Thursday, November 2, 2017

Little Black Dress #1

Fuzzy focus but kinda pleased with myself.

I did it!  I finally made my first little black dress.  Now I have the ultimate contrast for my pasty white legs.  :o)

I used Butterick B6448 again, and this time, I actually followed all of the directions.  This means I learned how to line the bodice.  While I appreciated learning a new technique, it was really touch and go there for a bit.  I had to watch a few videos on YouTube before totally understanding how that was all supposed to work.

The pattern is pretty clear if you make the sleeveless version of this dress.  But if you have sleeves, it's not quite clear how to keep them out of the way while pinning and sewing the bodice lining.  I mean, if you stare at it long enough, you figure it out.  You pull the sleeves back like you're rolling them up and over the shoulder, making it sleeveless.  They are then out of the way of the stitching line you're about to make around the armhole, and when everything is turned right side out, the sleeve is still lying nicely on the outside of your dress where it belongs.

But if you're a beginner, I could see this being confusing, as the stitching line changes a bit once you've set in sleeves.  A little extra diagram would have helped.

I used a medium weight linen that I picked up at my local Joann Fabrics.  My original thought was that it wouldn't need a lining, but then I panicked at the last minute and lined it anyway, including the underlining of the skirt pieces.  Probably unnecessary, but it feels nice.

The lining is where I've started to flex my Make Do And Mend muscles.  I used a fabric that I purchased at a charity resale shop.  It feels like bed sheet fabric to be honest.  It's nice and light with pretty little lavender flowers.  And it was $1.00 a yard.  Not true Make Do And Mend, as using something I already owned would have been more appropriate for that category, but close enough.

Linen wrinkles something fierce, but I'm hoping both the weight of the fabric and the lining end up reducing some of that.  I'll live with the rest because I really like linen.  So I'm a little wrinkled.  So what.

It's hard to see the lines on this dress, but the first photo gives you a good idea of the length (I'm 5'7", and I made a size 14.).  This second photo shows how swingy the 8 panel skirt can be.

I was being funny and hadn't actually planned on using this particular shot.  I don't even know what that pose is supposed to be saying.  "Ta da!" perhaps.  Anyway, it ended up being a good shot of the dress ~ and it's in focus! ~ so here it is.

A clearer shot of the neckline:

If you're someone who doesn't like a fitted waist, this is a great dress for you.  The dress just glides over my curves, hitting me in the right spots without being too tight.  I'm comfortable.  This could even be a Thanksgiving dress, where pie is enthusiastically consumed.

I will be making this dress a third time, though I'm not entirely sure I want to line the bodice again.  It's not a bad thing to learn, and being able to enclose the back zipper tape in the lining is very nice.  It looks so neat.  

But facings are pretty darn easy.  I'll have to think about it.  See if I can construct the dress the way I usually like to do it, and then leave the lining/facing decision until the end.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fingerless Mitts from 1855

1855 or 2017?

I decided to combine my love of knitting with my love of history.  The lace design on the above pictured mitts is from an 1855 issue of Godey's Lady's Book.  Click here to see the book itself.

The basic construction of the mitt is very similar to what we do today.  I made some modifications to the cuff, and in other minor areas, ending up with a modern version of this Victorian accessory.

Photos thanks to Naomi

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Learning Is Slow Going

There's a reason my husband calls me "Molasses".  About the only thing I do quickly is eat cookies.  So...this photography jazz is indeed progressing but doing so at Lori Speed.

A big surprise for me so far is the difficulty I have with product and craft photography.  You'd think it would be a snap, right?  Objects one can place wherever and that stay put should be easy.  You have time to consider some options.  You can mess with lighting.  You can take 40 photos, and the subject doesn't complain.  Perfect.

Yet staging these things seems to be a challenge.  I'm used to using these items, not posing them.  After many, many attempts over a period of days, I managed to get ONE photo I liked of my embroidery project:

I think I need to study more Instagram shots.  How do some of those photographers make the ordinary look so beautiful?!

I've noticed I have better luck with little critters.  They certainly don't stay put, but there's something about Mother Nature my camera likes.  My 50mm lens doesn't hurt either.  Here we have one of my daughter's caterpillars, who she lovingly named Skeeter.

I decided to bring my 18mm into the backyard for some shutter speed practice.  The focus wasn't perfect, but I managed to get this little beauty in flight.  And I got her wings! 

Finally, I turned to my favorite little critter.  I've read I should photograph what I love, and that will end up being my best work.  I suppose then it's no accident that my photos of Lucy always come out beautiful.  (Shot with my 50mm, during her first post-play nap of the day.)

Maybe I should pose Lucy with my embroidery.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June In 4 Photos

Galena, IL

US Grant's front door.
Civil War era quilt

At Elgin's Civil War Days, photo by Naomi

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My First Miette

To go with my vintage strawberry dress, I finally finished knitting this sweet little cardigan.

The pattern is "Miette" by Andi Satterlund.
The yarn is Knit Picks Gloss DK in the Cranberry colorway.

The original pattern calls for a cropped cardigan with some shaping to make it close fitting.  I made the cardigan longer and omitted the shaping, which results in a garment with some ease that flows along the lines of my body.

The simple lace carries around the neckline, along the button band, around each sleeve cuff, and again around the hem.  It's a pretty detail that adds interest to the cardigan without making it too difficult.  I think this is a great example of "less is more" ~ the tiny bit of lace framed by a stockinette body means the design really stands out.

I made the sleeves a bit shorter, as my intention is to wear this with summer dresses.  Plus I liked the way the shorter sleeve visually balanced out the entire garment.

The fabric buttons are made from my leftover strawberry dress fabric.  These buttons did me in!  And they are so easy to make ~  a part of me wants to knit more cardigans just so I have an excuse to make more fabric buttons.

Cute as a button ~ har har.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Celebrating Spring With A New Dress

A new dress, featuring a new pattern!  Finally, I tore myself away from my Simplicity pattern and tried Butterick B6448.

The fabric is Michael Miller's "Bed of Roses, Lily of the Valley" ~ a rich gray background with pretty white flowers.  The gray is deeper than how it is showing up in my photo.

With an empire waist and an 8 paneled skirt, there's plenty of swing to this dress.  I love the way it looks and feels.  Very sweet and flirty.  :o) 

Construction of the dress is interesting, and I must admit that I made some changes.

1)  It calls for the upper body to be lined.  I didn't bother and just created a neckline facing.  With the V-neck, the facing was a little tricky for me as a beginner.  Getting everything to lie nice at the bottom of that V has been some effort.

2)  The sleeve doesn't go completely around the arm hole.  If you don't do the lining, you have to do something about the exposed seams under your arm.  I discovered that as I was pinning my first sleeve.  :oD  Whoops!

3)  The order of the construction has you put the bodice together first, and the skirt second, joining at the waist.  I'm guessing that may have something to do with the bodice being lined, but since I didn't do that, I can't say for sure.

I really like being able to save my side seams as my final two major seams to sew.  That way, I can adjust the fit pretty easily...take it in a little or let it out a little.  I don't think it would be quite that easy if I created that major join at the waist.

Sewing a size 14, the pattern took up most of my 3 yards.

Even with the unruly facing and the slight sleeve hiccup, I love this dress and look forward to making more.  I have mystery fabric I found at our local resale shop up next.  I'm a tad suspicious that it's fabric that was originally purchased to become a tablecloth.  But the drape and feel are so nice, I have to try making it into a dress.

The photo shoot with the teenager was especially fun today!  It was cold, windy, and dreary.  She was not thrilled about being outside with me.  Plus we had some distractions, including neighborly noise that caught my attention.  Of course, that shot ended up being the best photo of the dress.  So here it is ~ a better view of this pattern from the front with a bonus, "WTF was that?!" look from me.

And with that, I leave you with some photo shoot outtakes.  The ones I'm willing to post, anyway.


Really windy.

No wind ~ just a bad model.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

You Never Know What's Coming For You

That line from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has always stuck with me.  And I for one never thought I'd enjoy taking pencil to paper.  I can't draw.  I've never taken a single class.  I can barely make a smiley face.  Yet here I am, looking forward to those quiet mornings and evenings when I can sit with my pad of paper and practice sketching different designs that will hopefully become hand stitched embroidery.


Don't get me wrong ~ these are simple, simple drawings.  But they are mine, and I can bring them to life with needle and thread.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Week In Four Photos

My first hand designed and embroidered project

Great Grandma's tea cup from the 1940s

A path taken in the woods.

The sighting of Union boys

Hope your week went well.  :o)