle to smooth the cut edges of the boning.

I’ve only hand basted these in for now – I want to see the impact on Susan before committing to them fully. The grey thread you see here (and in other shots) is
polyamide button hole twist, which is VERY strong. Sorry for the blurriness of the photo – I’m still trying to learn the special features (like manual focus) of my new camera.

I added button loop tape and the back extension. The button loop tape I used has elasticized loops, which hopefully will make them a bit easier to secure. The loops were too far apart on the original tape, so I folded it over on top of itself and doubled the frequency of the loops.

I added my label and closed up the lining everywhere.

I trimmed the length of the skirt so that it was even all the way around. Once this length was established, I was able to align the lace properly onto the godet, baste it into place and insert the godet into the skirt.

And I finished up the waist stay. Let me spend a minute on this, because this was a detail for which my intuition failed me and I learned a few things from experience. I allowed myself to become confused by two different sets of advice. Most people on PatternReview recommended a waist stay. It’s kind of like a belt, on the inside of the dress, which holds the weight of the skirt so that this weight isn’t all on the strapless bodice, pulling it downwards.

One professional seamstress, however, gave me detailed instructions for making an inner corset to slip between the silk and the lining, and part of those instructions included attaching a grosgrain ribbon to the bottom of this corset (i.e., at the bodice-skirt seam) and using THAT ribbon to hold the weight of the skirt. So I went into this step mentally comparing the imagined advantages and disadvantages of a ribbon around bodice-skirt seam (attached continuously) and a ribbon around the waist (where there isn’t a seam in this dress) attached only in a few spots.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Without experience, the first option seemed to make more sense to me. It seemed like placing the ribbon at an existing seam line and having it connected continuously would be more secure.

But I was wrong. One of the critical things I neglected to take into consideration is that the instructions for the higher ribbon were in the context of incorporating an inner corset into the dress. Without that inner corset, trying to place a ribbon above the waist just doesn’t work. The stay naturally wants to slip to the smallest part of the body – the waist. So, that’s where it should be put.

Also, the dress hung more nicely on Susan the FEWER points at which the waist stay and skirt were attached. I can’t really explain why THAT was true, but it was. In the end, I attached the waist stay at waist level and only at the side seams. I used a bit of elastic at each end of the grosgrain ribbon, where I put the hooks & eyes, so that I could get it really snug.

Julie left small openings in side seams of the lining for her waist stay to come through, but I had cleverly (ha!) used French seams in my lining and they didn’t look like they wanted to come open again. So, instead, I reinforced the lining right by the side seams with interfacing and then made buttonholes. Conveniently, the largest setting on my automatic buttonholer is 1 inch, which is also the width of the waist stay…

So, the only steps that remain are to do the self-facing for the godet (should be quick), add the buttons, hem the dress, remove any leftover basting and a good pressing! :)

Good thing, because the rehearsal dinner is tonight and the wedding is tomorrow!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

38. "Final" Fitting: Before, During and After

After shaping the lace to fit on the bodice (with 2 darts), assembling the major pieces of the dress went smoothly. Following the pattern instructions, I stitched the silk skirt to the silk bodice and then attached the skirt lining at the same seam. (The bodice lining will eventually be slip-stitched at that seam in such a way as to cover all the layers.) Then I put in a "waist stay" - attaching it to the 2 side seams and the 2 darts in the back of the dress. (I'll talk more about this in a later post, and include some pictures.)

Then I was ready for Susan and the "final" fitting. ;)

She made the hour-long drive on Saturday and, for the first time, put on her wedding dress! From the front, it looked beautiful. :)

But there was something seriously wrong in the back... There were a number of horizontal wrinkles along the small of her back, suggesting that the dress waist was too long for her. Here is a picture (brace yourself, it's not pretty...)

I just couldn't understand it. Susan must have tried on the muslin half a dozen times, and then the lining, and I have NEVER seen those wrinkles before. How could the waist all of a sudden be too long?
The obvious, yet painful, fix would be to take apart the side seams, shift the back pieces up and then reattach them. The problem with that route was the length - I was afraid it would shorten the length of the dress enough that Susan wouldn't be able to wear the high heels that she had selected.

But I still couldn't get past the confusion - why would this fitting problem appear now? I slept on it and the next morning, I had a thought. What else, besides the shape of the side seams, contributes to the location and size of the waist of a skirt? Answer: the length and depth of the darts in the back...

As you may remember, the back darts were the ONE bit of the pattern that I didn't completely nail down in the muslin. At our last muslin fitting, I noted the need for one last adjustment and decided that it was small enough that I could transfer the idea to the real fabric. Then I had that difficulty with the lining - the back darts were too wide and I had to let them out again to get the skirt to line up with the bodice. So the darts were still kind of an open question. But, the lining did fit...

So, I compared the length and depth of the darts in the lining to those in the silk and, sure enough, they were longer in the silk - creating a longer waist. I took out the darts and put in shorter ones and Susan, bless her heart, made the drive AGAIN for another "final" fitting.

Did it work? We're still not perfect, but I think it's a major improvement. Take a look:

(Sorry the picture is a bit dark.) I still have some minor issues with the waist stay to work out - I'll talk about those in my next post. Major steps left: buttons up the back and the hem. I'm working on Monday & Tuesday, but I'm going to take Wednesday off and, depending on how that goes, maybe Thursday. (I got permission to take Friday off a while ago.)

Five days and counting! :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

37. There is a Time for Words and a Time for Pictures...

It's NOT done, but...

36. Finishing Bodice Lace

On Tuesday I reinforced the lace scallops with organza and attached the lace to the bodice along the top edge. The next step was to get the lace shaped around the curved bodice. I was a bit nervous, because I knew I was going to have to take in a dart or tuck on each side. The thing is, while the dart on the godet lace doesn't show when it is in place (i.e., near the floor), the bodice lace is going to be much closer to eye-level - so I really didn't want the seam to be evident!
I completely lucked out - there were symmetrical open areas in the lace pattern on each side of the bodice. I decided to start the dart at the place where the 2 upper/outer loops come together (right above the top of this picture - sorry!) and completely close up the main loop that is showing in the picture:

I hand-stitched these darts - twice! ;)

And I think it came out great! Even with close observation, I don't think anyone is going to notice my dart...

Finally, I basted the bottom of the lace to the bottom of the bodice and removed the baubles from the lace underneath that basting line. Next up: attaching the skirt to the bodice, inserting the lining, and adding a waist stay! There's still lots of work to be done, but the end is in sight! :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

35. Bodice Lace

Today was the bodice lace day. In a comment on a previous post, Leslie asked for pictures of Susan in the bodice, to help decide which lace position looked best. That was a good idea (for SEVERAL reasons!), and I wish I had thought of it when Susan was here. Unfortunately, I didn't think of it in time... :(

Susan, however, decided how she would like the lace to go. She asked to have the bottom of the scallops just over the top of the bodice. One of the things I belatedly started worrying about was how the lace would fit under her arms - something we would have known if we had tried it on her, instead of just putting it on the armless dressmaker's dummy. (I tried to tell Susan that we have to make sacrifices for beauty and fashion, but she insists on keeping her arms!)

So, I wrapped it around myself and discovered a different problem. The lace is floppy and doesn't stand up nicely when it is extended above the bodice. One possibility, of course, was to settle for moving it down level with the bodice. But I decided to try and strengthen it by putting some of the silk organza behind it.

Once again, I found myself regretting that I had washed the organza. It would have been stiffer if I hadn't. I called all the fabric stores in Lakeland (that took all of 90 seconds!), but no one stocks silk organza. So I used some of the left-over bits from underlining the dress and, to make up for it being washed & softened, I doubled it.

I only put it behind the scallops, because it would have dimmed the shine of the silk underneath the lace. Here are a couple of shots (front and back) taken partway through the process of applying the organza:

The organza will make the lace a little less transparent on Susan's bare skin, but that doesn't seem like a problem. In fact, I'm not sure how anybody would know (other than by reading this) because there is no place where they can see the lace by itself as a point of comparison - it's always against some fabric.

It took me longer than I expected to get the organza backing on and attach the lace along the top of the bodice. I still need to attach the lace along the vertical seams in the bodice and that's going to require adding tucks to get the flat piece of lace to conform to the shaped bodice...

But it's looking beautiful! I think Susan made a good choice of positioning for the lace. :)

Tomorrow my goals are to finish attaching the lace to the bodice and to attach the skirt to the bodice and insert the waist stay. Thursday it's back to work for me - so wish me a productive sewing day on Wednesday!

Monday, February 25, 2008

34. The Skirt

Okay, is it just me, or is that wedding countdown starting to freak you out too? As long as the number was over 20 days, I was fine. But 11 days!?!?! I may have to take it off my blog... ;)

I spent the weekend working on the skirt. First, I completed the skirt lining - including french seams and a narrow machine hem (as taught by Susan Khalje in her online class at on "Top 10 Couture Techniques".)

Then I moved on to the silk. I serged all the edges to prevent fraying and started by hand-stitching the folds into the skirt front. Then I put the darts in the back pieces and sewed the side seams. Of course, there is a big gap on one side for the godet...

The fabric needs pressing, but the silk satin is never going to be perfectly smooth - that's just not in its nature... In any event, here are a couple of shots:

First, a view of the whole skirt from the front:

Second, a closer-up shot of the folds:

It truly looks gorgeous! That silk is incredible - it is unbelievably soft and yet it has a weight about it that makes it look and feel very royal. :)

33. Godet Lace

I spent today working on the lace for the godet. You may remember from way back when I cut it out, that the godet has a curved bottom and thus the finished edge of the lace doesn't naturally line up with the godet's bottom.

When we were measuring the lace in the store, a professional seamstress who makes wedding dresses (among other things) for a living was watching, and she recommended that I put a dart in the lace to get the finished edge to match the godet bottom. She also told me to use tissue paper when sewing the lace, to get it to move smoothly through the feed dogs on my machine. (I've done this before when sewing vinyl - it's a great tip!)

After re-reading the section on lace in Susan Khalje's book, I spent some time studying the lace to see if I could find a way to cut into it that preserved the pattern. I only had a very small left-over piece to experiment with; I tried a couple of different cuts, but couldn't come up with anything that worked.

So I went ahead and tried "brute force" - I just folded the lace over, stitched in a dart, cut away the excess and took a look. When you held it in your hands, you could definitely see the seam. But as soon as I held it up against the wedding dress fabric and stepped back an arm's length, the seam seemed to disappear. So, that's what I did with the godet lace...

Here is a picture that shows the approximate size and location of one of the darts. (I put in one on each side.)

Probably the most difficult step was getting the tissue paper wrapped around the lace and maintaining the location of the stitching line for the dart. Here is a shot at the machine:

Oh, if you are wondering, the answer is - Yes, the more wild and crazy the tissue paper, the better this technique works... ;)

Once the dart has been sewn, the next step is to gather all your courage and cut away the excess lace. I tried to trim very close to the stitching line.

Finally, you peel away the tissue paper...

...and open it out.

The stitching line does show in this picture, but when I hold the godet up to my body, I can't see it in a mirror and my husband can't see it when I stand right in front of him. :)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

32. Construction Begins... The Bodice and a Lace Decision

Due to important meetings and out-of-town visitors on the Tuesday and Wednesday after President’s day, I had to go in to work. But it’s time to get serious about finishing the dress, so I took off from last Thursday through next Wednesday; that’s 6 days to sew and 1 day to attend Expo.

On Thursday, I got to work on the bodice. One big topic I haven’t spent much time on yet in this blog is the boning. Last Fall I envisioned writing a post called “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Boning But Were Afraid to Ask…” – I was completely amused by the word play, as if I was the first to notice it. (Yeah, right.)

Unfortunately, I had to ditch the idea because I can’t even begin to pretend that I know enough about boning to write such a column. I did start a thread on Pattern Review asking for advice (
click here to read) and received tons of advice from the knowledgeable and generous community there. Interestingly, I also accidentally started a bit of a (gentle) dispute – it turns out that there is no globally agreed upon answer to the question of what type of boning to use, but there are people with strong opinions… ;)

While it is called “boning” because it used to be made from whale bones, the three main materials in use today are steel, plastic and spiral steel. The main disagreement appeared to be between proponents of plastic and proponents of spiral steel. (Nobody lobbied for steel.)

What I got out of the discussion is that spiral steel moves in more directions than plastic and thus may be more comfortable for the wearer (although plenty of people said that plastic can be perfectly comfortable), but is difficult to snip and cap. Plastic, on the other hand, is relatively easy to snip and the ends just need to be smoothed off with something like emery boards, can be gently shaped with heat over a pressing ham and will hold its shape well, but it doesn’t have any give in the side-to-side direction.

Boning is so cheap that I bought some of both types to play with. But I totally cheated on the spiral steel, and bought a number of different pre-cut and pre-capped lengths that were as close as possible, without going over, the lengths that I would actually need. So I didn’t mess with snipping or capping at all. In the end, I liked the spiral steel better and so I used that. I also bought boning channel tape, so that I didn’t have to make my own. (I got everything from Farthingales in LA [] and was very happy with their great service!)

As for the actual construction, I began by gently taking apart the lining bodice and then re-sewing it using French Seams (click here for mini-tutorial). As per the pattern instructions, I attached the boning channels to the lining after it was assembled. Because I didn’t snip the bones to the exact lengths of the seams, I did have to adjust the location of some of the bones to a spot where they best fit between the upper and lower seam allowances. I also put in twice as many bones as they indicated. Here’s a picture:
Then I turned to the silk satin and constructed the outer bodice. I worked slowly and carefully, pressing each piece before and after working with it. It came together nicely and looked beautiful! I didn’t use French Seams here, because I expect to press the seams open and hand-stitch the seams to the organza underlining. Finally, I attached the lining and outer bodice. Here are a couple of pictures:

With all that handling, the silk satin started fraying horribly and I sent panicked emails to Julie (the woman who made this dress for her goddaughter’s prom and posted the review
click here for her review) and Sarah Veblem (the woman who taught the excellent class on underlining on Pattern Review click here for class description). Both have been graciously helping me with the miscellaneous questions that have been popping up as I work on the dress. Both agreed that I could serge the cut edges. Sarah recommended an alternative as well – encasing the seams in a binding made of organza. I’m pretty much out of organza at the moment (except for my press cloth), and it felt like an emergency, so I serged it before the entire bottom seam allowance frayed away.

I still have some finishing details – pulling out the basting stitches and hand securing the seams open – but the bodice is basically complete!

I particularly wanted the bodice done that day, because Susan came over that evening (to spend the night and attend Expo with me the next day) and I wanted her to consider the big lace decision – how did she want the lace on the bodice aligned? This question could be broken down (primarily) into 2 sub-questions – vertical placement and horizontal placement. These pictures illustrate the options she is currently considering:

What do you think?

One last bit of good news – my new labels arrived! I felt like the labels I usually use when I sew were too casual for a wedding dress. Here is one:

(I get these from Name Maker - .)

So I ordered these from Heirloom Woven Labels (

The next few days are going to be a flurry of sewing – I’ll try to keep my posts up-to-date with pictures of the dress as it comes together.

31. Pre-Planned, Highly Anticipated Diversion

The Original Sewing and Quilt Expo ( came to Tampa, Florida this week, and Susan and I made our plans and class reservations months ago. We try to get out there for one day every year, and this was our third success in the last four years. We spent the whole day (8:00 am – 6:00 pm) there on Friday. I think we both agreed that this was the best yet!

In the morning we took a 3-hour class entitled “Body Type Pattern Selection” with Cynthia Guffey ( It was our first experience taking a class from Cynthia Guffey, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be our last. Cynthia is a high energy, highly entertaining whirlwind. She cuts right to the heart of things in a matter-of-fact, yet wry way that is funny and compassionate without pulling any punches. While the class wasn’t quite what I expected, it was very interesting and valuable.

On the pattern selection topic, I think her main two points were:
1. To get a proportioned line with your body, you may need to build up smaller areas with your clothes to bring them more in line with your larger areas. This goes against our natural tendency to show off our good areas by wearing fitted clothes on those parts.
2. To make clothes fit well over generously proportioned areas, you need patterns with additional seams in those areas – princess seams in a blouse, gored skirts, etc.

She also touched on fitting, especially tops, and explained two frequently overlooked measurements that, if adjusted for, should ameliorate many fitting problems – the shoulder slope and the back curve. (She has 9 fitting DVDs, if you are interested in learning more.)

She talked a lot about small changes that bring attention to and flatter your face. Her argument was that you should echo 2 aspects of your face – the shape of the features (round versus angular) and the amount of contrast between hair, eyes & skin – in the clothes and accessories that you wear around your face. She gave a powerful example of what she meant by contrast by having us imagine Elizabeth Taylor and Sissy Spacek; two beautiful women who should (and do) dress very, very differently because their natural colorings are on extreme ends of the contrast continuum.

Finally, she had each class attendee come up to the front of the room for a quick assessment. She identified their facial features and contrast, indicated if they were dressing and accessorizing appropriately, and discussed the types of patterns they should select. After asking each person if she would prefer a top or skirt pattern, Cynthia identified a pattern from her line that she thought would be most flattering for that person and noted it to be mailed out after she returns home from the Expo.

Susan and I were among the last to be called to the front of the room, so I spent some time thinking of what she was likely to say about me. I think my face is round and my contrast is low, so I expected kudos for my round glasses and round jewelry and the blouse I was wearing in muted colors. My problem area is a thick middle, so I expected her to recommend a gored skirt.

If there was any thought that I might have psychic abilities, the question has been resolved once and for all, and the answer is no.

I was shocked when she announced that the round glasses had got to go, because of my angular features, I needed a more blunt haircut without the curves, and I was NEVER EVER AGAIN to wear muted colors or floral prints. (I wanted to ask if kitten prints were out too, but didn’t get a chance.) She said I should I go for angles, contrast and drama – in my glasses, hair and clothes. She did warn me that I could be an intimidating presence if I went too far…

She didn’t mention my thick middle. She recommended an A-line skirt and said that I have a cute butt. (She even had me turn around and show it to everyone. Yikes!)

My very first reaction was shock.

My second was something along the lines of, “How can I have lived 45 years and be so wrong about myself?”

With some thought, however, I realized that I haven’t actually been wrong, I was just reacting in the opposite way to what she was recommending. While I may never have used the word “angular”, I’ve always known that I don’t have small, pretty, feminine (i.e., round) features. I deliberately select round frames and round haircuts to try to soften my features – instead of selecting angular accessories to play that up.

And I do enjoy wearing bright colors – even if I hadn’t realized exactly that muted tones were washing me out in such an unattractive way. So, I’ll be more careful with the colors right away, and I guess I’ll spend some time thinking about whether I want to continue to try to soften my features or experiment with repeating them in my accessories and clothes.

We ended up with only 30 minutes to grab a quick lunch before our 3-hour afternoon class, “Super Slick Serger Tricks Workshop” with Diana Cedolia ( This was a hands-on workshop and it was fantastic! We each a serger to work on and a packet of pre-cut pieces of assorted fabrics in various sizes. Diana walked us through a number of simple techniques with wonderful results! Here are some of my results.

First, a blanket stitch and my first attempt at using a gathering foot.

Second, a crisp serged corner, a tote bag bottom and a piped pillow top (from my first time using a piping foot).

At the very end of the class, Diana demonstrated a few tricks using a machine that can do a cover stitch. The whole class was a blast and I learned a lot! I have 8 specialty feet for my serger that I’ve never used, and I’m really looking forward to doing more than overlocking a seam and coverstitching a hem!

Finally, from 4 to 6 we wandered the exhibit floor. We were both trying to be “good” this year and not spend much money. I only had one item on my shopping list – champagne colored silk thread to attach the lace to the bodice of Susan’s wedding dress. We located that right away, and then worked our way systematically up and down the aisles exploring all the booths. In one booth with lots of quilting fabric, I found this print:

It is perfect for my Mom (a classical musician) and I’ve never seen the print anywhere before, so I bought her a half yard panel. It would make a nice cover for the chalk bag (making a rock climbers chalk bag) I made for her!

I was drawn in at a booth selling patterns for making quilted jackets using a sweatshirt as the pattern pieces and batting. One particular pattern/kit – very bold, wild and dramatic (Cynthia Guffey would have approved) kept calling to me. I turned to Susan and jokingly asked, “Aren’t you supposed to hit me?” and – she did! Right in the arm! Ouch!

Just a cautionary note to everyone – I’d minimize rhetorical-question-asking around Susan. (I’m not blaming her – I DID ask for it…) And, it worked. I put down the pattern and we moved on to the next booth, which happened to be selling patterns and materials for making undergarments – something that Susan has been thinking about getting into for a while. She really liked the products, but eventually put everything down, collected a business card with a website, and we wandered along our way.

The last two aisles of the exhibit hall contain some of the fashion contest winners and the quilts. Talk about inspiration! I’m just a hobby seamstress, but I know Art when I see – and those quilts are Art!

Finally, around 5:45, we decided to head home. We started in on some

** foreshadowing alert **

premature self-congratulations for our shopping restraint. I had only purchased one spool of silk thread and one half-yard panel of cotton fabric for my Mom. Susan hadn’t purchased anything!

But, I think the realization that she hadn’t purchased ONE SINGLE THING was too much for her, and she decided to just nip back to the undergarment booth and pick up one pattern… and maybe some of that elastic in just the right width that isn’t easy to find anywhere else… and maybe…

Of course, as you may remember, the undergarment booth was right across from the quilted - jackets - made - out - of - sweatshirts booth (, so I decided to loiter in there while she was making her purchases… That same jacket had gone from murmuring my name to calling out desperately to me! And the proprietress mentioned that it was her very last kit in that particular color & print combination and there wouldn’t be any more because it was from her last year’s collection… I think you can guess what happened.

Here are pictures of the pattern and the fabric that came in the kit. (You supply your own sweatshirt.) I may ask Barbara and her husband Jerry to help me make it.

So, it was a wonderful, wonderful day and we left the way the Fates (or at least the Expo organizers) intended – with less money and more knowledge, inspiration and projects than when we had started... :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

30. The Final Cut!

It's done! The silk has been cut! All of it! :)
Yes, with Barbara's help, I accomplished my goal for the three-day weekend! We hand-stitched nine organza pieces (cut from the muslin pieces and marked with thread) to the silk and then I cut the silk out around the organza.
I had been nervous about cutting into the (expensive) silk, but by the time we had stitched the organza on, it didn't seem like such a big deal.
Barbara and I did the two back skirt pieces on Saturday. I did the five bodice pieces on Sunday. And Barbara came back on Monday to help me with the front skirt piece. :)
The organza is flimsy and doesn't hold its shape well, so it was REALLY great to have a second person there, assessing everything and helping me figure out how to ensure that the pieces (especially the front skirt piece!) were laid out correctly.
One of the reasons I decided to add an organza underlining was so that I could put the markings on the organza and not have to mark the silk in any way. But I'm not sure that I've really shown the basted thread markings on the organza yet. So, here is a shot of the pattern piece for the skirt front:

Notice all those short lines indicating where the folds are placed? And the grainline? And the two small marks where the princess seams of the bodice should line up? Now, here is the (un-ironed) organza front skirt piece with those same marks indicated by thread basting:

Next up: assembly! :)