Sunday 24 June 2012

Spot the Queen!

OK, so this post isn't anything to do with sewing but since I had a wonderful weekend, I thought I would brag/blog all about it. 

The AMAZING hen do

I had my hen do on Saturday - and it was perfect in every way! I do, officially, have the BEST bridesmaids ever. We spent our afternoon at the Royal Ascot and we picnicced (I'm assuming this is a word, although the spell check disagrees), ate colourful macaroons, drunk (white and pink) champagne and gambled. Did I mention that it was absolutely perfect?

Look at how classy it was! Everything was colour-coordinated in accordance with our pink and yellow wedding colour theme (there are yellow napkins hidden under the baguettes), including the corsages on our wrists!

And... well, there was the Royal Procession where the Queen made her entrance to the races. Having just passed my Life in the UK Test the day before (don't ask) and with it being my first time at the Royal Ascot (and coming anywhere near the royal family), I thought I'd join the British spirit and wait for the Royal Procession to go past in the rain. So, through layers and layers of people and umbrellas, with my phone without any ability of optical zoom, I managed to snap this very special picture and now have the pleasure of sharing it with you all:

So now - can you Spot the Queen??? Do you need any clues? 

It was such an amazing day - I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Plus I was £2.01 up after all that research on the horses! In fact, I was still so excited when I went to bed that it took me a little while to fall asleep. Thank you so much again to my fantastic bridesmaids and also to everyone who came :D

My glass creations

My fiancĂ© and I did a 3-hour glass fusing class last Saturday (try reading this sentence out loud?) and our works of art have now been "cooked". We each made a suncatcher and a set of cufflinks and here are a couple of pictures of my creations:

The suncatcher

 The cufflinks
Considering that this was the first time we learned handling and cutting glass, and we had 3 hours to design, practice and make it all, I am very proud of the result :) That said, I think I'm going to stick with sewing as my main "crafty hobby", at least for now...

Sunday 17 June 2012

Pretty please with a cherry on top

My (dare I say, first) version of Simplicity 2444 is here! 

I made this as a wearable toile to try and get the best fit for this pattern, as I envisage using it to make a lot more dresses in the future. 

This is my second Project Runway pattern - as with 2282, I loved the versatility of this pattern and how creative it encourages you to be. I made the simple version with no frills (by which I mean sleeves or waist ties), and was happy with the result after all the alterations... 

I made it with contrasting fabric - the bodice with some medium weight white cotton with cherries (you may need to zoom in to see them) and the skirt is just red cotton. Can I reiterate how much I LOVE sewing with cotton? It's so well-behaved - easy to measure, to cut, to pin and to stitch... I could go on for days. 

Having read the pattern reviews about the sizing (that it runs a little bit small), I cut a 6 (usually I would cut a 4 with Simplicity) and I think it was the right decision. The skirt was the right size, but I had to make a small bust adjustment ("SBA") on the bodice. 

Instead of doing it on the pattern pieces, I played around with the already cut bodice pieces. Bearing in mind that this was supposed to be a toile, I felt brave enough to alter it. To reduce the excess horizontal ease, I lengthened two of the bodice darts to form princess seams that finished at the armholes. Then I had to deal with excess length in the centre of the bodice - the contrasting fabrics really aren't very forgiving! I took in the waist seams a number of times until the waistline was level. Phew. 

This was also the first time I made pockets :) I'm not sure whether I'll include them in my next version of this pattern but it was nice to be able to tick pockets off my "to-sew list". I'm feeling proud about the pockets...

My other thoughts on the pattern? I agree with a number of reviews that the centre front seam on the skirt is not necessary - actually the waist was just right with a size 6 (whereas usually I would cut a 4 on simplicity) and  for some reason the waist seam on the skirt turned out shorter than the bodice waist. I ended up enlarging the darts on the bodice to make the side seams line up so cutting the skirt front piece on the fold without adjusting for the seam allow may work out better. 

I did like the bodice darts - there are supposed to be 2 sets which is quite unusual, but of course I turned a set into seams for the SBA. I also liked the fullness - I don't usually wear very full skirts this was quite comfortable to wear, especially when I can put my hands in the pockets :)

Would I make this again? Of course! I think my wearable toile has taught me a couple of things about this pattern, and I'm envisaging my next version to have sleeves, with a SBA already done to the pattern (properly!) and without the centre front seam on the skirt. I think it would make a lovely summer dress. 

Finally, I would like to leave you with one thought -- I'm so determined! Just look at my stride... 
P.S. I was told to "walk elegantly" when that photo was taken. 
and P.P.S. All those pics were taken at our wedding reception venue - how lovely?!

Sunday 10 June 2012

Wedding dress - completed

As promised, the wedding dress is done!!! Yep, every single bit of it, apart from the final pressing before the big day. It's just as well, given that our wedding website is telling me that we now officially have 50 days to go! 

So the final touches included reinforcing the bottom of the back opening, finally deciding on the bustle and putting it in place, adding the ribbons for hanging and finishing off the openings on the lace for the corset back. 

I mentioned about trying out a 2-tier French bustle in my last post - I did give that a quick go but decided that it was too fiddly and that the look was too "meringue", which just didn't go with the rest of the dress.

So I did the 1-tier French bustle and it will now look at this for the evening disco (woohoo) and the first dance:

It may not look as elegant as a ballroom bustle but this was fairly straightforward to do with nothing showing on the right side. And after just coming back from my friend's wedding where her bustle broke later on in the evening (of course I fixed it for her... without any sewing stuff to hand...), I wanted something simple and strong so I could dance all night long.  

To do this, I followed Linda's very helpful tutorial here. As my skirt is quite full at the bottom, I included 7 sets of plastic rings and ribbons. I bought satin ribbons in different shades of blue (all beautiful) and these will be my "something blue" (I just need to find "something old" now). 

Here're some close-up pictures:

I'm not going to write for too long as I'm still in a bit of a shock that it's all done! What am I going to do with my spare time now? Well, actually... I have got about 20 projects lined up in my head that I haven't been able to get round to doing as yet. Is it just me or do you also buy fabric/patterns much faster than actually getting through them? 

It's really been quite a journey. It has taken just under a year from start to finish and I've learned all sorts of techniques in the process. The biggest test of all was on my patience. I needed it the most for the construction of the corselette, all that hand sewing, the pleats, and the lace-up back. But would I do it again? In a heartbeat. 

I am looking forward to wearing it in just 50 days. I will no doubt post photos from the big day in ...51 days. 

Thursday 7 June 2012

(hustle and) bustle + the hem of the wedding dress

I'm back from Malta! Naturally, the first thing that I had to get to was to finish off my wedding dress. 

The only things that are left to do on the dress is the hem and the bustle. Although I haven't been able to finish it all off completely, I think I have made decent progress so here's an update. 

I completed the hem! This took soooo much longer than I anticipated - I had to ensure that the dress is the right length (taking into account the wedding shoes), the hem is level, the train is the right shape, insert the horsehair braid (I used the 2.5cm width in the end) and then blind hem it whilst attaching the hem to the lining layer by hand. It pretty much took all day! 

Horsehair braid pinned into the hem including the train:

  Hemmed train (before pressing)        

Then I played around with the bustle a little. At the moment I'm leaning towards a French bustle - the reason being that all the ribbons will be on the inside of the dress, so I don't need to worry about hiding the hooks etc. Also I didn't want more volume around the waist/hip area of the dress given its dropped waist and princess seams. 

I had a quick attempt with the pins - what do you think? please do ignore the pink ribbon on the lace-up back - I'm saving the self fabric ribbon until the wedding. I am also planning on trying out the 2-tier French bustle this weekend - and I'm determined that the wedding dress will be completed this weekend! 

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