Thursday, April 30, 2015

Honey bees, oranges, limes and lemons, oh my!

A few months ago I was introduced to a new client, Sarah, who wanted to get a 1950's dress made.  I knew her through church and a few parties I'd been to.  We started off looking to make a Disney themed dress for her to wear to Dapper Day.  I met her at Joann's fabric store and the rest is history.

It didn't take long for either of us to realize that we were going to be fast friend's.  We both have endless creative energy and that was made evident in the process of creating this dress that I'm about to detail for you.  We started with one idea and went through three before landing on the "fruit dress".

Firstly we thought about a Tower of Terror dress (which is now in the making, several months later, for a completely different event), then we transferred to thinking about a train conductors dress with the conductor mickey ears.  We also thought about doing a Jane Porter from Tarzan.  All of these ideas were possibilities when we first went shopping for fabric.  While at the thrift store (my favorite place for inexpensive fabrics), we found all the parts for Jane, including the adventurers pith helmet.  There is no way to explain the extent of how randomly wonderful this coming together of parts was.

However, shortly after we went shopping, Sarah found an absolutely yummy fabric printed with oranges, limes, lemons, bee's, and fruit blossoms.  It was perfect for the theme of that Dapper Day, which was "It's going to be sweet".  Their flyer included an orange with it's leaves and blossoms.  We knew we had to make a fruit dress out of this fabric.  Therefor the themed dresses were put on hold and the fruit dress project was commenced.

First I transferred the pattern to my favorite butcher paper.  I've started doing this with all my patterns.  I don't waste the whole set of sizes cutting out one size for one client. Instead, I can transfer the one size, adjust it if need be, and have all of the original sizes intact for the next client that may want the same or similar pattern made.

Then I made a mock-up with muslin fabric. Fitted it to Sarah.  My pattern drafting/draping class has been amazingly helpful and this was the first time I truly noticed how much I've been learning.  I knew from the class how to fit the muslin to her and that I didn't need to freak out when I had to take in a chunk of fabric in her back.  I knew from the class that this was okay because she has a gymnast/dancer's back.  She has better formed muscles in her back and a different resting posture than people who don't have a background in dancing.

After the fitting, I set to cutting the fabric. The cat-goyle decided to oversee the project at various stages throughout the duration of it.  She even wrapped herself up in the fabric hanging over the edge of the ironing board at one point.  It is always ever so much fun sewing with animals to help.

On the left you can see the white eyelet fabric underneath.  This is from a petticoat that I made out of a bedskirt that Sarah and I found on that same shopping day.  Below there is a full view of it.  It is the right length to just barely peek out of the bottom of her dresses. 

Construction of the dress naturally came next, after cutting the fabric.  I had to return to the thrift store to find a lining fabric and there was a perfect two set of lime green curtains there that matched beautifully.  It was a very soft fabric, but not silky as Sarah let me know she didn't like the feeling of the slick linings often found in jackets, skirts and things.

The bodice gave me the most trouble.  It has a contrast color shoulder strap piece that is sewn separate from the bodice section, then slip stitched onto the bodice.  If I had done it this way, it would have taken days of hand sewing in the evenings to complete.  I'm better at slip stitching and plan to give this process a try the next time I make this dress.  It really would make for a very invisible and clean construction of the bodice sections.

The first time I constructed the separate strap section, it was too big.  I had made alterations to the original bodice pattern pieces to fit Sarah better and didn't adjust the strap section pieces accordingly.  I spent some time, adjusted them and sewed a new section.  After that it fit perfectly and I just top stitched it to the bodice section instead of the slip stitch method.  It looked great non-the-less, as you will see below.

The completed dress, shown here, came out just fine, despite the slight construction setbacks.  Sarah wore it beautifully, pairing it with a vintage orange overcoat, white handbag, vintage style nylon leggings, and a gorgeous fascinator that she made to go with it. 

During out Dapper Day event, I went off on my own for an hour or so to check out the vintage market that the event hosts put together.  At one of the vendor booths, there were beautifully made wood jewelry.  They had so many wonderful choices, but the fruit jewelry was what caught my attention.  My final choice was this oranges pin that I knew would perfectly compliment the fruit dress!  Sarah loved it and wore it for the rest of our trip.

It was a wonderfully fun project and an equally fun adventure through Disneyland with Sarah and Justin.  Thank you so much for asking me to create something for you for Dapper Day and the friendship that has grown as a result!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cinderella Completed - Part III of III

The day of the ball and it was time to get ready to go.  First step was to prepare my golden locks. It took about 40 minutes for each side of my head, with the curling iron and half a can of hair spray.  My poor hair hates to hold a curl.  After both sides were fully curled, I took my large brush and gently brushed the curls into each other to give it an even, more natural looking curl.  I love before and after photos, so I took a few here for you to see.  My last step was to add the stick-on rhinestones to my hair.  Just peel off the back and press them in.  They stayed all day and are actually rather stubborn about staying in when you go to take them out.

After my hair was perfectly curled (thank goodness it behaved), I donned my gown and gathered the day's accessories.  At the last minute I called in the butterflies and asked them ever so kindly to land on my shoes, so that they could spend the day with me at the ball.

Ensemble completely donned, it was now time to head to the ball.  I got into my coach....and off I traveled...if only I had some footman and coachman to chauffeur me. 

Don't you just love the carriage hat detail!

My fairy godmother was there to wish me luck.  Debbie Boyd presented this idea to the leader to the San Diego Costume Guild and when the guild picked up the idea and ran with it, she messaged me.  She said simply...."You'd make a great Cinderella!"  This was all it took for my mind to start designing.  The full costume design had other inspirational factors leading it to what it became, but Debbie got the ball rolling.

My friend Sarah Pierce, aka "Cinder"ella, was here.  Gus Gus came along too, peaking out of her hand basket. So cute!

There were so many wonderful costumes.  About 10 (maybe more) ladies came as Cinderella in a wide range of styles.  Everyone did such a fantastic job putting their designs together. Including these two lovely ladies.  Cinderella and the Wicked Step-Mother.

Sarah, I mean "Cinder"ella, shining Cindy's, I mean Anastasia's boots.

Time to take the troupe into the Disney store, where we created quite a commotion.  The frenzy of photo taking with the castle inside and all of us clogging the paths through the store was exhilarating.  I really am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of talented, creative and joy filled people.

There was a mirror at little princess level for admiring gowns that were being tried on.  It was the perfect height for snapping a photo or two of my glass slippers.

After the store experience it was time to go to the movie!  We paraded through the mall all together to go pick up our tickets from the box office and to prepare for the main event.  Many photos were taken while waiting and then inside with the giant movie poster.

All of the beautiful slippers from the day were captured several times.  You know that if the shoe fits, you should wear it!  There were so many beautiful shoes trying to hide under our elegant gowns, so we made a point to show them off throughout the event.  Jerry Abuan captured this fabulous photo of us doing just that.

Inside the theater we all got together for a group photo, or two or ten.  The Cinderellas all posed together for several photos of our own, then as well with any little princess that wanted a photo with us.  This truly is one of my favorite parts of dressing up, is to inspire and delight young children. 

The manager of the theater treated us so kindly and I was surprised to hear that it might have not been so.  The coordination of this event took quite a bit of time and so I want to thank our Daniel Fernandez and Tony Quirk for taking the time to put every detail together.  Planning for such a large group touring multiple places smoothly is no small thing.

The movie was all that we dreamed it would be and more.  The details were amazing and so fluid in honoring the original Disney film and in putting their own creative spin to it.  The costumes were so well done and I'm sure we all left feeling very inspired to create and sew.

Jerry Abuan's self portrait which was a portrait for me as well.  Thank you again Jerry for all you do for the guild and each of us individually, every time you bring your camera we are grateful and amazed!

After the movie it was time to catch my coach home, so I just went down to the coach store to be picked up!  We journeyed out to eat a fabulous dinner, my mom and dad and I.  Thank you all for a fun filled and joyful event!