Sunday, November 19, 2017

THE dress: Before and After

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John and Christie on their wedding day.

                                 Dalton and Jamie on their wedding day.

THE dress part 6

 Here we are for the final fitting, to make sure everything was in the right places and going over how to get in and out of the dress. After this step, I pressed it to make it crisp and smooth.
That's my niece, Christie, holding the slip which is worn under the dress to make it a bit longer for the ceremony and first dances at the reception. Jamie still seems happy....whew!!!!

THE dress part 5

 Here's Jamie for the second fitting of her wedding dress. We made decisions on final placement of lace details and length of the hem. The wide lace at the hem was just pinned on at this point. The upper back pieces were a bit fiddly, but I was able to get it properly placed for a smooth fit and attractive look. She seems pretty happy to me!! And big shout out to Cheryl for letting me take over her sewing room. She would tap on the door periodically to offer snacks!!

 fussy fitting

THE dress part 4

 These are various photos of construction of the dress once I arrived in California and settled into my niece, Cheryl's, sewing room. It was a very nice work space, with good lighting from the window facing the street and the radio tunes to KLOS, a rock station. The one particular program I found interesting was Jonesy's Juke Box. He played a very mix of old and new rock'n'roll, which helped the day go by pleasantly. I started sewing on Sunday morning and finished around 4-5 o'clock on Monday afternoon. You can see in the photos some of the details of  the inner construction, such as the bra cups and sewn facings to hold down the back of the dress's button loops. There were 21 loops and buttons and they were so difficult to button up as you might think.
I bought the covered buttons already finished. They had cloth shanks, as I think that is a finer look and more comfortable for the wearer. The photo with the machine shows the attaching of the horsehair braid to the hem; another photo is of the finished application of the horsehair braid. There is also an inner band of elastic at the waist to help support the weight of the skirt for comfort and ease of movement by the wearer. It might be visible in top photo....or not. This was a wonderful experience for me and I am so happy that I was able to be a part of Jamie's special day.

 inside center back

 button loops

 finished hem

THE dress part 3

This is a short post, mainly to show photos I had to search for and head is starting to throb from all this thinking.......
  The first picture is sewing supplies sent to Christie. Second photo is the slip worn under the dress. It is the skirt from original dress with ruffle of silk attached to bottom. there is horsehair braid sewn into hem add stiffness to bottom edge of the slip and to lining of slip, which came from the original dress. Horsehair braid is also in hem of the dress, to keep it from collapsing under weight of four yards of wide lace trim.
There are other photos to be shown in following posts, showing
the final  construction process upon my arrival in Torrance.

THE dress part 2

Whew! I found and transferred photos from various sources and will probably have a headache soon.....and they are not in proper order, but that would take an eternity(for me) to figure out, so I'll leave as it is for now.
  As you can see in the last photo, my dress form is made from a wire mesh that can be manipulated to various body shapes, and proved quite useful for this project.
  In the next to last photo, the cutting layout was pretty straightforward. The first two photos are from text messages to Jamie, for her input on the design of the back and the third is a configuration of lace placement on the front. Also the dress form has been covered with stretchy skin tone fabric. More visually appealing don't you think?
The upper back pieces are made from lower parts of one of the sleeves of the original dress.
 The front of the dress is the bodice of the original covered with the remaining sleeve. The collar of the original dress has been placed at the lower front of the bodice on the new dress. All the smaller lace appliques are taken from the original dress, as well. Some pieces were further embellished with beads and sequins, to give a little more sparkle!
   You can see the silk fabric on the skirt. It is under the lace bodice, too, to add some substance to the structure of the dress. When I was sure the design of the lace appliques were pleasing, I sewed them by hand to the center of the dress.
   This was about as far as I could go with my long distance construction. All the bits not sewn on were sorted into small bags and labeled. The yardage for hem of the dress went into a bigger bag. The unfinished dress,
bags of lace, and sewing supplies necessary for completion, were packed into that huge box and shipped to Torrance, the first week in October to await my arrival a week before the wedding.
   I used the skirt from the original dress to make a slip that would be worn under 
the dress to make it a little bit longer and provide a longer train for the wedding ceremony and first part of the reception. Photos of that will be in next installment.
 ready to cut!!

 It's taking shape..

THE dress

Last year, about this time, I received a phone call from my niece, Christie, who lives in Southern California near Los Angeles. Her daughter, Jamie, had recently become engaged and she asked if I would be interested in making a wedding dress. From her wedding dress. My answer was, "Of course!!"
  Jamie and I exchanged contact info and she sent photos of dresses with details she really liked and wanted to incorporate into her gown. I made a sketch of something she might like and, yes, she did!! She also sent a list of detailed measurements, so I could get started in the right direction fitwise.
  Several weeks later, a huge box came with Christie's dress. These photos are different views of the dress before I started taking it apart. Notice the VERY long train, high neck and mutton chop sleeves, all very popular
 the 80's. Also notice there's a zipper in the back.
     One of my dress forms is fully adjustable and I was able to replicate (to a certain extent) Jamie's shape. Then I set to task taking apart her mom's dress, which took several days and the use of a scalpel, as it is much sharper than a regular seam ripper. I stored all the pieces and yardages of the lace in separate plastic bags, with approximate measurements. Thank the lord for Ziploc and Glad bags!!!
   After removing bits and pieces from the dress, the original fabric wasn't in the best shape, and I ordered some really nice silk dupioni from Butterfly Silk Fabric Company. To make it crisper, I underlined it with
a satin faced taffeta that I found at Joanne's Fabric store. A Butterick pattern for a semiformal dress worked very well as a base for the design of the new dress. Mainly, I added width to the skirt and a godet from the center back to make a small train that would stand away as the bride walked.
   The next installment of this dressmaker's tale will come very soon, as I have to locate the folder with photos of construction. That will require much effort on my part as my computing skills are not quite as honed as my sewing talents.

side view of sleeves

the inside of front

 inside original dress

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Front yard redo

For the last several months, I've been wanting to make my front yard-the sunnier side anyway- more restrained. Today was the day to begin. The shady side is lovely, with ferns, azaleas and hydrangeas growing gloriously.
   Monkey grass has ruled the other side like a thug!! So this morning, war was declared!! I got my weapons and had at it. There were a few stalwart plants that had been hanging on under the weeds. I was very surprised. Now they will have a better chance to get some sun and nutrients. The leaf mold was actually good and the dirt was loose.
   I got about a third of the monkey grass cleared out and will have to wait till I get back from my trip west to finish. Hopefully, there won't be a big freeze while I'm gone and I can get some of the perennials I've been cultivating into the ground so next spring will have a jump start for a much better looking yard.
   I don't want to dig too deep, because there are a lot of jonquils lurking beneath the surface and I need to know where they are.
   This yard has been in progress for 20 years or so. Maybe I'll be progressing with it for another 20 years. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

My wonderfully boring life!

    Last week was busy for me. Dinner with pals at a very fine dining establishment on Monday. The next evening, Tuesday, I gave a presentation on journal quilts, which was well received, I hope...all the guild members present where quiet during my talk, or should I say blathering. I do enjoy my series of journal quilts and feel like I have a fairly decent body of work that tells parts of my story.
    Then there was all the regular stuff- BFCC on Monday morning, dental appointment Tuesday afternoon, checking on friend's house all week, fulfilling other obligations and duties, too.
    The weather has been perfect the last few days, so I spent the ENTIRE day yesterday in my yard. I got a lot accomplished, planting, digging out crap. Sadly, my favorite little shovel broke while trying to dig up a rotted tree stump. There's a backup shovel in the truck, but I hesitate to take it out, because one never knows when one will have to bury up something......

Friday, September 15, 2017

Senior Citizenhood

My birthday came and went. Now I'm 65. On Medicare. hmmm
I unplugged for a few days around my birthday and really enjoyed the quiet time. The weather was nice too. Then the remnants of the hurricanes swept through, one right after another. So much rain!!

The wedding dress I'm making for my great niece is ready to be shipped to her. And I have my plane ticket for the trip to California to finish the dress and attend the wedding. My sister and I decide I should fly to Las Vegas, then drive to LA. For some reason, I'm less nervous that if I was flying straight to LA, who knows why. I'm a terrible traveler.
  I hope to get some photos of the completion of the dress to post here when I get back in November.

At the end of August, I was in a show and sale with TNCraft-Southwest, then two weeks later, I participated in an art fair that was in conjuction with Central Gardens Home and Garden tour. I really enjoyed both outings and saw lots of people I hadn't seen in a while.  Plus, my work was very well received and that gave me a great feeling of accomplishment and validation.

My life has settled into the boring, drama free routine I wished for and I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The depths of summer

As usual, it's been hot and humid, like every other Memphis summer since the dawn of time. We got a tiny break this weekend and I took advantage of it and got a lot of work done in the yard. It really needed it too, as I had neglected my yard for two years!!!! I know where all that time went and am too embarrassed to tell anyone.......
  So, it's back on track now. My sewing adventures have been good, maybe not as prolific as years past, but satisfying enough. I hope to spend more time on creative endeavors going forth. I've done a little painting, but realized my true talent doesn't lie with paint and canvas and am happy to leave that to my brother, sister and sister in law! A lot of my sewing has been dedicated to reworking my niece's 1980's wedding dress into a new creation for her daughter. I'm very happy with how it's coming along and she seems pleased when I send her photos. I love texting.....
   The realization that I haven't fully explored living for myself and gaining inner strength is another reason for a change in my creative attitude and giving more time to house and yard obligations. The troubles are in the past and must stay there. The grand adventure is over and done. It's enough to reflect on the positive emotions of both those relationships, but not let myself go down either of those paths again.

    On a more uplifting note, the group show at Crosstown is coming up. I screwed around at the deadline and just couldn't get my shit together to make a proper application. I felt bad about that but sucked it up without too much self abuse. Then, one of the other artists had to drop out and I was offered their space!! So, I got a reprieve. Now I'm making a few new things to present for sale and rerun some older bits. Last August, I took everything I had and now realize what a messy space I had. Maybe a slimmed down presentation will prove more attractive. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


The two art shows in February went very well. The TN Craft-Southwest show at the Memphis Jewish Community Center was spectacular! So many talented artists in that group. The collaborative efforts were outstanding. I'm very glad that I was a part of it and hope to find someone to work with for next year's show.
 This is the llama in pajama that I worked on with Rebecca Zeimer, an amazing potter. She has created 366 critters in the past year as part of a challenge. They are almost ready for display and I cannot wait to see them all together.
   The other piece is a piggy in a tutu! You'll have to look at TN Craft's website for a good photo of that and the other artist's works.

This is my most recent art quilt, which was in the show. It's based on a photograph of me taken in 1978 or 1979. the quilting in the background is words and phrases, some that I wrote and other things I've heard or read. I call it "Wishful Thinking". Obviously, I was having a not so wonderful hair day--this was before I discovered Moroccan Argan hair product! I did rock that rhinestone necklace, though......
   The other show was at Crosstown Arts, called "Can We Talk?" The theme was break ups and lots of different artists showed their responses to failed relationships. It was VERY interesting and I was happy to be a part of that show, too. My piece was one of the art quilts I made during the "troubles", as I like to refer to that difficult time in my life when my marriage was ending. So happy those days are long gone.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fingers crossed

I've decided it's best to write in short bursts before blogger crashes. My main projects are due in February for the group show with Tennessee Craft Southwest.
   If possible, I'll post more info about the show later on when this site is acting better.

This new year

Fifth time is the charm, I hope for posting here. Last year is gone according to the calendar and a new one has taken its place.

This new year

Well, the new regime at google has made it harder than I had expected to write this post, but I will certainly try to get this done without losing all the witty verses I've written that have disappeared into the ether. Grrrrrrr
   Weather is typically shitty for this part of the world. But could be worse. 
Many projects beckon and its good to be indoors to finish them, since I have a deadline.