Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First Wedding Dress Update

Today, November 17, marks 200 days until the big day.  That means there's 200 days left for me to get my wedding dress made.  Ahhh!!!  I wrote in my newsletter (psst you should sign up!) a few weeks ago that I needed to buckle-down and fully commit to getting this dress made - I've been thinking about it so much to the point that I'm having dreams of showing up to my wedding and not having anything to wear.  That's my sub-conscious for you...no more "sew-crastinating" with other projects.

This past weekend, I pulled out my dress muslin I made back in August and noted what needed to be fixed in order to get the fit right.  The neckline needed to come up at least an inch, the princess seams had too much fullness through the bust, and the waist of the bodice and skirt were too big.  After some fiddling around with pattern alterations, I'm really happy with the fit of the bodice.  It's fitted, but not so tight that I won't be able to sit down, eat, or dance.

The only problem I ran into this weekend was the time I had to sew vs what I wanted to accomplish on the dress...I  just couldn't get everything done that I wanted to, and I'm not going to hit my self-imposed deadline of cutting out the real dress fabric this weekend.  On top of that, I discovered a mystery waistband piece that I didn't use when I assembled my muslin, and it threw a wrench in my fitting plans.  More on that for another time when I figure out what's going on with the skirts of the dress!

Are you on Periscope?  It's pretty fun to see snippets of other people's lives from around the world, and I'm enjoying sharing my sewing projects and what I'm working on with other fellow sewists.  The only downside is that the broadcasts are only good for 24 hours, and then they disappear (kind of like Snapchat).  However, my broadcast from Sunday was automatically saved to my camera roll on my phone, so I decided to upload it to Youtube and share it here! The screen grab below is oh-so-flattering...and if it appears like I'm reading something off of my phone, it's because people watching the live broadcast can post comments and questions, so I was responding to some of those as I went.

Check out my video below to get a good look at my dress muslin and also see the fabrics I'm using for my final version - I also have some tips on working with Marfy patterns.

BONUS: Get my free guide on Wedding Dress Sewing Resources and learn about where to buy your fabric, books to read, and classes to take for making the perfect wedding dress
Click here to get the free download

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sewing is All About the Details


One of the many things I find gratifying about making my own clothes, other than being able to play fashion designer when it comes to building my closet, is the reaction I get from people when I tell them I made the shirt or dress I'm wearing that day.  Their mouths gape open and they look again, closer, because they're thinking there's no way a person can make clothes look as good, if not better, than something you'd find in a department store - surely anything made by a hobbyist should look Becky-Home-Ec-y (not!).  My sewing didn't always used to be that way though; a lot of sweat and literal tears over the years went in to learning how get garments to fit right, seams to look seamless, and making fabric behave the way I wanted it to behave.  Heck, I still run into problems every now and then that test my sewing skills and stretch me further in my abilities.

At the end of the day, sewing is all about the details: it's having the right tools to get the job done, the right supplies and materials for the garment at hand, and knowing how and when to use them.  You could have the most beautiful fabric in the world to work with, but if you're using the kind of pins that leave holes in your fabric and a machine that chews up your seams, it doesn't even matter.  Your results are going to look amateur, and who really wants that after spending so much time on a garment.

There's a lot of tools and gizmos out there for sewing.  Not sure where to start or what you really need?  Don't worry, I got a freebie for you with what I consider to be my 10 most important tools in my sewing box, along with links to the specific tools I use every time I sew.  I wouldn't ever sew without them and you shouldn't either (Spoiler: #10 is the most important).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Old Is New - Vogue 1194 DKNY Dress

Vogue 1194_2

Pattern: Vogue 1194
Fabric: ITY jersey from Metro Textiles in NYC

Shoes: Anne Klein

Fact: I made this dress almost two years ago, wore it once, and never blogged about it.

However, thank goodness I had it handy for our engagement photos we took a few weekends ago!  Originally, I planned on wearing another "never blogged" wrap dress I made last year to coordinate with the plaid shirt my fiancĂ© was going to wear, but I opted for the contrasting color of this DKNY dress instead (and I'm glad I did).  I seriously don't know why I only wore this dress once - maybe I didn't like the fit?  I think I was crazy, because now that I "found" this dress, it will be in heavy rotation in the next few weeks for upcoming customer meetings at work.

Vogue 1194_1

What I clearly do remember about this dress was that it wasn't fun to make with all of the fiddly pleating on this flimsy knit fabric.  The neckline was also way too deep for my liking, which I read about others running into over on Pattern Review, so I stitched/tacked the center of the "v" higher up to avoid the neckline gaping open too wide.  I also omitted the pockets since they would have shown through the fabric and wouldn't have been very functional out of a stretchy jersey.

vogue 1194_3

The twisty band around the bodice was also finicky to get right.  There was a lot of strategic tacking to get the band to lay correctly and to spread out the twists evenly across the front.  This could also be attributed to the slinky nature of the fabric, but it's a nice enough touch that I was determined to get it to look just right.

Vogue 1194_4

I don't own a lot of solid dresses, and haven't made a lot of solid dresses (#prints4eva), so this one saved the day when it came to figuring out what to wear for the engagement photos that will be on our "Save the Date"s, wedding website, and printed and framed for family (as well as for our house).  I'm so glad I took a chance on this dress that I didn't think I liked, and re-discovered something in my closet that wasn't getting a lot of wear.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

3 Things To Consider Before Sewing Your Wedding Dress

wedding buttons

It's been a while since I wrote a wedding dress update on the blog, so I thought I'd share a little bit of the progress I made so far and what I'm learning along the way.  First things first - yes, I bought the fabric for my wedding dress!  My trip to NYC was successful and I came home with just about everything I need to get cracking at stitching it up, just a few detail elements that I'm going to wait on figuring out (embellishments etc).  The goal is to start the actual cutting out and construction next month, probably around the Thanksgiving holiday.  I need to get a move on it soon, so many people are asking me how it's going so far and I haven't started yet!  I blame the Halloween costumes...

There's a few things I realized so far during the process of planning my dress that I wanted to share, in case anyone else out there is thinking about making their own dress.

1. How much time you’re willing to devote to this HUGE project? Of all of my DIY ideas for my wedding, this one is hands down the most important to me - it's the only element of my wedding that I thought about before I was engaged. If I end up needing to farm out some projects to my bridesmaids, or if it looks like I can’t make that giant photo booth backdrop of white paper flowers, I need to be OK with that because my dress trumps all. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it’s going to take to make your dress — like I said, I’m starting mine soon to make sure I'm not sewing under (too much) pressure.

2. Understand Your Dress Style It wasn’t until I tried on dresses at David’s Bridal (which was as un-magical an experience as possible, btw) that I felt confident in the wedding dress I wanted to create. It’s one thing to picture how something will look on you in your head, it’s another to actually put the dress on and really see how the silhouette looks on your body in the mirror, how the train moves, etc. From this appointment, I learned that a sweetheart neckline and cap sleeves were something I wanted to recreate in my dress, but didn’t feel comfortable in a sheath-type of fit. Bring on the empire waist, Marfy Patterns! 
3. Respect Your Sewing LimitationsHow confident you feel in your sewing capabilities will ultimately determine the type of dress that you’ll sew and wear for the big day. If you’re relatively new to sewing, it may be beyond your skill level to recreate a fitted strapless ballgown complete with boning and layers of poofy tulle. If you’ve been sewing for a while, maybe you can tackle a dress with couture handwork and intricate draping. Sewing with silk and chiffon also present their own fair share of sewing challenges. At the end of the day, make sure you set yourself up for success with choosing a sewing pattern as well as fabric that will allow you to achieve beautiful results with your current skill set. It’s going to look great!

BONUS: Get my free guide on Wedding Dress Sewing Resources and learn about where to buy your fabric, books to read, and classes to take for making the perfect wedding dress
Click here to get the free download

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

4 Essential Principals for Sewing Photography

I'm not going to lie: taking good quality photos for the blog is hard.  It was especially tough when I had a shaky plastic tripod and had to run back and forth to hit the timer button on my camera.  After writing the blog for so long, there's a few photography tricks I learned that improved the quality of the photos I took, and thought would be worth sharing with readers as well.

1. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have
Sure, a DSLR like the one pictured above is great, but it doesn't mean diddly if you don't know how to use it.  I use my iPhone regularly for blog photos and I used point-and-shoot cameras in the past.  In fact, the DSLR camera I currently isn't even the latest and greatest technology, it's over 10 years old.  However, I read the manual, played around with it, and even took a digital photography class to learn more about it.  The bottom line is: if you don't know how to use your equipment, you're not going to get great photos.

2. Timing is key for good outdoor lighting
This is something that I still struggle with, but after learning more about how to use light outside, my photos are improved.  Taking photos outside around noon is the worst time of day - the sun is directly overhead and casts a harsh light downwards and creates lots of shadows.  Instead, try to take photos during the "golden hour" or "magic hour" - it's the first hour of light after sunrise and the hour before sunset.  The sun is low in the sky at this time and produces a soft glow of light that's less harsh than during peak afternoon time.

3. Change up your shots - try full-body, close-up, and detail shots
Variety is the spice of life, and shooting different types of angles will give more interest to your garment and create the story you want to tell.  Are you proud of your top-stitching?  Show it off!  Think about how the photos you're taking will help your reader to understand the fit and details of the sewing pattern and garment, and make sure to capture all elements in your photos.

4. Use photo-editing software 
I live and breathe by Photoshop, and now it's even more accessable as a monthly subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud (only $10/mo).  I use Photoshop to tweak the color balance and exposure of my photos, and sometimes I need to do more advanced stuff like erase a sign or a person from the background of my images.  There's other options, like Picmonkey and Flickr, that can do some basic photo adjustments and give pretty good results.  Regardless of what you choose, adjusting photos post-shoot really elevates the look and feel of your photography and makes them look more professional.

Those are some of the most important principals I always keeps in mind when I head outside to shoot for the blog, and I hope you find them useful as well.