Monday, September 28, 2009

The Remodeled Dress

This is the dress (taken apart already) that I tore down because I wanted it to be just a skirt. Its hard to tell here, but the white top is gathered and scrunched so I couldn't just put a shirt over it because it was too lumpity-bumpity.

Since the skirt portion originally hit just under the bust it was a little too wide, so I put elastic in the back side of the waistband.

The final result, worn with a black top and fake pearls:

The picture is at kind of a bad angle, with poor lighting, but you get the idea. I'm already finding other tops that will go well with it, and I'm thinking of making a bustier style top to go with it for a more formal look.

Also, fyi, very few people evidently read wedding webpages, as the attire at the wedding I attended was most definitely NOT "classy casual" but closer to semi-formal. I would have fit in fine in a cocktail dress, but luckily this was fairly versatile and worked out well

Last but not least, I finished redoing the dresser! It turns out that even though its made out of pretty solid wood, the top, sides, and drawer fronts all had a very thin veneer on them (probably cherry I'm guessing) which didn't take too kindly to me sanding it down through the previous stain. Painting it became inevitable but there are definitely some lessons learned from this:

* Do not take the sales lady's advice and use a primer. Its much too thick and dries too quickly leaving a globby and uneven surface, not to mention it quickly fills up all grooves that might be cut in for decoration. If you must use it, use on completely flat surfaces only and apply in a cool place (to keep it from drying too quickly).

* I'd probably use an outdoor paint, as the indoor latex paint is a bit sticky, scratches or peels easily, and doesn't dry very flat (paintbrush lines are obvious)

* Lastly (this should have been obvious to me but I missed it) don't paint the underside or sides of the front of the dresser drawers. It adds thickness and may make the drawers stick to the dresser or one another.

It feels so good to have "new" dresser and skirt :-) On to the next project!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Up Next...

I've got a friend's wedding to attend this weekend and I've been stumped over the recommended dress code of "classy casual"... huh? For guys, this means no tie or jacket required, pretty easy. For girls, I'm not exactly sure what this is. Less than cocktail party and more than sun dress (or maybe not). Due to the word "casual" I'm assuming anything goes but jeans, however I also find that East Coast weddings tend to be more formal than West Coast, and the dress code was on the website but not the invite, so not everyone will follow it... It all comes down to this:

I don't have much of a "going out" or "night life" lately and my vanity demands that I look good but not over or under dressed. Really, my harshest critic is almost always myself.

With this tangled mess of reasoning in mind I decided to do something very nerve wracking: rework a dress that I already like, EEEK! It was tough to make the decision to pull apart a dress I really liked (but couldn't wear for much) and turn it into a skirt that could go with so many things. As I took out the stitches, I worried about whether or not I'd be successful and make it work in time for this weekend, or whether I'd end up ruining one of my favorite new dresses. I'll save you the suspense: IT WORKED! Mind you, I have some editing to do later to make it just right, but for the moment I've got an outfit that is close to perfection. Pictures will come later, but I now have a skirt with tiered champagne chiffon ruffles and a black band at the top with a tuxedo-esque bow in the front. It hits at the true waist and I've got a black shirt and a long strand of fake pearls to finish it off. Very 20's retro, less "cocktails" and more "dinner party".

Well then, I'm off for the weekend. Pictures to come early next week!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Step 1: Done!

Step 1 is done: the practice dress has been "finished", at least as far as getting it to the point of being able to try it on. Yay!

Unfortunately there is a bit more work before I can start adding the chiffon/tulle layer. My inspiration for the top layer is a custom Alexander McQueen wedding dress shown in Vogue back in 2005 and the concept of puffy clouds. Um, we'll see how that goes. For now I need to make the base work. I was afraid the wimpy pseudo corseting on the top wasn't going to be enough, but now I'm pretty sure it'll be good enough (no full/separate corset needed). However the fit is still a bit large, so I need to pull it in a bit and alter the pattern for the real dress. I'd also like to put in a semi-sweetheart neckline and make the back a whole lot poofier (its kind of a sad drape right now).

It definitely feels good to have something that I can try on and have it look almost like a real wedding dress. Sewing the netting really felt like it took forever, and that's even with a ton of shortcuts! Shortcuts include not sewing a small stitch before sewing the basting stitch for gathering (that saved ~32 yards of sewing), tacking separate netting pieces together in three places rather than along the whole length, and using masking tape as a backing for sewing the netting in spots (then ripping it off). Here are all the pieces before coming together:

Milestone 1 down. So much more to go ;-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Projects

My most recent project, a necklace, was caused by a gray rainy day. It just seemed like there should be some way to capture the look of dark water droplets. Luckily I had picked up some Czech glass beads a while back that had yet to inspire me. With a few architectural acrobatics in wire I was able to create this:

I decided to call it 'Waterfalls' because of the two separate clusters of beads (I couldn't put beads in the middle because they deformed the shape of the chain, making it hang at angles rather than draping). Overall I'm happy with the effect.

From the world of design:
At the moment, I'm sewing netting and rapidly learning that it sucks. The pattern instructions simply say to sew it, but the fact that its made of more air than material causes headaches for the sewing machine. I've decided to use scraps of muslin/plain white fabric along the seams, though its made the pinning process quite slow. After sewing it I trim the scraps very close to the seam so that there isn't a lot of excess fabric. It just isn't a fun process, but I'm hoping the end results are worth it.

The other project is a dresser. I picked it up for $50 intending to repaint it (the green is godawful ugly) but the wood underneath (see the picture of the drawers) is actually very nice, so I'm thinking I might change my mind and refinish the wood instead. Its quite a bit of work sanding things down. I've already done quite a bit of it and got a great workout for my arms :-) Most of the information I've read on the web about refinishing was VERY intimidating, mostly because of the sanding, but I really don't think its that bad. I also haven't worked with paint stripper yet though, which I will likely have to do if I want to get rid of all the green. Dilemma... I already have the cranberry red paint to change the color. Should I really go through all the work to refinish it?

Oh boy, so many things to work on. I also picked up the cheapest dress form I could find to make the designing/sewing process a bit easier. We'll see how it goes.

Until later...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Found A New Starbucks Flavor!

I've just found/invented the best new coffee flavoring for the cold weather season, the Hot Buttered Rum Cafe. So yummy! Add a tablespoon of hot buttered rum mix to your coffee plus (optional for morning) a little bit of rum (or whiskey) and poof, you've got a gourmet drink!

Of course there is the slight issue that most hot buttered rum mix you buy in the stores sucks, and also the slight detail that I prefer my hot buttered rum with a sweet whiskey instead of rum. In order to solve this conundrum I will provide you with my hot buttered rum recipe which, rumor has it, was coerced out of a soux chef for a fancy hotel by one of my aunts and passed around the family. It doesn't taste like other hot buttered rums... its SOOOO much yummier!

This recipe makes enough hot buttered rum mix to last two people through a winter if they are drinking hot buttered rums often. If not drunk often, this is years worth of batter or a good amount to put in containers and give away as Christmas gifts. If you just want to try a small amount, 1/8 of a recipe is a good idea. Nothing about these ingredients is healthy, but combined (and in small amounts) it is so yummy!


1 quart ice cream
1 box brown sugar
1 box powdered sugar
1 lb of butter
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

I find it best to soften the butter, cream it with the sugars and spices, and then mix in some slightly softened ice cream. Store in a Tupperware container in the fridge or freezer.

For a hot buttered rum, put 1-2 Tbsp mix in the bottom of a mug and add boiling water, leaving room at the top. Stir until dissolved then add a shot or two of rum or whiskey. A sweet whiskey, like Crown Royal, is what I prefer. Also, if you have fresh ground nutmeg, its excellent to grind a dash of that on top!

I'm thinking of submitting this idea to Starbucks. It definitely beats the pants off of the eggnog latte!

More about my projects later. The brief rundown: I'm in the midst of sanding the paint/finish off of an antique dresser, I just purchased a dress form because designing a 'Goddess' dress (see previous post) isn't working by pinning around my own body, I've got more sewing to do on the practice wedding dress, and I'm in the middle of a necklace design. Too much stuff at once, I know, but I'll post some pictures soon :-)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Obsessed with boots!

I love all the tall boots this season! I want all of them :-)

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Creativity On Hold

Wow, the days have just flown by and I can never get as much done as I wanted to. I'm about halfway through creating a dress similar to the "Goddess Dress" from a previous post, but right now it's laying in a pile calling me to come back and finish it! Sadly, it'll have to wait, as the housework has taken over and company will be here this weekend. Hopefully I'll have a picture I can show here early next week. I'll make Wednesday my goal :-)

Happy Labor Day to all!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wow, the etsy treasury activity is going wild! :-)

Check out my current treasury! (image above)

Thank you so much VickiDianeDesigns for including me in your current "Artist Up Front" treasury! I'm honored :-)

Also, thank you ViviansRomeo for including me in your fall wedding treasury!

Ideas and Musings

Credit: Shopbop

I picked up some very soft, creamy white jersey fabric on sale the other day but it isn't enough to make a dress with. I'm thinking something along the lines of this shirt, kind of a soft tee + chains combination though I don't think I'd do the 'fringe' but maybe do more of a built-in multichain necklace. A skirt is also a possibility, but I haven't been inspired by any skirt shapes lately. Hmmm.