Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wedding Sewing: Flower Girl Dress

I did it! I sewed a completely lined, fully finished dress with tulip sleeves, a lace overlay, and an invisible zipper, and without too much trouble, in spite of my worries.

  It still was quite a lot of work, but the hardest part was just working out in my head how to do each part and in what order so I wouldn't be left with a lot of hand stitching. Besides the places where the lace is hand-tacked for a ruched effect, I only hand-sewed about 8 inches of fabric!

  I mentioned that I made a sloper for this dress so I'd know the fit was right... I used this series from Ikat bag, and while most of my measurements below the waist were completely off due to a wiggly child, it didn't matter because I only needed the bodice portion for this dress.

  I am SO happy with how this dress fits! It's very difficult to zip up in one spot because of the thickness of the fabric, but there is a perfect amount of ease for the dress to look formal without being uncomfortable.

  The only change I would make, if I were working through this again, would be to lengthen the bodice by 2 or 3 inches... I just think it would look better with the wide sash.

  Initially I made the skirt and the lace overlay 6 inches longer than I needed, and was planning to do pickups in both layers, but I didn't like the way they hung, so I cut 6 inches off of the lining/underlining layer and just left the overlay longer.

  The pickups were carefully measured out onto the lace and hand-tacked to the underlining in 16 spots... they echo the pickups in the bridesmaids' dresses.

  I love the tulip sleeves too... they also echo the bridesmaids' dresses, although on those dresses the overlap is in the back instead of the front.

It was pretty fiddly trying to sew the seams on the sleeves, so I hand-stitched the lining seam together as well as a couple inches attaching the lining to the underlining and overlay. The zipper was the other truly fiddly spot, but I managed to sew it with only one spot that isn't right... and the sash covers that spot.

  Not only did I manage to sew the whole hem together, but I figured out two different ways to do it with minimal hand-stitching. My first method was to leave one entire side seam open until after the hem was done, sew up as much of the side seams as I could by machine, and hand sew the few inches that were left. It worked, but then I cut off quite a bit of the under layer, and with it my finished hem, and by that time the entire dress was sewn. If I ever make a fully lined dress again, I'll show you how I did the hem the second time, which was even simpler.

  I learned a lot about working with underlined lace from making the boleros for the bridesmaids, and the most important thing I learned was to NOT baste the lace layer to the underlining by hand or machine... instead, I used quilt basting spray (affiliate link). It was about 4 times as tacky as I had expected, so it worked really well... the hard part was getting it to stick just where I wanted and not everywhere else!
  I sprayed the back of the lace and smoothed it onto the underlining before cutting the bodice and sleeve pieces out, which really helped prevent the lace from distorting and stretching while I was cutting. The tackiness did wear off slightly after a couple days, so I would spray and sew in the same day when possible. It really saved me a lot of time though, and in general just worked better than thread basting.

  This dress really was a lot of work, but I couldn't stop at fully lined and complicated. I wanted the skirt to stand out from the body more than it was, so I made a pettiskirt too!

  The pettiskirt is very different from the dress... I used nylon tricot chiffon, which doesn't fray (but which was much more delicate and slightly more stretchy than I had imagined it would be) so nothing but the waist band is finished. I tried making a pettiskirt once with chiffon that did fray, but with all of those gathers and layers, even serging all the edges was next to impossible... I never finished that version.

  I followed this tutorial from Girl. Inspired. but changed the height of my tiers to 5 inches each. I made a mistake, and the top tier isn't gathered into the waistband as much as it should have been, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I also left out the lining, since this is only going to be worn as an underskirt.

  Cutting the fabric out for this was a terrible pain, especially since I had pre-washed it and the edges rolled. Once cut, it wasn't too hard to sew together, I just had to get the hang of it all. You can tell from the photos that some of the layers are slightly longer in spots... those are pieces I sewed near the beginning.

  And what does my little daughter think of all this? Well, she cried every time I took the dress off after a fitting or taking photos. She loves it, wants to wear it all the time, and keeps asking when the wedding is. =) And I only have one thing left to sew for this wedding: the alterations on my bridesmaid dress.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Am I Thinking?!

  I've just begun to realize just how difficult I'm making things for myself with this flower girl dress. As usual, I'm hoping to make a fully finished dress, no raw edges to be seen, with as little hand-stitching as possible. I was heading for a fairly simple fully lined dress... but now I've complicated it all up!

  There is an over-layer of lace... and I want to keep the scalloped edge of the lace on the skirt, which means the lace over-skirt has to be sewn separately from the lining and underlining.

  I can't do plain and simple lined sleeves, because they are tulip-style sleeves... and I want to avoid French seams or scratchy serging on such tiny shoulder seams.

  There's an invisible zipper that has to extend into the skirt area, meaning I can't just sew the back seam of the skirt up if I want the zipper enclosed in the lining... and again the free layer of the lace makes that even more difficult.

  I want the lining and underlining sewn together at the hem, instead of individually hemming them, so the skirt seams will be enclosed, instead of having to serge or French seam them... although I'll still have to French seam the lace layer.

  And that's not to mention the fact that I drafted a whole sloper just to make sure it would fit right!

  Is it even possible to machine sew something that complicated, or am I crazy for even thinking of it? Should I just whip everything together and serge it all off, or is it worth all the effort (and the brain-stretching!) for something perfect on the inside and out?

  Thanks for stopping by and letting me unload my worries,

PS: Did I mention that I finished cutting all the pieces out... all 33 of them? Really, 33 pieces for one little girl's dress.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pattern Testing: The Junebug Dress!

  Last week, while I was taking a break from sewing for my brother's wedding, I had the exciting chance to be a pattern tester for Jessica of Craftiness is Not Optional. If you have never had a chance to visit the tutorial section of Jessica's site, you really should! She sews darling outfits for her adorable, chubby-cheeked daughters, and is the blogger who most inspired me to create clothing for my little girls.

  Jessica just released her first pattern last week, the Junebug Dress and Tunic, with sleeved or sleeveless options. And I got to test it out! I started with intentions to make a tunic for both daughters, in coordinating fabrics, but my buttonhole sensor broke again on the first buttonhole of Gaiw's. Luckily, I had already finished the tunic for Booper! Want a peek?

  Isn't it adorable? I loved the pattern instructions, with plenty of helpful tips, and learned a fun new way to sew a bodice together. I sewed this up in a 3T, and it fits just like I expected! It's teensy bit wide in the neckline for my slim little girl, but is otherwise perfect.

  The fabric is a light seersucker that my grandma sent me, and is perfect for the hot weather here. Gaiw's version is all cut out of the same type of fabric in a pink colorway, but her's will have to wait to be worn until I can get my buttonhole sensor fixed. I didn't have nearly enough matching buttons on hand to finish even one tunic, but luckily I had a whole set of cover buttons. I used pretty ribbon and plain white fabric to cover 12 buttons... just enough for two little girls. =)

  Booper loves this tunic too. She has picked it over every other shirt she owns every time it's clean.... just in the short time since I sewed it, she has worn it at least 6 times! So if you use patterns regularly, check this one out! It comes in sizes 18 months all the way up to 8 years, and it could be your newest favorite. =)

Thanks for stopping by,