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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Romantic 1930s bias gown

Oh, la la!

Finally posting pics, you guys! I'm really proud of how this dress turned out!

I'm also proud of my hair! It's not perfect, but I did only have an hour and a half to do it. : /

I knew an open back would be my favorite part of this dress. And look at those waves!

I wanted this dress to be dramatic and romantic. I wish I could have justified using silk, but I needed more than 5 yards of fabric and I wasn't very confident that it would actually turn out! I would have hated to have spent all that money and ended up with a wadder.

I had a hell of a time picking the fabric, too. I don't usually wear colours this intense. This crepe-backed satin ended up being pretty easy to work with (I was shocked!) and I think the colour flatters me. I just wonder if this wasn't a common colour in the 1930s. I really wanted the dress to look like something that could have been worn in that time period.

All photos were taken by the awesome Brian Chambers at Sunnyside Beach in Toronto. From the early 20s to the mid-50s, Sunnyside was a happening recreational scene with a bathing pavilion (now it's a tacky restaurant) and an amusement park. There were concerts by Basie and Ellington. There was even a time when public transportation to Toronto's beaches was free!

Of course, then the city built a highway cutting off the beach from the rest of the city and ruined the whole thing. Thanks a lot post-WWII-development-boom. Oh, and then there was a huge sewage problem. That didn't help either.

Still a gorgeous spot to spend the evening and great for pictures!

Friday, 10 June 2016

More bias dress stuff! How I cut out the pattern

Hey guys, happy Friday!

Man, I learned so much making my bias gown (pictures are in the works. I can't wait to post them!) and I feel like I'm just scratching the surface! It really is so different from what I usually do. I got Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Schaeffer from the library and I just find couture stuff so intimidating!!!!

Something that really made an impact on me was her point about one major difference between couture and RTW or home sewing being that with couture techniques, its the seamlines that are marked, whereas with home and RTW sewing, the seam allowances are very precise and the seams are joined using the edge of the cut fabric as a guide.

That was when it really sank in that even the cutting-out part of the project would be completely out of my comfort zone! No kidding, I'm pretty sure this dress aged me about 10 years.

Full disclosure, I have no idea what the best strategy would have been. In a perfect world I would have draped the dress on a dress form and used the draped fabric to transfer to my dress fabric but that was definitely impossible, so I kind of improvised. Paper patterns all the way!

If you have a better technique please share it with me!! Otherwise, hopefully someone else will be able to put this process to use.

Here's what I did: cutting out a bias paper pattern.

1) I cut the pattern out of oak tag, excluding the seam allowances on the bias pieces (the back was on grain, so I kept the seam allowances and cut it out as usual).

2) I laid the fabric out face down on tracing paper, with everything squared up as precisely as possible. You can see below that I even taped the edges of the fabric to the paper to keep it from shifting.

3) I layed the oak tag pattern pieces out, carefully lined up on the bias, and traced them with a fabric marker. Make sure to do a test first to make sure it will come out without ruining your fabric!

4) Next I removed the oak tag pattern piece and pinned the fabric to the paper below. I made sure to place the pins within about an inch of the seam line. Remember, you're tracing the seam line and will be cutting the seam allowance freehand. Make sure your pins go through the paper, too!

5) Once you've finished tracing all your pieces, cut them out, giving yourself about an inch of seam allowance. Then thread trace the seam lines so they're visible on both sides. This is incredibly tedious. I did a little long-short-long-short pattern to make it pretty and so I could tell the difference between thread tracing and any basting I would do. Keep the fabric pinned to the paper if you want. I didn't need to because my fabric was actually pretty agreeable so I just kept it flat on the table. You might also want to have a stiff drink while you do this. And don't forget to use a separate thread for each edge. If you get to a corner, stitch a little bit past it and start again with a new thread, instead of trying to, like, go around the corner. See the pic below?

Oh, I probably should have mentioned at the beginning, this works best if you're hand stitching the seams. Which you are, right? Yeah, you might want to pour yourself another. Good luck!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Chambray shirtdress take 2

Hello friends! I'm taking a break from posting about my bias gown to share some pics of my second chambray dress.

Perfect for hanging out in the back yard! I love those long summer days.

The chambray I used is really nice and light, so I can wear it in hot weather and still have my shoulders and arms covered. I've reached an age where I'm pretty worried about sun protection.

I used my old frienemy, 042010 long sleeve blouse from BurdaStyle. I just extended it from the bottom hem to make it into a dress. The pattern actually comes with longer pattern pieces to make a shirt dress but I've made so many changes to the shirt pattern I was not about to start that shit over again. Nuh-uh.

I actually started this dress before the other chambray shirtdress but I had given up because I thought that this one was going to be too small in the hips. I tried it on once I sewed up the side seams and thought it wasn't going to fit and just gave up. I must have been on drugs or something. I tried it again a few weeks later and now I'm so happy with it!

My friend Gus came by to say hello and help with some weeding. He's a good boy!

I love that I can link to my pinterest boards! Here's my inspiration board for this dress. I guess I still haven't nailed the cool-casual accessorizing. Need some wedge espadrilles, sun hat, bracelets and a leather purse. And longer legs!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

What's a great dress without the perfect hair?

Guys, my dress is smashing! I can't wait to post pics, but while those are in the works I want to share with you the journey I've been on to achieve the perfect hair.

In my research for the dress, I fell in love with the illustrations on the pattern envelopes I was seeing online. So elegant!

I liked the finger wave and I knew I wanted the back up off my neck, to maximize the drama of the open back.

I did briefly consider the poodle updo, but I worried that it might look a little more I Love Lucy than I really wanted.

Maybe next time ; p

In the end, though, I really did want to try some finger waves and a faux bob. possibly influenced by all the Downton Abbey I've been watching lately (I know DA is the wrong era but there are definitely some style elements that lasted into the mid-thirties, which is what I was going for).

I really had no idea where to start so I got on Pinterest and Youtube and just started trying things!

Heh. I heat set pin curls, then used a brush, comb, fingers and clips to set the waves.

Hmmm... not quite right.

Closer! I experimented with different curl patterns (like how I segmented my hair for curling and what direction I curled it in). The waves were still a little looser than I wanted here, though. I was using my 1" curling iron. Also the back looks like barf. It's really hard to get it nice when I can't see what I'm doing!!!

Even closer! My friend helped me track down a 1/2" curling iron on a trading network. You can see the waves are much tighter and more defined with the smaller curls. It's starting to look more and more like the pattern illustrations! The back was still pretty messy at this point but I eventually got it under control when I realized that I only really needed finger waves in the front, so I didn't have to curl things as tightly in the back as the front. It made it a lot easier to gather it all into a chignon at the base of the skull.

Downside of using the 1/2" curling iron, thought, is that it takes, like, hours to curl my hair with it, since I have to work in such small sections!

I can't wait to show you the final version! You can check out all the tutorials I used on the Pinterest board.

(Edited to fix link to Pinterest board)