Sunday, April 30, 2006

Arika's sarong, part 2

Yesterday I fit Arika's sarong, but completely forgot to take pictures. I'll continue the visual after her next fitting, in 3 weeks. Here is the result of our fitting session:

Things to be decided at the fitting:

1) how much fullness is really wanted at the neckline

The amount of gathering at the neck actually worked out extremely well. I will leave it as is.

2) line of bodice edge (going from neck, under arm, to back)

It actually followed the same line that is did on my dress form, very simple.

3)how short to make the bottom of the bodice (i.e. midriff showing, or not)

We decided it "bunched" up a bit too much and I will cut off about 3 inches

4)whether or not to finish the sides and bottom of the bodice together

I'm going to finish these separately, let the top sit on the dress form for a day or two and see if the chiffon layer stretches any differently than the under layer, but I'm fairly certain that we can leave them separate. They will both be pulled back to the "fake knot" closing in the back, so I don't think any drooping will occur.

5)width and length of sarong skirt and solve problem of bulky knot

The chiffon layer was definately too wide and I will be cutting about 10 inches off the width before finishing it. I think this will go a long way to solving the bulky knot problem. The turquoise layer was also about 6 inches too long. I cut both of these layers intentionally too big before the fitting so that we could determine exact measurements on the body. I find this to be a much better way of finding the end measurement. Often the client will make a different decision when seeing the actual fabric on herself than she would have with just discussing options.

6)edge finish technique, samples to be shown

Arika liked the roll hem my serger does and I will use that for almost all edges, matching colors of thread to fabric.

At the next fitting, most of the dress will be completed. The sarong will be cut to the size we determined in our first fitting and the edges will be finished. Arika will be able to see if it fits just as she wants.

The armhole edges and bottom edge of the top will be finished and we will be determining the placement of the gathers at back to put in the "S" hook swim suit fastener and placing the fake knot over that.

The casing size for the neck edge should be determined by e-mail once Arika has selected her beads for the necklace that will hold up the top. This will be completed if I have that information and we will see the effect with the necklace.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


I was doing an alteration for the girls dance studio (Don't get any ideas! I don't do alterations, this was just a quick favor in exchange for Zoe's new tap shoes). The front desk staff put the costume in a bag and just handed it to me with the instructions "make the crotch 5 inches bigger". When I opened the bag there was a little scrap of fabric that matched the costume and was just perfect for what I needed. After I turned it back in, the mom called me and asked if I had seen a "hair scrunchie" in the bag. I said I hadn't, then she described it as a long strip of fabric matching the costume! Oops!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Arika's sarong

These are the pictures of Arika's sarong. Arika is having a beach wedding.

They aren't in any particularorder. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to layout several pictures on a spread in blogspot. You'll have to just scroll up and down and follow along.

The first and last pictures are of the beggining of the draping process. There will be turqoise fabric under the bodice as well as the skirt, but I stopped taking pictures before I got the turquoise bodice cut and draped. Arika may want a little less gathers at the neck, but I always like to have too much fabric and be able to cut away excess, than to have less than the client wants.

As I went around the bodice with the draping, I figured out that, layed out on the bias, I would be able to go all the way around to the back with one piece, instead of having to insert a side seam. I'm very pleased with this. (you can see this in the next to last picture). When I did the cut-away and tied the knot in back, I discovered that the knot is very bulky. Arika & I discussed this in our original consultation and she's open to using a swimsuit bra hook (the "S" shaped kind) and using a fake knot to reduce the bulky look in the back. This will also allow us to pre-determine where the gathers at the back will lay, rather than Arika and her attendants trying to fuss with it right before the ceremony. While the material is chiffon, the bulk comes from the embroidery and sequins.

There are 2 pictures that show the skirt as well. The same problem occurs with the bulky knot of the white layer. I have cut both the turquoise and the white layer extra big in order to really decide what we like, so we may be able to reduce the bulky look of this knot simply by making the sarong less wide.

Things to be decided at the fitting:
1) how much fullness is really wanted at the neckline
2) line of bodice edge (going from neck, under arm, to back)
3)how short to make the bottom of the bodice (i.e. midriff showing, or not)
4)whether or not to finish the sides and bottom of the bodice together
5)width and length of sarong skirt and solve problem of bulky knot
6)edge finish technique, samples to be shown

Monday, April 24, 2006

Tara's prom dress

Here are the pictures of Tara's prom dress. Tara called me on April 6th and asked if I could have a prom dress made by April 22nd? After talking with her for a while, I figured out that the design she had in mind was not all that complicated and that she was willing to pay an appropiate fee for doing the dress at the last minute, so I squeezed her in.

Normally, I help my clients find their fabric. Once I know what design their dress will be, and we know what kind of fabric will work well with it, I begin looking at internet sights and forward those to the client so that they can obtain swatches. There are also a couple of local fabric stores I will send them to well informed about what they are looking for. Tara, because of the time crunch had to find her own fabric. She found a couple of fabrics at Mill Outlet that she absolutely loved and was able to get the rest at Joann's.

This sketch in the picture is what she drew and brought to me. We decided on a different hemline, but other than that, stayed true to her sketch.

There are a couple of things I would have done differently had I had another week or two. The first decision we made was to avoid a back seam on the skirt so that the seam wouldn't show at the bottom of the skirt from the front. This meant that the zipper would end at the bottom of the bodice instead of going down into the skirt. The dress went over her, but JUST BARELY using this method. Doing it again, I would have just made the seam in the back.

Something goofy happened with the top layer of orange fabric on the bodice. No matter how much I smoothed it out, it came out wrinkled looking when she put it on. The fabric was an incredibly thin gauze silk. I think maybe it need stabalized with an iron on interfacing. I don't think I'll work with it again if I can at all avoid it.

I was able to use 2 new techniques in this dress that I haven't tried before. One was the beaded hand-picked zipper and the other was running an elastic "suspender" through the straps to hold the dress down securely at the neckline. These are both in Threads articles, I'll find which ones and update the post in a few days when I can get back in my studio. (we're having construction work done in the basement).

Over all, it was great to collaborate with Tara. She has some sewing experience and definately had her own sense of style. This was a very fun dress to do, even if I got it done at 1 am the day of prom. (the pictures are of Tara at 9 am, she had come over in her pj's!)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Pin the Fire on the Dragon

I made this poster to play "Pin the Fire on the Dragon" for Quentin's Knight Party for his 4th birthday. He didn't get it when I was making it and went up to put on his dragon costume. He said "I da dwagon, you makin' my fi-wa?" The little blue squiggles coming out of the dragon's mouth is where Quentin drew the dragons "fire" himself before I got it laminated (or "lemonated" as Olivia said).

The Cookie Monster Cable Saga continues....

Where are the sleeves to my sweater? Yup, frogged 'em. After I got the entire thing made and had all the seams sew together.... I decided the sleeves just didn't work. A meriad of problems began with these:

*too small around the wrists
*too short by enough to be noticed
*decreased too sharply (causing a "twisting" effect where the cables met at the seams)

So I thought about it....and thought about it some more....and then decided to just do it (frog it, that is). This sweater has been more about discovering the zen quality of learning to knit again (which I haven't done since aunt Leta & I made a basketweave purse when I was 10) and learning to like the process instead of the end result (which is what has kept me away from the needles for 20 plus years). I also decided it was a heck of a lot of work to put into a project that I wouldn't wear. I don't wear things that aren't comfortable and I wouldn't have worn this with the sleeves the way they were.

So, when's it going to be done? Maybe in time to wear when the weather turns this fall. Maybe...My needles are itching to start some other projects.

I've already bought yarn to make the girls some darling coordinating cable sweaters from Debbie Bliss. The middle yarn is actually a very rich plum purple. I can't remember the name of the book the patterns came out of. I'm cheap and just copied the patterns I wanted out of a book at the library. It's really great, soft, very loud colors of cotton and I'm itching to get started. Typical Alisa style, I'm going to color-block these sweaters instead of making them all one color!

I've also got my eye on a shrug pattern to go with the sleeveless dress I've got sitting in my closet waiting for it's debut at this year's conference. I may put down the cookie monster cable yet again to do the shrug. After all, I need it sooner!

O.K. I'm closing this post. I just had to run TWO BLOCKS down the street after a ball that rolled away. I am SO out of shape.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rachel's Prom Dress

This is the Prom dress I made for Rachel. Rachel initially contacted me through my add on We were several e-mails into talking about her dress when I figured out that she did NOT live her locally in Colorado Springs, but lives in St. Louis! I told her it would be possible to do the dress long distance if we had enough time. She absolutely wanted a copy of the dress Charlize Theron wore to the Golden Globes, but wanted it in yellow satin.

I'm really hoping to get some pictures from Rachel of her in the dress. It wouldn't fit on my dress form, so I had to just pin it to the front to get the pic. There ARE supposed to be wrinkles across the bodice part, but they wouldn't pull out and look right just pinned to the dress form. I'm also not terribly happy with the look of this design in satin. Although I did line it with organza, I'm still not happy with the slightly "bubbled" look around the skirt fullness.

It has a complete inner bodice with several spiral steel bones, including boning over the bust part. I was concerned about the tightness of the fit with it being strapless, so included bones to hold up the curve of the top as well.

It's been an adventure making this long distance, but it's nice to know that it is something I can do.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

In a month

A month has gone by. We've been incredibly, unbelievably sick. Flu, strep, ear infections, bronchitis, possibly mono. Ugh. I thought we would never get healthy again.

This week I'm making a prom dress for a local girl who called me up last week and ask could I make her dress by April 22nd? It'll be a tight week. Rachel (pictures to follow later today) sent back her dress and needs a bit taken out at the hips. Shouldn't be too much fuss. I'm trying to get the girls a dress made for easter tomorrow, just a simple little sundress from the flamingo and kitty fabric grandma bought them at Mill Outlet.
I'd also like to get Navella's placemats done. If I get all this done, I'll have tons of pics by the end of the week!

Wish me luck.