category: dressmaking

flapper dress: complete

I’m happy to report that I was able to complete my flapper dress in time for Halloween festivities this year. Everything went well with the design and sewing of this piece, with only a few minor hitches here and there (as expected). It’s great to compare the final dress with my initial sketch and see how close they are, that hardly ever happens!

Kim and I decided to do an evening light photoshoot at the Legion of Honor here in SF. I love how the pictures turned out, for the full set of images click here.

side project: flapper dress

I’ve decided to be a flapper for Halloween this year, since I’ve always loved Roaring Twenties/Art Deco style and my hair is already in a short bob. I couldn’t find an appropriate 20′s style dress pattern so I drafted my own version from scratch. This is what I came up with for the dress pattern, but this is not the final fabric – since my first muslin only required a few changes, I figured I would make a full mock up for the dress out of this pretty striped fabric and end up with another wearable dress. It’s still in the unfinished state, but I will come back to the finishing details on this one when the real dress is complete.

new tool: half size dress form

I ordered a half scale dress form to work on while I design my pieces, because I figured it would be faster and save me material to iterate on a smaller scale. It came in the mail yesterday and I’m so excited to work with it! In addition to saving me time and money, I think it will also be mentally easier for me to be less precious about details while experimenting, knowing that I’m working on a small scale prototype and not a final piece.

I’m not finding much information out there about considerations or process when using a half size dress form, other than work by the legendary Madeleine Vionnet. I’m just going to dive right into it and record what I learn here.

Queen of Hearts – update

Sometimes the hardest thing to do (and the right thing to do) is change course. After scrambling to put a skirt together for the Queen of Hearts project, I realized that I was making something I didn’t really like just to get it done. I really want to make sure that this project is something I can be happy with when it’s complete, so I’ve decided to give myself more time to finish it the right way.

I finished the bodice – it has princess seams, which I know is not period accurate as far as Elizabethan costume goes, but I am not being that stuffy about these things. The inside is all lined, and I made a corset type closure in the back. It doesn’t close properly on my dressform, but it fits me well. I added boning to the bodice where I could to make it more structural and clean.

Now I’m working on the ruff – which I realize now was the whole reason I wanted to do this project! The ruffles are intoxicatingly swirly. It’s a bit floppy now, but today I am going to dip the whole thing in stiffener and mold it into shape as it dries.

It will be done when it’s done, and it will be what I consider “right”. And that’s what matters for a project like this.

“victorian” top hat

I’ve been working on a Victorian themed dress, and this is the top hat I made to go with it. It’s not perfect, but it is completely from scratch and it’s the first I’ve ever made. I’d like to have a sculptural element in some of my designs, so it’s good for me to “craft” something instead of just sewing all the time. (I haven’t lined the inside yet, so you can see that I made it out of an old Urban Outfitters shopping bag.)


in progress: Queen of Hearts

I am making a Queen of Hearts themed dress to coincide with the release of the new Alice in Wonderland film by Tim Burton. For inspiration I have been watching old Elizabethan period films, specifically The Seahawk (1940), Fire over England (1937) and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939). As usual, I started out with a specific idea in mind, and am completely evolving it as I go.

The "Elizabeth" section of my inspiration board.

Swatches of the fabric I'm using.

Pattern for the design I'm embroidering on the center panel of the bodice.

I'm working on embroidering the bodice. Looks primitive now, but there's a lot more to do!

Muslin for the bodice.

Sneak peek at the mock-up for the Elizabethan "ruff" that will be added to the collar.

look what i found: vintage patterns

Sort of by accident, I’ve started a collection of vintage home sewing patterns. My fabulous Mom sends me what she finds, and I buy what I find interesting at thrift stores and the local antique market. Putting the clothing designs aside, the fashion illustrations are priceless to me. Here are some of my favorites:



Have a better look at the set in the full post…

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