Wabi-Sabi Dress

From the UFO (UnFinished Object) files:

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Once upon a time, I was inspired by Julia Bobbin’s colour blocked Laurel. I decided to tackle a small stash of some exotic silk that I got from my Mother-in-Law, and I chose this lovely navy-grey piece. It was quite sedate in comparison to other pieces from said stash… It featured a beautiful scalloped pattern along one edge. After being strongly reassured by MIL that yes, you can wash it normally, I took all the pieces and threw them in the washing machine (on gentle cycle, I’m NOT crazy), an then in the dryer, on cold. All the silk came out lovely, much softer and more pliable, and the colours acquired more lustre. But my gorgeous grey piece had threads pulled out through the entire length of the yardage… I was heartbroken. I tried to cut my pattern pieces in a way that the most obvious damage was hidden by the darts, but to no avail… And what’s even more, the lovely scallops did not align on the bottom, which was too much for me… in the UFOs you go!

Fast forward 6 months or so, and I find this reasonable, mostly finished garment with a seriously funky bottom. So I cut off the bottom, and decide to make a tunic, but then I realize that I have some cotton that matches the colour almost exactly, so I add a panel to the bottom, make a weird neckline for more interest, and I have my colour blocked Laurel, just like Julia (same, but different)! My MIL recognized the fabric right away when she saw me in this dress, and was very surprised and quite pleased that I made something out of that silk! As for the damage, it’s still there.

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Enter the beautiful concept of wabi-sabi. Good people of Wikipedia will tell you more, but just to quickly paraphrase, it’s an idea that describes perfection in it’s imperfection. My dress is wabi-sabi. I am wabi-sabi. And you, have you ever felt like you’ll never be  able to pick yourself up and put yourself together after something that happened? But then you did, you got up, and now you’re mostly whole again, except that now you’re so much richer and much more interesting than before…

In life (and sewing), it is so easy to get preoccupied with striving for perfection. There is nothing wrong with perfection, but one does not have to be perfect all the time. This dress has many faults, but it is one of my favourites. Casual, comfy, versatile, but it’s a dress. Looks good belted, and loose (you know, for skinny or fat days!) The cotton part wrinkles like crazy, but hey, more wabi-sabi to me!

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Care to share your wabi-sabi creations, dear reader?

Happy New Year!

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Hi there,

I just wanted to pop in really quick and wish you all the best in 2015!!!  2014 brought me a lot of sadness with a light sprinkling of happiness which blossomed into a serious attitude adjustment. I feel like I’ve been evolving, making peace with things that I cannot change, and using that as a springboard towards things that I want for myself. For a long time I felt like making New Year resolutions was pointless, as I would hardly ever accomplish them. This year though, I will be making many, with crazy abandon, because even if I accomplish only one resolution, at the end of 2015 I will be in a better situation than I was at the end of 2014. Drumroll, please!

1. Continue sewing and stash busting (doh!)

2. Learn to play harmonica!

3. Participate in Popsugar Reading Challenge. I love to read, and I read a lot, but this time I want to get a bit more focused in my choices. Less Facebook, more book.

4. Another crazy challenge: Sketch-a-Day. At one point in my life visual arts were a huge part of it, and now I would like to rekindle this passion. Who knows what comes out of it?

5. Stick to blogging, and be more regular about it. Writing brings me great joy, and I want to do whatever brings me joy. And so…

6. Do whatever brings me joy. Don’t do stuff that make me miserable. Simple enough in theory!

Now, sewing talk. See the sparkly number above? I though it would be appropriate to share this, as New Year Eve is one of those nights that you cannot NOT wear sparklies… It started out about year and a half ago, as a dress which was based on my favourite T-shirt, with sheer, bell-shaped sleeves. Somehow I ended up with a hugely low neckline (I suspect the weight of the fabric might have something to do with it). I tried to salvage the situation by adding this stupid ruffly thing all around the neckline, but there was no use… The dress served as my Hottie cover-up (Hottie is my dress form. I named her Hottie, because I stuffed her boobs to correspond to my size, but I did not stuff her stomach, which resulted in ridiculously hot figure for said dress form).

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See the white peeking through from underneath the neckline? That’s Hottie’s bra… There was no way I would go anywhere in such a dress… In a flash of inspiration, I hacked off the sleeves, hacked off the stupid frill, took off about 1.5″ off the shoulder seams (in the front, and in the back), yadda, yadda, yadda, all finished an hour later! Year and I half in the making, hurray!!!

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I hope you dance like no one/everyone is watching. Let 2015 be the year of fun and hope, and new, crazy challenges! Will you be making any resolutions?

 

PS. More resolutions: get my driver’s licence, do a Tough Mudder, get more active with my kid, lose some weight, sew up a slipcover for my couch, put more effort into making new friends and “maintaining” old ones, meditate/gaze inwards daily… I’m sure more resolutions will be coming up along the way…

The easiest dress ever!

Howdy!

For a long time a bad sewing mojo seemed to have been hanging over me, like a purplish-blue cloud. Oh no, that’s my hair! NOTHING was coming out right. Not even a t-shirt… My frustrations were overwhelming, until the time I reminded myself: Hey, it’s supposed to be fun! It’s supposed to be relaxing! Start from the beginning!

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So I did…Enter the Perfect Pattern Parcel #3. I bought it because Oona said to buy it. I made the Bombshell swimsuit too, but I still have some major bumps to deal with (the ones in the front, namely)… In the meantime I decided to make the Staple Dress by April Rhodes, it promised to be quick and dirty, just how I like it… And it was. No darts, no closures, only 4 pattern pieces, and if you use pre-made bias tape, there are only 2 pattern pieces! Unheard of!!! I was a little bit afraid it would look too baggy if I cut XXL, and too tight in the chest if I cut XL, so I cut the front XXL and XL back, because I was too lazy to grade between the sizes. Seemed to have worked out OK. Except the neckline was gaping, so I put a little pleat in the middle.

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I know you can’t really see the pleat on the neckline, or the collar too clearly, it was 2 PM, and that was the only time I could take pictures… Sorry!

After I put the dress together, it looked quite plain and I wanted to jazz it up a bit. I used small, rectangular studs to make a little pretend collar. I love it!

IMG_1107Another thing that I changed in this pattern is the sleeve. It was just a simple cap sleeve, but I cut a rounded slit on it, since a cap sleeve tends to add optically to my horizontal dimensions…

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I also omitted shirring the waist. I tried, lord knows I tried… My machine has a top-loading bobbin, so there is a bit of surgery required, as two YouTube videos assured me, but supposedly one can do shirring on such a machine. Not only did I fail miserably with the shirring, but also I had a super-hard time getting the bobbin tension to where it should be for normal sewing. Must have taken me at least an hour, with this stupid tiny screwdriver, screwing the screwditty-doo. Belts, belts I tell ya!

But hey, all is well that ends well. I put the dress on at 2PM to take pictures, and I did not take it off at all until the bath time. I likeyyyyyyyy, it’s comfy and simple and polka-dotty.

So, what can you recommend to a girl to help her break through a bad spell of no sew-jo?

Until soon!

 

I think I’m in Love…

Earlier today I made two garments, both are promising to be my spring/summer favourites. I feel that everybody involved in the process of making these should be thanked. So here we go:

1) Thank you McCaul, for putting out M6754. Terribly cute pattern, and I’ve been dying to make it since last summer. Also, it is a terribly silly pattern. Or it is great if you are a person who is comfortable with seeing your bellybutton through your front neckline, and your butt-crack through the back neckline. When I made the first version of View A the only thing that I liked about it was the placement of the bust darts. I liked them enough to go on with another muslin… Interestingly enough, both of the following versions have darts that go too high. Oh well, I think they make my bewbs look perkier, no?

2) Thank you to my sister-in-law. She wears horizontal stripes like no one else, she wears them all the time, big stripes, small stripes, and what-not stripes, and ALWAYS rocks them. You see, I am intimidated by horizontal stripes, and a lot of my stash involves stripes, because I love stripes. My SIL has a very similar physique to mine, she might be 1″taller than I, and is equally apple-shaped, so there is no reason why she should rock those stripes, but not I!? It’s all about attitude, yo! You wanna see what I made yet?

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3) I also would like to thank The Stashbusting Sewalong 2014 group, who are such a swell bunch of gals! This month’s theme is COLOURS! I love all the colours, I sew all sorta koo-koo hues, but I got to thinking about sewing for work, or for when I cannot match a jacket to a dress, because all of the clothes that I make are so crazy colour-wise. So I’ve decided to make me a dress out of the plainest piece of knit that I had: medium weight, grey t-shirt fabric, 100% cotton with not a lot of stretch. I thought of it as a plain canvas, on which one might hang a crazy jacket or a sick belt. When I put it on after I attached the skirt to the bodice, I gasped. It was the most understated but also elegant piece of clothing that I made. The way the skirt hung, how the fabric skimmed my body without clinging to my rolls… Love at first sight!

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And just to prove a point about it being a canvas on which one might hang things, I tied a piece of random cord around my waist, to mimic a sick belt, of course:

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See how pretty? Point proven…

4) Thank you wind, for blowing some nice weather this way, perfect for taking pictures:

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A Sweater, A Princess, and Second Chances.

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Once upon a time there was a cute sweater. It was snug, but not too snug, and it was such a colour that when you saw it, you tasted raspberries in your mouth. The sweater belonged to the fair-ish Princess, who wore it few times, enjoying herself immensely. One day, the evil stepmother* carelessly threw the sweater into the wash and then into the dryer on HOT! The Princess shed tears, as the lovely sweater barely covered her belly anymore. It was a pitiful sight, the Princess tugging on it trying to make it fit, but to no avail. Many years have passed (like, almost five) and the Princess acquired the skill of sewing. Even though the sweater was languishing in the darkest bowels of her closet, she never forgot the shrunken treasure.

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She was stricken with a bout of inspiration. She cut off the ribbing at the bottom, cut off most of the sleeves, added a black band and pink button to each sleeve, and a half-circle skirt to where the ribbing used to be.  The Princess’ heart was overflowing with joy, she was eagerly awaiting being re-united with her lovely, lovely sweater, now getting reincarnated as a high-waisted, MIDI dress. But an evil spirit possessed the Princess’ shears, and also poked her in the elbow as she was shortening the hem. Oops, there was nothing else to do but to carry on, the Princess apparently now had a high-waisted MINI dress, which she finished with a rolled hem on her serger. From the extra fabric that she salvaged from the hem she made a belt, which totally did not show in the pictures, and a cute bow, which she attached to the centre of the neckline. The Princess cherished her new dress, proudly wore it in her backyard while taking pictures. Afterwards, she edited her nipples out of the photos, as it was sooooooo darn cold outside, and it showed in the pictures. But her and the dress had a great time, and they lived happily ever after.

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THE END

*The “evil stepmother” was actually a helpful and well-meaning Prince, but some names got changed to protect people’s identities.

Mad Men and Woman in the Snow

 

I actually wanted to title this post “A petition to Julia Bobbin”, followed by a plea to change the date of the Mad Men Dress Challenge for next year (I hope there will be next year?) to later in the year. I mean, c’mon, doesn’t your heart just break looking at me modelling my lovely summer dress with heaps of snow in the background?

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Hello? Is it spring you’re looking for?

But anyhoo, this dress is inspired by Betty’s dresses. She is not one of my favourite characters, but fairly early in the series they showed her working away at a sewing machine, and at that moment Betty stole a piece of my heart. How could anyone not love her day dresses, or those breezy, summery party dresses?

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Fitted bodice, and a full skirt, in pretty, pretty colours. That is the general style that I desperately wanted to duplicate, because I have never had a dress like that. Since a very early age my mother discouraged me from wearing dresses, she believed that they did not suit me. So I abandoned the notion of dressing pretty and turned into a total tomboy. It is only now that I have the confidence to embrace my body the way it is, and I acquired  certain amount of sewing and fitting skill that I want to try to regain some of the girliness that I never had. So here it comes:

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Circle skirt: check!
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Twirl: check. OK, kinda, too windy and too cold to twirl.

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Now for the deets: the bodice is the same as the black dress. This time, I boned the front and side seams with plastic boning (in the black dress I put boning only in the side seams). I really enjoy the look and feel of a boned bodice, and again I am so surprised how easy it is to work with plastic boning! The front of the bodice, after drafting and installing straps, became quite short, so I drafted the waist band (a loooong rectangle), to which I added the circle skirt. That circle skirt was cut in the summer, and at that point was not meant to be a dress, just a stash busting experiment. Then it was marinating on a hanger for the next 7 months (to get the stretch out from the bias sections, I think the 7 months did the trick)! I lined the whole thing with cotton batiste, installed the zipper, discovered that I did not have any more hook and eye closures, trimmed the skirt, and added the lace to the bottom. Then I went to install the horsehair braid to the bottom of the skirt, following some well-meaning but wrong advice. The advice was to use thinner horsehair, since I made a narrow hem. Later, when I was flipping through Gertie’s book, I read that the more drama you want, the wider the braid you should use. So tomorrow at work I will be purchasing some 2″ or 3″ horsehair, rather than the measly 1/2″ that I was working with. And I will probably shorten the lace a little bit, it seems to be too long for the proportions of the dress, no?

So that is that. This is a dress that makes me feel like a million bucks. This is the dress that trumps ALL of the sewing messes that I’ve made so far.  This is the dress I’ll be wearing in bed when I catch a cold from twirling in 3 centigrade weather. And the dress also wants me to buy me a string of pearls…

Keep your eye out on Julia’s blog and the challenge roundup on April 6th, to see what other participants of the MMDC3 came up with. I expect it to be inspiring, as always!

 

Party!

IMG_0315“Haaaaaaai, I made my dress!” I wanted to tell everybody at the party that I attended 2 days ago. But I didn’t. But I wanted to, soooooooo badly! This dress must be one of the best makes of mine so far, and I am just so happy about how it turned out. Well, IT did not turn out, I crafted it for two weeks until it fit so well that  if I tweaked it any more I would ruin it. The way it hugs my curves in all the right places makes me feel like a middle-aged glamazon (here’s an appropriate pose for that statement:)

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That furry paparazzo follows me EVERYWHERE!

The fabric, which is a brocade-y black/metallic mystery blend, was originally purchased for a bad-ass pair of jeans. I lined it with some black acetate which I found deep in the bowels of my stash. The pattern is Vogue 8849, view B. I chose to work with it because it was one of those “custom fit” patterns, where they give you the pattern pieces for bust cups A-D. And “shorten” lines for petite, which I took full advantage of. I was feeling quite apprehensive when I started, since I had never worked with princess seams before.  So I measured myself to establish that indeed, I am a cup D, or maybe even more. Then I made a muslin, and to my greatest surprise had to take in the sides of the bodice. It was still baggy… So I took in the princess seams. It was still baggy. So I decided (after two days of obsessing about it) to make a C-cup bodice and see what happens. It kinda worked, much better fit across the bust, but still had to take in the sides a lot. Boo-hoo. But I tweaked and tweaked, and it worked.

Just before puttting in the lining, I decided to read the instructions, just to see if I was missing anything. Sure enough, boning! Again, boning is something I’d never worked with before, and there it was, staring me in the face. So I decided to meet it half-way: I put in the boning in the side seams, but not in the princess seams. It worked out! And the best thing, the dress survived all the dancing, eating and drinking, chasing after the offspring, and all that party stuff. Actually, I dressed it down with a cardi and pair of boots for the party, but to show it off for you, dear readers, I wanted to kick it up a notch. Kick it up in those shoes that are impossible to walk in, although I kid myself that I can. Well, at least I can wear them to take pictures.

dressLook, no back cleavage! No bra-band overflow! And even though the side view is not my most flattering angle, I think it looks reasonable! Oh yes, I made the straps much wider than what the instructions call for, and also the dip in the middle dips much deeper.

So if you excuse me, I have to go now to pat myself on the back some more, I can’t type with one hand… But seriously, I enjoyed working with that pattern, I really would like to make one of the peplum versions. But before that, I have to make more PJs, more leggings, and more work tops. And some badass jeans. Until next time!

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Stealing my dress’ thunder, you photobomber?