Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Love the One You're With

I'm bored of sewing. Let's talk about hot-button topics instead. Today? Bodies!

"Love the one you're with" usually refers to another person, but in this case, I'm saying it in terms of loving your own body. The idea is this: Everyone has a body, and you only get one of them. It's the one you've got, for better or for worse. And, the human body is nothing to be ashamed of. You've got one, I've got one, that person over there has one, and we're all limited to the body we were born with.

I suppose talking about something like this is like ripping off a band-aid. You can pick at it slowly, beating around the bush, or you can rip it off in one go. I'm a fan of the grab-and-yank method, so I'm going to start by saying some very honest things.


Friday, November 25, 2011

How It's Made: Teal Ballgown

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Sometimes when I'm lacking in inspiration, I'll go to Samantha and say, "Sami. I have a job for you." She says, "Uh...okay?" no doubt fearing that I'm about to ask her to do something crazy. To be fair, sometimes I do. But in most cases, I'll then continue, saying, "Find me some ideas for my next sewing project." When I went to her and said, "I need a new ballgown but I don't have any ideas," she came through!

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I loved the lines of the red ballgown, and I had eight yards of teal silk taffeta just lying around in my stash after a once-in-a-lifetime sale at Fabric.com. I figured the hardest part would be finding a suitable lace. While I wasn't able to find a fine black lace of the type pictured in the plate, I stumbled upon a gorgeous wide scalloped Alençon lace at Etsy shop Uncommmonstuff.


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Because of the type of lace, the best treatment was to apply it flat and trim the extra fabric from under it, like you would do for a camisole or lingerie piece. In fact, the instructions from this Threads article, Create Couture Lingerie details pretty much exactly what I did.



The bodice is mounted on a lining of cotton twill, with white silk organza over the bust and the teal taffeta for the faux swiss waist. The organza is wide strips cut on the bias and hand sewn around the neck, bust, and shoulders of the bodice. The waist was sewn separately, the top edge piped, and then mounted by hand over the organza. All the layers were then treated as one for piping the bottom and attaching sleeves. The sleeves are gathered silk organza over an organza undersleeve, to make sure they stay puffed high on the arm. The bodice itself has a deep v-neck, which is filled in with a cotton net tucker. The tucker is finished off with a tiny black silk ribbon, 2mm wide, from Silky-Way.



Photo by Samantha Bullat

What's left? Oh, the underskirt--it's just a simple white cotton underskirt with a layer of the silk organza mounted to it just above knee level. I'm not actually sure how correct that is, but it solved my two problems of, "How do I make an underskirt with minimal bulk at the waist and minimal use of expensive fabric," and "I don't have a petticoat long enough to wear under a skirt this length." Combine petticoat with underskirt, et voila! Problem(s) solved.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gettysburg Remembrance Day 2011

So, Gettysburg. There's so much to say about it, but nothing tops the experience of being there. It's noise and glow and history and people people people. It's earthy and otherworldly all at once and time seems to have no real place in the whole experience.

Now, I realize part of that is because we left home at midnight and got in to Gettysburg at 11 a.m. on Friday, so of course my internal clock is all weirded out, but still. Gettysburg is an amazing trip and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

As I said, my mom, Matt, and myself left Grand Rapids at midnight on Friday and we drove through the night to Gettysburg. Besides avoiding any major traffic, this meant we got to Gettysburg in plenty of time to sleep and dress for the Remembrance Day Military Ball on Friday night.


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New ballgown!

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Not new, but well-altered

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With our gracious escort


I really enjoyed myself at the ball, and the calling was superb. They had floor managers to help teach the dances, and it really made everything run very smoothly, as did the fact that the caller would demonstrate the dance before having everyone line up, pair off, and try to muddle through. The music was also wonderful, with a gorgeous big brass band. Nothing beats live music!

Saturday is, of course, the main event. The parade started at 1:30, so thanks to my mother's foresight we were able to park near the end of the route, and eat lunch before going to the parade, which would later prove to be a lifesaving idea. As it turns out, the restaurant we were going to go to after the parade was closed, as was the second choice in eateries. Those who were in more pressing need of sustenance headed into the main area of town to find food, but Matt, my mom, and I split off to visit the Soldiers' National Cemetery and eat a late lunch of our own.

The Cemetery was beautiful. The Soldiers' National Monument towers at the center of concentric circles of curbstones, each marking the names of the fallen and each grave marked with a flag. There's a hush over the place, and even with knots of people wandering through the site, it's quiet enough to hear just the flutter of flags for acres and acres.


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And of course, because half the fun is dressing up, we took some clothing pictures, too. I wore the pink silk, and it afforded the opportunity to carry that fabulous lace shawl I got on a steal earlier this year. Matt was kitted out in a new pair of trousers and a waistcoat & necktie courtesy of yours truly, and a shirt, collar, and coat from Mike's closet. Mom wore the plaid, as it is her favorite, and also a bonnet that I made back last year but never finished. She sewed the ties on last week and wore it with pride this weekend.

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As always, there are many more photos at my Flickr!