14 October 2010

Dress Design for Shabby Apple Dresses

Let me preface this by saying I am not a designer, a seamstress, or an artist. But for some reason, I thought it would be fun to design a few dresses for Shabby Apple's Dare to Design contest.

I started doing a few sketches and was quickly reminded of why I never took Art in school.

I cannot draw.

In fact, I'm terrible at drawing, especially if it involves people. The shoulders look all big and awkward and the arms and legs are way too long and the face is always creepy.

I took a few minutes during my lunch break to come up with a few dresses to share with the world. I made sure that the pictures didn't have weird, out of proportion body parts attached.

Without further ado (and probably to much criticism), here are my dress design submissions for Shabby Apple Dresses.

1st Dress design for Shabby Apple dresses

I colored this dress to be green with yellow trim and now I am second-guessing the color scheme. I like the simplicity of the lines and feel that the dress could be versatile with these simple colors, but I would probably opt for a subtle floral cotton print for the main fabric. Maybe a green background to keep with the colors seen here.

This reminded me of something a little girl would wear to school, but I think it could easily be worn by adult women as well. The shirtdress is such a classic piece and I love that it's back in style once again. The skirt of the dress is a simple A-line, but could be flared more to be more of a 50s style. I like the buttons down the entire front of the dress...that's where I started when I began the designing. I can also see this dress having a feminine-looking, sheer overlay fabric with a solid lining underneath.

2nd Dress design for Shabby Apple dresses

I wanted to use pleating all over in this dress. Many women have trouble styling or accessorizing with their outfits. This dress practically accessorizes for you. With the pleated neckline and wide pleating at the middle, there is no need for a necklace or belt. The dress takes care of that for you.

I love aqua and red together. They are so contrasting and coordinating. How do they look so different, but complement each other so well? The fabric would be a mid-weight cotton. I like this splotchy aqua look for the main fabric, but a different print or solid would look good as well. The pleating on the bottom of the sleeve and on the belt of the dress would have elastic and would stretch a little.

3rd (and my favorite) Dress design for Shabby Apple dresses

When I first thought of entering the contest, I thought it would just be something fun to do. But a few nights ago, before bed, I randomly thought of a dress that would be perfect for the spring and something that I would love to wear as well. I wanted something adorable, feminine, airy...just...darling.

The sleeves are flutter (or butterfly) sleeves. They could also work as layered pieces that flutter/move with the arm. The neckline is a scalloped-looking scoop neck. Pearl buttons lining the bodice, ending at an empire waist with a thin ribbon belt. Simple A-line skirt to flatter all body shapes, ending at the knee with a visible ruffle-hemmed slip/lining.

The main fabric of the dress is a light white cotton with tiny little black polka dots and splashes of colors from random flowers. I used red in these flowers, but I think various colors in the flowers or another color (such as blue or purple or orange) would work as well. The yellow was used for the pearl buttons, ribbon belt, and ruffle.

I hope you enjoyed looking over my designs. I'm hoping this will encourage me to try my hand at sewing myself a dress...perhaps one that I've designed myself.

See you next time.

06 October 2010

For Gran

my Mom & Gran

My grandmother, or Gran as we called her, was...a unique woman. It's hard to find the perfect words to describe her, but I'll do my best.

She raised 4 daughters with her husband of 50+ years, loved the Lord with all her soul and might, was a firm authority in her household, always gave her grandchildren little trinkets or gifts that related to their interests, was a lover of books & collector of movies, could cook a meal for 30 people without a recipe in sight, and was an amazing seamstress.

Gran and I have always shared our love of books and movies. I used to be one of those people who would buy any cheap movie I saw on sale...mostly the previously viewed ones at Blockbuster. Once I got past college, I settled down a little on the movie-buying craziness and only bought ones I really enjoyed. The problem is I like a lot! And don't get me started on books. I'm such a nerdy bookworm. I even liked reading books for school. My mom used to catch me secretly reading in my bed at night and she'd have to take my book away to get me to go to sleep, haha!

But what Gran and I have only recently shared is a love for sewing. As children, Gran would make all her grand-daughters the cutest dresses...and by cute I mean cute for the decade we were in. From left to right, my cousin Kara, myself, & cousin Daisy.
Gran made us these matching dresses for my aunt Alisa's wedding in 1986.

I was always in awe of the dresses she could make. For herself, she found a dress pattern she loved and made tons of dresses for herself in varying colors. I didn't realize until my 20s that her favorite pattern was kind of shapeless and considered by most people to be a form of a mumu. But Gran didn't care what people thought and she wore it as long as I can remember...with her Birkenstocks. :) "I know these shoes are kind of ugly, but I like them because my feet don't hurt in them. Other shoes squish my feet."


In June 2009, I decided I would try my hand at sewing. I actually had planned to make a skirt with my friend Susan. Her mom was going to help us. As I followed sewing blogs as "research" for my skirt, I started falling in love with Amy Butler fabrics and patterns and finding all sorts of online tutorials for bags. Then boyfriend (now husband) Kyle went out of town on a golf trip with his dad one weekend and I told him that I was going to sew myself a bag while he was gone. He laughed a little, knowing that I had NO idea what I was getting into. The last thing I had sewn was half of a skirt with my aunt a few years back and a blanket in high school for Project Linus. I'm often overly ambitious about projects I start.

I brought my pattern and fabrics over to my mom's house. I didn't realize that you had to wash all your fabrics first, so I had to wait for that to finish before I could start my bag. Thankfully, Amy Butler's pattern was very straight-forward, even for a novice like me, and my mother could help me with her machine. But of course, with my lack of experience, everything took a little longer than I had planned on. However, I did finish my Amy Butler swing bag that weekend, and even managed to make a simple tote bag as well.

my swing bag

I'm sure all sewers out there remember the first item they made. I count this as my first item as it was the first I made on my own. It wasn't my pattern, but it's my creation. I felt such pride in finishing it.

I love creating something new with my hands and my machine. And I love to take a pattern or idea and change it up to make it my own. And even more, I love it when someone buys a Lemon Drop item and LOVES the product, tells me it is exactly what they wanted. If I'm going to make money with something I love, I want to be sure that the person receiving it loves it as well.

I just wish I'd found this love of sewing when Gran was alive. For all the dresses she made for us girls over the years, I want to repay her with some gift of my own. I would make her an apron with butterfly fabric or a Bible cover for church. And I would sit with her and ask questions about sewing and take in her wisdom like a sponge.

So Gran, thank you for passing on some wonderful interests to me...even though I didn't fully appreciate some of them until you weren't around. I hope you'd be proud of me. You are a true inspiration in my life.

The last picture I have with Gran. Pretty appropriate that she was wearing polka dots as I am obsessed with them.