A croquis and decisions

Posted by Kristin on Monday, June 24, 2013.

A croquis, in fashion terms, is a figure drawing with the clothing loosely drawn in to show how it could hang on a real person.  A croquis based off of your own body can give you an idea of how a particular garment would look.  Or, your own croquis will scare the daylights out of you because you are drawing your actual size and proportions, not your perceived size.  I, for one, imagine a much smaller size than I really am.  I made a croquis based off of my own body by dressing in tight clothing, taking a photo, printing it and then tracing the outline.  You don't get to see any of those steps.  It wasn't pretty.  Trust me, you don't need to see me in skin tight clothes...

On to why I humiliated myself in the privacy of my own home by taking self-portraits in short shorts and tank tops.  I'm trying to decide what style dress to create using my Alfred Shaheen fabric.  I have about 2.5 yards of a gorgeous floral print with shades of aqua and purple.

The colors are actually a bit muted in this picture.  The background is a very light blue, not white.  I wasn't able to find this particular fabric anywhere online, but I did find some similar and I'm guessing this fabric is from the 1970's (but I could totally be wrong...blame Google).

 Here are my inspiration dresses:

Picture from C. Madeleine's
Picture from Posh Girl Vintage
The top one is a Shaheen wrap dress from the 1970's.  I got the idea of a black top and patterned bottom from this one.  The next one is a faux sarong style Shaheen dress from the 1950's (again, if I am lying, blame Google).  I decided to take a bit from both dresses and create my own.

I started with Butterick 5850.  This is a dress with a wrap style bodice and a tremendous bridesmaid's bow with a straight skirt.

Butterick 5850
See how skinny this croquis is?  My own drawings (just wait, you will get to see them) are not quite that small.  At all.

My next idea was to use Butterick 5814.  This dress is a retro styled dress with a wide neck and flouncy ruffley thing on the skirt.

Butterick 5814 by Gertie
I wasn't a fan of the bodice, I envisioned myself constantly pulling the shoulders up.  Plus the wide neck makes it a little more dressy than what I need.

So I've created my own dresses by taking the parts that I liked and combining them to create a new dress.  I also used a croquis of my own outline so I could get a better idea as to what sized elephant I would look in each.

My skirts look a little bit more like fireworks than flowers, but my hands hurt tonight.  Therefore by the time I got to the flowers, squiggles were all I could do.  The first drawing is Butterick 5850 without any alterations.  The second drawing is the bodice from Butterick 5850 and the skirt is from Butterick 5814.  The last drawing is again the bodice from B5850 but I removed the bow and added what would be a self-drafted sarong style. 

Guess what???  I can't decide!  Shocker, I know...since I can't decide on anything without getting opinions from the internet.  

So please, let me know your thoughts! 

It wasn't a rock, it was a rock lobster!

Posted by Kristin on Friday, June 14, 2013.

We were at the beach
Everybody had matching towels
Somebody went under a dock
And there they saw a rock
It wasn't a rock
It was a rock lobster...

Or so sang the B-52s. I also have some lobsters, only mine are wearable...

I actually finished this skirt a few weeks ago, but I haven't blogged about it because I was waiting on the perfect backdrop, the ocean!  Where else would you wear a lobster skirt?  Well, besides out to dinner at Red Lobster, of course.

This skirt is a modified a-line from Deborah Moebes's class on Craftsy.  I took my original a-line pattern and added volume to it by slashing and spreading the pattern.  My original skirt is here in case you missed it.  I also fully lined it in a nice white cotton (I had never lined anything before...another first!).  I finished off the waist with a red bias tape.  I bought it premade as always...I'm still not brave (or patient) enough to try my own bias tape yet.  That day will come, I'm sure.  The waist sits a little lower than I would like, but I'll live with it.

The fabric is Michael Miller's Shore Thing Lobster Pot.  I got the grand idea to do a skirt out of lobsters after watching TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress."  A young bride was wearing a dress covered in lobsters while shopping for her dream dress.  I immediately pulled up Google and started my search for lobster fabric. I bought four yards because I had envisioned a dress of lobsters.  Once I got the fabric I realized that a dress would have been an awful lot of lobsters.  

The shoes I am posing with are completely unwearable.  I bought them because they were only $12 at Belk just over a year ago.  I've never worn them.  They hurt.  But I packed them up and dragged them to the beach just for these pictures.

Mom really liked this picture (above) because of the way the wind made my skirt look like a big triangle.  See those heels????  I'm surprised I could walk across the deck in them without spraining an ankle.  I've never been accused of being graceful.

I love my lobsters!  I've even gotten compliments from strangers, which I consider the best kind.  Now, to go take my skirt and killer shoes off because we are doing a Ghost Walk in Beaufort, NC this evening.  I really would break something doing a ghost tour in these shoes.  And the wind would catch my skirt.  I'm switching to some safe jeans and tennis shoes (for when I have to run away from the ghost of Blackbeard!).

Treasure hunting

Posted by Kristin on Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

While I've been on vacation, I've done a lot eating, napping, and sun burning. 

I have taken copious pictures of Bailey doing nothing.

I have practiced using the way more settings than I will ever need on my camera.  By the way, this is the "night landscape" setting...

And because I have a pretty severe addiction to fabric, I traveled to a local fabric store in Morehead City, NC.

I wasn't overly impressed until I saw this:
It was only a remnant, about 2.5 yards worth of fabric.  I thought it was beautiful but I was about to leave it behind until I saw this along the selvedge:

Was this real Alfred Shaheen fabric???  Wait, who is Alfred Shaheen you ask?  He was a fabric and fashion designer from Hawaii.  He is probably best known for his women's dresses and hand printed fabrics.  He also created traditional Aloha shirts for men.  You can find vintage Alfred Shaheen dresses and the prices range from $100 up to $500. 

From www.poshgirlvintage.com
This one above is a bombshell style dress.  The bodice is fitted and the bottom is a sarong style skirt.

Here is another beauty that was for sale on etsy.  Again, it has a fitted bodice with a shirred back and a full skirt.

I thought about just taking my treasured find home and stashing it away for a while.  Instead I have been designing in my head.  I only have 2.5 yards of fabric, so I can't do a full dress.  I thought about a skirt, either a full skirt or a sarong style skirt.  But I really want to stay true to the Shaheen style which means a dress. 

I signed up for a Craftsy class over a year ago and haven't done anything with it.  It is Gertie's Bombshell Dress class.  Would this be perfect or what???

From www.blogforbettersewing.com

I bought the pattern and another fabric to create this dress.  My pattern has a full skirt attached to the fitted bodice.  As much as I love the sarong style, the pattern above doesn't come close to my size and I don't trust myself to grade it up that much.  So unless I find another bombshell style dress pattern for the curvy, I'll stick with my full-skirted version.  I envision my purple and teal fabric forming the skirt and a solid black as the bodice. 

I can't wait to get started!  I've got a few more projects in the works that I want to finish before I attempt my Alfred Shaheen style dress out of vintage Alfred Shaheen fabric.  I also want to gain a little more experience and confidence before I cut that fabric since it is truly irreplaceable. 

Self Drafted A-Line Skirt

Posted by Kristin on Monday, June 10, 2013.

I signed up for an online class on how to make your own a-line skirt by Deborah Moebes.  I ended up with two skirts and two self drafted patterns that I can use over and over.  I took the class on Craftsy.com, and I learned quite a lot about drafting patterns as well as some sewing tips.

As someone who is a bit larger than the typical purchased pattern, I have found it difficult to follow patterns without making numerous adjustments.  At first I was scared to write my measurements down, but Deborah eased me through that by telling us it was just a number, that that no one would EVER see it.  So don't look for my measurements here!  They are a secret...shhh....

I was shocked that I managed to follow her directions and come out with a very wearable skirt!  My first skirt is a traditional a-line with two back darts and two front darts.  I love that the darts are shaped to my curves perfectly.  I also added in a facing around the waistband instead of doing a bias tape waist.  I felt like I needed a little more support to the top of the skirt. 

The fabric I purchased on whim from a local quilting store.  I had never visited the shop before and I was the only person in there and sort of felt obligated to buy something.  So I left with two yards of Honey Honey Violet Tea Rose by Kate Spain with really no idea what I would do with it.  And I grabbed it when it came time to make my skirt. 

See that pattern??? I drew it all by myself!  On wrapping paper.  Which I figured was a step up from my usual habit of using newspaper.  They make pattern tracing paper, but I am a cheapskate and used the backside of ugly wrapping paper I've bought from school fundraisers.

The lighting here is pretty bad, and my living room walls are the same color green as the leaves in the skirt.  So I added a fancy border hoping that would distract everyone from the poorly lit photo.  But you can see the shape of the skirt.

We are at the beach right now which is why the wind is blowing everything to the left.  See the Dodge Durango in the corner?  That is my "minivan" I rented to get us down here.  Love the rental car process!  I'm just glad we didn't end up with an Escort. 

Here's a good picture!  I do not like to show my knees, so I hem everything below the knee.  But I've already decided to make this skirt in a wool for winter and I would hem that one a little higher because I would wear knee camouflaging tights.
Here is the side view.  My rear end forms a nice little shelf at the top.  And I've noticed that exercise only increases my shelf size.  So I loved that I was able to create darts that allowed the skirt to fit right over my shelf. 
And here is Bailey closing her eyes for the camera.  The sea breeze keeps picking her little ears up like wings.  I think it is adorable!  I also think she is tired of me chasing her around with the camera....

Serendipity Studio "Marilyn"

Posted by Kristin on Thursday, June 6, 2013.

I was so excited when this pattern came out and bought it immediately.  For my fabric I used Amy Butler's Lark Souvenir in Persimmon.  Nothing could go wrong, right?  Beautiful dress pattern, beautiful fabric, I was ready!

Except once again my body is WAY outside the pattern sizings.  My waist fit, but that was it.  The pattern states that it is sized for the average woman: 5'4" with a B or C bust.  My almost 5'9" frame with, well, let's just say 'larger bustline', required a few pattern adjustments.

As always, I first made a muslin as is with no changes.  It was lovely.  The upper waistband hit about mid bust.  The arms gaped in all sorts of lovely directions.  The entire bodice was about 3 inches too short.  And I had no idea how to fix it.  In the instructions, Kay (the designer), mentions that you may have to do a full bust adjustment (FBA) and to just Google it.  I've never done this.  So I follow her directions and looked it up and found loads of tutorials for patterns that have darts.  This dress doesn't have darts.  Wonderful.  I was on a roll at this point.  I eventually found a very well done tutorial at Lazy Stitching.

I ended up adding two inches in the FBA and another inch in length.  My new pattern piece looked nothing like the original.  Here is the original pattern placed on top of the new one...(am I really that big??? I can't believe I am posting this for the world to see.)

 I stitched up muslin #2 and voila!  It fit!  Now on to the dress!  Wait...I'm 5 inches taller than perfect woman that the dress was designed for so now I have to add 6 inches to the skirt pattern.  I decided on six inches because the pattern allowed room for a hem band which I wasn't doing.  I pulled out all my tissue paper and started cutting and taping all over again.  Now can I start sewing?

One of these days I'm going to realize that the whole gathered bust/high waist design is not a flattering look for me.  I'm too top heavy for it to look even sort of attractive.  I almost didn't finish the dress I was so disappointed.  But I did and here it is!

 I was playing around with settings on this one.  This is called "vintage".  Do I look vintage-y?

 Here it is from the side.  I didn't realize until I was done that my eye make up was smeared across my cheek.  I spent my day filing what felt like a year of special ed paperwork.  Plus it was rainy all day.  So I'm a hot mess.  And that thing on the floor behind my feet?  It is not a giant spider, it was once a cat toy.

Here is a close up of my ginormo bust.  It isn't actually as bad as I thought it would be once I got the facing in around the neckline. 

I may keep it.  I may chop the bodice off and turn it into a skirt.  At this point I'm so tired of working on it that it is just going to hang in my closet for a bit.  

Here is my parting shot...can you tell I haven't quite figured out the timing mode on my camera?  It is titled "Run away, run away!".  I'll be selling signed prints in my shop.

Not really.