Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MOG Dress Completion, and Accessories!

Now it was time to hem my MOG dress, but first I had to get some shoes.  I tried on every shoe in this city...even bought a few pair!  But nothing felt comfortable.  I couldn't imagine wearing any of these shoes all night, let alone dancing in them. 

I began wondering HOW on earth do those dancers on TV do it? 
Of course!  They wear DANCING SHOES!

So I got on the phone and called a dancewear store close to me.  Yep, they have dancing shoes IN STOCK.  So I  IMMEDIATELY drove over there. 

I tried on several styles...EVERY single shoe I tried on was MUCH more comfortable than ANY of the 'pretty' ones I had tried before.  Even the ones that were the wrong size were more comfortable!

These were not the prettiest, but they had a sole that could be worn outside (unlike the shoes for ballroom dancing, which have a soft sole).  The color was blah...tan...but I knew I could paint them any color I wanted!  Plus, my dress is full and long...how much would they really show? 
So I bought these:

Gorgeous, eh?

Once I took them home, I compared them to the pair of shoes I had already purchased.
Visually, there was no comparison...the dancing shoes were much wider and clunkier.  the other shoes were 'prettier'.  But...imagine...if that wide shoe fits, how in the world is my foot supposed to survive in the narrow, 'pretty' shoe?

I got out the masking tape and began taping the soles.

Then I started mixing paint!  I used Lumiere paints and mixed gold and silver to get an 'in-between' color.  Here you can see the painted shoe on the left and the unpainted one on the right.
But as you can see, the newly painted shoe doesn't match the 'pretty' shoe.  I kept painting. 

After a few days, I decided the shoes were STILL too gold for my taste, even though the dress DOES have a gold mesh underlayer in the bodice.  I really wanted them to be a bit more silver.  So I mixed paints again...this time using a Platinum color mixed with some gel medium to make it more translucent.  Better.  In this picture, the platinum color is the one in the center.

Then, in a moment of weakness, I decided to see what would happen if I rubbed SHOE POLISH on them to 'antique' these shoes, like the 'pretty ones'.  Well, duh!   These shoes don't have folds to hold the darker polish...they are smooth.  I quickly rubbed it off as best as I could and called the shoes DONE!

Oh, the 'pretty' shoes were returned to the store, unworn.

Now that the wedding shoes had been acquired, I could finally hem the MOG dress.  After it had hung for a while to let the bias skirt 'seek its place in the world', my sister came over and pinned up the hem for me...she is very good at that kind of stuff!

I hand-basted close to the folded edge, then marked a constant amount UP from the fold.

Next, I cut on that marked line, so that I would have an even hem allowance.

I decided to use hem lace on this hem...I wanted it to look nice but be very secure.  I didn't want it pulling out after accidently catching a heel on the hem! I found some purple hem lace in...where else?...my grandmother's stash!  But it wasn't quite enough to go all the way around the dress hem.  No biggie, I thought.  I'll go ahead and start sewing with this lace, then get some more in the morning when the stores open.

I soon realized that it was miles around this them!  But I sewed and sewed...using a herringbone stitch on TOP of the lace to make it lay very flat...hoping to make it less likely to catch on anything.

Then, in the morning, I left home to pick up some more purple lace.  Well, duh.  Have you tried to buy hem lace lately?  There are VERY few colors available, and that is *if* you can find the hem lace at all!  I had to buy navy blue...so part of my hem has purple lace and part has navy blue!  sigh.

I was reminded by friends that I might want to get a little purse to carry...something to put my phone (camera) in as well as a hanky.  Hmmmm....  that is not something I had thought about before.  But after shopping around town, I quickly realized that a) my taste exceeds my budget, and b) there is not much selection in this town!

One day I was prowling around in Kohls, looking for who knows what...when I stumbled upon this tiny little wrist purse.  It was exactly the color of my MOG dress!  So I had to buy it.

Once I got it home, I pried off that silly silver name on the front.

Then I used Glad Press 'n Seal and a Sharpie to make a pattern of that front area...

I used that pattern on a piece of the layered lace-mesh-satin fabric and cut a panel to cover the purse front.  I used hot glue to attach it!  Done.

Leave it to me to turn this wedding into one big craft project!

But it turned out fun and fine. 

Oh, BTW, the MOB decided she wasn't crazy about her teal dress, so she took it back and got a dark blue one.  I was worried that now mine might look too similar to hers...but since no one else seemed to care, I didn't either!  In the end, we coordinated! :)

The End.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

MOG Dress Construction Pt 2

When it came time to draft the skirt portion of this dress, I was not sure WHAT to start with!

If I chose a Dropped-Waisted DRESS, which seemed like what I was making, the waist of the skirt was straight across...it just seemed odd.

So I looked at just using a SKIRT...and adding FLARE.  It had a little curve to the waist but not much.

So I looked at the Empire-Waisted DRESS.  Again, once I cut it off at 6" below the waist, I would be left with a straight line for the waist seam.  Hmmmm.....

Next I looked at the Midriff-Waisted DRESS.  This one seemed more promising!  I don't know for sure that the waist SHOULD be curved, but it seemed logical to me that it should.  So this is the one I chose.
On the FRONT pattern, I used the OFFSET tool to offset the waist 6" below it's current level...this is because the midriff of the bodice extends 6" below the waist.  I removed and discarded that upper portion, then duplicated/mirrored the front pattern to create a whole front, adding BIAS grainlines.  Yep, as if this isn't already hard enough, this will be cut on the bias.

Again, for the BACK pattern, I offset the waist 6" and discarded the upper part of the pattern.  I chose to add a bit of walking ease to that back center seam...I found KNEE LEVEL on my pattern and CUT the back seam there, then ROTATED (by units) the lower segment outward (CW) by 5".  Bias grainlines were added.

Now I had a layout...I could see how much fabric was required and knew how to layout the pieces.  But I did NOT print the full-size layout...too much paper and assembly!

Instead of printing the WHOLE front, I printed the half pattern, then taped it to more paper at the center line, folded at the center, then cut out the pattern double.  once cut, I unfolded to have a whole pattern.

To cut this large pattern piece, I placed a folded cardboard cutting board on the ironing board and put it right up next to my cutting table.  I carefully layed out the fabric, keeping the cross-grain and lengthwise grain straight.  I rotary-cut what I could on the large mat, then used scissors where I had to.
 Once the front was cut and set aside, I carefully pulled more fabric up onto the cutting table and again smoothed it into place, trying to get the grainlines straight.  I cut one back and then the other.

When it was time to sew, I found that the seam lengths were unequal.  Well, long story short, eventually I compared my cut fabric pieces to the pattern pieces.  Oh dear!  One back was close enough to 'right' to be used, but one was way off!   After cutting other pieces, I no longer had a nice straight cross-grain to align with the matt when pulling up more the fabric on the table. 

I had just enough fabric left to cut ONE MORE back pattern!  And this time, I carefully aligned two cardboard cutting mats on the floor, then carefully aligned the cross-grain with a line on the mat, while carefully aligning the selvedges with other lines on the mat!  I even pinned the fabric to the mat to avoid distortion!

After placing the pattern in postion, I CHALKED around it...carefully!  Yes, this is how it SHOULD have been done in the first place.  But I was trying to take shortcuts...

Once the chalk lines were drawn, I could then pick up the fabric and carry it to my cutting table, where I proceeded to use the rotary cutter to cut it out.  It is much easier for me to cut this way, as opposed to crawling around on my knees with scissors!
Finally!  The skirt was finally sewn to the midriff section!  It is starting to look like a dress now!
I hand tacked the "waist" seam allowances...above and below the midriff section...to the foundation fabric, just to be sure they stayed smoothly in place.

When it came time to cut the lining fabric, there was NO QUESTION as to how it would be done.  On the floor, with chalk...

Once again, the pattern pieces were layed out and chalked around while the fabric was pinned to the board. 

The lining went in nicely.

I attached the lining to the dress at the neckline, using NO FACING.   I attached the lining to the zipper, too, and (later) made thread chains to connect the seams near the hem.

Now it needed some pressing and a hem...but before I could hem it, I had to find some SHOES!

To be continued...

Friday, April 19, 2013

MOG Dress Construction, Pt 1

I had a difficult time deciding on fabric to use for my MOG dress.  There was not a huge selection of fabric at my local Hancock Fabric stores...I visited 3 in my area, as well as the Joann's Fabric store!  I really wanted to use silk, but that was not to be, unless I wanted a pale oyster color (which Klassy Katz had!).  I did not want pale oyster or any other pale color.  After trying on a gazillion RTW dresses, I knew I needed a strong color....preferably a jewel tone. 

The MOB had a teal dress so I could not use that.

I finally settled on a polyester crepe-back satin from the BFF line (by Lauren Hancock). There was a coordinating lace, but it wasn't special...not reimbroidered or anything. But this was the best I could do locally and I had procrastinated too long to shop the internet and send off for samples...so I purchased this grape hyacinth-colored fabric.  

As I was trolling the aisles, hoping to stumble onto something better before I had this cut, I spied an odd mesh fabric...it was both purple and gold!  I wondered...what if?

So I bought some of that mesh fabric as well!  I decided to use it UNDER the lace...that way, the dress would have some sparkle without my having to add beads!

I cut each layer of the bodice separately...that is, I cut each piece from 3 different fabrics, one fabric at a time.

As you can see, I bought more than enough fabric...there is plenty of gold mesh left over for more fun things!

And when the lady cut my 3 yards of lace (I only really needed 1.5 but had allowed for experimentation), she used her 'gun' to scan the price on the bolt and said, "Do you know how much this lace is?"
Oh dear, I thought.  "Yes, it is $9.99, but on sale for 30% off."
She was shaking her head, no.  She stuttered a bit..."It is 21---er--"...pause (my heart fluttered...21?)..."seventy cents per yard."
Both of us were sure it was a mistake, but she said she couldn't change it.  I bought all 8 yards!  and for less than the regular cost of one yard!  So I have lots of lace, too!

Once the layers were cut out, I carefully aligned each one and glue-basted them together around the edges. This way, once the glue dried, it could be treated as one layer.

Here you can kinda get an idea of what this looks like once the fabrics are layered.  The gold mesh really added a richness that the lace alone lacked.

I don't know WHAT I will do with all the leftover lace!

Here are the bodice pieces, front and back, all lined up as they fit together.  The FRONT pieces are on top, and the BACK pieces at the bottom.

I serge-finished the edges of the vertical seams before sewing these pieces together.

Turns out, that was not necessary, and was actually not helpful, so much of it was eventually ripped out.

Once the vertical (princess) seams were sewn, the seam allowances were clipped and notched to allow for spread.  This made it easier to remove the unneccesary serger threads!

The bodice pieces went together fairly fast and smoothly.  Then it was time to work on the midriff section.  so back to the drawing board...er, drafting program! 

Once the pattern was made for the midriff, I started to work. I found this woven fabric in my stash of interfacings...I think it was originally purchased to make 'rangers' for jackets...you know, those two pieces of interfacing that encompass the back neck and shoulder and one armhole...they cross in back, giving support and movement.

Anyway, I decided it would be a good foundation layer for my midriff.

I cut my midriff pieces from the woven fabric, then marked and sewed the darts.

How funny it looks once the darts force it to take shape!

Now, at this point, I wasn't sure exactly HOW I was gonna get the midriff done.  I tried DRAPING the fashion fabric over this foundation...for about 27 seconds...!  t
Then I came to my senses!  I am a flat-pattern thinker...my brain just doesn't like to drape.

But then I got a wild idea.

WHAT IF I pleated the fabric BEFORE I put it on the foundation?

I have a pleater board that I made several years ago...it was a sewing guild project and we all made one.  So I pulled it out and set to work.

I put the right side DOWN toward the pleater board (I am using the crepe side, not the satin side, as my 'right' side) and began pushing the fabric under the 'lips' of the pleater board...skipping every other one.

Then, I used an iron-on tricot interfacing and pressed it onto the fabric to hold the pleats in place.

I did a wide section for the front, then two smaller sections for each half of the back. 
This took A LOT of fabric!

Once I had my pieces pleated, I began to consider once again HOW I was going to attach this to the foundation.

uh oh.

Even though I had cut this fabric on the bias before pleating it...so it would have lots of 'give'...it was still NOT possible to force this pleated piece to have the same shape as the foundation pieces. 


No, the dart shaping had to be incorporated. 
I went back to the computer and created a new pattern piece for the pleated midriff.

Since the Empire waist was 3" above the waistline and the midriff extended 6" below the waistline, my midriff section was 9" tall.  I divided that into 6 equal parts...1.5" each.

Then I separated the sections and added folding lines, then closed the dart fragments in each section.

I ended up with two sections with opposing curves which would be joined at the waist.

So I cut these pieces from some more fabric...again, placing them on the bias...and began sewing these pleats in.  I folded on the fold lines, then basted on the pleat lines.  Once the pieces were pleated I began hand-sewing them to the foundation.

It was awful.  The bias stretched, causing weird bumps.

So I decided it couldn't be bias.  AGAIN, I cut new fabric to try anew.  I was worried that I might run out of fabric...and I had purchased THE WHOLE BOLT...there was nothing left at the store to go back and get should I run out!

This time I decided to pleat the fabric ONTO the foundation.  I aligned the top edges and pinned.  Then I sewed on the fold line, then folded the fabric upward and pressed...then basted on the pleat line, and sewed again about 3/16th" below that...so that once the basting was removed, the pleat would stay partially closed.  Then I would press the fabric downward again and sew on the next foldline...etc. 

Well, when I got the second pleat done, I realized that the FIRST pleat didn't measure 1.5" as planned.  It was only 1.25".  I decided NO BIG DEAL...I would make the second pleat 1.375", then the third and remaining pleats would be 1.5" and no one would know the difference.

Well, the math didn't work out that way.  once I got to the bottom, there was too much fabric for just one pleat, but not enough space for two pleats with the correct spacing.  I had to start over yet again!

Each time I started over, I had to cut a new foundation...because it wasn't worth ripping out all those pleats to salvage the foundation!

So once again, I pinned the top edge to the foundation and began pleating the fashion fabric to the foundation...this time MEASURING VERY CAREFULLY!  Each pleat was 1.5" wide.

Once the upper section was done, the lower section was begun.
I sewed the waist of the lower section to the waist of the upper section and continued with the pleating.

I even added my machine's quilting guide to help make sure that each pleat was precisely sewn!

Once the midriff sections were finally pleated, I could sew them each to their respective bodice piece. 

FINALLY, it was time to put in the zipper!  My choices were limited...the best color match was not an invisible zip, but in the end I decided to use the invisible one.

I put in the zipper, stopping the top about 7" below the neckline.  I wanted a slit in back but wanted it to be short enough that the dress would cover my bra band!

Once the zipper was in, I could finally sew all the bodice pieces together, front and back, and try this thing on!  Yay!

Well, not yay.  It was too 'blousey' under my bust!  Ugh! 

Even though I had sewn a trial muslin, it was NOT an Empire waisted one.  And we all know that an Empire waist fits more snugly around the ribs than a top with a 'regular' waist.  I was pissed.

Just like in that Pleated Dress I needed to make the waist dart wider at its upper end!  I could pinch out 0.5" under each princess seam at the Empire seam.

I took it apart.  I resewed the lower end of the princess seam (below bust point) to remove additional fabric (0.5"). 

Plus, I had allowed a 1" SEAM ALLOWANCE at the bodice Empire seam (just in case) and had decided I needed to use it all. Well, once the midriff was sewn to the bodice, I DID NOT need that extra!  It was too blousey in length under the bust as well!  so, I also removed this excess length from the front bodice at this time.

Then I looked at that midriff section that I had painstakingly pleated (ad nauseum)...I didn't cry, but I should have!  No, instead I began ripping. 

I ripped the waist seam and the seams holding the pleats ABOVE the waist.  I was finally able to remove the piece of fabric that was the upper front midriff.

I could easily sew the waist dart of the foundation piece larger...basically, it was correct at waist and below, but needed to be sewn straight up from waist to the Empire seam.

Well, think about this....if the dart is wider, that means the SHAPE of the pattern piece that represents the fashion fabric  has now changed, too! So I could NOT reuse the fabric...I had to (yet again) cut another piece of fabric for this upper front midriff section!  At this point, I am measuring to be sure there is enough left to cut a skirt!  There was...

So, I folded out the corrected dart on the pattern and cut the new piece.  Now, HOW am I gonna do this...since the midriff was initially formed by sewing the pleats from the top down?  Basically, I had to sew a lot of it by hand. 

Funny...after hand-sewing for a while, I was thinking to myself, 'this is so much more ZEN than shopping for a dress.'  But I had to laugh at this thought, because only a few hours earlier I wanted to tear my hair out!

I resewed the front midriff to the front bodice.  But remember? I had allowed that 1" seam allowance on the bodice that needed to be removed...ON THE BACK, TOO! 

So, now I had to RIP OUT THE INVISIBLE ZIPPER and remove the excess 3/8" length on the back bodice....then resew the bodice and midriff sections and reinsert that zipper.

Eventually I got the front and back put back together with the zipper in...and it fit!  Now it was time to draft the skirt...

To be continued.

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