Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Tale of a Fabric Addiction

Once upon a time, there was a woman who loved to sew. Last summer she found herself purchasing more fabric than she could transform into wearable works of art. She had so much fabric she did not know what to do. One Sunday evening she decided to organize the summer purchases for storage until next spring. As she surveyed her precious finds, she marveled at the many colors and textures anticipating another chance to create something beautiful. There is no ending to this story. Stay turned for Chapter two next month..., I mean next week. Chuckle, Chuckle. In the meantime, check out the forever growing stash!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First Fall Project for Me and DD

I have completed all of the dresses for the second wedding party. No pictures yet. I'll probably post my review early October. For the next few months I'm going to be a little selfish and sew for me and DD Lauren. My DD has been patiently waiting since I started sewing for the weddings. I have already turned down two projects.

Ann (Gorgeous Things blog) posted a interview with a designer that discussed creating a collection instead of one garment at a time. Also, the fall issue of Sew Stylish magazine features an article, "Think Like a Designer", that gives step by step instructions on how to create/design your own collection. I'm inspired.

Below are my first projects for this fall season.

For Me:

For DD Lauren

Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Timeless Fashion, Fall 2007

According to Carin Blankoff (Simplicity Fabric Director) plaid, gray, and black are all part of the timeless fashion code for Fall 2007. I searched the collections of my favorite designers (DKNY, Diane Von Frustenberg, Versace, Marc Jacobs, and Michael Kor) to see what they had to say. Well, they said it last year in their 2006 Fall collections posted on Firstview. Here are a few pieces that caught my eye.

Top 10

Super Chic Black
Gray from Platinum to Charcoal
Layered Looks
Plaid, Especially Tartan and Houndstooth
The Jersey Dress
The Beautiful Blouse
The Vest
High-Waist Pants and Skirts
Coats and Capes
Coccoons, Kimonos and Sarongs

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas

We had a fantabulous time in Vegas, where I celebrated my birthday with friends and family. It's been over fifteen years since I last vacationed there. Everything is so new and so big, it was like the first time. One my friends graciously volunteered the use of her time share (Grandview Resort). There is much to do about Vegas; you don't have to be a gambler to have a great time. There is a show to see in every major hotel. You can schedule an excursion to the Grand Canyon (day long trip), site seeing, and SHOPPING.
..,what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

The Luxor Hotel
New York, New York

If you plan to vacation in Vegas soon, there are a few tips that might help make your stay even better:

- Book your show tickets before arriving in Vegas. We planned to see Toni Braxton at the Flamingo Hotel on Friday, but the tickets were sold out. The recruitment for time-share buyers is fierce. Some recruiters offer premium show tickets to prospective buyers if you are willing to listen to their sales pitch.
- If your hotel is not in the heart of the strip, rent a car.
- Don't over pack, there are two shopping centers on the strip (Fashion Show Mall and Las Vegas Outlet Center).
- Print your airline ticket 24 prior to departure (departure tickets can be printed at the hotel internet station). You can check your luggage at the curb avoiding additional charges for over weight luggage.
- Do see one of the Cirque Du Soleil shows.
- Do visit Bellagio and Venetian hotels, beautiful.

Members of the Cirque Du Soleil-Zumanity cast.

We are planning our next excursion to the carribean. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Break Time!

Break Time! Week long Birthday Celebration! God is good!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Great Luciano Pavarotti

Earlier this month the great Luciano Pavarotti passed after battling pancreatic cancer. Below he performs with two legendary R&B artists, James Brown and Barry White. Enjoy.

James Brown & Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti & Barry White

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mile Argento Bridal Party

This is the first dress completed for the Mile Argento Bridal Party..., I have two more to go! Each bride's maid selected a different dress, but all dresses are made from the same fabric.

Here is Van's first choice. After the muslin fitting, she decided that this was not the style for her. The second muslin fitting was perfect! So I proceeded with making the actual garment.

Pattern Description: Dress is below mid-knee with lined bodice and midriff, gathered front, flared skirt, back zipper and shoulder strap variations; dress A is completely lined; dress B has purchased trim; dress D has self tie; dress E has ribbon trim; dress F has contrast shoulder straps and back.

Pattern Sizing: 4-18. I made a 10.

Did it look like the photo drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Sure did minus the bow; view D.

The instructions were easy to follow. I like this dress. This was the second time that I sewed it. Last summer I made the first version for myself.

Fabric Used: Crepeback satin, sparkle organza, and polyester lining all purchased from the Textile Discount Outlet.

The bridal party decided to add the sparkle organza to create a unique style component for each dress. It was added to the skirt and the midriff of this dress. It was added to other parts of the remaining two dresses.

I'm not sure I will sew it again for myself, but some else may want their own version of this dress.

This is a cute simple dress that can be dressed up or down depending on your fabric choice.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The McWilliams Bridal Party - Final Fitting

First and most important, I thank God for the gift of sewing. It has truly enriched my life. It has given me an opportunity to meet and sew for a variety of people. Many experiences have helped me broaden my skills and have inspired me to challenge myself in areas that I may not have had the courage to explore. I still question my ability and am always searching for new and improved techniques to perfect my gift. All in all, it a wonderful gift and I’m grateful.

Yesterday was the final fitting for the McWilliams Bridal Party. There was a miscommunication on the time to fit, but it wasn't a big deal. In fact it worked to my advantage. I needed a break Friday night as I have sewn nearly everyday for the past three weeks. I put the finishing touches of the maid of honor dresses Saturday morning. Everyone met at my place starting at 3:00pm. My friend, Steve, came over to take the photos while I attended the bridal party. So all photos, expect one, are compliments of Steve Ross of “Ross Photography Services”. My DD Lauren helped with the refreshments, but soon after she retreated in her bedroom. By 4:00pm the bridal party had arrived.

In my apartment:

2 sewists (me and Pauline*)
2 bride and groom
4 bride’s maids
2 maids of honor
1 mother of the groom
2 (best man and groom’s man)
1 ring bearer
1 Photographer
3 (children)
1 DD
Total 19 people
*Pauline made the vests for the groom, best man, groom’s man, and the ring bearer.

Four dresses were created using Vogue 2732
and two dresses with Vogue 8360

Everyone was satisfied with the results.

Comments from the bride’s maids:

Kia said, “Thank you, Cennetta. You made me look like I have a shape.”
Heaven and/or Charleon said that they could wear the corset with jean after the wedding.

Comments from the maids of honor:

Anita said, “I can wear my dress to a Christmas party.”
Rochelle (bride’s sister) said, “Oh my God. What was Jennifer thinking when she selected this dress.”

BTW – the maids of honor were a little concerned about the over-exposure of the bust and lower back area. Moderations were needed for their dress. See my reviews on PR.
There were a few alterations needed after the final fitting on the maids of honor dresses and Cessilee’s corset. After everyone left, I cleaned some; then sat down to make the alterations. I wanted to complete everything for this bridal party by the close of the week.

This was a great experience. As I stated in earlier blog entries, this was the first time I provided services to a bridal party of this size. In times past, I have altered bridal dresses and gowns, made one or two bride’s maid dresses, or made the flower girl dress. This experience was also stressful. There were two burning questions always on my mind: “Will I finish on time?” and “Is my craftsmanship up to par?” Some crazy part of me felt like it was unnatural to feel this way. Until I read a blog entry on Cidell's blog.
For those of you who plan to sew for profit, there are a few lesions that I have learned from this and other experiences that may be helpful to you.

Lessons Learned:

• Provide terms and conditions at the initial appointment. Make sure the client understands what you are willing to do.

• As the potential client screens you, you decide if the project is a good business venture.

• Be flexible with scheduling appointments. Give the client at least three possible appointment times.

• Create a muslin of the desired garment and confirm the style and fit with the client before starting on the actual garment.

• Clients who are expecting or who have recently given birth, make their garment as close to the deadline date as possible.

• Log and track your time. This helps you gauge and/or re-evaluate your service prices. Is it worth your while? Include shopping for materials, appointments, and project construction time.

• Require a deposit, and set the terms for your services.

• Establish some base prices for each garment type; then add other costs based on difficulty and amount of time to create. Ie., basic prom dress w/ garter and some kind of wrap or purse: starting price $175.00. Client wants jacket instead of wrap – add cost; Client wants purse and jacket – add cost; Client wants rhinestones around the top of the bodice – add cost. Any additional style enhancement takes time.

• If you use a technique that works well for you but differs from the pattern instructions, follow your method. Sometimes it is easier than a method that you are not familiar with.

• Start the project as soon as possible. Pace yourself so that you don’t over work yourself the week prior to the deadline.

• Don’t put limits on your ability. Think outside the box. Pattern instructions serve as a guide; they are not the Holy Grail.

• If you get stuck or are have difficulty constructing some part of the project, use all or any resource for help. Eg., friends that sew, staff at your local fabric stores, internet databases, books, magazines, etc.

• Take pictures of the finished garment. Build a portfolio.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

McWilliams Bridal Party - Sewing Marathon!

Well, this weekend I spent the majority of my time sewing for the McWilliams bridal party. I missed out on two parties, one the McWilliams bridal shower. I heard it through the grapevine that it was wild! I must do better time management of my sewing projects. Oh well, hear is the timeline for the progress made over the holiday weekend:

9/2/07 Sewed from 11:00am to 11:00pm including a lunch break and made a quick dinner (Baked chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli and carrots).
9/3/07 picked up a few notions from JoAnn's and one pattern after morning church services; sewed from 4:30pm to 12:00am (one snack break; no dinner).
9/4/07 Started sewing about 12:00 noon (visit with my sister for a little while). sewed until 9:00pm (prepared another quick dinner: smothered cabbage, fried perch, and cornbread).

I'm happy to report I accomplished the work planned for this weekend: altered 4 skirts minus the completion of the inner waistbands; altered/lined 4 corsets minus the fastening of the lining to the zipper; 2 dress bodices and altered skirts to eliminate over-exposure.

What's left to do: fastening lining to zipper tape and dress skirt, slip stitching the inside waistband to the skirt, pressing, and hemming of two dresses.

I'm tired..., Bride and groom wanted me to make four vests for the men/child of the bridal party. I asked my friend Pauline M. to help me out. I did not think I would make the deadline, wedding September 15th. Plus I have two more dresses to complete for the 1st bridal party. Did I say I was tired.., The final fitting and pickup is tentatively scheduled for Saturday early afternoon.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fitting - The McWilliams Bridal Party

Thursday evening the bridal party for the McWilliams wedding came for their first fitting. Everyone was excited and anxious for their turn. All of the ladies were pleased with the progress that I had made, and I sensed relief from the bride that things were moving in a positive direction. sigh, sigh ..., I'm happy too. After the fittings, the ladies seemed very comfortable and not in a hurry to leave. Everyone was engaged in lively conversations about the wedding and life in general. So I offered them refreshments while apologizing for the lack of cooked food. Everyone was content with wine, juice, or water. I've never fit a group this large in one session. Lately, I have found that the fewer scheduled appointments for the same group works best for me. For the final fitting I plan to have a few snacks. You live and learn. I'm glad they felt comfortable in my space. This weekend I plan to put a major dent in the remaining construction of the six dresses.



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