Red Silk Party Dress

As mentioned in my last post, I was commissioned with a party dress for Niece #2.  Something dry-cleanable only.  I wanted to make it out of silk taffeta or a tightly woven duppion, but couldn’t find the right colour of red for the right price in the right quality.  And then one sunny day, browsing through my local thrift store, I stumbled across a custom made garment in the right red silk duppion.  It seems to be a plus-sized garment, so there was no question that I would be able to cut the flared skirt for this dress.  The garment was remarkably well made.  Here’s a shot of the interior underlining.  You can see a full shot of the original dress interior

I salvaged every scrap of silk and the lining from the original garment.  N2 wanted a halter style dress, so I thought I’d start with Vogue 7503, which is OOP and I’ve had in my stash for ages and never used.  The front of the dress is Vogue 7503.  The back of a smocked sundress is from Australian Smocking & Embroidery No. 75.  I took the measurements of the back elasticized band of the sundress and the measurements of the skirt as my pattern.  Once I had cut the rectangle of fabric for the back waistband, I thought I may as well use all the width and flare in the original skirt, and so stitched the back and side back pieces together and gathered them into the waistband.  Then I turned down the facing, stitched three channels for the elastic and attached it to the side fronts.  IMG_3593For the halter ties, I chose the tie pattern from another Australian Smocking & Embroidery No. 61 sundress called Frangipani.  They’re about 2 inches wide at the top and are shaped like elongated leaves.  You can see another picture of them here on a sundress I made for Niece #1.

IMG_3595  Here’s the rather plain, princess a-line front.IMG_3601 And the more interesting back.

IMG_3602As dear N2 wanted the skirt poufy and big and party-ish as well as mid-calf to ankle length, I thought I’d add some sparkle to an otherwise plain dress.  I attached about 12 inched of red sparkle tulle to the bottom 8 inches of the lining.  It looks uneven in the photo above, but that’s due to it’s not hanging straight on the hanger.  If I manage to get any good pictures at the party this weekend, I’ll post them for you to see.IMG_3591 Oh, and as a lark… yeeeeeeears ago… a good friend suggested it was rather not in the best interest of my abilities (!?) to send all my smocking, embroidery and little dress coats out into the world without any credit, so he designed a label for the garments I make for children.  Three buttons for my three girls.  Cute, eh?IMG_3606Well, this dress is a good example of how I mix and match patterns to get what I’m wanting.  Do you do this pattern slash, burn and mix & match thingy, too?

A summer top

topThe second UFO is now a wearable garment.  It’s about 9C outside – hence the big mommy-sized sweater!fp backRosebuds in the buttons for the fly-away back and adjustable straps.fp straps  Front strap embroidery – bullion rose and rosebuds; detached chain leaves and fly-stitch stems & calyx.IMG_0536

I also managed to quickly put together a new petticoat, since DD3’s outgrown the previous one.  I used a RTW tank, cut it off at what I thought was waist length (it’s stretched a bit since it’s been hanging around waiting for a nice day for photographs) and attached a four-tiered peasant skirt.  The bottom tier is about 6 yards in width.  I used remnants from previous petticoats for this one, so the top two layers are different weights of Egyptian cotton shirting, and the two bottom layers are Swiss broderie anglais, which I originally purchased because of the fabulous edging for the last now-too-small petticoat.   hem & shoesI finished the bottom with white satin ribbon.  And the Lelli Kelly’s are too small this year – a big disappointment in this house!petticoat


IMG_0433 a white linen dress – bullion star flower, detached chain black-eyed Susan, French knot Forget-me-nots

IMG_0434 a white cotton top – full-blown bullion and half-blown cast-on roses

IMG_0431   a yellow sundress – cast-on Johnny jump-ups and fried-egg flowers using a rosette stitch variation

It’s outgrown, so now what?

Home Coming (AS&E #66)

I’ve finally decided to part with a winter coat I smocked for DD1 about 8 years ago.  It’s another pattern from Australian Smocking & Embroidery Issue 66. It included a little purse, which I thought was a cute touch.  The roses and leaves are made from strips of cashmere.

It was my first attempt to smock a heavier fabric by hand…. I mean actually marking the fabric and pleating it by hand, as it was too bulky to put through a pleater.  What’s a pleater?  A little hand-turned wonder that pleats the fabric for you, saving a lot of time, not to mention ensuring that the rows of pleats are precise.

But back to the coat.  It’s a beautiful coat – a little heavy – but warm and there is so much wear left in it!  Why keep it in my closet for someone 30 years down the line when I can always make another one – and would enjoy it, too?  So I handed it down to a friend who has a daughter younger than all of mine.  In a way I’m happy that it’s going to someone who will appreciate it, but on the other hand it makes me sad to part with it.  This particular friend’s mom was a seamstress, trained in Italy, so I know she appreciates the work that goes into a garment like this.  But it’s hard to part with something that has a lot of love and time put into the making of it.

Just last night DH managed to encourage me with an offhand comment about how art isn’t really worth anything until there’s someone willing to pay for it.  In his defense, I see his (time = money) point, but it still is a hurtful and sad comment.  Is what people create really so “worthless” if there isn’t a return on the investment, so to speak?

purse with roses

I know I would be very hesitant to fork over what this purse is actually worth in terms of material and labour (maybe $15?)  if I saw it in a store, but is that because I know I could make it if I really wanted to have it?  Because I’m not one of the “rich” that don’t think twice before paying ridiculous amounts of money for one-of-a-kind garments?  Or because I don’t think it’s worth it or that it will be tossed after 3 days of use?  Yet I love to spend my time to create an item like this!  It’s enjoyable, I’m pleased with the tangible result of what I spent my time on, and it most definitely gives me a creative outlet…. a place to wind down and relax while I do something that I love!


So, what have you been doing?

I’ve been sewing up a Scottish National dress, or a lilt dress, for a good friend’s daughter.   DSC03593It’s due on Friday, and includes a separate petticoat.  I’ve made several petticoats over the last few years to go under all the dresses that I’ve smocked for my daughters.  Little girls smocked dresses just look that extra bit more special when they’re supported by a petticoat.

I usually go by the guidelines in Australian Smocking & Embroidery #50 for girls’ petticoats.  as&e50They have 3 options: a petticoat with a lycra bodice, half petticoat, or a petticoat with a purchased singlet (tank top).  petticoatsIn my experience with girls and their petticoats, the version attached to a tank top stays in place guaranteed, and since this one will be used for Scottish R petticoatdancing competition, I thought it would be the best option.  No one wants their petticoat sliding down around their knees in the middle of a dance!R full petticoat

I worked backwards for this petticoat, beginning with 6 metres of eyelet trim, and calculating down to determine the length of each tier.  In other words, 6m for the bottom ruffle, 4.5 m for the 3rd ruffle, etc.  Petticoats are simple to make.  It just takes a lot of thread.  This one is of the same poly-cotton broadcloth that the dress is made of.

And I finally finished the embroidery on a UFO, which has been languishing in my life for the last 18 months or so.smocking - CopyI used to smock all my girls’ dresses when they were small.  Some of the ones I bothered to photograph can be seen at my Tia Dia Needleworks Flickr site on the left.  Some I sent to Haiti with my mom, who goes for about 6 months every year.  But now that DD3 is 8 years old, the smocking just doesn’t seem stylishly appropriate somehow.  I do miss it, though.  I find it strangely calming after a stressful day of “mom taxi”.  This particular dress was supposed to be for Easter a couple of years ago.  It’s of white linen, and I have no idea whether DD3 will wear it, or it will go into storage for some other little person in the future.  It’s supposed to have a peter pan collar and tulip shaped sleeves with embroidery, but I’m in doubt about both.  I may make this into a sundress, or leave off the collar and bind the neckline.  If it doesn’t have a peter pan collar, DD3 just might wear it next spring.

embroidery detail