Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing

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Creative Sewing – Chapter 2

bodice in progress

I selected the fabric for the bodice.  I’m using red brocade.  I used this fabric previously for the homecoming dress for my daughter Y.  It’s really a rich looking fabric.  So far I’ve cut and stitched the bodice pieces and machine basted the bodice to the inner foundation.

I decided to use a black fabric, which I can best describe as a medium-weight peau de soie or a delustered satin, for the skirt.  It has a great drape when handling it.  I am still trying to determine how I will embellish the dress.

In the meantime, I am trying a little creative baking.  I have a buttermilk pie in the oven.  This is the first time I’ve tried this recipe, so I hope my family likes it.  Buttermilk in a pie just sounded intriguing to me.


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Creative Sewing – Chapter 1

inner dress foundation

rigilene boning

I don’t know what the finished dress will look like, but the inside workings look like this.  This is the foundation of the dress, which will be between the dress fabric and the lining.  Right now I think the dress will be strapless.   This foundation is made of interfacing, specifically a medium-weight woven non-fusible interfacing sandwiched between fusible weft interfacing.  I block fused the interfacings first, then cut the bodice pieces from the interfacing.  The seams are lapped seams, stitched using a zigzag stitch, and then trimmed.  However, I left the under layer at the side seams the full width of the seam allowance.  This will allow the dress to be altered to a larger size. The seam allowances at the foundation’s center back, upper edge and waist were cut away and the extensions that are cut from organza will be caught in the seams of the dress during constructions.  I used 1/2″ wide rigilene boning to support the bodice.

Time to decide on fabrics.

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These Dresses ARE NOT the Same!

Do these patterns look alike?



According to my husband they do.  Last week I am standing in front of the mirror in a muslin of Vogue 8666.  I’d planned to cut into a piece of embroidered linen I brought last year from Joanne’s. The beige linen has embroidered dots of black, brown and grey.  I had a piece of grey linen for the side panels.  I just needed to check the fit of the muslin.  In comes my husband and out comes his statement, “You’re making another one of those dresses?”

Me: “I’ve never made this dress.”

Him: “Yes, you have.  You made two of them.”

Me: “No, I haven’t. Those dresses have a waist seam and princess seaming.  One dress has a flare skirt.  This dress has side panels.”

Him: “They’re the same dresses. I don’t care what you say.  For someone so creative….”  His words trail off as he leaves the room.

I pulled out the last two dresses I made and laughed.  What he saw was sleeveless dresses with a V neckline.

I was determined to ignore him and cut the dress as planned, but I couldn’t.  Days later I stopped at the store and brought pieces of black and brown linen.  Here’s the dress in progress.

I hate when he has a point.


Y’s Graduation Dress and Tooting the Horn

First, a study of the graduation dress for my daughter Y.

  • Simplicity 2648 (I cut a size 8 with the C-cup and average fit skirt.  I stitched 1 1/4” side seams which made it 1” smaller and the fit is good.  I added 1/2″ to the center back seam allowance for a 1 1/8” seam allowance, which allows for final fit adjustments when I put the zipper in the actual dress. I curved in the front princess seam under the bust about 1/4″ to get a better fit.)
  • I shortened the skirt length 3” (A compromise between mother and daughter.  Daughter wanted it shorter.  I made her sit down in the muslin so she could see what would happen if I made it as short as she wanted it.)
  • I drafted the pockets by making a 9” square.  I made marks 4” from the front corner at the top of the pocket and 4” from the bottom corner at the side, and connected the marks with a curve.  On the muslin I positioned the pocket at the front princess seam, wrapping it to the back. I will make a dart in the pocket so it fits the curve of the hips better, eliminating a gap at the pocket opening.

  •  In designing Y’s dress, I made a v-neck in the back and added belt loops, a tie belt and patch pockets.  After she tried on the dress, she vetoed the belt loops, so I had to remove them. She wore the dress with the belt tied in the back; cute idea.
  • Fabric: dress is white mediumweight linen; underlining is silk organza; lining is white lightweight cotton.  Underlining the linen dress with silk organza helps to reduce the wrinkling factor of linen, but doesn’t eliminate it altogether.  As well, the underlining gives the dress body as a very lightweight interfacing. 

    after wearing for 7 hours

  • I finished the neck, armholes and tie belt with purchased wide, double-fold bias binding in white.  I used the applique stitch on my embroidery machine to secure the binding, adding a simple decorative element at the same time. I mistakenly left one package of binding in the store, so I cut the binding for the hem from the white cotton used to line the dress, applying it so that it looks like binding on the front and forms the hem facing on the inside of the dress. 

    front of hem looks like binding, back of hem looks like facing

  • Before cutting the dress, I prewashed all the fabrics in the washing machine in plain hot water, using the hand-wash cycle for a few minutes, a cold water rinse, spin cycle and then into the dryer until dry.  This shrunk the fabric so the dress could be washed later without worrying about it shrinking.  Tip: I serged all the cut edges of the fabrics before tossing them in the washing machine to prevent them from raveling; you can also zigzag the edges to prevent the edges from raveling.

I love the fit of the dress on Y and will be making her another one in black, probably in crepe with in-seam pockets.  She has grown up and is off to college soon and every young woman needs a little black dress in her wardrobe.

Now, toot toot on the horn.  As parents we encounter those moments when we look at our children and realize they have leaped to another stage in their lives.  Yesterday at Y’s graduation, I had one of those moments.  She is the salutatorian of her class, with one-tenth of a grade point separating her and the valedictorian. WOOHOO! At her age, she has a bio. I was stunned while it was being read: volunteer work, leadership roles, tennis, and her trip to China.  She walked to the podium in the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland and gave her salutatory address.  A couple of thousand people, her face on giant screens, and she was a picture of confidence.  Her voice projected, she did not fidget, made eye contact with the audience, paused appropriately, used inflected speech, included appropriate humor, and smiled.  She wrote her speech and would not let me read it beforehand.  As far as I know, she practiced it two times, once for the assistant principal and once in her room.  I was amazed at her performance.  Later at the celebration dinner, she and my younger son mentioned how Mrs. Miller at the summer camp at church was always telling them to speak louder when they were doing their presentations.  That’s when it dawned on me, my daughter was being groomed.  At eighteen, she was already where I was at thirty.  I am proud of her and I look forward to her future.

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It’s Just Another Pretty Dress

I am working on a little black dress. I had a remnant of beautiful black lace, some trims, chiffon and satin.  So it’s a good-time little black dress.  While stitching the bodice and skirt to the midriff, I thought about Project Runway.  I have watched this show from the very first season and it sometimes seems that it’s a no-no to make a pretty dress on that show.  The judges and fans, “It’s just another pretty dress.”  My response, “And the problem would be…?” 

Fashion is about function and aesthetics, and balancing the two.  Even a little girl will protest if you try to get her to wear an ugly dress. Or a dress that is uncomfortable.  I don’t know when things changed to the point that if it’s not “edgy” (makes you say out loud “What the…”) then it’s not fashionable.

So I will continue with my unfashionable pursuits and work on ANOTHER pretty dress.

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Sewing and Celebrating

Yesterday I woke up and knew I had a full day ahead of me.  First, I made a new outfit, quick and easy.  The fabric is a printed poly knit from my local JoAnn fabric store.  I used my go-to knit top pattern, making the scoop neck, and raising the neckline 3” so my bra would not be on display.  The skirt is my go-to gore skirt pattern that I drafted last year during my skirt blitz.  Since this knit had a lot of stretch, I put elastic in the waist.  I made a tie belt to complete the outfit.  My husband thought it was a nice outfit when I tried it on, but wanted to know why I didn’t make it a one piece.  I just smiled at him.  He loves me in wrap dresses.

Next, shower and dress.  I did the wash and go hair.  So where am I going?  My sister’s 50th birthday party in New York.  You know I must love my sister because I am about to spend 4 hours on a Greyhound bus to attend a party starting at 11 p.m.  Yes, that’s my bedtime!  Then, I am on a 3 a.m. Amtrak train back to Maryland because it’s my 25th wedding anniversary and I want to be home.

I had fun at the birthday party.  It was part of a larger dance held at a dance studio a few blocks from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology).  The music was loud and people were doing the hustle.  That brought back memories.  The key word for me during the late 70s and the entire 80s was “PARTY” and I did that.  I loved New York in those days.  My friends and I could work all day, find a club event on a Tuesday night, dance all night, make it home in order to sleep a few hours, and be at work on time on Wednesday.  We would be tired and watched the clock all day, thinking all we wanted to do was sleep.  Let someone mention a nightclub and we would become suddenly energized and heading for the party.  Last night it seemed that half the songs the DJ played caused my cousins to look at me and say “That was your song” meaning look for me on the dance floor.  We had a good time laughing about our younger days.   

Can I still hang like I use to?  NO, NO, NO!  I slept through most of my 25th wedding anniversary.  My husband spent most of the day laughing at me trying to stay awake.  As you can see, humor is a big part of our marriage.  We also try not to stress about special days.  He thought it was important for me to not miss my sister’s special party.  He stayed home with the dog and the family responsibilities. We plan to celebrate our anniversary in a couple of weeks, maybe with a romantic dinner.  Today’s anniversary dinner, his chopped barbeque.  That’s a lot like our wedding day 25 years ago.  We woke up that morning and decided that was the day.  Our witness was one of my childhood friends who was late getting to Borough Hall.  She was very, very pregnant and riding the subway.  We were hoping she wasn’t in labor on the subway since that would not have garnered her any sympathy on a New York subway train.  That day it was 70 degrees, after weeks of freezing weather.  I wore a mint green blouse and a white wool skirt.  After the ceremony, we sat in the park and ate hot dogs.  Two years later we had a wedding and renewed our vows in front of family and friends. 

Back to sewing matters.  So, I thought I would have the pictures done for sewing the six-gore skirt. The written instructions and cutting layouts are done.  However, this weekend was about celebrating and recovering. 

Happy Birthday to my sister.  Love you. 

Happy Anniversary to my husband.  Love you.


Homecoming Dress – Finished!

The dress for the homecoming dance is finished and my daughter likes it very much.  The length has grown on me.  I had her do the raised arms test, raising both arms high into the air so I could see if the skirt was too short.  The dress passed the test.  I like the idea of pockets in the skirt.  She can put her cell phone in one pocket and a small digital camera in the other pocket.

finished     back