Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quick Update

Yesterday I spent most of the day at a softball tournament. I love the tournaments. There something about the air, the field, and the ball game. It's really an all-American sport. I know soccer has surged in popularity the past 20 years but personally, I much prefer watching a baseball or softball game over a soccer game any day. Just my preference. Yesterday's games were for seed, today is for the championship and it's a single elimination tournament--one loss, done for the day. Most of the ones we go to are like that.

For some reason, when you sit on the sidelines as a parent you feel exhausted at the end of the day. Maybe it's nerves. Maybe excitement. Maybe disappoinment. But when I got home at 7:30 (picked up two pizzas before arriving home), I was very tired. I *thought* about helping DS#1 with his school project but deferred the work until today.

If I'm lucky, I will cut out a muslin top. First things first, laundry and cleaning. Baseball practice tonight. Somehow get dinner done too.

Addressing other issues, in my previous post I talked about this great bra in my drawer. Sherril posted the response:

"I know why you're keeping that old bra. It's so you can cut it apart, steal the underwires from it and take the back hooks. You already know the underwires are your size and no reason not to re-use them."

Isn't that an awesome idea!!! That never occurred to me. Funny how the obvious always seems to elude me.

Kim also posted:

"If you model your bra when completely, you will have my utmost respect for life! I wish I could model a bra, but you look like you could pull it off."

I've been wrestling with this. Headless shot for sure. Hands strategically placed to hide wrinkled post-baby belly skin ;) . Actually probably two separate shots. We'll see Kim, we'll see LOL. Haven't decided on that yet.

On the prom dress post, Kim asked:

"...I have to ask you, did she stuff her bra, because all the little girls at my daughters prom were rearranging their well endowed areas before every photo! LOL! To be young again...... "

This is funny one. That fave Frederic's of Hollywood bra? When I bought that many years ago, I also bought those stick-on bra cups for special occasion dresses and tops. Never used them though. So I told her to use them for that dress. There was a hollow area below the boobs (teens are WAY too perky!) so when she was modeling her dress, I told her it just didn't look quite right. I manually took the fabric with her boobs in it and rearranged them to show them how they *should* look to fill out dress. She was saying, "Mom! What are you doing?!?!" I told her you have to push and angle your boobs just the right way for the dress. Then I brought out the stick-on cups and told her that's what she should use.

On prom day, I'm taking pics, then videos. Before the video I told her she had to peel off one corner of the cup as it was noticeable from a side angle view. Then while I'm taking a video (she didn't realize it at the time), she walks over to me and starts correcting her wardrobe malfunction. Gee girl! Give me a heads up so I can pan away!

She told me after the prom, she and this other girl peeled them off halfway through and threw them away. Someone else was wearing the stick-ons as well.

Yeah, Kim, to be young again...and not have to worry about support either ;) .

Well, it's a bright and beautiful day in the Pocono Mountains! And I'm off to spend it indoors cleaning. I hope everyone else is doing something sewing!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cold Turkey Grumbles!'s been so busy at my house. Notice I did not say "sew" busy. That is truly unfortunate. It makes for one unhappy mom.

However, things are in the works. A muslin summer top is about ready to be cut out, swimsuit fabric ordered, bra and panty patterns and notions ordered, a dress is in the planning stage so when I get some time, I can make a move on things. I'm looking at that pattern making website someone posted about at Patternreview where I can input my measurements and create a custom swimsuit pattern. Here's the link: . There's some really great info/great reading on that site.

I'm very excited about sewing a bra! I love the pattern I ordered (Elan B540) shown below as it reminds me of this great Frederic's of Hollywood bra I bought years ago. It's simply too old to wear anymore, but it was a great-fitting bra and pretty too. Still in my drawer in fact. It's just darn hard to part with a good one, and there's no reason for me to keep it but it's there, right in the back getting my admiring glances from time to time.

I have yet to catch up on blog reading. Just when I think there's going to be time, it disappears. Then I wasn't feeling well for several days, had stomach rumbling and lost my appetite for a few days. That's pretty rare since I love to eat. Guess that wasn't a bad thing 'cuz when I put on my summer dress I made last year, I found out that no shapewear was necessary!!! It's a great feeling when those powernet panties can be left in the drawer.

Which reminds me. I was a "victim" of gym member's poor etiquette today. I was on the elliptical today, the lady in front was on the recumbent bike with her headphones. Then...she starts belting out the tunes! (One of my pet peeves!).'re not Beyonce, not Taylor Swift, nor Kelly Clarkson so SHUT UP! My reminder to myself, "Must bring own ear buds...must bring own ear buds...(repeat 10X) ".

Then, another lady reads a magazine and hogs up a piece of gym equipment for no less than 10 minutes! It's the only machine I'm waiting for, too, before going home. So when she's finished, I jokingly said (in a friendly way), something about her warming up the machine for me. She looked at me like I had two heads. So I said it again (she had ear buds), and again, she gives me a drunken stupor look. Is it me? Yes, I was wearing deodorant today ;) . Maybe it's a full moon. Who knows?!

My last "issue" of the day? I spent the entire day mulling over bra notions at Sew Sassy. So I finally finish putting things in the shopping cart, enter all the info, click on Submit, and constantly get an error. So I either have no order or 3 orders. Had to type an email of what I wanted and tried to get to the bottom of this matter. Very frustrating!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Prom 2009!

Last week was DD#2's Semi-formal dance. This week is was DD#1's prom (technically, her boyfriend's Senior prom). As I finished up the lavendar semi-formal dress for DD#2, the activity turned to finishing the stole and making the purse for DD#1.

Here's DD#1 modeling her stole and purse:

The stole and purse were the perfect accessories for the dress. As mentioned before, the dress was RTW to a tune of $350! I pitched in $50 so that guarantees me one wearing of the dress ;) . I went to JoAnn's and purchased the white/silver brocade for the stole and purse. Again, the stole pattern was provided to me courtesy of Mary. (Again, many thanks to you, Mary!) She forwarded me the link.

In my previous post on the stole pattern, I mentioned my displeasure of the original length. So the front slit became an embellished pocket. I added a button/buttonhole closure and an inside snap so the one side would not collapse or cave in and cause an uneven front hemline. I could tell when DD#2 first tried on the stole, it was met with an admiring glance aka her "seal of approval". I thought the fabric and revamped style of the stole would be a perfect match for the dress, both in color and style, and it was.

On the front, I added crystal buttons with buttonholes placed at an angle down one side of the front. The other side are "faux" buttons, however, the snap is placed on the inside to keep the stole layers together. The underlayer would have collapsed without it and dropped the hemline on one side.

I did light alterations to her RTW dress as well. I cut the lining 8" higher so she wouldn't trip/fall over it. It was very long. Just did a rotary cutter slice too (knit dress so no fraying issues). No hemming--no one is going to see the lining. The back had a long train as well. I pinned it up as she desired. Yes, the side seams are swinging back. There's no way around that. But I told her it almost looks like a design style. It looked nice anyway. I added an extra crystal button from the stole below the back design and cut a loop from the extra lining piece that was cut off. Voila! A new design on the back which she loved.

The purse was made from one of my fave books by Emma Brennan on Vintage Handbags. So much better than any storebought clutch IMO.

I'll take closeups later today for the details.

I leave you with pics of the charming couple. She's even wearing my wedding jewelry (necklace and earrings).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Who Wore It Best?

You know those tabloid mags where there is a photo spread of women celebrities titled, "Who Wore It Best?" That's exactly how I felt when doing the semi-formal dress. DD#2 modeled it before the dance yesterday (okay, it's not her best pose by far), then I modeled the same dress today. To be fair, she's not giving her best pose, and her posture isn't very good in the pic. When the shoulders are rolled forward, yeah, you're really going to exaggerate any folds that were there to begin with. She wanted out (and wouldn't stand up straight)! No pics and to get going to the dance.

I've also included a pic of the dress back. It definitely fits DD#2 better on the back. I criss-crossed the halter straps connecting them to the back of the dress. The dress code was not that clear if a halter tied at the neck would be appropriate or not. In addition, anything that ties at the neck is uncomfortable for me, so I figured DD#2 would find it uncomfortable as well. Please bear with my ugly little scar. What is really noticeable are the red dots from the stitches. The plastic surgeon gives it three months to fade. Heavy duty makeup to the rescue! It's summer time, and I'm baring my shoulders.

Based on her second muslin which needed just a few minor tweaks (releasing the front side seams near the band and adding a touch of width (a mere 1/2" via more gathers) on the halter piece, I thought the fit was nailed. This is a case where the fabric will throw off almost everything done in the muslin. The cotton muslin certainly doesn't have the same drape, nor fit, as the fashion fabric. Here's the cotton muslin:

I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON! When possible, buy double the fabric needed as the actual dress if one can afford it. Especially if it's not fabric you normally work with. Or similar dressy fabric until I know my fancy fabrics well and what will work with particular styles. (The last time period when I regularly made semi-formal dresses was between 1985 and 1988.) The dress fabric was purchased on sale at 50% off. It could still have been done VERY affordably by purchasing double the yardage. Still far less than a RTW dress. This is definitely another case of being a jack-of-all-trades specializing in only one or two fabrics definitely hurt this project.

The fashion fabric made the style more difficult. The tucks were too poofy. I converted the tucks to gathers. More acceptable but still too poofy. I removed some width at the upper side seams to reduce the gathers on the skirt portion of the dress. The tulle overlay and fashion fabric sewed up like a dream, but less gathering is a must with the fabric I used.

What would have worked better? Princess seams with a touch of gathering on the halter top piece. Far less gathering on the front skirt piece. Also, I realize now the edge of the halter strap next the arm/armpit should have been cut deeper. It's too high. I think this also contributed to an excess of fabric a/k/a fabric folds on the final dress. I even added batting in the bust area where the gathers are located to fill out this area. Think sleeve heads? I created "bust heads".

I did finish the dress on time with 45 minutes to spare. When DD#2 got home from school, she tried on the dress right away to make sure it fits. Only to hear, "Mom, can you take in the side seams at the waist a little? I want the band to be a closer fit." (Sigh) "Okay. That will take me an hour." That required me to open up the lining, restitch the side seams, seam rip the halter side seam due to my construction process, then reassemble. I could not alter the halter top within the time frame, so I created a tuck on the side seams of the halter portion. This was acceptable and not that noticeable. It worked. However, it contributed to too much fabric in halter. Here's a pick of the side seam tuck above the midriff band.

DD#2 is an A-cup. I tried to get her to "stuff" the halter. She wouldn't hear of it. She was happy "as is". For that I'm thankful. But from a fit perspective, the fashion fabric threw things off for me. If I had been on the ball with things, I could have cut a new halter front and replaced it on the dress. But it's just a terribly busy time of year. You can tell my C-cups are are working the dress a bit better.

There were a few things I liked doing that made the dress so pretty IMO. One was the centered zipper with hand-picked seed beads. There is no way I'd use an invisible zipper on this close fitting dress. I find invisible zips don't stand up to the stress of a dress like this. Lots of dancing and stress on the CB seam makes the zipper area ripe for malfunctions IMO. I like all-purpose zips for this reason.

Overall? The dress was okay. Another learning experience. Certainly not the best dress I've made by far, but good practice and knowledge learned for eventual prom dress constructions. I need to make more fancy dresses to get more practice with fancy, synthetic fabric again. Moving on to the stole and purse this week. It's Prom Weekend 2009!

I leave you with a pic of the dress on the couch right after I finished it. I think that's exactly where I like this one best ;) .

Friday, May 15, 2009

Down To The Wire!

I worked on the dress all day Wednesday. All day Thursday. And will likely work on it all day today. My deadline is 3:30 today. It must be done.

It pains me to be a slow sewer, but I accept it. It's who I am. My house is a disaster because of it, and pizza will probably be ordered for dinner tonight.

My son's baseball coach stopped over Wednesday afternoon with 5 minutes notice with a birthday gift for him. And my house was far messier than usual. Talk about embarrassing.

Here I go...heading down home stretch. Pics forthcoming tonight.

A big thank you to Kim and all other bloggers for their prayers for my MIL. She is doing better and will likely be transferred to a rehab hospital today. She probably won't be staying there long and will be able to get home within a reasonable amount of time. Can't keep a good woman down! She was finally out of her bed walking around yesterday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Second Muslin

It was beautiful! 95% perfect, in fact. Just a few minor tweaks here and there. Today I'm finishing cutting out the dress and starting to sew it up. DD#2's semi-formal is on Friday. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!!! I'm just hoping there are few musling-to-fashion fabric fitting issues.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Phat Kat Pick of the Week: Friday, 5/8/09

This is really gorgeous! Brace yourself!!! If you haven't seen this dress, you better put down your food and drink, put a napkin under your chin and get ready to drool.

My Pick of the Week goes to Kim's beautiful prom dress she created for her daughter. She looks like a million bucks in this dress! Truly an exquisite creation!!!

(Sorry for missing previous Pick of the Weeks. My MIL is not doing so well. It's been a rollercoaster ride the past two weeks. Our worries are not over unfortunately.)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Did you see that article the other day?

It was an AP article in the paper about bloggers advertising products. It kind of related to Ann's blog post of a week or two ago and was very interesting. I don't think it was the same article, but it was very similar. It discussed bloggers being sent products for review including paid bloggers. Seems there are issues with the FTC getting involved as well. I posted about this before, but will post again adding more thoughts on the issue.

Truth in Advertising. That's what it boils down to for me. What is the fine line between paid bloggers and infomercials on TV? We could say, "Well, I'm letting you know they paid me or sent this to me to review."

However, is there a psychological component to this? If a company sends a blogger something, does he or she feel in some way "obligated" to say something nice about the product? Perhaps like an unwanted gift that is received at Christmas? I mean, we thank the recipient and try to be all nice about it. But when everyone has gone, we can vent our true feelings to our family members. Does a blogger have a subconcious desire to say something nice out of...proper social etiquette?

I think I classify blogs two different ways--a business blog and a personal blog. I do not want my personal blog to be clouded by subconscious thoughts. And for me, it would be. I'd be thinking, "Well, Company X sent me this nice little product and although it's not my fave, maybe I should at least say *something* nice about it." Because, after all, they were nice enough to send me this complimentary gift. On a personal blog, I need to feel free. Unencumbered by any type of "loyalty" to any company, any product. If I mention a product and rave about it, it's because I REALLY like it and highly endorse it. From my personal viewpoint as a home sewer.

On a business blog, I simply would not review a product I didn't like. Even if Company X sent it to me for free. Working on the principle that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it. I simply wouldn't promote a product I don't use, nor believe in. And of course, if I was given "compensation" or the product for free and raved about it, as other bloggers have stated, would let the reading public know up front. This is just plain, ethical behavior.

Ann's blog post was up front. You know she's the real deal and if she recommends something sent by company X, she let's you know that. She's one blogger I trust to let me know if a particular product might be worth my while to purchase it. The problem is, for the other thousands of bloggers out there that we don't know well enough to trust, where is the truth in advertising? When you read a person's blog and they rave about a product, it makes you wonder if there is some other underlying promotional factor going on--the "infomercial factor".

I don't like that. The cyberworld always has new issues cropping up and this is another annoyance for me. For the handful of bloggers that I trust, there are hundreds that make me question their praise and/or endorsement of product X and wonder if they're getting paid to promote.

Just a thought on this Mother's Day, 2009. And BTW, have a happy one!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Seal of Approval

I received the Bossy Chick's (aka DD#1) Seal of Approval tonight. She was trying on her prom gown, tried on my wedding jewelry, and put on the stole. I wanted to double check the fit. Usually if it fits me it will fit her, and it does. Notice the updated pic has the buttons (attached with pins at this point) that I'm going to use. I'll take a trip to the fabric store tomorrow to get the same button in a smaller size to create a train loop for her dress.

It really looks lovely on her and the stole is perfect for it. The dress is slim fitted with a low back and the length of the stole just covers the dip in the dress back. She needs a little help in the boob area to create the right angle for the dress cups so I gave her the stick-on cups I bought from Frederick's of Hollywood eons ago. Told her, "I hope they still stick!" We certainly don't want any, uh, "wardrobe malfunctions".

Also, I cut out the new dress muslin for DD#2. That was all I was going to do, but actually was able to sew almost the entire muslin. Just need to attach the front to the back and insert a temporary zipper. Things are moving along and progressing smoothly, but very busy with little downtime.

It's been a long day, time for bed!

Unexpected Turned Better-Than-Expected.

I was making the stole (pictured at right) two days ago and got unexpected results. One of those "I should've made a muslin moments." until I decided I liked the stole even better a different way. One that provides more coverage for a chilly night. We never know if it's going to be warm or chilly on Prom night in the Poconos.

The stole directions/"pattern" are free and found in this link, a big thank you to Mary.

The problem I had with the stole directions is that it said to use a 60" length. No problem even though my fabric wasn't 60" wide. I pieced it with a CB seam. The issue was that you can see the stole is actually much wider than the one on the model. This could be attributed to the fact that I edgestitched around the perimeter. If I didn't, the stole would have draped in folds. Another thing that bothered me was the 60" of length was far too short, and I'm not a big woman. In fact, my neck shoulders are a pattern size 10 and narrow. My arms are relatively thin as well. The one end stuck out like a 5" stub through the opening and did not drape down to my hipline as shown on the model. What is she, like a stinking size 0 and 5'1"???

However, as I was playing around with it, I decided I liked it pinned at the front, almost cape-like. In fact, I liked that even better than the stole style in the model's pic. The slit will turn into a pocket and I'll put 3 elegant buttons/buttonholes on the top edge where I have pins. A hook/eye will be inserted underneath to keep the other edge up so it doesn't drop unattractively.

One of my sewing shortcomings is that I jump around so much between what I do, and jump around fabrics used, that I feel like a jack-of-all-trades, specializing in maybe one or two things. I sew very occasionally with fancy fabrics. So when I went to interface the opening, which was like a bound buttonhole, I made my markings very lightly in pen. I do this frequently because my kids make off with pencils (and pens too), so often whatever in the drawer gets used. This was one of those times when I should have done a thread tracing, but wanting to hurry up, neglected to use this marking option. When I cut my "box" to the corners and dabbed Fray Check on it, seep, seep, seep...the ink bled to the right side! #*@(*(*(*#@#$#$@$@

To cover up this snafu, I applied fusible web to two tiny squares of fabric and placed them at the corners. Then I handstitched seed beads around the entire opening and fabric squares. This effectively camoflauged the mistake. If you look real hard you can tell, but the casual observer will never notice. I might fill in a few more sead beads at the corners to totally conceal any edges.

In the end, I really like it and will hunt for some buttons this week. I still have to trim some stray threads due to the nature of the fabric.

In other news, I forgot to take a picture of my softball basket with all the things I made! Can you believe it??? I happily overheard a conversation between two ladies while dropping in our tickets at the basket auction. One said, "Don't put more tickets in there! I want to win that basket." :)

Also, DD#2 and I had a heart-to-heart talk about her dress. She is going back to the original design. She keeps hedging on the styles and so indecisive. I had to make her face reality on what she wanted, what would be figure flattering. Yesterday I finished up the pattern alteration tweaks, today I will start the second (and final) muslin.

I leave you with a parting shot of DS#2. He loves to be outside, loves to garden. I'd probably like to garden too if I didn't love sewing so much. At the Softball Fundraiser dance, I won a basket of these flowers. He couldn't wait to plan them. Our yard is looking like crap so it's a pleasure to have him take an interest in outdoor work. He even broke up some old slate and created a sidewalk behind the flowers.I also won a HUGE double-sided flannel bedspread embroidered with our school's logo on one side. Perhaps my luck is changing as I age? I won a huge LL snack basket at Opening Day ceremonies almost two weeks ago too. Time to play the lottery? Maybe it is.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This is so dumb!

I'm just finishing cutting out the material for the prom dress purse and semi-formal stole for my daughters and decided to do some quick Internet surfing looking at prom dress styles while eating my lunch.

I checked out this link, and what I found there is so dumb for two reasons:

1. A return to modesty is some school districts and,
2. Using Victoria's Secret-like models for prom dress fashions.

Addressing No. 2 first...since when do high school students mostly have C or D-cup boobs? I have also found this to be an issue when DD#1 (B-cup) was trying on prom dresses. To fill out most prom dress styles appropriately, a C-cup would be just about right. A D-cup in the right bra style would provide for one heck of a view in regard to cleavage.

Most high school students I know (that would wear many of these slinky styles) are not cup-spilleth-over kind of girls. My feeling is many of these models are surgically enhanced, while most high school teens are not.

On to No. 1, our public school district has adopted a "uniform" dress code. More like uniforms really. Set colors, set styles. Little variation. The semi-formal dances at school require all dresses to have straps and no cleavage. At the present time, this does not appear to apply for the prom which is held elsewhere. So many of these styles are strapless, including the shorter ones. I feel very sorry for the big-boobed girls. They are going to have such a hard time finding nice styles with no cleavage. I told DD#2 that is not something she has to worry about. Nosey DS#1 (12 years old) asks, "What is cleavage?" I was wearing a low-cut top so I smooshed by boobs together and said, "THIS is cleavage." Boys are so funny that way. Clueless on girly things. I mean, they know what it is, but don't know these things have names. I have met boys that have NO idea what a barrette or bobby pin is.

Anyway, DD#2 tried on her sister's dress that was purchased last December. She really liked the style and wants me to copy it for her. It's strapless with a draped piece of fabric over one side of the front and a fabric flower on the other side. This brings me to my recent aggravating issue.

She says, "Can you copy this dress?" I sure can. The little drape and flower too. Then she says, "Can you make it halter style?" (I thought she wanted just little skinny spaghetti straps on it.) Okay. Did we not agree on the original style? That would mean no drapey piece and flower. She's just not getting it. I think the problem is she never really knows what she wants.

I have 12 days! 12 DAYS!!! Enough to make me sweat. I hate deadlines. But I'm doing what I can with the purse and stole and getting the little things out of the way.

Back to work.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

She Changed Her Mind!!!

DD#2 changed her mind about the dress style. Back to square one. Tomorrow I work on a new pattern draft. Luckily, the style is very easy. More to come...