Archive for November, 2009

And a dress for me


Nothing from scratch or anything. Finally a redo to make it fit me. This stuff’s like polyester-wool boucle. Amazing texture. Cute lines in the front, too. Can you see the loop under the buttons? That (and the color) is what sold me. 

My pile of things to finish is raging out of control worse than usual. But since this dress mostly has princess seams, it wasn’t a difficult fix. Just lots of pinning and some basting. The sleeves needed shortening too. No big deal. I didn’t touch the hem because the skirt has front pleats. I think for Thanksgiving dinner it’ll work.

I finished it last night, gave it a hand wash overnight and hung the thing to dry today. Photographed all kinds of angles, including the long yarn fished through the zipper so I could get it on and off myself easily while fitting. Also, the little bits of darning the old fabric needed in a few spots.  

Then I managed to delete all the photos, save the one above. 


Ack! I mailed the Christmas dress!

It’s a record this year, finishing and mailing before Thanksgiving. I’m pretty pleased with it.


Super twirly. Nearly wider than it is tall.


The inside’s all fun, too.


Yup, that’s a Hong Kong finish on every last piece, gathers be damned.

I did run out of the little print and finished the bottom edge with scraps of the corduroy. I think it’s ok — not too bulky.


In retrospect, I should have just made some regular bias tape, pinned it onto the inside edges and given it a good zig zag along the fold.

Next time. And with the little girl’s seal of approval, there will in fact be a next time, in a light cotton summery print.

Thinking about tutus

tutu in pink, all done

While picking out fabric for her Christmas dress, the twirliest girl I know wanted a tutu, and how do you say no to that?

So together we bought 4 yards of hot pink net. She wanted the thing to stick straight out, prompting a lady at Gaffney’s I’ve feared since high school to give me the business about making it Stick. Straight. Out.

tutu net in hot pink

So I started with a funny free tutorial (sorry, it was free in October) about making filled tutus, which my SIL says are all the rage in South Jersey where they live. It made you fold the folded net or tulle once more, for four layers of stuff. A lady friend I work with came over and made one too, in a peachy shimmery tulle for her niece.

Mine was good… but not pokey enough. The skirt definitely drooped. So I doubled the fold again, making the 72″ wide net into eight layers of 9 inch net. and jammed heart-shaped sequins in one of the folded layers.

tutu net filled with hearts


tutu net filled with hearts

tutu in pink, all done

Which of course made me think, what if you made the top layer fabric so it looks like a skirt w built-in crinoline? Like a zebra skirt with purple or red underneath? How would that math work out? Stay tuned to find out.

Ladies in the arts

My Mister and I scored a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago, many thanks to my sister.

We finally took a stroll through the new section, The Modern Wing, which opened in May while we were off getting hitched. It connects with a magical bridge to Millennium Park.

fitz on bridge to modern wing

Inside, I recognized this young lady right away, from a childhood subscription to Highlights magazine, where I think I first saw anything about modern art.

"dancing girl"

Then I started noticing other ladies I liked the look of, doing my favorite things. If Klee’s girl is dancing, Leger’s is reclining with a book.

"reclining woman" 1922

And Brancusi’s is snoozing.

"sleeping muse"

Look at her beautiful face—
"sleeping muse"

How to…make a tiered skirt

dress-ruby-closure button

The bodice is done, the button and loop attached, now the top of the Rooster’s skirt needs to be 25″, which is the circumference of the bodice’s edge. I’m going for as many tiers as I can stand to gather. So at least four and maybe even five. Yep, in the end it was five.

dress skirt tiers

Using the old 3 Peas tutorial (c/o Kuky), my top loop of fabric needs to be 39″ total, gathered to fit the 25″ bodice. Since my fabric’s 60 wide, I’m using one 39″ wide strip. Each subsequent tier is made from strips that are 1.5 times the width of the tier above it. Kuky tells you how to do the math and cut out all the pieces.

But then it occurred to me, two tiers in, that instead of cutting all these chunks, since I’m using the same fabric all the way down, I could make a long strip 5.25 inches deep of my 59″ wide fabric. I could join the 59″ lengths then measure and cut 1.5 times each round.

Now so can you.

1. Start at the bodice, or your child’s waist (plus 2-3) and multiply out 1.5 for each tier. 

2. Divide a measurement between the waist and knee by as many layers as you’d like, and then add 3″ to the top one for a waistband.)

So I need 39 x 1.5 or 58.5″ for the second tier.
88″ for the third.
132″ for the fourth.
198″ whopping inches for the fifth. That’s a lot of gathering.

3. Sew the strips together and then into loops. Finish the seam allowances as you will. I did Hong King finishes on the seams binding the strips together, now that I’m a giant fan

4. Start assembling from the top down. If you’re attaching the skirt to a bodice, do it now. If it’s a freestanding skirt, fold over 1.5 inches for the top, and stitch, leaving a small hole about 2 inches wide to fish through elastic or a ribbon drawstring.

5. Take the next biggest loop and prepare it for gathering. I like to drop in a couple of straight stitches at the end of the loop, raise the presser foot, and pull the threads long back to the start. Now set the machine to a wide, long zig zag, and stitch the zigzags over the pulled threads.

6. Divide each loop into quarters, marking each fourth with a pin. Match up the pins and gather the bigger loop to fit. Pin in place, then stitch. Work your way to the bottom. 

7. BUT before you attach the bottom  loop, hem it. I used a length of satin ribbon as a hem binding on the bottom tier BEFORE gathering it. Dang, that took forever, both the hem and the last gather.

ribbon-bound hem

It is in fact the twirliest skirt.

But I don’t know how to finish the gathered seams inside the unlined skirt.

dress inside gathers

inside gathers


Now for the twirliest skirt

The top of the twirliest, pinkest Christmas dress is done! According to pattern, too.  

dress Christmas 2009 top finished

Look at those bound seams. Topstitching. Pintucks. Mmm hmm. I went nice and slow, with only the pressure last weekend of finishing the top. Now to add a twirly twirly  skirt, with help from this tutorial.  

And a button from the old button box.

button box

I wanted to use a stray, if there was a good one, instead of breaking up a set. Here’s the stray bag emptied out onto the little bodice. 

dress Christmas 2009 buttons?

And the finalists. I think the little red one with the eye on the back’s going to win. Though the orange on with the circles makes me want to start something it could go on.  

dress Christmas 2009 button finalists?