Monday, May 21, 2018

She Did Good!

Harry and HRH, The Duchess of Sussex, 
Countess of Dumbarton, and Baroness Kilkeel.


Stella McCartney

I loved both these, the ceremony gown was even more streamlined than I had imagined and so thoughtful with symbolism. However, it was not as accurately fitted as it should have been from a design house such as Givenchy. It was disappointing but I chalk it up to the stress she's been under these last few weeks and Meghan probably not being as bothered with the loose fit to have them take the dress apart for alterations.

When I first saw Meghan, my first thought was of Princess Angela of Liechtenstein, the first black female royal bride. The dress, veil, bouquet, minimal makeup, and the lack of opulent jewels are so similar.

Princess Angela of Liechtenstein in 2000.

Then the Internet reminded me of the resemblance to some other European royal brides who also admire a classic streamlined, romantic style that allowed themselves to shine more than the dress or their adornments.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, 2001
 and Infanta Cristina of Spain, 1997.

She did very well, indeed.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Meghan Markle, What Will You Wear?

On Saturday, Ms. Meghan Markle will step out of a car wearing a dress that will be news all over the world, in mere seconds. The common thought is that her dress has been designed by Ralph & Russo. I'm not so sure. Well, maybe I'm biased, but most of their dresses that I've seen seem so over the top and I don't want Meghan to be given any more of a hard time than she already has. I'm a huge wedding gown snob, probably because they're the closest things we have to vintage evening gowns from Charles James, Worth, and Dior. To be honest, I wasn't a big fan of Diana or Catherine's actual dresses; however, I thought they both looked beautiful and happy so I really just want Meghan to have the same. She's had such a hard time just to be with the man she loves.

Though because of that curiosity, I decided to see what other designers could have been in the running. Also, if she did choose one of these, I can then claim a small victory.

By the way, I vote complete sleek hair updo, a new tiara, slim a-line dress, either fully embellished or starkly unadorned. Also, her mother will walk her down the aisle, culminating in a precious moment when she hands her off to Harry, perhaps with a hug.

Here's a dress I posted to Instagram a while ago as what I'd choose for her if it were my choice:

Pronovias 2018 Raigal gown

Back to other possibilities:


Temperley London - The Bohemian vibe of this collection makes this designer a real possibility and I could see these fitting in very well at Windsor. They also would compliment the floral design and that elderflower-flavored wedding cake.


Sassi Holford - I have to admit I would love if Meghan chose someone who wasn't even on the radar, like London local Sassi Holford.


Amanda Wakeley - These gowns are just perfect. That first one is particularly lovely and classic, with a twist. I could definitely see Meghan in something like that! Another real contender.

Phillipa Lepley - Their lovely romantic dresses, rendered in styles both architecturally structured and lushly romantic, would  definitely allow for a lot of variety and skill  when completing a custom dress order.


Jenny Packham - I was surprised she wasn't mentioned to be in contention. I think she's still a valid possibility. I definitely see her being able to  capture Meghan's vibe correctly.

Viktor & Rolf - I doubt she'd pick this avant-garde design house but I was pleasantly surprised by how wearable and striking their gowns were. Let's call them the "wild card" choice.

Burberry - I still think this is a possibility, despite her mother, Doria, being clearly seen with their garment bag on her way to London. My thought is that Ms. Ragland's actual event dress never left London, and this is something else entirely. The design house could still be dressing the bride, though it is less likely now.

Erdem - Now, I couldn't find any examples of Erdem wedding gowns but pulled these from his various collections, those last two from 2009. I'm sure he would make a beautiful dress, perhaps shooed away from the large florals, top-to-toe modesty, and ruffles look for which he's more currently known.

Elie Saab - Here's another long shot, but oh how great one of his designs would look at Windsor! He's also had experience creating royal wedding gowns, having made the dresses for both Princess Stephanie (2012) and Princess Claire (2013) of Luxembourg.

Well, I could keep going with all the other designers she has ever worn that could pull off such a gown, but I won't. It's now time to be patient and wait for noon in Windsor (7 a.m. my time!) to view her choice and rejoice in the near-royal couple's joy on Saturday.

Good luck Meghan!!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Odds and Ends - The Three Rs

While I've not been sewing any new makes, I did decide to increase my wardrobe numbers. There have been garments kept in my wardrobe through recent purges that I was still not wearing for various reasons. Every now and then, I would complete repairs on these unworn items; therefore, I've been mending and making alterations to garments in my closet instead of straight-out replacing or discarding them. So, new-to-me clothes!


Reinforced and repaired back seam on this skirt that split over the holidays when I leaned down to pick up something. (See recent post on weight gain.) It's fixed, but I still have to lose a few pounds to be sure it doesn't happen again.

Used fusible interfacing to mend torn areas on some favorite items and to reinforce seams and pivot points on older garments.


Altered the unflattering neckline on my recent Simplicity 8529 from a too-large cowl to a wide jewel neck.

Removed, reshaped (by streamlining the shape), and replaced the straps (moved them closer to center front) on this Butterick 6424 top. Unfortunately, it did not work without underarm gaping, but I will try again later after the frustrated feelings fade.

A plaid flannel dress, McCall's 6885, became sleeveless after I finally removed the always-have-been-too-tight sleeves and bound the armhole edges. This top also received snaps placed between the gaping buttons over my currently more ample bust. Alas, it's still a little tight.


Replaced inadequate (too short) elastic in two knit skirt waistbands. I've now been wearing them more often since they're no longer uncomfortable when I'm sitting.

Swapped new fold-over elastic for old trim on some still-wearable knit tank tops. This is still in progress.

At the same time, the other thing I've been doing is deciding which handmade items are actually worthy of my personalized labels and the time it takes to stitch them in by hand. About half of the ones above got them, the others are in time-out to be reevaluated later.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Two Tester Tropo Camisoles - Tuesday Stitches*

Pattern: Tropo Camisole (2018) This is actually a tester of the upcoming maternity version to be released by

Pattern Description:  Form-fitting camisole in three cup sizes, various neckline/strap options, side gathers, and an optional shelf bra. Tester 1) View C, sweetheart neckline on both sides. Tester 2) View B, curved neckline on front, straight on back.

Pattern Sizing:  Sizes 0-24, high bust 32"-52", A-B, C-D, E-F cups. For both, I cut size 10 in a C-D cup, sized out to a 14 at the hips for my niece. Yes, I'm doing some unselfish sewing!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, exactly.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, it has a very simple construction.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved that I could make this for my niece who is currently pregnant with her first child. She's a personal trainer, so supportive tank tops are already a wardrobe stable for her.

Fabric Used: Two yards 58" performance jersey (88% Polyester/12% Spandex) in space dye black from Jo-Ann Fabrics for $13.59 (16.99 at 40% off), 5/8" black fold-over elastic (FOE) from Elastic By The Yard, and Dritz 3/4" braided elastic.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I was at a disadvantage because I wasn't able to take her measurements. She supplied her own and she has never sewn, therefore, I had no confidence in their accuracy. I found myself second guessing which size to cut and that included the elastic lengths too. Eventually, I cut a size 10 in a C-D cup and increased the hips out to size 14.

I constructed the darts in both the tank and shelf bra then moved onto the side gathers, though I was surprised that elastic was not being used for these.

On the 1st one I used the wrong elastic.

For the bralette, I chose to cut the elastic to the size 10 length of 35". The bralette is constructed so that the seam allowances sit inside the two layers to eliminate chafing but I got confused and the softest side of the fabric ended up inside there and not against the skin.

V. 1 worn.

For the neckline, I again went with the pattern's guideline and cut my elastic to lengths of 13.75" and 19.5" for a size 10. I sewed my FOE using the two-step method in the pattern and made a big mistake. For the first pass, I placed the elastic against the right side of the fabric. Even though I only did a basting stitch that I could remove later on, it was the second stitching pass that was neat and more attractive but that ended up on the inside! I had run out of black thread, was on a roll, and didn't want to stop so the straps have light gray stitching. I'm so happy this was a test garment!

Even so, I still stitched in my first custom label on the back.

I couldn't get over how long the tank seemed so instead of the suggested 3/4" hem, I made it 1-1/4" and finished it with two rows of zigzag stitches.

Front with extra length.
This shows that the back is shorter.

View B
Tester version 2:

Luckily, that first one fit. My niece was happy with it but wanted some changes and since I had purchased twice the amount of fabric I made her another one. I made even more changes when I cut out this version by choosing the view B curved neckline for the front but with the straight back, and I made the bralette 1/2" longer. Additionally, I cut the side seams a 1/4" wider for a  total inch increase in width, just in case.

My niece requested that I make the front gathered panel longer for more bump coverage so I cut the front two inches longer and for some reason*** I cut the back 1/2" shorter.

For the neckline, I cut the suggested lengths of 13.75" and 19.5" for the size 10. I sewed my FOE using the two-step method in the pattern and remedied my mistake from the first one. I basted the elastic against the wrong side of the fabric and in the second pass carefully and neatly stitched it on the right side.

The straps on the first one were a bit tight so she wondered if I could substitute adjustable bra straps instead. Luckily, I had already taken apart a few of my old camisoles and bras for parts months ago so I didn't have to buy any hardware. I consulted the Internet and after seeing this tutorial, I realized I could make each strap from just one longer piece of elastic, whereas in other tutorials they use two separate pieces. I calculated a 27.5" length for each one and set aside 2" at each end to later form the attachment loop on the front bodice (which really should have been the back!). The next 13" of elastic was attached to the entire underarm curve (14.5" in total) splitting it equally in 6.5" on each side of the seam. I used a zigzag stitch for that but used a straight stitch for the rest of the straps. I unfortunately couldn't get any good pictures but trust me, it looked good.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  This was a good pattern. Since I had bought more fabric than needed, these two yards made three tanks in all, two Tropos for my niece and another one for myself from a tracing of a tank in my wardrobe. However, for mine, I only had enough to create a shelf bra panel for the front.

Early days, worn at 12 weeks.
Update: 30 weeks!

 The belly has moved the gathers.

Conclusion: It's a good pattern and the addition of side gathers seem to work well, at least at this stage. The true test was in the later months, would the tank grow with her or would she outgrow it?

In my tester feedback, I suggested that instructions for adjustable bra straps and/or a nursing tank conversion should be included in the pattern and the final maternity version, which will be released by Maternity Sewing, will include instructions for a nursing tank.  While I was asked to test a maternity tank called Tropo, it seems they have removed the side gathers from the design and released it first in a non-maternity version with Tuesday Stitches because on the website I don't notice them on the modeled versions and they are no longer mentioned in the pattern description.

* F.Y.I. The company name is new, when I was first contacted it was still known as SeamstressErin Designs.
** Final maternity version to be released once the site has launched.
*** I really don't remember why.