Kenzie's Wedding Dress

Two posts in one week?! I'm on a roll here, folks! I finished my sister's wedding dress on wedding eve with some last minute hemming and alterations. Last minute sewing is the price of making a wedding dress for someone who lives on the other side of the continent. We arrived in Utah on August 30, one week before the wedding, but I got a stomach bug shortly thereafter that set me back a couple of days. Luckily my laid back and patient sister didn't seem one bit bothered by the fact that her dress was one of the final pieces of the puzzle to come together before the wedding, so I just chugged along! I am so happy to have been able to add to her special day by making her dress. She was radiant- really and truly- and my pictures don't do it- or her- justice at all. Nevertheless, my pictures are all we have right now, so they'll have to do!

I had planned to do a photoshoot with her a few days before the wedding to get some good pictures, but since the dress was finished the evening before I ended up just following the photographer around between the ceremony and reception as she took their photos. This explains why they aren't looking at me in nearly any of the pictures:) This also explains the sub par pictures. I work well in one kind of light and that light only- I have very little photographic range. Hopefully that will change soon- I'm going to a photography workshop in October at Lake Anna, VA and I CANT WAAAIIIIIITTTTT!
The dress was inspired by a few she found on pinterest- this one and this one, mainly. She wanted strapless, sweetheart neckline, form fitting bodice with lace appliqué, and a gathered flowy skirt. I used Burda Style 7086 for the bodice and made a simple gathered skirt for the bottom.
The bodice was fairly straightforward, only my fabric choice made things difficult. Apparently chiffon is like, kind of tricky? Yeah, first time chiffon sewing here. Any tutorials/advice on sewing it said stuff like "practice on a simple project first" and "don't make something you care too much about on your first try" ..... and so I made a wedding dress. Ha! Still, I managed, and while it isn't perfect (I'm looking at you, little lace leaf on the upper bust! Stop drooping like that!) I'm really happy with how it came out. And most of all, she liked it!
And now, for my pattern review summary:
Things I loved:
  • the bust shaping- the pattern pieces came together quite lovely
  • the boning insertion was easy and straightforward (its been a good while since I've done boning)
Things I changed:
  • omitted the skirt pieces and opted for a gathered skirt instead
  • added a chiffon overlay to each bodice pattern piece
  • applied lace appliqué over the entire bodice, post assembly
Things I'll change, next time:
  • use a more stable base fabric to better support boning (you can see it buckling a bit in some pictures)
  • omit some fullness of underskirt to reduce bulk at the waist
Notions & Fabric:
  • dove colored chiffon from Joann Fabrics
  • lightweight poly for bodice, lining and underskirt from Joann Fabrics
  • invisible zipper from, you guessed it, Joann Fabrics
  • Lace from Touch of Lace (lightly dyed to match the fabric better with a poly dye)
Congrats Kenzie and Abe! Aren't they a fantastic pair?! Thanks for sharing your special day with us!

Ultimate Refashion: The Big Reveal!

Hello my friends! It is finally time for the wedding dress refashion post! I just realized my last post (that wasn't a {this moment} post) was Charly's Easter dress. Something about the combination of a half marathon, making a wedding dress,  a trip to Utah, and helping my family pull off said wedding, has made for sparse post-age around here. I even forgot to do Charly's 16 month update- and now she's a week away from being 17 months! I've got some catching up to do on all fronts, but I just can't wait to get this post rolling! I had a partially written dress update post written a few weeks before the wedding that I never finished, so I'll be sharing some of that later.

When the big day came I failed to get even one picture of my darling sister in the dress I had made, so all of these pictures come from the fabulous photographer Bryce Olsen. Bryce was kind enough to send me some photos to share with all of you. Thanks Bryce! Check out his site and his blog for more amazing images. He was fabulous to work with- big group shots were effortless and quick, and he was everywhere he needed to be without being in the way. He captured Chelsie and Tyler's special day perfectly, and we couldn't be happier with the pictures we've seen so far!

Anyway, since you all have probably skipped my blathering on to see the before and after pictures, here they are!

To refresh your memories, here are a few pictures of the front of the dress before:

And here is the front of the dress (and the lovely bride!) after:

Here is a before picture of the back of the dress:

And some after pictures:

If you remember, the train was pretty looooooooonnnnnnng:

Chelsie opted for something much shorter, and I love the silhouette:

Have you ever seen a more beautiful bride? Chelsie was absolutely radiant! She and Tyler make an adorable and endearing couple, and I couldn't be happier for them! Thank you Chelsie and Tyler for letting me be part of your special day!

As for the process, I shared this post about deconstructing and making a muslin of the bodice, and this post about sizing down the skirt. I'll be back with more pictures and commentary on how this all went down when I get my bearings and get my house back in order!

Thanks for reading!

Ultimate Refashion: From 10 to 2

First off, thank you everyone for your kind words on my Ultimate Refashion post. Having an enthusiastic audience keeps me motivated to take pictures and share along the way. Thanks for reading and commenting! (ps- does anyone know how to enable replies in the comment section? I'd love to be able to reply to individual comments and have my response come up right under the question/comment it pertains to, I just can't seem to figure it out...)

I've been working on the skirt part of Chelsie's wedding dress this past week (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this post- and feel free to check out our inspiration board on Pinterest) and I'm pretty happy with the changes so far. Reworking the skirt has been a bigger task than I anticipated. The plan was to take a fairly full and not at all fitted size 10 skirt and make it a fitted through the hips and much less full size 2 skirt. Did that make sense? Essentially I needed to change not only the size (by a lot) but the shape too. Oh and make the train significantly shorter.

I wish I had taken a before shot of just the skirt on the dress form. We'll have to make do with this mirror-shot:
And then this one of the train:
My usual method for taking in skirts failed miserably here. The size + shape difference meant that simply taking in the side seams didn't cut it. I tried it, but the shape got really wonky and the waist line didn't allow the fabric to fall right. It was bad. Luckily I had this dress form (I knew we'd get to be good friends!) because I couldn't have done it without her. I took the skirt apart and basically pinned the separate pieces on to the dress form (which is adjustable, so right now it has my sister's waist, bust, height and hip measurements) and marked out the side seams and waist shape. Snip snip, a quick basting stitch to hold it all together, and we have this:

This is about 2/3 of the fabric I cut out.

A much more fitted shape.

And a whole lot less train.
Looking much better, although since I took this picture yesterday I've been working on fitting it down through the hips a little more. It doesn't look as dramatic in these pictures as it really is (I blame it on my crummy before pics) but trust me, it looks soooo much better. 
Hopefully I'll have the skirt shape finished soon- I ordered the lace yesterday, so once that comes I can start assembling the lace overlay! Just for fun, I figured I'd include the list I made in the first post about the dress in each subsequent post, so we (I) can see the progress (I'm a huge fan of making lists) and so we (I) can see what the next steps are. Oh, and I'm switching from highlighting completed tasks to crossing them out. Much more satisfying for me:)
Have Chelsie try on the dress and mark for fitting alterations
Ship the dress to me 
Deconstruct, including: remove the lace and illusion neckline, and separate bodice from skirt
Create pattern for lace overlay on bodice
Test dye the base layer (Chelsie wants a taupe base layer with white lace over the top)
Shop for lace
Buy lace
Make a muslin (a mock dress made up of a cheap fabric) of the bodice
Ship the muslin and dyed fabric swatches to Chelsie
Chelsie tries on the muslin and pins for additional alterations, chooses a fabric swatch
Ship muslin back to me
Alter the fullness and waist of the skirt
Shorten the train
Dye base layer
Alter the bodice base layer, including the shape of the neckline
Make alterations to muslin
Cut lace for bodice and skirt
Assemble lace bodice
Sew lace trim on unfinished edges
Attach lace bodice to base bodice
Assemble lace skirt
Attach lace skirt to base skirt
Sew together bodice and skirt
Add in the zipper
Sew on buttons (purely cosmetic)
Final fitting and hemming- in Utah, a week before the wedding
There is still a whole lot more to do, but getting the shape in place is a huge step in being able to make more progress.

Ultimate Refashion

As usual I have about 15 projects either started, in queue, or on my mental to-do list (only half of which will ever be finished), but I have one major one with a big 'ol deadline coming right around the corner.

My sweet next-youngest sister, Chelsie, is getting married. May 23rd. And I'm refashioning a wedding dress for her. 
Here she is with her fiance Tyler the night they got engaged. Adorable, right?

Oh, and did I mention she lives in Utah- and I in Virginia? Before you tell me how crazy I am let me just say this: I know. It sounds totally nutso, but I'm really excited (and only a little bit nervous) about the whole thing. She and I have somewhat similar tastes and I'm pretty much jealous of the dress this will hopefully turn out to be. We have a pinterest board full of inspiration dresses and commentary on what she likes and doesn't like about each dress. If you want to get a feel for what look we are going for, go ahead and check it out. It could be fun. 
Originially we thought we would be starting from scratch- using bits and pieces of a few patterns to try to create what she is looking for- but then her fiance's sister offered to GIVE her a dress she had on hand to do whatever she pleased with. She called me up, asked if I thought it would work, and I jumped for joy because it meant I had a baseline of work already done. Also I love refashioning. 
I have some super awesome before pictures to share. They are great because a) The dress is much too big, which means the before will be super dramatic just by changing the size and b) I took the pictures myself. Of me. In a mirror in my living room. Basically any after picture will be better than these. Also I left them au naturale (no color correction, nothin!) Behold:

So...I have a lot of work cut out for me. Luckily I have a new friend to help me:

This thing has already proven immensely helpful. I have a feeling we are going to have a very long and happy relationship.
As for the process, the rough plan goes a little like this:
(completed tasks are in orange)
Have Chelsie try on the dress and mark for fitting alterations
Ship the dress to me 
Deconstruct, including: remove the lace and illusion neckline, and separate bodice from skirt
Create pattern for lace overlay on bodice
Test dye the base layer (Chelsie wants a taupe base layer with white lace over the top)
Shop for lace
Buy lace
Make a muslin (a mock dress made up of a cheap fabric) of the bodice
Ship the muslin and dyed fabric swatches to Chelsie
Chelsie tries on the muslin and pins for additional alterations, chooses a fabric swatch
Ship muslin back to me
Alter the fullness and waist of the skirt
Shorten the train
Dye base layer
Alter the bodice base layer, including the shape of the neckline
Make alterations to muslin
Cut lace for bodice and skirt
Assemble lace bodice
Sew lace trim on unfinished edges
Attach lace bodice to base bodice
Assemble lace skirt
Attach lace skirt to base skirt
Sew together bodice and skirt
Add in the zipper
Sew on buttons (purely cosmetic)
Final fitting and hemming- in Utah, a week before the wedding
If you don't know what the heck a lot of that means... that makes two of us. Just kidding. Kind of. So some progress down, a lot more to go. Here are a few pictures of what has happened so far. I'll keep you all updated!