Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tonight was the social--the girls we SO excited to go and they all had a great time!!! Now musician daughter is working hard on her poetry presentation for tomorrow--no rest to be had here. So--here they are--the PICS!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Here it is--the day before the formal dance. The question is---Did the dress get done??? YES! It did along with the top hat, the ballet shoes and the wristlet. Along the way I did have a ton of help! It is along and hard job creating a dress-especially when the "model" won't work. That leaves lots of waiting time in there...but not to worry. My helpers are on duty and working hard! 
First there is Apollo--our little brown down. He was supposed to be an Akita something cross according to the rescue society I got him from--he was the huge red fluffy puppy that licked everyone to death and that no one wanted. I took one look at those huge red, fluffy paws and home he came with me. Apollo insists on being in the same room with me when I"m working--which often means I am stepping over him constantly. It took a bit but we finally found the solution to this--get him a bed! Apollo LOVES his bed--it is in the livingroom and he can see everything in the house. Of course, I'm not sure how he "sees" everything when he is usually in this position:

As you can see--he is hard at work protecting us:) 

On the other end of house we have our giant fluffy white (well, sometimes white) puppy. When Nemo says he wants to come in--good luck at keeping him out! He has knocked oldest son off of his feet coming in the back door--fortunately for him, there was a bed close by and he landed on it.

Now Nemo is a working dog--he usually spends all of his time outside in the pastures. For your reference:) Those tiles are 12 inch squares---go ahead---add them up:) Yes, he is a big dog!!! But all 150+ lbs is pure solid wonderful happy loving heart:) 
Yes, yes, yes--I know get to the dress!!! 
First we had to make a few items to go with the dress:
A pair of ballet shoes--which I got from Pinterest--love that site. But I didn't take a pic of the shoes--they are for her to put on when the shoes come off during the dance. The dance is in the school cafeteria so my thought is "Yuck! Bare feet on the floor--NOT!"
Then I had to make a top hat--now I only did the basic part of the hat--the form and putting the fabric covering over it. The decorations on the hat--Fiona did. I think it is pretty cool! She plans to have her hair done with vintage curls and then put her hat slightly off centered and off to the side on the one side of her head. I'll take pics tomorrow when the finishing touches are put on--but here's the hat!
This is the side view --

Pretty cool looking, eh?

Then we needed something to put all of our "stuff" into--a quilted, zippered wristlet was just the thing. 

The front of the dress--it is supposed to be asymmetrical--she wanted it like that. 

Yep--that asymmetrical thing again--drives me nuts still but--it is how she wanted it. This dress was originally done in gauze and netting--none to be found here so we did it with poly . It turned into a bit more of a princess type of dress but still the way she wanted it and she's happy. You only graduate from 8th grade once and you only have one 8th grade social. 
More pics tomorrow night after Cheryl Zdon does her hair, puts the top hat in place and we are actually "dressed." 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Best intentions--best laid plans and life throws you a curve.
I had intended to update daily as I worked but as it turns out-I can either work on the dress or update the blog. Considering that time is ticking down--working on the dress won out.
As it turns out--Matilda only worked out for a bit. I decided I really didn't want that zipper to be 21 inches long and musician daughter's waist is smaller than Matilda's shoulders so--our happy bonding time came to an end. Which makes draping fabric difficult--fortunately musician daughter doesn't mind. Good thing because neither Pumpkin nor Ziggy would be any good as a Fit Model for  "The Dress."
So the last look was of the bodice completed in the fabric with the sleeves done in a polyester overlay-really would have preferred netting but you won't find that stuff anywhere here in this town. When I asked at JA if the fabric would take a dye (silly me--I had this idea that I could dye the fabric and get the gradients that I wanted--HAHHAHAHHA--they never heard of such a thing!!! Why would anyone do THAT???) they asked "WHY?"--ok just walk away now......walk quickly and hold your tongue. I've never been good at holding my tongue but for once I succeeded!  Yea--I know--put it on the calendar with a huge gold star on it.
Next up is adding those tiers of overlay to the skirt. The base skirt is in the same fabric as the bodice. The top two layers are a lighter blue overlay. Lightly gathered and then stitched into the seams. Yep--easy no problem.  It looks pretty frumpy when hanging on the 
hanger doesn't it--and funny with just the one gore on the front. 

That's ok--it does get better. 

Or at least--musician daughter thinks so and since it is her creation she's all that counts right now:) 

So this is how it stayed for about a week--with just the top two overlays in play and one gore for the skirt. 

Then today I had some time--

I had to wait for the model to come home though-got the rest of the skirt on and the first of the three dark blue overlays on.  I still would prefer netting and a gauze type of fabric but we're working with what we could find. Tis certainly not the fashion district around here! But I think we're doing ok...

Here's the front

Here's the back--and yes, it is supposed to be asymmetrical. Being the artsy person that musician daughter is--she couldn't go with the balanced look--she had to have things "layered and with character"--ok. 

And the side view--two more layers to add and a hem. The asymmetrical aspect of it would drive me nuts but it is not my dress to wear. The next two layers are both very asymmetrical too--
Just wait until you see the tiny little top hat she has created to wear with her dress. She plans to have her hair done and then have the hat pinned just to the one side of her head. Just a tiny bit off to the side. The hat is about 7 inches tall.  I have been told to make sure the hem is high enough that she doesn't trip and fall while walking up and down the stairs. 
I am fighting the urge to make her a wand and bring in a pumpkin from the garden.....question is...will I win the fight?

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Journey through childhood....

It is inevitable--it will come. Socials, cotillion, Debutane balls and graduation. It is the same rite of passage that mothers and daughters have made for years  and now it is time for Fiona and I to cross the threshold as she leaves middle school. She will be entering the IB program this fall. If the program suits her needs she will remain in that high school--if not she will go to our local community college. Admittedly, I am not thrilled with the thought of having my 13 yr old daughter sitting in a class with a 18+yr old person but it is far better than her wasting her time in the local high schools plus it will allow her to bring her fine arts studies in house and our local colleges both are Steinway colleges which will offer her an amazing programs in all of her areas of interest. But first, we must cross the bridge of the spring social and graduation. I have loved the magnet program she has been a part of for the past 3 years and the kids have all bonded and become a force to be dealt with carefully. Why the admin team made the incredibly stupid decision to price the spring social at $15 per couple and $10 per single I don't know but they did. Being my daughter and knowing that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree my wonderous musician daughter and one of her musician friends decided that they didn't like that price inequality one bit. They don't date but what is there to stop them from going as each other's date and taking advantage of the special price? Why not a thing they decided so they are going as each other's date for the special discount rate of $7.50 each. HHHMMM--not sure what the Admin will do about this but they set themselves up for it far be it from me to interfere with the natural law of nature when it comes to their stupidity and challenging these kids. 
SO--next obvious step would be THE dress. Fiona knew exactly what she wanted and it was NOT in this color. Pink is no longer her color of choice but she wanted something very similar. She wanted the dress that Hermoine wore to the Yule Ball in Harry Potter

But she wanted the neckline up higher, more than just spaghetti straps and the back up higher. The girls had to be safe and nothing could fall down. Ok--yep--sure I can do that. 
Off we went to find fabric--which we found in a lovely teal color with a lighter blue and a teal overlay (two separate colors of overlay) 
Now the fun begins. 
FIrst you need the right tools--my cuppa Chai, handy dandy calculator, pencil and measurements. 
Taking those measurements was eye opening--I will admit--I keep thinking of her as my little girl. The one that went off to kinder every day with her hat, purse, beaded socks that all matched her outfit. She was the only kid allowed to break the "no hats" rule because she always accessorized her outfits and had since she was the ripe old age of 1 yr old (thank you Dr. Hirsch). Those measurements quickly told me that she was no longer a little girl but yes, a young lady. Yikes! How did that happen! So the plan was to make a square yoke bodice with a back zipper and T-straps. Then add a 6 gore skirt that is layered (to be able to add on the overlays-5-6 of them). Next was to draft that pattern--oh what fun that was.  
Now one can't do work without a great assistant and I certainly have my share of them. From Ziggy the cat who follows me around to Pumpkin my African Leopard Tortoise. I got Pumpkin two years ago as a hatchling. He was the size of a quarter--now he gets to roam the house a bit now and then when we can keep an eye on him. Our one yr old kitten, Athena LOVES him. She cuddles up to him every chance she gets. It is never dull around here. Pumpkin loves hanging out when I'm sewing though as he gets to look out the windows and see the world--I have always wondered what goes through his mind.

He does love the window though and I love having him around. He will grow to be around 100 lbs and the kids are already fighting over who will get him as he has a life span of around 100 years:) 
Back to the dress--first up was drafting the pattern and putting it onto the muslin. I would loved to have had musician daughter as the model but she was at Disney for a band competition all day Saturday and since she left at 5am I was left with my other fave model--Matilda.
Fiona thought it was pretty cool that I could set Matilda up to be her. The only draw back was that Matilda's headlights were not in the same spots as Fiona's but that is a minor issue--we can make adjustments for that:) 
Next up--that muslin. 
I chose a square yoke for the top and added in a bodice--drafted it to her measurements and put it together. I wasn't sure if I would need to add a midriff to it or not--she is rather long waisted. 

I put it together and being the wonderful model that she is Matilda modeled it for me. The bodice didn't come down to the waist like I wanted. I was going to add on a 6 gored skirt with overlays that would give room in the hips and would have one gore down the front--so this just wouldn't work--needed to add in a midriff. Which as it turned out--worked great as it was just the extra length needed for the zipper too. 

Now this is the look she wanted--looks a bit on the vintage side?
It sure doesn't look like much right now does it? The dream is in the head and on the paper--this is just the basics.  Ok we've got the top part now to make the bottom gown part work with the skirt and overlays.

 The straps were made wider and angled to stay on better. Side zipper changed to a back zipper. 

The skirt is a 6 gored skirt--the front gore is one continuous gore as the center gore for part of it does not have an overlay. At the bottom it does. The gores I cut into 5 parts, added seams and pieced them so that I could add the overlay into the horizontal seams as well as get the flare of the gore in the skirt. The overlay is not a ruffle it actually drapes very smoothly. I am using sewer paper ( sewer as in plumbing sewers--I have found it is great for many uses and way cheaper than muslin for doing mock ups) to see how this drapes. 

The overlays are shorter in the front and longer in the back, slightly gathered but not ruffled. Getting that vintage vibe again?

I"m not sure what Matilda is thinking about this dress at this point--have to admit if you don't have the "vision" of what it will be it is looking a bit strange:) Here is the second overlay--there is a total of 5. We decided that 6 would be too long and too much. Again --shorter in front and longer in back. Sewn into the horizontal seam of the pieced back 5 gores. In the overlay fabric, which drapes much softer, the overlay will hang softer across the front of the front gore and not look so stiff. This is all that can be done for the night so--once I have musician daughter's approval on the muslin then we can begin. We will check the fit with the muslin and then---take it apart and start with the fabric. 

The scariest part of creating is the first few cuts. Especially when you only have a certain amount of yards and there is no more --thanks JA-you can always be counted on for great things (insert extreme sarcasm here). But I will say--we did price the original dress online without our modifications and in costume quality is was over $200--dress quality was over $1000. So I'm thinking that our cost of $60 including the supplies for the hat, purse, shoes and the dress plus tax (did I mention we belong to OA--Overachiever's Anonymous)was fabulous. The color is a teal  blue for the dark base color and one overlay. The other overlay is a very light blue. She chose to keep the sleeves like the original dress--even though it was very "princessy". SO--hold the tongue just so, fingers all crossed, toes crossed, breathe held and start cutting, sewing and praying.  One thing we did find is that musician daughter's muscles in her shoulder area are different---from playing her instruments--one side is more developed than the other so I had to make adjustments for that which may make it look a bit lopsided on Matilda but it works great on musician daughter. 

And so this is where we ended our weekend on Sunday night--3 days of work and we have a completed bodice with sleeves (made in the overlay fabric) ready to have the zipper inserted in the back. The bodice is completely lined and it actually fits beautifully. Wonders of all wonders--how did that ever happen? Monday will be zipper insertion day:) By hand because a dress like this can not have any machine stitching on the outside. Go ahead--call me crazy but if you're going to make the journey might as well make it one really awesome one where you slide into home base, battered, bruised with welts on your backside and raspberries on your head. Besides--there aren't many things I can do for my little girl anymore--I can't hold her in my arms and rock her, I can't cuddle her in bed and read, I can't lay on a blanket and watch the cloud animals but I can make her dream dress and make it a dream I shall:)