Category Archives: fashion

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.

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!

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

a dance with a Great Gatsby theme

Last weekend was Homecoming in these parts and the theme this year was 1920’s style and film The Great Gatsby. We though about making a dress, (I really dodged the bullet on this one- I can just picture myself hand-beading hour after hour & day after day…) altering a dress and then decided to just rent a dress when we saw this beauty:
great gatsby partyHere’s Quinn, my daughter, the senior, conveniently obsessed with Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gastby (I might be a little obsessed as well- with ALL of his movies.) so we couldn’t help but throw ourselves into preparations for this event.
great gatsbyThe dress was rented from a local theater company, but after checking on the label in the back, we discovered that it- and many gorgeous others including 1920’s style dresses- can actually be purchased from a store called Uniquely Vintage. The shoes are actually thrifted but brand new, from a high-end thrift store in Park City. Perhaps the first pair of shoes I’ve ever found at a thrift store that were the right size! We also made the pearl necklace (when we couldn’t find one long enough) with beads purchased from a craft/fabric store. Make sure to use appropriately heavy duty string or wire to put it all together- this one broke at the dance and pearls flew and bounced everywhere- a movie moment, albeit unfortunate.
beaded flapper dressThe hairdo was a compilation of many Pinterest pictures pinned for this and other occasions on Quinn’s amazing Hair board. Her hair is actually about to her waist. There are 1000 bobby pins holding it in place.
great gatsby dressA favorite aspect of the dress… all of the sparkly beads swaying with the slightest movement or a great whirling spin.
20's tie and boutineerThe traditional pinning of the boutineer and placement of the corsage. Mason, Quinn’s date was a good sport and wore a vintage tie she selected. We almost put him in suspenders too.

IMG_7950All ready to dance, with the fall sun setting in the distance.

DIY: The making of the headband…
flapper headband with feathersThe band part of the headband is from Joann’s fabric store, in the trim section, cut by the yard. But most fabric store will have lots of fancy trims to choose from. I put in a small piece of elastic (about 2 inches long) under the feathers and flare so it would be easy to take on and off and not be too uncomfortable. The elastic is hand sewn in, feathers and brooch are glued on.
20's headband with featherThe feathers are just from a small craft pack, from any craft store. The brooch is a section from a broken bracelet found in a thrift store (for almost nothing) and worked out well because it was smaller and lighter weight than a traditional brooch.

The final report is that the night was a roaring success with most of the attendees in Gatsby, 1920’s themed dress, the ‘old sport’ of a DJ even followed the movie soundtrack- with a few musical diversions (Miley Cyrus) along the way. Eek.

20's dress