Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's Jungle Time In the Atelier

In June, I had Bridal Week. August brings me Baby Weekend. This past weekend, I needed to sew for three babies. All Boys! Two of the moms had chosen the same layette from Target. My job was to find something that would work with the layette theme.

I luckily had this flannel jungle print in my stash. I had previously worked on some baby gifts that used this fabric. Good thing I bought several yards. I didn't see any in Hancock's or Joann's this past weekend. The burp designs came from ATW or Artistic Thread Works. The applique elephant came from Planet Applique. I was unsure about using the print for the elephant but wanted a cohesive look to the gifts. All I know is that I really like that little elephant. It called for one fabric scrap and stitch out was quick. I've used the "baby" applique before but right now I can't remember which site I got it from.

So two sets finished and sent off. Now for set three. No, it won't be a jungle theme. I don't know the theme of the next baby. So it's seamstresses choice. You'll have to wait on that one. Guaranteed cuteness though.

Fabric.com Equals Love

Every single day I receive an email from fabric.com. That's ok with me. It's not spam. They have a different special every day hence the frequent emails. Well over a week ago, the special of the day was an additional 30% off clearance prices. What's not to love about that. Well off I went to see if there were any treasures.

Right out of the gates, I spied this wonderful polka dot print from Michael Miller. I love polka dots. Like black and red, I considered them to be neutral. Polka dots seem to work with just about any quilt or children's garments. This print looks so whimsical to me.

I continued my search for bargains. I scored a Kaffe Fassett print. I'm thinking eventually that piece will be used for a child's frock. It's a directional design so I don't think I'll be putting it into a quilt. Maybe the best score was a vibrant, plaid seersucker fabric. Lot of colors, fushia, green, blue.

After a while of flipping screens, I decided to narrow my search. I typed in "cowboy" and brought up four pages of cowboy and western prints. I ended up adding two prints to the shopping cart. Well, ok, maybe those weren't on clearance. I saw the cowboy word print and thought that this piece would work in my quilts, clothing or crafts. Now that I have this wonderful little gem under my roof, I don't know if I'll be able to cut into it. Isn't that the problem with so many quilters and fabriholics? Ya just can't cut it.

Lace Up Back

Last week I worked on the back closure of the bridal gown. I was so dreading the loops. I kept finding excuses not to go into the atelier. Well I had to bite the bullet eventually. All in all, it really wasn't as bad as I feared. After getting the hang of the first tube, it went fairly quickly.

I started out with cutting one inch bias stripes with the satin. After stitching out, the tubes were about an 1/8 of an inch wide. That's the part I was dreading, turning the suckers right side out when they are so narrow. However, with a lot of internet research, I was able to figure the best way to accomplish this task.

I needed to draw out a template. I wanted the loops to be one inch apart and I wanted the loops to stick out 1/4 of an inch. The opening on the bridal gown is 20 inches. I decided to make the loop strip 17 inches on both sides. After the loops were pinned, they were basted right onto the paper. The paper strip was then taken to the gown and basted onto the bridal gown. I have to say, it looked pretty perfect. Looked you say? Ya. I decided to reinforce the edge with horsehair braid after the fact. The braid was a tad too wide. It did not look right. So out it came. And with that, the ripping out of the horsehair braid, the loops started to not be so perfect. The final stitch out with the lining, the loops holes are a tad larger than I wanted.

I took the gown back to the dress form to take a trial run. At this point, everything is just basted, no permanent stitching. I grabbed some ribbon to check the look. So far, so good. Now on to the making of the satin lacing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Innards

On this day, besides cutting out the lining, I stitched together the cotton batiste layer and all the lining pieces. I then added the boning to the cotton batiste. In addition to boning, a waist stay is stitched on. The waist stay had to be tacked down in 52 spots. This will help to support the weight of the skirt. This is extremely important in strapless gowns. Really, how many times have you seen brides continually pull up the bodice of a strapless gown? This tells me that the fit isn't quite perfect and it needed additional support via boning and a waist stay.

The batiste layer is layer number three. I will need to make buttonholes in the lining for the waist stay to exit from. The stay will have hooks and eyes so we can attach around Whitney's waist.

It's taken months to of work to get to today's stage. Certainly, there have been several speedbumps to cause daily, weekly and monthly delays in working on the ground. However, building a bridal gown is so similar to building a building. The architect comes up with the design. Doesn't it take a couple of years for that design to be a real live building? You don't see all the changes in the design. When you tour the building, you don't see the time that went into the plumbing, electrical, heating, foundation, etc. All you see, is the architectual details, you see the landscaping, you see the interior design with the furniture and the artwork. You see the paint colors on the wall. You see all the flooring.

There is so much actual hand work that has gone into the gown. So much book and internet research on the design and construction techniques to support the gown. I'm finally getting closer for this project to turn into a real live bridal gown. Each layer has had the seam allowance stitched down with a catch stitch. I don't want to run the risk of the seam allowance going all wonky and being able to see that from the right side of the gown. So it's stitched into place, it won't move on me.

The skirt is now basted onto the bodice. Whitney has been busy working on the invitations, that she hasn't had time to try the gown on. I'm hoping we can take care of that tonight or tomorrow. Once the fit is double checked, the skirt will be permanently attached to the bodice. The bodice lace is being hand beaded right now. It will then be attached to the midriff band. Nothing else can happen until that is attached. Then comes more scary stuff. The cutting out the back and turning it into a corseted back. It really is an easy closing to make, a little time consuming though.

More of the Same

You are all probably beginning to wonder if I'm really going anywhere. Is the bridal gown all talk? Believe me, sometimes it feels like I'm a little gerbil spinning around on that wire wheel. Tuesday was a productive day. I started out with beading and cutting out the pattern. AGAIN. This time, it was the lining that needed to be cut out. Can I please be finished with the cutting? Stay with me, the bodice was cut out a total of eight times, four practice, four layers on the real deal. The skirt was cut out four times. Once for practice and three layers on the real deal.

I found out that a fabric store in Green Bay was closing down. I know that in the past, this store had carried silk, lace and heirloom supplies. I bee-lined it up to Green Bay the following day. The owner had a silk-cotton blend which was exactly what I was looking for for the lining of the bridal gown. However, she didn't have enough. She had about six yards of the white. She also had a whole bolt of ivory. The ivory was a slightly different percentage of silk/cotton. The white was just a "white". The bridal gown is more of a diamond/silver white due to the high thread count. The white lining is not as bright. I decided to buy one yard of the white for the bodice lining.

I don't know if this was a huge blunder but I purchase the ivory fabric. I bought the whole bolt. You see, the ivory was one shade off of the white bolt. It actually didn't look too bad. When you see the pile of fabric, yes it does look ivory. I hemmed and hawed for over thirty minutes about the purchase. I've spent so much time researching each and every purchase. 99% of the supplies, fabrics and laces being purchased online. I really want to avoid yet another purchase with a week wait for shipping. I decide to go with it. I suppose I could always rebuy the fabric online. I will have to see how the skirt lining looks once it is basted onto the skirt. The pictures that are posted, the lining isn't too far off. I suppose there's a reason that I'm not a designer in real life.