Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Loot! From Eddie's Quilting Bee

When the sewing bug first bit, I lucked out when I discovered that I live so close to Eddie's Quilting Bee.  Yes, they are geared more towards quilting, but they have been expanding their fabric selection to lure in (garment-sewing) suckers like me.

I live in Palo Alto, CA, yes, that Palo Alto, where Stanford is, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, etc., but it's not exactly the place where you'll find Mood Fabrics à la Project Runway.  It's the 'burbs.  The closest thing we have to Mood is Britex Fabric, the famously expensive fabric store in San Francisco.  I thought I was SOL until I discovered Eddie's secret stash of fashion fabrics.

The story goes like this: a San Francisco fabric store by the name of Edward's (ironic, no?) went out of business some 30 years ago and someone has been holding on to all the leftover fabric.  Eddie purchased the whole lot of vintage fabric and it is now available for purchase at his store at ridiculously low prices.  I bought beautiful coating wool for $9.99/yard.  Say what?!  This is my favorite place to buy fabric right now.  One of the gals at the cutting counter routinely recognizes me when I come in for a fabric fix.  That's embarrassing.  There is also a growing selection of new bolts of fabric.

Anyways, check out some of my recent acquisitions!  I'm really excited to get started on projects with these lovelies.

Floral cotton for a spring/summer dress

For a blouse (it's more emerald in person)

Gonna make this into a scarf!

Swiss cotton...need to find the right dress pattern since there is only 2.25 yards

Wool for a cropped coat.  I have fantastic pistachio green silk crepe to line it :)

For a flowy blouse (sorry it's blurry!)

Skirt wool

Gorgeous, albeit spendy, vintage lace.  $80/yard now, regular $150/yard in 1970

If the photo quality is kinda bad, that's because these are all iPhone photos.  I just didn't have the time to re-take the pictures with my DSLR.

Can't wait to see my wardrobe start to take shape!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Dress: DONE!

My Christmas dress is finally done!  I'm so excited!  This is the first dress I have ever made and I had a lot of fun putting it together.

Front of dress on my new dress form, Betty (get it?  my sewing machine's name is Peggy? *cough, Mad Men, cough*)

I used Vogue pattern 8766 and had no problems assembling the dress.  The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, even with the few adjustments that I made.  My waist and hip measurements were more on par with a size 14 and my bust/shoulder along the lines of a size 12, so I cut the pattern accordingly.

After assembling the bodice I tried it on and found it was waaaaay too tight across my tummy.  I removed the front darts and put smaller ones in their place.  After attaching the skirt to the bodice and installing the zipper, I tried it on again for fitting.  Apparently I am very high waisted (basically where my ribcage ends), so I ended up taking the dress in about 1.5" where my waist is.  I evened out the skirt with dressmaker's shears before hemming it (hemmed the lining about 1.5" shorter than the lace).  I finished the raw edge of the sleeves with bias tape before hemming it because the lace is really unbearably itchy on my skin.  Lastly I installed a hook and bar above the zipper.

Closeup.  Sleeves were lined and cropped.

Back of dress on Betty (her new nickname is "Big Butt Betty" after fiddling with the sizing dials)

After all that I thought I was done, but then I decided to treat the hem of the skirt with trimming from the lace border.  It just looked more finished when I pinned a test swatch.  I cut enough of the border to cover the circumference of the skirt.  I attached the trim with a small zigzag stitch to prevent the raw edge of the trim from unraveling; the stitching is discrete enough that no one will notice...except maybe me because I tend to be a perfectionist like that.

Lace border trim

Overall the pattern worked well for me and I loved the fabrics that I used (vintage lace and silk/cotton blend lining).  I finished just about all the seams with bias tape which is something I had never tried but was pleased with the results.  I can definitely see myself using this pattern again in the future.

Yay!  I can't wait to wear my dress!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Prettiest Wrapping Paper Ever

Having grown up in a family that appreciates aesthetics (my grandfather is a retired master carpenter, uncle is an architect, sister studied graphic design), I really love quality goods with great design.  Which is exactly why I have a crush on really cool paper.

Sometimes if I find I have time to kill over the weekend, I might wander into Paper Source and check out what they have in stock (Paper Source also happens to be next door to Sur La Table *drool*).  I love their gift wrap, cards, envelopes, etc. because they are made well and have clean lines.  So of course when I found out one of my friends at work was getting married, you betcha I went to PS to buy gift wrap.  It's not necessarily the cheapest, but seriously, how many times is a close friend going to get married?  ...I hope the answer is only once...

My colleagues and I pitched in to buy the bride a Le Creuset pot, so I needed the prettiest paper I could find.  I chose PS's Marigolds Wrapping Paper.  I added a little raffia accent and was thrilled with the result.  Paper Source gift wrap is heavy and creases nicely, unlike most of the crap you will find in stores these days.  Oh, and since it's so thick, I wasn't concerned about the LC logo showing through the paper.  Not bad considering the pot packaging is orange, white, and black.

If you have the cash and want to make a gift extra special, I recommend Paper Source gift wrap.  You can also buy single sheets of various handmade papers from all over the world.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Decorative Stitching: Corded Neckline

My obsession with "Mad Men" combined with the plethora of vintage sewing blogs on the web has really piqued my interest in vintage sewing techniques and details.  One of those techniques is to use cording.

I've seen a couple of examples of corded garments, but I found one I'd really love to try at Coletterie.  It's simple but it adds a lot of visual interest.

I swear I saw a Bernina video a few months ago about cording, but I can't seem to find it.  So instead, I found an equally informative article from "Threads" magazine that explains how to stitch cording by winding it onto your bobbin.  I'd love to try this kind of cording on a dress, so I'm going to keep this up my sleeve until I have the right project to try it on.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Ordered: OttLite Task Lamp & Dritz Dress Form!

Hooray!  I took advantage of Joann's online Black Friday and ordered a couple items that I've been needing.

Anyone who is into sewing/crafting/etc. knows you need a good light source to get the job done.  I have always admired the OttLite lamps and I finally got to the point where my meager Ikea lighting just wasn't making the cut (har, har, get it?!  okay, yeah, not that funny...).  Thankfully Joann's had some terrific Black Friday deals online, including an OttLite Task Lamp for $19.99, down from the regular $89.99 price tag.  At some 77% off I just couldn't pass it up.

I also go a dress form.  Oh. My. God.  I've been reading all sorts of reviews and decided to give the Dritz Simple Fit dress form a try.  I really wanted to buy the Fabulous Fit dress from, but at $400, I couldn't justify the price even though it had good reviews.  The Dritz model I ordered is newer so there weren't many reviews.  Reviews for similar models complained about how the stand was unstable, but it looks like the Simple Fit model has an updated base.  I checked the return policy, so if it ends up being a disaster, I'll just bite the bullet and pay for the return shipping.

*If* the dress form looks like it will work well for my purposes, I'll probably order the Fabulous Fit fitting system to help mold the form into an Angela-shape.  Dress forms are always going to be imperfect unless you pay to have a custom form made.

I can't wait until my goodies arrive so I can put them to work.  Yay!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Color, Pattern & Texture Inspirations

I've been playing around with my camera and iPhoto quite a bit and captured some pictures that I find inspirational in terms of color, pattern, and texture.  I'd love to use these as a sewing guide some time in the future.

I think this is my favorite picture from the whole trip.  It's currently my desktop.

All but the top two photos were taken in Iran.  I really need to scout out more SF Bay Area locales for photo ops.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Progress: Christmas Party Dress

My dress is almost done, but with the short week because of Thanksgiving, I doubt I’ll have time to finish it until the weekend.  Nonetheless, I am very happy with how it’s going!

After assembling the bodice I discovered I had to make some alterations to the vertical darts.  I consider myself to be a fairly slender person and I did compensate for my less-than-hourglass figure by cutting the waist and hip a size larger, but it was still far too tight in the waist!  To fix the problem I removed the darts and replaced them with narrower ones.

Chalk outline = original dart per pattern 

Assembled bodice with adjusted darts

I also needed to make some adjustments to the seams on my dress.  The lace on my dress is made of synthetic material, so it’s pretty darn scratchy on my ridiculously skin.  To avoid any problems, I finished all the seams with bias tape.  Not only does the tape help stop the itchies, it also helps prevent the silk fibers from fraying because we all know what a huge mess that turns into about 0.2 seconds after cutting out all the pattern pieces.  I wanted to get a crazy-obnoxious color bias tape (magenta!), but Joann’s didn’t have the colors I wanted in the width I wanted, so I settled for lavender.

Scratchy seams!

Seams with lavender bias tape (note my iPhone on the left playing Mad Men)

I finally have the skirt attached to the bodice, and am left with sleeves, a zipper, and hemming to complete.  Hooray!  I’m so happy it’s turning out well!  There are sequins all over the house and I’m sure it will shed more during the party, but I don’t care because it’s going to be so purdy.  Yes, purdy.  Unfortunately pictures with flash just don't do the dress justice.

Left: front of dress.  Right: back of dress sans zipper.

I hope to have a final product to share within the week!