Sunday, June 28, 2015

Taking Chances

Life is boring without taking chances, like wearing this bright outfit (I mean, yellow is usually a bad color choice for clothes, and it's SO bright...) or agreeing to make a swimsuit for someone who lives half way across the country when I've never made a swimsuit before in my life!

Turns out, both chances were well worth it. I have decided I love the outfit, and the swimsuit, in spite of being the most challenging thing I have ever made, was eventually finished and sent off. That was last year. The lady liked it so much she ordered another one this summer. Let me tell you, the second time was much easier!

Some tips if you are going to make a swimsuit (these apply if you, like me, do not have a serger):

1) Cut your pieces so that the greatest stretch runs horizontally around the suit.
2) Get a stretch double needle. I had a regular one and it was dropping stitches all over the place.
3) Practice with scraps of fabric and pieces of elastic until you get the machine working just how you want it. Pulling out seam upon seam after you have started can be very frustrating.
4) Make sure you get rubber swimsuit elastic.
5) Zigzag the elastic to the edge of your fabric before sewing it down with the double needle. This holds it in place and will save you a lot of time and tears.
6) Never sew elastic-side-up. I don't know about your machine, but mine did not like the elastic at all and wouldn't sew through it properly unless it was covered with fabric.

So now I know how to do something I didn't know before. And I think I look okay in yellow.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Belated Spring Cleaning

It's been a busy past few weeks around here! Altering dresses for a wedding, hosting people for said wedding, attending said wedding, preparing for my church's annual ball and conference, touching up a shirt to wear to the ball, hosting the conference speaker in our home Sunday night...and all the house cleaning and food making and preparation that goes in to such events! And now I've finally reached the calm after the storm and can get to some things that I've needed to get to for a long time. Like going through my closet. Only going through it didn't do much good, because I wear almost everything in there! And you can't get rid of stuff you wear! I did manage to find a few things that I could part with, though.

I really like how more than half the things in my closet are things I have made or altered. It's kinda fun!

On a different note, I have started collecting belts. I found a thrift store that sells them for 25¢. When I find a nice belt for 25¢, I can't pass it up! So, I have a lot.

The next thing I tackled in my belated spring cleaning was my fabric. I have probably said this before, but I have a really hard time throwing away fabric - even small scraps. You never know, I might use it sometime!! But today, I was ruthless. Hopefully I won't regret it!

I just had to stuff the whole pile into bags and try not to think about it. But seriously, I still have sooo much fabric...

Anyway, after all that cleaning, I am now sitting here relaxing with a big bowl of curry lentil soup. I know it's not the right weather for soup, but its a new recipe I found and its so good! Definitely a comfort food. (If you want to try it you can find the recipe here. I left out the chickpeas, cinnamon, and lime and added some ground sausage.)

This afternoon I hope to cross some more things off my list and have some time to read. I have been rereading the Narnia series and thoroughly enjoying it.

Happy Monday!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


This is yet another post about my masquerade ball outfit. I hope you aren't getting bored! I promise this is the last one. I will try to keep the words few and the pictures many.

I made lots of accessories for my dress. The ideas just kept coming! The most important thing, of course, was my mask. I bought a form at Hobby Lobby to decorate, but found it so uncomfortable that I ended up just using it as a pattern.

Template made with multiple layers of paper and Mod Podge.

Decorative overlay: before and after decorating. I edged it with the sparkly netting from the dress, and sewed seed beads around each eye hole.

I made a twisted swirl using wire, covered it with green fabric, and sewed it onto the mask.

Then I added flowers:

All that was left was to glue the overlay to the template and add some elastic.

And done!

Next, we have the fan. I had an old fan that was covered in paper. I took the paper off, glued on some fabric, and stuck it back onto the wooden spikes.

Then I decorated it with flowers, a swirled vine, and seed beads.

The third thing I made was a pair of barefoot sandals. I had seen several pictures of them on Pinterest, but they were mostly lace ones and weren't exactly what I was wanting. So I put my own twist on them! Unfortunately I don't have any in-process pics (not sure why), but here are a some of the finished product.

These may have been my favorite part of the whole outfit!

Photo credit: Melissa Niednagel

And last but not least, I made my own jewelry. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, since I haven't made much jewelry in the past and I wanted it to look professional. I started out with this flower cluster and these beads from Hobby Lobby.

The beads could easily be turned into earrings, but the flowers needed more work. My dad cut the leaves and little roses off so I could have more to work with, and I painted both the earring beads and flower pieces with nail polish to make them match the dress.

I used three strands of thick gold wire for the necklace, and lots of thin gold wire to secure each piece onto it. I filled in the middle of the large rose with a rhinestone bead.

To fasten it, I made a short chain of wire loops on one end and a hook on the other.

Yes, everything was a lot of work! Yes, I went kind of overboard. But it was so worth it!!! I really enjoyed spending hours creating and designing and trying new things, and I learned a lot. I'll definitely be wearing this dress - and all of its accessories - again!

 Photo credit: Patti Royer

Photo credit: Melissa Niednagel

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Finding Perfect

In my last blog post, I promised a separate post about the flowers I made for my masquerade dress. The flowers were actually one of the most challenging parts of the dress! I went through a lot of hair-pulling and brain-splitting to finally get what I wanted.

The dress below gave me a lot of inspiration for my dress – the angled hem of the top, the texture on the top, and the idea of vines and flowers. Of course, my dress ended up looking a lot different than this one, but it was a starting point.

I searched Pinterest and Google for fabric flower ideas and tried out several, but I didn't want the multiple petal look – I didn't want flowers sticking out all over my dress! I wanted more or less flat roses. In the end, I found some black and white outlined roses and printed them off in three different sizes to form layers. 

Now I had my template:

Here is the first flower I made with the template from scrap cloth, the successful result of hours of brainstorming!

Yay! I love it! But there was another problem – I didn't know what color to use. I originally thought I would use kind of a mauve pink and something gold. I bought the two fabrics you see below, but ended up not really being happy with the color combination. I couldn't find the exact pink I had in my head! And the gold wasn't right, either.

So on my birthday, the last day of February, I went fabric shopping again. This time, I was looking for blue fabric. I had seen a locket on Pinterest that was gold with dusky blue swirls, and I fell in love with the color combination.

I searched all over the fabric store, bringing bolts and rolls from one end to the other to compare. I found a metallic blue that I really liked, but it was too metallic and not blue enough. Much searching later, I found a purplish-blue sheer that, when double over on top of the metallic fabric, made the perfect color. That was one successful shopping trip! Happy Birthday to me! ;-)

Then I had to cut flowers...lots and lots of flowers. Two layers of sheer for every layer of metallic, and two or three of those layers for each flower. That makes six to nine layers each flower! And there were 27 flowers on the dress, not to mention the accessories! I don't even want to know how many layers that makes! The good news was that I was able to cut several flowers at once, especially out of the sheer. I just folded it over and over, pinned the paper pattern on, and cut the flowers out.

Once the flowers were cut, all that remained was to stack the layers on top of each other and sew them together. I sewed an 'x' in the middle of each flower and pulled the thread tight to give it a little ripple.

I am SO happy with how they turned out. All of that thinking and searching and hair-pulling was worth it! 

I did have one more problem: I wanted to leave the edges of the flowers raw for a more natural look, but the fabric, especially the sheer, unraveled rather quickly. I solved that by spraying each of the flowers with hairspray. I had already used hairspray on the glittery netting that I used on the dress to keep the glitter from falling off. I figured it could help keep the fabric flowers from unraveling, as well. I think it worked rather nicely! I also hair-sprayed the strips of fabric I had sewn onto the bottom of the dress to keep them from unraveling.

Of course, I only thought about hair-spraying the flowers after I had sewn them onto the dress. I did slide wax paper behind each flower as I sprayed, but hairspray still soaked into the dress, leaving slight blotches on the gold sheer. A search on Google told me that a little Shout cleaner should take the stains off easily. I put some Shout on a wet rag and rubbed it into each of the spots. When it dried the spots were gone! I didn't even have to rise it out! Hooray for a quick and easy fix!

Photo credit Patti Royer - thanks so much for taking all those pictures at the ball!