Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Christmas Dress

I know, I know - Halloween comes before Christmas and I have yet to blog about her costume. I keep meaning to, but I want to toss a little dyeing tutorial on that post, and I haven't gotten around to deciphering my chicken-scratch notes on exactly how I created her wings, so it's going to have to wait for another day.

I have been on a real sewing kick as of late, as those of you who talk to me regularly will have noticed. For me, sewing is a source of great pride and satisfaction, and also one of great frustration. I have a wonderful habit of getting myself in over my head, and usually on something "big", like say, a halloween costume or a holiday party-dress for my daughter. The pajamas and little catnip mousies? A breeze!

My biggest source of frustration right now is my sewing machine. It's an oldie (read: older than me!), and it still runs well. It does a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch, it goes forward and back. It does not do anything else, and I have only the standard foot for it. For the most part, this is not a problem. I don't need all that fancy stuff. But for a holiday dress? Yeah, it's a problem. Without a zipper foot, it is impossible (for me) to install a zipper. And it doesn't do buttonholes, either. And of course, I had to do my usual over-estimating of my abilities, and pick a pattern that required a zipper. As a result, I redesigned the shoulders of the pattern so that it had a flap that came over and buttoned, so that I could actually squeeze my daughter into this dress without a zipper up the back. Let it be known, making major structural alterations to a pattern is generally NOT a good idea for the amateur sewer. It can often result in much hair-pulling, seam-ripping, and exclamations of many creative curses. And did I mention that failure was not an option? My husband was not about to let me brave the malls in search of an alternate outfit, and next weekend is the party that the dress was being made for. Good times, good times.

But, I have prevailed! And the dress is quite cute, if I do say so myself. I do think that it could use to be hemmed an inch or so, but my husband disagrees, and says that it is perfectly cute as-is. Because I am so sick of working on this dress right now, I am inclined to agree! Please ignore the grey long-sleeved tee that she is wearing underneath - we will be picking up either a red, burgundy or black turtleneck for her to wear with this dress, and a pair of white tights with little black mary-janes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Couldn't you just DYE? (also, where have I been?!)

It's been a long, long time since I've looked at this crafty blog. Too long, in fact. Where have I been? I've been around, still crafting a little but not so much desiring to blog about it. To make a long story short, my maternity leave ran out in June, so I found a dayhome for my daughter and I am back to the Monday-to-Friday grind. I love my job, but it has left me with far less time to craft, much less take, process, and post pictures, then write up a little blurb to go with it. Now if only someone would actually pay me good money for this crafty crap I do...

My latest project was inspired by Eliza's halloween costume. She was a monarch butterfly, but Fabricland's pathetic choice of tulle colours (no orange? seriously?) left me with only one choice: dye my own. (Her costume is going to be the subject of a future blog post, I promise!) Custom dyeing was a challenge that I actually really enjoyed, so I decided to take on a bigger project.

These are playsilks. Some of you may be familiar with them, but for those who are not, they are little more than a square habotai silk scarf. They are meant to encourage creative pretend play in children - a playsilk can be a doll blanket, a cape, a tablecloth, a hammock, or just something to swing around like crazy. Eliza is just getting to the age where she'd really be into these kinds of things, too. I'd seen them all over etsy and various other stores for obscene prices and thought "I can do that!", and after the tulle incident, I really believed that I could! I found a supplier that shipped to Canada, ordered all I needed, and this was the result:

I used Jacquard acid dyes, which are pretty simple to use, but a little finicky. And let me tell you now - when the instructions say that vinegar is necessary, they mean it! I had to re-dye two of these batches because all the dye washed out in the post-dye-washing. Bah.

Now, can I really hold off 'til Christmas to give these to her?

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