A Twinkle in His Eye 1955

My silk gown and reversible overskirt

This lovely creation all stemmed from a challenge. I belong to a professional sewing association, ASDP, that hosts an annual sewing challenge in conjunction with Threads Magazine.

For the 2022 Threads Challenge, we were to use a vintage pattern from the pattern archive at the University of Rhode Island as an inspiration.

I thought that this was quite fitting as both my father and I graduated from URI! My father graduated in 1954 and I was in the class of 1992. My parents met while my mother was in college at the University of Connecticut which was also in the 1950’s, so I thought I would choose a design that was popular during that era

Evening Ball Gown 1955
Dress with Overskirt

I also had this sewing pattern, the recently released version from McCalls, as well as the original pattern released in in 1955 from McCalls which I bought on eBay.

I could imagine that my mother would have worn a gown like this in her day as she was quite the stylish and elegant lady, so I kept her in mind and close to my heart as I planned out and sewed up this dress.

The original 1955 pattern release. I love the fashion illustration!
McCalls re-release of the style from their Archive Collection

I ordered 9 yards of the silk dupioni from Mood.com to ensure I had enough for the sheath dress and the overskirt. Once the gorgeous material arrived, I went to my local favorite fabric store and purchased enough material to line the dress in silk habotai, and also line the overskirt, which is not part of the patter, but something I wanted to add to catch the eye when wearing this already eye-catching dress.

The materials and patterns

I got to work making a mock-up in muslin of the dress and asked for help with the fitting from my go-to expert Marla Kazell.

Once I was confident with the fit of the dress, I got to work cutting out the fabrics and the new version of the pattern, McCalls 7897

Ready to cut into this spendy silk!

I sewed the dress up without much issue, using the pattern instructions to follow, and making it fully lined. The pattern has you create a facing for the inside edges which I thought wasn’t good enough, and fully lining the dress would make for a nicer finish in my opinion.

The work in progress

For the overskirt, I just made the printed silk organza lining out of the same pattern pieces and hemmed it to meet the outer red material before attaching it to the waistband strip.

The pattern also has a cummerbund as part of the look, but I left that off as I wanted to have the overskirt easily removable for the showcase of the garment. I have enough leftover silk to make the cummerbund, so perhaps one day I will make that as well.

I submitted my garment into the challenge, along with photos of the finished garment, a description of the dress, and the story behind why I chose this style and pattern, to the ASDP Challenge committee. Here are some photos that I submitted to the committee:

Front of dress wit overskirt
Back of dress with overskirt, and the lining peeping out
The dress and overskirt from the side-I love the volume!
Front of the dress, with the overskirt reversed, showing off the lovely floral print!
The sheath dress on it’s own, so sleek and elegant!

After several weeks, I got a notice that my submission had been chosen as a finalist in the challenge, and I was to send in or bring the dress along with me to the ASDP conference where all of the challenge finalists would be in the fashion show and the judges and audience would choose the winner. I was overjoyed to hear this news, and excited to share my make with fellow sewing enthusiasts that would be attending the conference in Baltimore, MD in October.

I packed the dress and overskirt in my suitcase, along with hand sewing needles, thread and a little sewing kit, and made it to the conference almost ready to submit my dress. I knew that I had to make some final sewing touches to the dress, and of course, left these to the very last minute! I still had to sew the lining down to the inside edges, at the shoulder and to the zipper, and hem the skirt lining. I did this all by hand, rushing through it in my hotel room at the very last minute, just in time to submit it to the contest committee for the final review. That, I believe, really hurt my chances of winning the challenge, as the judges of the challenge are expert seamstresses and would surely be examining my rushed and messy sewing up close.

The time came for the fashion show at the conference where dresses from past challenge winners, students and finalists from the 2022 challenge showcased their work to the audience of other conference attendees as well as anyone who wanted to attend the show. I modeled my dress, as I made it to fit myself, and got many ooh’s and ahhh’s on my completed look! I was next to last in the runway line up, standing proudly amongst some other amazing creations and works of art. I felt so honored to have been a finalist in the challenge, yet a little disappointed I didn’t win any of the challenge prizes for the work that I did.

I love my dress and am OK with not being the winner. I just wish I had snapped a photo of me wearing it or asked for a photo from the fashion show! There was a photographer there throughout the show, so I am sure I’ll get some photos of me in it eventually.

I put time and effort into my creation, and know that it wasn’t perfect, certainly not up to the standards of expert seamstresses or for the editors of a nationally published magazine such as Threads. Am I disappointed in myself? Yes, certainly, as I had the time to do a much better job with the finishings of the garment. However, I am very proud that I was chosen as a finalist, and have learned a great deal about the level of workmanship that needs to go into a project that would be chosen by a contest judge.

After the Threads challenge winner was chosen for her wonderful workmanship and design, they announced the theme of the 2023 Threads challenge for next year. This time, the challenge consists of designing a piece of outerwear that is inspired by a 2-dimensional piece of art. What an amazing challenge! Since I didn’t win this year’s challenge, I am eligible to enter the next one, so with that, I think I’ll go for it! Now, to find some inspiration and start planning what I can make…and DO IT! That’s the new challenge!

Modeling my creation!

My Custom Dressmaking Process: From Start to Finish

Meet the Maker: Stephanie of Love, Stephanie

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a custom dress or outfit made just for you? Have you thought that just buying something off the rack or from a website is good enough and will do for the occasion, but deep down (or not even that deep) you wish you could wear something that fit you perfectly, was made well, is a flattering color on you, and was something you would be comfortable, confident and proud to wear to your event and beyond? Do you want a great dress, top, suit or outfit hanging in your wardrobe that you can reach for again and again and just know it works? If you said “yes!” to all of the above, I would love to be the one to make this dream come true for you!

So, what does this process look like, how does it all happen and how long would it take? It’s this going to cost me an arm and a leg?

For those questions, the answer is: it all depends.

First off, I am a one woman operation (at least for now I am) and only have so much time in a day. My goals for my Love, Stephanie custom sewing business include creating quality, timeless apparel for special clients who recognize the value in a well made custom garment. I use fine quality materials and construction methods, I don’t take on rush jobs, and I don’t take shortcuts. That being said, that is what takes the time to perfect the fit, using smart construction techniques, and all of the education and sewing skills that I have learned over the years that rolls into the lead time and cost of a custom made garment.

That’s me! Stephanie of Love, Stephanie

Sound intriguing so far? Great! Read on and I’ll walk you through what my typical process looks like from the perspective that includes the client experience and what to expect.

We begin with an initial meeting where I get to know you better, what your ideas and visions are for your custom garment, what your lifestyle is like, and what mood or purpose you’d like to portray through the garment you’ll be wearing.

Initial Client Consultation

From there, I build a plan and a timeline to achieve the finished garment before your deadline and get started sourcing fabrics and pattern options that go into making your garment.

Going over sketches and fabric ideas

I like to create sketches, a mood board, and gather any other ideas and components that go into the creative process of making a successful garment, and share these with you along the way.

After our initial consultation meeting, I gather up all the information and write up a contract that includes all of your contact information, the deadlines, our design concept agreement, project components, costs and payment schedule for you to read over and sign. This is an important step as I want to ensure both of us are in agreement over all of the details in case any questions or concerns should arise.

Then the fun begins! I’ll take all of the body measurements I need from you and get started making the garment.

Taking measurements
Lots of measurements!

Using your measurements and a pattern, I cut out and sew up a simplified mock-up garment in muslin fabric to check fit, style preferences and to make sure you are happy with the basic silhouette before cutting into any fashion fabric. At times, an additional muslin, or part if it, needs to made and fitted again if there are a lot of changes that need a review before proceeding.

A mock-up fitting in muslin
I check for any fit issues that need to be corrected, and make sure you are happy with the style lines and length

Meanwhile, the fashion fabric that you want, including any lining material, trim and notions needed, is confirmed and purchased. I aim to use the best quality fabric that is within your budget (not included in the cost of my labor) as I truly feel that the fabric makes all the difference in the look and wear of a garment. I prefer to work with natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk and linen, but will consider good quality man made fabrics to sew with such as rayon and synthetic blends.

Fabric choices are important in the outcome of a beautiful garment
Silk is my personal favorite!

Once the muslin is approved and the fabric is all here, I transfer any changes to the pattern, and start cutting!

The beautiful silk georgette is laid out and ready to cut
And sewn (silk is notoriously difficult to sew)

Most times, I have one last fitting of the garment in the fashion fabric to double check the fit, pin the hem, and work out any last details before delivering the finished creation.

From concept to creation!
Perfection!
The final fitting!

And that’s it! Easy, right?

Well done! Cheers!

In a nutshell, that’s the process in creating a unique custom garment, made especially just for you! No matter what size or shape you are, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience like no other.

Want to give it a go? Reach out to me and come on by my place with your dream garment vision and we’ll make it happen!

Welcome! Come on in!

A Tall Drink of Style

Suzanne demonstrates her Tall Drink of Style in her new Love, Stephanie coat!

Suzanne and I go way back, 37 odd years in fact. All the way back to freshman year in high school where we carpooled to school with our moms and a few other students living in Concord and Bedford who also attended our school Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts. It is a small, private college prep school on a beautiful campus where the classes were small and everybody knew each other.

Fast forward to modern times where we keep in touch with old friends and family through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. That is precisely how I’ve reconnected with Suzanne and many other friends from childhood, high school and college days.

Ever since I’ve been connected with Suzanne (she used to go by Suzy), she’s been a wonderful fan and always excited to see and comment on what I’m currently sewing. A few times she’s even commented like “I just love what you’re creating!” and “someday I love for you to make something for me!” which is such a wonderful and flattering comment to hear, and more and more, something I’d like to achieve full time. Custom clothes making for clients and even more, a fashion line of my own.

Well, one garment and one client at a time, I’m starting to see this dream come to life. So far in 2022 alone, I already have 8 clients that i have already, or am currently working on creating custom garments for, plus have several bridal and special occasion alteration projects, a re-fashioning project in the works, other special makes on the list. Unfortunately I have had to turn away several potential clients as I am simply too busy to take on more.

I’m also am working with an amazing business coach who is helping , me get organized, set goals, focus on my brand and core client profile, continuing education and skill development, plus I’m building a new website and branding refresh. I expect this is going to be a great year for my business and continuing growth on the horizon. So yay!

Back to her! Suzanne saw the lovely leopard coat I made for myself and that was the one for her! She reached out to me and asked if she could commission me to make one just like it for her. Of course I was delighted that she asked and jumped on the offer.

I got to work right away to plan out the process and set up a meeting to discuss all of the options and details that go into making a coat for someone other than myself. We started with a zoom meeting to talk and actually speak to each other after all these years. I made a PowerPoint presentation as I like to do for any new client, to help explain her pattern and fabric options, talk and demonstrate more about the details she would like, and my pricing levels that depend on the components, the time, and the level of difficulty. I also include my work process and a timeline with milestones and deadlines.

A screen shot of some of my PowerPoint slides

Suzanne loved the presentation and chose the style and fabrics right away, knowing she wanted a coat just like mine with just a few customizations.

My version of this amazing coat!

I sent her some fabric swatches in the mail so she could touch and feel the lovely and soft hand of the high quality materials I’d be using to make her coat. The only differences she wanted from my version was black silk lining and a slight different collar shape.

Butterick 6385 pattern
The leopard print wool blend coating material

I also asked her to take body measurements according to a handy chart that I also sent over. We scheduled another Zoom meeting once she had the fabric swatches and measurements ready to confirm everything before I got started making a mock up in muslin for the fit and style review.

As soon as I was done sewing up the muslin of the coat, I mailed it to her and asked her to contact me as soon as she received it. She sent over some photos of her in the muslin which was great and a perfect prelude to our Zoom meeting which followed shortly after

So far, so good!
Even just in muslin it looks great on her!

With just a few changes to make to the pattern after our Zoom meeting, I immediately got to work cutting out her coat in the fashion fabric. This honestly took the most time and careful organizing with precise cutting, carefully transferring the pattern markings such as the darts, notches and matching points, and also doing the same to the flannel underlining layer (which was going in between the fashion fabric and lining) for warmth and added “body” to the outer material, and also the silk lining. Time consuming to say the least, but this step is a really important part of making a successful garment.

The coat fabric, laid out right sides together, pattern pieces anchored down on grain and prepped to cut out

So, I sewed and I sewed (and I sewed some more!), all the while keeping her posted with my progress, trying hard to meet my deadline to get it to her in time to wear it this winter.

Installing lace hem tape as part of the finishing
Hand sewing the hem to the flannel underlining
Of course, my Love, Stephanie label had to be beautiful and stand out!

After many long sewing hours and late nights hunkered down in front of my sewing machine and pressing table, I was so excited to finally finish the coat, pack it up, and ship ‘er out!

All packed up and ready to ship across the USA!

The coat arrived in perfect time for Suzanne to model for her new business launch of a fashion stylist in the Boston area appropriately named A Tall Drink of Style

Looks soooo good on her!

Check out her new business endeavor and give her a follow here on Instagram https://instagram.com/atalldrinkofstyle?utm_medium=copy_link and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/atalldrinkofstyle/photos/a.102674092375020/102673925708370/?type=3p

A Tall Drink of Style logo

I so happy for Suzanne and her new chapter in life, and I am incredibly flattered that she asked me to represent her style in a custom garment creation for her new business!

Now, that’s a tall drink of style!

Stay tuned for more great style and trend ideas from Suzanne, plus in collaboration with me, even more fashion and wardrobe ideas!

Ciao for now!

Luxe Leopard Coat

I had Dior in mind as I made this coat, with the yummy brushed wool fabric, the sumptuous silk satin lining, and the classic, tailored details, all brought me back to an era of glamor and sophistication of the 1940’s and ‘50’s.

Leopard print coat

I initially started making this coat back in October 2020, taking the time to ask my friends on Instagram which lining color they liked with the print. I ultimately chose bright red as I thought it had the best “pop”, but any one of them would have been gorgeous!

My favorite lining options for my coat, all choices in silk:

Well, as usual for me, I eagerly started working on sewing up this gorgeous coat using Butterick 6385 pattern buy cutting out the pattern tissue, tissue fitting myself to check fit, cutting out the fashion fabric, the lining and a flannel underlining for warmth. I even made a few of the first seams, including the pockets (which end up being way too small.

Note to self: next time, make the pockets bigger!

Butterick 6385 pattern from Lisette

I chose view C with the stand up collar and the rectangle pocket flap of view A.

I got to cutting out all the pattern pieces before I realized that there was a good chunk of fabric missing from the upper sleeve that would leave a huge gaping hole if I attempted to ignore it, and I didn’t have enough of the fabric left to cut the piece again. To boot, the fabric store where I got the fabric also didn’t have any of exactly the same fabric left in stock. Grrr!

So, with the air deflated out of my sewjo, I rolled up what I had done so far, and added the coat components and pattern to my “to be continued” pile and there it sat for a better part of a year. “Le Sigh”

As part of my new life goals that I have set for myself recently, at least my sewing life goals, I want to tackle my unfinished projects, finish them, and clear the decks (and my mind) to focus on new personal and client projects to work on. So, with autumn in the air and this project staring me in the face and making me feel guilty about wasting time and resources, I figured out how to fill in the missing chunk at the sleeve by using fabric glue (gasp!) and scraps from the cuttings which I always save, and got right back into making this coat

Sewing the lining, which I serged all of the edges when I originally cut out the pattern. Thank goodness I did because this silk stuff frays like a mofo

I sewed and sewed with newfound energy for this coat, staying up late and ignoring my hungry husband. He’d survive, but I couldn’t until this darn coat was DONE!

Here’s a shot of the coat just before installing the lining, showing the interior interfacing and underlining in camel flannel for warmth and extra stability to the fashion fabric

Flannel underlining and interfacing inside the coat just before adding the lining.

I skipped the shoulder pads and sleeve heads as I felt I really don’t need them, however that is one step that I probably should have done. Next time…

Setting in the lining and going the finishing touches on the coat, some by hand, was starting to turn the corner and approach the end. I took a good amount of time pressing and pinning this baby into submission, all which made it easier to sew and have professional looking results:

Hand sewing some parts always looks better (my sausage fingers would not agree)

After finally finishing the coat, sewing buttonholes and buttons, I was finally DONE!

Aren’t those buttons cute? They kind of look like the spots on the leopard print!
The red silk lining makes my heart happy!

I knew that I wanted to take some great photos of this creation for sharing on social media, and have many examples and inspiration photos from my Pinterest page such as these images:

I asked my dear fashionista friend if I could borrow a few of her gorgeous designer handbags for the photos and she was so sweet and generous to lend me some of her favorites for a few days. I narrowed down the options to these three I’m accessorizing with the coat:

A gorgeous Loewe structured tote in camel
A classic quilted Yves St Laurent chain handle
bag in black
A stunning Sophie Holme red clutch

I’ll just shut up now and let Her speak for herself…

Aaaaand, scene….

Ok, I’m now ready, the decks are clear for takeoff…

Luxe Bomber: Worth the Wait

This little gem took me months and months to make, but the actual sewing took only a few weeks to complete. My biggest weakness when it comes to sewing is starting a wonderful and exciting new project, then something else shiny (or someone who’s paying) comes along and I set it aside for far too long. This baby was exactly one of those scenarios.

I love making jackets. They are a big part of my wardrobe and can be easy to sew. They are even easier to sew if you’ve made the same one before, as I did for this bomber jacket pattern. I used Simplicity 8418 pattern for the second time to create this beauty, and it is certainly not the last time.

Now, for the ingredients that make this recipe top notch, I used beautiful silk material, quality threads, and smart sewing techniques. The main fabric for this version I decided to finally use an end remnant of gorgeous silk jacquard labeled from Chanel that I won years ago in a fabric giveaway and was stashing for a special project. I also happened to have enough of a piece of silk lining-weight material in the perfect shade of purple to coordinate with the colors of the Chanel silk, also in my stash (If you don’t know me already, I have a very healthy stash of fabric in my possession).

Of course, I also had Pinterest to add to the inspiration for this creation, which made the decision to cut into this beautiful material more bearable, because after all, you only life once and you can’t take it with you. Here are just a few of the bomber jackets that inspired me:

I got right to cutting out the pattern pieces from the main fabric and the lining, as well as the light weight batting I used to quilt the silk to. The last time I made this pattern, I quilted the entire lining and left the outer side as it were. This time, I wanted the quilting to be part of the texture of the outer garment.

Well, I quilted part of the back of the jacket, and that’s about the time when I got busy with other pressing projects, paying clients, and teaching others to sew, so the jacket partially made and the cut pattern pieces was gently laid aside on the “to be continued” pile. There it sat patiently for months.

Fast forward to October of 2021 when I was planning to attend a conference that involved the professional sewing guild that I belong to, Association of Sewing and Design Professionals or ASDP for short.https://sewingprofessionals.com/. I knew that I wanted to wear garments that I had made to the convention and had a long wish list that I had wanted to create, but for the sake of time, and to tackle my growing pile of UFO’s that stare at me when I’m in my sewing room, and seem to beg for me to just work on them just a little bit, I revisited the silk bomber project and decided it would be a fantastic option for the convention.

Hence, the sewjo for this project sparked a new light in me and I got right back into the groove of quilting this baby and getting it going in time for the convention. Whatever the motivation was, it worked and I pulled through and finished the jacket in time to wear it a couple of times even before having to pack it up and fly to Boise, Idaho for the sewing pro retreat.

Well, the convention was amazing and I got a ton of compliments on my jacket which I was proud (and perfectly comfortable) to wear. Now I call that a job well done and worth the wait!

Floral Silk Girly Dress

Whenever I have been invited to an occasion, the first thing I think of is “what am I going to wear?”. The next thing I think of is “what can I sew for myself to wear” as I love to make clothing and I love wearing things that are unique and nobody else has in their closet. From there, I pull up my pattern stash archive, pay a visit to my fabric stash (or the fabric store if I really don’t have the appropriate fabric to work with) and get started planning and sewing my outfit.

For this occasion, I was invited to a wedding of a lovely bridal alterations client who had become a friend over our many dress fittings and consultations of her beautiful wedding gown. The major part of her dress that I altered was her complicated and intricate bustle of her train that I she dreamed up and I created for her. Originally, as I fiddled and fussed to get her train bustled just right at one of her fittings, I said to her “I’ll just hide in the bushes at your wedding venue, you give me the signal when you are ready, and I’ll sneak out and help you bustle, then disappear back into the bushes and let you be on your way to the reception”. She would have none of that and insisted that I attend the wedding as her guest, and enjoy the entire ceremony plus be ready to bustle…DEAL!

So, being the alteration seamstress of honor at this wedding, I just had to have something special and handmade to wear! Not having all the time in the world to be sewing for myself with the very busy post-Covid wedding season upon us and other alterations and custom sewing client projects literally piling up in my sewing studio, I decided to make a dress that I have made before (a huge time and energy saver!) and use fabric that I had in my stash from Mill End Store in Portland, OR.

I pulled out this lovely pattern from Butterick that I had already cut out and made fit alterations to the pattern for a dress that I made a couple of years ago:

Butterick 6554 pattern

I made view C, the halter neck, ruffled and flounce dress that wraps and ties to the side.

This time around, I decided to fully line the dress (instead of using the bodice facing from the pattern), meaning I cut out the entire dress, the bodice and the skirt pieces, less the flounces, in both the outer, floral silk georgette fabric and the silk lining that I also had in my fabric stash. Cutting silk, especially sheer, floaty slippery silk, is NOT easy if you’ve ever tried. It slips all over the place and misbehaves in as many ways as it can, just to drive you nuts and practically give up before you even started. But, since it was SO pretty and soft, I did my best to battle it and tackle it into submission, knowing in the end it was going to be incredible and worth it all.

The silk draped so innocently on my dress form
Anchored down and ready to cut!

So the sewing begins!

Making a tiny hem to the ruffled edge

It all went pretty well and the fact that I had made it before, I knew what to expect from the pattern instructions.

The most difficult and time consuming part was making the narrow hem on the long outside edge of the flounce that would be attached at the bottom of the skirt. Check out this pattern piece that is over 110 inches long. Yikes!

After tackling that beast, the dress was nearly done and I could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Having a major deadline to hit, and other clients banging down my door and begging me to help them with their last-minute bridal requests, I finished up my dress and just got ‘er done.

One last thing I added to the dress was lightweight foam bra cups sewn into the bodice lining as that sheer stuff certainly wasn’t going to hide my bits. Thank goodness I had some on hand in my supply stash and I was able to swiftly hand sew them into my dress, no problem! Confidence boosters for boobs-horray!

Bra cups sewn in saved any wardrobe malfunctions!

I just have to share the insides of the dress with the lovely silk lining!

Here I cheated and used my serger to attach the waist of the bodice to the skirt and hide the raw edges.
The skirt lining that ends just above the flounce

So off we went to the wedding, leaving enough time to stop at one of our favorite spots in the wine country of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, The Allison Inn and Spa, to snap some photos and have a glass of champagne and a light cheese plate before the wedding. Perfect!

Let’s go up there, that’s where the champagne is served!
The lovely snack we shared over a glass of wine and champagne!
Watch that breeze!

As much as I enjoy the entire process of making a new dress, it feels so good to be done with this one, wear it to a fun wedding (and not have to hide in the bushes!) and hang it up on my wardrobe for another occasion.

Until next time, cheers!

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

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:

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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:

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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):

 

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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:

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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:

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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!

 

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Happy Spring!

Strapless Floral Girly Dress

I just love a strapless dress! For some reason, the style just looks so elegant and flattering (if the fit is absolutely perfect: not too tight, never too loose) on a special occasion dress, or even a summer day dress. Something about showing off the neck, décolletage, shoulders, arms and upper back I find so alluring while daring and sensual on a woman.

        I started making this dress over a year ago in hopes to wear to a garden wedding. The fabric, “Shimmering Pink Floral Polyester Twill” which I believe is from Oscar de la Renta,  I acquired from Mood Designer Fabrics back in 2015 and have been holding onto for the perfect dress. It’s time has come!

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As I was nearly done with it, I decided that it was a little too “young” looking on me and not quite as a sophisticated a look I was going for the occasion I was attending. So, with two days to spare, I set it aside for the wedding and whipped up a quick floral silk maxi dress (which turned out to be perfect) instead.

Meanwhile, about a year later, I managed to finish the floral dress (less a finished hem) and I just love the result and am just getting around to blogging about it:

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I began this dress with the fabric, a pattern and a vision:

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As you might notice from my sketch, I envisioned this dress with a horizontal sheer inset panel in the skirt made of organza. I also was planning to add black piping within the seams of the bodice to add texture and dimension, but neither of these design features made it into the dress.

I love these designer dresses with the pretty floral prints, fit & flare silhouette, flirty strapless bodice, and best of all, pockets!

 

Here is an image of a lovely skirt by Donna Karan from which I was thinking of borrowing the sheer inset design detail:

Donna Karan Sheer Inset Skirt

I used this dress pattern 7082 View A from McCalls to create this dress:

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McCalls 7082

I started this dress the “proper” way with a fitting muslin so I wouldn’t risk totally messing this dress up by just cutting out the pattern, and assuming all would fit right out of the package, like I have done too many times before. I did want to make the best use out of my pretty fabric after all the work and time that is put into projects such as this, so making a muslin version first just made sense.

The fit was pretty good in muslin. I needed to take in the back. Actually, now that I look at it more carefully and have had more sewing and fitting education and experience in the past year, I should have taken some length out horizontally in the back as I can see bunching and wrinkling here where it should lay smoothly across my back:

I then started cutting out and constructing the dress in the printed fabric as well as the wonderful bright pink lining after transferring the changes back to the pattern:

The rest of the construction went pretty smoothly. Making the bodice:

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The boned bodice lining:

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and the skirt, adding fun and handy pockets to the pattern (because I can!):

The inside of this dress makes me happy with the bright pink satin lining and the cute black and white polka dot ribbon I added to the side seams of the bodice to serve as hanging loops:

Here she is, the entire outer dress sewn together, ready for the lining to be set in:

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The inside of this little gem looks almost as good as the outside!

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I just love my little dress and hope for an occasion to wear it, or sell it off to one lucky lady who would enjoy this one of a kind sweet little dress! Any takers out there?

On to the next sewing adventure…Bye for now!

Luxe Silk Overlay Top

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I just finished sewing up this lovely top in silk georgette. It turned out gorgeous and so luxe to the touch. I can’t wait to wear it, but first, it is meant for a sample to showcase in an adorable little shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon, Nick and Figs, where I aspire to teach and instruct sewing this top in the near future.

The material is a silk georgette I bought at Mill End Store in Beaverton in a gorgeous shade of green:

teal silk georgette

the color of this fabric is more of a blue/green than this photo shows

This fabric was NOT easy to sew! It frays, it’s super slippery and figetey to work with. This fabric is lucky that I love it, otherwise, this would never be in my sewing room!

I used this new McCalls pattern 7411 to make this top:

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I traced off onto separate pattern paper and cut out view C in size Small with no changes or adjustments to the pattern. The only thing I goofed up on was the side seam of the overlay. I is supposed to be split and longer in the back than the front as this line art shows:

M7411viewClineartI didn’t realize this and just cut the overlay straight across from the front to the back, so the seams match and are not split as shown. I’m fine with that, it’s just not as the pattern intended.

On one of my Pinterest boards, I had pinned some lovely tops in a similar look to keep in mind while making this top:

Hello Spring

Looks great with white jeans

Red overlay top

 

After settling in with the pattern cut and all my markings and notches were complete, things went fairly smoothly with sewing this top. Taking my time pinning each raw edge together and carefully sewing, I completed this top in a few days:

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pinning the front neckline

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making a baby (hem)

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tiny hook and eye hand sewed to the back neck edge

 

The most difficult parts of sewing this double layer top was getting the part where the two layers of the back opening at the bottom of it to come together perfectly and have a smooth finish to it. I carefully went over this area twice so not to have a gaping hole here, then gave her a good press to make it smooth and ripple free. Sorry, no photo…

Also, figuring out the last part, sewing the two layers of the shoulder seams together was a little confusing and tricky, but after some careful thought and basting seams here, I figured it out by just imagining what it should look like when finished and sort of thinking backwards (if that makes any sense). Sorry again, no photo…it wasn’t a pretty sight anyway…

 

After all that, it turned out a lovely simple yet luxe top that I hope to sew again, next time along with eager students in my intermediate sewing class at a wonderful little local creative arts school.

 

 

Happy Spring!