April 26, 2013

Alterations & Creations

Thank you all for bearing with me these last few weeks, as my posts have been infrequent and quite irregular. Our family has just made the exciting (and much needed, mind you, from years of frustration) switch from Windows to Mac. What a learning curve it's been. I've been using iPhoto, downloading apps that will allow me to edit my photos (like Picasa 3, I was using), and learning, well....everything all over again. It's still going to take me some time, as this Mommy always seems to keep pretty occupied at home.  So, any helpful information you have on ease of using Mac, please send it my way. I love the new system, but I'm just keeping up at turtle pace learning right now. 

In the meantime, lots of little projects have been occurring around here, along with some larger ones too. There has been some homemade butter making, seed planting, backyard landscape & new garden plans in the works, and talk of a custom toddler quilt coming for a friend. 

Here are some of my recent alteration projects that I have done for some friends lately:

 I hemmed and did some minor adjustments on Hannah's prom dress. I think for a while I kept getting lost in all the under layers of tulle! The dress carried so many layers of crushed taffeta, tulle and lining, that  my dress form kept "shortening" itself from the weight of the dress. A fun project, though. I even had enough hemmed edge left over, that I was able to make her a small clutch/purse to match. 

 Two adorable (identical) flower girl dresses for Valorie's daughters needed zippers taken in, one hemmed shorter, and a resolution to come to the inevitable "front bodice puckering problem". I put a tack stitch in the front of both dresses, and it seems to allow the front neckline to lay much closer to their bodies, and not pucker out.  Perhaps next year, the girls can also still wear them for another event, with a reversed alteration (letting me put the zipper back into its original position). I wish I had taken photos of these adorable girls in their dresses! I guess that cuteness will have to wait for another time for now : )! 
 And....just in case you happened to miss it..... a dazzling princess dress for my adorable niece, Lilly! 
Learn all about it HERE! Her dress was certainly a great practice & inspiration for me, to help me get started on my current project (below)!

 And now for my latest project (in full swing this last week):

Let me introduce you to the adventures of Princess Sofia:

She is one of Disney's newest character princesses. 

This is her official copyrighted Disney dress:
This dress looks pretty elaborate, doesn't it? Well, it's not. Their version is pretty much ALL polyester layers, with a stretched spandex back. Over a month ago, now,  I received a request, through my sister, that her friend desired to have this dress (above) in a debutant gown style for her little girl's birthday. After all, the Disney licensed dress was sold out, and her little girl deserved a REAL debutant version anyways for her upcoming birthday. I can also totally see why she was reluctant to pay $200-$300 for this same dress, that is apparently in very high demand right now. I was honored to be asked, and have been working on it (slower than I'd really have liked) ever since. 

Making Lilly a similar dress first was an essential part of the process for me. Making hers enabled me to design and perfect a pattern that would fit both girls well, as well as suit each dress with it's modifications. This Sofia dress is obviously more elaborate than the pink one I just finished, but it was just what I needed to learn how to execute this purple one. As you can see below, I was absolutely thrilled that I found all necessary materials locally at JoAnn Fabrics for this dress. Sometimes they can be hit or miss, depending on what type & color of fabric I'm searching for (like as with Ellie's recent Minnie Mouse dress). I may have gone overboard in purchasing all this material, but since I'm working with a new pattern I've put together, I'm not exactly certain how much fabric I will actually be needing/utilizing in the end. But, I'm sure the leftover pieces will be put to good use. 

I purchased lilac casa satin, a rhinestone sheer casa overlay, purple lining, white iridescent sheer underlay, white and purple tulle, and notions of satin ribbon, lilac zipper, silver & purple trims, thread, and white velveteen fabric paint. Sure looks like a lot, but I've been putting it all to good use.

 Working on the bodice.....

 A self-made stencil was created.
 And I think it's coming out very beautiful, indeed....and very true to Sofia's dress. The skirt is now ready to be sewn together. The lining is made, the tulle layer is ready. So, during the next few days (hopefully quickly), the dress will be assembled and receive finishing touches.  Then the dress will get photographed, packaged very carefully, and shipped to the Netherlands. Ooh...I'm so excited! I just wish I could be there at this precious little girl's birthday party to see her face when she sees her new dress! 

I'm so sorry to lure you in with these progress photos and then make you wait for the big reveal...but, it must be done. The dress is gorgeous, I assure you. And this little girl is so very blessed to have such an awesome Mommy & Daddy that would want to gift such a dress for so many fun times and memories ahead! Such a fun and challenging (in a good way, of course) project for me to work on. I've felt like I've learned some new skills along the way with this one, and certainly shared in the vision with how beautiful and special the Mom wanted it to be. 

I look forward to sharing more of this story with you as soon as I can! 

Hope you all have an absolutely wonderful & blessed day!!!

April 20, 2013

From Prom to Princess

 Okay, the dress really started out not as a Prom dress, but as a bridesmaids' dress in my Mom's wedding (in the 70s). The title was just too "catchy" not to use...ha! The dress was worn by her sister, and handmade by her mother. As young kids, my cousins and I frequently played "dress-up" with it, along with a very shaggy brown wig. Such fun memories! A few weeks ago my Mom gave it to me. I think she had pretty good taste, even for 40+ years ago! Go Mom! 

 And within a week, or more, I turned it into THIS.....a new princess dress for my adorable niece, Lilly. I re-used every part from the dress...satin, sheer, even the zipper. The only part that I added was the thin trim around the edges (which I've had for about 6 years). So, family heirloom = free dress for Lilly = more priceless memories to record. 
 To make the pattern, my sister, Amy, let me borrow 2 of Lilly's Gymboree dresses, sizes 5 & 6. I noted the size variances and layed the bodices (top sections) out on muslin fabric, that I typically use for drafting samples and patterns. 

 I pin the dress in place. I usually pin it on a carpeted surface so that the pins will stretch and hold deep into the carpet, keeping my fabrics in place. I trace a line 1/2" bigger than the edge of the actual dress. This leaves enough room for a seam allowance when you sew your project together.
 I took my Mom's dress apart one evening while watching a movie, and the next day got to work using my new pattern. As you can see, I don't mind spreading out in my workplace upstairs. When I'm hard at work, my workspace reflects it. 

 Nathan helps me out frequently by adding to my already made Mommy-messes. This particular day N discovered what a "scrap"was. Mommy handed him her overflowing scrap bag, and low and behold it kept him quite busy at my feet for at least the next half an hour! He played, threw, rolled, "slept"....had a blast, you see. Mommy enjoyed lots of smiles, but kept on sewing that dress! 

 And when N got done, this is pretty much what my sewing space looked like. But, as it often looks like this anyways, to be honest, it was really no big deal after all.

I cut one large rectangle to use as the bottom of the skirt, used one doubled piece of tulle underneath to make it puffy, and a simple muslin skirt lining to make it not so itchy. **Note.....when sewing with sheers or satins, you must use a ballpoint needle (a size 9 or 11), or else your material will certainly rip and pucker. 

 I reinserted the original "invisible zipper" in the back of this dress so A) I didn't have to buy another one, and B) so it wouldn't show.  I'm still kind of scared of putting in these type of zippers, but I pushed through my fear and only had to re-do it about 2-3x in certain areas to get it right. I guess I still need more practice. 
 And finally, we get to view the gorgeous Lilly, modeling her new dress! Seeing her in this dress and her insatiable excitement when she put it on, made all the labor and pattern cutting and seam ripping soooooo worth it! She looks like a gem, and is having the BEST of times! I know she'll get lots of fun play out of it, and pictures of her in it will serve as another keepsake of past times and new memories created. I just love this little girl, and I just LOVE making her cute things!!! She's so easy to please! 

Aunt Joy's dress shop will be open for business all year, Princess Lilly! Thank you for beautifully modeling my second created princess dress for you, and well, for just being my adorable, fun-loving, creative niece! You are beautiful inside and out...princess dress or not! 

What a beautiful Princess, indeed!

Other dresses made for Lilly this past year:

April 12, 2013

Minnie Mouse Dress

I got a phone call on a Wednesday from a very beloved friend. 

She wanted needed THIS dress for her daughter, ASAP. 

But, the seller could not produce it as fast as it was needed. 

A Minnie Mouse Dress was now in the works. 

I started designing a pattern, using Rae's Flashback T pattern as a starting point.

I also combined sleeve elements and a back closure from the dress I recently

made for my niece, Lilly. It all came together so well, and so quickly. 

After my third local fabric store, I was so pleased to score this same fabric (as above)

for the dress at where???, but Hobby Lobby! Horray! And at 30% off too. 

I made it Friday night, and mailed it Saturday morning. A flurry of design, but sometimes the 

fast projects turn out the best.  

Thanks to my dear friend's cute little model, you (and I) get to see how the dress came out. 

Ellie will no doubt make the cutest Minnie Mouse I've ever seen to celebrate her upcoming

2 year old birthday! Congratulations, sweet girl! And a HUGE Happy Birthday from Steven, 

Nathan, baby Hoover #2, and myself! 

 Happy Birthday sweet girl! We love you (and miss you)!