Monday, September 25, 2023

A Quick Reminisce on sewing a Lace Dress...

 Late last Thursday night, as I was nearing the finish line, I commented something to My Sweet Babboo about the craziness it has been sewing three out of the four Mother Of The...dresses.  The Rayon Maxi dress had zero drama,  but the other three...oy, there was drama.  With the first was just my own bone-headedness, which included things like twisting the dress before I sewed in the invisible zipper.  Then there was the Aunt Lena Quasimodo dress I made for the Flute Player's wedding...but I am blaming those problems on the fabric.

Rayon crepe is bad enough when it's cut meticulously on grain.  Cutting it cross grain, which I had to do because of the orientation of the print, just was hopeless.

And that brings us to the black lace dress...

My first problem was probably that I picked the wrong pattern.  I picked a really fitted sheath dress...

Here's the pattern, which I actually purchased because I was smitten with the jacket:

The reviews I had read of this dress looked to have very nicely fitted shoulders/ upper chest.  Bingo.  I'd just leave those vertical darts out and maybe add a bit of width and I should be good to go, right?

Nope.  LOOK at the curves in that dress.  

I. Am. Not. Curvy. Like. That.

I had to straighten out the hip curves considerably after sewing up the first muslin and seeing the poufs I had. The second muslin was better but I probably would've gotten along MUCH better if I had just started with a less shapely pattern.

And, to be honest, I probably should have just made a black sandwashed silk dress and used the lace for a duster coat.  Although I probably would have needed more lace fabric; I had bare inches of scraps left over after all was pieced up and done. 

But...back to  my lament to My Sweet Babboo about the drama.  He just looked at me and said, "Why?"

And that pulled me up short.  Why DID I do that to myself?  Well...I hated to drop what would likely have been $250 bucks on the MOTG dresses I was eyeballing.  (I got that lace at a significant sale price) And those RTW dresses were 100% polyester.  My dress was poly lace over sandwashed silk, lined by rayon bemberg.  Much nicer than just being wrapped in plastic.

And it fit.  I think that was the biggest thing.  The dress fit ME.  

And for some strange reason, I just wanted to tackle a lace dress.

You know,  I learned a lot.  I'd never really tried this type of construction before.  The Flute Player saw the dress just before it was finished...and gasped.  'How long did that take you???' 

'A lot longer than I expected,' I replied.  Then she spotted a scrap of the fabric and looked at it closely.  'OH!  The fabric has the little dangly leafs.  I thought you sewed all those on!'

Well, no wonder she was shocked, lol.

I have come to the conclusion that there must be a lot more engineering in the couture world; I think they must either engineer the patterns so that the seam lines hit the fabric just so or engineer the fabric so that it accommodates the pattern.  Each of the little leaf motifs is sort of framed by scroll work and  I ended up with several small void places...where I had to trim out the motif to sew a seam but there wasn't enough room to replace a motif in the now much smaller framed area after sewing the seam.  Granted, it's not obvious with the black background but if you look closely you can spot them.  And I just don't see any way to avoid that...unless the math was done before hand. But that would be way over my head, lol. 

If you look close, you can see that I'm sewing down a motif that I had to trim away from the only conventional seam on the whole lace overlay.  I just trimmed one side off, sewed the seam, and then tacked the loose side down.  It overlaps the scroll work a bit but from a distance...on the black doesn't show. 

But here's a repeat of a picture from an earlier post.  The void spots jump out with the white background; there isn't room to attach a motif without overlapping another motif, which is lumpy.  Fortunately they are not nearly so obvious with the matte black silk.

 One of the things I learned... I am NOT a couture-level seamstress.

I *did* finish and it *did* look just fine and either no one noticed the void spots or they were polite enough to not mention them, lol.   And, should a suitable occasion arise, I will happily wear it again. Assuming, of course, that it still fits at that point, lol.

Unfortunately, aside from the windblown picture I posted Saturday night...I don't have any pictures yet. 

But now...I have a HUGE mess in my sewing room.  It is staggering how many little motifs are EVERYWHERE.  On the cutting table.  On my sewing machine table.  On the ironing board.  All OVER the floor...I can't believe I cut that many off.

And I did manage to throw a bunch of them in a little box as I was trimming, so ...crazy.

I have a dress to hem for a friend's daughter before I pull the black thread out of the machines.  Gonna pin that up on Wednesday and sew it whilst My Sweet Babboo is off primitive camping this weekend. 

So...I'll do that, and I'll clean up all the little leafy scraps.  Gotta come up with something creative to do with those...somewhere down the line...

Saturday, September 23, 2023

In under the wire...

 So that the Facebook thumbnail has a nice photo, here's a picture from the venue after last night's rehearsal dinner...

It's a gorgeous spot, and the weather was perfect.

And yes, the dress did get finished.  With time for me to hem a pair of pants for My Sweet Babboo.

But I did finish hemming his pants, changed clothes, slapped on some makeup and jumped in the car. 

I might or might not have actually applied my lip color whilst hubby drove us to the park, which was about an hour away.

I will post thoughts on sewing the dress either tomorrow or Monday, but I'll post the picture My Sweet Babboo took for me before we did our official pics with the groom.

I will admit to laughing right out loud when I saw the was a wee bit breezy up there on that verandah.

Photo by his sister, The Princess, since I stuck my phone in my purse and didn't pull it out.

The wedding went very well, but my sly son pulled one over on his family.

He had made a playlist for the ceremony.  Now, The Artist is an audiophile...I mean, he listens to music on vinyl...he is PICKY about his music.  And he had his younger brother running the blue tooth speaker with the playlist he had loaded onto an old phone.  At one point in the ceremony, they went aside to a table set up with a unity rope to braid and communion elements, and while they braided the rope music was playing under the pastor who was doing a reading.  When the reading finished and they moved to communion, the volume on the music came up and...

I recognized a recording he'd done of the family singing the Doxology as a meal blessing a few years back when we were all up in Indiana at my in-laws for dinner.

Not fair.

But then he upped the ante...that was followed by a similar recording done on Christmas Day in, maybe, 2016? of all of us singing the Seven Fold Amen, following a carol sing around the piano in the living room. 

Cue the waterworks.  I was FINE, y'all, until he pulled that.  And everyone BUT us and his siblings knew what was coming. They even had the photographer positioned to get our reaction to hearing that.

But what was going through my mind was all the family members who weren't there today...who were singing at his wedding.

Scuse me whilst I find some kleenex....

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

And...we're going down to the wire (as per usual)

 I had enough hours in at work this pay period that I could actually stay home today and sew.

And, boy howdy, it's a good thing I did.

The dress shell and lining are done to the facings.  

I was pretty pleased with the dress so far.  It fit well, felt good, and draped very nicely.  Sandwashed silk over bemberg lining is VERY nice, y'all.

All I needed to do was put together the lace overlay and then tack it down to the zipper opening and back vent, then put on the facings.

It sounds so simple... 'put together the lace overlay'.

I started to do the center back seam, then realized it would be a WHOLE lot better to do the long side seams first, while everything was flat.

Ya'll, it took about two hours for each of the side seams.  

First, line up the traced seam allowances.  Then baste along the scroll lines.  Then zigzag on top of the basting.  Then trim away the excess on both sides.  

Only it's black thread on black lace and I couldn't see diddly squat.  On the first one I actually got turned around and started sticthing back the way I came.  On the second seam I marked the directions with pins after I basted.

It doesn't look too bad...

I did the back kinda the same way, only just between the bottom of the zipper and the top of the vent.  I didn't trim anything because I wanted to see how it lined up with the  dress back first.

Then it was time for the shoulders...and disaster struck

Somehow I got whopperjawed.  After I basted, zigzagged, and trimmed the first side, I realized I'd sewn the left back shoulder to the right front shoulder.

So now it's 12:40 AM.  The bobble was unpicked, compared to the pattern, overlayed correctly, basted again, zigzagged and trimmed again.

I put the overlay on top of the dress shell and it looks nice but... I think I'm going to unpick the back seam and do a conventional seam  It's going to be too hard to transition from the folded-under-stitched-to-the zipper bit to the trimmed lapped seam to the back vent.  The seam allowance isn't too noticeable with the matte black silk behind it.  I'd post a picture but my phone battery died just as I was lining things up.

And...tomorrow is pretty much a non-sewing day, although I might get the back zigzag stitching removed and the motifs trimmed from the back seam allowance.

I think I'm going to do a short work day on Thursday so I can finish...I hope.

The Wedding is Saturday...Deep Breaths...

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Piece work

 I have spent most of the day hunched over the cutting table, thread tracing my lace, and then working on piecing the shoulders in.

My back is killing me at the moment.  So, by way of taking a bit of a break, I'll document the process, lol.

I had to fold the lace so the blue thread tracing would show up, lol.

After I thread traced the front and both backs, I rough cut everything out so I would have the scrap bits to use to fill in the shoulders.  

This is an interesting lace; the leaf motifs are only attached by about five threads; they are free floating otherwise.  I had to trim all the motifs from the underlap area of the added bit....and I will be trimming them out of all the seam allowances as well.

Matched up the motifs with the pieced area underneath.    I hand sewed the scrollwork...basically permanent basting, because after I hand sewed it, I ran it through the sewing machine, zigzaging over that stacked curvy line.

Then I trimmed up the under/ overlap.  The design is not quite consistent; some of the scrollwork didn't match up exactly.  But with the black underlay that is not going to show.

Then I laid the pattern back over the piece and finished thread tracing the shoulders.

I have done both the back pieces and the front is about half done.  It's about a 4" repeat...I BARELY had scraps big enough to fill in all four shoulder bits, because I had to match the peculiar slant of the motifs.

But 'barely' enough.  Whew.

I am saving all the little leaf things that I'm trimming off; if I need to sew a few on after it's assembled to fill in gaps where things had to be removed from the seam...I have PLENTY.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Deja vu....

 Welp, I did it again.

This time it was a rotary cutter.

I don't even know how it happened; somehow, whilst cutting the very tight inner curve on the front facing, I caught the far side of my left pinky and cut right through the fingernail.  Then my fingernail wrapped up in the blade and tore loose from the nail bed...I think.  I have a nick on my actual finger, a horizontal cut into the fingernail that suddenly goes up at an angle and then turns again parallel to the first one.  I don't know how much of my finger underneath is cut...or if it just ripped up the nail.  I wasn't going fast with the cutter, but it was a brand new blade, 'cause I was cutting silk...

It's going to take that puppy a minute to grow out.  Gonna be a nice look for the wedding next weekend. :rolleyes:

So I didn't finish cutting the silk shell out until tonight.

But.. I have the lining put together, and I got the darts in the front and the back seam ready for the zipper. before I decided it was time to quit before I messed something up.

The next two days are pretty full; I'm going to try and get the zipper in after I get home tomorrow, then I can put the front and the back together on Thursday...and maybe get it hemmed. Then Friday morning I can baste the lining in...and start the process of cutting and piecing the lace.

I'm gonna be hand sewing all weekend.  And maybe Monday and Tuesday evenings.

At least the bummed up pinky shouldn't interfere with that too much.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

It's gonna be a puzzle...

 I've got the patterns with the final's not perfect but I haven't got time to tweak it four more times for perfect.  I think it's going to be at least as good as ready-to-wear, so I'm calling it good enough.

And crossing my fingers that the final fabric doesn't do something weird that wasn't showing in the cotton muslin, lol.

But I do have a dilemma.  My lace is a very scant 40" wide.

Which means I have this problem:

I put the pattern on just to see how things were going to work.  The hemline is at the bottom, but the top kinda runs off the edge.
I have been puzzling over this. all day.  Finally, driving home from work, I recollected that two years ago I added 6" to the girth of a bridesmaids dress with crazy piecing.  I figure if I can do that, I can piece a bit on the shoulders.

The underfabric is a sandwashed silk with a gorgeous drape that's been in the stash for...ages....  I think any piecing should disappear right into that matte background.  

It's going to be lined with a lightweight Bemberg.

I also made a tracing with no seam allowances; I will lay that on the lace and thread trace the seams. I am probably going to be sewing the lace overlayer pretty much by hand.

But this weekend is the annual women's conference at not much sewing is likely to happen. I will probably cut and least as far as I can...the lining and the underlayer before I cut the lace. If it turns into a disaster, I will omit the lace and just have a black silk dress.  

I may splurge on a dressy jacket if that happens. But I'm hopeful it will work.

The wedding is two weeks from Saturday.  Deep breaths.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Serial Fun - Final Installment (13)

 So we arrive at the conclusion of the matter.  I really thought I could do it in five or six chunks; I find it highly amusing that we finish with 13, lol.  If you haven't read the whole thing, click HERE, and read from the bottom up.  Thanks for indulging me as I did one more edit through the manuscript.  I have no idea if I will ever do anything else with this, but I have enjoyed sharing it.

I am pretty sure I will have some real sewing content tomorrow, lol.

            To the Princess, waiting in the carriage, it seemed that Gregory and Godfrey were in the manor house for an eternity.  She’d brought a small embroidery project to occupy her time but was having great difficulty in keeping her mind on it.  At one point the door opened, and Rita leaned forward eagerly only to see Henry, the page, come out and speak to a pair of the soldiers who had accompanied the carriage.  They handed their horse’s reigns to two of their comrades and went into the manor house.  When they’d gone, Rita called softly through the one of the open carriage windows, “Henry!”

            Having completed his errand, Henry turned to her and handed her the velvet pillow through the open window.  “Yes, Your Highness?”

            “What is going on in there?” Rita queried with the barest touch of impatience as she stuffed the pillow into the corner behind her back.  “It’s taking forever!”

            Henry grinned and shook his head.  “The Grand Duke is putting the old lady in her place, and the two snooty girls with her.  He’s done it up proper, I’d say.”

            “Did you see Isabella?”  Rita was fighting the urge to go and peek in the window.

            “Aye.  They’ll all be out soon, I guess.”

            Rita sighed.  “I certainly hope so.”  She relaxed back into her seat and half-heartedly returned her attention to the embroidery.  She frowned and told herself that she would stitch until someone came out of the door.  However, no sooner had she re-established herself with her place in the pattern than a movement caught her eye and she saw Henry hurry to the door to relieve Gregory of something he was carrying.  Rita dropped her work onto the seat when she recognized Isabella’s trunk.  Henry took it from Gregory, who turned to offer Isabella a hand down the front step.  The Grand Duke followed Isabella out of the house and shut the door firmly.  Rita bit her lip in excitement.  They’d done it!  Isabella was free!

            Henry carefully placed Isabella’s trunk onto the carriage luggage rack as the footman opened the door.  Isabella gathered her skirts, shifted the slipper she was carrying and took the footman’s hand...then stopped in shock when she saw the Princess.  “Rita!”  She gasped.  “How did you get here?”

            Rita was very nearly bouncing on the seat in delight.  “Get in!” she urged.  “I’ll tell you all about it!”

            Isabella took a deep breath -- the day was feeling less and less like reality -- climbed into the carriage and sat down opposite Rita.  Godfrey climbed in next and sat down beside Isabella.  He smiled at her sympathetically.  “Is your head spinning?”  He asked as Gregory picked up the embroidery from the seat, handed it to Rita and took his seat beside his sister.

            As the footman closed the carriage door, Isabella smiled ruefully.  “It has been rather...” her voice trailed off as she looked at the Prince and Princess.  Sitting side by side, the sibling resemblance between them was obvious.  It was Rita that Prince Gregory had reminded Isabella of at the ball...that was why he looked so familiar...

            Seeing her confusion, Gregory spoke up.  “Isabella, I don’t believe you have been properly introduced to this impetuous young lady.  May I present to you my little sister, Princess Gwendolyn Marguerite Prudence Genevieve Anne...whom I usually refer to as Rita.”  Rita giggled at Isabella’s wide-eyed astonishment.

            “Your sister!”  Isabella exclaimed as the carriage rolled down the manor house drive.  “Rita, why didn’t you tell me?”

            Sheepish now, Rita looked down at her embroidery.  “I was afraid you’d be intimidated by the title, and I just wanted to be a plain friend.”  She glanced up at Isabella and smiled mischievously.  “It all worked out, didn’t it?”

            Isabella took a deep breath and glanced around at the three of them.  It was finally sinking into her that the misery of the past five years was truly and forever at an end.  To her surprise, tears flooded her eyes and spilled down her cheeks.  She gave a queer kind of sobbing chuckle as she self-consciously wiped her tears.  “Yes,” she sniffed, “It all worked out.”

            Godfrey pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and gave it to Isabella.  “I’m sorry to have shocked you like this.”

            Isabella sniffed again, thankfully took the handkerchief and, trying to stave off what felt very close to an embarrassing emotional breakdown, buried her face in the fine linen square and took several deep shuddering breaths.  At long last, she raised her face and wiped her eyes. Finally, she smiled ruefully at him.  “I’ll be all right. Really.” She sniffed again and wiped her eyes once more before continuing.  “In all honesty, I don’t know how else you could have done it.”  She looked around at them again.  “Thank you.”  Then, she looked squarely at Rita.  “Rita, I don’t know what to say to you...”

            Rita grinned at her.  “Don’t say anything.  I’m just glad you’ll be living at the palace for now.”

            “Isabella,” Gregory frowned, “There’s one thing I’m curious about.  Why did Lady Alicia call you ‘Cinderella’?”

            Isabella winced.  “That was the nickname they called me virtually all the time.”

            Cinderella was your nickname?” Rita asked incredulously.  “Why ever did they call you that?”

            Isabella sighed and took another deep breath.  “I suppose it will have to be told sooner or later.  You see, my room up in the tower was drafty and cold in the wintertime.  The first winter after my father died, I carried a small coal brazier up to try and keep some heat up there.  I had to keep putting coal on it, though, and it seemed like I was forever having to run all the way down to the cellar for more.  So, one day I decided I’d take several loads up and pile them by my door, so I’d have some close by if the fire burned low at night.  I was carrying up the last of it when I ran into Hortense and Eugenia.  I was really a mess after shoveling all that coal around, and they were laughing at how dirty I was.”  Isabella’s voice changed, mimicking the mocking tone of her stepsisters.  “‘There goes her Ladyship Isabella in her finest attire!’  Hortense said.  Eugenia laughed and replied, ‘Isabella?  She looks more like Cinderella to me!’  They both thought it was a great joke and the nickname stuck.  It wasn’t long before that was all they ever called me.”

            “No wonder you hated it.”  Rita commented softly.  There was a moment of silence as the carriage turned into the palace drive.

            Finally, Godfrey spoke.  “Isabella, I feel responsible for your trouble.  If I had checked into Lady Alicia’s story, you would have been spared much.  I hope that my wife and I and,” Godfrey couldn’t resist a glance at Gregory, “The rest of us can get you re-established again in society.”  He paused before continuing, in a rather choked voice, “Your father was my closest friend.  I will do everything in my power to make up for letting him down as I have.”

            Isabella smiled shyly.  “Right now, I’m content just to be away from...them.”  The carriage pulled up to the palace and stopped as she continued, speaking to Godfrey, “I’ll try to make you...and my father...proud.”

            Godfrey smiled and nodded.  “We’ll get on quite well, I think.”  The footman opened the door, and Godfrey waved a hand in the direction of the palace.  “Shall we see if the Queen and my wife have your apartment ready?”  Isabella said nothing but smiled appreciatively and nodded as Godfrey stepped out of the carriage.

            Prince Gregory followed his uncle out of the carriage then turned to offer Isabella a hand down himself, as she was still carrying the slipper.  However, after she stepped out of the carriage, he continued to hold her hand for a moment.  “Isabella,” he said in a low voice, “It will be quite possible for us to spend some time together you think we stand a chance of being the kind of friends you spoke of last night?”

            Isabella looked up at him, seriously at first but then her face lit up with merriment.  “Right now, I believe anything wonderful could happen!”

            Still, Gregory did not release her hand.  “So, you believe that would be wonderful?”

            This time, Isabella blushed and dropped her eyes.  “I believe it could.” she replied, barely above a whisper.  Then, with a smile up at him, she pulled her hand free and turned to follow Godfrey, who was waiting for her on the steps, into the palace.  Henry had climbed down from his perch and retrieved Isabella’s trunk and carried it in behind them.

            Gregory turned back to the carriage to offer his hand to his sister.  Rita, embroidery folded neatly with the velvet pillow, had heard the whole exchange.  She glanced up at him as she stepped down from the carriage with the pillow and her needlework tucked into the crook of her elbow and grinned broadly at him when he offered her his arm, commenting, “Little sister, you have started no end of trouble for me.”

            “Oh, really?” she queried, taking his arm as they walked toward the door.

            “Yes, really,” Gregory said with mock seriousness.  “But I believe it will be the best kind of trouble...” He looked at her significantly as he continued, “But let’s keep that our secret for now.”

            Rita stopped in her tracks.  “Do you mean...” she began, but Gregory interrupted her.

            “I’m not going to say what I mean...but I believe you know.”  Gregory let that sink in for a moment.  “Now, don’t tell.”

            “Oh, I wouldn’t dream of it!”  Rita said very seriously.  She was, however, exulting in her heart as they entered the palace.  Gregory and Isabella!  They were going to ‘live happily ever after!’   She could hardly wait to watch it happen.

The End.