An Utterly Unnecessary Holiday Outfit

Hellooooooooo!

I hope you are all having a good holiday season so far–this time of year always seems to blow up my schedule and make me stress like it’s my job, so I for one will be glad when it’s over!!

You may remember that last year, I decided to make a fancy-ass dress for my company’s holiday party. The dress code for this party is not black tie, as you may have expected from the nature of my dress. Rather, the only real stipulation is that people are not allowed to wear jeans. Clearly, I require only the flimsiest of pretexts to go full evening wear on my colleagues! Just before last year’s event, Vogue released V9160 in their holiday collection, and I instantly knew that it would be Next Year’s Outfit. It even made my epic Planning Post for this Fall/Winter!

I bought the fabric for this during the first quarter of the year but left any actual work on it until November–bad idea. 2 weeks before my event, it was clear that some major adjustments were needed; it was a slight scramble and I had to compromise my original vision, but I got it finished. All told, the final item is nice and I felt great in it!

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V9160/Sloper Mash-Up!

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From the back! (The back necklines are symmetrical–the lace on the right side ended up with more blank space at the top, which creates the illusion that they aren’t the same. Grrrr.)

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Snow! It was also sleeting when we took these.

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‘Tude

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Note, if you will, the mirror images of the necklines–pretty proud of that one!

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Without the sash, but now with more Derp Face!

Please excuse the skirt, which had been worn the night before to my party and needs to be re-pressed and re-clappered; I ironed out the “Butt, Meet Chair” wrinkles for you, though! (And yes, I did wear that lipstick to my work party! I also wore eye makeup and some jewelry for that event, but wasn’t about to put it back on for a quick photo session. Meh.)

Fabric!

The lace for the bodice was the first thing I found: it was everything I wanted, from color (Eggplant!!) to width (WIDE) to style (double scalloped, no beads, slight metallic thread usage, beautiful cording, and no tulle backing). It’s a Nicole Miller lace and I got it from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Next, I set about finding fabric for the trousers. I chose wool/silk gabardine because it has that sheen for evening, but would be easy to work with because it’s so stable. Mood had the perfect color, but I found a very-slightly-cheaper price at Fashion Fabrics Club, so I ordered from them. This was difficult, because their website uses different names for the colors vs. Mood’s site, and their depiction of colors was much less true-to-life than Mood’s. I ended up having to return the first cut I ordered–at my cost–and re-order another color. I never thought I’d have to say this, but I should have just ordered from Mood! In the end, I got the color I wanted and it really is THE SAME FABRIC that I swatched from Mood, so whatever, lesson learned.

My rayon bemberg for underlining the bodice came from Vogue Fabrics, who I heartily recommend. I ordered a color card first, which was a massively good choice: do that. My one beef with the experience comes down to color depiction on the site (which is soooo bad in the flesh tone section of colors) and the way they stack swatches and staple them down on the card. Once you remove the staple, you’d better not shuffle your swatches around because remembering what color is what will be impossible, especially given their awful color depiction online. Not that I know anything about that…okay, I totally did that. Luckily, I could search for the color names that I *thought* I was considering and find other sites that displayed them better. Once that was done, I settled upon…*drum roll*…Beige. Corpse-y, but it matches my skin well and doesn’t detract from the lace at all.

Pattern!

The bodice of this pattern is truly wonderful: I only needed to do 1 muslin to confirm the fit (I checked the length beforehand and added what was needed). I could probably have taken it in from the bust to the waist but I didn’t want to risk Hulking out of the lace because it was too snug! The sleeve caps are a great fit for the armholes, with hardly any easing required (and this lace takes easing very, very well). They are rather fitted sleeves though, so if you plan to make this pattern, be sure to check that! And one other thing to be aware of is that this bodice’s surplice neckline is rather…booby. Really rather booby. Like, checking-my-tits-every-time-I-move booby. If I was a busty gal, this would probably have required some adjusting on the pattern itself; as it stands, I’ve got more ribs than tits so I left it as-is and opted not to put a snap there or sew it closed. The pattern calls for small shoulder pads, which I omitted; my shoulders, in my opinion, support the garment well enough on their own.

You may have noticed that there is a skirt on this outfit rather than trousers. There were issues with the pants–despite 4 muslins and getting close to a good fit and being fairly sure about what final changes needed to be made, the fashion fabric behaved so much differently than muslin that it rendered the pants unwearable and unsalvageable. :’-( And since this fabric was pricey, I only bought a smidgen more than what I needed per the pattern envelope. To say that I was crushed would be an understatement: I so badly wanted the jumpsuit from the artwork! And the shape of the trousers was so flattering and beautiful, even in muslin. I was so distraught that I took a vintage cocktail dress to a local tailor to have it hemmed, just in case I needed to wear it to my event. (Hey: that skirt was 3 layers of silk chiffon PLUS a lining, and needed to go from Midi to Mini–I wasn’t about to do that shit myself, deadline or not.) Fortunately, I was able to get a pencil skirt out of my remaining yardage and make it work–truly a Christmas miracle! 😀

Said skirt was made from my skirt sloper/moulage than I made in a class with Nina last year. I knew the darts would probably never match with the bodice, so I cut the skirt out with 3″ side seam allowances; from there, I sewed the skirt darts and then pinned the pieces to the bodice to mark where my side seams needed to be sewn to match the bodice AND fit me. Quick and dirty, yes, but it worked! I hemmed the skirt to 18.5″ from waist to hem because I think that is a flattering length on me; I kept about 2″ of hem allowance, which I felt was appropriate for this fabric and the shape of the skirt. The length allowed me to not worry about a vent, either–yay! The hem was sewn invisibly by hand.

Hilariously, *before* I cut out the skirt, I had a hell of a time with the pattern piece for the sash! It is supposed to be cut on the fold, but I had not one lay plan at my disposal that would accommodate that on what was left of my material! So to recap, I had plenty of fabric to cut out an entire emergency skirt, but not to put the sash on the fold. O_O I made it with a center back seam and honestly, I doubt anyone would think less of the dress because of that! The sash itself is not very flattering on me from the back due to my narrow back waist and the straightness of the sash, but I love the effect in the front! It adds that extra element to make the dress look “Finished.” I always prefer a buffer of some sort in dresses with contrasting tops and bottoms with a waist seam, whether it’s a belt or a waistband inset or something like that, so I am glad I went ahead with the sash!

Construction Notes

This pattern is fairly easy to put together–there aren’t very many pieces! But the lace obviously added some work because of how it needed to be underlined. I hand-basted both fronts and backs to their respective underlinings, which was great for getting the bodice put together. But it occurred to me the day before the party that I couldn’t take the basting stitches out of the surplices without replacing them somehow–the layers would separate and flap around! My solution was to prick-stitch along each surplice in my purple thread, taking care to come up through a section of lace so as to hide the stitching on the right side. It is utterly imperceptible from the outside as a result!

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Wrong side of prick stitches on surplice neckline

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Right side of the same section–can you find the stitches? xD

I didn’t have any real trouble sewing the lace; the cording got bulky quickly, as did any areas of heavier embroidery that got taken up in darts, but my machine handled it just fine. I used my straight stitch plate most of the time to prevent the feed from eating the lace, though! I used a Microtex 70/10 for the bodice by itself, and an 80/20 Universal for the wool/silk gabardine, as well as for joining the bodice and skirt together and inserting the zipper. The zipper, by the way, is longer than the pattern called for: 24″ vs. 22″. I made this decision when I was still planning on a trouser jumpsuit: due to the difference in my waist and hips, I needed more room to unzip and wiggle into the thing! This held true even with the skirt, so #noregrets. I had to call Wawak to order the zipper, because the colors on their website weren’t showing up very accurately and I had Very Serious Questions. Tanya (I think? It’s fuzzy now…) was able to understand what color I needed and give me accurate information about the choices they had; it turned out that the best match wasn’t even listed on their website in that length, but she hooked me up and I couldn’t be happier with the match.

Conclusion

This is a fantastic pattern, and I highly recommend it if jumpsuits are your thing. Just pick a drapey fabric for the trousers–or at least something with more drape than wool/silk gabardine!–and you’ll be okay! I would love to revisit this pattern another time and get my fantasy jumpsuit, but my next project will absolutely be something less stressful!

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Remembered to get one pic on Saturday…3 drinks deep and on the way home, LOL.

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This *felt* treacherous in those shoes…

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“Talk to the fabulous lace-clad hand…”

Have you made a holiday outfit this year? If you’ve ever sewn with lace, how did it go? 

 

 

A Festive, Fiery Dress for Designin’ December (aka The Anna Has Landed)

Welcome! This VERY LONG post has been a long time coming–my initial muslin for this dress was completed during the summer months!–and I am glad I can finally share it with you. But be warned: this project did not end entirely happily.

Before I dive in here, a note about Designin’ December: this fun challenge taps into one of the reasons that sewing your own clothes can be so thrilling: you can replicate a designer or high-end garment that would otherwise be unattainable (due to price, color, limited size ranges, etc.) and make it your own. I love that Linda has gone to all the effort to include other people in her quest for designer style! When she announced this sewalong of sorts, I didn’t think I’d be able to join in–I hadn’t been researching designer dresses when I decided to make this dress–but was looking forward to seeing what everyone else chose and wanted to have in their closet. But as I worked on my dress, I remembered that the Gorgeous Fabrics description for my fabric had mentioned that dresses made in this very yardage had been for sale for several hundred dollars. I decided that some snooping was in order, and while I never did find THE dress made from this fabric, Elie Saab dresses kept coming up in my search results (for “ombre silk dress”).

I don’t know about you folks, but I LOVE snooping fashion week photo galleries and slobbering over all the pretties. The evening/red carpet gowns are always near the top of my lust-list, as impractical as they may be! Elie Saab is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring modern designers, in my opinion–his evening wear is second-to-none when it comes to delicate, feminine, dramatic, gasp-inducing beauty. I looked through the selection of ES dresses that were coming through the search and found two that both had elements of my own planned project:

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Elie Saab ombre dress; Photo property of BySymphony.com

ES 2

Elie Saab ombre dress; Photo property of Bergdorf Goodman

Upon seeing these, I decided to toss my dress into the Designin’ December group just for fun! My color palette is much more similar to the second photo, but the effect I got–and wanted!–is much more like the ombre pattern of the first photo. (But seriously, I would take that first dress in a heartbeat, because WOWWWWWWW.) And of course, I am incorporating a big split like the 2nd dress has! 😉 I did opt for the higher neckline from the Anna pattern, since I would rather stick to showing off ONE bit of skin at a time. YMMV, of course! It helps that my chest resembles something more like a xylophone than bountiful cleavage, and I’m pretty sure nobody wants to see that in a deep V neckline!! But I bet you *do* want to see this dress, right? Drum roll, please…

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Anna in motion

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Reclining on a bridge, as one does

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Filtered for lighting, but you get the idea

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Bodice and waist

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Skirt!

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Back

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Big front split, up close

IT’S SO PRETTY I’M GONNA DIEEEEE!!! 😀 The close-up series of the bodice and skirt are probably the truest depiction of the color of the fabric in real life. Now for the gory details:

I did a lot of fiddling with the fit on the bodice, but I had it down. Side seams and pleats were appropriately relocated, and excessive waist ease (all 2+ inches of it) was marked for removal. And then somehow, after tireless preparations (gelatin bath for the silk, anyone?) and conscious choice-making (cutting the dress out on the floor of our non-climate-controlled walk-up attic so that all the yardage could lay flat and not be disturbed by “helpful” kitties), I did something wrong between making the new pattern and cutting out the bodice. The result? A bodice whose waist was about 1.5″ too small for me. (Had I been going for a fully-exposed zipper, it would have fit. But yeah, no.) The worst part? I didn’t realize it was too small until I had assembled THE ENTIRE BODICE, french seams and all, and we were trying to pin the zip opening closed to see how things were going (BECAUSE I WAS WORRIED IT MIGHT BE TOO BIG LOLOLOLOLOL). PSA: try not to do this, especially when sewing meticulous french seams in a silk crepe de chine. You will hate yourself, you will hate your dress, and you will hate literally any living thing that dares to cross your path as you try not to vomit from rage and scramble to fix your fuck-up so that you can wear this damn dress. Note: this is doubly true if you are also dealing with bad things in your personal life when this sewing shitstorm occurs.

The bodice of this dress LITERALLY ended up in the trash can at one point–I knew how dangerous unpicking anything was going to be–and was only grudgingly rescued when I confirmed that I did not have enough fabric to recut the bodice AND preserve the ombre effect the way I was running it. Luckily for me and this demon dress, nobody had thrown away anything gross immediately before or after this tantrum. I believe my last words to my husband as I threw the wadded up, un-binned bodice onto my table and quit for the night were, “I don’t want to be awake anymore.” O_o

Now, since it has been several weeks since I did everything, I am not 100% sure now what went wrong. (That is why I try to start blog drafts when the project begins, which I did not do this time.) Regardless, it was my own damn fault and I had to buck up and fix it if this dress was ever going to see the light of day.

Rather than mutilate myself or go on a tapeworm diet, I ripped out (yep) the outermost pleats in the bodice and re-sewed them much narrower at the waist, tapering to the prescribed width by the time I reached the stopping points; the remainder was picked up by using a 3/8″ SA at the waist area of the center back zipper instead of the included 5/8″. This would not have been quite as possible had my invisible zipper tape not been 3/8″ wide, so thank you, little crappy zipper. Unfortunately, while these on-the-fly fixes solved the zipping-things-up problem, they *also* resulted in the side seams of the bodice no longer matching up with the side seams of the skirt, which as you may remember, I had already painstakingly fixed before sewing the final muslin. Yay! (Not.) My choices were to live with it, or scrap the dress. I opted to live with it. Is this an example of the sunk cost fallacy in action? Perhaps, but here we are. In addition, my silk dress ended up with lots of excess fabric in the back above the waist–and it was much more prominent than it had ever been in my final muslin. Instead of the excess looking like wearing/design ease in a flowing fabric, it looks quite blouse-y and I’m not particularly happy with it. 😦

And now for some gloating: I am very, very pleased with my hand stitching on the sleeve hems, split, and one side of the bottom hem. The other side of the bottom looks just as good from the outside–which is ultimately what is most important, right?–but I fell into automaton mode and did a much more visible stitch on the inside and only realized what I had done when I finished and looked at my sleeve hems again. D’oh! I don’t want to rip it out (this project has had quite enough of that already) but it does bother me. Here is one of the good pieces:

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Hem stitching

I also decided to do a lot of hand overcasting on this project. I suppose that’s my vintage nerd coming forth–you see that finish a lot in Victorian-era garments particularly–but it was soothing work and I think it looks neat. I used that finish on the CB seam below the zipper and on the closed portion of the front split seam, which were both sewn normally due to the difficulty of doing french seams in those areas.

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Hand overcasting; obviously the right side was the second stretch!

The entire waist seam was stabilized with silk organza selvedge strips; since the waist ease is minimal (which was what I wanted in the first place) and that seam has to bear the weight of the long-ass skirt, this was absolutely necessary. I may also go back and add a proper waist stay once I stop fuming at this dress, because that would help with both of these concerns and look a bit nicer.

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You can see the organza here; I didn’t bother zipping it for such a short photo session.

This dress marks the first time I have inserted a zipper by machine. (I know, I know, that sounds stupid. But I like the control and freedom to sit on the couch that I get with hand insertions, and somehow that way always felt more approachable to me from a “this is something I can do successfully” standpoint.) It was also the first invisible zipper I have ever used. I am pleased to gloat say that I got the zip in on the first pass! I do not have a specialized foot for this kind of zipper, but my regular zipper foot was perfectly sufficient. I could have gotten a little closer to the teeth, but that’s about the only complaint I have. Rather than thread baste the zipper in place–which I had done with EVERY other seam of this dress–I used Wash-Away Wonder Tape to stick it down. (#noregrets, because that stuff RULES.) I then sewed the rest of the CB seam; the last step was to attach the facing to the neckline and zipper before putting the dress through a wash cycle to remove the gelatin. The wash went perfectly and the dress was then (clutch your pearls, y’all!) dried in the dryer on an air-only cycle for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. After a final press, this beauty was ready for her debut!

That debut was my company holiday party, and it was quite a hit! Here we are before leaving the house:

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A little washed out, but you get the idea!

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So handsome! (The “Captain Morgan” pose was to show off his new coordinating dress socks!)

Here are a few more photos from today’s outing; we’ve had unseasonably warm weather this weekend, so even though the lighting was utter shit, we took the opportunity to get some photos done without freezing to death!

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Anna Attitude

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“…are you taking the photo?”

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Caught a little bit of the breeze!

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Don’t mind my face–this was a great dress pic!

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Gotta flash the leg! (And UGH again with the face.)

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You know you aren’t a real model when you have to walk to your photo shoot in your evening dress AND carry your own keys and phone…

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Pensive

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Some more filter tweaks for lighting purposes

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Being ridiculous

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Pulling a face for y’all

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My “Are we done yet?” face

So that’s the skinny (LOLOL see what I did there?!?) on this dress. Please check out other Designin’ December pieces over at Linda’s space, because it’s always fun to see what other people come up with! As for me, I am working out what to make next–goodness knows I have one hell of a queue built up by now! Perhaps something for Jungle January?? 😉

Have you ever screwed up mid-project and had to scramble for a fix? Were you happy enough with the results to wear or use the item? 

Better Pictures Project* (And Also Another Marfy 3093)

*Disclaimer: this LONG post is mostly about improving the photos I post to this blog, but it does feature a new sewn garment as well. It’s just that the photos and talky words will have more to do with photography and less to do with sewing than usual. Additionally: I am probably not the target audience for Gillian’s awesome series, since I have a partner to take my photos and we use a cell phone and not a camera, but her September homework inspired me. =)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Since we last met, your intrepid blogger has managed to turn 30–WOO HOO I MADE IT!!!!!!!!! I’m excited for this new chapter of my life; this is the first fresh decade that I have kicked off knowing exactly who I am and feeling good about that person, and it’s a great feeling. Not bad, eh? 🙂

I have also been sewing as much as I can, and I am trying desperately to keep up with my massive blog roll (Bloglovin’ makes it so easy to follow a billion-and-three blogs, and then I end up with the dreaded 99+ unread icon…), which helps explain my belated interest in Gillian’s Better Pictures Project. She has been posting lots of really helpful information for anyone looking to improve their photography skills and make their blogs that much better. Now, per my disclaimer above, I not only do not have an actual camera, I have a personal paparazzi to help me; as such, I read the camera settings posts and thought they were interesting and helpful, but just not something I could incorporate into my life right now. But then the September “homework” came along: find a new TNT photo location close to home. THAT, friends, was something we could handle! I knew there was a public park comprised of a ravine and its surrounding wooded area within walking distance of the house, so we went location scouting (with Mulder in tow, naturally) one Saturday morning in September. You guys, I might never take photos in our backyard ever again!

So we had a new awesome location ready to go, but we were missing one crucial element: a finished thing. (This is still a sewing blog, you know…) So I got Tom all wound up about taking these photos in an idyllic location and then basically gave him photography blue-balls by taking forever to finish my new shirt. But whatever, I don’t need to explain my art to him!!!!!

*Ahem*

Finally, I finished the damn shirt. And then it got cold and rainy here in Ohio, which meant that going down into a ravine was probably only going to result in one or both of us winning a Darwin Award rather than any blog-worthy photos, so we waited. Then this Sunday, the weather gods shined down upon us with sunshine and mild Fall temperatures!

Bird Mural

Bird Mural

Fashion is about climbing on stuff, right?

Fashion is about climbing on stuff, right?

Senior portrait pose

Senior portrait pose

One of our favorites of the day...

One of our favorites of the day…

Side view + some nature

Side view + some nature

Another favorite!

Another favorite!

A back view

A back view

I wish I could fit in this pipe!

I wish I could fit in this pipe!

Using props to our advantage

Using props to our advantage

The shirt really pops!

This amazing slate wall made the best backdrop of all!

This amazing slate wall made the best backdrop of all!

The color of the shirt really pops in these!

Gotta use a bridge when it's there!

Gotta use a bridge when it’s there!

A walk-away shot on the way back to the car

A walk-away shot on the way back to the car

(Really quick note: every photo in this post was taken on a cell phone with no filter or settings adjustments.)

The blouse is another Marfy 3093. I LOVE this pattern, you guys! This time I made it in a hammered silk (I bought it from the same lady who sold me the chambray I used for Marfy 1.0) and while I did a decent job, there are things I wish had gone better. I should have listened to my gut and done a starch or gelatin treatment first, because this stuff got shifty. But overall, I am very happy with the result. I used some precious vintage shell buttons ca. 1930’s and they’re perfect for this shirt. The only thing I did differently to V 1.0 was to leave off the pocket flaps (and accompanying buttons) and remember to french seam the front shoulder seams. I am done with this pattern for the time being–it’s a pretty unique shirt, after all–and will be moving on to other stuff in my FW ’15/16 queue.

My only regret about these photos is the way I styled myself and the blouse. In person, I totally looked like an extra from a 1990’s music video from the waist up!! It was mostly my makeup (lipstick, in particular) combined with the shiny finish of the shirt–both looked great on their own merits, but together they weren’t what I was going for AT ALL! Hopefully that doesn’t come across in the photos to people who aren’t me, but I certainly can’t un-see it, LOL!

Yeah yeah, we get it: but what about the Better Pictures Project thing? Here’s what we did:

So, I’m biased, but these are without a doubt the best photos I’ve ever posted to this blog. We chose a time of day (10:30AM) with plenty of natural light–critical in such a heavily wooded and earthy area–and the added benefit of next to no foot or bike traffic, since it was a Sunday. You may have noticed the distinct absence of a Mulder cameo in these photos. 😦 Ultimately, it just wasn’t a good idea to try to have him along while we were climbing around on slippery rocks and earthen banks and focusing so much on the quality of the composition and lighting. He really loves this park (he “helped” scout, after all!) so we will take him back again, just not when it’s “Mommy Daddy Happy Photo Time.” And you guys, we haven’t even been to the entire park yet!!! Endless possibilities for the entire family. 😀

So Phase 1: know when and where to go, and when to leave the dog at home.

Phase 2: Challenges

I think we really did a good job of achieving most of our goals for this conscious attempt at improving our pictures. Obviously the primary objective–finding a TNT photo location close to home–was achieved, and we’re thrilled about that! We knew we wanted to incorporate the features of our site as much as possible, and I think we did that pretty well. There were some areas we would have liked to use more, but either the lighting wasn’t working out or the extra water from the rain the day before made it too annoying or hazardous to attempt what we had in mind. The bird tunnel is a prime example of a lighting issue: in real life, there was lots of light pouring into the tunnel from outside, but that did not translate to the photos. The shot I posted above is the one and only workable shot we got from that site, and it’s pretty dark (and I’m fucking slouching…grrrrr)! Another issue we ran into was my dislike/fear of nature–I do NOT do nature, folks. I am a strictly indoor nerd. So there were some points during the shoot where I was eager to get out of the setup because OMG THE NATURE IS TOUCHING ME AND CHRIST ON SALE IS THAT A BUG?!?!?, which translated to stiff poses and short sittings. And, like any sensible human who wants to live, I was not super keen on the slippery-ness of some of our settings due to the rain; that, unlike my seething hatred of the great outdoors, will not always be the case, thankfully.

Phase 3: It’s not you, it’s me

Tom, bless him, has really found a love for taking photos by helping me with this blog. He even wants to get a proper camera at some point! He probably has more fun than I do on these shoots!! Tom is a great amateur photographer, IMO. In addition to having a great eye and tons of creativity, he is adventurous and very willing to roll with whatever happens while we’re shooting, which makes for a relatively easy and fun experience. It also leads to some unexpectedly awesome photos and settings! What he needs, frankly, is a better model. I really have to work on feeling comfortable in front of a camera: I never know what to do with my body!! I feel like I look uncomfortable and awkward most of the time, and I want to change that. I need to work on poses that feel natural enough to me while still looking interesting; I’m not necessarily going for editorial here, but I do want to take cool, creative photos of me faffing about in my handmade clothes, so whatever. I need to practice my poses and faces before we go out for a shoot, and perhaps invest in some practice time with Tom to see how things photograph before the “real deal” gets underway. Do any of you have suggestions for or advice on posing for photos? Do you ever feel awkward having your photo taken?

Here are a few ton more from our shoot: enjoy! And seriously, please weigh in with how you think we did: input is welcome and appreciated!

Inception: Blog Photography Edition

Inception: Blog Photography Edition

Admiring the nature from a safe distance

Admiring the nature from a safe distance

Much casual. Wow.

Much casual. Wow.

Branchy branch

Branchy branch

Pensive walking

Pensive walking

Probably shouldn't have touched that water, tbh...

Probably shouldn’t have touched that water, tbh…

I got my silk shirt dirty for this one. O_o

I got my silk shirt dirty for this one. O_o

"Mads" in the wild

“Mads” in the wild

Reflection

Reflection

"Fabric Sale Ahoy!"

“Fabric Sale Ahoy!”

There's a smile!

There’s a smile!

Camera-shy

Camera-shy

I totally match my living room. #sorrynotsorry

Fit (Anna) Now, (Anna) Party Later

Mic check…is this thing on? 🙂

I seem to have temporarily neglected my own corner of the internet–oops! I have been BUSY. I have been cleaning the house, spending time with my family and friends, helping my husband fine-tune our homemade Neapolitan-style pizza-making skills (SUCCESS!!!!), and taking another pattern class. On top of all of that, I GOT PROMOTED!!! I am now the Market Research Analyst at the company where I have worked for over 5 years, and I am beyond excited. So with all of this stuff going on, my sewing mojo has been well and truly zapped into oblivion…until now.

(WARNING: lots of words ahead!)

I am mildly ashamed to admit that, apart from the sewing I needed to do for class, I have done hardly anything in my sewing room since I last posted. I did make one thing for myself from a pattern Nina mocked up–it’s a nice, slouchy kimono-sleeved knit top–but I haven’t decided if it’s worth blogging. (I love the top, of course, but it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, particularly for people who are not me!) But recently, something prompted me to get off my ass (couch) and get back on my ass (sewing chair) to tackle a project that has been in my head for a couple of months: a silk maxi dress!

You may be having a total WTF moment right now, and I get it. Of all the things to work on, why a terribly impractical silk maxi dress? If you’ve read here for long, your WTF may be further magnified by your knowledge of the fact that I have never before worked with silk. (Unless purchasing it counts as “working with” it, in which case, I am a boss.) My only explanation is: International Anna Party.

Well, let’s back up: it all started on Instagram. The lovely Ms. Rosie tagged me in a comment on a photo, which turned out to be an “invitation” (this sew-along is open to anyone, so no invite needed; still, I wouldn’t have seen it if not for Rosie!) to participate in the International Anna Party, which is basically a sew-along/post-along celebrating the Anna dress pattern by By Hand London. I actually own every BHL pattern in paper form (thanks to backing their Kickstarter campaign) but have never made one of them; no reason for that, really, apart from being more drawn to other projects. I am aware of there being some debate in the online sewing community as to the quality of independent sewing patterns and the technical expertise of many designers, but I suppose that in the end, I don’t really care too much one way or another. I spend my money how I like, and will deal with whatever fitting issues arise if/when I get around to a particular pattern–that goes for vintage, Big 4, indie, etc.

ANYWAY ( 🙂 ), a couple of months ago I treated myself to an order from Gorgeous Fabrics (aka one of the most dangerous websites on the entire internet if you like amazing fabric) and included some ombre silk crepe that I’d been coveting for a while. I bought 4 yards (at 57″ wide, that was overkill, probably) because I knew what I wanted to do with it: a full-length dress that fully utilized the amazing coloration of the fabric, preferably with a nice, sexy split in the skirt. The Anna pattern was the only one I had in mind, honestly–it seems to look good on everyone who makes it and is very simple, allowing the fabric to really be the star (well, the fabric and whichever leg I choose to reveal). My long-term goal was to have this mythical dress done in time for my company’s holiday party in December–see? Super manageable!–but this Anna Party business gave me an extra push to get started. Just imagine it:

A perfect pairing, if I do say so myself...

A perfect pairing, if I do say so myself…

THAT SILK CREPE, THO. Red to coral to orange and back again, starring Bilbo Baggins...

THAT SILK CREPE, THO. Red to coral to orange and back again, starring Bilbo Baggins and maybe a dragon…

(So far, I am thinking of having the red focused at my waist, fading from orange/coral at my shoulders and then back out again past the waist. Thoughts??)

Obviously, I am aiming to have this dress finished before July 17, so that I can post photos to my Instagram feed (hopefully the entire blog entry will be ready in time, too) during the allowable time frame of the Anna Party. I don’t care about winning any of the prizes; I tend to join sew-alongs (or IG-alongs, apparently!) just for the motivation to finish something. To facilitate this, I have started with my fittings already:

Anna bodice 1.0, back view

Anna bodice 1.0, back view

Anna bodice 1.0, front; note the cringe.

Anna bodice 1.0, front; note the cringe.

The first muslin is straight from the pattern. Thanks to Nina’s teachings, I am learning to see probable fitting issues in a pattern before I do anything with it, but I wanted to see the fit out of the envelope on Anna, since I’ve never made a BHL pattern. It turns out that I need a LOT of fitting adjustments! The most necessary thing was to add length to the bodice, because it came up wayyyyyyy too short for me, as expected. The difficulty is that I needed all that length between my shoulders and bust, as opposed to needing it between my bust and my waist. Do not be deceived by the above photos: I held that bodice down while Tom pinned it to me–it rides wayyyy up. I added 2″ of length and shifted the shoulder seam so that I had more length at the back than the front, and got this:

Anna bodice 2.0, back view; definite improvement, I think

Anna bodice 2.0, back view; definite improvement, I think, apart from Tom’s questionable pinning! 😉

Anna bodice 2.0, front. Still cringing, but a little less. =)

Anna bodice 2.0, front. Still cringing, but a little less. =)

My second muslin confirmed that I need to: stop sewing the pleats about 2″ before where I stopped them on Muslin 2.0 (they were lengthened after v. 1.0), scoop out the front neckline a little, and shift the side seams toward the back by about 1.5″ (tapering to nothing at the armhole). What do you think? Am I on the right track here? I can definitely see an improvement from 1.0 to 2.0, but I worry that I’m suffering from confirmation bias!

Once I get the bodice where I want it, I will be making any complementary changes to the skirt side seams and CF panel seams (if needed), and lopping some inches off of the skirt length. From my waist to the floor, I need about 42″, whereas this skirt is about 46″ as drafted. And bear in mind that, at 5′ 8.5″ tall, I am taller than the average bear lady. I suspect that the extra length is due to Anna’s designers opting to factor in very high heels (rather than drafting for exceptionally tall people), but I am not intending to wear mine with more than a 2.5″ heel. I’ll do the math after all this other jazz gets worked out though–priorities, people!!

Speaking of jazz, I will leave you with a shot of me in all my vintage glory, 1920’s style! As many of you know, vintage is what got me into sewing in the first place, and I still adore it (despite my foray into more modern sewing projects of late). I was fortunate to be asked to assist with an event at a local historic mausoleum, which involved me talking to people and looking nice and era-appropriate. Easy as pie! 🙂 I had not gotten to wear “Princess Peach” (yes, I named both of my 1920’s evening gowns) yet, so she was the obvious choice for the evening. She looks pretty good for ~90 years old, huh?

20's silk gown, early 1900's ivory pendant, and 1920's (or earlier) metal mesh handbag!

20’s silk gown, early 1900’s ivory pendant, and 1920’s (or earlier) metal mesh handbag!

Gone for A Month, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Whoa, guys–I did NOT mean to be away from my sweet little blog for this long!

As you may have guessed by the title, I haven’t been terribly productive since my last entry. I bought more fabric (because of course I did), and even solidified a few ideas for my next project(s), but that’s about it. However, as alluded to in the title, I did end up with a t-shirt; yes, it was indeed very lousy:

Technically wearable, but that's about it!

Technically wearable, but that’s about it!

 

Yikes...

Yikes…

I made this as a wearable muslin for Tom. For the most part, it looks like a t-shirt, which is a good start. The fabric is a PITA and stretched and distorted like a motherfucker, though. I used the Thread Theory Strathcona pattern, which I like a lot and will use for ALL THE SHIRTS. But between those wavy hems (sleeves AND body), jacked-up neckline (guess who cut the binding much too short, apparently?), and a few fitting adjustments that I couldn’t have foreseen (like the short sleeves being elbow-length), I still have a lot of work to do before I end up with something Tom would wear out of the house. Perhaps Step 1 should be spraying the ever-loving shit out of this fabric with spray starch…

Per usual, I have a ton of ideas for my selfish sewing. What I lack is motivation and spare time! But I’ve been trying to do better at buying fabric with a purpose in mind (and I am currently PROHIBITED from buying more fabric per a self-imposed directive), and I have a handful of things queued up in my brain-pan: some shorts using the pattern from my playsuit and at least 3 or 4 fabrics from the stash, a skirt using some awesome J. Crew fabric I bought with a vintage pencil skirt pattern in mind, and at least 2 more iterations of vintage Simplicity 1281 in good neutral colors for easy coordination.

I also need to start planning more blouses and tops, because I really lack those in my wardrobe. At this point, I recycle the same 4 (!!!!!) knit tops whenever I want to wear separates; I’m asking way too much of Forever 21 and H&M’s craftsmanship, and I know it’s only a matter of time before I wear them out. With that in mind, below is what I am really inspired to make RIGHT AWAY, at least as soon as I figure out what the fuck to underline it with (because this shit is see-through and why wear a tank top when your shirt is made of 55% silk?!?):

Silk/cotton voile (J. Crew) from Fabric Mart; "Lumberjack Chic," am I right??

Silk/cotton voile (J. Crew) from Fabric Mart; “Lumberjack Chic,” am I right??

Two potential "matches" from the pattern stash. Startlingly, I have enough yardage to make the onesie version of the Vogue pattern!

Two potential “matches” from the pattern stash. Startlingly, I have enough yardage to make the onesie version of the Vogue pattern!

I feel compelled to note that this stuff GLOWS, even after pre-washing–I’m really excited about it! I am also really conflicted about what pattern to use for this amazing fabric. I didn’t even check my other pattern filing box for options, so I’m sure I’ll find additional contenders in there. And this isn’t the only silk/cotton voile I bought, either: I’ve got a handful of other colors, and I bought enough of some of them to make shirts. (The rest are for sleeveless tops or bras, hopefully, which will be a whole new adventure…) Now I just need to sit down and DO STUFF. I promise not to be absent for a month, though! =)

What have you guys been up to lately?!? Bought any amazing yardage or tried a new skill?