Friday, September 29, 2017

Curbing My Enthusiasm

I just wrote all about my sewing plans and trying not to buy more fabric and working solely from the stash, right? Then how come I keep taking pictures of fabrics at Jo-Ann?

You see, whenever I see a fabric I can imagine in a pattern I already own or a style I want, I take a pic of it and the label (because not all their fabrics are on their website) for reference. Lately, the hits kept coming...

I've already raved on Instagram about the texture of their refined ponte, and now it's available in my most coveted and near impossible to find colors; a rich green and a dark pumpkin-like orange. Both perfect to make any one of these ponte-perfect dresses: Butterick 6316, Butterick 5672Vogue 8787, or New Look 6968.

Recently I became excited about making my first bathing suit (for 2018) based on this Talbots swim/athletic ensemble:

Talbots Sanibel Tankini

I have the means to create it with Simplicity 8424, the Simplicity 1163 skirt (view A), and my TNT underwear pattern (based on indigorchid's original but-no-longer-available design.) In the last two months, I've found not one but two great green nylon/spandex fabrics. One is specifically for swimsuits and the other is a Yaya Han costume fabric whose fabric content matches that of the Talbot fabric.

This fabric would be ideal for the Vogue 8925 "sweatshirt" which had already appeared in my sewing plan but at the time I couldn't find a suitable fabric. I no longer have ANY warm winter sweaters or tops so this may be a justifiable breach to my rule.

Also in the running for that Vogue 8925 sweatshirt are these new-to-me Luxe fleeces (yes, I'm actually thinking of buying fleece at Jo-Ann!) in rich jewel tones that would work for that pattern.

This fabric immediately made me think of my old dream to have a sequin t-shirt-style dress ideal for New Year's celebrations. I have not attended a NYE event appropriate for a sequin dress in years but maybe if you make it, it will come? The exact color of this fabric is not captured well in this above pic but it's a mauve-y, rose color that looks amazing with my skin.
This one, of all the fabrics in this post, has the least chance of being made since I just made a long brightly colored silk dress with its own limited wearing opportunities.

So, it comes down to this:

Jo-Ann has a great tendency to carry a fabric through several seasons so I will not allow myself to panic. I'm gonna trust them to continue to carry that ponte since it's a good investment. However, I probably will give in to the quilt-y gray goodness because it isn't on the website and my whole no cold weather wear problem. I will make myself finish three or four more items on the plan before I buy any more fabric though. I truly need to deplete my stash.

My temporary fix was to obtain swatches of these fabrics and maybe the fact of having them in hand will subconsciously satisfy my need. Hmmm...


Luckily, Jo-Ann cuts their swatches from selvage to selvage so I have 1" to 1-1/2" by 45" or 60" of each to play with. Cut sections of the fabrics (except for the metallic knit*) have been through a machine wash for testing. Maybe I cut them too small because I still can't find two of them! Those were the luxe fleece and the green swim nylon.

I am still holding out, at least until the next 60% off coupon but I can say with confidence that some of that quilted fleece will be bought!

*The metallic knit has been eliminated. In addition to shedding and needing to be hand-washed, once cut it rolled up into a tight tube which means it would also need to be lined/stabilized for the dress I want. Without having a real need in my wardrobe, that is too much work already.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Anthropologie...For Less!

A link to this Marimekko dress from another blog led me to the Anthropologie website, somewhere I haven't been for years. I used to study that site all the time for inspiration but found that research is done far more efficiently in the actual store. I would take a bunch of interesting items into the dressing room, studying the design details and unique construction while sketching wildly and secretly taking close-up photos with my phone. Ahh, those were the days as I'm now about an hour away from their nearest store.

What I found on their site, on the first page of their dresses was surprising. Many of these dresses were very familiar to me and probably are to you too. They are perfect for replication and below some are matched to similar home sewing patterns. So here's another makeunder post for you. I mean, just look at how much money you could save!
Marianne Silk Wrap Dress, $538. 

Vogue 9251

So close right? If you wanted the same volume in the shoulders as the Carolina K dress on the Vogue pattern you would only need to slash and spread the pattern piece some.

Myriam Bell Sleeve Dress, $608.

McCall's 7654

To more closely resemble the Shoshanna dress this McCall's pattern just needs a pattern piece change: add the longer flared arm flounces from views C or D to the bottom edge of the upper sleeve in view D.

Rebeka Floral Maxi Dress, $228. 

By Hand London Anna

This Yumi Kim dress seems meant to resemble this By Hand London Anna dress, and it does a great job. I wonder if they figured out how to solve that upper back gaping issue?

Olia Column Dress, $158.
Vogue 8904

See, so familiar! This Marci Tilton pattern would need no alterations whatsoever to replicate that Bailey 44 dress!
Rose Garden Dress, $398
Vogue 1471

I admit that this ML Monique Lhuillier dress is slightly different than the Nicola Finetti because it has a center seam, does not have a waist yoke, and they added wrist flounces (which would be an easy addition) but it would still get the job done.

It just show that as home sewists we have such an advantage, almost anything is within our means, and we don't need $600 to own an off-the-shoulder black lace dress that will fit us like a glove. Yes!I

Images: Anthropologie photos, pattern envelope art from The McCall Pattern Company and By Hand London.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Another Sewing Plan, Blah, Blah, Blah

Last September, I submitted a wardrobe plan for Fall 2016 to Winter 2017. One of my "rules" was that to complete it I would not buy any new fabric (linings not included) and I did a great job. However, the real goal was the production of more finished garments without any additions to my stash.

Referring back to this post , you can see that I had a brown skirt in the plan but removed it when I decided against using the ponte I already had. I eventually added another pattern, Butterick 6464, for which that fabric was more suitable. So even though it wasn't on the published image (but now added above) it fulfilled my criteria of no new fabric.

However, that changed in spring 2017 when it came time to complete two dresses for my niece's June wedding that did require buying new fabric. Since these were 1) not on that plan and 2) the plan stated its end as Winter 2017, I was technically in the clear.

The completion of the first dress, the Vogue 2745 slip, left me with enough fabric to make something else. I chose to make the halter top from Butterick 6464 and knowing that the colors in that print perfectly matched some lovely red and purple bengaline on sale at Jo-Ann, I added a purple pencil skirt to my plan. Uh oh.

When I bought the yard of purple I also picked up some black bengaline and changed out the Style Arc Barb pants from the old plan for another pair of Vogue 9745 (the originals still fit but I'm opening up the side seams a tiny bit) and going up a size. I justify this last purchase because the pants will work as a suit with the already scheduled Morris jacket. Last but not least, I added a new pattern, that great top from Butterick 6424, which will be made from an off-white ponte already in my stash.

So, I did buy new fabric but it will allow this updated plan to function as a SWAP*: one jacket; two tops; two skirts, which can work with either top; and six pants that will work with one or both of the tops. Note how professional most of it looks. I feel good about this.

Best of all, the above SWAP combined with the completed pieces below will form a comprehensive work wardrobe.

P.S. I swear I am going to post about the green silk dress. I just can't seem to finalize that post.

*SWAP = sewing with a plan

Friday, September 01, 2017

DIY Wedding Card Box Part 2 - Embellishments

Yes, in the form of a very long post, it's time for the fun part!

Time to discuss the details that made this card box stand out and grab attention. At this point, the boxes had been covered in fabric and were ready for the next steps but first, here is a bit of background on how I made the decision about exactly what fabrics to use and how they would be arranged.

BME Event Group: Dana & Sean 6-10-17 &emdash;

I knew I would be using the colors gray, cobalt/royal blue, ivory, and silver, to represent the groom and groomsmen in light gray suits, bridesmaids in blue dresses, the bride's dress, and her rhinestone sash/belt, seen above.

I bought some appropriate swatches from Jo-Ann; two stretch satins, a stretchy metallic performance fabric, and a fabulous patterned brocade that combined cobalt, navy, silver, and white. I desperately wanted to feature that last fabric, unfortunately, the bride wasn't as into the brocade as I was. As you can see in my mock-ups below, I had originally thought of using it to cover an entire tier...well, that was vetoed. I thought it was the perfect addition to cohesively tie the colors together. Eventually, I found a way to incorporate it into the overall design.

I had spent time with the swatches playing around altering fabric position, amount of color coverage, and proportions. Now the practice box used to trial my fabric covering shenanigans was put to use to preview different types of surface decoration.

For your information, here again is the list of all items and tools I used in my card box project. This post focuses on the decorative items.

  • Darice 2849-06 Paper-Mache Square Box Set, 8/9/10" 3-pack from Amazon $12.49
  • Darice paper-mache square box, 4" x 4" $1.50
  • AMAZLINEN sequin table runner, 14" x 108" in silver $11.99
  • 1 yard Casa Collection stretch satin in White $10.49,
  • 1 yard Casa Collection stretch satin in Dazzling Blue $10.49,
  • 1/4 yard Brocade floral stripe in Royal/Navy $1.75,
  • 1/3 yard Mystique performance fabric in White/Silver, all from Jo-Ann Fabrics $6.37
  • Celebrate It 360 5/8" satin ribbon in Royal $3.99
  • Recollections 5/8" white ribbon with white polka dots $1.00
  • Offray 7/8" wire-edged ribbon in Royal $5.99
  • Two Bead Landing Sticky Gems Value Packs in clear crystal rhinestone $4.99 (2)
  • Dovecraft Essentials crystal self-adhesive letter Q $1.00
  • Offray 5-petal violet ribbon flower with pearl in Royal $1.99
  • Elmer's Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive $6.99
  • Elmer's Washable School Glue Stick $.95
  • Aleene's Original Tacky Glue $.69
  • Olfa 45mm rotary cutter
  • Emery board (or sandpaper, of course)

Total: $87.66

First lesson learned

I bought the wired ribbon first because it was the only one in stock that matched my satin fabric, the other ones were definitely royal, which is a brighter and more primary shade of blue than cobalt. The wired ribbon was horrible for this task because it would not lay flat against the box and the Aleene's glue soaked through and could be seen, even after it had dried. Luckily, this was all on the practice box, so for the real thing I bought a glue stick instead.


Note: Though we decided to try for a simple and more classic design, there were definitely a lot of amazing trims out there that could have been used. I found semi-sheer glitter covered ribbon, wide ribbed grosgrain, and ribbons covered with glitter dots, or made of metallic silver. In addition, there was this 4" stretch sequin paillette trim and many varieties of rhinestone-type- trims.


Now it was time to bring in the bling! I ended up loving these self adhesive gems, they were so easy to cut apart and position. This was the least stressful step of all. I used my rotary cutter (again with an old blade that I no longer used on garment fabric) to cut apart the rows and also to make neat the ends. I applied it along the bottom edge of all the boxes by first wrapping a complete strip around the corners and filling in the resulting gaps with pieces, making sure to line them up so it appeared seamless.


My favorite part is the very top, I saw that detail on another box and knew I had to do that here. It took the thankless card entry and elevated it to a design feature.


After Michael's restocked, I was rewarded with some non-wired "royal" blue ribbon and a novelty mini-roll of white satin ribbon to use on the bottom blue box. I wasn't thrilled that the white had white polka dots painted on it but it was only a dollar and the other whites didn't match my white satin. I still was unable to find either colors in a wider width (3" would have been ideal) at the time but vowed to make it work.

Next step was applying a row of satin ribbon right above the rows of gems. I first wrapped the ribbon around a box to get the correct length and then pressed under about a half inch at one end. I started each strip at the back seam, overlapping the pressed end over the cut edge. I also made sure that this was the same corner that the fabric closures were so that those sides would face the wall of the venue, leaving the pretty sides out.

This time, attaching the ribbon was SO easy! Since I was using a glue stick that would dry clear and was the same width as the ribbon, I ended up applying the glue directly to the satin, being careful not to go outside of that dedicated strip area. That entire bit of decorating took less than an hour.

More Bling

I had been unable to find the wider ribbon that I wanted and I thought the boxes looked unbalanced with too much unadorned space. Since I had more adhesive trim, I applied another row of the gems above the ribbon to give those boxes a finished look.


Using this Pinterest image as an example I chose to create a label for the card box with the bride and groom's names, and their wedding date. This was a low key detail. I had designed their wedding invitations using Vistaprint and wanted to use the same fonts and design elements for this sign. I created another draft invite with only this text and planned to print it out and use. However, the ink coverage was not good on the print.

So I taped the printout and some cardstock to the window and traced the text onto the card. It was messy up close but once I added two rows of rhinestone trim for a border it looked much better!

Flowers (nixed)

There was a time when I thought about assembling some fabric flowers as additional decor on the box tiers. This brought me back to the brocade fabric because it mixed the royal with silver, some white, and a darker blue, bringing everything together and I saw it as giving the original basic fabric trio an elegant and opulent feel.

My first thought was as fabric roses or carnations (both used in the bridal flowers); however, the brocade I wanted to use for them started to fray as soon as you looked at it, let alone be manipulated in turns and folds! I changed track to use satin ribbon but couldn't find wide enough satin ribbon in the right blue to make the roses. But if you want to make some gorgeous ribbon roses, here are two instructional sources that I found:

Ribbon Rose Tutorial by The Flower Art
DIY Satin Ribbon Rose by daisyclub23

To be honest, the production of them stressed me more than I needed. In my mind they had to be near perfect and I didn't have the patience for the amount of practice needed for me to be satisfied.


Luckily, I had other ways to amp up the visual interest. In addition to the card box I had been tasked with decorating and setting up the gift table. I purchased a nine(!) foot long silver sequin table runner from Amazon at the same time I ordered the boxes. It was gorgeous and perfect and would be placed lengthwise on the blue tablecloths provided by the venue. With the box already decorated in cobalt blue, white, and silver; the sequins amplified the bling factor.

This picture of the practice box placed on the silver runner and brocade gave me the idea of using the brocade to construct a runner that would be placed perpendicular to the sequin runner and perhaps hang off the table, with maybe a decorative tassel on the end? I saw this as a means of compromise with the bride, this way the fabric could tie all of the visual elements together yet not be part of the actual box.

My goal was to create this from the 1/4 yard I purchased as a "swatch", I didn't want to buy more fabric and saw this as a way of also justifying that prior expense.

I originally thought I had to figure out how to achieve a perfect point on the ends. Even though a runner is one of the simplest item to make, my fear of messing up this expensive fabric prompted me to look for a tutorial and lucked out with this one by Little House Living that involved NO math or precise cutting! Just four simple seams that I complicated (of course!) by having to not only piece the back for length but by also cutting the back wider to create a contrast border for the front.


After a lot of pressing took place while trying to match the width of the border on each side, I tacked the triangles down in the back and was done. 


The best advantage to the way I constructed this tower of boxes is that the individual boxes and lids were left separate. They would be assembled at the venue using mini clothespins I purchased over ten years ago, attaching each level to the next one. The sequin runner would be lain down, the brocade runner next, the box tower placed on top, and then the sign would be attached. A picture of this was sent to the bride and the project was...approved!

That structure in the picture above is approximately 10" x 10" and 5" tall, as large as the biggest box, and just like a Russian nesting doll, all the other boxes were stacked inside. There was also enough room inside for both runners, the package of clothespins, the little sign, and extra ribbons and tape. So, so convenient!

I was more proud of this project than I should have been knowing that it had no real use after June 10 but I will look at it as evidence that I never do a (forgive my language) half-assed job on anything!

BME Event Group: Dana & Sean 6-10-17 &emdash;

Compare what I produced to what I was asked to make:

What I learned:
  • I highly support the compact portable option, it was so easy to break down and carry at the end of the night.
  • Make sure your receptacle can be secured somehow or have someone on guard...this can be a lot of money! Of course you should trust your invited quests but what about their plus ones and any temporary event staff?
  • Overestimate how many cards you will receive...their gift table was practically empty with only three wrapped gifts because everything else went into the card box! Making something more like this 2' tall box found on Etsy probably would have been more appropriate:

If you are reading this because you searched for DIY wedding card box tutorials I hope I have helped you or at least led you to some helpful sources. Good luck!

DIY Wedding Card Box Part 1 - Base

Images: BMG Event Group, my own image, DiamondDecor on Etsy, my images, BMG Event Group, jamiekimdesigns and the MadeSoPretty shop on Etsy