Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cherry in the air

I felt a lightness in my heart as I laid out today's outfit, and I let it guide me as I picked out a fun, flouncy, and short-sleeved dress. I wore a pair of pastel pink heels with grey lace on the toes; they are one of the four pairs I splurged on all the way back in November right before I broke my toe, and it took me a while before I had a chance to wear them.

Though I'm loath to wear long sleeves when it's warm out, the mornings (and our office) are still chilly, so the blazer was a pretty good compromise. My photographer commented that he liked the neutral tones paired with the more colorful shades in my dress and accessories, and I have to agree.

The necklace was actually an afterthought; originally I was going to go with a far less flashy one (last seen being worn as a headband), but I was excited about the weather (it's the first day to rise above 70 all year—not counting a couple of badly timed days that coincided with my crippling case of the flu), and I decided to celebrate with jewel-bedecked florals! Bring on the spring bling! It's cherry blossom season after all!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tunic Fix 2

This dress is one of the 5 tunics I got on eBay a few months ago. It is the only one that actually qualifies as a dress—since it lacks side slits, I don't have to wear it with pants underneath.

The fit was kind of baggy around the waist, so I tightened that up with an elastic strip sewn to the inside of the back. 
[Outside view]
This tailors the waist a bit, while still enabling me to pull the dress on over my shoulders.

I really loved the embroidered detail up the front, but I felt that the lace panels all over the yoke and sleeves were just too much. I removed all the lace (which required me to open up a number of seams and re-sew them), and then washed the dress to get rid of the residual thread holes.
I think my alterations helped turn this dress from "80's lady" to "Medieval Maiden."

I did get a compliment on it from the bank teller the day I wore it, but sadly, even with the improvements that I made, I'm still not a big fan.

The purple has bled into the white trim, making it a mottled pink, and today I noticed a yellow stain on the embroidery. It's difficult to care for—I ironed it last week, and it got wrinkled again just hanging in my closet. Furthermore, the dress isn't a great fit. It was probably made in some Asian country for someone significantly smaller than I am, as the sleeves are a tad too short, and it tends to ride up on my big American butt. 

Now that it's gotten its requisite wear, I'll probably be donating this dress and moving onto bigger, better, and more flattering things.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cowboys and Indonesians

My boyfriend bought me this traditional skirt and blouse while we were in Indonesia, to wear to Indonesian cultural events, to which we go on occasion with his family. It was over a year before I had a chance to wear it.

As soon as I put it on, the clasp on the waistband fell off, necessitating some last-minute repairs, and beads started tumbling off the blouse every time I turned around. In the car on the way to the meet-and-greet with the Indonesian president, Al confessed to me that the outfit was what you would call "Daywear—wear it for a day and throw it away."

He was very, very right. By the end of that afternoon, my butt was on full display, the zipper having completely detached itself, and one of the skirt's side seams, already gaping open because the stitches were coming out, got caught on something and ripped halfway across the skirt. I knew I was never going to wear that skirt again. 

But I just might be able to make it into a different skirt! There was not enough intact fabric left to keep it at its current length, so I decided I would shorten it into an A-line knee-length skirt.

I chopped off the bottom portion at a length that I thought would work, and then removed the panel with the rip. 
With the remains of the top half, I cut a few more panels (inserting one more gore that extended only halfway up) to round out the flared part and attached them to the new skirt. (This is of course an abridged account of the entire process, which involved much measuring and trying on in the mirror).

The addition of all the new panels added entirely too much circumference to the waist, so the next step was to add a bunch of darts to trim it down to size. 
I took an inch off each side seam, an inch off each seam in the front, and a little bit more off each of two seams in the back.

Now that the waist was actually waist-sized, I needed to open up one of the back seams so I could pull it on over my hips.
I admit I have always avoided sewing zippers, but there was no getting around it with this (completely stretch-free) project, so I finally faced my fears and popped in my zipper foot. I shunned the cheap zipper that had come with the skirt in favor of a much longer one salvaged from the recently remade lace overlay dress). I am glad to say that attaching the zipper wasn't nearly as bad as I had made it out to be. I left a long tail on it, because the skirt is a little hard to tug on over my aforementioned hips, and I might want to lengthen the zipper just a bit. 

Next, to finish the waistband! I am not ready for anything fancy in the waistband department, so I did this like any other double-folded hem, which enabled me to tuck the top ends of the zipper into the waistband. Somehow I miscalculated the lengths of the two sides of the zipper, forcing me to reshape part of the waistband so they ended at approximately the same point. Because of this, it may be a little lumpy and uneven, but I typically wear my skirts under my shirts, so most people won't be able to see this little bit of lazy stitchery.

The last problem to solve was what to do at the bottom. The original hem of the skirt had been adorned with silver sequins and looked lovely, but sadly, with the addition of all the new panels, I didn't have enough sequins to go around, and the newer panels were also an inch too short. So I cut the original hem clean off! Now the entire skirt is the same length.

Not wanting to lose any more length, however, I didn't hem the bottom. I just "finished" it with a kind of sloppy overlock. Someday, if I can find a long enough strip of something to trim it, I might do that. But until then, I'll consider it roughly done. I just have to hope no one takes too close a look at the hem.

I wore it with a white blouse and Western boots for what ended up being a very "Rhinestone cowboy" outfit.