First Day of School and an Alfred Shaheen Inspired Dress

Posted by Kristin on Tuesday, August 27, 2013.

Today was the first day of school and I always like to start the year with a new dress.  Only instead of buying something from Macy's, I made one to wear.  Ok, that's a lie.  I made SIX to wear!  My first day dress is a mash up of Simplicity 2217 and a self drafted skirt.

Remember my vintage Alfred Shaheen fabric I found on vacation this past June?  If not, I was rambling around in a little fabric shop while on vacation in Emerald Isle, NC when I found just over two yards of fabric by Alfred Shaheen.  Shaheen was the pioneer behind the iconic Hawaiian shirt.  He also designed fabrics and women's dresses. He is considered a pioneer in the textile industry.  Sorry, that kind of reads like a middle school book report.  At least I didn't tack on "The End" or end my paragraph with "And that is the history of Alfred Shaheen." 

Blue Velvet Vintage



Posh Girl Vintage

I considered my fabric find to be a treasure that I couldn't ruin.  I agonized for weeks trying to decide how to best use it.  Then one of my readers, Danielle, suggested using Simplicity 2217 as my bodice.  Simplicity 2217 is from their "Amazing Fit" collection, which I think translates to "ginormous amount of ease added."  I liked that the pattern had varying cup sizes so that saved me from having to do an FBA.  Again, my measurements placed me in a solid 22, but after making up the muslin, it was obvious that taking a few seams wouldn't work and I sized down to a 20.  When I looked at the measurements for the finished garment, the bodice allowed for 3+ inches of wearing ease!  Since I wanted my bodice to be fitted and not hanging open in the front (which would be oh so appropriate for a middle school teacher to wear to work), I went down a size and still had to take in some along the front princess seams and the top of the side seams.  I also added an invisible zip instead of a lapped zip.  I did that for no real reason other than I know how to do invisible zips.  My bodice fabric is a basic black cotton that collects Phoebe hair faster than honey attracts flies.  I think I sewed up the equivalent of a whole cat in this since she likes to lay on whatever fabric I am working with.  Um, hope none of my students are allergic to cats...  I also put the bodice together in a little different order than what the instructions stated because I was adding my own skirt and I made a muslin instead of fitting as I went. 

2217 has a more fitted skirt with a couple of pleats at the top but I opted to do a self drafted gathered skirt for fullness.  It is a basic dirndl (you know, two hard can it be?).  I did not gather it in the front or the back because I imagine it makes me look slimmer.  Or at least not the size of a water buffalo.  I also lined it in a light blue lining from JoAnn's.  I have no idea what it is made out of but I do know it was next to impossible to work with and feels hotter than summer in Hades.  Or I'm having hot flashes.  But I'm still blaming the lining.  So I'm assuming it is polyester.  On the bright side, it is a pretty color.

I took these pictures after the first day of school and after meeting with our HOA's accountant I've hired to straighten out my mess I created while pretending I know what I am doing as Treasurer.  Apparently there was some money missing.  Don't worry, I don't have some elaborate scheme to collect HOA fees for my own bank account...I'm not smart enough to figure that out.  I just applied some stuff in weird places.  Oops. Wait, my point was that I'm tired.  Exhausted, actually.  Hence the unruly hair and sleepy look.

When I first took these pics the first few had a bunch of orbs in them.  I guess my place is now haunted.  All of those noises I blame on Phoebe must be due to spirits moving about.  Ok, ok, the orbs disappeared once I cleaned the lens of my camera.  But I'm checking into blessing the house just in case.  They may have just been hiding for the second round of pics....

See the cat hair?  And the cat?  She's pissed that I picked her up and since I was trying not to be clawed to death (and having my own spirit join my orbs) I forgot to set the auto timer and took a picture of my chest instead.  Sadly, this is after I went over it with a lint roller. 

On a completely unrelated note, this green is the for real color of my living room.  All of my other pictures seem to wash it out.  I keep thinking if I make my house look like it belongs at the beach, I'll fool myself into believing I actually live there and not in the mountains of SW Virginia.  A girl can dream, right?

In conclusion, my dress is very comfortable to wear and I love it.  And that is my blog about my dress.  The End. 

The tattooed Lady Skater dress

Posted by Kristin on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.

I just finished Kitschy Coo's Lady Skater dress!  Woo Hoo!  I was a "sewing with knits" virgin until I tried this dress.  I had seen it pop up on blogs all over internet world, but I shied away from it because it was a knit.  And I knew that my illustrious sewing machine would chew it up and spit it back out for me.  Then I saw Lladybird's version and it had to be mine.

To be completely honest, I wanted the fabric too.  Until I put it in my cart and the total was $107.  That's expensive even when I am getting paid, much more so when I am living off of savings until school starts back up.  Not a millionaire, yo.  I assumed knits would be cheap because, well, t-shirts are cheap.  They aren't cheap.  I finally found a pretty one on for just over $17 total.  Yes!  Once it arrived I realized why it was so was also see through.  And who wears a slip under a comfy knit dress?  Not me!

I ran out to JoAnn's in search of a knit to use for the lining and a muslin.  I found a lining, but at $12/yd I wasn't turning that into a muslin.  So I used an old t-shirt sheet that was stained with muddy Bailey paw prints from when she was spry enough to get on the bed.

I was too scared to attempt a knit on my own and I went in search of someone to help me.  I found a class on knits nearby that was only $475.  Um, no.  If I had $475 I could go out at buy multiple knit dresses!  I located another person in my area who taught private classes in her home but wouldn't do one class, she would only do 8 beginner sewing lessons for $300.  Really???  Not to brag about my mad sewing skills, but I'm beyond starting out beginner...AND I don't have $300.  It was beginning to look like my ton of knit fabric would be turned into one big pile of cat bed.

I expanded my search a little and found my savior...Nan at Pins & Needles Studio in Raleigh, NC!

Pins and Needles

Over the summer months Nan offers open studio time in two hour blocks.  She provides the machines and space, all you have to provide is the project.  Each two hour block is only $15 and worth so much more!  I traveled to Raleigh, crashed with my sister and brother-in-law, and spent two days at Pins and Needles working on my dress.  Nan was wonderful to work with.  I could use her ginormous cutting table that was cat free!  I could use one of her BabyLock sewing machines (which made mine look even more craptastic that it already was)!  She even taught me how to use a serger (also on my list of wants now)!  I still feel guilty for monopolizing her time when my dressmaking went an hour and half over our allotted time on the last day.  She didn't seem to mind and was determined that I would finish my dress.

My dress fabric is black sketchy roses that remind me of tattoos...hence the tattoo dress.  The only measurements needed were my high bust and my high waist.  I fell perfectly in the size 7 but after making the muslin I realized that my hips and rear are about a size 10 (and the dress only goes up to an 8).  "Baby Got Back" is my theme song.  Nan helped me enlarge my pattern by an inch on both sides of the bodice and skirt.

We strayed a bit from the directions because I was lining it.  My lining fabric also forms the neckband and armbands.

I also found my shoes in Raleigh (well, Durham, if you want to be picky).  They are Swedish Hasbeens from Anthropologie.  How did I afford those you ask?  Buy shoes that are already more than 50% off and ask for an additional discount because there is a miniscule scuff on the toe.  That's how.  I didn't realize these were a fashionable brand until our fresh out of school guidance counselor squeeled when I told her they were Swedish Hasbeens.  So I guess I really am hip, right?  Except I just called myself hip.  I suppose that ship has sailed...

But aren't the shoes adorable!  Red!  With bows!  Although with the wooden soles I kinda sound like a rhinoceros in clogs clomping around in them.

And a parting close up of my new red hair and purple extension...with a camera in the middle.  Because that always adds a lot to portraits.

Thank you to Kitschy Coo for such a wonderful pattern, thank you to Lladybird for enticing me to attempt one of my own, and the biggest thank you to Nan who helped me through every step!

Tilda's Giraffe

Posted by Kristin on Thursday, August 1, 2013.

After furiously trying to get this dress finished for the Threads Magazine Summer Inspiration Challenge, I decided I needed a small break from sewing clothing for a while.

This poor dress still isn't finished, and I was taking these pictures just before the contest's midnight deadline.  I'll blog about this one when it is actually finished and I don't have pins holding my hem up...

In the meantime, I decided to embark on another project.  My youngest sister has been asking me to make her something, anything, for a while now.  I've done things for my mom, I've sewn most of my other sister's curtains in her house, I've done things for friends and their kids, but nothing for her.

Since she is a kid at heart like me, I thought I would do something fun for her and not boring like curtains.  A few months ago I bought a random book at JoAnn's because it was on sale. I love this book!  It has all these magical creations and almost no directions on how to do any of them so it has sat on my shelf looking pretty since I bought it (how's that for a run on sentence???). 

Tilda's Studio on Amazon
  I tackled the giraffe for my sister.  I knew the directions were missing some pertinent info so I thought about doing a tutorial for the giraffe.  The directions are basically "cut your fabric and sew".  For the new sewist (is sewist a word?  Blogger says no but I'm sticking with it), this would be like me going to a mechanic to learn how to change the battery in my car and all I get is "open the hood and switch 'em out".  It would end in an explosion.  Probably.  I started taking pictures as I went but then got so involved in it that I sort of forgot to continue taking them.  So if anyone out there wants a tutorial on making the giraffe, let me know and I'll post what I have.  It will get you through the giraffe itself but not the dress.  But if you can figure out the giraffe, you can figure out a two piece dress, right?

Overall, she went together fairly quickly.  Just don't count my do overs in that time and and I could say she was created in a few hours.  I also used fabric that I already had, so I didn't have to buy a thing!

I couldn't think of a name for her, so I'll just let my sister name her.  I'm quite infatuated with her and might have to make another.  Or the elephant.  Or one of the angels.  Or the cockatoo...

Isn't she adorable?!?!  I love her!  I hope my sister does as well!