Saturday, July 23, 2011

Third Dress for Vacation...and Creating A Bodice Block!

I am sooooooo proud of my final dress for vacation! Before I start my non-vacation projects, I wanted to finish this series of dresses, because otherwise I may never finish them. Well, once I finished this one, I caught the dress bug! Why so much excitement??? Well, Heather from Feather's Flights (fabulous blog, I learn so much every time I read it!) suggested I check out for dress patterns. I found this one by elegant-impressions and decided to download the pattern and try it out...until I realized that the pattern was for a size 2, and there was no way it would come out just right. But, luckily, burdastyle posted an article with links about creating the perfect fit, and I found a tutorial on how to create a bodice block. A bodice block is basically the basic pattern for a top based on your personal measurements. On Tuesday, I ended up in the emergency room with the abdominal pain...after chugging barium and getting my 8th CT in 7 years, I found out I have (again!) multiple kidney stones on both sides, the largest of which is almost 4mm. That is the largest one I've ever had...mostly mine have been under 2mm. They break them up at 5mm, so this is a doozey, but I'll have to pass it on my own, as well as the others. Needless to say, I stayed home from work and needed some distractions. Thank GOODNESS the ER doctor found a pain medication I'm not allergic to...not nearly as strong as my last one, but it won't cause heart problems....she did suggest the drug that killed Michael Jackson, but we went with something else. :) In any case, I spent the day creating my bodice took a couple of hours but I am thrilled with it! You can use it to create personalized patterns in a snap, which I love to do. Yay!!
Here's the bodice (front and back) that I created using my modified block and the back of the Katjusha pattern. I made my block on plain white paper but plan to transfer it to a more permanent form soon. The back was easy to create...just a basic rectangle twice the width of your back, with quick elastic casings. I used a straightened wire hanger to thread the elastic through easily.
The elastic back makes the dress easy to slip on and off (my usual necessity in a garment) and I used the white lining to accent the hem and create the straps. I plan on making a fabric headband to go with it.

I was so pleased with how this dress came out that I went to Joann's and bought four more pieces of fabric to create some more dresses, perhaps for work with a longer skirt and pockets too. I've been really nervous to use non-knit fabric because of my large chest, but the bodice block has made this easy as pie! Tomorrow I am finishing the giveaway project (very overdue!) and I am excited for you to see how that comes out too. Then I am making a peach colored dress with white eyelet trim and pockets. :) What are you working on? Would you sew more dresses if you had a bodice block?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Second Hawaii Dress without a Pattern...or...The Day of Un-Picking

I am very happy with this second dress, although it did not turn out how I had envisioned it. Because it needed to be lined (didn't realize that at the store) I had half the fabric I planned for, so the very flowy, swishy, gathered dress turned into a short, cute, straight dress. Here's how I started.
This time I chose a three piece pattern, in a blue jersey (very cheap, and it definitely showed while sewing...ran like pantyhose when you nipped a thread). I chose a deep v neckline and cut the bodice big enough for lots of gathering, which turned out to be just way too big. I made the pattern by simply measuring my own body and where I wanted the different parts to hit.Even though I measured this time, I added a little too much. Better than too small! I didn't take a picture of the first draft, so to speak, but it had the right look, just needed lots of adjusting in the bust. That took forever! I cut the straps, and resewed them, but then the bust was too small (lengthwise), so I un-picked them and luckily had left a lot of fabric. Once the length was right, I started fiddling with the width. Being a large-chested girl is very frustrating, and tailoring your own clothes is even harder, I found out. With my last dress, I couldn't get the bust right and it turned out to be the size difference in each breast, plus pinning the clothing inside out (so measuring for the opposite breast). This time, I did a lot of sew-wear-unpick-sew-repeat. LOTS of unpicking, but I am very happy with the result.
The neckline has a great shape to it, thanks to the ribbon. You may notice that I added darts in the chest...I just had too much material. This was my first time darting, AND my breasts are different sizes, so it came out a little wonky. And lopsided. Will fix on another day when I haven't sat in my sewing room for 6 hours. Good enough for now! I also added some black and white polka dot ribbon details for the straps (original plan) and bow on the hip (improv).
Ignore the wonky boob-lines!!! I love this dress! :)
Literally as comfortable as a t-shirt. I had planned to bunch/gather the straps with another ribbon I bought at the store, but decided this was way cuter.
I really like the bow on the hip. I don't like that the waist bumps where it joins the skirt. I think this is from using a wider zig-zag for stretch, instead of my usual straight stitch.
Wow...hello butt. lol. The backside of this dress, especially on top, turned out much better than my first Hawaii dress.
There's the waist-bump again, but it's fairly minor. Each panel of the dress has two layers of fabric...definitely not a quick dress for me.
Ahhh...I can just imagine wearing this to the beach... :) Loving my new Little Blue Dress!
So...what do you think? I say not bad for not using a pattern! We booked our hotel for the trip yesterday, so I got to working on this dress right away. Surprisingly, I had the energy. I went to the doctor Wednesday and they put me on "watch" for appendicitis...scared the crap out of me! I couldn't get the CT scan to diagnose, since I've had about 7 already and the radiation is cumulative, so I spent a day sitting at home, in pain, taking my temp every half an hour. Luckily, my blood work came back ok, so appendicitis is ruled out, but that means it is likely a cyst. Not happy about that.

Anyhow, my point was that I haven't been up for much, but the hotel booking got me motivated. I am hoping this sewing streak will continue so I can finally finish my other projects. I also have one more dress to make...a cotton black, white and red floral that will need a lining. I am hoping I will have enough to make that one into the swishy dress, but I am worried about the bodice. Does anyone know where I can find free patterns online? Or maybe a good tutorial for a similar bodice to this one, only in a stiff fabric. I find that the hardest part, but maybe it will work if I do the darts and all. Straightly, this time, I hope. lol.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Dress for Vacation Without Pattern

 I made my first Hawaii vacation dress from a bright, silky material I got at Joann's. I thought this would be so beautiful, but the material was a PAIN! It doesn't sit the way I like, it moves around so much that creating the pattern was just a nightmare, and I had to do a LOT of alterations just to get it to look like this. I am still unhappy with the hem, so I am thinking of making it about knee-length all the way around, like the original I patterned it after. What do you think? Here are the photos.
The original dress
My version (sorry for the blur) with a long back hemline and shorter front hemline. Not completely happy with the back bodice...still needs some altering, but I wore it for the 4th and enjoyed it!
I added elastic at the waist so I wouldn't have to belt it and be hot. The bodice has a modest neckline with some gathering...I need to make the back much smaller because the straps slide down...again...more tweaking needed before the big trip. 
 I do like the length in the front....hmmmmmm.
It didn't turn out exactly like the first...because it is hard to make a pattern from scratch, and it is a completely different fabric (stiff, not stretchy) but I am mostly pleased with how it turned out. What do you think???