Thursday, April 21, 2016

Afro Diva Pincushions

So, I have been printing more fabric of my lovely handmade afro-haired sunglasses wearing diva. 


I have gotten carried away and decided to make a few pincushions. The base is the printed fabric with applique hair and embroidery accents in the hair and lips. This is a large pincushion that measures approximately 6inx6inx1in. It is filled with crushed walnut shells for weight and stability.

I have such fun playing in her "hair" with the pins!



I made a couple for friends and decided to have an Instagram swap with the extras. The support for the pincushions was positive and I was encouraged to make more to sell. I thought it was a good idea and have added them to my Etsy store. You can see them all in my store below.

   

Happy Sewing, Bianca

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Bias Tape Dress is Done! Just in time for the Dance!


Slow and steady wins the race they say. I am happy to take on long hand-sewing projects, but I like my machine projects fast. This dress took 2.5 weeks of constant sewing in every available moment and I am pleased with every second. I began this project after making Little Miss the bias tape skirt and coveting hers. I have been charting the dress making progress on my Instagram  and have appreciated the cheering on. 

It all started with a few thrifted spools of bias tape, The Party Dress Book and an invitation to a dance fundraiser. I rarely have occasion to wear a dress like this and was thrilled when the stars aligned for me to make this. 

                         

After having used the reds for the previous skirt, I opted to use the blue and green bias with my project. The colors as they were felt a bit flat to me, so I painted them. I used multiple colors of metallic spray paint to add dimension to to the plain strips. 

                

I searched my stash for a print fabric to add to the blue and green bias. I found "Paisley" by Amy Butler's "Love" line. 


                

I cut a bajillion strips of the bias fabric the base fabric from the skirt pattern in the book. I decided to make separates to get the most use of the pieces in the long term.


After making the skirt for my daughter, I was looking for a faster way to apply the strips to the base fabric. I used an extra large twin needle to allow me to sew two lines of stitches at once. I used blue, green, pink and white threads. The colours coordinated with the print and would not be a glaring contrast. It took a few rows to get a hang of sewing double strips, but once I did, it went relatively fast.


After sewing the strips to the skirt, I applied a basic waistband and an invisible zipper at the center back.


The skirt is pretty full, but I wanted to be sure it maintained its' fullness with movement. I knew I needed a petticoat. I found one at an estate sale that needed some modifications and repair. 


Vintage petticoat.

I added six layers of tulle to the petticoat I may add more in time, but it was an unwieldy task .

Skirt with petticoat under.
After making the skirt, I still needed a pattern for the top. I found Simplicity 4885. It has the look of the bodice of the dress in the book, but is designed as separates. This meant I would not have to modify it like I would have for the top from the book. 

                

I placed the strips on the bodice, added a full lining and an invisible zipper.

Full lining
A note on the bodice. The photo on me on the first photo was taken when I thought I was done. I looked at the pics and decided I did not like the curve along the bust line. I deconstructed it and reworked the print strips to the positions as seen in the final photos. My suggestion to you if you make this is begin your strip placement at the bust line and then sew above and below that strip. It may reduce the chance of curving. 

Simplicity 4885

The completed ensemble.
Little Miss saw the skirt on my custom dressform BIRA and asked if this was for a contest. I was not making it for one, but after checking Pattern Review, I saw this qualified for the Bargainista Fashionista contest there.  You get to make a designer garment at a bargain price. The contest does not factor in labor, so I was able to make my dress for $22!
I called Mary Adams to find out the cost of the dress as it was not available online. After making this, when she said $1700, I was not surprised! I would charge that and more for my less than wonderful version! :)

The contest review asks specific questions and you can read my review here. It includes some other details that would have made this already long post, longer. If I have missed something please let me know. I have been in this dress for weeks and feel like I am coming out of a fog.

The dance was last weekend and we had a blast!


I am so happy I made my dress. In a sea of traditional black tie dresses, I am happy I stood out in my strip pieced dress.


 There were a few bug eyes when I shared, that I made this. 


This dress is fun to wear and fun to make. 



Happy Sewing,
Bianca

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Little Bit Biased: Skirt Inspired by The Party Dress Book.

About a two weeks ago, my thrift guardian angel directed me to a local store for a pop in. While there, I found spools and spools of flat bias tape. As a rule, try not to buy an item unless I have a clear plan for its use. I had a gnawing feeling that this tape was for me, but no clear plan. I broke my rule and bought them hoping the plan would become clear.



Sure enough, I got home and hit my sewing book collection to find The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams.


I have loved the Bias Strips dress from the first time I saw it on the cover and the others in the book.  I hesitated in making it for three reasons: 

  1.  I am miserable at making continuous bias strips without much waste,
  2.  I haven't had an occasion to wear a dress like that.
  3.  It looked complicated. 
Lucky for me I now have these spools that are already cut, I have been invited to a dance and I can do hard things (I am still recovering from knee surgery and am in no condition to dance this month or next. This fact will not stop me from holding up the wall in a new dress.) I knew I needed to use these strips to make a party dress. Before tackling such a project, I decided to test the technique on skirt for Little Miss. 

Bias tape circle skirt.





I used Simplicity 2356 to make a skirt perfect for twirling. The construction came together easily and relatively quickly. I cut the skirt pieces and starting at the top, applied the bias strips with an imprecise 1/4 inch seam. I cut the bias strips in half lengthwise because they were too wide and inflexible off the spool. I applied them randomly, overlapping the ends to join a new strip. 



I  used fabric from a sheet as the base and sewed the strips in a contrasting thread. After applying the reds, I decided it needed more contrast. I had regular grey bias tape on hand, cut it down to size and added it. The bias from the spools is firmer than what you find in the stores. It adds texture and weight in the best way. 

I just want to mount these and hang them on the wall.
I decided to sew french seams in the sides. I thought this would look nicer and encase all of the cut bias ends.



I applied the waistband and hemmed it with a single color of bias tape.
Hemmed in bias
What a fun skirt! I love how happy she is in this. The skirt has texture, personality, movement and is fun. I am excited to see what the raw edges do in the wash; I hope they get ragged in time. 



It even looks good sitting still.


After making this, I will definitely be using this technique for my dance party outfit. I am still uncertain if I want a dress or two-piece ensemble that I can separate and dress down like Little Miss. I am toying with the idea of playing with the colors of the bias strips with fabric paint or dyes on the blue and green strips for mine. 

This fun skirt doubles as a grown up cape for me. I took a photo and wanted to share it, but after taking her pictures, I decided against it. I don't want to compete with this dizzying cuteness. 

Happy Sewing,
Bianca



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cabin Fever + Craigslist = Massive Pattern Haul!

So my microfracture, torn meniscus and chondromalacia knee surgery recovery is coming along very slowly. I am still on pain meds and in physical therapy several times a week. It is gruelling and painful, but I am seeing improvements with each session.  

While it is frustrating to be laid up, I have been able to get some sewing projects completed. I am not up for photographing them on me just yet. If you follow on Instagram, you can see them and my daily musings there.

While laid up, I  found a listing for 600 retro/vintage sewing patterns for $125! I was intrigued knowing full well I do not have the space to store them, or life expectancy to sew them. I contacted the seller and asked to see sample pattern covers in my size hoping she would split the lot. She shared some beauties, but said she was unwilling to break it up. In a moment of great restraint, I told her I could not take them all, but asked her to let me know if she changed her mind.

600 patterns
Fast forward 2 weeks, and she had no takers! She called and I now have 96 more patterns in my stash. I don't have room to store them, but I can probably get these made in my lifetime.
My haul
Here are my new additions. I have decided not to tell you why I chose a particular pattern. I think you guys know my style and can see what appeals to me in them. Some of these "are so me" it will be easier for you to spot the odd pattern. I chose a couple of them to round up the price to a whole number. I wonder if you can tell which those are?  
































































































Whew! Did you look at all of those? High Five! I think I got some good ones in there. Did I get too many jumpsuits and bodysuits? How many shift dresses are too many?  What do I make first? I will contemplate those questions while I continue to heal. 


Happy Sewing,
Bianca