Category Archives: Sewing

The Rest of the Dress

All Layers Back

Just as when I made my wedding dress (I completed the bodice and then didn’t work on the skirt for a couple of months) this post has been on the back burner for some time. Now I am excited to share other wedding projects, but I feel I can’t move on to those until this is done. Quick note, if you click on each photo, they are linked to Flickr. My Flickr page gives a further description of the photo.

The Lining Layer

After working on the bodice for what felt like million hours, the skirt portion was a simple undertaking. The dress didn’t have any crinoline or fancy under-skirting to make it poof out any. It was a basic A-line-ish skirt with a small train. The only difference being that this dress had a lining, the main fabric, and the lace overlay.

Lifted Overlay

Because I was using expensive (at least for me) and not easily replaceable (everything had been bought online or from far away), I didn’t want to send it through my serger to create finished edges. Instead, I opted for French seams. This doubled sewing time since each seam needed to be sewn twice.

Main Fabric Layer

A French seam is similar to an outside leg seam on blue jeans. First, you sew the fabric together from the outside. Then, you turn the garment inside-out and sew along the same line just far enough away to encase the edge between the seams. Doing this prevents the fabric from unraveling and leaving strings all over.

It really was quite boring doing this portion since all I was sewing was long straight seams over and over and over and over again.  I was delighted when I finally got to baste (temporarily stitch) the three skirt layers together.

French Seam

When it came time to stitch the bodice to the skirt, I found another conundrum, the bodice was decidedly longer than the skirt opening. Even with my decision to attach the bodice further down the skirt than the normal 5/8 inch. I discovered with the different seam and the multiple layers, the skirt was narrower than the practice copy. Thankfully, the skirt flared out and by lowering the bodice, I was able to make it fit nicely.

Lace Overlay  Seam

My solution to the extra bodice length was to add fancy buttons and loops rather than the usual hidden hook and eye. Doing this also added support to help keep my dress up!

By the time I got to hemming this project, I was over the whole thing! Really, I just don’t like hemming stuff. I often have a handful of projects hanging around waiting for hems. Five minutes of work, but I just don’t do it. In this case, since I lowered the bodice, I didn’t have much to work with for hemming. I decided to do a rolled hem with my serger. Doing this meant I wouldn’t have to iron and pin each skirt. Instead, I could just sit down and start feeding the fabric through the machine and it would come out with thread encasing the edge of the fabric. What could have been a massive hours long project was quickly completed in less than an hour.

I was finally finished!

All Layers Front

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The Bodice

Wedding Dress Bodice

After cutting out the dress pieces, the bodice was the most intensive portion to construct. Yes, construct. This wasn’t your basic dress top. This small portion of the dress contains 5 layers of fabric. And boning. It was also the most interesting portion to make as I have never made something quite this elaborate before.

Wedding Dress Bodice

The 5 layers include, from outside to inside, lace, Peau de soie, underlining, interfacing, and lining. I decided to go all out with my fabrics and use silk linings. I used silk chiffon for the underlining and silk habotai for the lining. There was no iron-on interfacing on this dress. I used sew-in interfacing. This was heavy-duty stuff; adding this enabled the bodice to stand on its own.

Wedding Dress Bodice

Underlining is like stay stitching. It is added to a garment to add stability. It is also used to place markings so you don’t have to mark on the nicer outside fabric. Thankfully, I only needed to use it on the bodice. In my research, I learned that it is often used over the entire garment. What makes using an underlining time-consuming is that you hand stitch the underlining to the main fabric. Once done, you treat them as a single piece.

Wedding Dress Bodice

Next, you add the interfacing. I also hand sewed this in. I don’t recall my reasoning, but I did. The interfacing is very sturdy. The bolt was labeled for use in bodices for strapless or formal gowns. Right now, I can’t recall specifically what kind it was.

Wedding Dress Bodice

I somehow managed to miss a step at this point and didn’t add the boning to just the linings and main fabric. I skipped ahead and added the lace overlay. Thankfully, thanks to the type of fabrics I was using, I was able to mostly hide the stitching when I added the boning casings.

 Wedding Dress Bodice

As my deviation from the pattern, I eliminated the pleats in the lace. I rather liked small pattern of the lace on its own. Before adding the lining, I decided the bodice needed a little piping along the top. I used some of the scraps from cutting out the dress and made matching piping. I wish I had also added it to the bottom of the bodice as well. At the time, I was planning on making a belt to wear with the dress. I changed my mind/ran out of time to do this.  I will probably add this detail when I refashion the dress into a sun dress!

Wedding Dress Bodice

It was about half-way through the construction of the bodice that I realised why wedding dresses are so expensive. I also established my price should anyone ask me to make them a wedding dress. My fee, not including materials, will be five thousand dollars. That sounds like a high price, until you calculate the cost of time. I spent about a month working on the bodice. I will admit to taking extra care on each step as well as giving thinking time to consider details. I wanted this dress to be amazing.

Wedding Dress Bodice

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Work Begins

I may have purchased my fabric in November, but it wasn’t until May when I finally started work on the dress. I have a myriad of reasons (excuses) why I didn’t begin sooner. Too busy teaching school; lose a little more weight; doing research. They were all a little bit true. But in fact, I was terrified to get started. What if I did something wrong? What if it looked horrible? What if I had to drive all the way back to Miami and they didn’t have anymore lace?

As the school year neared the end, I knew I had to get started. I spent some time reading about wedding dress construction and realised I needed linings and stabilizers and boning and interfacing. I spent a little time finding and ordering such items. (I’ll share resources in a later post.)

Finally, I got to work. Normally, when I cut out a pattern, I layer fabrics that are multiples of the same piece. I would cut out the lining and the outer fabric in one go. It saves time. There was no way I was going to layer the fabrics for this job. Each fabric would be cut separately, beginning with the least expensive fabric. I figured a little practice wouldn’t hurt before cutting into that marvelous lace.

The Cutting


I wish I had taken more photos of this process. However, my full concentration was required to make certain every piece was facing the correct direction and I cut the right number of said pieces. Never has cutting out a pattern been so stressful!


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Wedding Dress Woes

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to make my own wedding dress. Over the years, my idea of the ideal wedding dress has changed dramatically from a simple shift to the grand puffy Cinderella style gown and back again. At one point, I had even purchased a pattern. I’m sure it was 99¢.  I wanted it shiny and silky, then muted and taffeta. I swore up and down it would never be lace!

Wedding Dress Fabric

The only detail that remained the same were the sleeves. There was never a plan to have sleeves. I remained steadfast that it would be sleeveless with a neckline that went straight across. No sweetheart necklines for this girl!

We had a fairly long engagement, so I had much time to ponder just exactly how I wanted to make this dress. I spent hours scouring the internet for inspiration. I finally settled on 3 similar designs. One was made with eyelet lace. The other was made with Alencon lace (which I later learned is very, very expensive). The third seersucker.  The debate between these three dresses was decided when other details about the wedding were settled. I didn’t want to make a simple dress and have an elaborate wedding. I didn’t want an elaborate dress and a picnic wedding.

Option 3

Option 1









When I finally settled on a sort of vintage/homemade vibe for the wedding, I solidified my dress decision and bought the fabric. Full on lace covered dress here I come. Even then, it wasn’t until I bought the fabric that I was sure this was the right idea.

Option 2 – The winner!


My inspiration came from an Alice Padrul wedding dress called the Adele. Which, I discovered has a little sister pattern made by Butterick. They aren’t exact, but I didn’t need exact, I just needed a base to start my dress.

No ordinary fabric could be used to make this dress, this required a special trip to a fabric district. I wasn’t so crazy to demand to fly out to New York City or Los Angles (I did consider it.); I headed to Miami. This was the closest place I could find. I couldn’t fathom ordering such important material online. I needed to touch it and see it in person.

Wedding Dress Fabric


I found the perfect fabrics at Carol Fabrics Inc. (sorry, no website). The service there was superb. The lady (whom I believe was Carol), was very patient and kind. She offered suggestions, but ultimately left the decision up to me. (This was not the case at all the shops I visited that day.)  I intended to find the fancy Alencon lace, but wasn’t able to find Ivory. I found a much less expensive lace that had caught my eye when I entered the shop. I would have saved much time if I had just gone with my gut in the first place.

I promise, these wedding dress posts get more exciting.

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India Fabric Top

Nearly everyone who sews has a stash of fabric. Some are larger than others. Some have collections dating back decades. Some maybe only a few weeks (Yep, I think that counts!) Some, if they are lucky, have a stash that came from various locations and come with a bit of a story.

Pink India-3909

The white-flowered overlay on this top came from my stash. It comes with a bit of a story of which I only know a small part. This fabric was bought for me by my sister. She spent a short time in India on a missions trip. While on this trip, she managed to remember me and found this fabric. I was so excited to have her home and that she brought me something, that I never thought to ask about where she bought it. Did she barter for it? Was it in an open market? Was there a huge fabric store? It’s been a dozen years or so now, I doubt she even remembers the particular details. I do hope she remembers the fabric when she sees me wearing the top.

Pink India

I used Simplicity 2587. (This pattern is currently out of print, but I saw a couple on Etsy.)  This isn’t my first time using this pattern. It’s quickly becoming a go to summer top pattern. It is an unlined top, so with the right fabric choice, it is nice and cool. The one major adjustment I’ve made is in the placement of the bodice front. I only gather a little in the front and allow the front triangles to overlap rather than rest side-by-side. This adds a little more coverage.

To add the overlay, I treated the solid pink like an underlining. An underlining is a second layer of fabric that is attached to the outside fabric, then they are sewn as if there were only one layer. The only place this created an issue was the midriff band where there ended up being 6 layers of fabric.

Pink India


I have already worn this top several times. I am hoping with washing and wearing, the fabric relaxes a bit. It feels a little stiff sometimes.

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Slow Start…

Butterfly Rainforest

It feels as if my summer is off to a slow start. Usually, I begin with a bang. Weeks before my students pack up for the last time, I have created an extensive list of projects to complete during the summer months. Then I pick a handful of quick crafts to complete during my first days of freedom. This year is different, for a handful of reasons. I still have my list. It’s a really exciting list, full of elaborate projects, simple projects, quick projects, and week-long projects. But, I can’t show those to you, yet!

Butterfly Rainforest

I really, really want too, because my wedding dress is looking amazing! I am super excited at how well it is turning out. It is near completion. I just want to put it on and show the world. For now, a select few people will get to see it. Otherwise, it will stay hidden in my sewing room along with the many other projects I will be working on this summer.

Butterfly Rainforest

This dress has been such a huge project, that I haven’t been doing many little projects as I work on it (which is what I usually do in such cases). Due to this, I don’t have filler projects to share. Today, you are getting this story with photos taken while I was on spring break in March. My fiance and I took a trip to Gainesville to visit the Butterfly Rainforest.

Butterfly Rainforest

We were told not to expect much as it was cold outside and the butterflies were only at a level 1 for movement. Let me tell you, I think a level 10 could possibly create a tornado. There were butterflies everywhere! Thanks to their lack of motivation for movement, it made taking photos rather easy and enjoyable.

I promise some exciting news will be here on Thursday!

Butterfly Rainforest

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Last of the Laurels

These are the last 2 Laurel dresses I have to show you (for now). I’m telling you, this is a great pattern. It looks great on (someday, I’ll get photos of myself wearing one), even when it is too big as mine now are. The pattern is simple with easy to follow instructions. There are so many ways to vary the design that no one will realise you used the same pattern for 6 dresses!

My Purple Laurel, was my muslin version. I used an old sheet for my fabric. I’m glad I made a muslin. The pattern is created to be a bit lose, but on me, that actually meant my normal size was a little too big. Yay! I get to make a smaller size. Making the muslin also gave me the opportunity to test out some design changes I planned to use on other versions.

First off, I made this version sleeveless. This was a simple change. Rather than sewing the underlining as an underlining, I sewed it in as a lining. This gave me the ability to close the arm holes inside. I still used a binding around the neckline to add stability as I didn’t add any facings.

Second (this is my favourite addition), I added buttons down the back. I did this partially to save on sewing in a zipper, but also because I thought buttons down the back sounded fun. To do this, I extended the back by an inch on each side. Since there is already a seam allowance for a zipper, I didn’t need much more wiggle room.

My final Laurel project was inspired by all the projects with variegation I had been seeing. My plan had been to make a dress with 3 colours of fabric that were slightly different shade of each other. The plan didn’t work out as my local shop didn’t have the color variety I needed. I modified my plan and went with two colours instead.


The photos show pockets, but I later removed them as the sewing was poorly done  (in my opinion). Once I took them off, I liked the dress better without the pockets.


I did finish this dress with short sleeves. Yes, I know, I don’t have completed photos. This is so far my favourite version of the Laurel that I have made. As I’ve mentioned, I am inspired to make a couple more. I’ll be sure to share them when I do.

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Little Yellow Laurel

I told you I went on a Laurel craze when this pattern was first released. I’m currently pondering what fabric I have in my stash would make another cute version. Part of this craze was inspired by a contest Colette Patterns was running. My goal was to enter in each category. I don’t think I quite succeeded, but I had fun making them.


This version was a concept I imagined for my sister. My first thoughts were to use yellow linen. Yellow is one of her favourite colours. I planned to make it sleeveless. To line the neckline and arm holes, I planned to use a blue piping. It sounded good in my head. Then I discovered that my local shop didn’t have a yellow linen. While searching for an alternative, I found a yellow eyelet fabric. I knew she would love it. Since it was a lighter fabric, I lined it with a coordinating Kona cotton. I decided on a green piping for the arms and neck.

Conveniently, one of the versions included in the pattern is designed with an underlining. The difference between an underlining and a lining is simple. An underlining is sewn together with the outside fabric. This means there are no seams showing between the outer fabric and the inside fabric. (I didn’t sew it that way!) I had to be difficult because I had to make the dress sleeveless.

Instead, I attached the piping to the sleeve and arm edges. Then I followed the tutorial from Green Apples on how to line a sleeveless dress. This tutorial has changed my life! I love how simple her instructions are on how to sew the lining. I no longer have to hand stitch a little opening closed. I love it!

To finish the dress, I just stitched the sides together in one long seam. To make sure the arm seam lay flat, I top-stitched around the arm holes just inside the piping.

Look at that perfect zipper!

I believe on my next version, I am going to add side seam pockets. I have discovered a love for pockets on dresses. 

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Flapper Laurel

Nearly a year ago now, Colette Patterns released a new pattern. I just had to have it! It was the Laurel. This pattern inspired a flurry of designing in my little sewing nook in our old place (That’s right, this project happened a year ago. I’m catching up on posts I missed last summer). The release of this pattern came with a contest. I just realised I never got around to sharing them properly. You can find a few sample photos on Flickr.

Around this same time, we had a handful of invitations to Twenties themed parties. Rather than spending a small fortune on a skimpy-itchy polyester costume, I decided to create my own version of a flapper dress. After a bit of research, I realised that the Laurel pattern lent itself to the proper shape of a flapper dress. It is rather straight (with just a little shaping) and the length can easily be modified.

My intention was to find a dark fabric such as a navy or black. Maybe even green. But then we (I was shopping with my fiance) found the dangling circles fabric in hot pink and I was in love!

My first modification was with the neckline. I created a deep scoop (deep for me) down the back and a shallower scoop in the front. I think next time, I will make sure not to widen the opening so the straps stay wider than they ended up on this version.


I also shortened the length of the tunic to end just below my bum. This added a seam to create a dropped-waist look.

The skirt ended up being a little more complicated than it should have become. If you do this, I recommend leaving your lining from the top long enough to also be the lining for the skirt portion. Then you can attach your skirt fabric to the top fabric without worrying about tugging and bunching the skirt. I’m leaving my instructions at that because I cannot make what I did understandable.


Finally, I added a wide sparkly black ribbon at the top of the skirt and a massive rosette at the side. They really topped the dress off nicely, don’t you think?

Make It and Love It

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Adding Some Pizzazz

We bought a new house recently (ok, like 6 months ago, is that still recently?) and we have been slowly organising and reorganising. We are also doing some decorating as we go. The entire process is going slowly as we both have very busy schedules. During one of my recent long weekends, I decided to start unpacking all of the sewing and craft supplies. About halfway through unpacking, inspiration hit and I finally decided how I wanted to paint my room!

The room before.

I had known I wanted to paint it pink, I just couldn’t settle on which shade. Too pale and it would look white or like a little girl’s room. I was also concerned that if I went too bright, it would be distracting rather than inspirational. I finally decided I needed a bright pink with a bright white.

Other side of the room, before painting.

I chose First Kiss as my pink (I tried to include a color sample, but the site wouldn’t let me). I couldn’t be more excited about how it turned out. Every time I walk past or into the room I get a huge grin just looking at the walls.

The primer layer is finished.

Reorganising back into the room went quickly. I still have a few projects in mind for new furniture. I also have plans for artwork for the walls. Including a huge bulletin board (maybe). I will also be getting a closet organiser and will be painting the closet the matching pink.

All painted pink!

I have even had to opportunity to complete a few projects in the newly painted room.


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