Where the Bustier Stands

On it’s own two feet, if it so chooses! This baby is seriously boned. There are 15 boning channels in all for support. When I got home, I sat down and tacked all the seam allowances down. This not only gives a clean line to the inside of the bustier, but it makes it easier to do the other work needed to complete the outer shell. Last night I spent a lot of time tacking the lace to the foundation. Susan placed pins in the lace at the places to tack. You can see them here:

These are where you put thread tacks to hold the lace against the foundation. It insures that the lace doesn’t gap away from the body. Here’s the inside after I put some of the tacks in
I have a long way to go to finish, but I’d say it’s about half done right now. Tonight I will attach the scallops to the top, and maybe insert the zipper if I have time and I’m not too tired.

No picture for the parting shot, but the kids are now back in school. Woo hoo! Snoopy dance time in my town!

Happy sewing!

Sit and Sew with Susan Khalje and Kenneth King

Where to begin??? This was one of the best sewing excursions I’ve ever done. It was four days of sheer sewing bliss, punctuated by fun, adventure and frustration at the fact that there is no f***ing 14 inch spiral steel boning to be had on the island of Manhattan! But I digress

The class is taught by Susan Khalje and Kenneth King. “Class” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more of a directed study. Students bring whatever projects they want to work on, and Kenneth and Susan help with all aspects of the project. Some of the projects included a Chanel style jacket (Kristine), a guipure lace skirt (Joanne), a strapless boned semiformal dress (Meg), pants, gowns, slopers, and lots of others. I’m telling you – it’s four days of sewing heaven! Oh yeah. The company is pretty good too.

If you read my blog earlier this month, you may know that I was out of commission for the first two weeks of August thanks to a bout of pneumonia. This had a two-pronged effect. First, it got me some reactions of, “You’re taking another week away from business???” Yes – it was paid for months ago. The pneumonia was an afterthought. Second, it meant that I, notorious procrastinator that I am, lost two weeks of doing nothing on my muslin and/or plans for my project. I lost my Marfy muslin, too, but that’s another story.

So I decided to go back to my original idea and make a lace bustier. I draped the pattern for the bustier on a dress form and I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to adjust it on me. I figured Susan and Kenneth could help me with it, so I wasn’t too rattled by my inability to get it well fitted beforehand. Kristine pegged it when she said, “Don’t expect to walk away with many finished garments, as this class is all about quality, not quantity.” You can see from my last post that I came home with my bustier about half done. But the things I learned from Susan and Kenneth gave me the tools to tread where I never would have before. I’m almost to the point where I’ll insert the zipper and then I will do the lining, add the waist stay and then, I’ll have me one spectacular bustier to wear to singing gigs! I’ll do some blog posts all about the construction, no worries. But right now, check out some pictures from the class!

Each day started with a hands on lesson or a show and tell, and there were several breaks where Susan and Kenneth would demonstrate techniques. Here’s Kenneth showing off his broadtail coat:

1 - Kenneth's Broadtail Jacket
Susan is next to him on the right. Here is a closeup of the broadtail/leather join, with his hand leatherwork. Fab-u-luss!


Susan and Kenneth worked with each student, and they were incredibly generous with their time and talent. Susan took me shopping for my lace and silk. How fabulous is that? Here she is working with Ellen, who was making a concert dress (she’s a violist).
Kenneth also brought in a Chado Ralph Rucci jacket that he bought at a flea market!!! I want to go flea market shopping with that man.
Here’s a detail from the jacket.
There are so many more things to say and show, but I don’t have time right now. I’ll post more progress and photos as the bustier comes together. I’m saving my pennies to try to go again next year. If you have the opportunity to work with either of these two wonderful teachers, don’t hesitate – do it!

Happy sewing!

It IS a Woman's Perogative to Change Her Mind

Yes, I said I was going to make a jacket. No, I still haven’t found that damned muslin. So on Monday of last week I grabbed my dress form that is closest to my current measurements and started draping a bustier. On Tuesday during lunch, I basted it and then tried it on and tried (hah!) to do some fitting on me. After 20 minutes of futility, I decided that I would wait until the class. I’m glad I did. I’ll talk all about the process later, but here’s the project in its almost current state:

The lace is a corded, beaded French lace. The underlay is silk duchesse satin. The backing of the underlay is muslin. So far the toughest part was actually cutting the lace. But it’s coming together and will be a spectacular outfit for my next singing recital. Good thing I don’t have a date yet. I need to get this baby (and the accompanying silk chiffon skirt) finished first. More later…

Happy sewing!

Where the Hell Did I Put That Muslin?

Well this is just starting to tick me off. I have a complete Marfy muslin traced and cut out for a really cool jacket. I have proof! See? There it is, along with this post from May

If I can’t find the damned thing, I’m going to punt and make my bustier. I already have the pattern drafted for it. Knowing my luck I’ll put the muslin for the bustier together then I’ll find the jacket muslin.

Wish me luck!

A Jacket It Is!

I’m taking a couture sewing class late this week. Hallelujah, I finally get to learn from someone else! It’s a directed study class. Some students are making formalwear, some are making Chanel style jackets, some are making pants. I’m kind of over my Chanel jacket jones for the moment. I’ve made several, every one of which I love and wear. I’ve been going back and forth trying to decide what to make. The choices have been a heavy duty corset or a YSL style jacket. But since my favorite designer has always been YSL, I decided I want to work on a YSL style jacket. Besides, while I can definitely use a lace corset for singing gigs, I’ll get more use from the jacket. Paco’s Facebook vote was the one that threw me over the top (along with everyone else’s). Alas, I haven’t time to make a muslin of the Marfy I was thinking of. But I did buy this Claire Shaeffer Vogue pattern and I’ll make up a muslin of that:

You know, now that I think of it, I DO have the Marfy muslin all traced and cut. Where did I put that? Stay tuned, I may change my mind yet again. Don’t worry, it will all be done in time for the class. I’ll bring my home sewing machine with me on the train if I need to and sew on a table. That should wig out the conductors, eh?

I have no idea what fabric I’ll use. I’ll probably buy that while I’m at the class. I’m having a hard time motivating myself. I’m not sure if it’s residual from being sick, if it’s the weather (Hurricane Bill has pulled out of here, but it’s still going to be muggy through tomorrow) or if it’s something else. I’m really hoping this class can revitalize my mojo.

Happy sewing!

When I Was a Kid, I'd Hear Things Go Bump in the Night

And I’d think, “What’s coming to get me?!”

Nowadays, I hear things go bump in the night and I think, “What’s that going to cost me?”

We’ve had a slight problem with our bathroom. Ever since it was installed 11 years ago, there has been a problem where moisture would bead along the rim behind the tub, and it would cause the plaster to bubble about every other year. We checked for a pinhole leak, and there wasn’t one, and every plumber we talked to said to just repair the wall.

Well recently it started getting worse. DH repaired the wall, but less than a month later, the bubbling was back and far worse. So we took the wall next to the tub and the wall behind it out. There doesn’t appear to be a leak but we’ll get a plumber in this week. Sigh. It’s always something, you know? The good news is that we finally replaced the shed that got demolished by the tree last winter, so the snow blower, the lawnmower and the kids’ bikes have a new home.

I’m tracing off the Marfy pattern onto muslin. I’m taking my time on this one. I’ll make a full muslin and use that for fitting and adjustments, then I’ll take it apart and use it for the pattern. I’m also going to try to work up the Yves Saint Laurent shoulder treatment on this, per Claire Shaeffer’s instructions in her Couture Sewing Techniques book.

Georgene of the Sewing Divas took her couture class and was telling me about the shaping and support of the shoulder, and I really want to have my hand at it. This one is going to take a while but I think it will be worth it. Stay tuned, much more to come…

Happy sewing!

Oh. My. God – This is FANTASTIC!

Photo: The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

You have got to check this site out: The House of Dior. Click on the link to The House of Dior for the really good stuff.

I was looking for a reference picture from the first collection that John Galliano did for Dior (not the one above, but that’s pretty great too), when I stumbled across this part of the Dior Site. I had not seen this before. What a wonderful treasure trove. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit down and enjoy the videos. I especially love to watch the embroiderers in “The Birth of a Collection”. And watching the snippets of activity in the atelier is so fun! Don’t miss Galliano’s tribute to Dior. M. Galliano. “I had some fun with that one.” Boy, you can tell he has fun with all his collections! M. Galliano has a new fan in this girl!

Enjoy, happy inspiration, and happy sewing!

Pssst! Hey Buddy, Wanna Make A Couture Dress?


Can’t you just see some thug saying that in a dark alley? Very noir, very 1950s Bogie and Bacall movie. But it’s true! I was perusing some museum websites today, and the Victoria and Albert Museum is running an exhibit on the Golden Age of Couture. I’ve already pre-ordered The Book from Amazon. I think you can buy it straightaway from the museum, but since the dollar is so low (great article in today’s WSJ about that and how it might affect the trade deficit, BTW), I’ll wait and get it when Amazon gets their bulk discount.

Anyway, as part of the exhibition, you can download the pattern for that gowachuss dress above! I already did, and I’m going to start studying it. Oh Summerset! This one has your name written all over it!

And for you shoe aficionados in the crowd, there is a Design a Shoe competition which will be judged by that master of foot fabulosity, Jimmy Choo! (The real one, not that evil wench who took over the company)

I tell you, life doesn’t get much better than this. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d be tempted to hop on a plane and get myself to the V&A!

Happy Sewing!