Design Process: A Gown Gone Crazy

puff sleeve

I have been having a time and a half working out this dress for the NYC Ballet's Fall Gala. A TIME AND A HALF. Said Gala is this Thursday. In hopes of getting ahead of the curve, I started stitching soon after my birthday, when my Mom presented me with this g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s bazin print. Isn't it amazing? IT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PRINT I'VE EVER SEEN.

side view

It's also turned out to be one of the trickiest! Once I really took a look at the layout, I realized it had a heavy directional repeat. The smaller suns run along both selvages, the larger suns lay smack bang in the middle. Then there are lions within each sun. (Cuz the birthday girl is a Leo.) The smaller lions' feet point towards the selvage, the larger lions' feet alternate every other sun. And ALL feet are marching along the crossgrain, so using this print on the lengthwise grain means your lions are ass over teakettle. To boot, you can't use both sides of this print like other forms of wax pint, as this has a (super cool) shiny, embossed jacquard print on the "good" side of the fabric.

front view

I took a full day to carefully cut a twelve-paneled maxi skirt, making sure I got all of the suns in the mix. Then spent another day on the bodice, eeking out a sun section for the sleeve. I'm talking days of cutting only--not stitching! Sewing it up was a slow train as well, french seams and underlining and boning and all that jazz.

These are not complaints, I LOVED figuring out this stuff! But after all that, I didn't like her. Maybe I spent too long looking at her! But I developed an eye twitch with the placement of the smaller suns. I felt like my gaze was drawn was to knee level, snared by those larger suns.  

So the three center front panels got a haircut from the waist down. 

It seemed like I could finagle the rest of the length into some sort of bustle...which, to be honest, looking at these pics, maybe I should have done. But each french seamed panel kept getting separate haircuts, until I was at the point where I should've just shortened it all at the waist in one go. 

With a fully shortened skirt, I tried MORE options...these are just a few pinned up. I went back in and added more panels for fullness, which I somehow don't have a picture of? That's ridic. Hold on a sec.

She'd need a crinoline, and I need my head checked. The amount of iterations she's gone through at this point is approaching Hollywood levels of reboot.

As I was scrolling through my own IG feed last night, like a diary, trying to find clues on where I began and where I might end, I came across another red carpet attempt that didn't make it to the finish line, and thought....maybe I should get that peanut butter in this chocolate.


This is often how things go around here! I thought y'all might like to see the process. I hope you don't get too attached to any of these as it may turn out to be something completely different...but feel free to tell me your favorite, or share more ideas! 

I am bound and determined to be somewhere solid with this by Sunday night, like, WEARABLE solid, since I start rehearsals for a workshop of a new musical on Monday, and I am NOT GOING TO SPEND THREE WEEKDAY EVENINGS SLAM SEWING. I'm not! I'm so super not! I have other options, and if I don't get her done by then, she shall marinate before I cut into her any more than I already have! 


Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: MADMAXI !!!

On the streets of New York, most people hear me coming, and turn slowly in wide-eyed terror to get a glimpse of the large, intimidating beast that is surely barreling down upon them. Nope. Just me. 5’2 of clomping heels, swirling fringe, jangling bells and a large mass of curls COMIN ATCHA. 

My favorite clothing makes NOISE when I walk. I love it when I make noise! Sometimes I speed clean the house yelling BANGCRASH just to make it more fun. Ask Rob. It's one of his very favorite things. This little dress is noisy both in color and in volume! I think of it as my mad maxi. Thunderdome in technicolor. Partly because of the frantically paced trip I took while adding trim upon trim to it, in an effort to fix my miscalculations on that hemline. She used to be super long! And super weird! You really do need to see the before on this one:

YOWZA. That’s a SKORT under that open floor-length panel, a panel that displays the wrong side of this polytastic madness. AND CHECK THE BACK VIEW. Y'all, the back view of my dress was WAY WORSE...the technicolor warning bars of the tie occupied an entire side of the back, right smack dab across my booty, which I happily model for you in the episode

But I saw all that color on the hanger, and knew it was meant for my scissors. And when I went too haywire with the shears, trim came in....POM POMS! LACE EDGING! LANTERN BELLS!

I'm fond of all of the episodes, which I feel I can say humbly, because it is largely due to the wonderful crew that we shoot with. But I'm especially fond of this one! It's the last episode we shot, number 6 for Season 2. On most sets, the last shoot day is the hardest-- people are tired from a long week, especially as the hours grow longer, but not with this gang. There were so many bits and bobs on this one: panels, french seams, lapped seams, gathering, reworking the sleeves, hemming, reconfiguring prints, ripping and reinserting invisible zippers, and allllll that trim work...IT WAS A LOT! But the mood that day was just as fantastic as it was the first day. (And, at that point in the week, we'd found the sweet spot in the day for caffeine Nitro, so 🤪)

I've gone out of order in my recaps here, because I think these next two outfits are appropriate for Transitional September Styling, la di dah. I'll be back in a minute with another transitional look, that I think is probably the fan favorite for this season ;). Til then, you can catch all six episodes exclusively on Bluprint

Happy almost weekend, peeps!

Tips! If you don't get your sewing TV through Bluprint and want to scope it out, you can download the app and watch free for 24 hours. You can also sign up for a 1 week free trial on the website...handy for a weekend of Making All The Stuff.


Sewing In the Wild...YouTube, that is.

Self-drafted floral maxi dress with tie front

I am nothing if not stubborn. To wit: this dress was a self-drafted job, wrangled when I HAD TO HAVE some version of several tie-front dresses out in the summer Big 4 offerings. 

Self-drafted floral maxi dress with tie front

I am nothing if not impatient. To wit: I was not near a Joann's, and could not wait for shipping. 

I am also nothing if not FORGETFUL, cuz my sewsister Sonja picked up this pattern for me like WHO KNOWS HOW LONG AGO and I have yet to carve out a freaking hour to squeeze her, and take whatever number of envelopes I've gone scatterbrained on, off her hands!

So, if you'd like to make this dress, do have a search through McCall's summer dresses. There are several there that fit the bill. And though I'm pretty pleased with myself for drafting it on my own, I'll readily and happily admit, I love Big 4 patterns. Especially McCalls, Simplicity and Vogue. (Are they Big 5 now?)

As usual, my photographer was a bit more concerned with the composition than the details,  like the tie front and exposed lacy zipper...

...so you get a flat lay of Sewing Splendor in the Grass.  

(I'm pretty sure that's inappropriate speech.)


I made sure he got the pockets 😂

SOOOOOOO.....these were snapped at the end of filming a little ditty for our YouTube channel, a ditty which includes footage of me actually moving and twirling in the dress, with closeups, courtesy of Rob "Shoots-From-The-Ground" Harriell himself! YES! We have not forgotten our YouTube promise! Our first bonafide, made-from-scratch video is live TODAY. In it, I climb a tree fort, battle some small children, tell some stories, terrify you with my lack of manicure, and maybe teach someone out there how to slipstitch a hem.

I hope it brings a smile to your face as we close out one of our last summer weekends (I'm finding it exceedingly hard to type that).

Happy Sunday, Sewists!