A Goddess Bride in the Making

I was overjoyed to have been contacted by an acquaintance to create a custom wedding gown for her elegant and opulent wedding happening in October of 2019. Dione is a lovely boss-lady who has a bold sense of fashion and an arresting beauty, so of course, I was super excited to have the opportunity to create something unique for her wedding dress!

We started with ideas, concepts and visions of what she wanted for her gown.

She was going for BIG, BOLD and DRAMATIC!

She shared these images with me for her visions of the gown:

The High/Low hem and embellishments of this dress really caught her eye.
She loved the embellishment details of this dress, and the volume of the ballgown

So I got to work right away coming up with concepts that I would be able to create and achieve with the skills that I had.

I made some fashion sketches and shared them with her:

And the fittings began!

I started with this McCalls 7720 sewing pattern for the shape of the bodice, and possibly the skirt too if I could get the fullness:

McCalls 7720 pattern

I ended up just using the bodice of the pattern and draping the skirt.

At first, she wanted to have a tulle underskirt to wear for the wedding ceremony, then take off the underskirt to reveal the underside of the hem and her fabulously shapely legs. Here is a raw version of the dress mocked up in muslin with a tulle skirt underneath for fullness:

I perfected the fit of the bodice easily on her slim torso, so that was easy. It was getting the skirt length, fit and drape just right that was the major challenge:

Here she is, in the dress, cut in the satin, pinned up to make the hemline as we wanted
Placing the motifs with the tulle underneath
And with a couple of the fancy gold trim motif’s pinned to the front.
And more trim…

At the next fitting, I had pinned the gold trim all around the skirt and we tried this on for fun (meanwhile, we were moving into a new house, was planning our own wedding, and I was making my own dress, so please excuse the chaos of my sewing room):

Nice, but we weren’t happy with the back length at all so I kinda had to start over.

OK so fast forward, I was starting to admire my work as I worked late into the night up in my new sewing loft. I had a bodice, a skirt, and it was starting to look like a real wedding gown.

Playing with the pleat formation

Once we had the shape decided, I started the tedious task of sewing on all of the gold trim on, one motif at a time, with this annoying, yet beautiful, gold metallic thread. I was married by now, so I could put the making of MY dress out of my head and focus on Di’s dress:

Then, it was on to sewing the lining to the outside of the dress, all by hand:

Can’t lie, this was tedious…

Finally, the dress was done and ready for the final fitting! (Again, please excuse the pile of junk shoved in the corner, I was BUSY!)

Get ready for chills up your spine….

Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
I can’t…SO HOT!!! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography

Sums it all up: BAD-ASS BEAUTY! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
With her handsome groom Howard, LOVE! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
Those legs go on for miles! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography
YESSS!!!! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography

We had a BLAST at the wedding! It was a a huge, black tie event, so of course I had to throw together another dress to wear to it as the official dressmaker to the bride!

I just threw this together in a few days to wear to the wedding, no biggie..
Ready to go!
We were honored to attend the grand affair!

What an honor it was to create such a special gown for Dione! She was a lot of fun to work with and so great to get to know better. I loved EVERY minute of the process (ok, maybe not the hand sewing part) and am delighted to have had the opportunity.

CONGRATS!!! You’re a Goddess living amongst us!

Love! Photo: Dina Chmut Photography

Red is The Color of Love

It’s been far too long since I have posted anything here on my beloved blog, so I thought it was time to update and refresh with a quick post. What better way to do that with a bright and exciting project that I made for myself for our first wedding anniversary!

So, here she is:

Red maxi dress with flutter sleeve and sash

I cut out and sewed this dress in three days during time after work hours and the weekend before our dinner date, so it was a bit of a rush job. Due to lack of time and general dressmaking laziness, I didn’t make a mock-up, I just went by my body measurements, comparing to the pattern measurements, and a mini tissue fitting (essentially holding the pattern tissue up to myself and eyeballing what I needed to adjust). I added 4 inches to the skirt length knowing I wanted it to be long enough to wear with heels and for it to be floor length. I may add more length next time so it really touches the ground. I also fully lined it (the pattern instructs to just line the bodice) and made French seams for the skirt side seams.

I just love how this dress turned out! It was so comfortable to just slip into, strap on some heels, a pretty necklace and earrings, a dab of Miss Dior perfume at my neck, and DONE!

Yes, I realize that I match my front door.

I used this Simplicity 8832 sewing pattern, view C, for this dress. I just love the simplicity of this pattern (ha, haa, meant to do that) and the lines of the dress design:

Line drawings of Simplicity 8832 pattern

What I am NOT so crazy about is how they styled the pattern cover. I think they could have chose a different fabric, or had multiple versions made up in different fabrics, to show off the designs of this pattern:

Simplicity 8832 Sewing Pattern Cover

I hope that I am not coming off as a snob. My apologies if I am offending anyone, but I just looks a tad, I don’t know, “old lady shower curtain” to me in this particular fabric:

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful floral fabric for a light and airy dress such as this, but I was going for a look more like this:

Dark green floral dress

Or even this:

Gorgeous burgundy velvet dress

I suppose I can chalk this one up as a wearable test dress and can plan to make it again in a more luxe fabric for the next time. That is part of the beauty of knowing how to sew and make your own clothes. You get to be the designer and create your own vision! I just love that about sewing and it brings me a great deal of joy and satisfaction.

Meanwhile, happy first anniversary to my loving, cutie-pie husband! It’s been a wonderful first year and I look forward to many, many more!

Back to the drawing board and up to the sewing room as I have a few exciting new client projects that I am working on. Yay!!!

The Ultimate Dress: My Own Wedding Gown!

It all began when my sweetheart popped the question back in early December 2018. I knew then, and even before then, that I wanted to design and sew my own wedding dress. I love weddings and all of the lovely elements of a wedding: the flowers, the music, the gathering of family and friends to celebrate love, and of course, the dress!

The wedding gown carries that special purpose for a bride. It should highlight her personality, her uniqueness, her beauty and make her feel like the star of the day.

Once the word was out, my close girlfriends could not wait to go wedding dress shopping with me. I made appointments to try on gowns at a couple of local bridal salons and invited my girl gang along for the occasion, with one condition: I was just looking for inspiration and was absolutely NOT buying a dress! I was determined to make my dress no matter what!

I tried on some gorgeous gowns, all while trying to sneak a look at the construction and sewing methods of my favorites. I found that my favorite look was a sleeveless, low V-neckline gown with a fitted trumpet skirt, all in lace. Nothing poofy, simple and clean, maybe a vintage vibe to it. Something achievable to create and practical to wear.

One dress that I really liked (and tried on several times) was this gown from Willoby named “Corella”:


I tried this gown on at The English Department, surrounded by my wonderful friends, who captured this image of me in this swoon-worthy gown:


I knew that I could recreate this look with the right fabric, lining and pattern as it is a relatively simple design with not a lot of complicated seams or construction details.

So, I got to work right away with finding a pattern to start with and most importantly, the perfect fabric to work with.

I found some commercial patterns to start with, knowing that I’d have to  make several changes and adjustments to it for fit and to achieve the look I was going for. I started with this dress pattern from Simplicity, which also happened to be designed by Leanne Marshall, a young woman from the Portland, Oregon area who won Project Runway Season 5. How cool is that!


Simplicity 8596

I really liked the low V-neckline, front and back, of the bodice of this dress as you can see in the line drawings of this pattern:


I wasn’t as keen on the skirt of this pattern as I wanted something simple and straightforward, which probably could have achieved by eliminating the seams and flounces of the skirt, but I didn’t want to do that much work, so I kept looking. I found this Simplicity pattern in their Prom line of patterns and thought it would be a perfect base for the skirt:


Simplicity 8597



View A was perfect with the train for my gown

After purchasing the patterns (on sale for $1.99 each, thank you very much Joann Fabrics!), I made an appointment with one of the best ladies in Portland who could help me with the fit and construction, Marla Kazell. 

I have taken many sewing lessons with Marla and her equally-awesome sewing teacher/partner Elizabeth Miles at Mill End Store in Beaverton during their Open Sewing lessons. I knew that Marla had the skills, experience and sewing knowledge to help me make the best gown possible. Paying her was the best money spent as I learned SO much about fitting and construction that I will use for many projects in the future for years to come.

Marla and I got to work doing a tissue fitting of the patterns, a couple of muslin fittings, and fabric cutting and construction consultations until I was 100% comfortable and confident with moving forward with the sewing.


snapping a selfie at Marla’s studio

After shopping around the Portland area fabric stores, I just couldn’t find the perfect fabric that wasn’t stupid expensive or enough yardage for the dress (I needed about 8 yards), so I decided that I needed to visit the next closest place for great fabric options-Los Angeles!

With my pattern, sketches in my Fashionary notebook,


and an empty carry-on suitcase, I took the day and flew to LA (only about a 2 hour flight from PDX) and hit  Mood Fabrics. Good idea!




I spend the better part of the day at Mood, with my pattern and sketches handy, finding a friendly and patient store worker to help me with my hunt. The young lady who helped me (her name escapes me) was so sweet, patient and happy to help me. She pulled out heavy bolts of fabric, shlepped it around the store, and helped me to decide on the best choice. She even helped me pick the lining material, notions and fabric for my veil that I was also planning to make.  Thank you Mood!



Not cheap, or lightweight, but the perfect fabric for a wedding gown and SO worth the trip!


Can’t forget the netting for the veil!

I got to work planning out the layout for the lace as the pattern repeated in a certain way and had the edge that I wanted to keep for the train:




Once I cut the pattern pieces, I pinned them like they were to be sewn and draped it on my dress form. I was immediately in love and felt a rush of excitement!



The fittings with Marla continued, each time getting closer and closer to the Big Day and the Big Reveal (I was hiding all of this the entire time from my future husband’s curious eyes!)!


Fast forward, it was only a few days until the wedding day! Luckily, my crafty sister Donna was here several days leading up to the wedding and helped me to do some final fitting and offered to help make my veil. She was a wonderful help in making it all happen, even though she didn’t know how to use my sewing machine (at least not well), she could cut out the net of the veil and hand sew. Thanks to YouTube, we found some tutorials on making a veil that were fast and easy. She watched, cut, hand sewed, and I machine sewed the fine soutache trim around the edge of the veil. Easy peasy!

My other sister Lisa arrived a couple of days before the wedding and helped me decide on the drape of the bustle along with my cousin Heather. I couldn’t have done it without them!



The wedding day came up so fast! I was ready though, ready to wear the gown that took me months to plan and create, all with great joy, pride and love for my future husband.


Here I pose with my sister Donna and my cousin Heather. Don’t they look marvelous too!

Here comes the bride!




The veil!


My Ladies in Waiting bustling the back of my train



Happily ever after!


aaaand, scene….











Lady in Red

My latest creation is my favorite creation so far! It all began with falling in love with the fabric while walking through Joann Fabrics:

Red Floral Embroidered Mesh

Embroidered Floral Mesh from Joann Fabrics

I just HAD to have some of this fabric to make into a great dress as it reminded me of the couture embroidered designs of current collections as Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta or Dolce & Gabana:

Or dresses from the past such as these from Christian Dior:

Vintage CD dresses on exhibit

I saw these dresses (and many more) at the Dior exhibit in Paris in 2017-breathtaking!

Of course, the Joann fabric is nowhere NEAR the detailed hand embroidered and embellished fabrics from these designers, but it has the look of the fabric in essence.

I started to imagine what I was going to create from this fabric with this classic pattern from Vogue choosing view C, the strapless dress with a full midi-length skirt:

Vogue 8766

From there, I cut out the bodice pattern pieces and giant skirt pieces from the embroidered fabric, the red underlining and another layer of lining in black Bemberg rayon, all purchased from Joann Fabrics.

Constructing the dress was really not all that difficult. The only part that I took extra time and attention to do was to cut out and around some of the floral motifs of the bodice in order to later overlay the motif back over the seam once the seam was sewn. I only did this for a couple of spots on the front of the bodice as I felt that it would look much better on the finished dress instead of just cutting through a large flower. I realize that this may sound confusing, but if you saw the dress up close, you’d see what I mean.

In this photo, you can somewhat see how the flower motifs get cut off and trapped into the seam, so I did my best to cut around the large ones on the center front panel of the bodice and leave them “free” as I sewed the seam, then sewed them back down and over the seam with tiny hand stiches later:


The strapless bodice under construction

Boning came next. I followed the pattern instructions and sewed boning only into the side seams of the bodice. I thought this might not be enough support for the dress and skirt, but I just stuck to it knowing that I also planned to add a waist stay inside the dress to help hold it up and in place.

My fiancé Tom was sweet enough to help me do the final fittings of the dress and help me hem it too. He says he loves to help, I think it makes him feel like he is part of the creative process. How cute is that?!


Tom helps fit the back of my dress before putting in the zipper 🙂

Gidget wants to participate too by sitting on my dress right before I sit on the couch to do some hand sewing. Also quite cute:


What? Nothing to see here…Ignore the dead squirrel toy in the background

The inside of this dress came out pretty nicely too, with the smooth and shiny black lining, it slipped on with ease!



The waist stay made from a strip of grosgrain ribbon and hook & eye was the perfect support for this dress

I was so excited about my latest creation that I just had to get some photos of it as soon as it was complete so that I could share it with the world! (Or at least, my little world!)


My new dress is complete!

V8766 Red Dress 13

She’s so twirl-worthy!

V8766 Red Dress 14

I got a little dizzy twirling so much!

V8766 Red Dress 20

This fabric!

Vogue 8766 pattern


V8766 Red Dress 7

I feel like a princess in this dress!

Now, I’m off to tidy up my sewing room and get started on the next project. Ciao for now!

Something Blue

I recently got engaged to the love of my life and am on top of the world! We plan to get married soon, possibly as soon as this summer, and I have been delighted to begin thinking of what wedding dress (or dresses!) I would like to design and sew for the occasion. One part of wedding sewing, at least for me, includes lingerie and all the pretties the go along with bridal attire. and honeymoon festivities!

What better to get the sewing mojo going than an unfinished sewing project, 50% complete, that will be easy to finish and spark the beginning of more intimate and special things to make for the wedding. Especially now since one of my new year’s resolutions is to finish what I started, and to write more blog posts too!

I ordered this sewing pattern nearly a year ago from the shop All The Precious Things on Etsy:


The only alteration I made to the pattern before cutting it out of the silk was to add 2″ to the length of the front and back pieces as I felt it was a wee bit too short and may show off a little more than I desired.

So, I began sewing this lovely little cobalt blue silk negligee once again, taking the time to pin the sections together and carefully apply the lace to the cups and hems of the silk pieces of the slip:




The pieces came together fairly fast and easy, with only a front, back, cups and straps to make, plus adding the lace trim.



After a couple of French seams for the sides, a more difficult seam for attaching the cups to the front, and some careful machine and hand sewing on the slippy bias-cut silk, the slip was complete.


Stay tuned for more pretties! Happy New Year!


The Bomb-er


I’ve always wanted to own a bomber jacket. There is something cool and so easy about them, for all sexes and ages. I suppose that are a combination of an aviator jacket and a varsity jacket, and are seen everywhere in fashion nowadays.

The opportunity and time to make one for myself when we decided against dressing up and going out for Halloween this year as we had made previous plans for a double date with another couple the one good night for going out on the town. That disappointed me a bit as I was looking forward to making us costumes and going to a party or event, however, left me with some time (and fabric money) to make something else instead. So I chose a bomber jacket!

I picked up this sewing pattern a couple of months ago and started finding information online about the pattern and who had sewn it:


I learned that many sewists had really enjoyed making this pattern and it had rave reviews on PatternReview.com.

Some had even taken gone one step further and made the jacket reversible! I thought, if they could do that, why couldn’t I? So I went for it and made it happen!

I gathered up what materials I wanted to make the jacket out of, including the cotton camouflage print fabric and the flannel-backed satin for the two sides of the fabric and lining, the 2-way metal zipper (I ended up using a different zipper than the one shown in the photo below), and the gold metallic thread of which I planned to quilt the satin lining:

I got to work cutting out the two sides as I knew the quilting would be the most time-consuming and wanted to get to it as soon as possible. I spent a good amount of time making chalk lines of the quilting pattern I wanted on the jacket front and back pieces of the satin side before sewing it to the batting and creating the quilting pattern:

front quilting lines

The quilting was somewhat of a slow and careful sewing process. My sewing machine didn’t get along so well with the metallic thread (yes, I used the right kind of needle and tension on my machine!) and caused some technical difficulties, but with some patience and rethreading the machine many times, we eventually got through it together.

I decided to leave the sleeves of the satin sides smooth and un-quilted to avoid any “you look so, um, puffy today” comments when wearing the jacket with the satin side out. I think that was a great decision plus a huge time saver.

Sewing the rest of the jacket was pretty much a breeze, including the two-piece raglan sleeves, the pockets and even the ribbed knit collar, waistband and cuffs:


the front pieces sewn to the back



The sleeves sewn to the front and back


I basted the zipper in by hand before machine sewing it in for the most control of this “touchy” bit of the process:


Then, sewn by machine:


Before long, I was on the home stretch doing my final top stitching using my edge stitching foot (one of my favorite machine feet!) on the front opening edge of the jacket and she was about done!


I was thinking that I would like to add some cool embroidered patches to my bomber jacket, but didn’t come across any ones I liked in time, so I figured I could always add some and sew them on by hand if I come across any  the I like in the future. Meanwhile, I LOVE my new bomber jacket and am so excited to wear it, and inside out!





PS and disclaimer: this post has no affiliation with the crazy-ass bomber who was just arrested for mailing bombs to prominent Trump critics! Just say’n…

Watercolors in Silk

I just love a great watercolor painting, how the colors softly flow into each other, creating emotion with how they blend together to evoke a mood.

Speaking of Mood, the renown fabric store in New York, Los Angeles, and online at MoodFabrics.com, the store where the Project Runway design contestants run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to find fabric, trim, notions and inspiration (and hopefully a lucky Swatch sighting), all within a ridiculous 30 minutes, is running a series of contests using their fabrics. I thought how fun it would be, and also a challenge for me, to order some silk and whip up something for their MoodMadeSilk18 contest by the deadline of today, April 30th, 2018.

I went ahead and ordered 2 yards of this gorgeous watercolor floral silk chiffon and was even happier when it arrived!


Isn’t it SO pretty?!

I gave it a gentle wash and laid it flat to dry, then got to smoothing it all out perfectly on grain and ready to be cut:


I thought this would be a perfect fabric for this pattern view A from McCall’s that I had recently acquired from their new Spring ’18 collection:


Pinterest is one of my favorite resources to find inspiration and ideas for sewing (also for cooking, art and other ideas). I found a couple of flouncy cold shoulder tops and pinned them for inspiration and thought, “I could make something like that, easy!”

floral cold shoulder long sleeve top                                             coral flounce cold shoulder top

So, I proceeded to do just that!

By taking measurements of the flat pattern and comparing them to my own body measurements, I knew that the torso would need to be lengthened in order to not feel too short on me when done, so I altered the pattern and added one inch to the front and back pieces using the “slash and spread” method (sorry, that sounds kinda dirty) before cutting the top out of fabric:

With the top only being a few pattern pieces, it went together fairly quickly, not including the pain-in-the-assery of working with silk chiffon, of course. For one thing, I had to carefully mark the wrong sides of the fabric as I went along so that I didn’t sew them incorrectly:


Plus, make French seams on most seams since the fabric is so sheer and frays like a beeotch:


sewing seam part #2 of a French seam

I decided that the fabric of the top was SO sheer that I would feel indecent prancing around in this with all of my “stuff” showing underneath, so I ran out and bought enough additional silk chiffon in a deep navy to layer under the print to create some opacity:

The top took me a little over a week to completely cut out and sew in my free time, so that was not too bad. I love the flounce and halter neck, and the fabric most of all on this top.

As for pattern changes, I left off the elastic at the waist, and didn’t add the zipper as the pattern suggests as I think that would be too much weight for this super delicate and sheer material. I also skipped the facing and sewed the lining in it’s place for a much better finish to the edge and to combat some of the sheerness.


Detail of the French seam made on the flounce piece

I am not 100% sold on this pattern as I feel the fit is a tad “off” and the cold shoulder is really, really cold showing so much skin. It is way too big in the underarm as it turns out and shows off a good deal of side boob here. Making a dart here to take up some space is not going to work on the finished top (note to self: make more pattern alterations in this area, and maybe try a muslin too, before cutting into spendy materials like this, silly girl Steph!) so for now, I think I’ll make up a coordinating bra or a panel on the side to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions…


Don’t look now, but your side boob is showing…

I finished the top just in time to throw it on, slap on some makeup, do something to tame (or tease?) my crazy hair, and have my sweet and patient man snap some photos of me to post on my Instagram with the hashtag #MoodMadeSilk18 to enter the contest by the deadline. I would love to win the $100 gift card to Mood as the winning prize, but there are some other amazing garments that sewists have made with silk from Mood for this contest, so I wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t win. Just making stuff and challenging myself is fun for me!




THANK YOU MOOD!!! Say “hi” to Swatch for me!

Flounces in Floral

I usually don’t identify myself as being overly girly or feminine, but I’m finding myself drawn to flounces, ruffles, florals and other “girly” details in fashion lately. So, I figured, why not succumb to my femininity and make myself something floral, flouncy and flirty! (Yes, I am a total dork if you were wondering.)

Last summer, I came across this floral stretch denim fabric at Joann’s and really liked it, so I purchased a couple of yards of it, with the intention of making a little dress out of it:

Floral Stretch Denim

We were planning a trip to Las Vegas in August 2017 and I thought this would be a great opportunity to sew a little strappy fitted dress for the trip, but then the trip was cancelled so this particular dress project was also cancelled, at least for the time being.

Fast forward to early Spring 2018. McCall’s Pattern Company released some really great patterns and for a couple of dollars, I picked up this one, and a few others, during one of Joann Fabrics pattern sales:


I’m not all that crazy about the ginormous sleeves on view B and C on this pattern, but I really like the little jacket shape and flounces of view A:


I thought I could make up a cute little spring jacket like this one I spotted on Pinterest:

Flounce Sleeve Jacket

This pattern, although trendy, could easily be made up in solid colors, prints, or with more of a classic look by just leaving off the flounces that are constructed separately and sewn to the outside along a marked stitching line.

One thing that I thought could improve the quality of the jacket in terms of construction and wear was a facing. Without a facing on the inside of this jacket, the lining would come all the way to the edges of the jacket and possibly show or peek out from the inside of the jacket. Upon doing some research of other sewists that have made this jacket, some of them had added a facing and were much happier with the result. So, I decided to take the time to do the same to mine.

I pulled up my online Craftsy sewing class Mastering Construction: Linings and Facings with instructor Sara Alm for a refresher on how to make facings and got to work adjusting my pattern.

Commercial break: I absolutely LOVE Craftsy and have learned so much from these great online classes! The classes offered are an invaluable tools for learning for creative-minded people.

I traced a 3″ facing from the jacket front and back pattern pieces, then also traced the lining (minus the facing area) from the same pattern pieces to create facings and a new lining pattern (adding seam allowances to each):


I then decided to add a little fun pop of color to this jacket that is ultimately just shades of grey and chalk white. I used packaged piping in bright fuchsia pink to sew between the lining and the facing. I see this type of detail in some ready-to-wear garments and knew it would be a relatively easy detail to add to the interior (I also learned how to do this by watching another one of my favorite Craftsy classes, Sew Like a Designer: Fashion Details):



Oh, and I also decided that I would like to have a pocket in this jacket, so I just traced off a rectangle (using a notebook that was handy and my clear grid ruler) and cut out two of these from the lining material, sewed them together leaving an opening to turn, turned it inside out, gave it a good press, then top stitched it to one of the front sides of the lining. I thought of doing a nice welt pocket here, but wasn’t in the mood to take the time to do that. Maybe next time!

It was exciting to see my jacket was really starting to come together! I love how the entire jacket is lined, including the underside of the sleeve and peplum flounces. Here is one sleeve getting pressed on my handy sleeve board after the flounce was gathered slightly and sewed to the outside of the sleeve:


The final touch of slip stitching by hand the sleeve lining to the sleeve at the hem:


All in all, this jacket was a fairly easy sewing project and only took a few evenings after work and Saturday morning to complete. I am so happy with it and glad that I chose to make this up, especially in a floral print.

I got a kick out of showing off the lining, piping and little pocket that I added to the construction of this little gem:

IMG_8910                     IMG_8911

And, of course, my Love, Stephanie label too:

Label in Floral Flounce Jacket

I enjoyed wearing this out to a local fashion event, along with a silk camisole and black wide leg trousers, also items that I have sewn. I even received a couple of compliments on my jacket! Good times!





Happy Spring!

Romance In Color

Chartreuse Silk Wedding GownAhh, sweet, sweet love!

I was SO honored and excited to have been asked by a friendly acquaintance of mine to custom make his fiance’s wedding gown. We are friends on Facebook and had seen and admired some of the garments that I sew and post on my Love, Stephanie page.

I gleefully met up with the bride-to-be Terri and we started to plan the project right away as we only had three months until the wedding.

She wanted a vintage style look, and had an original idea of 1935’s-era inspired separates of a gown, an over-blouse and a long-line jacket all in silk. It was a beautiful and wonderful look that she showed me, an actual Vogue Pattern that I happened to also have in my pattern library-how about that!


After mulling over this idea for a few days, we decided that this pattern would be a lot of pieces for me to make, take up quite a lot of fabric, and that we really didn’t have enough time to make it all work.

Idea # 2 was the perfect vision! It combined a vintage look, simplicity, and I knew it was absolutely do-able in the time that we had. I just love this look!


Plus, when she said she wanted a solid color, I rejoiced because those chevron stripes meeting perfectly down the center front of this dress in insanely slippery silk charmeuse-yikes!!!

I got started researching a decent sewing pattern to base her dress off of in order to make the whole process a little easier and not have to make a pattern from scratch. I found this Simplicity pattern which is a vintage one, but from 1972:


The dress had the V-Neckline with the center front seam and angled seams under the bust and a floor length semi-flared skirt. I would lower the neckline, turn the bust darts into gathers, and make a new sleeve to resemble design lines of the inspiration gown as closely as I could.

She wanted the dress to be in a beautiful color, one that was vibrant, memorable and looked great on her warm brown skin tone. She ordered this gorgeous and lustrous silk charmeuse in a color called Citronelle from NY Designer Fabrics:


Of course, I took a few minutes to sketch out the vision of the dress, adding to it over the time and finishing it off with the look that she executed for her wedding day:


Meanwhile, I got started modifying the pattern and creating a muslin. I chose to make the first muslin out if an inexpensive polyester satin to mimic the silk, but I really should have made the first mock-up out of actual muslin and saved the satin for mockup # 2, but oh well, they both served their purposes:

Fitting #1: we worked out a good deal of fitting and design adjustments to the gown.

I added to the sides where she need more room, lowered the neckline, and checked to see if she liked the sleeve.

Then back to flat pattern adjustments and cutting muslin #2:

She was actively loosing weight, so now the dress was TOO big! But, that’s just fine, better to have more to work with than a too-tight fit. We wanted drop the under-bust seam a little more and obviously take in more fabric in the back.  Overall, the 2nd fitting went really well, I knew what I needed to do next and it was looking good and she was starting to really get excited about her gown!

We had two more fittings before the final delivery. The next was in the dress sewn up most of the way in the actual silk fabric with the changes from the last fitting, but before the zipper was put in, before the hem was cut and sewn, and with generous seam allowances on the sides and back just in case we needed more room. The last fitting, the dress was done, but she wanted to take in the sides a tad more, and there were a few seam tweakings to perfect the dress.

I added finishing touches to the dress using a beige silk lining for the bodice and sleeves:

As an added little luxe touch, I sewed in satin ribbon hanging loops at the top of the sleeves so that the dress did not just slip off the hanger when stored:


A little satin ribbon sewn into the seam makes a great hanging loop that just falls into the dress invisibly when worn.

I made a tiny narrow hem to finish off the dress:


Making the narrow hem, almost done!

Here is the dress, all complete, steamed and ready to roll, hanging in my sewing room (not the best hanger-appeal on this dress: it really needs a body and boobs to fill it out to perfection in my opinion):


The wedding day was upon us! I was nervous about the dress and hoped and prayed that she was happy and loved her gown. It turned out to be really lovely and it looked so beautiful on her! The silk was just SO lustrous and flowed beautifully as she walked and danced with her new husband.


I had the idea to make him a little matching pocket square out of scraps of her dress fabric which she was delighted to give to him during the ceremony. So cute!

I am so in love with their love and simply honored to have such a big part of their wedding ceremony. Thank you Terri and David! Congratulations!!!!


Kiss your beautiful bride!

The Making of Count and Countess Dracula

Better super late than never, right?

Starting late summer, I asked my boyfriend to start thinking about what he would like to be for Halloween. Call me crazy, but I love Halloween and the process of planning and making costumes, and these things take a lot of time, money and effort to get together.

He shared my excitement about the idea and thought that he would like to be something that went along with the whole Halloween theme: darkness, evil spirits, mystery, haunting, horror. Being a vampire was perfect! Plus, we wanted to do a couples themed costume, so I thought it would be perfect for me to have the opportunity to make an outfit for myself that depicted Victorian era vampires as in movies and TV such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Interview With a Vampire or one of our favorite TV series, Penny Dreadful.

So, I happily got to work planning our costumes. We thought about what outfits would be appropriate for the characters and what accessories and makeup that we would like to add.

Luckily, the big 4 sewing pattern companies bank on people like me who like to not only sew their own clothing and home decor, but also who like to create their own custom costumes and not succumb to the mass-produced, cheaply made store bought Halloween costumes out there. These pattern companies have done a great job building hundreds of choices for patterns for costumes for men, women, kids and even pets! All kids of characters to make ranging from TV and movie favorites, period costumes and accessories, superheros and classic Halloween favorites. I pick up these kinds of patterns when they are on sale for $0.99 or $1.99 at Joann’s just in case I think I will ever want to sew them for myself or someone else. They are actually quite exciting to read through, can be somewhat complicated, and I learn valuable sewing techniques from them (I know, call me a geek, I’m totally OK with that!).

I looked through the costume sewing patterns that I have on hand and collected over the years, or ones that I might need to buy, what fabrics that I had in my stash that would work for the costumes.

I chose to use these patterns for Count Dracula as the cape had a nice, wide collar and a lining, and the vest had nice options to look like the proper gentleman that he wanted to portray:

I decided that I was going to take the time to make this lovely Victorian Steam-Punk-esque ensemble consisting of a bolero jacket, a corset, over skirt and long walking skirt:


Plus, I wanted to make a hat or hair accessory to top it all off. I ran out of time before the Halloween event and party that we were going to to complete the hat, but it is so pretty and I know that I will wear with this costume or others in the future, so I will finish it eventually:


After we settled on the sewing patterns to use, I rummaged through my fabric stash to see if I had anything that I could use for these costumes. All I could find that I had enough of in my stash was enough fabric for linings and some interfacing. The rest of the yardage would have to be purchased new.

The Count’s Cape:

Tom’s costume was first in line. We headed out together to Fabric Depot with a 40% off coupon and the patterns in hand  to look for fabrics. He chose a lovely black satin for the outside of the cape and a gorgeous deep burgundy for the lining. Also, we found a very nice silver paisley brocade for his vest. We waited on buying the velvet for the collar of the jacket as I had some velvet in mind for the collar of my little bolero that I had seen at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

For the cape, we weren’t wanting the pointy edges of the bottom as the pattern came, so I created a smoothly curved hem using my curved ruler.


Cape pattern as it was originally drafted. The hem is silly I think, or at least not appropriate for Dracula!

For the most part, I used my serger to sew together the long, straight seams of the cape. As many steps in sewing costumes, I tend to take short cuts and not spend the time doing couture finishes or do any hand sewing where the machines can do all the work. I figure why put in too much time if the costume is only going to be worn a few times and construction is not a priority.


Serging the cape together.

Here is the collar under way:


Dracula’s collar with stiff interfacing applied

and sewing the cape to the collar:IMG_7382

I also sewed in a little hanging chain between the collar and cape body for ease of hanging the cape later:


Hand sewing on the frog closure of the cape.

Once the cape was complete, I got started his vest.

The Count’s Vest:

He chose a nice grey brocade fabric for the vest, and I had black velvet to use on my outfit for the collar. I had scraps of lining material on hand to line the vest, so we were good to go.


Paisley brocade for his vest

I don’t have any other photos of the vest in progress (you’d probably get bored anyway), but all went quite well and smoothly with the vest and it’s a relatively quick garment to make.



Now, on to my outfit!

The Countess’ Outfit:

First came my bolero jacket. I found enough of this lovely red, black and silver paisley brocade fabric at Joann’s Fabrics (using a 50% off coupon-woo hoo!) to make the jacket and over skirt. I just love these colors together, and it looked great with the black velvet, black lace, the red silk dupioni for the corset, black soutache and beaded trim and the coordinating black skirt.

I threw together a mini mood board and illustration just for fun:


Let the sewing begin!

The Bolero Jacket:



Basting stitches in a bright contrasting thread for ease of removal later

Here are some of the cutting out, sewing and adding trim details to the jacket:

The sleeve of the jacket has a gathered puffy sleeve, but I felt it was a tad limp on it’s own, so I found some stiff tulle in my scrap bin and made a little sleeve head to insert into the sleeves and make them “puffier”. I had seen this technique in my Susan Khalje Bridal Couture sewing book, so I pulled that out and found the section on creating this type of effect for a sleeve. It was a very easy addition to make and just gave that extra support to the sleeve puff as seen in the photo below:

Next came the collar facing and lining. I used a nice bemberg rayon lining that I had as a scrap in by scrap bin, and a lovely black velvet that I also got at Joann’s (also with a coupon, never shop there without one!). I really loved how this was coming together!


The outer jacket, with lace and soutache trim added, and the lining and facing ready to be sewed together.


She’s just about complete, just the beaded trim at the hem of the jacket to be carefully sewn on as pinned.


The final touch: sewing on the beaded trim.

The Corset:

I had some beautiful bright lipstick red silk dupioni that I had in my fabric stash from several years ago, originally meant for a Valentine’s Day dress that never materialized, but was perfect for my costume corset, so why not use it!

I started out measuring the pattern to ensure a good fit with the corset, and I was good to go with the pattern size 12. I’ve made a proper corset before in a great class at Portland Fashion Institute a few years back, and considered just using the pattern from the class, however I felt that the corset that came with this pattern was easier with no busk closure and very little, if any, hand sewing (again, Halloween costume making short cuts).

Cutting out was fast and easy:



and sewing the entire thing was pretty easy, considering I used ridgeline for the corset boning which can be just sewn right into and through to the fabric, saving lots of time of making boning channels and such.


This type of boning I am not actually crazy about as it is pretty sharp at the ends and I didn’t take the time to make any tips on the end to prevent the poke through on the corset (ouwie!). Next corset will have to be done much more carefully.

Once the corset was complete, it was time to start on the one piece I have never made before: the over skirt.

The Overskirt:

The over skirt

Made by creating a smaller lining and creating pleats and tucks on the back of the skirt.

This bustled-effect overskirt was one item that I have never made before, but it was quite fun and interesting, yet time-consuming, to create. It consists of 4 layers of fabric; the outer, fashion fabric, two layers of tulle that creates the stiffer, pouffy effect, and a lining for the back of the skirt, and just the outer layer and lining for the front, draped piece. The outer layer and the two tulle layers of the back of the skirt are cut from the same pattern pieces, and the lining is a smaller piece that fits to the other layers once all the pleating and tucking have been done.

After the tedious basting, tacking up, pleating and sewing, the pouf of the back of the skirt is complete and ready to be attached to the lining, and then the front is attached to the back, then the waistband is sewn to both.






The smaller lining of the back of the skirt pinned to the tucked and pleated overskirt, ready to sew right sides together.



Additional tacking is done to the layers of the skirt to form the pickups of the overskirt

After many hours of sewing, the overskirt (my favorite part of this outfit by the way!) was complete and I could move on to the final piece of my outfit.


The bolero and matching overskirt


The Walking Skirt:

This was perhaps one of the easier parts of the outfit, although it consumed a great deal of fabric, the seams are straightforward and there are not a lot of pattern pieces to deal with. The skirt is fully lined and has an optional trim design on the bottom. I considered adding side seam pockets to this skirt, but decided not to for time sake. I did add 5 inches to the length for my height however.

I sewed the seams of this skirt mostly on my serger which was great. I basted the braided trim on by hand before machine sewing it on to ensure the placement was as I desired. I would have added more trim, and might do so at another time, but after shopping at two of the Joann Fabrics stores in my area, they were sold out of this soutache trim (as with many other items at this busy sewing time of year).


I love the length and slight train of this skirt and wish I could wear these kind of elegant clothes more often. Alas, with modern day lifestyles and fashions, this is just not going to happen. I suppose that is what costumes are for!



So finally, our costumes were complete. I didn’t get to finish the hat which was kind of sad, however I did have a feathered headband thing that I made for another costume a few years ago that worked just right for a hair accessory. Completing the looks with fangs, makeup, a wig and my new cute Victorian-esqe booties, we were ready to go!


Overall, these were really fun and exciting costumes to create, and I also learned a good deal about clothing construction and my own capabilities. We had a great time wearing them out to two different Halloween events and got tons of compliments on our outfits, so that is what I consider slam dunk sewing!


Happy Halloween!