Betty in the Sky with Racoons!

I made another Betty dress!

I made another Betty dress a really long time ago!

I’ve made some other things too and haven’t blogged about them either…so here goes with my first catching up post in a while 🙂

I’d had this fabric since early 2014 and pre-washed it as soon as I got it which is unusual for me (yes, I’m a wash-only-as-required sewist) so that shows how keen I was to sew it up. I just needed a pattern that would suit the large scale print.

Hot on the heels of my last Betty dress I needed another one asap and realised it would be perfect for this fabric. Kat also wanted a Betty dress so we collaborated for a new Twinsie make and for October’s Monthly Stitch challenge, “The Final Frontier”…yes, that’s how long ago I made this dress…

We were a little bit slow getting our photos done and posts written so we too these photos for post during December’s TMS Amnesty Month instead…oops! 😮

There isn’t a lot more to say about this make.

  • As I mentioned in my last Betty post I lengthened the bodice by 2cm which was perfect and I was more careful trimming my hem this time around!
  • I also had to piece the corners again due to the narrow width. The pattern is less abstract than the camera print so I decided to match the raccoons. This meant I had to be a bit more careful laying out so that I would have the right raccoon parts available to join on.
  • I deliberately placed the raccoons off center on the bodice front to avoid any Racoon Boobies.

If you are wondering how racoons relate to “The Final Frontier” challenge theme, the fabric colour is called “sky”…I know it’s a stretch but I make the rules and I’m an admin/editor so… 😉

We took these photos at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park here in Wellington, among the sandstone columns of the Australian Memorial and in front of the carillon tower. The park underwent a major redevelopment in time for Anzac Day 2015 and the centenary of New Zealand’s participation in the First World War.

The carillon tower was built in 1932 and a large portion of the redevelopment work went into the sinking of Buckle Street so that we could have this fantastic public space in front of it.

Also there are poppies which was a nice surprise.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Sew Over It Betty dress, size 14.

  • Removed fullness from the skirt to match Colette Hawthorne as per previous version.
  • Lengthened bodice 2cm.

Fabrics – Tula Pink Acacia Racoons in Sky, USD$30.00/yd, purchased March 2014

Paparazzi Fascinator

This post covers the making of my fascinator for my Betty WOW dress.

The initial concept was simple – make some miniature cardboard cameras and attach them to a base. I bought heaps of coloured cardboard, some foam board and began by making boxes of various sizes.

I also picked up a white fascinator base from Made Marion, some blue tulle and battery power fairy lights.

I planned for 5 cameras and spent a bit of time each night after dinner decorating them to match cameras from the fabric. I made sure one of the cameras was big enough to accommodate the fairy light battery pack.

The Polaroid camera is my absolute favourite! I liked the “modern” green camera the least but I wanted some variety.

The decoration took a lot longer than expected so it wasn’t until Saturday morning, the day of the WOW show, that I began to assemble them. Keep in mind I also still needed to under-stitch my dress facings and hem it but I was sure this would only take me an hour and the fascinator wouldn’t take much longer, hot glue gun at the ready!

The previous night NH suggested I include some film negatives in my fascinator which was a brilliant idea and sent me digging through my boxes full of old uni projects until I found some.

I got to work nice and early:

Harri helped…a lot…

I started by covering the plain white base with some left over fabric and I stitched bias to the exposed edge. Then I attached the comb by hand stitching through all layers.

I played with adding the cameras in different configurations as well as some blue tulle and lengths of film. I used masking tape to mock up the positions. I spent over an hour playing around and taping bits together but I was getting really frustrated, nothing was working.

So I stopped for a bit and finished off my dress instead.

Sometimes when you have a problem that needs solving the best solution is to stop actively thinking about it and do something else. Your brain will continue to work at it in the background. This is called passive thinking and if you feel like you’ve been hitting a brick wall while working on a problem it can really help you find a solution.

So I returned to my fascinator and instantly realised that I was just trying to cram way too many ideas into one small thing. My base was too large, the camera fabric made it too busy and the blue tulle made me grumpy.

I cut a smaller circle from some spare corrugated cardboard and used my remaining bias to finish the edges. I pulled out my hot glue gun to attach the comb but I also stitched it as back up.

Next I picked my three favourite cameras and played around with the film, creating loops inside loops and attached them like feathers.

Things went much smoother after this stripping back. It was a hard call, the biggest camera that I sized to hold a battery pack for the fairy lights got ditched along with my least favourite green camera.

Here are some close ups of the remaining cameras and the fabric cameras they were based on:

And a final close up:

I added some film curls and strips to fill in the gaps between the cameras and to soften the edges. It stayed in place all night long and was nice and light on my head.

I still wish I could have incorporated the fairy lights but that’s ok, I’ll keep them up my sleeve for another time 😉

If you missed the dress post you can find it here.

Supervising is such hard work!

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WOW Betty, why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer…

The spectacular World of WearableArt (aka WOW) started in Nelson in 1987 and moved to Wellington in 2005. The 2 hour long show features music, dance, and wearable art from New Zealand and all over the world. It’s something I’ve always longed to go to but I’ve never actually made it for various reasons. So when I was invited along to a VIP table for the awards night of course I said, “YES!”

Can you see it?

The perfect excuse to make a ridiculous dress and enter the Sewing Indie Month Dressed to the Nines competition.

THE CONCEPT:

Now WOW is all about the WOW so a simple pretty dress just won’t cut it. There needs to be an extra level of, well, WOW!

I though hard about what I could make, I didn’t want to put a heap of effort into a dress I could never wear again and I only had 2 weeks!

While I was hunting through patterns and fabric stash I picked up the Sew Over It Betty dress pattern that was sitting in my sewing queue. I had already paired it with the retrotastic Riley Blake Geekly Chic Cameras. I realised it would be perfect as a start – cameras and fashion and all that – and I decided the extra WOW could be achieved with some sort of fascinator…perhaps with little cameras all over it to match the dress.

I don’t a have a link to the fabric because apparently this is all sold out…everywhere 😦

THE PATTERN:

I started with the dress first – this was my first Sew Over It pattern and I really love the instruction illustrations. They have a sweet hand-drawn look but are really clear. I especially like the use of pattern and shading to show the different sides of the fabric.

After I traced the pattern I reduced the fullness of the skirt, checking it against my Colette Hawthorn pattern piece as a guide. I folded the extra fullness out of the center then corrected the waist line, flat pattern measuring to check it still matched the bodice.

This was another dress requiring a corner piecing job on the skirt due to the narrow quilting cotton width so more fun selvedges hidden inside 😉

Betty is a pretty simple pattern, a 4 dart bodice with a full circle skirt, neck/armhole facings and CB invisible zipper so the instructions don’t need a lot of extra detail. I followed along, only changing the order of a few steps.

I used my new favourite sewing notion, fusible stay tape, on the front and back neck opening. This stuff is seriously great! I have 4 rolls all half inch, a black and white in knit and a black and white in woven. It’s perfect for stabilising the fabric edge before inserting zippers too, you should go buy some.

I assembled the front and back of the dress first, then I stitched the side seams so I could adjust the fit later. The facing went on last and I like the clean finish on the armholes/shoulders.

It stitched up really quickly and the only other change I made was to machine sew the facing along the zipper to avoid hand sewing.

I almost always do this, for a stronger finish and, honestly, to avoid hand sewing. I’m not sure why so many patterns insist on hand sewing the facings down. My hand stitched facings always come undone eventually. Perhaps in this case is it a nod the vintage inspiration of this pattern.

I under-stitched the facing but I still found it liked to flip out at the bottom of the armhole. This was solved by pinning it in place and sewing a short line of stitching in the ditch of the side seam. I think next time I will fully line the bodice.

Next, hemming!

A week before the show and my dress almost finished I decided I would need more floof and went on the hunt for a petticoat. Long story short, I bought the “Value Swing Petticoat” from Let’s Jive in light blue because the price was right, I liked all the colour options and they are located just up the island so promised I would receive it in 1 day by courier. It did arrive as quickly as promised and while it’s not the softest most luxurious petticoat the floof-per-$ factor is impressive…photos later in this post…

The petticoat is a little bit long for my liking but it’s easy to roll up at the waist. I pinned the dress hem where I thought it looked right while I was wearing it. This turned out to be 17cms from the bottom of the skirt and I marked this all the way around, changing to 15cms at the back to allow extra length over my bottom.

After I pressed this up I trimmed off some excess and tired it on again discovering that it was a bit too short…ok, a lot too short! I’d only left about 4.5cms to play with so I re-trimmed the hem neatly at what was now 12.5cm/10.5cm from the bottom of the skirt and to maintain as much of that length as possible I had the brilliant idea to use bias on the hem…then I spotted the rest of the Hug Snug Seam Binding that Kat gave me. I told her at the time she’d given me way too much but I’m not complaining now, let’s just say it saved the day!

(Remind me that I owe you a Bohemian hot chocolate as thanks Kat!)

I stitched this on as close to the edge as I dared, pressed up and stitched the hem. Hug snug is perfect because it’s so light weight and the woven edge won’t unravel. I also get a sneaky bit of yellow hidden inside, it totally matches. I need to buy more, all the colours!

OK this post is long enough now and I haven’t even show you the final photos. I’ll write about making the fascinator in a separate post (here!).

PHOTOS:

These photos were taken at Aotea Lagoon where there are lots of great photos spots.

Getting in the car was super fun. I’ve never worn anything remotely and poofy as this so I was unprepared for a face full of skirt when I sat down. NH was well entertained.

Here is a before and after floof shot:

The whole time I was working on this dress and the fascinator I was really excited. About going to WOW but also about dressing up. Who doesn’t love dress ups?! I’m pretty sold now that the 1950s is my favourite dress ups era.  

Despite my excitement I was a little nervous that I was overdoing things. After I arrived at the bar I noticed everyone else was definitely dressed fancy-pants with lots of sparkles and slinky fabrics but there was nothing else remotely costumey. This didn’t ease my nerves until a random group of ladies called me over to tell me how much they loved my dress. I felt much better then and went to join my VIP group.  I didn’t know anyone else that was invited but I got a lots of compliments so I settled in for a fun night.

More fascinator photos next post, promise.

Just before we headed off to the show they announced the prizes and I won Best Dressed! It was awesome, plus the prize was shoe vouchers! SHOE VOUCHERS!

I got more compliments before we went in to the show and I also met this awesome chicky called Michelle who was dressed 1950s as well. We got a quick selfie at the end of the night – isn’t her hair amazing?! Michelle’s dress is from Amazengarb in Paraparaumu.

We look fabulous!

WOW:

Obviously WOW was AMAZING! The music and dancing were both incredible and of course all the entries! We weren’t allowed to take photos or video but you can see some of them behind us in the photo above and there are some great shots on the WOW Facebook page here.  The volcano projection on the tent for the Aotearoa Section was my favourite part (the drums rattled my chest the model dance routines were perfect). My favourite entries were Neptune’s Bride in the Open Section and Celcus in the Other Worlds Section.

I was completely exhausted at the end of the night from trying to take everything in!

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Sew Over It Betty dress, size 14.

Removed fullness from the skirt to match Colette Hawthorne.

Next time I will lengthen the bodice approx. 2cm and fully line to the waist. I also need to add some bra strap keepers!

Fabrics – Riley Blake Geekly Chic Returns (Geekly Chic 2) Cameras in Blue by Amy Adams, Hawthrone Threads, USD$27.00/m, purchased 04 August 2014.