No Dictionarys Were Harmed During The Making Of This Dress

13 Sep
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As is the custom for me, my latest project is the result of going in to Joann’s for one thing and ending up with an entirely different thing than was originally sought. Their Simplicity patterns were a dollar, which forced me to deviate from my original plan. I ended up with the Leanne Marshall 1755 pattern and some really awesome dictionary page printed fabric, in a ridiculously soft cotton (which almost never happens for me given the quilting cottons I tend to pick). You guys, this fabric is my dream fabric, and it plays to the little would-be librarian in me.

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The dress was fairly easy to put together, but even so, I ended up having several issues with it.
My first mistake was not buying enough fabric to make the long version like I had planned. I made the short version but needed to add a couple of inches of black fabric to the bottom so that my own bottom would not show every time I bent over. It worked out though, because it totally looks better this way. What I learned from this mistake: my motto, never buy more than 2 yards of fabric because I can always make 2 yards work with a little finagling, is a terrible motto to follow. Seriously, it’s time to stop being stubborn and buy the yardage the pattern tells you to buy.
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My second issue: the sleeve cuffs. I had trouble trying to figure out the instructions for them. I seriously felt like it was in another language, and the pictures just make me more confused. I don’t think I have ever had this much trouble understanding pattern instructions. After two days of trying to figure it out and failing miserably, I gave up and did it my own way. I would describe it, but I cannot really remember how I did it. Yay for problem solving skills, boo for lack of writing down my method.
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(I always feel so awkward when taking photos of myself.
The result: lots of funny faces for your enjoyment.)
My third/fourth issue involved the bodice. I shortened the waistline and took in the bodice. I feel like the waistline they go for in this pattern is a little too low and looks a little off, but then again, I prefer my waistlines higher. I did, however, end up with it being just a little too high since I had to make the pattern pieces fit on the very small amount of fabric I had left thanks to issue number one. For the bodice, I cut the pattern out at my normal size, but failed to heed the warning from other reviewers that the bodice is a bit baggy. I ended up having to take the darts in quite a bit, as well as the sides to get the tighter fit I wanted. If I make it again, I am going to have to cut the bodice of the pattern down a size. On a positive note, this is the first time I used the darts to make the size adjustment instead of just the side seams. Let me tell you, it made me feel like a bonafide tailor.
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In other good news, I put in what is probably my best zipper yet, so yay me! In other bad news, I learned that I really stink at putting on collars and making them the same size. (I’ve tried this with other collars in the past, so it’s not really that new of a revelation.) Not only are each of the flaps a little off in size (even after several attempts at evening them up), but there is so much extra fabric bunched up on the underside that I had to sew them down to get them to lay right.
All in all, I think the dress turned out somewhat decent despite all my problems, and I think I would like to give this pattern another go (after practicing my collar making technique some more, of course). Maybe now is a good time to start making muslins, but really, who has time for that?
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P.S. Lesson of the day: it is better to serge each piece separately, and then sew them together afterwards. Not having to seam rip a serged seam makes it much easier to tear apart if/when you need to fix something, and all of the seams will look pretty regardless of the method used for sewing them together. The goal for my next dress is to put this lesson to use and make the inside as pretty as the outside.
Love,
Jess

Shabby Apple Dare to Design

2 Jun

Hello my Lovelies!

Today’s post is a little different than usual. A few weeks back, I happened upon a contest being run by the clothing company Shabby Apple. Shabby Apple specializes in providing us ladies amazing clothing and accessories (both casual and formal) of the vintage/retro persuasion. They have something cute and fashionable for every body type as well, which is definitely a big plus in my book. I really like the styles that they provide, so when I saw this contest I knew right away I wanted to enter it. Read my post, then go check them out! http://www.shabbyapple.com/

tumblr_mhanbqQgoV1qf826yo1_500Photo courtesy of vintage-retro.tumbler.com

The task is to create a fabulous 40s inspired dress, skirt, or blouse. Luckily, this was a relatively easy task since the 1940s were full of clothing that were both functional and fashionable. It was an era that began in war, creating a limited supply of the luxurious fabrics and fashions of the ’30s, which forced a shift towards cheaper functional fabrics and re-using old garments. This could have led to a decade of boring clothing and no style, but fashionistas prevailed and found ways to use what they had to make a style all their own. The trends tended towards squared shoulders, shorter hemlines, higher waistlines, and interesting details. They would often shorten their dresses and then use the extra fabric to create the interesting details.The typically used more synthetic fabrics like rayon and viscose. Nylon was a favorite as well, but was hard to come by during war times. Keeping all of this in mind, I went to work, getting inspiration from photographs (Thank goodness for Pinterest and women’s obsessions with vintage fashions.) and from 1940s clothing patterns. I ended up really falling for the styles that were more popular towards the middle and end of the ’40s.

After my research, I ended up deciding to design a dress. I went for something that would be casual enough to wear to work, but also fancy enough to wear on a night out as well. I thought that this idea of multifunctionality would align perfectly with the ideas behind 1940s fashion. I chose to go with a simple knee length dress with a sheer overlay on top that has all sorts of fancy additions. The main part of the dress is very basic with a sweet heart neckline. My version does not show straps underneath, but that is definitely an option. The dress will be attached to the overlay at the front button seams, which also serves as the opening to get the dress on and off. The buttons are fabric covered in the same color as the main dress. For the sheer overlay, I wanted to go with some interesting details that would give it the little bit of flare that was common in the ’40s. The sleeves overlap to give off a flower petal appeal, the collar is higher up on the neck without being an actual separate collar, and the shoulders have two pin-tucks on either side. The bow belt around her waist is attached to the overlay, providing gathers on the overlay both above and below the belt. To finish it off, the overlay flares out into a peplum skirt below the bow belt. This is a trend I noticed on many tops and jackets in the patterns I saw, and I really liked how it seemed to add a certain amount of snazziness to the outfit.

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Snazzy Design by Jessica Erin Fischer

For the fabric on the overlay, I would go for any type of silky sheer fabric like Chiffon in a lighter solid color. For the main part of the dress, I think a variety of fabric would work such as polyester blends, sateen, or a stretch cotton. A solid color in a rich, dark hue would work best. In the 1940s, the  standard colors were black, grey, blue, and brown, but since I’m going for late ’40s, and we are in modern times where fabrics are not in short supply, the colors I have been favoring for this design are deep rich colors like the forest green in my design. I did have a hard time deciding on this color though. I was really liking either a deep purple color combo or a rich maroon color combo, but also thought a classic black would look nice too. What I really like about this design is that you can really play with fabric type and color to make something really unique.

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271hunter-01-01These two fabric swatches represent the look of color and fabric I’m going for with this design.

So there you have it. All in all, I’m pretty proud of how this design turned out and happy that in the process I learned a few things. Not only do I have a better understanding of 1940s fashion, but I learned quite a bit about using Photoshop. I was originally just going to draw this design in pencil, color it in, and scan it, but the boyfriend suggested I try drawing it in Photoshop. I decided to give it a go and ended up with a much more professional looking design. As an added bonus, I can cross learning some Photoshop off of my year-end goals list! This has been a great experience, and I’m really glad to have taken part in it. In case your all curious, voting begins on July 25th on Shabby Apple’s Facebook page. Keep that date in mind and vote for me!

Love,

Jess

Cut, Cut, Cut You Up.

16 May

**Kudos to anyone who instantly thought of AFI upon reading my title.**

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So, let me just say, I friggin’ love this fabric! Once again, I went into Joann’s with one thing in mind and have come out with something completely different. Maybe one day I will make a garment with something other than quilting fabric. I just can’t help but fall in love with all of the fun prints.

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Not only is this fabric amazing, but this pattern (Simplicity 1803) is pretty great too. I found it when looking for a more versatile pattern that was fun and interesting, but that was still basic enough to use as more of a sloper when needed. The pattern worked up pretty quickly and easily. I did have a little trouble with the fit in the bust being slightly too big. After doing a little research, it seems that this is a common issue. Unfortunately, I did what I do best and way over did the “fix”. In trying to take it in and fix it, I ended up taking in way too much. To fix my fix, I had to let out the darts in the back, which is quite unfortunate as it would have looked much nicer and more professional (who am I kidding; I threw professionalism out the window when I chose to use fabric covered in scissors.).

DSC_0201I made scissor earrings to match.

Other than the bust issue, this dress is great, and I absolutely love how it turned out (The inner seams are the cleanest I’ve ever achieved. Thank goodness for sergers!). I can’t wait to make another. I may even use big girl fabric. I’ve got to learn to sew with something other than basic cotton some time, right? I did learned how to use bias tape to finish the sleeve edges. I’m pretty excited about this. I’ve never seemed to be able to get the arm holes of sleeveless clothing to look nice, but I think I’ve found my go-to method. I also did my first lapped zipper. I’m still not sure how I feel about it though. It didn’t really feel any easier than the way I usually do it, and it didn’t look any better either. Maybe I just need practice.

P.S. I’m about to start working on designing a 40s style dress for a contest with Shabby Apple. I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll keep you posted. I also have a fun little side project I’ve been working on with a dear friend. More on that later, as well.

DSC_0216This is Princess. She is old, fat, and cranky, but I love her dearly.

Love,

Jess

Lovely to see you again!

8 Apr

DSC_0124Hello Again!!

Geeze-o-peeze, it’s been so long since I’ve last posted! I definitely did not make my goal of a dress a month, but I haven’t been totally out of the crafting loop. I’ve made a few dresses, a skirt or two, tried and failed at knitting, started crocheting (and am actually doing pretty well), and even landed myself a new job (not quite my dream job, but it’s closer!). Eventually, I will get all of those creations on here, but for now, here is my latest dress.

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This little number was supposed to be a different fabric, but I saw this and decided I needed it. That’s how it goes with fabric sometimes; when you see it, you know. Anyways, I decided to use the Burda Style 7494 pattern. It started off quick and easy until I got to the end. I had so much trouble getting the right fit for this pattern! It took me a couple of weeks to get it right. I had to take in every seam in the bodice to get the top right, but that wasn’t the half of it. I had to add darts to keep the back by my neck from gaping. The original skirt was cut to be slimmer at the bottom, but that ended up making the top of the skirt look like a giant balloon! You guys, I looked like an apple on a stick! It was pretty awful. To fix it, I had to add a triangle shaped insert on each side and make it into a full skirt.

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I also had to shorten the zipper twice (because it would stick out), and I had to replace the pleats with gathers (which I had to then detach and re-do three times to get it right). With all of these issues, I almost gave up and scrapped the whole thing. It took me a week to even look at the thing again! I didn’t let it stop me though. I stuck it out (with more than a few curse words involved in the process), and now it might be one of my best dresses yet! Though, I will probably never make this dress with the original skirt pattern again, I will be getting some more use out of the bodice pattern. It was super quick and easy to put together and when sized right, it fits very nicely.

DSC_0109Look! I even painted my nails to match!

Even with the time it took to get this thing right, I went ahead and took the extra time to make a belt to match, which is a first for me. Another first for me-I actually used interfacing, and I might actually continue to do so as it really helped stabilize the neck line and belt. I might even go as far as suggest that every lazy seamstress like myself, take the time to do it. Seriously, do it.

Anyways, there you have it. The dress that almost wasn’t. I plan to try to add more creations, more often and keep this little blog going. No promises or deadlines, just me doing my best. I think it will work out better this way. To tide you all over until the next post, here is a complimentary silly photo of the boyfriend and me. Enjoy.

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Love,

Jess

Of Mice and Sloths

20 Jun

One day, upon perusing Pinterest, I came across a pair of Marc Jacobs flats that were made to look like little mice.  I am quite the fan of small furry rodents and shoes, so the combination was just mind blowing. You have no idea how much these shoes needed to be on my feet! The issue, however, was the price tag. I am not the wealthiest lady in all the land, and I most definitely could not afford to spend $200 on a pair of shoes. This was wear my love of all things crafty came in!

As you can see, I needed these shoes so much that I made them myself. It was super simple. I bought a pair of $5 fabric flats, cut out the shapes for the noses and ears, sewed them on, and used my Gem Magic to put on the metal eyes. For the ears, I actually sewed two pieces of fabric together to get a fuller, less frayed looking ear. The original nose I sewed on was much wider. I cut down though, because (according to my most valued critic-the boyfriend) it made my mouse shoes look more like pig shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I adore pigs as well, but it wasn’t what I was going for with these shoes.

I am super proud of how they turned out, and I am pretty sure these will be on my feet at all times, regardless of what outfit I’m wearing. I love them so much, I’m considering making another pair with a different animal face.

Speaking of cute things, just look at this face!

How can anyone resist the adorable little face of a sloth! Not me that’s for sure, so it was lucky that while visiting the Cincinnati Zoo, I was there at exactly the right time. I got to pet this little gal! Let me tell you, my all-time favorite animal is the sloth (two-toed or three-toed, they are both equally awesome), so getting to pet this sweet little two-toed sloth was a dream come true.

P.S. This pretty little sloth ended up at the zoo, because a person thought she would make a good pet, but then could not handle her. She was lucky that the zoo could provide a nice home for her, but other wild animals are not so lucky. Please, please do not keep wild animals as pets. Trust me, they would prefer to be in their habitat and not yours.

P.P.S. Is my photography getting better? I’m working on taking better photos as well as utilizing Photoshop. I hope it shows!

Love,

Jess

Promises, Promises

15 May

So… I’ve really got to step up my game! I have had my dress for April finished for 3 weeks, but it is currently May 15th, and I am just now getting around to posting it. One of these days I will get it together and post when I promise.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the dress, shall we. I wanted to make a dress with a little bit of old school charm so I used the Simplicity pattern 2692, and make some changes to give it a some pizzazz since the pattern itself was a little plain. Although, the fabric is so fabulous that it would be impossible to be boring.

I made two changes to the pattern, one intentional and one not so intentional. For the intentional change, I added a front panel, which was pleated at the top and cut to curve and allow the main panel to peak out.

For the not so intentional change, I switched the sleeves from full sleeves to bands, mostly because I messed the sleeves up. It worked out in my favor though, because it looks quite a bit better this way. The band sleeves give it a much nicer vintage feel, which is what I was looking for anyways.

Oh yeah…I also added white piping to the waist band, which looks great, but made putting in the zipper and matching the sides up properly extremely difficult and frustrating. Speaking of the zipper, I should have made it longer, extending up through the bodice. As it is now, there is not enough give to make the dress easy to get on. In fact, it is mighty difficult to get on and off.

My next project, which I shall not promise to have finished so as to not disappoint, will be a reconstruction using a tutorial from Max California. She is really cool, and always has the most awesome hair.

P.S. In my last post I mentioned a need to paint. Well, I finally got the guts to paint something. Here it is, in case your curious.

Lesson Learned

28 Mar

So, I never really did get around to snapping some awesome photographs of February’s Santa Fe dress. However, someone else did.

While out and about, exploring Savannah, Ga. on a little vacation I was approached by a quite fashionable young man who asked if he might snap some photographs of me in my Santa Fe dress, holding my brand new parasol (covered in dragons, a nod to my youth’s obsession) for his fashion blog. I must say, I felt pretty cool.

*Photo by Cedric Smith 2012

http://www.yourewelcomesavannah.com/2012/03/out-and-about-calhoun-square.html

I urge you to check out his blog!

On to March’s garment, which I would say was a good effort. I wanted to make a pair of fancy shorts with a scalloped edge. What I ended up making was a pair of shorts, which are about a size to small for me. Alas, this means no photographs of me wearing them.

*I have a love of fun tights, as you can see here with my lime green/black strips.

I, unfortunately, did not make a muslin first, nor did I bother to try on the shorts prior to finishing them. I actually cut the pattern to a size bigger than my normal pant size, figuring that, since it is a junior’s pattern, it would either fit, or be too big, which is something I could fix. I’ve learned my lesson. No more assumptions in the fitting department. Time to break out the measuring tape and actually use it.

(However, I still will not be making muslins first. I get far too antsy to start and finish a project for that!) I may try my hand at some shorts again, but using a different pattern, which I happen to know fits, given I used it to make a pair of pants once before.

The shorts turned out well, regardless of the sizing issue. It was only the second time I have ever made pants with a zipper/fly. My work is not exactly that of a professional, but it is still pretty darn good!

The only other thing I’ve noted, after seeing the photographs I took is that I need to figure out how to tighten the surged stitches, as I can see the stitches through the front of the shorts.

In other news, I just finished reading, The Fault in our Stars, by John Green. It is a book about a young lady who is remarkably like myself in how she thinks and acts (except that she has cancer, and I, thankfully, do not). The boyfriend suggested I read it because of this. I suggest that you should read it, because it’s awesome. I promise you will find yourself laughing and crying.

P.S. Given my failure to post properly in February and my failed attempt at shorts in March, I am going to make a dreadfully great effort to make something great in April.

Also, I bought a canvas and some acrylic paints a while back, but have not had the guts to paint anything yet for fear of messing it up. (Canvases are quite expensive!) Any good subject ideas for a beginner would be so very much appreciated.

Love,

Jess

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