Archive for the 'Bonnie’s Black and Blue Dress' Category


Black and Blue Dress, Start to Finish

I’ve been posting my progress all along now, but I thought it would be fun to put a bunch of photos all in one post, a sort of condensed timeline of the process.  I’m also frankly delighted to be able to show the pattern in closer proximity to our finished dress.  The finished product is basically *exactly* what we discussed while standing in JoAnn’s, and I’m very pleased that I was able to create what Bonnie wanted despite the lack of a pattern with this design.  So, here you are, the Black and Blue dress, from start to finish:

Vogue 2931. Halter top, empire waist, princess seams, but not the A-line shape and knee length skirt we wanted.

Bonnie’s “Ugly Dress.” Needs to be shortened and more flare to the skirt.

The outer dress is finished.

The lining and foundation are sewn in (it drapes much better with these, doesn’t it?).

Shortened, hemmed, finished, and modelled by Aunt Bonnie!


Allow me to present Aunt Bonnie!

Bonnie came over after work today to pick up the black and blue dress, and to try it on for you all.  The dress looks great, and Bonnie is always just stunning!

She commented that it felt different to wear a garment custom sized for her.  I can totally relate!  The FIT you get from custom clothing is such a wonderful thing – no clinging, no hanging, no bunching, just a comfortable and correct fit.

I am DELIGHTED that she’s asked me to go forward on the next dress “as soon as my marriage permits it.”  🙂  Shawn has given me the go ahead so I’ll start pattern drafting and fabric ordering in the next few days.  Woo hoo!  I’ll try to post our design ideas for the White Dress in a few days (need to see if I can borrower a scanner).


Ho Hum Hem

Bonnie dropped by when I got home from work a few days ago, and tried on the dress.  It looks absolutely AMAZING on her!  The foundation does provide enough support, and all the prior alterations have created a wonderful fit.  She decided she wanted me to take a few inches off the bottom so that the dress comes right above the knee on her, and we marked the locations for the hooks and eyes on the neck strap.  And that was it!  Just a couple of eensy little quick steps to be fininshed!

*sigh* But hems are boring.  Fold, pin, stitch, iron.  Fold, pin, stitch, iron.  It takes forever, and while a garment looks FINISHED once it is nicely hemmed – it still looks basically like the same garment.  Taking bizarrely shaped pieces of pattern, sewing a few quick seams, and suddenly having a DRESS is my favorite step.  Easy work and instant gratification.  Hems?  Hems are a necesarry evil.  And this dress, fully lined and with a chiffon layer on top, was going to require me to hem THREE layers of fabric.

So, I did what any logical seamstress would do.  I procrastinated.  🙂  First, I actually did have a couple of days without enough time to sew.  And then I promised my husband I’d do my share of the chores this week – I’ve been slacking while working on this dress, and since he’s been busy taking finals, he hasn’t really had the time to pick up the slack.  We’ve been living in polite squalor these past weeks.  But I’m sure you all knew that already, if you read my last post!

When the housework was done and I had time to sew, a less experienced procrasinator might have resigned herself to actually hemming the dress in its entirety.  I did actually trim the excess inches off the bottom as we’d planned, serge the raw edges, and even contemplate folding up the first little bit, but I found my OUT at that point and  decided instead to make Bonnie a purse.

One of the downsides of re-inventing a pattern is that I have to estimate the fabric I’ll need.  And I’m not yet actually good at this.  After cutting out all of the pieces to Bonnie’s dress, I had just over a yard each of the chiffon and the tafetta leftover, and since she paid for it, I wanted to put it to good use for her.  I used some of the fabric to make a little matching wrap.  And, inspired by many other sewing blogs I’ve ready lately, I figured a hand bag would make a nice use of the remaining tafetta.

 Now, the whole point here was to make USE of the money Bonnie had already spent (well, that, and of course AVOIDING the whole process of hemming).  So I didn’t want to race out to JoAnn’s and spend another $5 or $10 on purse handles, magnetic snaps, and a zipper.  Or, ahem, a pattern.

You guessed it – I decided to wing it.  I cut simple rectangles of pattern paper so my layers would all match up, and used two layers of tafetta sandwhiching plastic, for added stiffness, to make each side of the purse.  One blog I read (I apologize but I have forgetten which one of the many I browsed through) suggested using a shower curtain liner for this, and I just happened to have a spare liner in the wrong color sitting on *my* messy dresser top.  I stitched the layers together into a box, added black vinyl industrial snaps leftover from my diaper sewing days, and sewed on a fabric strap.

Of course, before I managed to sew on the strap, Eva discovered it, fell madly in love with it, and announced that it was “my blue hat!”  So I resorted to working on the hem a bit until she went down for her nap, at which point I snuck the purse back and finished it.

It’s a simple design, has no pockets, and isn’t the absolute most stunning purse I could ever imagine making; but it’s attractive, matches the dress, and was essentially FREE to create, so why not?  Plus, it let me put off the hems for a few blissful hours.

 Of course, I did break down and get to work on the hems.  All three of them – lining, dress, and chiffon (which was a delightfully easy rolled edge on my serger, instead of hours of folding, pinning, stitching, and ironing as the first two layers had been).  Then I settled on the couch with needle, thread, and a good movie and hand sewed the hooks and eyes onto the neck strap and above the zipper in the back.

Which means (drumroll please)…. the dress is finished!!!  But I’m afraid I’m going to leave you with a slightly anticlimactic end to this post, I haven’t yet taken photos of the finished dress.  I hope to deliver it to Bonnie either this evening or tomorrow after work, and get some photos of her wearing it.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a final proud picture of my cutie pie, modeling the finished purse.


Just one fitting and a few frenzied hours from completion

My hook and eye tape arrived in the mail yesterday – hooray!  Huge thanks to ebay seller bridcishop for a very quick turnaround on my order.  🙂

So, it only took about an hour yesterday to sew the hook and eye tape into the dress foundation, and to sew the foundation into the dress.  The only steps remaining are to hem the skirt, and to hand sew hooks and eyes to the neck strap and above the zipper.  Bonnie will be over in the very near future to try the dress on so I can mark the hem and neck strap accordingly.

After some debate, I ended up deciding to make the dress foundation per the pattern instructions because there was a whole chain reaction if I started changing things.  I had my doubts about plastic boning and fabric lining providing adequate support.  But if I switched to steel boning, then I really did need to upgrade to heavier fabric, and then we were looking at something that would be quite a bit heavier, which seemed less than ideal for a dress that is going to be worn for outdoor performances in the summertime in Florida.  So I followed the directions, and I must say I’m pleasantly surprised!  It looks (on the dress form anyway) like this will actually provide enough support.  Our fitting will tell if this is true.

In the meantime, I thought I’d post a few more quick pics.  I’m very pleased with the drape, and with the shape of the bodice now that the neckline is finished!


Not so straight pins

We’ve all had that experience I’m sure, where the needle on the sewing machine hits a straight pin right on and dents the thing rather than sliding over its curve.  There have been many times that I’ve fumbled with slightly bent pins or gone ahead and thrown them out if they are too badly damaged to bother.

Yesterday, I had an experience that was new.  It was as though my sewing machine were posessed by some sort of homicidal demon and wanted to completely and utterly DESTROY my straight pin.  Somehow (and try as I may I cannot quite understand how it was possible) the machine needle hit a straight pin with enough force and at just such an angle that it jammed the thing straight down into the sewing machine and back up again!

Here I’ve removed the presser foot and the plastic plate over the bobbin case to try to see what on earth is going on.  Not only did the pin get jammed down into the bobin case, but somehow it got hooked back up through the tiny gap alongside the feed dog!!

A close up from another angle.  Look at that!!  That’s like a fish hook threaded through parts of my machine that are not supposed to have things poked into them!  Thankfully, my husband had a handy little screwdriver that fit in the limited space, and we were able to remove the metal needle plate from the machine to unhook the not-so-straight-anymore pin.

It was just bizarre enough that I thought I’d share a few photos!

“Straight” pin? I don’t think so!


I should be sleeping

But I’m sewing.  I managed to tweak the fit in a gloriously short amount of time, and fixed the pattern pieces accordingly so the lining would fit correctly right from the start.  And then, since I was dealing w/ the pattern anyway, I went ahead and cut out all the lining pieces.  Then I sewed them together.  And now I have basted them to the inside of the dress, and pinned along the zipper but not yet stitched it down there.  It is nearly midnight, I’m tired, my eyes are drooping, and my back is sore.

But I can’t help dwelling on the fact that I just have to stitch the lining to the zipper to be done with this step, and then I can make the foundation, sew that in to the dress, and be finished aside from marking/hemming!

Going to bed now.  I’ll be whip stitching in my dreams for sure.


Fit fix

My Aunt Bonnie came over briefly and tried the outer dress on.  I am delighted to say that it is EXTREMELY flattering on her and by and large all our plans and alterations have worked out brilliantly!  The funky back does need to be resolved, so that’s on my agenda for this evening, if my husband and daughter can bear with me.  I marked the dress while it was on her, and I’ll also touch up the pattern pieces accordingly so the lining of this dress will match the outer dress, and also so we’ll have a head start on future dresses in the same shape.

I’m also just thrilled that she has mentioned going forward on a second dress pretty quickly here!  A couple of their summer gigs will require her to wear all white.  Women out there can agree with us – all white is not a good look for most of us gals.  Dark colors are slimming and white is not.  But, I pointed out to her, most brides pull it off pretty well!  I suggested something with a corseted bodice and exaggerated V-shaped seams may help create a slimming affect, even though the color itself won’t.  That would definitely be fun.  🙂

More later.  I’m done writing for now and off to rip out a zipper.

February 2019
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