Well that didn’t take long did it?

There are enough blog posts about the royal wedding and all the amazing dresses and hats so I’m not doing one and I have to confess, with everything going on around me, I didn’t watch it.

I was really only interested in the bride’s dress anyway and the Internet showed me plenty of pictures the next day but what I will share with you, spotted on a couple of other blogs, is Pippa’s dress pattern:

Australian pattern design company styleARC have done all the hard work for us. You can buy the multi-sized (6-20) on industry quality (49gsm) paper for AUD$25.00 – check out their size chart here.

I’ve not tried any of styleARCS patterns before but one of my readers recommended them to me and I think I’ll give them a try in the future.

A change of fabric magic

It’s amazing how fabric can change how you look at a pattern don’t you think?

It happens to me time and again. I see a pattern in the Burda magazine and I think, “meh, it’s alright…” then someone makes an amazing version of it and posts it on BurdaStyle and I spin around in my computer chair to grab my magazine folder to find that very same pattern.

When BurdaStyle released this pattern lots of members loved it…Me? Not so much, I don’t know why, it just wasn’t my thing. It was a bit too wintery and a bit too orange. I’m not one to whine about a new pattern that I don’t like, there are plenty more patterns out there in the big sewing sea so I moved on and kept my $2 for something else.

On the plane home last month I nicked the Qantas magazine (it’s ok, you’re allowed to) because a skirt inside it caught my eye. It seemed vaguely familiar…ok, so now that I’ve gone and looked up the skirt specifically for this post it’s quite a bit different, I forgot the Judy had a plain skirt under and the pleats were only on the over skirt part. My point is that when I saw similar skirt in a lighter weight fabric and in a different palette it made me go back and look for the Judy pattern again. This designer’s name is Dion Lee, a highly acclaimed Australian women’s wear designer and these images are from the Rosemount Australian Fashion Festival 2010.

It’s always good to get a reminder about always trying to see the potential in a pattern.

That Rorschach test dyed dress it quite nice too isn’t it?

And they’re racing…

On Tuesday work stopped completely for about two and a half hours to watch some horses run around an egg shaped track (you know I thought it was an oval but it’s not?! Clearly I am not a horsey girl) and eat far too much celebratory food.

Here are the horses I pulled from the hat in our office stakes. Once Were Wild led for almost the entire race but fell away in the last 100m. At least this year I actually saw my horse and got to do some yelling at our tiny office TV.

You might remember I mentioned sneaking a bit of extra sewing in during my wedding dress project for this event. All the girls in my office decided to put the boys to shame this year and do some proper dressing up. Fascinators, dresses and heels, the works, I mean why not, when else do you get to wear a fascinator all day without getting strange looks? Personally I think it should be compulsory office attire because it was super fun and we all looked fabulous!

Anyway, here’s a quicky picture of me in my dress, it’s a Patrones pattern and I documented the thinking/construction process so that I could share it with you in the hopes of helping other sewers who, like me, are addicted to pattern magazines in languages other than their own. I promise to share it soon, I just have to magic up so some extra spare time.

Fascinating!

Wedding dress update: I still do not have fabric or shoes but that will all change this weekend, cross your fingers for me. In similar news I just received this fantastic  book on CD by Susan Khalje, it’s called Bridal Couture but it also covers formal evening wear and it is amazing. I learnt a few things just quickly flicking through it during my lunch break and I can see me using this as a resource for years to come.

The Skeleton of an Idea

I made pretty good progress on my Wedding Dress over the weekend. In fact I completed the first version, what I am calling the base skeleton, it’s basically the pattern I selected made up with no changes. I’ll use this base to try out my changes to the design.

You’ll remember I said I bought my pattern as a download from sewingpatterns.com. For those of you not familiar with their service they offer all the big pattern companies patterns plus a huge number of independent patterns for purchase in envelope form and also some as downloads. If you sign up for their newsletter you will be informed when a particular pattern brand comes on special, which is often, and these sales rotate through the brands quite regularly. Their postage charges are pretty good, slightly cheaper than BMV.com.

I’m a big fan of patterns that I can download, I know a lot of people don’t like them but I think they have their place. I also work in an industry that allows me access to large format printers and scanners so I’m lucky, and biased. I tend to use them when I want a pattern really quickly (as in instantly) or it’s a pattern I sort of like but am not sure about, it ends up being a lot cheaper to buy it that way so I’m not so bothered if I end up not liking it.

After you purchase your downloaded sewing pattern you are sent an email by PrintSew.com, this is where you print your pattern from. Unlike BurdaStyle, for example, you don’t get a pdf, you must print via this website but you can download a pdf of the instructions and envelope back. This part I don’t like that much but I can understand their need to control the distribution of the patterns. So this is what I do (and I know it is extremely nerdy and sounds time consuming but trust me, I have it down to a fine art) I print my pattern off in A4 or A3 then I use a multi function  scanner with feeder to scan all the pages into Photoshop where I assemble the pattern digitally, chopping off the boarders using the magic wand tool. I then save my pattern as a flattened PDF and print it to the large format printer. Like I said, it sounds time consuming but you ain’t gonna catch this little kiwi fluffing around with scissors and cellotape for a $1.99 pattern! I think overall it’s quicker, more accurate and I end up with a file I can re-print whenever I want. Ok enough about that, on to the dress…

Wow, the pattern pieces are huge, even with the upper bodice as a separate piece, I had to roll and unroll my fabric to keep it manageable. Based on the size chart (which I know runs large but I thought with a close fitting dress might be more accurate) I cut a size 16 but after just making up the upper bodice it was clear this was at least one size too large so cut it down to size 14.

The rest of the dress went together really quickly but man those seams are super long, I wish my machine had a turbo! The size 14 turned out to be pretty close to perfect, there are still a few tweaks that I need to make but overall I am pretty happy with the fit, no huge changes to freak me out and slow me down.

Scarlett is a pretty accurate fit for me as far as dress dummies go, and here she is looking fabulous, ready for her calico wedding. I have her set at my current height in bare feet and you can see I have plenty of hem left to play with. I’m really happy with the train shape too. Some of the dresses I tried on had trains that went on forever and would need bustling after the ceremony. I am hoping to strike a middle ground that is still a nice shape for photographs and walking but more appropriate for the garden ceremony.

Here are a couple of close ups, you can see some of my marks that I made on the calico, I took this muslin much more seriously than most. I admit it’s looking pretty basic at the moment but I have further plans for the back and I intend to cut the front more sweetheart than straight.

I still have all the internals yet to make up and I am hoping by this weekend to do a trial  run with the boning, wish me luck! :)

So how did I deal with that curious fiancé of mine? Like this:

Project Wedding Dress v1.0

You might remember me briefly mentioning that I had BIG project planned after finishing my fiancés jacket. I wasn’t really going to post about it because, to be honest, I was worried about jinxing myself. But I’ve realised that I really do want to share the process with you so with the pretence that it will keep me motivated and get me going I am going to share the journey. I’ve given it away with this posts title obviously.

My wedding is in January 2011 and like a few of my fellow sewing bloggers I have decided to make my own dress. I should also admit that I briefly (briefly!) considered making the bridesmaids dresses and my Mothers dress too but my brain would literally be exploding with stress right now. I work full time, I have a busy life, it simply wasn’t going to happen. My bridesmaids are all three different shaped girls and we have decided that they will each purchase their own dress following some guidelines from me about length, colour, style etc. As for my Mum, one day I will make her an amazing dress as a thank you for introducing me to sewing at such a young age and for all her continued encouragement while allowing me to learn on her amazing Globe sewing machine (which is still in full working order today). As for January, I will take her out on a fun dress shopping day and we will find her something rtw.

I have told quite a few people about my dress plans (that’s why I hope it is beyond jinxing now), and they mostly (non-sewers that is) think I am mad, despite most of them being aware of my hobby and seeing my various sewing skills fully on display during Self-Stitched September. I don’t pretend to be an expert and this is not really about saving money, it’s about the mental challenge which is what sewing has always been about for me. I want to enjoy this experience and I want my wedding to be less about stress and more about celebrating love and family and having a wonderful day together (I know that sounds cheesy but I have heard far too many horror stress stories about weddings lately. What is it about people feeling the need to share the horror stories when they hear your joyful news? “Well, at my friend Marion’s wedding…” oh shut up!).

So, I have given myself two months, October to make up muslins and get fitting and fabric selections sorted. Then I have the entirety of November to make the final dress. So far so good and I am ahead of schedule.

Last weekend I took a posse of girlfriends to a large bridal dress shop to do some trying on because, while I had several ideas in my head (and an entire thumb drive full of images from the internet) of what I like, I still had no idea of what would actually look good on me (in wedding dress terms). It was a super fun day; I could do that every weekend for a year and not get sick of trying on dresses.

My fitting assistant told me to begin with 6 dresses, and then I could eliminate and choose more as we went through them. I started by choosing 4 dresses that were similar to what existed in my head (and on that thumb drive) and sent my girly minions off to grab 2 more as “wild cards” that they thought I should try but that I might not have considered. This turned out to be a brilliant idea, firstly because my arms were killing me from pulling out and putting back all those heavy dresses but also because my final choice turned out to be one of those “wild cards”.

I must have tried on about 14 dresses which I thought was a lot, however there was a women who was trying on when we arrived and was still going when we left 2 & ½ hours later and apparently some girls literally try on the entire shop. I was surprised that I instantly fell in love with the second dress I tried on which turned out to be my friend K’s “wild card” choice. I say surprised because I initially avoided that style/shape since I thought it wouldn’t be very flattering on me, proof that you HAVE to try dresses on, not that I didn’t already know that. The detailing was simple but exquisite and it left the more fussy dresses I chose for dust. But I kept trying on all the dresses, and had the girls grab more until I had two that I would quite happily walk down the isle in. Incidentally the second dress was also a “wild card” chosen by S and I will use these two dresses as inspiration for my dress, incorporating details from both.

I also came away with an important decision about how white my final fabric selection will be. Being in design I know that there is white and then there is white and I always imagined myself in a pristine white-white but when I saw myself in that shade it was just too much. It was almost blinding and not flattering for me at all, it made me realise that a pale ivory-white looks much better with my skin tone and it will also look amazing against a backdrop of native garden during the ceremony.

Here are a few covert shots of some of the various dresses I tried on

So, with the decision made, I bought this pattern, and this one too in case I need extra volume under the dress.

I have no time to waste so I bought them as downloads from sewingpatterns.com and printed them off straight away. My plan is to whip up the basic dress this coming weekend to test initial fit then during the week I will muck around with a couple of extra details that I want to work into the dress. If they are successful I will incorporate them into the final design, and if not, well I have a backup, but let’s not jinx that just yet ;)

The final detail I have yet to work out is how to keep my fiancé out of my sewing room until the big day…

A win for the people – See? We can make a difference!

At the end of last month Jacqueline of Home Made Couture noticed that B/M/V had decided that their international shipping rates needed to go up, and by up, I mean SKY HIGH!

My usual purchase is around 7 patterns and costs me $25 (USD) in shipping which was fine when they are on sale, the average cost is still so much cheaper than what we pay here in the shops. So I’ll buy 7 patterns, usually averaging $2.99 each, that’s about $45 to my door, $6.40 each, not bad considering I’ll pay between $15 & $25 at my local shop, plus my petrol and effort.

However now B/M/V had hiked shipping for this order to $40! Completely ridiculous, I was not impressed so as my work colleague K would say I “got out the template” and wrote them a letter to let them know exactly how I felt about it. I mean, really, it’s bad enough that we get the patterns in the shops here at hugely inflated prices and 6 – 9 months behind, then don’t get me started on the fact that after you drive there you better cross your fingers they even have the patterns you want in your size. I was quite polite but I did end with something along the lines, “I’ll be taking my custom to sewingpatterns.com from now on since they continue to charge a reasonable shipping rate and have regular sales also”

…deep breath…

I didn’t expect a reply, and I didn’t get one. I also didn’t expect them to listen but clearly plenty of you felt the same and you let them know about it so if you haven’t received the update yet, international shipping rates are back to where they were pre-pattern-war-rage…I wasn’t even going to bother blogging this, then this morning I got this in my inbox…

…and it gave me a little smile…chalk up +1 win for the International pattern hoarders amongst us.