Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I've officially jumped ship & moved over to wordpress. You can find me at

Big News

I've just been invited to appear on a fall episode of Get Married as a featured designer. Some of the other designers they've had? Melissa Sweet, Anne Barge, Badgley Mishka, among others. Number of viewers per episode? 92 million.

I'll fly to Atlanta most likely the first week of September to tape. I originally called them to find out about local vendor advertising on their website and ended up having a wonderful conversation with Kris Bush. We talked about my current business model serving individual brides as a custom designer, and also about the launch of my new line in fall '08 (or sooner, watch for details) of corseted, historically inspired gowns that will be available for custom sizing. She loved my story and wanted to be able to present a new designer in the midst of a launch to their audience. All of the Get Married designers featured previously have been established designers.

So I'm off and running before I've even made my first sample! I'm excited beyond words and will keep you posted as things happen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wedding pictures of Iris

This last picture just got put up on the website.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

dresses, dresses, everywhere!

I know I've been AWOL lately, but here's some pictures of the reason why. All these are just my snapshots in my extremely messy studio, so please, as always, no looky-looky at the background. Keep your eyes on the prize.

I've de-camped from my studio for the summer & am sewing upstairs in the "dining room". We don't "dine", so it's a computer/piano/bookshelf room, really. I can keep a better eye on my kids up here. After school starts, I'm going to completely dump out the studio & paint, put in shelving, etc., so I've really not talked myself into going down there to clean it up. If I'm just going to dump it out next month, what's the point? It's going to be light turquoise/mint green with small pink accents & lots of built in shelving with little fabric covered buckets/ small curtains. I'm excited to be getting it done, that's for sure!

Cheryl: Mother of the bride, June 16th wedding

She had a very clear idea of what she wanted, right down to the color.

I underlined the entire gown in silk chiffon, then lined it with china silk. There is a fully boned bodice made from silk taffeta inside the gown. I use spiral steel bones because I think they are so much more comfortable than anything else. I ran out of boning casing & didn't realize it until it was too late to order more, so I made Cheryl's boning casing out of bias taffeta. Not as stable as the cotton casing, but it's only a dress to be worn either once or just a few times.

Detail of the bodice. I hand picked "princess" lines to keep the chiffon from puffing up.

The back of Cheryl's dress. We only had a picture of what she wanted the front to look like, so the design of the back was just what we made up.

The jacket for Cheryl. In this picture you can really see the front darts. The dress is made from sandwashed silk charmuese & I struggled with the front darts to the point that I ended up replacing the entire front skirt panel. Not fun, let me tell you, but when my name goes out there on something, I want it to be as perfect as possible. I'm still not totally thrilled with the darts. If anyone has better tricks up their sleeve let me know.

Jessica: August 12th wedding I fit her in because I just really wanted to make this gown. There are certain ones I just can't turn down!

The back of Jessica's dress. This is just the muslin, but I happened to have extra blue laying around, so used that for the sash. I'm doing a full foundation underneath with underwire cups. I've not done a foundation with the cups before, but it went together nicely & only needed small tweaks to the fit. I'll used the spiral steel boning for everywhere but the cups & use multi layers of taffeta channel stitched for the cups. I'll show that to you when I have it done later this month.

The front of Jessica's dress. I'm going to open out the fabric over the fullest part of her bust about 1/8th inch on each side just to let some of that tension out. She's really concerned about her small frame & large bust, but I think this design really enhances everything well. As of right now, we're planning on applique-ing (how do you spell that?) small blue flowers around the hem. We haven't decided on a particular flower technique, so she may balk on that at the last minute & just applique the sash.

Iris: Latin themed wedding on July 14th

Her dress is an interpretation of this gown:

Where Iris's gown goes into the waist I had to do differently than the picture because of her bust size. There was just no way to drape & gather the lace over her bust & then not attach it into the waist seam.

Whew! All that & I didn't get pictures of Rachael's (July 7th) finished dress. She's on an extended Carribean honeymoon, so we'll see those pictures maybe in August. I also didn't get pictures of Carrie's gown (August 12th). I'm also doing Carrie's 4 bridesmaid's dresses. So, lots more pictures to come, but if I don't come up for air until next month, you know where I'll be.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I took the kids out to see the Air Force Thunderbird show this afternoon. I think my pics look just the same as last year, but here's the best one from this year:

It's hard to get pictures, you just point ahead of where they are & click & hope you get something. They do pretty much the same show every year, so I need to remember next year to take a picture at the very end of them flying what feels like 20 feet over our heads to head back over the stadium & up into the mountains.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rachaels dress

I just got done with a fitting & thought you might like to see the dress. This is a very unstructured silk chiffon gown. You can't tell well from these pictures, but there are 2 layers of chiffon at the hem, one about 8 inches higher than the other. There are 14 godets all together.

I love how I've caught her admiring the gown.

How to mark darts when you can't use chalk

I've been working on a silk chiffon dress this past week. I thought I would take a few pictures of how I mark dart placement when I just won't take the risk of putting chalk or air/water erase marker on a fabric. A sheer wedding gown is THE place to be paranoid that your markings just won't come out, even though you've pre-tested the method.

First of all, I'll start by saying that I almost never use commercial patterns. What you'll see in the following pictures is why. Every now & then, I'll go completely insane and think, "oh, this pattern is SO CLOSE to what I want, I'll just use the pattern and make a few corrections. If the amount of butchering done to the patterns in the following pictures doesn't frighten you, it should. It frightens me. It would have been simpler to start from scratch on alpha-numeric paper. This is actually two separate patterns laid on top of each other because I wanted the top of one & the bottom of another. I'm insane, I know.

O.K. I'll number this so it flows smoothly:

1) I lay the fabric on my ironing board wrong side up and then lay the pattern piece on top of the fabric. I secure with pins through all layers into the ironing board just outside the dart area so that nothing moves around. It's exceptionally hard to see the fabric here because it's a single layer of 8 mm china silk, but trust me, it's there.

2)I slice down the center of the dart in order to be able to move it out of the way. Then I fold back the pattern paper and place a pin where the mark is.

3) here, I'm holding both sides out the way in order to position both pins. Dang, when did my hands get wrinkly?

4) Holding back to place the center markings. You can see peaking out of the bottom that I've actually placed the point position pin first. It's just one more pin to keep the pattern from slipping around.

5) Just slip the pattern paper away (it's not pinned to the fabric anywhere) and you've got pins sticking into your fabric.

6) pick up a placement pin from one side of the fabric and slide it into the exact hole left by the pin on the other side of the fabric. In this example I'm taking the left hand center position pin and putting it right next to the right hand center position pin. Usually I'll take the right hand pin out and pierce the hole left by it, but I didn't think it would show up in a photo. I know it looks like I'm moving right to left, but I've moved around to the other side of the ironing board. The dart point is actually just out of sight on the top of this photo.

7) Here you can see the pins lying flat after having gone through both markings.

8)Now, pick the fabric up and start to pinch it together along the dart fold.

9)Don't let your pins come out! Now that you've got the fold pinched up, put a pin through a tiny amount of fabric just below the dart point pin, securing it to the ironing board.

10)put the pins through the fabric perpindicular (sorry, can't spell that) to the folded edge.

11)Now place a line of pins along your stitching line, connecting the previous pins

12)put your needle down through the fabric just above the top horizontal pin. backtack.

13)Take the horizontal pin out, start stitching. I snag the pin head of the vertical row of pins with my right hand fingernail and allow it to slide out of the fabric as I'm stitching.

14)When I get to the other horizontal pin, I stop & make sure that my sewing machine needle pierces the exact hole left by this pin.

15)Now just sew down to the point of the dart. This is probably a complete no-no somewhere in the annals of good sewing, but it's what I do because it works. I sew to the point of the dart, making sure that my sewing machine needle pierces the fabric at the exact same location of the last dart, then allow my sewing machine needle to make another stitch off to the right of the fabric. I then pull my fabric out of my machine & tie a triple knot loosely in the end & clip leaving about a 1 1/2 inch tail. Don't ask me if it's pretty, but my dart ends never snag and never pull out.

Hope this was helpful.

Did I mention you should live here?

I took these from the parking lot at my kids' school. What can you take a picture of from the parking log at your kids' school?

You should live here. Really, there's just no good reason not to.

Look closely at the bottom of this one. You can see Garden of the Gods. They're the large brown rocks sticking straight up out of the ground. It's a 20-25 minute drive away.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Because, surely, it's not actually SNOWING on May 23rd. I mean, c'mon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Draping a person, my "first draft"

There was a question over on FI (subscription required for forum posts) about the process used in custom design. Everyone has their own method that has come about from years of experience. My process starts with a custom drape. I started doing this about a year ago because I would take an extensive list of measurements & use those to draft the toille, but always found there was a measurement or two I didn't have on hand. So I started doing a "quick drape" just to help me double check the client's body shape.

THEN, low & behold and article appears in Threads about how to do this. Dang. Can I tell you how many times I open up Threads & find an article about how to do something I already do. Jeez. Where's my ingenuity? Why don't I ever think to submit articles to Threads? The only thing to article writer did differently than my method was to start with a "poncho" made of the muslin. I was using two pieces of muslin pinned together. So I co-opted that. :-)

The question raised was: How do you drape on a real person, since you obviously can't push pins into them?

First of all, there will be no looky-looky at my seriously messy studio. I've got a plan in place for shelving that will actually hide all my crap, but haven't yet found the time to do it. So keep your eyes on the client!

Start with a length of muslin long enough to go over the body. Not sure how long that is? Take a tape measure, start at the butt, go up over the shoulder and come down to the hips in the front. Make it wide enough to cover the hips from one side to the other side. Cut a little "T" shape for the neck. I'm never too fussy about how wide this is, but if you want a more precise neckline, you're going to have to be a little careful.

First pin up the shoulder slope. Then smooth the fabric over the side of the bust enough to pull up the grain line so that it is horizontal to the floor. Pin in the side bust dart.

Next pin in the darts under the bust. This is actually a combination of two darts from what would be a traditional block, if you can get your head around that. It's the bottom bust dart AND the front skirt dart. Take in the dart all the way to just above hip level.

At hip level on this client, the darts don't end in a point. Her gown will only be fitted to an empire waist, so I really didn't need to be fussy down there with her. If I did want to make the darts end in a point, I would need to find the point where I wanted them to end (follow the dart fold all the way to the level where you want it to end, mark it with a sharpie), then swing the excess around to the waist. So there would be a horizontal line of pins going from the under bust dart to the side of the waist at the waist line. I'll try to do this on my next pin drape to explain it better (I've got one coming up in a couple of weeks, stay tuned)

Notice on my client that the points of the dart aren't exactly perfect. For me, in what I do, this isn't really necessary at this point. I use this drape only as a starting point. But if you wanted to make custom blocks that you would make more than one pattern from, you would need to get a little more fussy than I am.

Now go around to the back & pin up the back darts. You may also need to pin out a small back shoulder dart at the back of the armscye. I find this is just different with every client. If I do pin it out, I'll transfer it to a true shoulder dart later on. (putting it up angling into the shoulder seam, instead of going into the armscye). My reason for moving it is that in bridal wear, I'll end up usually cutting it out when doing the actual design.

The last thing to do is the pin up the sides. After I've got all my pins where I want them, I'll mark with a sharpie one side at the side and shoulder, unpin that, cut the shoulder apart & just let her slide out of it from the other side.

When I get to the point of laying this out to transfer to paper pattern, I'll document that as well. If I'm not clear on anything, just let me know & I'll try to explain it a little better, or take more pictures next time I do a drape.