Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Sewing Year

Something Old, Something New!  Lace design on dress combines appliques of new lace and lace taken from my own wedding dress, made in 1982 using materials purchased in NYC garment district.  Lace on the veil is from the hem of my wedding dress.      Portrait photography by Rebecca Keeling on location in Colonial Williamsburg.

Something Blue! Dan Post Blue Bird Boots.  Vintage pearl jewelry with sapphire clasps, gift from grandmother. Flowers by Williamsburg Floral, Williamsburg, Va.  Portrait photography by Rebecca Keeling on location in Colonial Williamsburg.
Ruffles consist of 10 yards of organza, cut on the bias, gathered and attached in rosettes and multiple rows to a base layer of point d'esprit .  Additional ruffles made with tulle. Ruffle layer attached to completed lace over-skirt. Portrait photography by Rebecca Keeling on location in Colonial Williamsburg.               

A year ago I began my journey to create my daughter's gown for her wedding on November 16, 2013.  Here it is!

Steps and timeline:

Bride-to-be tries on dresses and identifies design elements she likes
Select patterns to  create desired design
Take lace off old wedding dress and wash
Dye test samples with tea, ivory dye, and  coffee

Make muslin  of corset and dress for fit and design lines
Make samples of ruffles

First fitting. Make second muslins.

Purchase fabric, lace
Make samples of ruffles
Make second muslins

Make boned corset muslin and petticoat
Second fitting
Adjust fit of corset, make corset
Attach petticoat to corset
Adjust fit on muslin, cut muslin apart to use as pattern pieces
Examine inspiration dress to determine materials and technique for ruffles.  Select materials and technique (note:  should have examined inspiration dress first!)
Purchase organza for ruffles

Cut and hand-baste satin bodice and under-dress and taffeta lining
Third fitting:  Need to do over bodice. Mark hemline
Stitch skirt seams

(little to no activity  because of travel and family matters)

Make veil 
Make bodice
Stitch seams on skirt and lining,  baste skirt to bodice
Cut net over-skirt
Make narrow seams  on net overlayPlace lace appliques on skirt, baste
Fourth fitting:  Approve placement of lace. Bodice is still not right.  Purchase bra, start over on bodice (Note: should have bought all undergarments first!)
Cut tulle and organza for ruffles. Gather

Attach net overlay to bodice, place lace appliques, fell-stitch in place
Attach bodice to corset 
Order buttons
Hem satin skirt with horsehair braid  and attach lining to skirt at hem (4 rows of hand-stitching)
Make ruffles

September- Oct 5
Fell-stitch appliques on front skirt (DD appliqued lace on back)
Make ruffles
Sew side seams on net overskirt
Attach ruffle layer to lace overskirt
Place lace appliques to hide skirt seams, fell-stitch
Sew 45 buttons down center back of dress
Attach bodice to skirt by hand, using back stitch
Line bodice
Attach skirt lining to bodice-skirt seam
Make and attach button loops
Fifth fitting (two days before portrait appointment):  adjust fit by slicing net skirt and overlapping lace appliques.  Add additional appliques to side front seams.  Add one additional organza rosette for balance.
Sew 25-26 buttons, hook and eye
Make and attach tie

Attach 3 sets of bustling ribbons to satin skirt
Attach 9 sets of bustling hooks and thread loops to lace overskirt
Finish stitching lining into place

DONE!  Let the celebration begin!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Note styling differences: slacks vs. dress, bright vs. dark, sleeve length, open vs. buttoned, accessories. . .

Note what is the same: length of jacket! hair cut! glasses!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jacket with Red Dress

I made a red wool gabardine dress to go with the jacket. (S3673, a vintage pattern, TNT).

Finished First, Posted Last!

I finished the jacket several weeks ago, but wanted to give Maggie a chance to get hers done before I posted. Here is the completed shell, with precious little hand-stitching. I have an inflamed tendon sheath in my thumb (tenosynovitis), so hand stitching is much less enjoyable for me than it is for Maggie. Truth be told, she has always done much better than me at precision work of any kind . . .I'm such a slacker !

Monday, October 18, 2010


I enjoy hand-sewing, so I made time for the details. The cuffs have working buttonholes, so I lined the vent (top). This was not an easy task, since I didn't do it until after I had set in the sleeve.

The handworked buttonholes were incredibly time consuming but satisfying. It will take me another project or two to get the hang of it, but I'm slowly but surely learning how to keep them from looking like little caterpillars--i.e., too wide and too dense.

I bought the chain for this project several years ago. Because the jacket is underlined and interfaced, I wasn't sure it needed the chain's weight to hang well. But I like the sparkle, and it really does make a difference in the jacket's wearability.


I got a sneak peak at Mary's jacket last month. Her crochet trim is simply fabulous, and it made my idea for trim look cheap by comparison. The other big problem was that I couldn't imagine being able to dress my jacket down. It was going to be mostly a dress-up kind of jacket, for which I have little use. This baby's gotta go with jeans!

Finally, a photo of a fringed Chanel jacket in this month's Harpers Bazaar made me rethink my aversion to fringe. After a couple of experiments, I settled on controlled craziness. A one-quarter-inch black petersham ribbon defines the front and pocket edges, while the fringe is made from a 1 1/2 inch wide bias strip that's been gathered in the center and then folded in half. No fringe on the cuff edges--it ruined the lean line, and I could just imagine getting it filled with chalk dust.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Muslin Take 2

If at first you don't succeed. . . I recut the bodice after making an fba and reshaping the neckline by lowering and widening it just one-half inch. Voila! The shape is back. The shoulder pads are too thick--that's an easy fix. The photos make it pretty obvious that the 2-pocket option is the way to go.