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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oliver + S Tea Party Dress: Cherry on Top

I think it's pretty common knowledge that I am surrounded by babies. Last year was the year of baby showers, which means this year it's all about first birthday parties. While I know way too many babies to try and make something for each of their birthdays, I am making an effort to whip up a birthday outfit for the children of our closest friends. Who knows how long this will last, but I'm putting in a valient effort this year. :)

Kelcat's daughter's first birthday is at the end of this month and her party was on Sunday. I knew that I wanted to make the Oliver + S Tea Party dress for her, but spent a long time finding a fabric that I liked for it.
I wanted something summery and fun, but I couldn't seem to find anything that really wowed me. I finally stumbled upon a red cherry print on a cream background and thought it would be a good fit.

Since I am the queen of procrastination, I didn't start this dress until last weekend and did little bits on it here and there. Thank goodness this is a really simple pattern because there is no way I would have finished this had I encountered problems. The dress and bloomers went together like a dream - no snafus whatsoever, which is a rarity for me.

A few construction details: I omitted the optional flat piping since I couldn't find a green that worked with the print and I used good 'ol Wrights bias tape on the bloomer legs instead of cutting my own per the pattern piece included. I also added a contrasting cream topstitching to the dress bodice to give it a little more oomph. I didn't know how it would look, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

I really love the hem facings for the Oliver+S patterns - for this dress I again went with a bright color so you could catch glimpses of it now and again. Lastly, I used pinking shears to finish off all of the seam allowances. I found that this worked particularly well for this dress. It gave everything a clean finish and allowed the dress to flare out easily.

Here is the final dress:

I knew that I wanted to add a little something to go with it, but couldn't find a bodysuit or t-shirt that worked with the dress. However, when I was out shopping last weekend with Blondie, we ran through Gymboree and I saw this sweater that was practically a perfect match to the dress. I mean, really, can you believe how well it works with the dress? Yeah, me either.

I added some matching socks and red patent leather shoes and called it a day. Kelcat has already said how much she loves it, which is the most important thing. And yeah, I'm pretty thrilled with how it turned out, too. :) Another pattern winner from Oliver + S!

Monday, May 17, 2010

On the run

I'm still bemoaning the fact that I haven't had a ton of time to sew, but at least my weekend was pretty fabulous.

* I had Friday off and used the day to squeeze in two gym classes, breakfast out at one of my favorite restaurants, dropping off my new jeans (that fit!!) for free hemming and a much needed pedicure. I tried a hole in the wall place right down the street from us that has received great reviews online and I liked it. Not as luxurious as my favorite haunts, but it's a great option in a pinch.

* Saturday I met up with my bestie Blondie to shop, eat and generally catch up with each other's lives. We hadn't seen each other since New Year's and we had a great day just hanging out. :)

* Sunday I was up early to hang out with Jim before he headed out to Florida for a quick work trip. That afternoon was book club (excellent food and dang good company) and the evening was the official kick-off for Peak 10, round 2! I ate like a crazy person this weekend, but after last night, I'm back in the game and really excited for this next round of crazy.

This week is jam-packed with workouts and the weekend is full as well, including the first big summer associate party for Jim's work. The most pressing thing for the week, though, is to finish up a dress for Kelcat's daughter's 1st birthday party on Sunday. And by "finish" I mean do everything except trace the pattern and wash the fabric. Heh.

What I am particularly looking forward to, though, is Memorial Day weekend. It's a long one for me and we have zero plans! So, I plan to hunker down in the sewing room and actually make some stuff for ME. I really can't wait.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Butterick 5209 Redeux - Emerald City

I'm pretty sad that I've not had much time to spend in the sewing room these past couple of months and the time that I have spent there has been focused on finishing up gifts for others (more posts on those this week as they get passed out to the recipients) or working on special occasion dresses. Let's just say I'm ready to start focusing on some work and play separates for ME! You know, after a few baby gifts get sewn up first. :/

Anyways, we had a family wedding to attend on May 1st and I really wanted to do a short version of the purple ballgown that I made in March. For some reason silk dupioni was stuck in my head as the fabric of choice this time around and I found a beautiful rich emerald/teal silk at Mood. It looks super teal in all of these pics, but it's actually much more emerald in person. The lining fabrics left a bit to be desired, but I finally settled for a gray/green china silk which worked out okay.

With all of the workouts and rehearsals for the dvd shoot, I was pretty zonked and kept putting off working on the dress for more than fits and spurts. By the time the 26th rolled around though, it became apparent that I *really* needed to get the show on the road if I expected to have a dress for the wedding. Whoops.

I was fairly apprehensive sewing the bodice again after all of the headaches I had the first time around. But amazingly, the bodice went together like a dream this time. I was thrilled! The only change I made was to trim about an inch total off the width of the bodice (1/4 inch per side seam) to accomodate my shrinking body and it fit like a glove. In fact, the bust area looked even better than it did with the purple dress - and in a fabric that was much more stiff. Who knew?!

I finished the outside of bodice on Tuesday night and was feeling incredibly confident about the rest of the dress going together quickly. Friday, you know, the DAY before the wedding, was my day to finish the rest of the dress. The bodice lining went in very well and I had what my facebook friends were calling a "tankini" by lunchtime. Which just left me to attach the skirt, add a zipper and a hem and it would be done! This is where the wheels started to come off.

No matter what I did to the gathering of the skirt, the fabric just would not hang right. I looked 6 months pregnant, which would be fine if I was, but after having just lost 15lbs, I wanted to show off the hard work, not hide it under a tent. :/ I must have attached, ripped out, recut and then reattached that dang skirt a half-dozen times. I tried fewer gathers, I tired pleats, but nothing was working. The fabric just had too much body to lay flat when any sort of gathers or pleats or whatnot were added. By 8:30 at night, I was at the end of my rope. In a fit of madness, I ripped out my favorite straight skirt pattern (McCall's 3830) and used the hipcurve to make the gathered a-line skirt into one that was fitted through the hips with a slight a-line flare at the bottom. It still wasn't perfect, but with some tweaks here and there along the waistline it started looking, dare I say it, quite cute. At the very least, it didn't make me look pregnant and was something that I would wear out of the house, as opposed to the previous incarnations of the skirt.

By that point, I just needed to get it done because I had no back-up plan and really needed something to wear the next day. I got the zipper in with no problems, hemmed the lining and left all of the hand work (blind hem and attaching the lining to the zipper) until the next morning.

Here is the front of the dress. See, it looks pretty good, right? I love the color and I love the way the bodice fits. Much better than the purple dress in my opinion.

I'm absolutely loathe to show you this picture, though. See those lines/bunched fabric around my lower back? Yeah, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get rid of them, so I fixed it as best I could and then called it a night. See anything missing?

Um, I DIDN'T ADD ANY DARTS!! For the love of all that is holy, how did I forget that you have to have DARTS in a fitted skirt?! It dawned on me Saturday morning as I was driving back from the gym that the lack of darts was causing all of the issues around the low back and bum area. I obviously didn't need darts when the skirt was a simple drindl, but as soon as I switched gears, I needed to re-engineer the whole thing. Which, I obviously didn't do. I'm still beating myself up over it, almost 2 weeks later.

My problem now is that I was hoping to use this dress over the summer for work events with my husband. What I really need to do is cut a new back piece, but I'm worried about picking everything out, especially since dupioni shreds like crazy. Thoughts? Should I just suck it up and fix it or leave well enough alone?

Even though this wasn't exactly the dress I set out to make, I'm still fairly happy with the overall product. In retrospect, the fitted skirt is more versatile for work events and is still fun without looking like a bridesmaid dress.


One last funny story about this dress. We're all at the wedding have a grand 'ol time at the reception. I'm standing with Jim and his immediate family, a good song comes on and we all start dancing and bumpin' booties. Fun times, except that my father-in-law (FIL) and I bumped into my brother-in-law (BIL), who was holding a full glass of red wine... that proceeded to spill all down the back of my dress and into my shoe.

We all just froze with shocked looks on our faces.

My MIL and BIL's girlfriend jumped into action, hustled me into bathroom and started dabbing at everything with wet paper towels. They questioned the use of soap, but I waved it off saying that we should just get as much of the wine out as possible and then let the cleaners do what they could to remove the stain. My poor MIL had to get more up close and personal with my backside than she ever wished to. The quote of the night, from my MIL "Just pretend I'm your mother sweetie" before she stuck her hand and arm up the back of my dress to wring out the wine. God Bless that woman. :)

I think all of us had written off the dress as a goner, but we got back to the reception and the party continued. About 20 minutes later, BIL's girlfriend runs up to me and says "Look at you dress!!"

Folks, the fabric had dried and you couldn't see a damn thing! Silk dupioni is like magic fabric or something. If you don't believe me, take a look. Can you see anything?

So, the moral of the story, don't dance around full glasses of red wine and always make sure your special occasion dresses are in deep colored silk dupioni. :D

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peak 10 program - Final update

Well, the program is officially finished and man oh man, is there a lot to recap! It's a long one, so settle in, why dontcha? :)

Final Program Results:
The final weigh-in was last Sunday, bright and early at 8am. There was such a happy buzz in the entire group as everyone was feeling pretty fantastic about having completed the program and having some fantastic results. So, the big question, how did I do? I'm ECSTATIC over my final results. The most notable stats:

* Down 15.5 lbs (!!) in 9 weeks
* ~3 inches off each thigh
* ~2.5 inches off my hips

I've seen my before and after pictures and they are pretty ridiculous. I'm not going to post them here as Michelle is still getting her new site up and running, but will post a link to them when they are up.

What the numbers don't tell you is that while I have had brief moments when I've weighed less than I do now, I have never, EVER been this lean and this fit. EVER! I absolutely carry my weight in my hips/thighs/booty (hello typical pear shape) and this is an area of my body that has always caused me grief. I looked at the back of my thighs in the mirror over the weekend and gasped. Why? Because it was the first time that I have ever been happy, no, down right giddy over the state of my legs. I seriously could have sat down and cried. I had pretty much given up on ever really being content with my lower body and to have something staring back at you in the mirror that is better than your wildest imagination is pretty mind-blowing. I cannot wait for bikini season and have a drawer of several new bikinis that are just itching to get worn out and about. :) I mean, I'm even planning to wear shorts this season and I might even give a mini-skirt a whirl.

In addition to the great results on the scale and asthetically looking so much better, I've also gotten so much stronger. Two months ago, I was convinced that God just forgot to give me a tricep muscle because it didn't matter what I did in the gym, the tricep push-up was just a disaster. I attempted a full set of them (on my knees - just keeping it real) at a weights class 2 weeks ago and about fell over when I could do the first one, then the second and kept going until I completed the whole set. If it had been appropriate, I'd have gotten up and done a jig right there in the middle of class. Guess I do have a tricep muscle after all. I've also bumped up my heavy weights to 12lbs and can do a decent set of bicep curls with them. Seeing as how I started the program using 8lb weights, it's a pretty big improvement. Lastly, my cardio fitness has just gone through the roof. So much so, that I think I might start jogging this month, an activity that just never felt do-able until now.

I think women are so primed in this country to constantly nitpick at themselves, no matter what they look like, but I'm over that. I love the way I look. I love how strong I've become. I love that I am leaner and healthier now than I ever was in high school or college. I love that my husband is getting to reap the benefits of this new me!

DVD Shoot:
The next morning was the shoot for both DVD workouts - cardio strength and cardio intervals. I was pretty excited to have the later call time of 11am, so I had time to sleep in a bit, have a normal breakfast and really wake up before heading out to the studio. I got there right as the first group was starting to film for real and everyone looked so good! The energy was palpable and you could just feel that it was going to be a good day.

The few of us that were only filming cardio intervals hung out for awhile chatting, eating lunch and getting our makeup done - it was a nice relaxing start to the day. When the first shoot was complete, we all hung out together for a bit and let those that were also doing cardio intervals rest and get ready for the next shoot. By about 1:30pm, we were dressed and getting ready to rock and roll. Before we got started, we had a ton of individual and group pictures taken for promotional materials for the program and the DVD. The photographer, David Heisler, was so freaking awesome and was just a great person to have on set. I can see why he is so popular - I'd love to work with him again. Here are a few of the individual images from the day - I might be a bit of ham. Heh. :P

{All photos courtesy of David Heisler}
The rest of the pictures from the day are just amazing! He did a really fantastic job of capturing the high energy and fun from the day.

Around 2pm we got started with the shoot. The workout itself is about an hour, but the total filming time was about 3 hours. Surprisingly, we had very few retakes, but we did stop inbetween each section to breathe and towel off a bit. In some ways the breaks made the workout easier, but at the same time, you also lose your grove each time you stop, which makes re-starting a bit rough. It was really interesting to see what goes into a fitness dvd shoot what with the spacing and cameras and all of the other hoopla. I will say, though, it was much more relaxed and mellow than I was expecting it to be. Michelle has such a great presence on set and that really set the tone for the day. It's pretty hard to be nervous or anxious when the star of the show is relaxed and having fun.

At the end of the day, there were lots of high fives and congrats to pass around and then the majority of us headed out to a local mexican restaurant to get our grub on. Yes, we ate and no one was shy about food. It was a really nice way to end such a fun day - you know, instead of me just going home and bouncing off the walls by myself. Ha!

The dvds should be out sometime at the beginning of September, assuming editing and everything goes well. I cannot recommend these workouts enough - they're intense and high energy and you may even find yourself cussing at the television, but they are also so much fun.

So, what now? Well, I'm sure most of you won't be shocked to hear that I'm signed up for the next round of Peak 10. It's only been a week and I already really miss the workouts and the group camaraderie that is key to this program. My goal for this round is to get stronger and leaner. The scale isn't my focus this time around, but more about making my body as fit as possible - I'm gunning for those tricep pushups to be done full out and to get up to 15lb weights. And yeah, I want to hang out with my crazy workout friends some more, too. :)