Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Graduation Dress

I've been working on an eighth grade graduation dress for the daughter of a friend. They asked me back in February if I would be able to make one, and how much. I said 'of course!' (I mean, come on! I have all boys. I leapt at the chance to make a girly dress!), and said I do like the barter system. :) It's win-win -- her daughter gets a lovely, one-of-a-kind dress, I get some babysitting, or meals, or housework....I haven't decided yet.

Anyway, here's the dress. She brought me a magazine photo of a dress they liked, and we started with Vogue 2481. I flared the skirt and added straps. C is pretty much a perfect pattern size 8, so I did virtually no adjustments to the muslin I made. She has that perfect 14 year old figure, with the willowy waist. Ms. Belinda does not have the perfect 14 year old figure (and definitely no willowy waist), so I pinned the dress onto her as best I could.

The dress has an inner foundation, which I think is going to be great for C. The foundation keeps the dress secure and held in place, so she shouldn't feel the need to hike up on it all the time. Calvin and I had his gymnastics banquet the weekend before last, and a lot of the girls were wearing strapless dresses and constantly pulling on them. Not a good look! For the foundation, I used muslin, and cut each piece twice. Then I layered the pieces, stitched the channels for the boning (I used rigilene), and constructed the foundation.

I took care to match the pleats on the left side seam. The fabric was purchased at Joanns. They fell in love with it, and bought the whole bolt (only 2.5 yards), and thankfully it was enough. It's a polyester, but it feels really nice and is a very good imitation silk. I prewashed everything, and underlined the dress with white lining.

We lined the dress in pink, because isn't it fun to have a pretty lining? Besides, white is so sheer, you'd see all the seams through it. I prickstitch my linings (instead of slipstitching)down to the zipper to prevent them from rolling and getting caught in the slide.

To finish the bottom for the hem, I did a hong kong finish. 'Cause it's pretty. :) Graduation is tomorrow, I hope C loves it as much as I enjoyed making it.

(btw -- the boys wear suit jackets. I think Caleb might need a cool stylish suit jacket next year, no?)

Monday, June 01, 2009


Spring is definitely here in Wisconsin, which means I spend nearly every nice day working outside in the yard. Last year my big project was the landscaping of our natural fence. This year my big project is our vegetable garden and the beginning of landscaping around our back patio (I say beginning because this is going to involve tearing out a lot of grass -- that's a lot of work!).

In late March I started by ripping out a bunch of grass next to our patio and porch. This area gets a lot of sun and faces south. It also looked to me to be the perfect size and location for a set of raised beds, for vegetable gardening. I ripped up the grass and flipped it over so that it would die and start to rot. PHEW! I was tired after this (but not as sore as I thought I would be. woo! Also, note how brown the grass is, and the bare dirt to the left by the white rock.).

This stayed like this for about 6 weeks, though I would go out there occasionally and smooth out areas or tear up big chunks of sod. Meanwhile, I started my seeds.

In the beginning of May, we bought our lumber to build the raised beds. We built 3 separate beds: 4'x8', 4'x5', and 3'x6', using 2"x8" pieces of wood (which really means 1.5" x 7.25". weird).

Last weekend we bought the dirt to fill 2 of the beds, and Connor helped me smooth it out. He had a lot of fun with that. We tore up the rotted grass and put that in the bottom of the beds. Oh, and see the plants growing up now where the white rock is? That's our raspberry patch.

I transferred our strawberries to the 3'x 6' bed, and the 4'x 5' one now has broccoli, sweet red peppers, jalepeƱos, serrano peppers, and lettuce. The rear bed will be getting the roma tomatoes and tomatillos sometime this week. The grass is also much greener now, no?

I also bought a new half-moon edger and have been working on cleaning up the edges of the flower bed. In this photo I'm working my way towards the peach tree. For now, I'll just clean up the edge, but eventually, a bunch of that grass around it is going to be gone. You can see the bird bath the family gave me for Mother's Day too. Most of the iris are in full bloom and those peonies are going to be next. Things are looking really good.