Atelier, Couture, Bridal Wear, Dresses, Evening Gown

It’s National Sewing Month – Enjoy a Free Evening Gown Sewing Lesson at Hancock Fabrics !

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It’s that time of year again when I start thinking ahead towards the holidays that are just a couple weeks away. The store is already bustling with busy shoppers gathering up goodies for holiday gifts and purchasing fabric for holiday dresses. My assignment this weekend is to create a beautiful evening gown ensemble using the the corset pattern from Kwik Sew. I’ll create the corselette first and then drape the gown to make the finished product. The fabrics that I have selected are all BFF from Hancock Fabrics. The gown construction will be part of a free sewing lesson this Saturday at Hancock Fabrics, Carmel, Indiana. To reserve a seat please call the store at 317-571-9594.

To make the evening gown  I have selected beaded galloon lace and stretch satin for the corselette and underlining the skirt. The cape will be made from shirred panne velvet using a technique I found in The Best of Threads: Embellishments magazine this summer. The quilted lining, shown above, will help ward off the winter chills.

Finally to complete the ensemble display, I plan to add this black, beaded handle, evening clutch that I made at an in-store lesson for Mother’s Day:

Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse
Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse

Photos of the finished gown and cape will be posted next week!

Happy Sewing!

Atelier, Bridal Wear, Couture, DIY Sewing Room Projects, DIY Wedding, Free Sewing Tutorial, Sewing, Sewing and Embroidery, Wedding Dresses

Sewing an Organza Wedding Dress

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There was a question on PR regarding this dress and my reply is below but I would love to get a second, third and so on…opinions. The train is stunning ideas?

I took the time to make a miniature/quarter scale version of this. Of course, you have been sewing for thirty years so I am sure you will figure it out.It was a fun way to pass an otherwise dreary day. In case anyone else is interested here is what I did.

My model required the skirt to be made of:
The organza layer
an very thin satin underlining.
A second underlining
A lining

The organza sections begin with a long strip of cross grain fabric. There are four sections shown in the photo so I made four rows. The bottom layer (based on my count) has at least eight strips of organza. Layer one, for all rows, is a strip of cross grain at least 3 times the length of the section circumference of the skirt. Using a template for the crescent, I made festoons of various lengths. This is done by cutting wide strips of cross grain fabric into swag shapes. Create the strips by cutting (I am converting this to full size) 20″ WOF. Using a French seam, connect the strips until there is a length 9 times the length of the skirt section. Use a piece of Bristol board to make a template for the swags. Each swag needs to be 12″ at least to allow for overlapping (I don’t know how tall the bride is). The deep swags put the fabric on bias without using circles. Take the strip and fold it so that you get a manageable length but do not over fold or you will lose the “organic” look and wind up with more of a crinoline look (I did this and had to tear it all out). Stack all eight layers together, basting the layers to prevent shifting. Now place your template and begin cutting swags. BE IRREGULAR in the intervals. Next, I used my ruffler attachment to gather the swag layers onto the first strip of cross grain. The ratios of three times the length being attached to nine times the length (it has to be divisible) worked out perfectly for me but I was working on a small scale so maybe do a test run. That completes the first row of organza. The second row seemed to have six layers, as do the subsequent rows. Repeat the process until all four rows are done.

I am assuming that to even attempt something like this you have a dressform. I also assume that other than the boning showing through (seen on another thread) the bodice has gone well, which is great because corsets can be difficult and a downright beast to sew long form IMHO. To create the first underlining I used a half circle skirt for the front portion and a full circle for the back as the back clearly has much more flare and fullness. Place the underlining on the dressform and then put the bodice on so that the skirt is under the bodice. I then marked the end of the lace, (it is uneven) so I would know where to place the first row.

I laid out the underlining on a lap desk so that I could mark the location of the remaining layers. The distance between one layer and the next seems to work out as about 9″ but of course this is variable based on the height of the client.

The organza layers should be manageable now that they are gathered. I pinned the layers, draping each one using my lines as a guide but not sticking to the lines perfectly. This ebb and flow of the rows leaves a very pretty effect. Stitch the rows to the underlining.

The second underlining I made was just a single full circle. I put it on Mary (my scale doll) and then hand stitched the first underling to the second underling, folding and draping as pleased my eyes. The rest is easy, just sew the bodice to the skirt and do the final lining. Done.

There is always more than one way to get the job done but I am pretty happy with how my mini version worked out. I didn’t bother, too tired etc, to make so many layers nor finish the dress but it was fun to figure it out. Good luck and I look forward to the photos!

Atelier, Bespoke Tailored Shirts, Craft Room, Cutting Table, Denim, DIY Sewing Room Projects, Fabric, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Paris Couture, Pattern Drafting, Quilting, Quilting Room, Sewing, Sewing and Embroidery, Sewing Patterns, Sewing Room Makeover, Tailoring

The Ten Commandments of Great Sewing

There is a lot of room for creativity in the world of sewing but to get good results there are some hard and fast rules that have stood the test of time, and indeed are applied to many hobbies, not just sewing. Here are the Dawn Abbey Ten Commandments of Sewing.

1) Thou Shalt Love Thine Self and the Body You’re In
I make no bones about being a Christian and believing that every human is created in the image of God. You are beautiful just the way you are. Before you can create something that will look pleasing to you, there needs to be love for the person in the mirror. We all have fitting adjustments that need to be made, and after more than thirty years of sewing for myself and others I have yet to encounter “the perfect body”. Perfect in whose eyes? In His eyes you are stunning. Give the body you’ve got a big ‘ol hug and know that with a little time and effort, you’re gonna look fantastic in the things you create.

2) Measure twice cut once.
It may seem obvious but I cannot overstate the importance of taking accurate measurements to ensure properly fitting garments. Measure yourself once per year (birthday perhaps to remember?) and then again right before you cut your pattern and fabric. The human body goes through many changes in life, and during the course of a single day your body weight can fluctuate by two-three pounds. Take your measurements at night, after dinner when your body is at its maximum size for that day and do your fittings at the same time if possible.

3) If it doesn’t feel right, it’s wrong
This rule applies in several ways. Firstly, when you are shopping for fabric, take the time to drape the fabric across the inside of your wrist which is much more sensitive than your hands. If the fabric feels rough, uncomfortable or just “not right”, keep shopping. Secondly, when pin fitting a pattern, if the fit feels wrong, it is wrong. Either make some adjustments or try a different pattern.

4) THOU SHALT TEST EVERY PATTERN WITHOUT FAIL!!
Lol! Okay, I just did the online equivalent of shouting but honestly that question has come up one time too many times for this instructor. Your time, money, effort and creativity deserve the small effort of making a muslin. Once the task is done, only minor change are needed unless there is a major change in size (see the Second Commandment)

5) Look Before You Leap
Pattern Review.com has assembled the largest online database of pattern reviews in the world. I know how deliciously tempting those $.99 patterns can be, (I have drawers full of them) but the best approach is to make a list of patterns that you like, check the reviews and once you are satisfied that the pattern will work for you, shop on! :))

6) Keep Natural Laws on Your Side
Gravity. Momentum. Inertia. When sewing, sew on a flat surface. Whether you have treated yourself to a top of the line custom cabinet or you’re using a piece of foam from the hardware store, or something in between, let the table hold the weight of the fabric for you. The best way to keep large projects for slipping away, weighing you down or downright hurting your shoulders, wrists and back, is to make sure that the project is properly supported. Using a comfortable chair will reduce fatigue and strain and make your sewing time more rewarding.

7) Take Joy In the Journey
Yup. It’s true. Taking the time to baste, make a muslin, pin fit, search for the right fabric, buttons, linings etc., will bring better results than rushing through. When time is short, remind yourself, “I am worth it” and put the project aside and come back to it when you have time to focus. You will reap the rewards of your patience in the end

8) The Strength of a Team far Outweighs the Sum of the Individual Parts
The Internet is flooded with all kinds of tutorials, online classes (shameless plug here: naturally I’d love it if you take some of mine!). Plus, there are how-to videos, books and DVDs galore. The point is, if you need help, there is plenty to be had, just ask. A frustrating project can turn into a conversation point in a forum, and not only get the help you need; but you might be able to help someone else along. Also, remember that The Sewist Club has a contact page, and I am always happy to help if I can. 🙂

9) Protect Your Creativity like Your Child
Your time and talents are gifts from above and in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to push aside the Human Being and become a Human Doing. Sewing, like any other hobby or creative outlet, is meant to be enjoyable. Book some “me time” with your hobby and protect it like a precious child. We are only given 24 hours in each day, make sure to use some of them to express yourself, whether it is at the machine, shopping online, looking for new ideas or just day dreaming about your next project. The workplace, dust bunnies and dishes will still be there when you get to them:)

10) Good Ingredients Yield Good Results
I left this until last because it is actually the least important. Buying a good quality sewing machine, nice fabrics and notions is simply common sense. But the best ingredients can come to nought if the hands are rushed, the mind is stressed or the body is out of harmony. Yes, good fabrics count for a lot, but loving the skin you’re in counts for so much more.

Happy Sewing!
Natalie

Atelier, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Paris Couture, Quilting Room, Sewing Room Makeover

Sewing Room Makeover Continued – Project and DIY Ironing Board Cart

Yes, it’s true. My PCP (Pfaff Creative Performance) has a name, Prince Pfyodor. The pretentious, over-the-top name suits him to a tee. Compared to the other machines in the studio he’s pretty spoiled and, since he is much to heavy to move around, I decided to put together a press and project cart for him so I can keep his table clear and the iron close by. I adapted the cart from an Ikea Bygel cart which you can check out here:

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60177703/

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The ironing surface is made of a piece of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that is covered in one layer of reflective heat proof lining and 1 layer of muslin, attached with a staple gun. I tried, as mentioned in a previous post, to spruce it up a bit with pink buckets for project notions etc and a floral gift bag. But to my eyes, it was still lacking so off I went to JoAnn for some sticky hook and loop tape so I could make a skirt to cover up some of the clutter. Here’s how it looks now.

Paris Rose Cart Ironing Setup Paris Rose Project Cart

TADA! Lol! That looks so much better! And the cute fabric goes with the Paris Couture theme. I added a rose pattern button to cover the space between the two edges of the skirt.The messy stuff is still inside but at least I don’t have to look at it now. Equally important is that I already had the cart so I stayed within my budget. Yay!

When I looked at this cart, it made me reflect on the tiny apartments I have lived in. I keep thinking that it would be the perfect sewing cart. Just add your machine to the second shelf, reorganize it and presto! Instant sewing space. It slips away into a closet or, if covered in a home decor fabric, it could blend in nicely just tucked into a corner. I set the cart up with sewing needs just to try it out.

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Just an idea for anyone who is living in a small space, or has limited sewing space. I empathize.

Next post…the pressing station for the commercial iron and the cart.

Happy Sewing!

Natalie

Atelier, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Quilting Room, Sewing Room Makeover

To the wall or not

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I am, truthfully in a bit of a quandary. The front section of the room is coming along nicely. I figure I am about 70% done. All that remains is the design wall/embroidery station with shelving. It is the most difficult project to assemble but once it’s done the front section will be too. But it has to wait for sales, time and a pair of helping hands. So for today, now that the walls are looking a little nicer, I am trying to figure out whether to put two sewing machines front to back so Mom and I can see each other or push the Pfaff against the wall, move the serger table over and create a second, independent quilting station for MDM.

The pictures above are just a mock up. I will not be using these tables for the Pfaff at all. The sergers actually go on one of the desks and the second one is for another machine. I am planning to build a special table for the Pfaff that will allow me to sew on a flat surface, needle to the nose as I was taught. I took the pictures with the drawers open so I could be sure that they can open with me sitting in front of the machine. What do you think? One quilting station or two?

Atelier, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Quilting Room, Sewing and Embroidery, Sewing Room Makeover

Adding a touch of spring to a wintery view

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I have moved some pictures around and added little pink buckets to my press/project cart to keep project notions sorted. I am adding little dashes of pink here and there to help my wintery cool space feel a little more like spring. At the bottom of the cart, I reused a gift bag to hold my next sewing project which is all cut out and ready to sew. The binder, beside the bag, is a sample workbook so I can remember how to do the multitude of stitches one learns over time and which attachments to use (there are so many!) I loved the fabric on the binder and actually tracked it down at Hancock’s. Now if it would just go on sale!!!! My task today was moving the desks and setting up the front (north) facing wall and getting some of the wall decor done. Nearly there.

It’s nice to be inside on a snowy, cold day. Just thinking about spring is making it better and the forecast next week is for weather in the fifties. Yay!

Happy Sewing! Natalie

Atelier, Cutting Table, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Paris Couture, Quilting Room, Sewing Patterns, Sewing Room Makeover

Sewing Room Makeover – Paris Couture Dream Theme

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I found these cute boxes at Hancock’s Fabrics. I love them for a lot of reasons, partly the color scheme, but mostly the Paris Couture theme. When I was a girl I dreamed of becoming a great Haute Couturier in Paris, with a shop on the Champs-Élysées. I sewed and dreamed. I worked and dreamed. I studied and dreamed. I took Fashion Arts at High School. Worked for fabric stores, and studied the Singer Sewing Reference Library until the books fell apart. I went to college and studied Fashion Design. Won competitions and really believed that I could make it. But the cold, harsh reality was that my dream world was dying. With the advent of the fax machine (yes I am that old) design specs could be sent to off shore factories in minutes and a sample could arrive in days. The internet made that timeline even shorter. And we could not compete. The cost of living in North America meant higher wages and higher wages mean higher costs of production.

So I am creating my own “Paris”, right here at home. A beautiful place of perpetual spring where I can design and create and teach and learn and grow and laugh and maybe even cry. Where the customer is always right, because the customer is always me. It may not be geographically correct, by my tiny atelier is a dream coming true for me. My sewing room is more than just a hobby space. It is a dream world preserved and well worth every penny I spend and every moment I have in here. After all, what price can we put on a dream?