Sunday, August 23, 2015

Are Wedding Dress Sewing Patterns Turning Off Brides?


I've been pretty hush-hush so far about my plans and progress on sewing my wedding dress, for good reason - it's been extremely challenging trying to find a contemporary pattern to use that fits the types of dress I want to wear on the big day.

Believe it or not, I purchased five patterns, made three different versions of what my original plan was, and almost changed course to a different design direction altogether before biting the bullet and committing to the Marfy pattern I will use (granted, this was made easier after I tried on a few dresses to make sure what I thought I wanted in a wedding dress is what I really want).  But the main crux of the problem was that I needed to piece together different elements of several patterns to get what I wanted: the neckline from this dress, the shape of the skirt from that dress, sleeves from this one, the train from that one.  So much work, it was like I was designing and drafting my own pattern to get the dress I wanted, which ended up fizzling out in the end.

Is this part of the reason why not many people make their own wedding dress?

etsy bridal

When searching for wedding dress sewing patterns, I found mostly patterns on Etsy from the poofy-sleeved hey-day of the late 80's and early 90's, with a couple of vintage shift-styled dresses from the 60's.  With more people sewing then than now, it makes sense that so many patterns are still out there...but nothing that fit the sleeker, classic styling I was looking for.

Searching for current patterns to use wasn't a whole lot better - below are the selections from BMV, to illustrate the gap in the market of what's available for the home sewist.  While some of these are nice, the scope of design is limited and doesn't match the current styles shown in magazines that brides are wearing today.


mccalls bridal


vogue bridal


butterick bridal

*Simplicity didn't have a designated "Bridal" section on their site, their limited options (like, 2) were mixed in with "Special Occasion"

*Burdastyle, New Look, and Quik Sew also have a few bridal sewing patterns available, but again, the styling is limited.

Even looking in the Special Occasion/Evening pattern sections didn't yield anything that would be suitable for a wedding dress; they were too casual or didn't have enough of a "bridal" feel to them.

This has all made me wonder if the easily available patterns out there to make a wedding dress is a turnoff to the everyday bride interested in making their dress, and if there's even a demand for more contemporary wedding dress patterns since so few are available.  Heck, if I had the skills and ability, I'd make my own line of wedding dress sewing patterns!  I have so many ideas floating around in my head...

Anyway, I'm hoping my Marfy dress pattern arrives this week, so I can fit the bodice and gear up to pick out the fabric soon, hopefully over Labor Day weekend in NYC.

What do you think - are pattern options a reason not many brides sew their dresses?  Or is it that it seems like such a daunting undertaking? Maybe it's access to fabrics?  Tell me - I'd love to see if there's really a need out there!

Monday, August 10, 2015

All Moved In

New sewing space

Happy Monday, fellow sewists!  It's been a little quiet around these parts for the past two weeks because I recently moved in with my fiance, and I'm knee-deep in unpacking.  Almost literally, really...we've been wading through a sea of boxes since I moved in at the end of July!  It's a little cramped since we essentially have two units worth of stuff in his one-bedroom condo, but we're making it work.  Plus, I have a storage unit I'm renting for my furniture and other odds and ends that don't fit, which has been a lifesaver so far.

Above is my new sewing area - quite a lot smaller than what I had in my old apartment!  I'm using one table for both my Bernina and serger now, which is tight, but I keep reminding myself that I used to sew in spaces about this size and made it work.  I've just been spoiled the last three years letting my sewing take over my entire apartment because hey, I was the only one living there and why not!  This weekend I bought a pegboard to put on the wall above the space with some hooks and baskets for hanging my scissors, thread spools, and other knickknacks - vertical space is your friend when working in small spaces.  I also picked up that ubiquitous Ikea cart that every sewing blogger has, in the right corner of the above photo, and loaded it up with most of the notions and tools that I used to store in drawers on top of my work surface.

The weekend before, I also made the mistake of trying to crank out a dress to wear to a wedding the next night, and most of my sewing supplies were still packed up.  Thank goodness Chris wasn't home that night and was at the rehersal dinner an hour away, I tore up the place ripping through boxes trying to get the thread I needed, finding my scissors, and setting up my iron and ironing board in the kitchen.  Not my best work ever, but I was pretty happy with the results considering the circumstances:

Had an almost crisis last night when my dress for a friend's wedding (tonight!) ended up needing too much work to finish it in time. Thank goodness for some silk jersey in my stash and a little resourcefulness! Whipped this up in five hours last night, no

Pre-wedding selfie, and back view of my dress! #sewing #dressmaking #diy

I need to get some proper photos of this dress - it's a cross between a Simplicity jumpsuit bodice and a skirt I drafted, out of a silk jersey from Metro Textiles.  Thank goodness for stash fabrics!

Moved in

So that's what's been going on in these parts, just trying to get through alllllll of these boxes so normal life activities, like sewing, can resume.  Oh, there was some wedding dress shopping this weekend I can't wait to share!  No, not trying on dresses to buy, just making sure that what I'm thinking about creating for the big day is what I actually like and looks how I want it to.

For those of you living in small spaces, any tips to share on maximizing sewing space?  I've already come to terms that I'll need to go back to cutting out my projects on my cardboard cutting mat spread out on the bed, lol.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Happiness is A (Practically) New Bernina


Happy Monday!  I've been up to my eyeballs in packing/life-organizing this month for my big move happening a week from today (merging households with my fiance), but I wanted to share my new baby I came home with at the end of June.  Say hello to the newest member of my sewing machine family, the lovely Bernina 550!


I wrote a post right before I went on vacation to visit my family in PA of all the things I was looking for in a new machine.  Namely, it came down to what I could afford, but this guy fit the bill with all of the features I was looking for and came in right at my budget.  Plus, this is the exact machine that my mom has at home and I've used it several times, so I knew exactly what kind of machine I was getting.

Technically, this pretty lady is a "pre-owned" machine (a nicer way of saying "used," because she's classy like that).  Apparently, the previous owner only used this machine for six hours before she came back in to trade it in for a newer version.  Some people have more money than sense, I think!  It was alright for me though, it helped to knock down the price considerably,  Plus, I got allllll the feet for this machine (including a walking foot), a carrying case, bobbins, and a stitch regulator as part of the deal.  There's no way I could have gotten this kind of a bargin at the Bernina dealer near me.


It's so simple, but I love the fact that this has two different types of thread spindles depending on what type of thread spool you're working with: cross-wound or stacked.  In the photo here, I'm working with a cross-wound spool of thread, and having the spindle horizontally makes it a lot easier for the thread to come off of the spool in smooth way.  Plus, I can put a spool of thread on the other spindle to wind a new bobbin and not have to unthread my machine.  Love it!


I also wasn't sure how the knee bar and I were going to get along, but I became quickly addicted to using it.  How did I sew without one of these bad boys?  It makes it so easy to adjust the fabric while sewing with a quick little bump of the knee to raise the presser foot, and it's great for those times when you feel like you need a third hand to keep things in place as you adjust.

Besides those little details, it comes with a whole slew of stitches that it can sew because this is a quilting edition model.  That wasn't something on my list that I wanted/needed, but I'm sure I'll play around with them.  And this sews like a dream!  The stitching is so smooth and I have much more control over my speed than I ever did with my previous Bernina.  I feel much more comfortable having this machine as the machine I'll be using to sew my wedding dress.


Deep in the heart of Lancaster County is one of largest, if not the top, Bernina dealers in the United States.  Hinkletown Sewing is where my mom bought the last few of her machines, and they know their stuff there.  Even if you're not in the market for a brand new machine, they have quite a few used machines, and they also have used machines that Bernina sends them to sell, which is why the prices are so great.  They turn through a lot of inventory in this tiny store.


The sales associate took her time with me and walked me through all of the different options they had on hand based on what I was looking for.  She even showed my mom and I how to use the automatic threading feature, which is a little tricky but we got the hang of it.


I loved all of the vintage Bernina machines around the shop, it was neat to see how some of the older models were designed.  They even had my mom's Bernina 980 on display that she bought in the 80's when I was born - that machine is such a joy to sew on, and still purrs.


How cool is this see-through Bernina??


They're also a long arm quilting machine dealer.  It was neat playing around with this Bernina Q24, definitely not something I'm interested in but it's great to see that Bernina is making a quality long arm machine.  They also had the brand new Q20 which the sales associate demo'd.  Long arm machines are a completely different way of sewing, it's like thread drawing with a machine.

Something else that was great - we ended up dropping off our current machines at the store for cleaning, went to lunch and did some more shopping in the area, and came back in the afternoon to pick them up - they were really busy, too!  What place do you know that does same-day sewing machine cleaning?

All-in-all, I'm pleased as punch with my new machine and already made two garments from it that turned out beautifully, which I credit it to my new machine.  If you're ever in the Lancaster County area, and in the market for a new machine, I highly recommend checking out Hinkletown Sewing Machine Shop!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pattern Review - Zigzag Harem Pants [Pattern Emporium]

harem pants v1

Pattern: Harem Pants by Pattern Emporium, via Indiesew
Fabric: poly challis from Burkholder Fabrics

Tee: Banana Republic
Lipstick: MAC Russian Red

Pants are still a garment that I haven't figured out yet, mostly because I haven't taken the time to really try to get a pattern to fit.  Sure, I made some floral pants last year that were pretty close, but I have yet to get a TNT pattern that's a go-to anytime I want to make some pants.  I also wear jeans 24/7 most of the year, another reason I haven't thrown myself into sewing pants.

However, I'm really digging this whole "track pants" thing, and I've seen some cute printed pants around the office that look easy-breezy to wear on hot summer days.  The Hudson Pants are a great knit track pants pattern, and I needed one for woven fabrics, like the Harem Pants that Allie made recently.

Honestly, there's not much to say about elastic-waist pants other than they are ridiculously comfortable to wear!  The sizing was a little weird on these - looking at the finished pattern measurements, I cut out a 10 in the slim version of the pattern since it matched my hip measurement, but they ended up being waaaaay too big in the hips and waist.  This version is a size 8, and it's spot on.

harem pants 2

I like that there's a section of the instructions that show you how to customize the pants with different types of pockets, a drawstring option, and hem lengths.  I opted for the angled pocket option and decided to leave the hem open at the bottom instead of using elastic to gather the cuff.  The pockets bow out a little bit at the hips, but that's probably my fault when I basted them down to the side seams.

harem pants 3

One of my hesitations with elastic-waist pants is how the butt is going to fit as well as the elastic waistband being bunchy around the middle.  No problem here!  I was pleasantly surprised with how well-drafted the back is - plenty of room to sit and I don't feel like I'm wearing some lumpy old-lady pants, these are nice and sleek.  If I make another pair of these, which I probably will since they're a snap to make, I'll attach the waistband differently - I didn't care for the exposed edge inside and would rather have a cleaner, more finished looking waistband.

On a side-note, I was quite happy with how my french braids turned out on my first attempt braiding my hair last weekend.  I don't think I'll be wearing my hair like that anytime soon during the week, but it was a fun alternative to throwing my hair up in a bun when it's hot!  Hmm, how old is too old to wear pigtail braids...

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pattern Review - Chambray Dress [McCall's 7081]

chambray dress 1

chambray dress 5

Pattern: McCall's 7081, view C
Fabric: cotton chambray from Metro Textiles

Sandals: B.O.C
Bracelets: J Crew

Behold, the first garment hot off of my new sewing machine (more on that to come soon)!  On my last day of vacation, I decided to throw caution to the wind and cut out this pattern with no muslin to test the fit.  It was a bold move...and it almost was too small for me in the waist because I didn't pay attention to the finished measurements on the pattern piece (the usual size I cut was about 1 1/2" too small, whoops).  But I recut the waistband and was good to go.  Whew, close one!

chambray dress 2

I love love love this dress.  Usually I'm not one for circle skirts, but there's something about this silhouette with the nipped in waist and the full skirt that feels ultra-feminine and is fun to twirl in, an added bonus.  After seeing gal-pal Karissa's version on Instagram, this pattern skyrocketed to the top of my sewing queue.

chambray dress 4

The pattern is really straightforward to make - the bodice has some pleats in the front, a surplice faux wrap (which I tacked in place at the neckline to keep things modest), side zipper, and a real collar with collar stand.  The skirt is a full circle skirt - let me tell you, it was a bitch to hem, but that's the nature of circle skirts amiright?  Lots and lots of fabric in that skirt, but the method to hem circle skirts on the Coletterie was a sure-fire way to get a professional, neat-looking hem.  I cut out and assembled this dress in an afternoon and evening marathon sewing session, and then hung the dress up overnight for the hem to settle and spent the following evening hemming and hand-sewing the rest of the dress.

chambray dress 3

If I had actually sewn a muslin, I could have corrected the fit in the back, which I didn't notice until I looked at these photos.  I think the bodice may be a little too long, which is a problem I haven't encountered before with my sewing.  If I choose to make this dress again, which I probably will because it's a great pattern and would look spiffy in a printed fabric, I'll need to make that adjustment.

chambray dress 6

And lastly - chambray, why have I never sewn with you before??  So easy to handle and work with, and really comfortable against the skin.  I love that it's denim-like in appearance, but much dressier feeling.  This is a great dress to wear to work (and it hides a full tummy after a big lunch)!