Category Archives: Couture

Wedding Planning, Designing a Dress, and KITTENS!

Well I knew this would happen but I thought I’d be better at managing it: I’ve become a bad blogger due to being immersed in the throes of wedding planning. I have nothing very meaningful to blog about, since my future husband reads my blog and while nothing else at all about our wedding is traditional, I am trying to keep anything bride-related secret from him, or as much as I can do, living in an apartment together ^_^

We are just having a small wedding; less than 20 people, but the planning is still a lot more stressful than I anticipated! There is still just as much work to do, only it’s on a smaller scale. Fortunately, we are doing pretty good ticking off our to-do lists.

For me the biggest hurdle to cross, of course, has been making my dress. I initially thought it would be exciting, an amazing challenge, and such a fun project. But I quickly became overcome with all the different choices, and in trying to decide what style of dress to make I found myself overwhelmed: what if I picked the wrong style and regretted it? You only get one shot… what if I picked something too boring and it wasn’t “special” enough? What if I picked something too difficult and I didn’t have the skills to execute it? What if? What if? What if?

Finally I settled on a design, and then I had to try and find a pattern. Again, the stress… should I just draft it? Am I really that crazy? But every pattern I looked at had some feature that wasn’t quite right so I would end up having to change it anyway. Then, miraculously, I found a vintage Dior pattern that was pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

The next hurdle was fabric. Readers, you’d think this would be the MOST fun part, and I honestly thought it would be (and I still think it SHOULD be!). I spent a lot of time and money selecting and ordering swatches, paying a small fortune in shipping just to make sure I got it right. I picked my perfect fabric and ordered it, and breathed a sigh of relief. Then, two months later, my fabric still hadn’t arrived. Long story short and a bit of a nightmare later, I had to source a new fabric from a new supplier, and start over.

So fast forward to about a month ago, and I FINALLY got my fabric, my pattern, now it was time to start doing the fitting. And boy, do I hate that part LOL. This is a designer dress, which means it’s constructed in as few pieces as possible – which sounds easy but when you have to do a massive FBA it’s not. Not only did I have to figure out the fit on a very odd bodice, but then I had to decide – woe of all woes – how in blazes I was going to construct the thing. Because the instructions – vintage, bless them, call for overlocked seams, and we all know that’s just not acceptable on a WEDDING DRESS (at this point I do realize it’s ridiculous how much angst I’m causing myself). So for the last few weeks, I’ve been simultaneously making a test garment, as well as agonizing over all the possible ways I could finish the insides.

Now, I’m almost ready to cut into my beloved fabric. Readers, I’m kind of terrified. Because there is something about making your wedding dress that lays bare all your shortcomings which you are very adept at hiding from yourself in regular garment making. I am not fastidious. I have a tendency towards impatience, which leads me to rush and cut corners. I am also running out of time. I am terrified my dress is going to end up some nightmarish creation of bollocks that looks like a cheap, badly fitting polyester taffeta Halloween costume purchased hastily at the 25th hour from the dollar store. Which considering how much time and money I’ve invested in it, would be a terrible travesty.

So, I’m trying to force myself to take it slow, thinking and planning, and not rushing. Which means the blog gets neglected.

Which is good, because I have nothing to blog about anyway LOL.

So in the meantime, here are some pictures of our kittens – they are growing SO FAST!!!

Katydid & Cricket

Upside-Down Cricket

Katydid & Cricket

Katydid in a Basket

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The Evolution of Skill: Skill vs. Dreams

I’ve had some time to reflect lately, and some of this post was inspired by the amazing conversations I had with Andrea of Stitch Parade, as I had the great pleasure of meeting her this past Thursday (she wrote a lovely blog post about it here).

We had a great discussion about knowing what styles work on us; not just because of our figures, but our personalities. I thought about this a lot on my travels home that day, and have been since then. That was the main inspiration for this post.

Also, at one point in our discussion, Andrea had asked me how I got into sewing, and it made me think. That was the other part of my inspiration.

My journey to sewing has been a bit backwards. I grew up with a familiarity towards sewing (my mum is an amazing seamstress, and used to make all our clothes, as well as tailor my dad’s suits, growing up). But despite the fact I always had an INTEREST in sewing and design, I didn’t develop the PATIENCE for sewing until I was in my late 20’s, and only began teaching myself just over a year ago.

That’s partly the reason I say I’m backwards, but also because I like to dive in the deep end with things – it’s the challenging, scary stuff that really excites me! As an artist, exploring new genres of creativity is my lifeblood – so this process is not new to me, and I typically learn the skill part of things very fast and then savour the process of perfecting them thereafter.

When I first started sewing just over a year ago, I had in my mind visions of perfectly fitting, stylish, unique and high quality clothes that would reflect on the outside who I truly am on the inside. I’d studied in depth the theory and science of draping and corsetry and had fallen head over heels in love!!

I began with such excitement; so much to learn, conquer and accomplish! And even better; I’d discovered the awesomeness that is this sewing community – a boundless support system of beautiful people, endless inspiration and so much information 🙂

But with so many decisions to make I quickly became distracted… I made garments that didn’t suit me in colours and fabrics that weren’t me. What’s worse, my dreams moved faster than my skills and I found it difficult to achieve the perfect fit and finish I’d dreamed of right away (gee, what a shock! lol)

I soon came to a phase where I was creating really slowly… I just wasn’t excited about my makes. I’d learned a lot in a short time, but my garments went unworn and I started to lose my passion. They were made well, and I was proud of my execution, but I had been more concerned with making garments that would ‘fit in’ and be ‘blog interesting’ rather than garments that reflected my own style.

The first step in the right direction was making my Bombshell Dress. I made it in colours I adored, a fabric I loved, and a style that screamed ME!! The combination of advanced techniques, including having to drape the bodice cups, was absolute aphrodisiac to me… I was in heaven!

I vowed after that not to make anything else that wasn’t me… I wanted to feel excited about sewing all the time! Of course, nothing since has been quite as intoxicating as making that dress, and one can’t exactly go around wearing boned vintage dresses everywhere, but it was a turning point.

So back at Square One, I still had no wardrobe and what little I did have was getting too big, as I was losing weight. I read a post by Steph C of Cake Patterns about creating a capsule wardrobe: carefully choosing a limited colour palette and a selection of garments that could work together. It’s a smart idea, and just what I need to keep me on track, ensuring my makes fit my style and what I’ll actually wear.

Since then a wonderful thing has happened: I’m making clothes I actually wear and I’ve found myself loving the process a lot more. I love planning, I love creating and I love the fact I’m finally building a wardrobe that feels like me. I’m developing MY style, and I’m letting myself sew colours I love without apology. Yes there’s a lot of black and red. I’m ok with that. I can see my skills catching up with my dreams and its pretty rad.

So I don’t participate in community sewalongs or challenges as much – but even though I don’t sport the Seamless badge, I haven’t bought any RTW in months; and though I don’t join in sewalongs or pledges as much, I can still live vicariously through all you wonderful, colourful, spontaneous sewists out there – I’ll keep sewing alongside you though…. in my ‘boring’ blacks and solid colours and simple styles ^__^

Lots of love & happy sewing – whatever your colours and styles! ^_^

And thank you, Andrea, for your wonderful company and for the amazing conversation we shared – I look forward to next time! ^_^


Musings of a bombshell

Hi all! I wanted to share some of my musings from my time making the Bombshell Dress with Gertie 🙂

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I’ll start by saying, this class was a huge deal for me, as I only had a handful of basic garments under my belt prior to taking it, and by all accounts, had no business taking on something so advanced. But Gertie’s teaching made it very clear and understandable, and as a result, I have a beautiful garment & a whole pile of new techniques, not to mention a huge elevation of confidence in my skills!

The biggest revelation I had was how much I LOVED the hand sewing!! I loved it so much I opted to sew the zipper in by hand!! It is slow, meticulous & methodical, and made me appreciate every stitch, which I found deeply satisfying.

Although I’ve done pattern adjustments, this was also my first experience with draping/redrafting, and I really enjoyed the process, although I really do wish I had a dress form! lol

I really loved the process of adding my own seam allowance & thread tracing (another first for me!) – it’s just not possible to get this level of accuracy with regular techniques. In addition, I found the couture method of applying underlining very slow, satisfying and beautiful.

Overall I loved the precision and attention to detail, even in the things people don’t see; I hid all these pretty red details inside my dress, just for me! It also opened my eyes to how I could add couture and vintage techniques to other patterns, and not to always be so reliant on instructions.

A brief rundown on my firsts in making this dress and new skills learned:

1) adding seam allowance to a pattern without SA included
2) thread tracing
3) hand basting underlining to main fabric
4) draping/redrafting bust cups
5) shaping & structuring fabric
6) fell stitching
7) cutting & tipping steel boning
8) sewing boning channels
9) making/adding a waist stay
10) lapped zipper
11) hand picking zipper
12) installing zipper guard
13) making button holes (yeah lol)
14) making skirt vent
15) hand stitched invisible hem using seam binding

This experience has definitely taken my sewing to a whole new level, and I plan on carrying the things I’ve learned forward, to make garments I LOVE… not just passable ones ^__^