"I'm not overdressed; everyone here is underdressed."

Friday night I went to dinner with DH, my best friend and her husband. We were celebrating the boys’ birthdays. And as happy circumstance would have it, their birthdays fall during Restaurant Week in Boston. We went to Brasserie Jo, an Alsatian style bistro in the Back Bay. It was wonderful. The meal was great. They bring over piping hot French bread and julienned carrots that are marinated in a really tasty dressing. The food was great, but at one point, DH looked over at me and said, “Wow, you’re really dressed up compared to everyone here.” Mind you, I was wearing the Laura Bennett Dress, (and damn, I looked hot!) Of course, I had two glasses of Nicolas Feuillat champagne in me, so I looked at him and uttered the words in the title of this post. All conversation at the table stopped for a nanosecond, and then we all burst out laughing.

But why do people wear their underdressed look as a badge of honor? I mean, this is one of the nicest restaurants in Boston. I love my jeans and sneaks as much as the next person, but is it really so onerous to clean up once in a while? And I’m not just talking about that. There was the whole brouhaha last summer with flip-flops at the White House, and I went to a black tie not too long ago where someone was wearing jeans! I know that folks figure, “I’m paying for this, I can durn well dress as I please.” But most of the time it just doesn’t look good.

So what’s your experience? Have you seen someone dressed down wildly inappropriately? Is it just a Northeast phenomenon? Is it just me? No, don’t answer that last one.

Happy people watching!

I'm Hyperventilating

I don’t get flustered too easily, but I just got an email from some friends that has me feeling like I had too many Starbucks coffees. To whit:

‘Hi Ann,

I have to tell you that we were at Laura’s in her kitchen talking about dresses, our readers, and then I mentioned your dress to her. I said “Oh, Laura, I have to show you this dress one of our readers made inspired by you and your dresses. You’ll love it.” So, I ran to her computer, clicked on your link on our page and showed it to her. She LOVED it. She really did. She said and I quote her here “It’s better than some of my stuff.” I kid you not. Then she said “Who is she? Is there a picture of her?” So, I scrolled up and showed her your picture and I said “Isn’t she fabulous? Her name is Ann. We love her.” So she said (and I kid you not again) “Oh, she comments on your blog a lot, doesn’t she? I remember her. She is fabulous.” I thought you’d like that. : – ) ‘

My heart is still pounding! Now, I also don’t get all ga-ga eyed about celebrities, but if I ever had the chance to meet Laura Bennett in person, I think I would be utterly speechless for the first time in my life. Well, the second actually.

Happy sewing! I know I am!!!!

So Close!

I spent much more time yesterday working on the sleeves than I originally thought I would. But then, I also spent more time working on “real” work and my kids’ homework. Here’s the bad thing of having a home-based business. Supposedly you can schedule your time as you see fit? Ha!

But I did get good work done on the sleeves, and now the dress is completely constructed except for the hem. I took my time on the sleeves because I wanted to get just the right look. First I set the sleeves in by hand basting. The 5/8 inch seam allowance was just a little too tight for my liking, so I ended up inserting the sleeves with a 3/8 inch allowance. Then I decided to bind the raw edges. To do this, I cut bias strips of plain netting and attached them using a narrow zigzag stitch:

I trimmed very close to the stitching, folded the binding over the raw edge and stitched in place. To make life easier, I used an applique foot, which is open in the front. This allows me to see the stitching line far more easily. I use this foot all the time when I’m doing precision sewing. Trust me, it’s worth the few dollars it costs.

After that was done, I hemmed the sleeves using a 5/8 inch narrow hem. It took longer than you might think, because I had to pick those damned sequins out of the seam. And of course, didn’t I go too far in one case and have to sew the fool things back in. But in the end the result was worth it. I really like the look of the long sleeves. They take the dress from “cute” to “classic”. And if I’m going to spend this much time making something, I want “classic”.

So tonight I’m hoping to hem the dress, and tomorrow hopefully I’ll post it over at the Sewing Divas.

For those who haven’t seen the post at The Sewing Divas, here is the finished version.

Happy sewing!

Les Petits Mains? No, Les Petits Yeux…

More like les pauvres petits yeux. I’m working on the Laura Bennett Dress. It’s about 3/4 done. You can read about the progress on The Sewing Divas. Today I worked on the sleeves for a little bit, between helping my sons with their homework. For the underarm seam, I decided to try a baby French Seam:

It’s a little hard to make out, because of the black and because of the shadowing, but the seam is 1/8″ total. When sewing a French seam, you first sew a narrow seam with the wrong sides together. Then you trim that seam and turn the fabric, sewing another narrow seam with the right sides together. When you’re done, the raw edges are all encased. In a straight seam on a sheer garment, it gives a very nice finish.

But jesus! Those sequins! I don’t work with sequins too often, and I had forgotten how much work they are to deal with in the seamlines. I painstakingly picked all the sequins out of the seamline area before sewing, using my little bitty Kai thread snips:

This is why I wear glasses, I swear. The combination of teeny little sequins, in black, and all black fabric is enough to make you cross-eyed, especially when you’re dealing with eensy weensy seams. I have empathy for the petits mains in the couture houses. The folks at Lesage must go blind, literally.

And I swear those sequins are bunnies in disguise. The little buggers seem to multiply every time I turn around:

Really, there were only 5 when I pulled out my camera. They are everywhere in my sewing room. I’m going to have to do a very thorough vacuuming when I’m done.

Well, the dress should be done tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to finishing it. Check out The Sewing Divas for progress.

Happy sewing!

The Laura Bennett Dress is Cut Out…

… and underlined! Whew! That was an unmitigated rhymes-with-witch. Planning this dress is taking much longer than the actual sewing will. I pulled a FrankenPattern, melding a couple of patterns (McCall’s 5269 and the Vogue/Mouret) to get the look I want. Then I cut out the underlining, an off-white stretch silk charmeuse. The overlay is the embroidered, feathered mesh that I bought when Carolyn, Stacey, Barbara and I met in New York in October. I still need to cut the lining, but that will be pretty straightforward. And just wait til you see what I do at the neckline! I’m not sure if you can see them very well, but the sleeves are cut from the net fabric, left unlined, and they don’t have the feathering (I can’t imagine trying to keep that out of my soup!):

I was originally hoping to have this dress finished for Christmas. Then singing and a bunch of panicked orders from clients (rush orders carry a surcharge, don’t you know…) got in the way. And I would love to have it done for my birthday dinner, but I’m not sure it will be ready by then. So if not, it will be ready for New Years. And what a way to ring in 2007!

Happy sewing!

The Fitting Muslin is Done

I’ll post a photo tomorrow, but the muslin for McCall’s 5289 is done. I did a number of adjustments before I cut the muslin: FBA, start with a 12 at the shoulder and taper out to a 14 at the waist, added long sleeves. There are a couple of issues. First, the neckline opening is really, really wide. This is a style issue, not a fitting issue, It’s wide enough that I need a strapless bra under it. I am adjusting the front yoke piece (piece number 3 in the pattern) to be wider at the bottom and hopefully cover the bra straps. I think I may add about 1/2 inch around the upper shoulder areas. just at the seams. It’s okay, but even though my cross-chest measurement is a 12, my broad back puts me right between a 12 and 14. Other than that, the fit seems really good. The sleeves from the Vogue Roland Mouret knockoff pattern are a little tight at the bicep for my taste, but I will slash the pattern tomorrow and add about 1/2″ to 3/4″ of ease. That should take care of it. Stay tuned!

Happy sense of self!

Next Up, a Holiday Dress!

I fed Skippy my Eviler Twin some Godiva Chocolate and she has retreated back into her cave. But before rolling the boulder across the cave entrance, she turned and hissed, “I’ll be back to keep the world safe from idiots who are so clearly educated beyond their intelligence!” Okay Skip, buh bye! Or should I say, a bientot!

The world is in balance again, even if the moon is full. To celebrate, I started on my holiday dress! And this is it. McCalls 5269:

Look at the model in the picture. Now look at me. Notice a few things.
1 – She is coquettish. I am fabulous.
2 – She has bird-arms. I have Schwarzzeneggar arms.
3 – She’s all of 19. I’m celebrating the (mumble mumble) anniversary of my 29th birthday shortly.
Changes must be made.

Change one: I’m ditching the cap sleeves and putting long, sleek sleeves on instead. I have morphed the armhole and grabbed the plain long sleeve from this Vogue Pattern:

I almost made this pattern instead, but my fabric really is spectacular. I didn’t want to have to cut across it with a waistline seam. The McCalls pattern has a similar neckline and shoulder treatment (a flange sort of thing), and adjusting it to a long sleeve was pretty simple.

Change two: It will be shorter than the photographed version, but will have no ruffle or (god help us) pouf at the hem.

Change three: I’m going to make it from an amazing fabric (hint, it’s pictured here on the site) that will be an homage to Laura Bennett of Project Runway. I have stretch silk charmeuse to underline the main fabric. And the hemline will be To Die For!

The muslin is cut and half way sewn. I should have the fitting shell tomorrow or Friday. Hopefully I’ll finish the dress by mid-next week. Stay tuned.

Happy Sewing!