Monday, June 20, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

 The wedding is coming.  We are leaving in a week. There was Maggie's dress and it was great.  And she looks so pretty in it.

And I wanted to make myself a dress.  I shopped for dresses and there were several problems in the stores.  First, so many dresses are sleeveless now.  Because of my religion I don't wear sleeveless anything and a shear covering is not enough and since the wedding is in July I didn't want to add a sweater.  And second, I am far from a thin girl.  As many of you know I have struggled with losing weight for a long time and it just wasn't going to happen before the wedding day.  Beautiful, non-matronly dresses for anyone over size 14 are very hard to find.

So I decided to make a dress for myself.  no big deal as I have made dresses professionally in the past.  I found a pattern from Vintage Vogue that I thought would be great.  Fitted at the top with a lot of fabric in the skirt.  First problem: the fabric store didn't have the pattern in my size.  So I bought the pattern one size smaller.  I am not a pattern maker. I am a dress maker who uses ready to use patterns.  I can do some alterations but not increases in size of 3 sizes.  So Faina to the rescue.

Faina does know how to make patterns.  She came with her tools and we made the pattern to fit my body.

Faina wanted me to make a muslin but I thought why not just make a cotton dress and then alter that.  Then I'll have 2 flattering dresses in the end.
I cut the body of the cotton dress and fitted it and it was great except the arm holes were too tight and I knew that when I would sew the sleeves they would only get tighter.  I got nervous.  Fitted sleeves and arm holes are a complicated thing. I got very nervous.  Off I went to the fabric store to see if they had my size in the pattern.  They did.  By now I feel like I am running out of time.  I cut out the pattern pieces and laid them over the pattern Faina and I made.  It looked good.  I did no measurements. I started to cut.
 So far so good, right?  I was very sure of myself.  I sewed it all together.  It was too small in every spot.  By at least 2 inches.  There were some tears.  I altered, I adjusted, I put the zipper in.  I spent a week trying to make this dress fit.

Finally, Lousmith said just go buy something.  I was skeptical.  Maggie and Chelsea and I went off to Nordstrom.  We went to the over size 16 section and looked at the 6 terrible, sleeveless, matronly dresses they had available.  Nope.  We did a sweep of the whole floor and I was getting discouraged.  But Chelsea to the rescue!  She found me a great sequined top just as I was looking at a lovely chiffon skirt.  Still skeptical, I tried the outfit on and it fits. Yay!  Way more than I wanted to spent but I look pretty good.

Had to get new shoes too.  The ones for the other dress were too dark.

So on Saturday, my parents made a surprise visit.  They're heading out west, driving to the wedding.  They were packed and ready to go early so they left.  Yay!

Sunday, I put my mom to work.  She put the zipper in Maggie's dress and hemmed it too.  I learned my sewing skills from my mom and her mom.
 Then she said, put on that dress.
We tried some things. We all decided in the end it might be better as a skirt.  Watch for that later this summer:-)
Sunday was also Father's Day.  We got my dad a GPS.  He was thrilled.  My mom doesn't think it's necessary but it was Father's Day after all.  He had it hooked up and Lousmith was teaching him how to use it in minutes.
Then he did his favorite thing while we worked on the dresses.

Moral of the story, measure, measure, measure.  Also, my parents are great.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Weaving, Touring and Sewing Lavender


 I found something to entertain little Buster when he's at the shop with me. He love weaving on this little Cricket Loom.  Wants one of his very own.
He's been working on this scarf made with the yarn that comes with the loom.  He's doing very well. I think we're out of yarn... 

 Last Monday (Memorial Day) we took a trip to The Henry Ford.  It's  a combination of a indoor museum and an outdoor historic village known as Greenfield Village.  I hadn't been there in years and it's less than an hour from Howell.

The indoor museum is over nine acres.  We went because every Memorial day there is a civil war encampment and I really wanted to see it.  But we never did.  The indoor stuff took the entire day.  They have a special exhibit right now of Civil War documents from the National Archives. It was very fascinating and even the kids liked it.  There was an area to sign up to be part of the army and they did a swearing in ceremony and everything.

The picture above is the last of  the Allegheny Engines that, when pulling a full load of cars, could be up to a mile long.  The thing is ginormous.
 You can even climb in and pretend you are in control.

Something else I loved seeing was a home that was round called a Dymaxion House.  There was no wasted space and a family actually lived in the house.  The linked article is very interesting.

 There are plenty of airplanes and lots of information about early passenger planes.  There is even a model comparing very early passenger planes with modern planes.  Sometime in there they had padded wicker chairs which were bolted to the floor of the cabin!

The picture above is of the kids pretending to be wing walkers.  Some great footage of 1940s wing walkers was being show there.  It was harrowing.
 There was the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile and a model of a hot dog where Ryan could be the hot dog with all the toppings.
 I only saw one spinning wheel.  I know there are more but there exhibit wasn't currently on display.  Last time I was there there were at least 100 lined up in rows.
 Every day when the museum opens this Model T is in pieces and anyone who is there at the opening can put the car together.  The Museum Guides never put their hands on it, only direct from what I hear.  We will definitely be there at the opening time next visit.

The Village is also on the schedule for next time.  This coming year is 5th grade for Maggie which means US history.  there are actual buildings belonging to Thomas Edison, Noah Webster, Abraham Lincoln, weavers and spinners and lots of other historically important things there.
 So, this morning I woke up and instead of having my normal lay around Sunday mornings I hopped out of bed. By 8:30 I had my work station set up.

Brittney's wedding is only 3 weeks away and I need to get to work.  I have 2 dresses to make and Ryan's suit needs hemming of the sleeves and cuffs.

Maggie is 10.  It is almost impossible to find a dress for a girl her size that has sleeves and looks like a little girl should look instead of how a 25 year old might dress.  So a couple of weeks ago we went to the fabric store and she picked out the fabric above..  The underdress is matte satin and the overlay is organza with sparklies.

I measured Maggie and had to make a few adjustments to the pattern so I cut out the lining first to use as a muslin.  That way, if I was right, I would have the lining done.  If I was wrong then lining is very inexpensive to replace.
 So here she is trying on the lining.  (This was done by 9:30)  It was a bit tight over the hip and so I made some new adjustments to the pattern and just let out the side seam a bit on the lining.

 I felt confident enough to go ahead and cut and sew the rest.
 Something I learned years ago was the importance of pressing seams as you sew.  It makes a much nicer end result.  Don't you forget it.
Here's the dress, no lining yet and no sleeves.  Just doing a bit of a check.  I think she likes it.
So then I just sewed the lining into the neck line. Clipped a few seams, added sleeves and it's magic.  This week, after we find some shoes, I will hem the thing and add a zipper.  I have special plans for a hand picked zipper with beads.  She will be delighted!

Tomorrow I will take my own measurements and figure out how I should adjust the pattern for my own dress.