Saturday, May 31, 2014

Anniversary Dress Reveal!

Drumroll please!

Here is the dress you've all been waiting for. I finally managed to get some pictures!

This dress is so fun to wear, because it is so full and swishy! I had to resist the urge to spin in circles all night. Everybody needs a swishy dress in their wardrobe.

Does anybody else feel really awkward when they pose like this? I get super nervous that I'm going to accidentally flash some poor passerby. 

The beading is my favourite part of this dress. After the first time I wore it, I looked at a photo and realized that the beading was totally underwhelming. I went back and added more beads, and I think it looks so much better now.

Also, can we take a moment to talk about how great my hair looks? My hair is usually stubborn, and it takes a long long time to brush my set into a decent style. This one only took about fifteen minutes. And it lasted two whole days. Go hair! Also, hair flowers cover a multitude of sins.


I'm fairly certain that this dress stretched out on the hanger. The first time I wore it, the straps stayed put, and there were hardly any wrinkles in the bodice. Maybe I should have sewn in some of those ribbon hanging loops. Live and learn, I suppose?


P.S. Special thanks to Dara for taking some of these photos and putting up with my mega awkwardness.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lobster Invasion!

Hello chickadees!

I have started falling in love with novelty prints. I've always loved the way they looked on others, but thought they were too silly for my wardrobe. But recently my style has evolved a bit, and I'm trying to embrace the whimsy of novelty prints. Which according to my brain meant that I needed to find the silliest print. So I jumped head first into the novelty print ocean and decided to find myself some lobster fabric! 

I put out a status in Facebook asking my friends to keep an eye out for lobster print fabric, because two (or three or ten) sets of eyes are better than one! My best friend's boyfriend mentioned that he would be visiting China and that he'd keep an eye out. Apparently he went on a very long search, and actually managed to find some! I was very excited when he sent me this picture.

He bought me an absurd amount of the blue one. Time to make a 1940's playsuit!

Since it's too cold here to wear a crop top or shorts, I started with the gathered skirt. I love wearing gathered skirts, but I generally despise making them. I never get the gathers even. I've tried all the different methods: One gathering thread, two gathering threads, three gathering threads, zigzagging over crochet cotton. Usually nothing works properly for me. But this lobster fabric must be magical, because I had absolutely no issues with it! I used three rows of gathering stitches, and it came together perfectly! Hurray!

I used a red zipper from my stash, and did a hand picked lapped zipper. I find this method is nice and simple, and makes for a lovely hidden zipper. So much better than fiddling with an invisible zip. I am so indecisive about finishing details that I had to ask Instagram which button to use.

Almost everybody chose the good wheel. I like the nautical-ness of it. I plan to use a few more of these on the shorts and crop top.

For the shorts portion of the playsuit, I've decided to try using Mrs. Depew's 1940's style beach shorts. Have any of you tried this pattern? It looks really cute and quite simple. Hopefully I won't have too many fitting problems. For the crop top/bustier, I hope to use another Mrs. Depew pattern- the 1950's beach bustier. I was inspired by Tasha's adorable polka dot playsuit.

This skirt makes me so happy! I love how easy it is to wear and style. Dirndl skirts can be easily styles in a 1940's, 1950's, or 1960's aesthetic. Three cheers for versatility! 

Love, Rachael

P.S. I promise that there are pictures of Project Anniversary Dress coming soon. We were having so much fun on our anniversary that we didn't get a chance to take any blog photos. I'll be wearing the dress to a gala this Friday, and perhaps my photographer brother might be kind enough to snap a few photos. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Anniversary Dress Part 2

Hello Chickadees,

So I braved the crazy sale at my local fabric store to get the supplies for this dress. It was kind of fun to hunt through the store for the perfect fabrics. I even ended up finding a bolt of fabric that I'd been looking at online earlier in the month. More on that one in a later post.

I found a fabric very similar to stretch cotton sateen. I've used this fabric before, and I am in love with it! It has a great lustre, and enough stretch to be comfortable in fitted garments. I picked up a metre of it in black, and had enough left over to make a vintage-inspired bustier to wear with some summer skirts.

I had planned on buying tulle for the skirt, but when I got there, the tulle selection wasn't really what I wanted. Everything was either too white, or too yellow, or not fine enough. So I gingerly approached the organzas.

Now, I've never sewn with organza before, and it frightened me a little bit. Turns out, it's not all that bad, providing you use the right needle. I ended up picking up about 6 metres of ivory poly organza. I originally only got 3 metres, but it wasn't enough to create the fullness that I needed.

I decided to line the dress, so that it would feel nice to wear. I picked up both black and ivory Bemberg Rayon lining. This stuff feels so nice, but is a giant pain in the butt to cut and sew. It's so slippery!

Here's how the bodice looks, all cut out and marked.

I used the Sultry Sheath bodice from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. If you like vintage style garments, and great sewing instructions, I would highly recommend this book.

Organza looks like fluffy clouds!

The most intimidating part was the organza. My machine is super finicky (I have affectionately named her Gimpy), and has not enjoyed sewing fine fabrics in the past. Luckily, this time the sewing gods were with me, and we only had 2 minor setbacks!

Gimpy's getting ready for some tough work

All five organza layers of the skirt are french seamed separately. I wanted a very floaty skirt! I managed to get my serger (also super finicky) to create a decent looking rolled hem, so all 5 layers are hemmed with a rolled hem. I love the extra body it gives to the skirt! I am so so glad I got my serger working, because I was dreading hemming all those circle skirts by hand.

I still have to insert the zipper, and add some beading around the top of the skirt. That will be done in front of the tv tomorrow, at girl's night.

The organza is trying to take over!

I'll be taking photos of this dress on Sunday, so check back for photos of the finished dress!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Anniversary Dress: Part 1

Hello Chickadees!

On May 18th, the Mister and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary. Obviously this means that I need a new fancy dress! But it won't be as fancy as last year's dress, obviously. This is what it looked like. I still really love it.

 This is one of my favourite candid photos of our wedding day

So being a vintage inspired gal, I've been looking around for some inspiration for this new fancy dress. Shocking, I know!

I follow many vintage shops on Instagram, purely to drool over their gorgeous dresses. Side note: If you have a smart phone and love to be connected to the sewing community, get your cute little tushie signed up for Instagram! Great inspiration, super friendly people, and lots of sewing conversations going on. It's awesome. Let's become Instagram friends!

I stumbled upon this beauty from Shop Wanderlust a while back, and knew right away that this was THE INPIRATION dress. The sewing muses had spoken!

(Photo from Shop Wanderlust's Facebook page)

I wish I had been able to purchase this beauty before it sold. But that's the joy of sewing!

Now, since this dress is inspiration, and not something I want to copy stitch for stitch, here are the things I'm taking from this.

1) Colour scheme. I love the idea of a black top with a white bottom. So beautiful, and so classic. It reminds me of Lisa Freemont Street's gown from Rear Window

Photo from the Alfred Hitchcock Wiki

2) Silhouette. I love the style of a sleek fitted bodice with a full and fluffy circle skirt. It makes the waist look absolutely tiny, and accentuates my already hourglass figure.

3) Embellishments of sorts. I love the idea of lace or sequins on the circle skirt. I'm aiming to add some sort of embellishment, but it all depends on what time (and my rather finicky sewing machine) allows.

The Changes:
1) Sleeves. While I adore sleeves, they are not always practical, especially in May. Instead, I'll be using the Sultry Sheath pattern from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I've sewn it up a few times before, and I know what sort of fitting adjustments I need already.

2) Fabric. In some of the other pictures of this dress, it appears that the skirt is made from chiffon. My persnickety sewing machine really hates sewing chiffon, and I do not want to risk ruining my material when I'm on a deadline. I'm going to try a tulle circle skirt (at least 3 layers of it) for the bottom bit. The bonus of using tulle- no tiny hems on long amounts of fabric!

I'm going shopping for the fabric tomorrow, so stay tuned for more of the Dress Saga!