Posts Tagged ‘seamstress


Button up white dress

My client came to me in search of a fitted, below knee length white dress with a high boat neckline similar to the neckline on a dress Jackie Kennedy wore, but without any more details than that in mind. For a simple silhouette in a solid white fabric, small details can mean the difference between super chic and fairly plain, so she and I spent some time talking about a range of options for fabric types and details of the garment construction, among them the choices that were available for the closure on her dress. When I mentioned the possibility of buttons instead of a zipper, she nearly jumped out of her seat. “What sort of buttons could I have?” she asked. “Any kind you want,” I told her. She hand selected the buttons herself and picked out a matching pair of heels to complete the outfit. Simple, stylish and comfortable but far from everyday.


Craft Hope project 8

I’d like to take a moment today to depart from my usual talk of dressmaking to address a current need. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Florida, a little north of Tampa and not terribly far from some of the most beautiful beaches in the continental U.S…. for the moment, anyway. I’ve been fairly overwhelmed reading about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: worried, angry, frustrated, horrified, grief-stricken. The implications are staggering, for our environment, our already struggling economy, and the world our kids will inherit. And the spill hasn’t been stopped yet; thousands of barrels of toxic crude oil are continuing to spew into the Gulf, contaminating the fragile ecosystems in the Gulf and along its coastlines.

So I was beyond delighted when a Facebook friend linked to Craft Hope’s latest project, which offers those of us who sew (and also those who knit, crochet, or who make/use fabrics in other ways) to contribute something of tangible worth to the ongoing clean up efforts. Craft Hope Project 8 is calling for handmade rags, the size of wash cloths and hand towels, which will be used to help clean oiled animals rescued along the Gulf coast. They are also accepting donations of Dawn liquid dish detergent, needed to wash the oil away without harm to the animals. The donations will be used to assist The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, the Audubon Nature Institute, and the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in their cleanup efforts.

As a dressmaker, I go through a lot of fabric. And for years I’ve been reluctant to throw away any piece of fabric large enough that I can imagine some future use for it – even if it’s clearly too small to be used for adult clothing. So I have accumulated a large and varied scrap pile, and yesterday I spent time picking through the pile to pull out any fabrics soft enough and absorbant enough to be useful for the clean up efforts. I cut them down to the smaller sizes needed, and today I’m shipping them off to Craft Hope to be added to the donations from others.

For those of you in Florida, if you are looking for additional options to volunteer, there’s a handy guide on this website listing volunteer groups by county.


Seamstress Karen

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure to meet and befriend a fabulous seamstress who owns an alterations shop near my office. I’ve been meaning to talk about her for a while now! (But like many other blog posts in the planning stages, it was delayed by all my time spent actually sewing!)

Karen started sewing a little over seven years ago, when her son had a seizure at birth which caused damage that required a great deal of therapy in the early years of his life. She quit her day job, and started working for an established seamstress while she learned the trade, so that she could begin working from home. And, focusing solely on alterations work that she aquired from a chain of drycleaners, Karen was able to make a very reasonable living while doing the very important work of caring for her son (who is ENTIRELY healthy now!)

I was excited to hear Karen’s story because I can sympathize and relate to that burning desire to be home with her child so that she could meet all his needs. And, when she let me know what she was able to earn from home, I became all the more intrigued. Suddenly, the idea of sewing for ‘extra’ income when I become a stay-at-home-mom seemed far less like a pipe dream, and far more like a very realistic goal.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Karen had hoped for a long time to be able to help teach and mentor others, the way that she had been taught, in order to pay it forward and empower other women. So when she heard that I sew, she was ever so eager to offer to teach me “anything you want to learn.” Um, that would be everything. “Okay then, everything.”

I’ve been visiting her shop several times a week, watching her work, showing her things I’ve sewn. She is extremely impressed by the custom sewing I have shown her (and I’ll admit, I love it when people compliment my work). For all her truly impressive ability and her very successful business, Karen has never ventured into custom work and continues to strictly do alterations. And so, she has offered me a few custom jobs now that have come in from clients she would previously have turned away. Soooo wonderful!

I’m amazed at my good fortune to make such a wonderful friend and business contact! And while I continue to feel that the benefits there are a little more one sided than in most of my relationships, Karen assures me that having the opportunity to talk with another sewing enthusiast, and get input on challenging jobs that come in, is a delight.

I’m sure I’ll talk about this more in the course of blogging about what I have sewn, but I wanted to make an introduction. This is what has inspired the shift in my thinking, from sewing just because, to sewing because it will one day mean I too can be home with my kids. And really, that’s the most wonderful thing of all.


Gold dress in action!

I finished Bonnie’s gold gown just in time, the night before she wore in to a Late Night Brass performance at a charity event. Photos are up on the Late Night Brass website now!


We’ll get some posed shots of Bonnie in the dress soon.


Sneak Peek

The gold dress is nearly finished. My recent lack of blogging means I have completely failed to communicate just how much time and energy and thought and (I hope you’ll agree) talent have gone into this. I have, at this point, probably spent about a hundred hours working on this dress, over the course of nearly two months. I’ve put my other clients on hold for the past couple of weeks as I rushed to get the gown – originally intended for December, and now intended for two November gigs as well – completed in time. My fabulous husband has been a saint, picking up my slack around the house. And fall TV back at last has kept my mind occupied while my hands have stitched, and stitched, and stitched.

Here are a few details to whet your appetites for pics of the finished gown.

gold-gown-hemlineThe skirt and hemline. Look at the way this crepe backed satin drapes. Gorgeous! Bonnie and I shopped for the fabric together and once we saw this there was no going back. It’s perfect for what she’d wanted! And a flattering shade on her to boot. Incidentally, the stitching at the hemline is not so very visible in real life, but it’s sort of reflecting in the flash in this photo.

gold-invisible-zipperThe back closes with an invisible zipper, which is installed *correctly* on this dress thanks in no small part to my seamstress friend, Karen, who let me use her industrial machine which has an invisible zipper foot (and of which I’m desperately envious!) and gave me some guidance to be sure I got it in straight, even, and truly invisible. See how beautifully the zipper pull matches the fabric? That would be because I dyed it. That’s right, this dress includes a custom dyed zipper. I’m just that obsessive these days.

THIS is the source of my madness, the reason this gown has taken so many weeks with so many late nights. The beads. All the beads. Hundreds of them. Hand stitched, one by one. By one. By one. Row after row. Bead after bead after bead. It’s been my thrill and my torment all at once. As the deadline has loomed closer and closer I’ve taken the beads with me everywhere. I beaded on the sofa watching TV. I beaded at my desk at work. I beaded at the playground where I sat on a bench while my daughter played. I beaded while walking home from said playground. I confess, I actually did stitch a quick couple of beads down at a red light. The built in bra was finished a month ago. The fabric for the dress didn’t even get cut until this past Monday (that’s right, four days ago). EVERYTHING in between has been beadwork.


And, just for kicks, here’s my cutie modeling one of the bodice insets, right after I finished beading it (so, halfway through all the beadwork).

I’m down to a few short hours of hand stitching to complete the dress. I drop it off to Bonnie on my way in to work in the morning, and she wears it tomorrow night! Down to the wire indeed, but this one has been well worth the extra time.


P.S. Carrie, you’re welcome. 🙂

June 2018
« May    

Blog Stats

  • 31,948 hits

Top Posts