Friday, May 30, 2014

Sidetracked by a wedding!

Some friends of ours are getting married, and we are elbow deep in preparations.

For a gift, we made them a wine box.  The point of it is this: They write each other a letter about their wedding day and how much they love each other and all that mushy stuff, and put them in the box, along with a bottle of wine and two glasses. Then on their fifth anniversary, they open it up, read the letters, say "Awwww..." and drink the wine. Write new letters and get new wine, put them in the box and wait til their tenth anniversary, etc. And if they ever get in a fight so bad it looks like the end, they are to open the box together, have a glass of wine, read the letters, and remember all the good times and so on, hopefully not flinging the glasses at each other or reading the letters aloud in sarcastic voices.

I did the happy couple's monogram on the front in gold, and we found some beautiful handcut crystal glasses to put in the box.  A week before the wedding, as I was putting them in the box, I dropped one and it shattered. I hollered the appropriate inappropriate words, and Dave quickly got on Amazon and ordered a similar set, paying extra to have them shipped as quickly as possible. The new glasses arrived and they were gorgeous-- too bad they were wider than the original ones and didn't fit in the box! I said a few more words, but couldn't help laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. With the wedding in two days, we hustled to a local shop and got two more glasses (taking the box along to be sure they'd fit!) and finally our gift is done.

Now, I hear that some people just pull an outfit from the closet and go to a wedding, but that's not how we do things in Wennyland, no sir. If you read back, there's probably a few mentions of me trying to come up with what to wear. I went through three different patterns and looked at loads of fabrics before deciding to go with a store-bought dress. I got it on sale. It looked red under the shop lights, but once I got it home, Dave proclaimed it pink. I'm not a fan of pink, but it's a very dark, deep pink and I refuse to do any more shopping as the wedding is tomorrow, so this is what it is.

From a website. I wish I were this tan! 

I planned a little white sweater to go over my shoulders because it's an outdoor wedding and might get a little breezy, but of course the one I had thought would look so cute just looked matronly and awful. If it had been more of a shrug and less of a cardigan, that would have helped. Oh well. I fled to my stash and you guys, I found the perfect thing -- three and a half yards of white silk with a subtle floral/asian pattern. Absolutely gorgeous, and how could I have forgotten I had such lovely stuff! I draped it over my shoulders --and it was far too long. I folded it in half, and it was just a bit too short. I panicked a little then, because the idea of chopping this silk off with scissors -- ahh! No! I wanted to keep it whole so that I could still make something from it later. It was only meant to pretend to be a wrap for this one afternoon. An internet tutorial on how to wear a large scarf inspired me and I found a way to make a knot and wind it around myself that I think looks very stylish. We'll see!

Finally, because I haven't quite mastered fancy updos and because 14th century braids, wimple, and veil would look very out of place with this dress, I decided I needed a posh hat to top everything off (and disguise my lack of hairstyling skills.)  I found a basic straw hat for a few dollars in a thrift shop, added my own ribbon, a few silk roses and a wee bird, and made a very girly hat for myself.

Once this wedding weekend is over, I can get back to work on my dirndl and all those other fun things. See you then!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dirndl Dirndl Dirndl!

Well, it's a dress, and there's red linen involved, but it's not what I had in mind originally. Things kind of took a left turn. I'm not sure what even started this off, but at some point I decided that what I wanted to make was a traditional dirndl. I've always loved the look of them thanks to an admiration for The Sound of Music, where Maria and all the girls wear them and look so cute.  That's what I'll make! I thought. I love that movie! And I'll look cute, just like that! 

But then I had to stop and check myself. Waitaminit -- I'm no slender hilltop-spinning girl. I'm a thick-waisted middle-aged lady. Am I going to look foolish in this outfit? But then I remembered the hobbits.

Here is a terrible picture (but the best I could find) of an individual hobbit lady wearing something very dirndl-like -- if not an actual dirndl. The curved seams are there, and the apron -- and she looks great. It's modest, attractive, and suits her.

And I know what you're thinking. Hobbits? Really, Wenny? Come on, it's the Austrian national costume, surely you could find at least one picture of a real lady wearing a real dirndl to show us. Well, there are lots of pictures, sure. Go Google them yourself, if you like. But I wanted a picture that showed a figure like mine, where there's about one inch of difference between bust, waist, and hip measurements. I know I'm not going to look like Julie Andrews in th--- wait a second. Hang on.

BAM. There's your real lady wearing a real dirndl. She's no Oktoberfest babe-- that's Maria von Trapp, the real Sound of Music Maria, who preferred to wear dirndls throughout her life. Not costumes -- clothing. So there we go. Let us never speak of hobbit costumes again.

To begin with, I drafted my own pattern on wrapping paper, like I usually do. But I wasn't completely satisfied with the way it looked on paper, and as I'd never done curved front seams before, I decided it would be best to start with a commercial pattern and learn from there. I got Burda 8448 because it was 40% off and was in the Dresses section of the pattern book instead of Costumes.

I rummaged through my stash and found the red linen wasn't enough for the full dress, but dirndls are often made up of different stuff. I have some dark olive green pinstripe and decided that would do for the skirt. Then I put the two side-by-side and my mind said "garden gnome", so I threw the green back and went thrift store shopping. I found three yards of a nice cotton for $3, so you can't beat that price.

I had that red piping in my stash, too, and tried it on the first seam. I could tell right off that it was going to be an added hassle. Even reading the pattern directions was difficult. First of all, wee tiny print! And secondly, there seemed to be steps missing. And  it was hard to see what the illustrations were trying to show me.  I fled to the internet for help, and was very pleased to find a concise online tutorial for this pattern. The writer makes a few changes to the pattern (putting a zipper in the back and doing the skirt differently with an added waistband) but for the most part it was very easy to follow. I spent a few hours stitching and pressing and ended up with this.

Imogene is nowhere near adjusted properly
to my custom size in this picture,
so pardon the loose fit.

I put a light interfacing on the linen to help it stay crisp and look sharp, and I think that was a good idea. It also helped keep the fraying in check so I wasn't as freaked out by the unfinished seams on the inside. (Medieval sewing has made me very particular about finished seams.)  I still need to work the buttonholes and buttons on the front, and I think it's a little loose through the bust, so minor adjustments will be made.  The skirt is made from two pleated and one gathered panel which are simply attached, so that will be easily done.

Except now I'm not sure I like the all-red bodice. I think I'll make another one that's more like the Hobbit lady's, with contrasting side panels. Besides being more decorative, it's bound to give a little more visual shaping to my less-than-curvy torso.

More on that next time!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Now what?

I just sold five saddles in a package deal to a woman who does horse rescue and gives riding lessons to low-income kids. I'm gonna take a break from saddles now, I think. I love working on them, but they tend to stack up and I feel guilty about how Dave sighs every time he goes in to the garage and has to wend his way through the maze of saddle stands to get to his stuff.

So you know what that means. Time to get back into sewing! It's summertime again (or will be soon) and I've worn the same parti-colored linen dress for two seasons. I mean, I like it and all, but really -- I think it's time for a new linen dress for this summer, yes? So I'm going to see what the stash turns up. I know there's some bright red. I love red. If there's not enough, I'll do another parti-style, probably. Stay tuned -- or feel free to offer suggestions on what you think I should try next!