Monet’s Water Lilies

A few months ago I saw a random image on pinterest of a model posing in an artist’s studio, and I absolutely fell in love with the dress she was wearing. After searching the internet for awhile, I could find nothing about the dress in question. Even with no information to go on, I wanted to recreate it, so I did.

monet-inspiration

Artist Marc Chagall posed model Ivy Nicholson in his studio.

There weren’t many higher quality versions of the photo, so I couldn’t get a whole lot of details about the design on the fabric. I chose to make my version out of a print of Monet’s water lilies. Its not exactly right, but I love the effect it creates.

Finding the right pattern was tough too. I eventually settled on heavily modifying the Vogue 8997 dress. It closed with a zipper in the back, instead of buttons down the front. But the neckline was close enough, and it had the fitted bodice with wider skirt I was looking for. I reviewed this pattern here: Vogue Dress V8997 ★★★★★

Since I was going to be changing this dress’s structure in a fairly dramatic way, I did what I so rarely do and actually made a muslin first. Madness, I know! I didn’t actually use muslin fabric for my muslin, haha. Since I have spoonflower, I created a “graph paper” design that I really thought would help me layout the pieces, check that everything is on grain, measure it right on the fabric. It helped a lot, and its an idea I think I’ll keep using in the future when I effectively want to draft a dress from scratch, or modify a given pattern.

Please forgive the horrible lighting in the next few photographs. I was trying to get this dress ready to wear to a friend’s wedding, and didn’t actually take the time to take good pictures while making the dress.
First I laid the stupid tissue pieces out on my mock up fabric (I’m so spoiled by Sprout Patterns at this point). I traced my modifications in permanent marker, and then cut out the pieces.

Then I basted all the pieces together, and played with the fit until I liked out how my button band modifications worked out. Then I used the mockup pieces to cut out my real fabric.

I am well and truly pleased with this dress. Its not perfect, it has some sloppy places that I wish I’d been able to take my time to do right. But it is gorgeous on its own, and I like how close I was able to get to my inspiration dress.

Vogue Dress V8997 ★★★★★

25lineartLots of pieces, fairly complicated pattern. But not overly difficult, and the fit is good. I just wish the big companies would get on board and actually let out some digital patterns.

The cut of this pattern turned out so very flattering. It has everything I love in a dress, a structured bodice, longer sleeves, and a super full skirt. I’ve gotten an incredible number of compliments on this dress.

I altered this pattern pretty heavily, but it still turned out great. It was fairly easy to turn the back center zipper into a front button panel. You can see the results of those alterations here: Monet’s Water Lilies

Vogue Dress V8814 ★★

10lineartI absolutely love the way this pattern looks on the cover, but I fear that it is one of those instances where reality will never quite match up. This pattern is very difficult to fit properly. Now, I know I’m not a runway model size, with a perfect ratio from top to bottom, but so very few people are…

Both times I attempted this pattern, I ended up with weird fitting around the hips and a top that was loose not quite right. Making any sort of modification to the fit of the pieces is difficult precisely because of the interesting construction that drew me to it in the first place. The pattern pieces are actually a series of skewed trapezoids that fit together to create a really appealing shape, especially if you choose a direction print and use it well. But that just means that fitting it accurately is well beyond my skill.

Maybe someday I’ll come back to this pattern. You can read about my two experiences with this pattern, and see the results, here: Christmas Velvet &  Chevron Dress.

Chevron Dress

Remember that velvet christmas dress? I said I had plans for that pattern again, and here it is! I chose this fabric because it exaggerates the interesting piece-work construction. The pattern is Vogue 8814. It’s fascinating to me how the same pattern can create dramatically different dresses. Summery and bright and floaty, versus dark and smooth and luxurious.

The fabric is by Domesticate of Spoonflower, printed on kona cotton. I wrote a review for this pattern here: Vogue Dress V8814 ★★

This was also an excuse to play with some hand embroidery. It is a braided chain stitch. I love the tutorials on Sarah’s Hand Embroidery’s website, the pictures are clear and beautiful and helpful.

Blue Corduroy Skirt

This is one of those examples of times when I make a horrible mistake that turns out perfectly. For you see, I’d forgotten that corduroy not only has a very obvious grain line, but that light hits it differently in one direction of that grain than the other. And yet I paid no attention to which way the top of my pieces were pointing when I cut them out.

You can see the offending pieces right there to the side of the center panel, yes, the ones that perfectly accentuate your hips in a skirt like this. I feel like the vertical lines create a slimming effect, an also exaggerate the curves in the interesting piecework of this pattern. I love that I wasn’t paying attention and it worked out so wonderfully. Sometimes luck happens.

The pattern itself is Vogue 8750. I chose it because it has that interesting bit of flare and twirl, and I love the construction. It was very easy and simple pattern to put together, for all its apparent complexity. I went to a little effort to make it actually look professional and did some topstitching along the seam lines.

All in all, I’m excessively pleased with this skirt. I wrote a review of the pattern I used here: Vogue Skirt V8750 ★★★★

Christmas Velvet

I love this dress. I love its fabric. I loved making it. I loved wearing it.

I really really hate my photographs of this dress. This is one of those times when I acknowledge that I really need a real camera. And maybe some practice, or some skill. And probably a better spot than my dining room or back porch to take photographs. This dress is amazing. My pictures of it are absolute crap.

Other than that, I’m really proud of this project.

I made this dress for a Christmas/Birthday party we threw at our house for a roommate. I wanted something visually simple but that felt wonderful and moved with me.

I chose a very nice dark green velvet for this dress because I wanted that tactile experience. I also have never sewed with velvet before, and I wanted that experience. Photographing that velvet was a serious challenge with a crappy phone camera. It is a very dark rich green color, and when the low lights hit it at the christmas party, it glowed. It was beautiful. I lined it in silver satin-y lining which felt soft on the inside and showed when I twirled.

This pattern is Vogue 8814. It didn’t turn out quite like I imagined, but I made it work in the end. You can read my review of the pattern here: Vogue Dress V8814 ★★. The pieces are large and simple to put together, but joining those pieces cut on the bias gives it a very elegant look. I included a picture of the cover of the pattern. Because of my inability to photograph the velvet well you can’t see the very interesting structure of the dress. It is comfortable to wear, and twirls fantastically.

I altered the back of it pretty dramatically. The pattern had two choices, with a fully closed back all the way up to the neck and a zipper, or crossed straps. I used the pieces for the full back, but then cut out a diamond shape where the zipper would be and had it simply close at the back of the neck. I attached a filigree bead and a Swarovski crystal to add an awesome sparkle and bring interest to what is normally the most boring part of a dress.

Vogue Shirt Dress V8577 ★★★★★

6lineartThis pattern is a fantastic shirt dress pattern. It has really nice details that make it stand out. The pockets look complex and difficult, but the directions make it fairly easy. I’ve always intended to do a version with the sleeves and lapels, but haven’t yet bothered.

With a heavier linen, its a great fall and winter dress. Check out Purple Shirt Dress. Out of a lightweight crepe it makes an amazing summer dress, don’t believe me? See Summer Shirt Dress. Flexible and flattering and comfortable, I definitely recommend this pattern.

Summer Shirt Dress

Over two years later and this dress is still one of my favorites! The fit is fantastic, the fabric is comfortable and attractive. I get endless compliments on it, and my choice of buttons. This is a dress that makes me say this is why I sew!

I finished this dress about two weeks ago. Hands down, it is my favorite dress that I’ve ever made (so far.) I am ridiculously proud of this dress. It was just one of those charmed afternoons where I saw this fabric on sale at Joann’s and decided to do something with it. Then I saw the buttons, and knew they’d be perfect. Then I just started sewing and at every step of the process I was more excited and happy with this dress.

The pattern is Vogue V8577. A shirt dress with pockets that I’d been meaning to try out for awhile now. Its an easy pattern, though a little time consuming, what with the pockets, and the gathers at shoulders and back, and the button placket and all. Its extremely flattering though. The skirt is super flowy, and makes it perfect for a sunny spring day. I reviewed this pattern here: Vogue Shirt Dress V8577 ★★★★★

And yes, the uneven hemline is actually intentional. I never really pay attention to match up the hems of skirts and dresses when I’m sewing, I always know that I can fix that up at the very end. But when this dress got to that stage, and I was trying it on to decide where I wanted to put the hem, I decided that I actually really liked its sort of random unevenness. Its not even classically asymmetrical, where dresses are long in the back and short in the front, or only long on one side. I decided to exaggerate the sort of dips and curves that naturally came out of my sloppy sewing. To me, it makes this dress interesting and surprising, in the same way the orange buttons do.

This dress is perfect. When I’m done with a project, there’s almost always something I’d change about it if I wasn’t too lazy, or it wasn’t too late to go back, or just a different fabric choice or something. Not this dress. Its perfect.

Words of Fire Dress

This is a fabric design I created using the text from Neil Gaiman’s poem “I will write in words of fire.” I want to make a dress with it, printed on silk, super flowy, with a red underdress. I’ll add it to the project list of things I’ll probably never get around to….

He wrote it for a friend’s tattoo. You can read the story here.

Later….
This is the pattern I’m thinking about using for my Neil Gaiman “Words of Fire” print. (Vogue 8360) You can read my review of this dress pattern here: Vogue Dress V8360 ★★★

Which is now famous! In case no one but me noticed, NG himself recently reblogged my fabric design. This is amazing and wonderful to me in SO MANY WAYS. I’m also composing a post (which I may or may not actually release) about hero worship, being a crazy fan-girl, and the perks and dangers there-in.

Back to the dress – I’d probably shorten the hem line to right below the kness, to make it a little less formal, I don’t have many black-tie events in my social calendar these days. I still like the thought of doing an over-dress in Spoonflower’s silk crepe-de-chine, which is fairly see-through, and a more fitted underdress in something red and shiny. Maybe I’ll leave the underbust and the shoulder straps in the plain red, just for detail.

The printed fabric is on silk crepe de chine from Spoonflower. The under dress will be of the red charmeuse. This is my first experience with sewing 100% silk. And yes, its already a pain in the butt. But I think it will ALL BE WORTH IT.

fabric

It took me forever, because everything that makes silk beautiful, also makes it extremely difficult to sew with. And I wanted it to turn out perfectly. I got a lovely red silk charmeuse for the underdress, which has more of a shiny satiny appearance.

I used a pattern from Vogue, V8360. But I shortened the hem length to just longer than my knees, to make it a little less formal. I also ended up having to alter the skirt a little bit. I wanted the top layer to be a bit more floaty, so I added some triangle inserts at the side seams of the skirt. That seemed to balance the dress a bit, and added some twirl. I also changed the back from a band with clasps to long silk ties. I can’t decide if I like it better when tied in a bow, or in a simple knot.

The best part is, after finishing this dress, I actually have somewhere to wear it! Neil Gaiman will be coming to my city in North Carolina in September for a literary and story-telling event/tour called Unchained. Which sounds so wonderfully fantastic I don’t yet have the words to say how excited I am.

I love Neil Gaiman dearly, but obviously so does the rest of the world. And he does a lot of really super cool events, in super cool cities, that are almost always far far away from me. Its sad, but the south eastern side of the US doesn’t get a lot of attention from most tour groups. But this tour began in Georgia, and is making a point of hitting lots of places in SC and NC and FL too. They have such an incredible mission, it really touched me. Anyways, I’m rambling. Just go check out their website. I’ll try to put my thoughts into more organized words later, and maybe post it.

The point is, I’m super excited about this event. And I will have a literary themed dress to wear to it. (And I might wear it to the Amanda Palmer concert, because she too is coming to my corner of NC in September. Who knew how wonderfully filled with awesome this fall was going to be?!)