Saturday, April 6, 2013

Not a Shellfish Seamstress Anymore

I'm sorry, I really couldn't resist the crustacean pun. I mean, it's not every day that one sews up a lobster dress! I hope you will excuse me.

My camera does NOT like photographing/monitors do NOT like displaying all these tiny stripes. 

After the issues with my mom's machine in SF, I ended up taking my sister's lobster dress home to TCOCC with me to finish. Since I couldn't get it done during spring break, you'll have to settle for pictures of the dress on a hanger instead of a real live person. I'll bring it back with me the next time I travel up there for work.

Back, with a pin to hold the crisscrossing straps in the right place without a person to fill them out.

As I mentioned before, I used Simplicity 6926, a 70s sundress pattern. Since my pattern was a size 10, (my usual size), and Emily is a bit tinier than me, I used slightly larger seam allowances to sew what was probably a size 8 or so. I also did an SBA (so easy with princess seams!) and shortened it by a good five or six inches, which feels scandalously short to me, but looks excellent on her. It's funny how my legs look best when skirts end right about the knee, but for her, several inches above that is best. The things you learn when you sew for others!


The other cool thing I did (or at least I thought it was cool) was flip the facings to the outside. See, Emily really liked the look of the white band with the tiny navy blue stripe on the original sheet, and wanted that on her dress as well. To get that look, I cut the facings from a white pillowcase, added a strip of navy bias tape to the bottom edge, and instead of the sewing it on right sides together, I sewed the right side of the facing to the wrong side of the dress. Then I understitched as usual, flipped the facing out, and topstitched it from the right side. All the raw edges are enclosed, and it gives a nice, clean look on both sides.

Snaps! 
Pocketses! And chevrons on the side seams!
Check out the pretty pretty insides!

My other modifications were adding pockets to the skirt and bringing the straps to the inside of the bodice. To keep the clean look of the front (and also because my machine makes messy buttonholes), I opted to have the straps attach with snaps. The finishing touch: covered (nonfunctional) buttons with the lobster motif!

I'm so psyched that I thought of this!

Also check out my almost perfectly matched lobsters on the back! 
Summary:
Fabric: One twin flat sheet, 100% cotton, with blue and white stripes and red lobsters, by Tommy Hilfiger, thrifted, and one white king-size 100% cotton pillowcase, also thrifted
Notions: Two 7/8"covered buttons and metal snaps for the front, ten 5/8" navy blue buttons on the back, navy bias tape for the trim
Hours: A lot. Between cutting and sewing all the fiddly facings and straps, the fitting, finishing the insides nicely with seam binding, and all the buttons and buttonholes, I probably spent a good ten hours or more on this dress. It's more time than I would've spent on a dress for myself (especially when I re-sewed all the buttons 1/8" down because it looked better), but since this is for someone else, I wanted it to be as perfect as possible!
Will you make this again? I quite like this nautical look, but I doubt I'll make it for myself unless I find similarly awesome sheets.
Total cost: $5. The linens were $3, the buttons $1, and the bias tape $1. As Emily said when she saw the pictures I sent, "you could sell this for like $70 on Modcloth!" So that's a savings of $65, if you don't count labor...
Final thoughts: I'm really pleased with how this turned out, and at least based on the pictures, my sister likes it too! The whole thing looks so delightfully nautical, but obviously still inappropriate for the HSF's "By the Sea" challenge by about 40 years. Don't worry, though, I've got my own nautical outfit planned for that challenge!

This makes two garments that I've sewed this year for my sister, unasked for, just because I thought she would like the fabric. It would appear that I'm not following the Selfish Seamstress' rules anymore, except that Emily is one of those people whose talents you can exploit. If Selfish can exchange a dress for a painting, well, Emily gave me five paintings three years ago, so if anything I'm the one who's really late in the talent exchange.

Sad Crustacean and Football Fish
Fenxi: my first cat love.
Gummy, the derpy weirdo. What is it about orange cats? 
And Walnut, of course! She did this painting of him as a dapper gentleman cat before she ever met him. And if you're wondering what to do with saved cat whiskers, well, obviously use them in cat paintings! Those are actually Fenxi's whiskers in the painting, though. 

The three cat paintings are hanging in my sewing room to inspire me. I'd say I got the better end of the deal.

69 comments:

  1. That is too cute! I would love to see pics of it worn, if your sister is willing, haha.

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    1. Hopefully I can get pictures next time I see her!

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  2. This is totally fabulous. Your sister is very lucky you're not a mollusk of any kind... I, however, am most certainly a very shelfishy sort. I'd like to think that if I had a sister I would make her awesome dresses like this, but I'm not sure I would (especially if it meant finishing the insides as neatly as you've done!) However, those paintings could convince me to make a coture gown. Your sister's art is so cool! I really love the cubist orange kitty - that painting sums up orange cats for sure!

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    1. Isn't it the best? When I saw that painting, it was like, YES that is Gummy summarized in art form. It's a good thing that knits don't really require finishing, though!

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  3. You always find the coolest bedsheets, I have no idea how you do it! The only sheets I ever see at our thrift stores are worn out 80's florals and those hideous (and surprisingly indestructible) "navajo"-looking ones. There is little that I hate more in textiles than "navajo" prints. *blech*

    I too would love to see pics of this adorable dress worn, but I think Emily is incorrect about it being $70 at Modcloth/Anthro--it'd be at least $125. ;-)

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    1. Ooof, I know what you mean about the florals and "navajo" sheets...I see plenty of those, too, but then I'm lucky that the thrift store near work is particularly well-stocked when it comes to sheets -- most aren't!

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  4. That is AWESOME!! It looks very J Crew.

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    1. Thanks! J. Crew does seem to be really into lobsters (and whales) printed on random articles of clothing!

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  5. So cute! I love the lobster buttons!

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    1. I was pretty excited when I rediscovered my covered-button-making kit!

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  6. The facings on the outside was a brilliant idea! I love how the whole dress turned out - the details are wonderful!

    I sew the same way! For myself, things usually end up being "ehh that's good enough" but when I sew for someone else it MUST be perfect.

    I love your sister's painting style! Does she sell her art anywhere?

    ~ Brooke

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    1. Thank you, I'm super flattered, Brooke! I don't have any paintings on hand right now except this one: http://thegreynotes.tumblr.com/search/dubstep

      If you'd like to commission a painting, perhaps Cindy could send it to you...if she's willing :)

      -Emily (aka proud recipient of a lobster dress with such well matched back lobsters)

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    2. Brooke, I'm glad I'm not the only one who sews that way...and yes, I would be willing to ship paintings.

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    3. Hmmm I will have to think about if there's anything specific I would want painted. I know I've thought of things in the past that I wanted for art but nothing is coming to mind at the moment. Thanks to both of you for the offer! =)

      ~ Brooke

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  7. Ooh what a polished looking dress. Your sister will look sharp in it! I love doing facings that way! When I first started learning to sew I did it accidently. Now I do it when I want that look.

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    1. Look at you, already knowing secrets I thought I'd discovered! ;)

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  8. I love this dress! The buttons and white/navy band totally make it - inspiration for a new summer dress. And the inside DOES look amazing :)

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  9. Modcloth would jack the price of that up to a hundred. Don't sell yourself short. It's fantastic. I wish I had a dress just like it. I'd wear it to the beach and I'd go on imaginary yacht trips in my mind.

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    1. Modcloth does love raising their prices! I guess for the amount of work the trim was, $100 sounds better :)

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  10. This is amazing work, you attention to detail has taken this from 'normal' to 'exquisite'!

    Well done you :D


    Bundana @
    http://www.bundana.blogspot.co.uk

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  11. Officially my favourite ever crustacean dress. And those matching lobsters at the back? You are the best friend in the WORLD.

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    1. Okay, shhhh...the lobsters matched mostly accidentally. I wasn't trying to, but they almost did, so I made it work!

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  12. Wow that is gorgeous. I love the outer facing - what a lucky sister you have :-) x

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    1. I was totally psyched when I figured out how to do the facings...and I think we're both pretty lucky to have each other!

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  13. Wow! I would LOVE to have this dress! Your sister is so lucky! Love the lobster buttons, and I can't believe that you matched those tiny lobsters at the back... Super!

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    1. You can make one too! I found more of these lobster sheets on ebay! But thank you for the compliment :)

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  14. I love this garment sooooo much! Your sister will be the best dressed shelflish lover out there.

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    1. I think she already is...she's got quite a collection, but this is the first custom make that's totally unique!

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  15. very cute dress! that back is matched perfectly! it's that sort of attention to detail that really makes a dress. great job on the finishings.

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    1. That attention to detail is also something I would never bother with on a dress for myself :)

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  16. So cute and well done! I hope she enjoys it. :)

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  17. This is adorable! What a great dress! Lucky sister!

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    1. Not as great as you, though! This is just one dress, you're making your sister a whole new wardrobe!

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  18. Brilliant idea for the facings! I hate how facings tend to curl up on the inside, so flipping them over and making them a decorative element is pure genius! I am also enormously impressed with your stripe matching on your seams. Fantastic job! Love your sister's paintings, too!

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    1. Ooh, I know, that's the worst, when facings flop around! And the stripe matching was totally accidental. A happy accident, but an accident nonetheless!

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  19. Loooooove the picture of the sad crustacean!

    The dress looks good too! :)

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    1. I may have squealed in delight when I saw the sad crustacean the first time.

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  20. I laughed out loud when I read "What is it about orange cats?" SO TRUE. Mine is a girl, too, which makes her even weirder.

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    1. Those orange cats...good thing they're so adorable!

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  21. What a great dress! I hope she loves it. The insides are so pretty! Nicely done!

    I love her paintings, they are so cute!

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    1. If the paintings weren't so great, I might not have been so inspired to make pretty insides ;)

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  22. That is seriously awesome - way to pay attention to detail!

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    1. Thanks...although mostly the matching was an accident :) The facings, now...those I spent a long time thinking about!

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  23. Well I wish my sister could sew, because I would adore a dress like that and just don't see myself making one. BUT, my sister can paint, so I kinda love the idea of working out trades for talents.
    You both are amazingly talented.

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    1. Thank you! You could always trade with non-sister-type-people... ;)

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  24. Oooh, that is so cute! Especially love the lobster buttons.

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  25. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! And beautiful on the inside too!

    I love the painting of the orange cat- it's like you're looking at it from the underside of a glass table! :D

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    1. I never thought about it that way, but yes, it does look like that! I love those kinds of pictures, so thank you for helping me see it in a whole new light!

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  26. Lobster seems to be the new trend! Yet another fabulous dress, beautifully made. There is a sort of Lobster explosion, or could one say thermidor, happening in the sewing world. Check out this one: The Lobsterlex dress by http://dollyclackett.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. There's a whole bunch here too: http://blog.teacollection.com/elsa-schiaparelli-and-dalis-lobster-dress-4368/

      I like the 2nd and 4th ones because they are especially ridiculous, even as lobster dresses go.

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    2. Wow, who would've thought lobster dresses would be such a thing!

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  27. Hi Cindy, just a quick note. I nominated you for The One Lovely Blog Award/Very Inspiring Blogger Award. My apologies if you've received it before, but yours is one of my very favourite blogs and I wanted to reflect that on my list. Happy Sunday. Jacq x

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    1. Awww, thanks! That is so sweet of you to say!

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  28. Oh My Gosh that dress is amazing! And your workmanship is exquisite. Did you actually match all those tiny little stripes to form perfect chevrons? Does your genius and talent know no bounds?

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    1. Nope the tiny chevrons were a happy accident! I think trying to match them would've driven me round the bend; this way, I'm just excited they happened to turn out nicely!

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  29. Reverse facing? Watson my dear, you are a genius. Love it!

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    1. *waves nonchalantly* Oh, it was only the product of two nights thinking before falling asleep!

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  30. Amazing! You really took such great care with the details. I tried the reverse facing idea once pressing the raw edge under, but found it really took some precise measuring and sewing to keep it from looking totally homemade. I like your idea of putting seam binding on, though, it makes the finish look very neat and tidy. Your sister's sure lucky!

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  31. The dress is so appealing. I love your trim details and the lobster faux buttons. Hand made presents are the best.

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  32. I just love this!! Who knew that crustaceans on a dress could look so cool. You added some nice details and finishes as well.

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  33. thought she would like the fabric. It would appear that I'm not following the Selfish Seamstress' rules anymore, except that Emily is one of those people whose talents you can exploit.
    Estetik

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  34. Oh my goodness, I love this dress! What lovely attention to detail. Such talented sisters :)

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  35. It's lovely and what great attention to detail. Am sure it will be well worn and loved.

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