Sunday, July 7, 2019

Yellow mohair and wool challis dress- Self drafted

This dress was so much fun to make and even more fun to wear! The design started in spring of 2018. I purchased the lovely lightweight printed wool challis from Emma One Sock and brought it with me to Design II workshop given by Sarah Veblen.


I instinctively knew that I wanted to pair the panel with a yellow fabric and I also knew that I wanted some textile that had a different texture. During the Design II workshop we had a day to spend at Michael's Fabrics/ A Fabric Place and between doing my fabric exercises, fawning over all the amazing fabrics and shopping I found a wool mohair by Ungaro that was the most perfect shade of yellow and had such a delightful texture. I fell in Love!! And bought a 1/2 a yard which actually turned out to be more like 3/4 of a yard when I measured it at home! (Thank you Jonathan!)

My original idea was a fitted princess seam bodice with a fitted 2 piece 3/4 length sleeve with a shaped fuller skirt attached at the shaped empire seam and curving around the body to hit at the lower back. I had to modify my design a little bit because I felt like the mohair was going to be overworked and some too hot in a closely fitted sleeve. I played with a bunch of different sketches and finally came up with the idea of using a dolman sleeve. I used Armstrong’s Pattern making for Fashion Design to draft the dolman sleeve and then made modifications for the fit that I wanted. Luckily, I had just enough of the yellow Mohair to cut out the longer sleeves which ended up being somewhere between 3/4 length and bracelet length. 

I made one muslin of the newly drafted bodice and then moved into my fashion fabric. Yippee!
I underlined the entire bodice with silk organza and the entire skirt pieces with imperial batiste and then lined the dress in a bright yellow china silk. 


After I cut out and underlined all the pieces with hand basting I pinned them onto my dress form just to get a visual of how they would look. AND... It was OK. Just OK. Not amazing and it felt a little flat to me. Which totally bummed me out since I was really excited about the entire project. SO I left it on the dress form for a while just to let it marinate and speak to me. Thankfully I had an ‘aha’ moment and pinned in strips of the printed wool challis to see what that would look like and it was perfect to my eye! It was just missing that pizzazz. I cut bias strips out of the leftover wool challis and used rat tail cording to create beautiful piped princess seams and piped neckline. This detail really brought the design together and made it cohesive.


The dress was done in time for the Haute Couture Club of Chicago Autumn colors challenge, was worn to a Broadway in Chicago Musical and to the Opera over the winter and also worn in The Haute Couture Club of Chicago annual fashion show. For the fashion show, I paired it with a beautiful fascinator that was made by another member of the club for the raffle. It was so much fun wearing the fascinator on the runway! 


Designing, sewing and wearing this dress really ticked off a bunch of boxes for me!
- I let the fabric ‘speak’ to me and adjusted my design to what the fabric would be best in doing.
- This led me to drafting dolman sleeves
- Dolman sleeves are out of my normal fashion box, let me push my boundaries.
- Took the time to assess my design midway through the process.
- Sewing piping into princess sleeves using mohair as the fashion fabric required accuracy and patience!
- I had FUN


Happy Sewing!!

The Princess turned 5 in June and we celebrated her birthday on the beach with a bunch of her friends and had a lovely day!! I can't believe my grand baby is 5...


Monday, June 24, 2019

Being humbled...

It has been almost 3 years since my pancreas last decided to give me some trouble. In fact, I was beginning to think this whole pancreatitis thing was going to be ‘ok’ and not so bad to deal with. And then I was humbled and brought to my knees. Or more like I was humbled and brought to a gas station rest stops toilet on the side of Interstate 90 in Wisconsin to puke my guts up for a lovely 90 minutes while I awaited my daughter to rescue me via an Uber.

Not a pretty picture but a true one. I battled against my illness for a couple of weeks hoping that all my home remedies to calm things down would work. Alas, they did not and I ended up with a lovely 8 day/ 7 night all inclusive stay at the hospital. 5 of those days were nothing by mouth. Just IV’s- multiple IV’s and lots and lots of drugs. I came home with my arms looking like I went a round with Mike Tyson. So many bruises.

As I was searching for the best word to describe my feeling overall- I came up with ‘humbled’.
Sure there were many others. Scared, angry, upset, terrified, hurt, confused, sad, betrayed, jealous. Also happy, happy and thankful to be alive and happy to have wonderful and amazing family and friends, happy to have another chance to figure it all out.
But humbled best describes it over all.

verb (used with object),  hum·bled, hum·bling.


 I finally have enough strength to do some blogging and spend some small bits of time sewing. Celebrating the small victories and the small measures of success as I get myself back on my feet. I have a couple of big tests scheduled in July and I am not allowed to travel until those are cleared. Need to give myself enough time to get my strength and stamina back up before work travel. Grateful that work is flexible enough to let me work remotely for the next several weeks!

Just a closing thought...
There are so many stories out in the world right now of inclusivity and being aware of the people around you and celebrating differences and not judging people at first glance. It strikes me that this is also very appropriate for people with  chronic illnesses. Yes, I have a serious chronic illness that I do my best to manage but I certainly don’t walk around with a sign on myself announcing this. I don’t look in the mirror and see chronic pancreatitis and I don’t let it define who I am. But, it is there and will always be there. It also reminds me that there are millions of people walking around everyday with their own chronic conditions and their own special needs and sets of circumstances. It reminds me that I need to treat everyone with kindness and respect, just as I want to be treated. 
I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Sewing! And wishing everyone good health!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Metallic neutral sheath dress, jacket and skirt

 This garment ensemble is long overdue to be blogged. It all started last spring during Design 2 intensive with Sarah Veblen. One of my exercises was to work on and develop what neutral means to me in fashion, design and sewing. It was a great time for me to explore this since I was also in great need of new work clothes.


The designs were all developed by me with some design considerations given to me by Sarah.

The Sheath Dress 
The sheath dress was one that I had been wanting to create for a long time and I had so much fun working on a master pattern that has since morphed into so many designs! For instance, I took my base master sheath dress pattern and modified it to create this metallic neutral.

I started with sketching some ideas for a dress and then added a jacket and then thought that a skirt addition would make a mini capsule perfect for work trips.

I modified the pattern by:
  • Raising the front neckline
  • Lowering the back neckline
  • Adding extended shoulder for a sort of cut on cap sleeve
  • Side fronts and side backs cut on the bias
  • The front piece was split horizontally with a curved line to take advantage of the lines and nap of the silk dupioni
  • Addition of a tab and small button to the back vent. The button matches the jacket buttons. Just a different scale.
  • Addition of a welt zipper pocket in the right side front piece

The dress fabric is a lightweight metallic striped silk dupioni, underlined with silk organza and line with ambiance lining. I purchased the silk from Fabrications shop at the ASG national meeting when it was in Indianapolis a couple years ago.




The Jacket
With the dress completed, I moved onto the jacket. The fabric for the jacket was a gift from my great friend, Wendy Grossman who blogs over at The Couture Counsellor. I knew that I wanted the jacket front shape to echo the curve of the bodice on the dress front. But in a very delicate way. In my mock up i tried a couple different placements for the curved front and I had to be careful to place it in such a way that I did not accentuate my full tummy.

With the jacket front shape adjusted, the rest of the construction was fairly simple. Except that I had to match the basket weave as perfectly as possible! I also wanted to pull in the elements of the dress in a way that the set really went with each other and not just a jacket that looked good with the dress. So, in addition to the front waist curve, I also used the dress silk dupioni fabric to create pleated details on the jacket.

I added:
  • pleated cuff treatment
  • pleated pocket treatment 
  • pleated collar/neck treatment (my favorite part) 


The main jacket pattern is made from my master princess seam jacket pattern and 3 piece sleeves with the under sleeve cut on the bias. I simply love using a 3 piece sleeve! It shapes and fits so nicely to my arms and it takes much less yardage overall when using a 3 -piece sleeve because the sleeve is in 3 pieces you can puzzle fit it into smaller areas.

For the lining used a silk remnant for the body portion, making sure to include a back pleat for ease and comfortable movement. The sleeves are lined with black ambiance lining. 



The Skirt
With the leftover basket weave fabric and ambiance lining, I made a matching skirt. Thinking that this would be a perfect skirt suit. However, I dont often wear it that way because I don't like the way the front yoke of the skirt looks when paired up with the jacket. This is a bit nit picky on my part. Instead of using darts on the skirt I choose to add in a yoke and cut it on the bias. My thought for doing it this way was that then I would not have to match the basket weave vertically between the jacket and the skirt. All I succeeded in doing was breaking up the line so that the eye is drawn right to the yoke. Not where I want peoples eyes staring at!! LOL!! From the back it looks amazing because the back yoke is covered by the jacket. 

The skirt pattern was developed from my basic a-line master skirt pattern. I transferred the darts into a yoke on the front and back.I also added in a 'secret' pocket on the inside facing. Works perfect for when I am working trade-shows and need to have a credit card/cash etc in a safe place.

A very good design learning opportunity for me. Luckily I have plenty of other tops and another jacket that goes very well with the skirt so it is not an orphan sitting in my closet! Plus I do also wear it as a skirt suit for work. It's not that bad....



 I mentioned above that I have another jacket in my closet that I made quite a few years ago that also works quite well with the sheath dress and the skirt. It is from a metallic denim/twill with a very wide stripe that worked perfectly for this garment. The pattern is one of Cynthia Guffey's - J5054. Her website is back up and running, but not sure for how long... so if you like, go buy it!

Happy Sewing!!!

Here is the princess showing off 2 new shirts and dancing in her new PJ's!! She loves coming over and picking out fabric for me to sew her new clothes :)