Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A couple finished Wendy Darling dress pictures

More details will be on my site later. A couple pics for now.

Blue buttons close the back, nearly identical in shade to the ribbon.

Wendy Darling gown

For some reason, etsy wouldn't send messages with these images attached. I'm guessing they're too large? I don't know. Blogspot shrinks them if they're too big or something. Regardless, they've uploaded here.

This first one is the front of an unfinished gown. It's taken at an angle, which I didn't realize at the time made the neckline look crooked. Straight-on, it's not.

This is the back, before buttons.

And the right sleeve.

These pictures were taken before hemming and buttons, and the ribbon was just tied on instead of tacked into place. Finished photos aren't on this computer, so until tomorrow for those!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The Producers has opened to great reviews. I personally saw it together on stage the second night, and there's always a thrill at seeing my name in a program.

I'm terribly lagging in updating my website. Putting together Making Of pages takes a good deal more time than it seems, and I need to do that for both the Titanic Flying AND Swim AND Breakfast gowns. I really prefer to have those pages up before adding pictures to other areas on the site so that, in case the first time someone views something is the only time, that the Making Of is there to be seen. Unfortunately I just don't have time to dedicate to these pages at the moment. Each one takes the better part of a day, time needed for sewing right now. I've got the Infant's Regency Wardrobe to finish, as well as an entire crib bedding set (quilt, bumper, dust ruffle, some decorative throw pillows, though will buy the sheets) to make for my own little girl. Both of those take priority.

Between three making-of pages, a write-up of my time on The Producers (and I realized I never did a write-up for last summer's The Pajama Game either!), three dresses, and a crib bedding set, there will be quite the large update in another month or so from now!

Not to mention I still have several things to photograph and upload to my etsy shop.

As for today, now that I've moved and once again have a dedicated sewing room, I need to unpack it and organize so I can find what I need to move ahead with the dresses and bedding!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I FINALLY got the remaining silk for the Swim dress. I'm also on board for The Producers. And in another six weeks I'm moving. So finishing two gowns, starting and finishing another, plus costuming a play that opens...July 24th. Toss in packing. I will be a bit too busy to update here very often in the coming weeks, but will try.

Whew, talk about busy, eh?!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Flying dress lace and Swim gown bodice

Well, the lace for the Flying dress finally got here. But the chiffon for the over-bodice still is on back order.

I was going to take pictures every single step of the way for both, but just sailed through a few steps of the lace part of the Swim bodice without a single picture. I needed the distraction. One of my kittens died this afternoon, after my very old cat died four weeks ago as of tomorrow (he would have been 24 in a couple more months). This has been hard.

A Titanic Elevator gown might be added to the agenda. That could be fun. I made one years and years back, before there were as many pictures on the internet, so all there as to go on was that brief second shot in the movie. It was requested in satin, as that's what it looked like at the time, though the final effect was a bit costumey. Now there's a picture of the real gown available, and it's not satin at all. In fact, it's not even one piece! It will depend on finding fabric (cotton) that will be suitable.

Soon I will stop taking orders that aren't for immediate making, due by October, or due April or later of next year. I don't want to have many orders due around the time my baby is due, or soon after, as I don't know yet how I'll feel, and I'd rather not commit to an order due date if I don't feel 100% confident about my ability to keep it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Website update, Dinner dress beading

I went ahead and updated my website with pictures of the flower dresses.

The edge beading is finished on the second layer. Now to finish the third layer up. Pictures here. I ordered another 4,800 of the 3mm black beads and another 4,800 of the 4mm beads, and 200 of the 6mm beads. I'm burning right through these things, especially with the edging.

Some of the jewelry components weren't in stock, even though the website said they were. Since the supplier doesn't back order, this means paying for shipping again. I'm not happy in the slightest.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jewelry line!

Well, I suppose it counts as a break, staying up all night until 9:30am ordering the components to make the (all Titanic) Boarding earrings, two versions of the Flying necklace, and the Heaven necklace, earrings, and a matching bracelet. Next up will be components to make the (I'll make this a list more or less for my reference):

Elevator earrings (no photos actually exist though, so my design)
Tea necklace and earrings
Jump earrings
Deck necklace and earrings
Breakfast earrings
Flying earrings
Swim earrings

Now...I am not going to touch a bead today, I am not going to touch a bead today, I am going to touch a - shoot. I will. I'm aching to work, and am still waiting for the chiffon for the Swim dress to get off back order (I refuse to buy the pre-dying chiffon, must be natural so I can dye it just so) as well as the antique lace for the Flying gown. The Flying skirt is finished but for the waist band (making-of photos will me on my site soon), and I don't want to do too much more on the tunic without the bodice made to go under it first. My pattern instructions will start with the skirt, then the bodice, and then the tunic, so I'd like to more or less make it in the order I will suggest it.

So I will bead more on the layer I started the edging on yesterday. It's not a day I expect to make much progress, but when it comes to something heavily beaded and sequined, even a few inches at a time really all add up.

Still beading the Dinner Dress, and starting beadwork on the Peacock corset

I just don't take a break, so I? I've finished the thicker edge beading on the bottom layer, as can be seen here.

I am almost ready to not look at another bead for a year, but instead have started the beading on the peacock corset. If I am diligent, I could probably finish that thing by Monday, but I seriously haven't taken a day off from bead work in a while and am feeling a bit of burnout.

Within the next few days I need to get to Lacis in Berkeley, an amazing corset supply store with an even more amazing museum. I need boning not only for the peacock corset, but also for the corsets of the Don Juan outfit in the film version of Phantom of the Opera. My corset supplies are running on E right now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dinner dress, Swim gown, Flying dress pattern

My poor fiancé has learned more about the details of these gowns than he ever cared to know. Ask him a trivia question about one of them, and he'll be able to answer. He knows the approximate widths and lengths of things in relation to the overall size, fabrics, colors... He's been bribed to give input and to try to find the most minor difference between what I'm working on and photos of the original, and being bribed to sit there looking for differences in gowns made by others and the originals so I can prevent making the same mistakes. He's been such a good sport, and I'm grateful for him.

Four solid days of beading this layer of the Dinner dress is enough. I am ready for a break! There's a reason why this gown isn't cheap with me. My bead and sequin work is much MUCH denser than I've seen anyone else do (and believe me, I have a huge folder of images I've saves for every single version of this dress I've found on the internet, from gowns made by other professional seamstresses to hobbyists to people just trying to make something work for a night, even pictures of gowns started by never finished, gowns that are beaded on chiffon, gowns that are all lace with no bead work...), and yet I don't feel that even mine is dense enough. To achieve the density that would truly please me would require use of 3mm flat sequins, and the cost would be much more than it is now due to the time easily doubling. As it is, I priced my Dinner and Heaven gown on the use of 6mm sequins and 6mm large beads. That felt like too much filler to me, so I left the price the same, but decided to use 5mm sequins (I haven't found 4mm flat sequins, only cupped) and 4mm large beads. An occasional 6mm is used if the spot on the chiffon is too small to use 4mm in a pretty way, but too large to leave open.

Before much more can be done with these layers, I'll need to get black silk for the gown's lining, and possibly navy silk organza rather than the dupioni I have now.

Also, this gown might now have removable sleeves so it can have spaghetti straps and be worn with a bolero. This custom detail is currently in discussion.

I'm trying to be patient waiting for the silk chiffon I need for the Swim gown. Before I can proceed further, I need more chiffon for the bodice. Dying it the lilac I need won't take too long. But I can proceed no further at all without it.

And Flying dress...pattern? You read that right. Only I'm not using a pattern. I'm drafting a pattern for this gown to sell. Yes, Simplicity came out with a pattern a decade ago, which is long out of print. But it is extremely expensive when it's found, and some of the pattern's directions I just don't like. An elastic waist? No thank you. The bodice being just an inset rather than a separate bodice? Not interested. I own the pattern in the 18-20-22 size, and have read the directions, and I don't like them. I don't like the cut of some of the pattern pieces. I don't like how the peplum isn't cut in such a way to allow the same drape as in the film. So I am drafting my own multi-sized pattern with a fitted waist band and separate bodice, making it closer to the film and period-correct (no zippers or elastic!). Options will be given for an elastic waist band, though I believe even a beginner should have no problem with a skirt that has no zipper or buttonholes.

I'm about half way through drafting the first size, and from there will manually scale to other sizes. Pattern programs spread the size difference over the entire pattern. Plus-sized women aren't necessarily linebackers, and thinner people aren't necessarily petite. Once I have the additional sizes scaled, I'll need volunteers to make each size to double check not only fit, but ease of instructions. From there, it will be printed as well as in PDF format for e-patterns that can be printed at home and taped together for a lower cost.

I don't expect to be inundated with orders right away. I expect it will take some promoting. But it could be a good way to still make money during the post-partum period when I expect to simply be too tired to take many, if any, orders.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Flower dresses, Dinner dress

Flower dresses are in the mail. I miss them and can't wait until I have my own daughter to make pretty dresses for.

So far the only progress I've made on the next layer for the Dinner dress is to have it cut out, hemmed, and the edges beaded. I use my old Kenmore for edging. I've done so insanely many yard of silk chiffon on that machine that hemming this fabric on my Brother machine just feels unusual. So out of the case with the Kenmore. It's 3:30 in the morning right now, and I can't sleep for wanting to bead, yet am tired enough to know I'd probably have to undo a good bit of it in the morning. What a quandary.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Flying dress, Dinner dress, Flower dresses

All right, I've got the velvet for the Flying dress tunic. I absolutely love the feel of a folded length of velvet. I haven't yet found a lace I feel is rich enough for the white bodice. But that can come later.

I've got the next layer of the Dinner dress cut out, and it's awaiting the edges being rolled and beaded. Tomorrow those beads arrive, and the little Flower dresses go in the mail.

I can't wait until the girls get them. The bodices are simple to keep the focus on the skirts. The skirts are very twirly!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Flower dresses, Flying dress, Dinner dress, Swim dress

The flower dresses are finished and awaiting shipping, which is likely to happen Wednesday. I can't wait for them to arrive. Pictures after the girls get to see them. They get first looks. :)

Here is the promised picture of the Flying lapels and skirt panels. I couldn't find the dock for my camera until late last night. It was in plain site. Ugh.

I will probably go ahead and make the skirt tomorrow, pictures pictures. But I have yet to get the velvet. So the tunic will need to wait. The bodice is an inset in every version I've seen. This one will be a separate bodice.

More beads have been ordered for the Dinner gown. I never order enough, even though I always feel like I've ordered too many. This gown does have a date - with the Las Vegas Strip come New Year's Eve! I was there a few years ago. It was amazing, and that's an underestimation! It's not for the feint of heart though. And make sure to either get a room on the strip or get there several hours early to park. Getting cabs out of there is like wishing for snow in Death Valley during the hottest day of the summer.

The Swim gown will be finished by the end of the week after next. I hope to also have the Flying gown finished as well.

So I am aiming to have two completed within the next two and a half weeks while simultaneously working on a heavily-beaded gown and a gown with embroidery. I need to write up a daily to-do list to break it down a bit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dinner gown, Flying gown, Swim gown, "White wool" gown

I've been on a roll with the Dinner, but am to low on beads. Another layer is mostly finished The rest will be after it's attached to the dress and the exact length of the train is determined. The first part of beading a layer, after rolling the edges, is to bead it with the smallest faceted beads, but I don't have enough of those left to edge another layer. Another bead order will need to be replaced. This gown, by the way, is to be worn for New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip this year!

I have the lapels and skirt decoration for the Flying gown and will get pictures of those tomorrow. It's simply too late tonight and the camera's batter needs to charge. I do not yet have the velvet fabric nor the lace for the jacket, so may go ahead and make the skirt this weekend or early next week.

Well, back to work on the Swim and WW gowns tomorrow or Saturday. The WW is so near to completion. The Swim has a little further to go, and photos ever step of the way on that one.

I'm so ahead of schedule right now that I may just take the weekend off. This has been a long week, just so much going on. Oh, probably not. Sewing is relaxing, but I like to give it my full attention. We shall see.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Girls' dresses finished

I will wait until they arrive at their destination to share pics though. They're very twirly! What little girl doesn't love twirly? :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Flower dresses, The Producers

The rose dress is nearly complete. The skirt needs hemming still, and some silk flowers, but it still needs something. I can't pinpoint it. I think my fiance hit the nail on the head when he said it need sparkle. This evening I will attach the bodice to the pansy skirt, in with the zipper, and down with the lining.

The theater I worked at last summer on The Pajama Game is doing The Producers this summer! I'm so excited I can't stand it. You bet I'll be right back there. I'm just counting down the days to June 8th so I can go sign on to lease my soul for a couple months to the theater. Theater work is very different from couture, but a wonderful experience, nonetheless. It's really a nice feeling to watch a production and know I had some small part in it. This time around there will be the added bonus of already being a huge fan of the production. I didn't actually see The Pajama Game until closing night last year! But I know The Producers inside and out. Really, the musical is better than the original movie. I can't wait to see what Janice has in mind for the girls in pearls and Ula's dress for "That Face."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pansy skirt, Take 2

Here it is with the darker:

It's still got the soft watercolor look!! Definitely the lighter lilac would have been too light.

Here is the rose skirt:

And both together:

Both will be done in the next couple days.

The pansy skirt - I'm stumped!

Well, not so much stumped as trying to decide which color to use. This has preoccupied me all day long.

I want the effect of the petals and leaves to be subtle. The skirt is a layer of a heavy bridal satin with four layers of white tulle with the petals and then the leaves (I do think having them on top solves the problem of them bunching between the full white layers). I want it to seem like a pale water color. Originally I used the lighter purple, then started to think maybe it was too subtle, so got some darker purple. The two colors:

Here is the skirt with the lighter petals (the back opening hasn't been cut yet):

And here are the darker ones:

And one of each side by side, lighter on the left, darker on the right:

Which looks better for a dress for a 2-year-old? I must direct her mother here for her input.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flower Skirts cut out

Well, I got impatient and thought, "Why not?" So the skirts are cut out. Now to cut the petals and leaves, and to hand-bast everything at the waists. This is all I will do tonight. It's already after 9. Well, maybe more like "only a little after 9." I've always had an odd sleep pattern, awake most of the night, start to get tired around 4am. This is why I have always said I'm as likely to be reachable by phone at 3am as at 3pm.

Girls' skirts

I trekked down to he worst Joann's I think there is. The employees are absolutely inept. I shouldn't be telling the employee working the register how to process a tax-exempt sale, which I have as I have a resale license and am in their system. But this is what happens almost every time. It's frustrating.

Anyway, I got a new large cutting mat to help with cutting the skirts perfectly straight, though didn't even think about checking out the rotary cutters. I'm a big fan of Gingher brand, and highly recommend them to anyone who sews at all. My pairs have been worth every penny, and then some. So I did just take a minute to find a pair online, and they'll be in my possession within a week, and for less than at Joann's, so I'll deal with cutting the skirts with shears until them. The edges of the tulle layers will be pinked anyway (cut with scissors that cut a zig zag edge).

The petal tulle layers (for which I needed the colored tulle) will be between the white layers to give it a hint of flower in the skirt, a more subtle effect than just having the petals right on top. The silk flowers I was going to scatter on the skirt might be skipped. We'll see. It could be overkill, and I won't want that.

Tomorrow all the layers of the skirts will be cut and the tulle layers pinked, though hemming of the bottom-most layer will definitely be the very last thing to be done aside from detailing. I'll also connect them to the outer bodice. Depending on time, I may also attach the lining layers, which will be done by hand. From there, it will be zippers, interfaced hems, and the details.

Eowyn "white wool" dress

It's actually cream in the film, and the one I'm making is velvet rather than wool. So quotes are appropriate.

Well, the finish-date on this dress isn't until this fall, but I'm really just a few hours from completion on the embroidery (done by hand) and braid trim, then a couple hours on the separate under gown. It's unknown whether the under-sleeves are connected to the main gown at the shoulders or is a separate gown altogether, and so I'm choosing to make a separate gown. The belt will be similar, if not the same, design as the Guinevere belt. That thing took a surprising amount of time, several hours. Once I finish the girls' dresses (and I got the colored tulle this evening), then I think I will work straight through on the Eowyn dress and get it shipped out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The girls' dresses

The fun part about designing things as I go is the creativity that flows. I'd been wondering how to "floralize" the skirts a bit more, and today at the grocer store, the idea hit me. Naturally it couldn't hit when I was miles away actually close to the fabric store, oh no. That would have been too easy. This is the not-fun part - inspiration hitting when what I need isn't already in my stash. But pink and purple add green tulle just aren't things I've ever had need to keep around.

To I suppose today will be spent finishing cutting the satin and while tulle for the skirts and basting the waist together, and more of the Dinner beading, and I've also been working on some base patterns for girls' dresses, both high-waisted regency styles, complete with the dropped shoulder seams, and regular-seamed plain tops. The short, gathered sleeves, short, ungathered sleeves ad long sleeves for each size can both work with either the regency or plain tops. Later on I'll draft out different collar types. For now, the necklines are closer to the neck and rounded. It wouldn't be difficult to square them off. Whenever I've made little girl outfits, the part that took the largest chunk of time was drafting out the pattern, yet there is very little difference in sizing. It's not like one child's bust and waist may be 2" different while another's is 6", the way it is for an adult. So having these sets of base patterns to start out with will really save a lot of time, and adjustments can be made as needed. I'm making them all to standard pattern size measurements right now.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dinner dress

I have not been feeling too well the past couple of days, which is why I factor in time for unforeseen circumstances when giving my estimates of how long something will take to deliver.

So last night and today, as I haven't felt up to sitting in front of the sewing machine hunched over making sure seams are just so, nor on the floor cutting fabric. Instead I've spent some time lounging on the couch beading some chiffon for the dinner dress.

Even when I've researched a film gown to the moon and back, I still will research it some more trying to find anything I may be doing wrong, finding examples by other seamstresses to see what they're doing that I don't do (and to find if they're right and I'm wrong), and seeing what they do wrong, so that I can make my gowns as close as possible without having access to the gown itself or someone who can take pictures for me of everything I ask. I did get pictures from someone who owned one of the original swim gowns, though those were lost in the Great Computer Crash of 2007.

I'm glad I do this. I noticed a detail I have only seen done on one other Dinner or Heaven gown (they're the same dress in different colors), and that is a gown by a Ms. J. Rouch - The sleeves are NOT sheer! The are not set-in sleeves as Ms. Rouch made hers, but the under-fabric of the gown, a peachy coral on the original and a lovely dark blue on mine, is the full length of the sleeves! So I will also do this. In addition I will be adding many more small beads to the bottom of each later under the bottom-most bead/sequin work. This will add time and expense, but it's on the original. My Heaven gowns were back before so many pictures of these details were available, even though more pictures, overall, were available.

So now to draft out a new rough pattern (on paper at least).

In the next couple days, I will finish cutting the girls' skirts, the undermost later of satin, and several layers of pinked-edged tulle, and begin the process of attaching them to the bodices. They will be nearly finished by that point, save for the zipper and floral details and hemming of the satin.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flower dresses

I've once again restarted the little girls' dresses...for the last time. Children grow like weeds, and if I don't hurry, they will outgrow the dresses before they get them! I just had to figure out the best way to attach some sleeves before realizing that these dresses will look best without sleeves at all. I will have them done within the week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Regency finished

The regency gown is finished, and oh how I love it. My internet is being painfully slow (iPhone on 3G is faster), which is really terrible considering this is Silicon Valley. The internet should be faster here but instead it's going at the sleep I remember dial-up being. Regardless, I'm updating my website offline, and will upload when the connection can handle it.

I am redoing the bodices for the girls' dresses to add angelic sleeves. There won't be a making-of feature for these dresses because I started with only a loose idea of how to make them, and I'd rather save the time taking photos and going back a few steps and taking new photos and use that time to instead actually make the dresses. The making-of features really do take a good deal of time, a lot of stopping at ever step to lay out what's been done and then taking everything back to the sewing machine.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Regency almost finished

One sleeve left, the buttonholes/buttons, and hemming, remains. Too bad I ran out of white thread. White and black thread are staples here. I can't believe I ran out. This dress looks so pretty and pure, so perfect to be worn on a beach somewhere. After the movie Titanic is over, I shall head down and buy some more.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Regency gown hold? Ha!

Well, putting it on hold lasted three days. I've already decided to make it and list on etsy. Today is miserably hot for me. It doesn't help that there is a big window above my sewing area that is too high up to cover with drapes (16 feet to the high point), and the sun is beating it. But I've been plowing away as fast as my over-heating body will let me. Not much is left to do, but my fastest right now is slow.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I do most of my sewing at night. It's cooler then. Much cooler.

The next two things I will work on are the children's flower dresses. The bodices have been cut and assembled.

Pictures of the regency progress will be posted soon, as well as the re-dyed skirt for the swim dress. Once finished, the regency gown progress pictures, more than I'll show here, will be posted on the making-of page of my site. I won't post pictures of the flower dresses until they are finished and have arrived at their destination.

For now, since it's too warm for me to move around going from sewing machine to dress form to ironing board working much more on the regency, I'll be working a bit on beading the black silk chiffon for the Titanic Dinner dress.

Several projects at one? Why yes, thank you. I enjoy this. It's every so slightly stressful, and that keeps me on the ball and makes each finished garment that much more delightful for me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Regency gown update and Titanic Swim gown

Updating this blog has slipped my mind!

Well, the regency gown is not going to work once I show a bump at all. So it's on hold until I decide whether to still make it for myself, or to put on eBay or etsy.

I re-dyed the skirt of the deluxe (but trainless) Titanic Swim dress. I decided the colors can be a little closer to the film. It's in the dryer right now while I figure out where I put the silk for the bodice. All my Swim gowns are 100% washable. As the silk is washed and dried twice before I do anything with it, all the shrinking is done. Yes, this costs little more in silk, as well as takes a few more hours. But it's worth it to deliver a quality product that won't leave the wearer panicking over a tiny spot of food. To my knowledge, I'm the only seamstress making these gowns so available who takes this step.

Since I simply don't have the space to bring out my embroidery machine right now, I will have to outsource the embroidery of the lapels and skirt detail for the Titanic Flying dress, and I really don't want to have to. However there isn't anything else I can do right now. Once those pieces come back (another month or so), then I will begin a making-of page for it. This one was specifically requested to not be silk for allergy reasons.

I'm working on a few ideas for a maternity version of the Titanic Breakfast gown as well right now to possibly make this summer.

I'm also working on some designs for a children's line while lacking the space to roll out the several yards of tulle I need to be able to make dresses for three very special little girls. I have to figure out a way to properly cut this tulle, to make it even and pretty, so that it looks right. In the next week or so I will assemble both bodices. I am quite angry at my state for still delaying tax refunds. This has hindered a much-anticipated trip to see these angels this month.

Another Guinevere belt will be made as well, to go with the Eowyn gown that's in progress, rather than a metal belt. That one I made already truly is gorgeous, and I have a very hard time sending it. I did buy more of the fabric used however, so I can make myself one at some point too.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Design ideas

I just had an idea for a wedding gown style. Painfully (in the figurative sense) I don't have the time right now to make a prototype. It is a fantastic way to wear a train down the aisle while converting the gown into something shorter for the reception, but not the usual hooking-a-train-to-the-waist that doesn't look right.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

White Cotton Regency Gown

Oh dear, I am working on a new regency gown (for myself!) and am now stuck with a minor dilemma. I cut it out a couple weeks ago, and have since found out I'm pregnant. This dress won't fit me with a full bump! But it is white cotton, more summery, so I might be able to pull it off until fall.