Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A Beautiful Bodice..Or Bust! Part 1

With the toile mocked up and looking better than expected, I was super relaxed about the dress progress. The only thing I had to 'fix' was the bodice. It was soon clear that the one used in the pattern wouldn't do. Personally, I thought it looked fine - especially given that it would be overlaid with lace. But DD was having none of it. She disliked the way the bodice was sitting 'too far' from her body which she thought looked frumpy. I'd played around with a few options for alternative bodices, but she was in love with the vision of lace sleeves, so we quickly abandoned any idea changes (as above).

These days it's the norm for wedding dresses to be sleeveless, but my DD was adamant she wanted sleeves from the get-go. Firstly, she felt the look wouldn't be as formal if she was sleeveless, and the climate of her wedding day meant that she would have looked semi naked without them. So sleeves were a must. Now it was time to get the bodice right. Little did I know that making up the bodice would take me longer than making up the entire wedding dress.

In regards to the bodice included in the pattern, for anyone up to a C cup size, it will work perfectly fine. And if that had been the case for us, the dress really would have been a simple affair to sew up and finish. But as I think you already know, there is always a spanner waiting to be thrown into the works. And the bodice was my spanner.

How ugly this looks! It was such a shock to see this toile with the lace made up according to the pattern. The dress went from having plenty of potential to being so hideously frumpy. Actually a lot of garments have an 'ugly' stage, it's one of those secrets of sewing. You've got to see it through to the end. But for my DD, it was time to start expressing concern. At this stage, the wedding was 10 days away, and I had just 5 days to get my act together. It couldn't stay like this.
My DD is top heavy: much more so than she looks. And no matter the lingerie beneath, the bodice front was simply too much bosom visually and tipped the balance of the overall look. From the front it was almost passable, but from the side it wasn't flattering. Now, like I said before, I thought that with the lace, it wouldn't be such an issue but my DD couldn't get past it. The first thing we changed was the lace overlay itself. The pattern calls for a V front which is very flattering for women with a smaller bust. I insisted on trying it out just to see what it looked like. Made up (from lace curtains) it was unflattering. To create visual harmony, she would either have to have full lace up to the neck or no lace and no sleeves. The sleeves weren't going anywhere, and the original design inspiration had scalloped lace across the front up to the collar bone, so we went back to this original idea.
It was clear that I would have to deviate from the pattern entirely for the top half of the dress. At this stage I thought I would simply re-draft the bodice with more support to create a firmer shape. I set about creating a new pattern, using rigilene for support. 
It was woefully lackluster. At this stage I actually believe that I could contour the bodice to her body shape which I thought would result in a better fit - and that this would be the solution. 
Actually the curved bodice I created was impressive in regards to it's shape and form. But it was useless. On the body it simply did what the first bodice had done - nothing. It was a flop!
But I was undeterred. I simply re-drafted and went again:
 and ended up with this bodice 
The fit around the body was fine but looked terrible in the bust. I couldn't work out how to get around curving a pattern for a fitted bust that was also supportive. It was so discouraging, but I was determined. I am after all, a qualified designer and pattern maker. I knew I could do it. So I persisted.  And created yet another terrible bodice.
With time quickly getting away from me, I realized I was in trouble. As I had never designed bodices for ample busts before, I decided to get some professional help. I went onto Craftsy and found Allison Smith's class on corsetry. It's an amazing class and I realized two important things: that I wasn't creating a corset at all, but that I was creating a bodice with corsetry elements. I contacted Allison directly through the Craftsy area where you can ask tutors for help. I sent in a photo of my DD's bust issue and Allison put me on track. I immediately got online and purchased Coutil fabric and metal boning. 

It was clear I'd need plenty more boning and a 'semi corset' pattern..but from where? The Craftsy class and pattern advice was for a corset class and this wasn't suitable for joining up with the skirt. I needed a soft corset pattern which I could modify. All the patterns I had ever drafted never exceeded a B cup. Going online, it was clear that all 'bodices' out there were the same. I was feeling the pressure and took another Craftsy class in bra making, thinking it would help me get my head around the sewing techniques. It did do that, but it was a distraction from the wedding dress. The fact was, all the bra, strapless bra and bodice patterns out there were designed with stretch fabric in mind and didn't translate to the inflexibility of coutil - and it had to be coutil for the fit and support. Oh boy, was I in a dilemma!

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In September 2016 I made my DD's wedding dress using the Butterick Pattern B5731 as a starting point. I then created my own variation of a semi corset with a built in bra as a replacement to the pattern bodice. I took the Craftsy online class 'Sewing Corsets' with Alison Smith which I can recommend as essential viewing for anyone interested in sewing corsets or formal wear bodices with corset elements. In fact I even received personal advice from Alison and am happy to recommend this class to anyone who's interested.
 Sewing Corsets with Alison Smith

Friday, 4 November 2016

My Birthday Bouquet!

It's my birthday today, so I thought I'd share a bouquet of roses with you!

Is there such a thing as too many roses? Decidedly no! And if you read this blog and know my style, you might have noticed that I have a soft spot for roses - the bigger the better. In fact, I have a whole sketchbook dedicated to nothing but flower designs, so I thought, why not go ahead and release one on my birthday?

I haven't actually had time to make my own Birthday Bouquet yet, but I've got my heart set on a newspaper background with startling red roses - or perhaps a bright bunch of Fassett blooms? Who knows! I selected a traditional patchwork style in this image for illustration purposes and yes, it certainly looks lovely, so I might even change my mind. I'll show you what I decide on when I get around to it. One thing's for sure, whatever fabric style you opt for, you'll enjoy this dozen all year round.

   'Birthday Bouquet'    
      a floral wall hanging, 29 x 36 inches   
In honor of my birthday, you can download this pattern 
for free all day today

BOM Group Members, you can find this file in our BOM Group over in the files area.For those of you not on Facebook, you can download the pattern by clicking the Birthday Bouquet image above.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

WOW: Washing The Wedding Quilt Fabrics

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays 
Well, you know me - always suffering from fabric indecision. I've decided that I might try my stash of hand dyes for my DD's wedding quilt. The flowers call for shades of red toned pinks and I have some beautiful tones, so I'm going to move forward with those as my flower fabrics. Being hand dyes, I'm leaving nothing to chance. Although I always go above and beyond the requirements for setting my own hand dyes, I'm not taking any chances with this quilt, so I'm giving them a wash in Synthrapol to make doubly sure. 

I had a dye bleeding disaster when I was making Lily Rose with some beautiful Batiks (I should have known better but got careless) and I don't ever want a repeat of that episode. I'm making the wedding quilt with the leftover fabric from my DD's wedding dress, so any leaking against the cream fabric will be unforgivable. 
What's Your WOW?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Making the Wedding Dress Toile

After looking at all the dress inspirations my DD was relying on for the final dress shape, and having purchased the Butterick pattern as the basis to create it, I was confident that I could get the dress made within a week. I calculated that it would take a full day's cutting and 3 days sewing and another day on final adjustments. With my own ability to cut and handle patterns I was keen to find out exactly how much fabric I'd really need. Patterns are usually on the generous side but it's been more than 20 years since I worked with someone else's patterns, and I wanted to know exactly how much fabric I could get away with. At $99 per metre, I had hoped I could save a few metres off of the pattern allowance of 7.8 metres. Only a toile would tell:
Straight away it was clear that the Butterick pattern skirt was exactly what she wanted, so there'd only be minor fitting adjustments. The only work was going to be in re-creating the bodice to better suit her frame (which I'll cover in an upcoming post). With the skirt on and swishing beautifully, the only considerations were lining up the pleats to match the bodice. However I knew I'd be changing the bodice so this alignment wouldn't happen until later.
After making this toile, I was so confident that I breathed a great big sigh of relief. In fact, I was suprised with how easily and quickly it was all coming together. IF ONLY I'D KNOWN that frustrated disaster was waiting for me just around the corner..

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In September 2016 I made my DD's wedding dress using the Butterick Pattern B5731 as a starting point. I then created my own variation of a semi corset with a built in bra as a replacement to the pattern bodice. I took the Craftsy online class 'Sewing Corsets' with Alison Smith which I can recommend as essential viewing for anyone interested in sewing corsets or formal wear bodices with corset elements. In fact I even received personal advice from Alison and am happy to recommend this class to anyone who's interested.
 Sewing Corsets with Alison Smith

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

WOW: Digging Out The Green Stash

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays
It feels like every time I turn around, it's somehow Wednesday again. How does that keep happening? This past week I've been going through my stash, digging out greens for my DD's wedding quilt. I've spent a lot of time looking at new ranges to match a selection of reds and pinks I have in mind, but the tones have all been too blue based and I've been struggling. Today, it's all about finding the right fabrics - and you know how I am about fabrics - totally indecisive. Oh, decisions, decisions, how will I ever make them with a stash as big as mine? I don't know. These are just the latest contenders, when I actually get this quilt started I'll show you my pallette. Wish me luck!

What's Your WOW?



Wednesday, 19 October 2016

WOW: My Final Background?!

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays
Sweet 2016 has just three months left before it's finished. It feels like I started this tempting wall quilt just yesterday..and now it's time to start thinking about how to quilt it. But first, I have to choose a background. My problem? I love each of the backgrounds I've auditioned - the light ones, the dark ones, the printed ones, the floral ones, the plain ones. They all seem to pull the quilt into a different direction in terms of mood and style - the problem is that each direction is just so pretty, I simply can't decide!

Yesterday I was looking for pinks to make my DD's wedding quilt - and look what I found! This is a fabric I've been hanging onto for ...7 years? Possibly 10. I have always loved this fabric - but could never find a project suitable enough to use it in. You see, I really never wanted to cut into the fabulous plates, I wanted to show them off. At the moment I'm thinking I have found my background, but I will do a final test and pin all my finished trays on top and decide for sure before cutting into this precious stash item. Fingers crossed!
What's Your WOW?


Friday, 14 October 2016

Sweet 2016, Part 9: Rosette Cake

This month is a whole lot of fun, we’re making a Rosette Cake—a gorgeous decoration style that uses piped swirls to resemble lines of roses. Our rose swirls are made from yo-yo’s and are topped with tiny ribbon roses for that finishing touch. My ribbon skills aren't quite up to making these little finishing roses, so I purchased mine. They can be purchased inexpensively at any craft store. I actually bought mine off ebay for $2

When making your yo-yo’s be mindful of the 4 sizes used throughout the cake. There are three large yo-yo sizes and 12 mini yo-yo’s that slot in-between. Trace the cake background as a plain, simple shape. Then, make your yo-yo’s. When completed, add them on top of the cake background base. The mini yo-yo’s will be tucked in between the larger ones, so don’t worry about overlapping, it’s fine. I’ve indicated an X where 3 ribbon roses belong on top of yo-yo’s that can’t otherwise be seen.

Will you opt for lovely pink like I have? Or perhaps two shades of chocolate? Creamy white or lemon? I can’t wait to see!

Here's how I made mine:
First I cut out my cake background, then I set about making all the yo-yo's according to the sizes listed in the pattern. 
Once all my yo-yo's were complete, I popped them into place. You can see that my yo-yo's all fit nicely into the cake: if you keep to the yo-yo sizes listed, yours will too. The only yo-yo's you need to squeeze in are the mini yo-yo's in light pink. They get slotted in between the larger yo-yo's and the ones surrounding the centre yo-yo are almost invisible - but each one will still get it's finishing rose.
Now it's time for the finishing touch - ribbon roses. You can buy these in several sizes at many craft and haberdashery shops. Of course, if you're handy with ribbon work, you can always make your ribbon roses ;) As for me, I'm not so handy with ribbon and I found these on Ebay for an inexpensive $2
too cute !
I sewed these all in. You know how much I love gluing things in place to save time when I can, but there's a limit to glue and these ribbons need to be stitched down. 
Remember that all the yo-yo's need a mini ribbon rose - even the yo-yo's you can barely see around the centre large yo-yo (below). The centre top rose is a bit squashed but it still works and looks better than if it wasn't there.
This is where we are up to, quilt wise:
Just 3 more blocks to go!




'Sweet 2016' is my current Mystery Applique BOM
It's just $3.95 per month
Delivered digitally, to your email inbox each month


Understanding the pattern release schedule: anyone can join Sweet 2016 at any time and when they do, they will receive a new block each month from that point onward. The day they receive each new block will depend on the date they signed up and made their first payment. Everyone who starts Sweet 2016, starts at the beginning, Part 1. Specific blocks cannot be purchased out of turn. 

Whenever you choose to start this BOM, be sure to keep us updated on your progress by sharing your work over in our Sweet 2016 BOM Facebook Group, see you there!