A dress for prom

promflowersOne of the things I’ve always told me kids is that when it comes to costuming and dresses, I’m more than happy to make whatever they can dream up. So, this senior prom, my daughter and I collaborated on her dress, mostly I listened to what -exactly- she wanted and then did the sewing.

vogue pattern 8849She wanted a peplum built into the dress, based on a dress she’d fallen for on Pinterest. It’s easier for me to start with a patten and modify from there so we found this Vogue 8849 pattern to be the closest version of what she wanted. We both fell in love with the burgundy satin but ended up sewing it inside out because we liked the flat (matte) look to the fabric better than the shiny side.

prom dress fabric and pattern

A big adjustment we had to make was on the sleeves. She wanted a try small cap sleeve, not found in the pattern, so using the available sleeve pattern piece, we shortened it up with pencil right on the pattern piece and went from there.
dress bodiceThe sleeve turned out just the size she was picturing. Note: when modifying a pattern don’t forget about seam allowances. (I had to make the sleeves multiple times to get it right.) Also, we easily changed the neckline with a chalk line when cutting. We didn’t want the V in the front to dip down enough to show the corset she was wearing (the corset seemed a bit higher in the front) and she definitely wanted the snug, smooth look of a corseted foundation.
small peplumThe upper peplum, I changed the pattern to make it two entire peplum pieces sewn together, turned right side out and pressed. For both peplums. The fabric felt so lightweight I thought the weight of two layers of satin might help the way the whole thing hung.
photo 2Ahh, the trusty dress form, indispensable at moments and in dressmaking projects like this one. Especially when modifying or making up patterns. Remember, it’s always better to measure it all out before sewing… and avoid picking out seams later.

extending a peplumThe lower peplum was a bit tricky. The pattern called for a knee length peplum and I needed one that went to the floor. Here you can see my chalk lines as I puzzled it out. The main idea was to follow the curve of the pattern and make the inside of the curve extend the number of inches from the knee to the floor. Better a bit too long than too short when drawing and then cutting.

dress with peplum

Because I was extending the dress to the floor, there needed to be some extra fabric at the bottom of the skirt or a slit, so she could walk more than a few inches at a time.  As you can see in the picture, I left the sides open, my plan was to add a triangle shaped extension on each side. I wanted to keep the skirt straight in the front and flowy, hopefully extending the peplum in a train sort of way toward the back.

dress with peplum, backThe peplum turned out just right  in length and flowiness, the first time around (yay!) Then, I just followed the pattern instructions on sewing the peplums into the skirt and then to the bodice.

embellishmentsShe wanted gold embroidered embellishments for the dress. Luckily, we found ourselves in downtown LA’s fashion district for spring break and had a great selection to choose from, at great prices too. Here, we’re pinning and trying to figure out placement.
making the dressYou can see where she got the idea for gold embroidered details (below), we followed what we saw from the Pinterest picture but had to make up the front.
inspirationI think you’ll probably agree, the dress looks much better on the girl than on the dress form- it fits like a glove!  I think she tried it on for me (with corset) no fewer than 10 times. If you’ve got the body readily available- try on a dress as much as possible in the sewing process for the best fit.

prom dress front peplumYou can see the triangles to add width at the bottom in this picture. Perhaps not the best looking part of the dress but very secondary (visually) and she didn’t complain about not being able to walk so we’ll call it good.
prom dress back peplumView from the back and without her very high heels. The length was just perfectly about an inch off the floor with shoes on, and not in a grassy field.
promflowers

The very talented Julia Smith Floral did the flowers -*swoon*-. The bouquet was to indulge ourselves for photo ops, and not necessarily to take to the dance. The bouquet was lilacs, ranululus, magnolias, roses and in the most gorgeous array of colors to stand out and highlight the dress. It smelled very nice too.ranunculus corsagecrown braid with apple blossomsThe braid crown was woven with apple blossoms and small ranululus, to cover the end of the braid, and look awesome. A crown braid looks good but always better with flowers.

A success, I say! So fun to work with my daughter on this project and puzzle through all the challenges and thrills of dressmaking, hairdo, makeup and flowers of the whole essential high school event that is prom. A special thanks to Jordan (her prom date) for cheerfully indulging our photo snapping and letting us take about 456 pictures of the two of you!

an experiment in abstract quilting

mountain quilt 1The Big Rock Candy Mountain quilt is finished- all quilted and bound! As with most projects, the first step is the hardest and that was definitely true in this case. Working without a pattern requires a huge mental effort and so I must admit I walked away from this project for months at a time because I was having a hard time seeing the big, final picture. But all the hard work in abstract quilting was so extremely rewarding, and now, I think I’m hooked.
mountain quilt backFabric with assorted keys on the back, a panel from Urban Outfitters I found a few years back.
big rock candy mt quiltThe quilting was done by Corn Wagon Quilt Company in Springville UT. They have done custom work (freehand by the human operator, not a computer programmed stitch) for me before so I trusted they would do a good job again. I was very undecided on how to quilt this project. I went back and forth on various ideas, asking everyone’s opinion and you can see what won out- based on majority rule. I had Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night pictured in my minds eye when I saw the background. I had pictured swirls bigger than these but I didn’t specify exact size and I think these smaller swirls suit just fine.
big rock candy mountain quiltThere are a few stars in the sky- I had pictured more but I think it works out just fine. Someday I’ll have my own long arm quilting machine and I’ll be free to quilt whatever I can dream up (after hours and months of lessons, practice and messing up I’m sure).
triangle pieced quiltI love the way the straight stitches on the mountain really make the points and geometry stand out. Very simple- in a good way.
backlight quiltBacklit and blowing in the wind, it took me about 5 minutes with the camera poised and ready to get this picture. The wind was making it flap and twist, but I had to get at least one good picture with the mountains in the background and the sunlight coming through the fabric.
keys on the backsideI learned from my mother-in-law to always title, sign and date a quilt. Here is one way- just a corner of muslin or plain white fabric in the back corner, hand stitched on, for the important details. This location works well because you can easily flip the bottom corner over for the details without taking the quilt down off the wall. (And I’d better not forget to sign it…)
hanging a quiltIf the quilt is meant to hang on the wall, include a sleeve at the top when stitching the binding on. About 2 or 3 inches wide across the top should suffice. This picture is actually a great bad example of what to use when hanging the quilt. I’ve got a very bendy piece of wood that is twisting and turning (as you can see) and not allowing the quilt to hang nicely flat against the wall. Chose a strong, flat and thin piece of wood for hanging and there will be minimal to no sag over the years.
quilting from the backA view of how the quilting stitching looks against the keys on the back.
folded quilt
mountain quilt with timpOne last look, with my neighboring mountains before this quilt goes off to it’s new home. it’s going to artist Colt Bowden and growing family. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. (I might have to make another one for me).

For a look at this quilt in the piecing triangles process look here.

handmade purses and bags

I’ve been designing and working on some handmade purses and bags of the messenger variety this winter with some fabulous fabrics I’ve recently picked up in LA- new and vintage loveliness I couldn’t live without. Here are a few from the current batch or maybe I should say Winter 2014 Collection.ruffle flap purseThis bag has an easy-access-but-delightfully-subtle cell phone pocket just under the flap- bonus.
blue vinyl messenger bagBlue vinyl messenger bag- shiny and matte vinyl combos on the outside and oodles of pockets inside and out. There’s even a waist strap (for cyclists) that’s stowable when not in use.
appliqué flowers, red messenger bagApplique flowers in cottons and wool felt on a heavy weight woven red messenger bag.
noelle o designs pursesAnd a few more bags of various styles… I regret The Collection isn’t listed on Etsy  -yet-  BUT all of these bags and more will be at Art Market in Salt Lake City Utah this weekend, February 7-8th. Stop by if you’re in the area.
Utah art market