Wedding: I think I have the SHOES!

4.30.2011

You may remember my major shoe crisis for the wedding.  I sent back the orange-ey yellow ones I didn't really like, since they didn't fit well, anyway.  So I was quite discouraged until I randomly scrolled through Amazon's formal shoe selection and found...

For only $29.97 and free shipping...

The PERFECT Nina shoes I have always liked best!!  The ones that don't come in yellow.

In white!!  In my size!

So I ordered them.  I want to dye them yellow.  I think.

And then... they arrived!

In such a pretty box... with the flannel protective bag and everything...

Yay!!  So cute!

So there they are.  My perfect $90 shoes.  For a great price.  Now what?

Have you ever dyed your own satin shoes?  What kind of dye should I use?  I assume not the powdered RIT stuff, but can I buy a liquid dye at the craft store and will it work out?

I think I may take off a bow and try to dye it first, and if it works, dye both shoes.  I may want to replace the bows with something more unique anyway, so if it comes out looking bad it won't be the end of the world.

Help!  I am relying on your shoe-dying experience!  Thanks so much!!  =)

Handmade and boutique bargains and a Nordstrom giftcard giveaway!!

4.29.2011

I am excited today to announce a very cool online shop called VeryJane.  Have you signed up for Groupons or other daily deals in your city?  VeryJane is like that but for handmade and boutique items--love those!
VeryJane is brand new and will have all kinds of fun deals on accessories, clothes, home goods, and other lovely stuff made by artists and small businesses.

Until May 2nd, all their deals are FREE to new members!  So, all you have to do is sign up and you can access free deals until May 2nd, and then all kinds of good bargains afterwards!
Super cute stuff.
To thank you for joining, VeryJane will give one of my readers a $25 Nordstrom giftcard.  Just head over there by clicking here and sign up!
I love getting daily deals on local businesses and VeryJane does the same thing for cute online stuff.  Check it out!

An easy-to-wear seersucker dress for spring!

4.28.2011

Another cute project from Jessi of Sweetie Pie Bakery!


We aren't lacking for April showers here in Chicago. This past Sunday we had sun, thankfully. Other than that, rainrainrain!

I didn't plan well. I should have had my hair done and a pile of dresses next to me as I started out the window this week so I could have hurried outside for that window of sunshine in between all this rain. I'm just itching to get outdoors to take some pictures with green grass, flowers and sun!

Until then, I have to improvise and take them indoors...poor lighting and all!

As for the dress, (I suppose that is what you're here to read about!) I used the Evening Empire Dress pattern from Anna Maria Horner. This is my second attempt at this dress. The first time I used the full length, strapless version. This time, I went for option A-straps and shorter.

I kept pulling up the bodice on the strapless version, afraid it would fall right off. I'm sure it wouldn't have gone anywhere, but it still made me so nervous. This version is much more comfortable to wear with the kids.

I chose a seersucker for the fabric. Very summery and very child friendly. It washes up beautifully, every time no matter what they seem to get on it.

I'm definitely a fan of this pattern. The bodice detail is nice and looks great with the stripe fabric, I think. Simple detail. Perfect for a summer dress. The only thing that would make it more perfect: pockets. And maybe some sunshine!

Soooo cute.  I love the classic blue and seersucker stripes!!  Can't wait for that warm weather here in Oregon, either.
Readers, thanks for checking out Adventures with Sweetie Pie Bakery!

My easy curtain method tutorial

4.27.2011

Yes, easy.  There are probably tons of tutorials out there for curtains, since they are about the easiest thing you can make aside from like napkins or something, but here's another one!  I got a couple requests after I posted about my recent simple and transformational curtain project.

I went in to Anthropologie a while ago and decided to remake my living room, which since we moved in not long ago doesn't really have an identity.  I even bought new fabric just for some creative pillows and home dec ideas inspired by Anthro.  I had a couple of hippie wall hangings from long ago, and I hung them up on the big window since I hate bare windows without curtains.  But they blocked too much light, didn't match each other, and didn't help my decor at all.  Bleh.  So here's the before:
Aaaah so ugly!  And dark.

So I wanted to make some new ones.  In keeping with the Anthro-ey theme, I went to their site for inspiration...
 
Pretty.

I thought, so many of those are just printed!  I can do that!  I have cool stencils and such!  What if I started with a plain curtain and stenciled or embelished the design I wanted?

I bought six yards of white 45" wide quilter's cotton at JoAnn on super sale.  I wanted something a little nicer than muslin.  That's really all you need, plus a curtain rod.  I only needed five yards for my floor-length curtains, but there's nothing wrong with having some extra white cotton around!  Anyway...

Ideally you would stencil your fabric before you sew it, so that it's flat/smooth all the way and also so that if your stencil overlaps with the edges, the pattern wraps around the edge.  But I was really anxious to get something else up on that window and don't know exactly what pattern I want yet, so I did it the wrong way and sewed them first!

The tutorial:
  •  Measure what the finished length should be.  It's hard to tell but my tape measure is going up as high as the top of the curtain rod itself.
  • For me, floor-to-top of rod was 84".  (Interesting note: I've heard from interior designers that there are only three acceptable lengths for curtains: falling to the bottom of the window glass, falling to the bottom of the window molding, or falling all the way to the floor).
  • Decide how wide a hem you want and how big a casing.  Make sure your casing is wide enough to fit the curtain rod through it!  Add .5" to both measurements for turn-under.  My top casing will be 2" and my hem will be 2.5".  Add the seam allowance, and add together to get the final measurement for your fabric.
  • I always like to start with a very straight edge--when sewing on rectangles I like to be exact.  With most woven fabrics, the best way to make sure is by tearing.  Snip near the cut edge of the fabric and tear, losing often up to an inch or so on one side due to unevenness.  If your fabric doesn't tear, then cut carefully while following a thread along the width of the fabric.  You don't want lopsided curtains!
  • Measure your fabric to the length you just calculated and snip.  Tear!  Make the two panels both exactly the same length.
  • About the width of the curtains: most people want a curtain to be is 1.5 times as big as the window--e.g. for a 60" wide window, you'd have a cumulative 90" width of curtains.  But it's perfectly okay if they're a little bigger or a little smaller.  And, for a big window, the easiest thing to do is use the entire width of the fabric (42"-60", depending) and just hem the selveges.  On a finished selvage edge, you only have to turn the fabric under once--there will be no raw edges!
  • Start by carefully pressing the long (up-and-down) edges.  I'm pressing mine with a 1/2" hem, just enough to cover all the perforations above the edge.  All fabrics have different selvages, though.
  • Sew along your pressed edges.  You can pin them if you need to, but for my simple cotton I didn't bother.
  • Now that you've got all four (two on each) long sides turned under, we'll create the casings and hem.  These do need to be turned under twice so you don't have a raw edge on the inside and a chance of seams pulling out. 
  • I recommend using a hem gauge to make sure you're even all the way across!  This is my 2" wide top casing; I'm turning under the top by .5".  On this one, I recommend pinning carefully.
  • Sew along your pinned casing, keeping a consistent and straight seam allowance.
  • Do the same with your hem.  Press, pin, sew.
  • Hang your curtains!

Yes, they are very plain.  Like I said I had planned to Anthro-tize them, and still will, with some sort of stencil or other embelishment.  But for now I just wanted to get something up on the window!  Now to brainstorm stencil colors as I decorate the rest of the room... I may even make a stencil!

Wedding dress updates and progress! Part 2

4.24.2011

(Avert your eyes if you're waiting till the end for the big reveal!!)

Like I said, I'm making my wedding dress and am happy to post pics as we go.  The process is taking a while since I'm only working on it at my mom's house on the weekends.  My parents live 45 minutes or so away and I've been going out there on Saturdays or Sundays to do the wedding dress and help my mom get ready for the civil war reenacting season.  She has a business making historical clothing and is VERY busy this time of year!  But it's lots of fun to work on the wedding dress there with her nearby, and get her help on the tricky parts.  She is a cutting-out expert.

Anyway, if you want to be surprised when the dress is done, wait till I finish it next month or till August when I can post pics of the wedding!!  If not, here's part 2 of the process!!

I assembled the lining of the skirt, gored with 6 panels.
I put the skirt on the mannequin, which just makes it so much more fun!  I draped all four of my sheer tulle layers (grey, ivory, pale pink, and shimmery peach) onto the mannequin and tied a ribbon around the waist.  Just to get an idea of the look...
I plan to do self-fabric embellishment with little flowers and all, but still haven't decided if I'll add some lace as well, so I threw some on there to try out also.

Then it was time to assemble the bodice.  I did an "interlining," which means I put the lining and fashion fabric (in this case the first layer of the fashion fabric, since I plan to cover it with tulle shirring) together and sew them right sides together.  I serged each of the pieces along the long seams before sewing them together so I can insert the boning in the seam allowances.  I pulled out my mom's box of corset boning... plastic-covered steel...
See, I just inserted the boning in the seam allowance!!  I'll put some in the side seams as well.
I also took a little horizontal dart in the center front of the bodice to make the bust fit better--there's a gap there with this pattern otherwise, and on a wedding dress, I thought it really should fit.  Vintage dresses often have this dart, actually.
Anyway, next I gathered three layers of tulle, together (not all four like the skirt will have, don't want to add too much bulk).  I cut rectangles the width of the bodice and ran gathering seams down the angled seams.  I pinned the sheer layers onto the grey pieces.  It was a bit of a pain to get them all to lay flat.
Then I sewed the front and back together at the right side seam (I'm going to put a side zipper on the left rather than a center back zipper).  I also put a belt of strong, sturdy linen in as a reinforcement.  I basted it to the bottom with big stitches to keep it in place.
Ta-da!  Here it is on the dress form.
Yay!  A shirred bodice and a plain gored skirt.
Next up: gathering all the layers of the skirt and putting them on.  Then sewing the bodice to the skirt.  Stay tuned for more updates!!

A new dress from an old fave pattern

4.22.2011

I love Cynthia Rowley's pattern 2497 for Simplicity.  I have made it or variations on it several times before, as a dress, top, or short dress/swimsuit cover-up!
I wanted to make something similar again, this time inspired by a cute dress I saw on a girl at work the other day.  It was made of a sheer print and had a ruffle in the front in a bib shape, rather than curving around the neckline.

I bought some of JoAnn's "Simply silky prints" or whatever they're called, when there was a good sale.  It only took a yard or so!  I love the neutral colors in this one.

(Forgive me: my official blog photographer (fiancé!) is out of town this weekend so I had to take the pics myself.  Without a mannequin or knowledge of how to use my camera timer, this is the best I can do for pics!)
I lined it with another neutral, and made up the ruffle by cutting it on the bias and gathering and hemming!
I did a few things differently from the pattern, as you can see.  The full lining meant I didn't need a bias binding around the neck and armholes.  And I put the zipper on the side instead of in the back.
It fits pretty well but is lower-cut than I would prefer.  I'll have to see if I'm comfortable with wearing it to work as-is!

You can't see the length in these pics but I cut it to the pattern version C.  It's a great length.  The skirt is fully lined, too.

I love the natural waist!  And gathers around the bust.
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