Sunday, August 11, 2013

Challenges and Limitations - it's a good thing

These labels (available at Lonely Tree Design ) caught my eye because they are cute. It startled me to realize they wouldn't get much use in my sewing room. I sew for other people quite a lot, but it's seldom because I love them. I am a heartless soul, eh?


Nah, I'm not heartless! After all, I made towel pants for my husband. That took heart, right?

I am working on a few things right now, one is a quilt for the baby of a co-worker and the other is something (I don't know what yet) for someone else.

The quilt is a design challenge. The parents-to-be have painted the room in Glidden Cornflower Blue and and Pale Lemon. Fun Fact: the baby furniture once belonged to the Boldins, who sadly moved away from Baltimore, but not without first turning Baltimore into RAVENS NATION, which we liked very much, thank you Anquan! Sorry you went to San Francisco, but I understand.


A fresh and pretty nursery for a little boy due in a few more months.
Fabric is Alexander Henry's Monkey Bizness Gingham Jungle and Gingham ABC's.
I pulled some lighter fabrics from the stash and commencing to think hard.

The bodice in the photo above is V1004 and it will be used to work out fitting adjustments on a project for someone else. I tried something along these lines when I sewed a dress for my pal Sharon.

I have so many ideas - and fantasies, too. One of my fantasies is to be a dressmaker. I would have a cute little shop with lovely samples on display. I would sew special occasion dresses (not gowns) for women. I suppose this comes from my own desire for a custom wedding dress back in 2004.

Off-the-rack tops don't generally fit me unless the fabric is stretchy enough to accomodate my measurements. In 2004, I had not yet learned how to fit a bodice to myself, so I searched for a dressmaker to create a simple dress for me, in a flattering shade of pale rose or something like that. I wanted sleeves and, well, just a simple dress. My budget was ~$600. I couldn't find anyone. No one would sew anything for me for less than $1,000. Maybe I didn't know where to look? So I DIY'ed my wedding dress.

The top is a wrap blouse and the skirt is a straight skirt with a ruffle.
To create a pattern, I draped the skirt on my own body and that wasn't too hard.
But the blouse, oh what a struggle!
This need for a wedding dress motivated me to improve my skills and make it happen. I knew I could sew (I wasn't afraid to buy fine silks and lace) but the fit was a challenge. None of the fitting books seemed to explain my small shoulder /forward shoulder /long neck combination.  I used up a lot of old sheets sewing mock-ups of a zillion different patterns. By the time I got the shoulders to fit, I was plumb worn out and I accepted the front wrap closure as 'good enough'.  To make up for it, I treated myself to a custom corset by Jill Andrews, made from scraps of silk charmeuse left over from the blouse. Sorry, no photos of that. It was extremely beautiful but I was too shy to allow any photos because it was quite provocative. The blouse and the corset together were a good combination.
That wrap never did fit right! I had to just *work it*
There was no other choice!
I was pretty happy. It didn't matter that my wedding dress was a little weird!

Limitations are good.

Just think, what if I'd had $1,200 for a wedding dress in 2004? I might not have discovered my passion for sewing! I am not quitting my day job any time soon, but a little dressmaking on the side is quite appealing. Yes, indeed.

How about you? Any limitations pushing you forward? I am all ears.

Happy Sewing!

16 comments:

  1. You are a gorgeous bride and your outfit is lovely, the perfect color.

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  2. I love your wedding outfit... beautiful. Actually, I made a wedding dress for my sister (25 years ago), it was a copy of a designer from Melbourne - Marianna Hartwick - and we went to the shop and tried it on and it looked great. I sewed up a size 12 (no idea about fitting at all - didn't occur to me at all) and luckily my sister was just about a perfect 12. She has scoliosis so there was no adjustment for this however. Sometimes not being informed is your best education - if you don't know you can't do it then you give it a go. Good on you!

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    1. there you go! When I was younger, I did that sort of fearless sewing, too! Sounds like a wonderful gift you gave your sister.

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  3. Oh, see I would use the Because I love This tag in things I made for myself! Beautiful wedding ensemble! I started sewing because pants never fit in the waist (too big) and I was tired of having to take them to be altered. So, I thought it was something I would do myself. Turns out that I love sewing but hate altering. So, now I either sew pants for myself or send RTW pants out to be altered. Go figure!

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    1. Ha! Make perfect sense to me! How was MPB Day? I need to get out there and cruise the blogosphere!

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  4. Oh, Robin, your wedding dress is a sophisticated, feminine, confection! I don't think you spent too much, at all at all. I drafted my wedding gown, to resemble an 1880s confection I'd seen in a Dover Books reprint of Harper's Bazaar 1800s fashion plates. I skimped on fine fabrics, because I knew this would be a one-use costume. I, too made a jacket/blouse over a skirt, to better accommodate a long torso. Polyester satin, lining, lace and plastic heart-shaped tiny buttons (non-operable, I used hooks and eyes to close the jacket), thread, and some beaded rope trim for the skirt hem decoration set me back a whopping $90 in 1982. I was anxious for weeks that I had wasted too much money on my custom gown. I spent more than that for the -- frankly -- cheap-and-nasty veil that I bought from a bridal shop. All pieces have since seen numerous uses as theatrical and Halloween costumes. It tickles my plump, middle-aged self that the model-thin teenager who wore the dress in a production of "Our Town" couldn't fasten the waist of the skirt around herself, and had to use safety pins.

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    1. wow, that is great that your pieces have spent time onstage as costumes! (yeah, too bad about those safety pins on the most recent person to wear the skirt ;) ha ha

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  5. I think your wedding outfit is beautiful. It certainly is nicer than the dress I bought off the rack for mine (Indian rayon gauze lace -- but at least I only spent $75 for it).

    I used to sew all kinds of things fearlessly, and some of them didn't even look bad! don't know why I've gotten so timid about it.

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    1. Oh Harriet, I know exactly what you mean about going from fearless to timid, only I did that with my music. When I was a teenager, you could put the Tchaikovsky violin concerto in front of me, my reaction was, "why not? let's give it a whirl!"
      Later, as I began to take it more seriously, I went through all kinds of head trips and eventually (in my 40's!) I had a big breakthrough. I finally played fearlessly again. I think it is just a creative block, and those are always opportunities in disguise. From what you have mentioned in the past, you ARE breaking barriers these days, right?

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    2. With music, yes! Sewing, not so much. :)

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  6. Robin,

    Thank you so much for offering to make us a custom quilt for Baby MJ (Mike Junior). Sandra is going to be very happy with the surprise when it is done. You are an amazing person with amazing skills!

    Mike

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    1. Aww Mike that is so nice - I work with great people and that is a fact!

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  7. How cool to see your bridal outfit, Robin! Though I find myself wishing there was another pic of a front view. :) It looks really nice.

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    1. I like this view because it shows that I got the shoulder to fit! hee hee
      Unfortunately my scanner is not working, but one of these days I will scan all my wedding photos and post a front view.
      Thank you shams!

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  8. A stunningly beautiful bride. I don't think your wedding dress was weird. I think it's unique, flattering, gorgeous, and special because you made it yourself.

    Your fantasy as a dressmaker sounds perfect and looking forward to seeing how this idea evolves. I wouldn't be blogging today if it' weren't for a painful life crisis with many transitions. Life's paths are filled with surprises.

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Thanks for visiting my blog and Happy Sewing, xo