Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vogue 8766 with Some Modifications

This is my first attempt at a trial for a wedding dress pattern.  I found some seriously cheap fabric (like a dollar a yard), so I thought I would give Vogue 8766 a shot as a possible pattern.
I made it out of two layers.  One was a white satin and the other was a see-through material with some pretty black flowers.  The original pattern has a round neckline at the front, but I decided to make mine square.
And I also have a nice piece of lace that has a beautiful edge that I want to show, so I have to make either pleats or gathers, so against my better judgement, I made gathers.  Which is basically just taking a rectangle of fabric for the skirt. And once again, I hate gathered skirts.  

I had to put a large gros grain ribbon on the waist just to make it look ok.  If The ribbon wasn't there, it was just too puffy right around the only feature I usually want to highlight - my waist.  I drown in the fabric and it feels uncomfortable.

 I wanted the ribbon to be fairly tight and smooth, so I made the band with some heavy-weight velcro instead of tying it, then made the bow separately and made it attach with more velcro.  In hindsight, maybe just a simple sash would have worked, but it was a fun project and the bow always stays perfect.
The bottom line
This is not the pattern I will use for my nice lace.  I want to show off the edge of the edge, but gathers aren't going to be a solution.  I don't really love this dress.  Back to the drawing board.  I love the waist seems of a circle skirt, but that won't work for the edge.  Pleats may have to be a solution.

I did manage to wear the address for some photos we took for our wedding Web site.  Not really engagement photos, but something for people to see as the RSVP.  A friend of ours is a photographer and I was lucky enough to find out she wanted to try out a new lens.  These photos are taken in downtown Phoenix.  Message me if you need a wonderful photographer - I especially love what she did in the last photo. 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gertie's Sheath Dress Pattern Review

I made a dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. Here is Gertie's version.  I love the color and the fit.  This dress called to me!
 I chose a stretch cotton sateen for my fabric.  The fabric had been in my stash for a long time.  I got it at Mood in Los Angeles almost two years ago.  It was so precious to me that I didn't cut into it because I didn't want to ruin it, which was beginning to get silly.  The fabric is no good unless you use it.
In the book, she has a sweetheart neckline, which I am rarely a fan of.  I modified the neckline to a square - she gives instructions on how to go about this, which I found very useful.
 I love the patterns in Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. This is the third dress I have made from that book.  The first one was her Wiggle Dress and the second one was the Shirtwaist Dress.  All of them are flattering and perfect for my body type.  I know that some people have complained that if you don't have curves, the patterns are hard to fit, but since I have a fuller figure, I made almost no adjustments to get these to fit.
 I made a fabric belt from a belt kit I found at a thrift shop in my Grandma's home town.  She volunteered there for years and it was nice to purchase and use something from it.  It really finishes the dress.
 I made a lapped zipper.  There are lapped zipper tutorials everywhere out there, but the best one I have found is the free one available from Craftsy. It is Mastering Zipper Techniques with Sunni Standing.  She uses a technique I haven't seen anywhere else and it is really great.  Watching the video is also free!
 I lined the dress with 100% cotton. I wanted it to be breathable since it is a warm-weather dress.  I only lined the bodice
 Here is a side view.  I matched the flower patterns completely on the back, but I didn't do that on the sides.  My main concern was just not getting two white dots over my breasts.  It's happened to me before and I didn't have enough fabric to start over.
Now for the pattern review.
The good: I love this dress.  I wouldn't change a thing about the pattern.  The only thing about how it wears is the fabric.  The cotton sateen grew a size or two when I wore it for a day.  It was nice to have extra room after a large dinner, but overall, that isn't really ideal.  I'll have to find a fabric with give, but that doesn't grow out of control.  Suggestions welcome.

The complaints: Once again, I am not a fan of how the pattern pieces are all drawn on the same pieces of paper.  The pieces are overlapping and it is sometimes difficult to follow the right lines.  Not impossible, but kind of a pain. Once you get through that, it is easy and worth it.

Here is Gertie's first book (which I highly recommend).

Housekeeping:  I have been meaning to write a review of Gertie's newer book Gertie Sews Vintage Casual for awhile, but have been hesitant.  The sewing community is so positive (which is what makes you awesome) but this review isn't.  I pre-ordered this book and was so excited to get it, but I couldn't have been more disappointed.  She discussed on her blog that she lost weight and I suspect that it really made a difference in the type of patterns she produced.  NONE of the patterns looked like they were flattering for fuller figures.  Sure, there are some plus-size models in the book, but the clothes really looked terrible on these beautiful models.  Only buy this book if you don't have curves. It would also be useful to be a size six.  It could be that I am just experiencing the opposite of what less curvy girls thought of the first book.

I have also been procrastinating on another review... I ordered a lingerie kit from Gertie's Etsy store some time ago and was disappointed in the customer service.  It arrived very late (four weeks later than promised) and several of my emails were never answered - when it was only a week late, I noticed a new color came in and asked if I could switch.  Then a couple of weeks later I inquired again about the order.  I never heard back at all.  I understand if a switch can't be made, but customer emails should be answered.

I was such a Gertie fan and it is so disappointing to see.  I am sad to say I am not in a hurry to get any more of her products. Has anyone else experienced any of this? 

Thanks for reading - can't wait to hear what all of you think about the second book or if I am way off the mark about the customer service. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Decorating with Four Kinds of Wallpaper and Why Anyone Would Do This to a Rental

I haven't been doing much sewing in the last six months. We remodeled and sold our house and moved to an apartment and I have been busy doing some painting and wallpapering in our new place*. Wallpaper seemed to have gone out of fashion for many years and now it is back with some great new designs. I got the idea after watching Flipping Out with Jeff Lewis (available on Hulu and totally addictive even if you usually aren't into reality TV like me) and the amazing paper they used, I knew I wanted to decorate with it, too.

There are four different wallpapers that I worked with and I wanted to give an overview on what it was like to work with all of them. Hopefully, if you are looking at buying wallpaper, it will save you some research time. I used pre-pasted, paste the wall, self-stick removable, and lastly, used fabric as wall paper.

*see explanation below if you are curious about why anyone would to this to a rental.

1. Pre-pasted Wallpaper

The pre-pasted wall paper is the first one I tried.  As you can gather from the name, the paper has paste on it already and the idea is to dip it in water before putting it on the wall, kind of like licking a stamp before putting it on an envelope.   It wasn't my favorite method.   I had to get a shallow plastic container that was wide enough for the paper, fill it with water, dip it all quickly, drip all over the floor, then try and keep it from sticking to itself and everything else (including my hair and face) while trying to have it stick only to the wall. It was also difficult to keep the wet paper from folding over itself and making creases that marred the design.

The first strip was the hardest because I didn't know what to expect.  That is the one with some of the folding blemishes that showed up in the black part of the design.   Luckily, they were all in black areas, so I fixed those with some permanent black marker.  After that I learned to control it a little better and you really don't notice the spots that were blemished. 

I love how it looks. I got the paper at Amazon, but I can't find the exact paper any more. I see similar ones here and here.

Bottom line: a little tricky to install and messy.

2. Paste the Wall Paper

I love this wallpaper.  I can't say enough nice things about it. I also got it from Amazon and it looks like they still have the same paper in stock

As the name implies, this is not pre-pasted - you need to apply the paste to the wall, then apply the paper to it.  I was a little apprehensive about the process since it required extra tools and I didn't know what kind of paste to get.  Here is a link to some paste which you can get online, but I just went to Home Depot and got one they had in stock and it worked great and I avoided the shipping charges.  I also saw special wallpaper paste brushes which look like small brooms, but I bought a cheap paint roller and tray and they worked great - no special brushes needed. You can get the roller and tray at Home Depot or Lowe's for about the same price, which is handy if you are there for the paste, anyway.

I poured the paste in the paint tray, then rolled it on the wall in a generous layer with the roller as if it were paint.  Then, after measuring and cutting, I put the first paper strip on the wall.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier and less messy than the pre-pasted. 

Bottom line: This was relatively easy and mess-free.

On a side note, I see that the same wallpaper has been seen in Mad Men. I didn't know until after I installed it.  It is famous!

*And now a little back-story...

As I mentioned above, I live in a rented apartment.  And I feel like I need to give a little explanation about the fact that I am wallpapering a rental.  We sold our house in October and it was hard to find a place to rent.  There were plenty of apartments, but the choices were so corporate with no character.  When we saw this place, it  was the right price and location, but also it is the farthest thing from corporate cookie cutter as it gets.

The building was constructed in 1959 and many things haven't changed since it was built.  We have original cabinetry, counter tops, sinks, bathtubs (powder blue and pink!), tile work (with atomic designs) and gorgeous wood floors.  We also have no dishwasher and no washer/dryer in the apartment, so there are trade-offs.

We live in a hipster neighborhood with some seriously ironic facial hair everywhere.  Our neighbors are artists and yoga instructors with names like Giovanni and Skye.  They are pickers and thrift store resellers and wait staff at the local hip restaurants.  And they have done some serious renovations on their rental apartments beyond what is wise.  Far beyond.

The picture below is the art installation outside the window of one of my neighbor's apartment.  That is a mannequin with a TV for an upper body next to a pink lion and flamingo.  I am not sure of the message it is trying to convey, I just know I really, really like living near it.

Here is the inside one of my neighbor's places taken from the window. I was walking by his place and he had left the curtains open.  (I am aware that I have no shame, for the record.)  He has put in wood paneling and decorated everything like it is 1971.
I love the antique TV set and the lights. In the next photo you get a better view of the wood paneling  and the deer head and bear skins.  I could do without the dead animal menagerie, but, hey, it isn't my apartment.
Here you see his orange chiminea/fireplace hooked up to nothing.  I hope he doesn't use it, but you never know.

Other neighbors have done equally crazy things to their places, including installing custom wall book cases and putting in a four foot high sculpture made of broken mirror pieces where the guest bathtub is because they "don't take baths, anyway". One neighbor mentioned his next task was to take out the popcorn ceiling... on his rental.  These people are nuts.

I wondered how everyone could get away with these changes.  I even made a quick call to the owner of the building and asked before making any changes.  He just wants it to look "OK" after we move out, which seems scarily subjective to me, but apparently he has a wide range of what "OK" means.  I even talked to the maintenance guy who said, "yeah, we never hold anyone accountable for anything around here."  That was all I needed. They were beautiful words.

All this is to explain why painting and wallpapering our apartment did not seem so crazy.  I just wanted to make it a little more homey during the time when we do not own our own home.  My next post will be showing the removable self-stick wallpaper and how-to use fabric as wallpaper with pictures of the process.  If I am lucky I will also be able to snap a quick picture of the bust my downstairs neighbor made out of an old typewriter he found in alley behind our building.  He welded it together (in his apartment!) and didn't burn anything down which is always a plus.  But definitely more wallpaper.
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