avia’s wedding

Avia was married in Utah in the Provo City Center Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The building has an amazing history – starting life as a tabernacle – burning horribly just a few years ago.

It was a beautiful day. Things turned out beautifully. I didn’t have time to make my own dress – I didn’t even care. It was a day about Avia. And about being with my family. My gorgeous son Ethan was such a lovely young man. My family took pictures – I was too busy. I’ll have to wait for the professional photographs to come.

I got to see family from Montana, Idaho, California, and Illinois! My Washington family was in Utah the week before but my sister is a teacher (my heroes – teachers) and had to be back before the wedding.

Nephews and sons and my mom.
So many of my favorite people in one place.

And now for the bride.

And the dress…



avia’s wedding

Hello Friends… I’ve been missing in action for several months. Maybe longer. The keyword here might be action. I’ve thought about many a topic for blog posts and have quite a few in que but want most to share this one with you first. 

My second daughter, Avia, was married last week. She is my picky girl. Or more precisely – the girl who knows exactly what she wants and is patient enough to wait for it. When she was a toddler she would work diligently for an hour on a drawing then have a sudden meltdown because of a minuscule error that we couldn’t fathom. She still is a perfectionist – an excellent quality for a talented graphic designer. The meltdowns are a thing of the past… or at least very quietly internal instead of external.

When she told me she was engaged I worried only the tiniest bit and only because I worried that she had let her cool, analytical self make the decision without enough of her heart involved. That’s only because I only got to see them together for a very short couple of days. She wasn’t feeling well, it was super hot here in NC when they came to introduce themselves as a couple. It just wasn’t enough time to get to know them together. But I TRUST my grown daughters. They are intelligent young women who are balanced and have made wonderful decisions so far.

Funny story – when my oldest, Haven, got married she came home to North Carolina for a few weeks and we made her wedding dress together. I patterned, we cut and sewed, we both made really stupid mistakes. I also called Avia at that time and had a conversation about making dresses. We both agreed that it would never work for me to make her dress. She’s too picky and I’m not patient enough to make the perfect dress.

Or so we thought. Avia searched and found the perfect dress – in a photo of another bride. Fortunately the photo was taken by a photographer she knew. The enterprising young lass contacted the other bride and asked if she could rent the dress. An arrangement was made and the dress was shipped but it didn’t fit and couldn’t be altered. Sigh. Enter me and my big mouth as I sat talking to her on the phone. I happened to have a bunch of patterns out at the time as I was getting rid of most of them. She had continued her search but couldn’t find anything close because the dress was too simple. I said it really wouldn’t be that hard to make.

The pattern WAS simple. The fabrics we chose were another story altogether. I layered silk habit in between two layers of silk crepe de chine for each pattern piece. She didn’t want shiny and this sandwiched silk was perfect, but needed body and stability – and a little less transparency. I cut out, layered, and serged the edge of each piece. She wanted a floaty sheer layer on the top of the skirt and we chose silk gauze. Here’s a little hint for you. Use chiffon. NOT gauze. It’s beautifully light. It floats in the air – enough that it took forever to lay out each piece and weight it down so that I could even cut it out.

Krista and Scott Lewis – the very best in-laws anyone could wish for!

Enter a miracle. I took the pieces with me so that I could fit them on and Krista, my new son-in-law’s mother, happens also to be a sewer. She invited my two youngest children and I to stay with her and use her sewing studio to work on the dress. I thought it would take a day. It took almost four. And those four days settled my heart with serenity as I got to know Krista and Scott and as I watched Chase and Avia in their element. They were happy. They were delightful. They were a perfect match. And they also happen to live in an extremely beautiful place.

Krista’s hospitality (and her steamer and serger and sewing machine – as well as a willingness to  keep my two youngest occupied) got the job done. It took most of a day to hand roll and hem the silk gauze layer, and all of 40 minutes to hem two layers of the crepe. The machine simply couldn’t handle the gauze and we never could get the serger to work for it.

I think Avia was 95% satisfied – especially after I agreed to cut down the sleeves into cap sleeves after she tried it on and thought about it for a day or two. Everyone is entitled to change their minds and it was the only thing really doable at that point. Her beautiful smile made it all worth while.

You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get a photo of the finished product.

Altering ready-to-wear and… nobody’s perfect

I did it again. I think I’m pretty good at sewing clothing – just terrible at paying attention.

Backstory – my very favorite clothing store (other than Goodwill) is Possibilities Boutique in Cary, NC. They carry all sorts of smaller designers like Flax, Iguana, Cynthia Ashby, Cutloose, and others. Lots of linen. Lots of lovely, loose, artsy kind of things that make you feel … well … artsy. And the people there tend to treat you like a long lost best friend.

My favorite thing is that they have a “closet sale” every year where everyone brings back the things they don’t wear any more. It’s huge. It’s a big tent in the parking lot, a giant communal dressing room with cheap mirrors leaning up against the walls and hundreds of women. Nothing like the sales fights you see on the news.

You meet a new friend when you put down your giant pile of stuff and start trying it on. Everyone offers an opinion if asked and if you’re not going to buy the thing you just tried on there is probably somebody right next to you who wants to try it on next. I save up my $ and buy two or three outfits each year for less than the cost of one usual outfit here.

So when I’m not paying $100.00 for a pair of pants it isn’t daunting at all to take it apart and remake it into whatever you had in mind. I’ve cut apart or dyed many things from this sale. This pair of pants was pretty cool. I also bought a lovely asymmetrical vest with a sheer drape on it that is beige linen. I plan to dye them both a deep purple.

But I have a short torso (I wear petite if it’s short sleeved.) So I undid the waistband, cut off three inches and re-inserted the elastic. I like the zig-zag down the middle that keeps it from twisting. 

I also undid the topstitching and took in all the seams above the hip to take out some of the fullness up there. But I also have freakishly long legs and arms. Pants are ALWAYS too short and if I buy tall sizes the rise is long enough that the waistband hits my bustline. It’s comical.  

I took the extra from the waistband, hemmed it and added it to the bottom of the pants. If I can find what happened to the belt-loops that I took off the pants I might string them across the gap with a couple of cool buttons. If not it’s just a funky design element right?

So – I was half way through the topstitching before I noticed it. This, of course, is after hemming, sewing the seam, zig-zagging the seam in a very tight – almost-satin-stitch (I’m saving every bit of length I can here). And I decided that it’s down by my feet. If anybody notices one of the strippy little additions is inside-out ummmm… who cares. Actually, one of my daughters will notice. It’s amazing the details she notices. But still. *I* don’t care enough to unpick it this time. (Unlike the last time I did this.)

The Creative Process: hunting and gathering ideas

The kids are back in school. My mom flew home after an absolutely wonderful week. I’m on my own again for the first time in months. Miracle of miracles – I have only one deadline coming up and it’s not until mid-October. I think. I’d probably better double check on that.

So for the first time in years I’ve been thinking about sewing clothes. Just for fun. I have a collection of vintage sari’s that I ordered from India off of Ebay. I kind of really love Ebay.  These came smelling like woodsmoke. It brought me up short for a minute – bringing home the fact that in many parts of the world life isn’t nearly as convenient as it is for us with our easy electricity. Take a second to think how easy our lives are because of everything that happens around one of those little electrical outlets. Whew.

The Sari’s are fine after a little trip through the wash. I always wash all my cloth before sewing with it – even wool and silk.  Then after the thing is made I might hand wash and lay it to dry but if it can handle a regular wash before it is made then it will be fine afterwards.

There are a couple of spots where a little bit of the stitching came out of the hand embroidered piece (isn’t it gorgeous) but I can repair or work around those as I wish.

As is my usual mode of operation, I think for a long time before I begin. It’s my favorite part of the creative process. This time I’ve pulled out a bunch of patterns – they are all just a beginning. I almost never sew clothes without messing around with the design and the pattern.

I also went up to the attic and rummaged through all of my bins, pulling out all the neutrals. Cooking up some fun ideas for these as well. I keep thinking it would be wonderful to play around this year and actually USE UP some of the stuff that’s been sitting up there forever.

Work In Progress: Rockstar Boro Skirt

More progress on the boro inspired skirt.
I’ve sewn down dyed vintage laces to cover the raw seams but haven’t embroidered them yet.
At my current pace this project is going to be ongoing for years….. and years.
skirt front view – Lyric Kinard

 If you missed it – Melanie Testa inspired this project with a more true to form Boro project of her own.

If you haven’t seen her new website yet – go check it out. It’s GORGEOUS!
skirt back view – Lyric Kinard
 This will eventually be partially covered by more embroidery. I’m thinking this whole skirt will be a continual embroidered travel journal… which means the Disney Castle should show up next.
Here is a link to the previous progress posts for this project.
(I love alliteration – don’t you?)

Tutorial: Sketchbook Slipcover

 Welcome to Artspark’s third day of the Spring Tutorial Fling!

I love working with fabric and I love sketching. My sketchbooks want to be pretty on the outside – even if they are a mess on the inside.
If you’d like to make a sketchbook slipcover you’ll need just enough fabric to wrap your book like a gift (mine is quilted to batting although that is not required.) You’ll also need inside fabric that’s just a little longer than the fabric you’ll use for the outside of the slipcover.

And because I had just enough fabric left over I made a little pencil case. Melanie Testa has a tutorial here so you can make one of those too if you wish.

Make sure you don’t miss the following tutorials from other Artspark members!
Spring wreath: Alisa Burke

Making a Faced Binding: Judy Coates Perez

Journal mapping: Jill Berry

Funky Purple Pants

Just for fun!
During the dye run a couple weeks ago I threw in several natural colored linen dresses and shirts that I don’t wear any more. They all came from Goodwill so I never worry about ruining something I spent a lot of money on. They came out in lovely purples and I cut them up and combined them to make some funky purple pants. To match the fun tunic/vest that was a boring color before but no longer.
So – experiment – recycle – have fun – who cares about what’s “in” fashion – create your own style! And (obviously) leave the housework till later!

You win a little, loose a little …

So – I finally got the new screens uploaded to my website. Unfortunately I broke the whole site and spend hours trying to fix it. It’s mostly better now. At least on the surface. I REALLY need to switch over to dreamweaver – can’t afford it.
I had enough fabric to make three shorts, two dresses, and two tops for my little girl. The first skirt/dress combo was a disaster. Ugly, ugly, ugly – but she wore it anyway. I made another attempt today. This time doing the ruffles the old fashioned – pull the basting stitches – way. The out of control skirt was trying to use a fancy ruffling foot on my m
achine. I obviously don’t know how to use it well.
Today’s attempt was much better. Her favorite part is the button – which she wanted to hold and carry around rather than have me sew it onto her dress. ah well.

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