The Wedding Dress – The Concept

When my daughter first told me she wanted me to make her dress I was terrified that she was going to want some extravagant frufrufrillyglittery thing.  I forgot how not frufrufrillyglittery my daughter is.  Don’t get me wrong…she loves girly things like makeup and high heels. Ulta is her favorite store ever, but she’s never been one who has to be perfectly made up from head to toe every single day of her life.  She often walks out of the house in gawd-awful multicolored leggings and a t-shirt that comes nowhere near matching, mismatched socks, with her hair piled messily on top of her head.  She truly doesn’t care what other people think about her fashion sense.  That’s kind of what makes her, her and part of what makes her uniquely beautiful.  She’s definitely a “less is more” type of girl and that’s just fine.  Especially when it comes to picking out a wedding dress design.  She knew right from the start what she wanted;  simple and elegant, no beading, no crystals, nothing shiny and after some very minor tweaking we came up with a relatively simple concept that looks very similar to the picture below.

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What we envision

The main concept
A classic white strapless corseted bodice with a crochet overlay (the overlay is the pattern-less part), with a medium ballgown effect skirt in chiffon, a detachable train with crochet lace on the edge of the train.  Nothing shiny, glittery, ruffly or overthetop extravagant.  Simple, yet beautiful, just like her.

 

 

 

 

The bodice                                                                                                                                                   Let’s start at the bodice because…well…it is going to be the most difficult part of the dress.  No point pussyfooting around the edges of crazyland, might as well jump right on in!  Below is what the bodice overlay of her wedding dress is inspired by.

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The bodice inspiration and what we hope to copy

After much research, I finally found out with the help of some wonderful ladies from a facebook group on Irish Crochet that the technique used to make this bodice is called Bobbin Lace.  If you ever want to be truly amazed, not to mention have your dreams of taking over Craftworld with your craft skills completely smashed to smithereens, google videos on how to do Bobbin Lace.  You’ll soon realize you know absolutely nothing and do not deserve that allpowerfullqueenofthecraftroom crown.

Needless to say after viewing some of the videos on Bobbin Lace I realized there was no way I could ever reproduce this using that method.  I mean I could….but it would take me 10 years just to get up to the skill level needed to be at to complete this in the allotted 6 to 8 months that I have.  Not happening.

 

Many years ago, when I wasn’t blind as a bat and worked mostly with crochet thread, I tried my hand at Romanian Point Lace on a small doily.  It’s comprised of a long crocheted cord that is laid out in the desired pattern.  “Bridges” are used to connect the cords and give it structure and stability. I feel like it looks very much like Russian Bobbin Lace, but without all those crazy bobbins.  Here’s what a piece of clothing using Romanian Point Lace looks like. It is considerably easier to do than Russian Bobbin Lace.  I can easily do this…or at least I hope I can!  Must get new glasses!!!!

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Romanian Point Lace – not my work

 

The next question regarding the bodice was the length.  The inspirational picture is a full to the hip length, which I feel better defines a woman’s shape.  However, my daughter was indecisive about whether she wanted that shape or something with a natural waist beltline that would be less confining around the belly area.  During a recent visit to the bridal shop for her bridesmaids to try on dresses we asked if she could try on the two designs of bridal gowns.  One with this long bodice shape and one with a natural waist length.  She decided on the natural waist, which means there will need to be some adjustment on the shape of our inspired bodice.  We will shorten it by about 3-4 inches; basically removing everything below the heart shape.

Now as to how I am going to reproduce this bodice which has no pattern that I can find, and given the fact that I can’t draw to save my life, it pays to be good friends with an artist.  She is going to save me that particular torture.  I will post updates on the progress of the bodice as it is worked up.

The fabric for the actual


bodice will be Casa Collection Matte Satin in Snow White with a cotton flannel in white for the lining

The skirt                                                                                                                                                       

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Attached to the bodice will be a medium to full floor length skirt with a detachable train.  I knew I wanted to use satin for the lining of the skirt, but my daughter didn’t want a shiny satin so I spent a lot of time looking at many different types of satin, comparing color, texture, and overall weight.  I finally narrowed it down to 2; Casa Collection Crepe Back Satin in Snow White and Casa Collection Matte Satin in Snow White.  There was some deliberation between my daughter and I over the shine of the crepe back versus the weight of the matte satin.  The crepe back weighs a lot less than the matte but the crepe back is shiny which she did not want.  After I laid the chiffon over the crepe back and showed her that the shine would be nonexistent she agreed that it’d would be better to use the crepe back because of the difference in weight.  The chiffon is also Casa Collection Chiffon in Snow White.

To train or not to train, that is the question!  I’d love for my daughter’s dress to have an extravagant cathedral length train, but again I forgot how non-extravagant my daughter is.  She wants a very simple shallow one layer detachable train in chiffon, no longer than a foot or two past the length of the dress with a simple crocheted lace edge.  It will attach to the waistband with snaps and then the attachment will be covered with a bow.  When she is ready remove the train simply unsnap the bow from the train, unsnap the train from the dress, then snap the bow back onto the dress.

So there it is…the concept is complete.  I will be using McCall’s M7049 as the pattern for the base of the dress.

m7049_06 I have cut out the bodice pieces and will give it to my artist friend for her to trace out the area she has to draw the overlay pattern in.  I have already begun making the cording for the bodice.  In 2 weeks I have made approximately 90 feet of cording.  I am going to make 150 feet total.  I am completely guessing on the length there.  If it’s too much I’m sure I can find another use for it.  If it’s not enough, I can easily make more.  I will try to make a brief video on how to make the cording at a later date.

 

 

 

The fun has officially begun and I need to go shopping for a bottle of tequila!

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The Wedding Dress – Day 1

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Every mother with a daughter dreams about her daughter’s wedding, probably just as much as said daughter does.  I think we all want that fairytale wedding for our daughters;  the whole horse drawn carriage pulling up to a venue festooned with candlelight.  The Cinderella type wedding complete with the feeling of romance so heavy in the air that you practically have to swim through it to get to your seat.  We want perfection for our daughter’s wedding, from the most beautiful wedding altar to the most beautiful and deliciously scrumptious wedding cake.  But there is one thing, above all, that we dream about most.  One thing that any girl above the age of 8 dreams about.  One thing that MUST be the most perfect thing about the day.  The dress!

There’s so much that goes into picking the perfect dress.  The color, fabric type, straps, strapless, lace, no lace, beading, no beading, train, no train, ball gown or A-line or mermaid, short or long, etc.  Some brides try on dozens of dresses before finding the right one.  Some brides spend many thousands of dollars on their perfect dress.  Some, only hundreds.  Some brides will spend many months visiting many different bridal shops searching for the one.  Some will find it on the first go around.  You could say it’s almost like finding the right guy to marry, possibly filled with lots of no-ways until that perfect one reveals itself.  It is the most gut wrenching and emotionally uncertain decision a bride will make for her wedding.  You will hem and haw about it and it will keep you up long into the early morning wondering if you picked the right dress.  Don’t let anyone fool you.  No matter what any bride tells you, every one 2nd guesses her dress choice up until that last final moment when she says “I do”.  If they tell you otherwise…they’re lying to you…or to themselves.

So….how do you make it more gut-wrenching and emotionally uncertain?  You find a dress that can’t be bought and you ask your mother to make it for you….from nothing but a picture.  No pressure right?

Ummmmmmm…yikes.

I think for those mothers with even a working knowledge of a sewing machine, the thought of making their daughter’s wedding dress has crossed their minds at least once.  For someone with more than a working knowledge, who calls herself a fiber artist, I admit that the thought has crossed my mind about a hundred times.  The fact that on what will be one of the most important and memorable days of her life, my little girl will be wearing something that I made with my own two hands, would totally complete my journey into the fiber/fabric world.  I am both honored that she thinks that highly of my skills and excited about the prospect.  However, as someone who has never made a wedding dress before, I would be totally and completely lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely, utterly terrified at the same time.  I mean like to the core terrified.  Like the thought of taking this on makes me feel like my heart is going to fall out of my chest and turn around and laugh at me for thinking that I could do this.  I fear that I will fail and ruin my daughter’s perfect day.    But I’m going to fight through my fear and do this for her because she is my little girl and I want her to have the dress of her dreams. She has faith in me to do this…that’s going to help fight my fear.

That and a bottle of Tequila.

I am kidding about the Tequila.

Maybe.

Vintage, Vintage, Vintage! Oh my!

Recently the mother of a close friend found out that I crochet. She used to crochet but now that she’s much older can’t really do it like she used to and asked if I’d like to have some old crochet pattern books that she had. Of course I didn’t say no. Free patterns! What crocheter in their right mind would decline free patterns!

When my friend brought them to me, I wasn’t really surprised to see her carrying a rather large box as she was also bringing me some things for my new grandson.  Being the busy lady that I am, I stuck the box in my craft room and forgot about it for a few weeks.

I finally started emptying it out and when I got past all the baby clothes and toys I discovered a yellow lock box about the size of a large lunch box.  Opening up the box was like opening up that one present at Christmas time that just totally makes the holiday.  I literally squealed with joy!  It was FULL of pattern books.  I then squealed again with joy when I started to pull them out of the box.

Vintage Crochet Pattern Books 1944 - 1953
Vintage Crochet Pattern Books
1944 – 1953

When my friend’s mother said she had some old pattern books I had no idea she meant REALLY old!  There are 8 large books, ranging from 1944 to 1953.  I was beside myself with awe that she’d kept these books this long and that they were in such good condition.  Next were smaller size books…and oh my goodness…they are Annie’s Pattern Club books, beginning with Volume 1, issue 1, 1980.

Vintage Crochet Pattern Books
Vintage Crochet Pattern Books

In total there are 66 books and they are all in fair to pristine condition.  The older ones I will definitely be putting in plastic sleeves to maintain their condition.  I could never possibly finish all of the patterns in these books but it’s going to be fun trying!  Maybe I’ll make that a challenge for 2015…to complete at least one pattern from every book.

Puff Slouch and Scarf

Puffhatscarf1My daughter has had beautiful long dark hair all of her life (not counting the first year of her life when she was completely bald). At age 19 and pregnant with her first child, her hair was a little lower than mid back. She decided that she wanted to cut her hair really short to make things easier for her after the baby came. Did I mention I have like THE MOST HANDSOME grandson now! Anyways…she loved the short hair….for a little while. Now she wants her long hair back. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic button to make hair grow back overnight so she has to suffer through the horrible in-betweens. You know that period of time where every day you spend an hour in front of the mirror trying to make your hair presentable only to eventually scream out “OMG I HATE MY HAIR!” and frustratingly shove a cap over your head. Well thankfully her “OMG I HATE MY HAIR!” period is during the cooler months when she can actually get away with wearing a cap. Problem is…she didn’t have any caps! So guess who got to make her some!?

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The New Orleans Blizzard of 2014

If you’re from South Louisiana, you know that our winters aren’t much to talk about. We occasionally get below freezing, and even less occasionally get a wild blizzard like we did last winter.

So I couldn’t make a hat that was super thick. She’d need something that was airy, yet roomy enough to cover up her “OMG! I HATE MY HAIR” head without leaving her drowned in head sweat. So I went with a puff stitch slouch. I’ve done the stitch before for baby blankets, but I’ve never done it in the round. Took a bit of experimenting and frogging but I finally got it.

Hat

Yarn: Red Heart Soft Touch
Hook: H

Basic Stitches:
Chain (CH)
Slip Stitch (SL)
Single Crochet (SC)
Back Loop SC (BLSC)

Special Stitches:
Puff Stitch (PS): YO. Insert the hook into the stitch. YO. Pull through the stitch, bringing the loop up to match the same height as the previous stitch. 3 loops on your hook. YO. Insert the hook into the same stitch. YO. Pull through the stitch, bringing the loop up to match the same height as the previous stitch. 5 loops on your hook. YO. Insert the hook into the same stitch. YO. Pull through the stitch, bringing the loop up to match the same height as the previous stitch. 7 loops on your hook. YO. Pull through all 7 loops on your hook. CH 1

Standing Puff Stitch (SPS): Pull up a loop to the approximate size of a half double crochet, then follow instructions for Puff Stitch, making your stitch in the last stitch of the previous row.

Hat Band
Row 1: CH 11, then SC in 2nc CH from hook and to end.
Row 2: CH 1, turn and *SC in back loop of next SC*, repeat * to * to the end
Repeat Row 2 until band measures approximately 20 inches. If you need smaller or larger just decrease or increase the number of rows, making sure that you have an even number of rows. Then bring the two ends together and sew together by doing a slip stitch through each stitch of both ends.

Hat Slouch
Row 1: Turn band so that you are working on the side and CH 1, then SC in each stitch, finished with an SL in first SC, making sure that you end with an even number of stitches. Do not turn.
Row 2: SPS in same stitch as SL. *Ch 1. Skip one SC, PS in next stitch.* Repeat from * to *. Finishing with a SL in top of SPS.
Row 3: SL into first Ch space. SPS in ch space. *Ch. PS in next ch space.* Repeat from * to *. Finish with a SL in top of SPS.
Repeat Row 3 (18) times for a total of 20 rows of Puff Stitches. If you want the slouch longer add more rows. Sew seam together to close up the slouch by weaving yarn through every other stitch and pulling tight. Then I weave yarn through the seam several times, then pull needle through to the inside of the slouch and tie a knot. If you don’t like how to seam looks, you can always add a pompom.

Decorate band however you wish, with a flower, applique, etc. I created a small band by crocheting 6 rows of 8 SC each and attaching a button, then sewing it onto the side of the hat.

Scarf

I really do love scarfs. I’m not a fan of having things tight around my neck, like turtlenecks, so scarves give me the warmth but also the freedom of keeping it loose and easily removed. After making the above hat, I had a whole skein of yarn left. Might as well use it to make a matching scarf. I consider it lagniappe for my daughter. For you non-New Orleanians, “lagniappe” means “something extra, usually given as a gift or for free” and us New Orleanians love all things lagniappe!

Row 1: Chain 21, SPS in 2nd chain from hook, *ch 1, skip 1 ch, PS in next ch*, repeat * to * to end making sure that you finish with a PS in last chain.
Row 2: CH 4 and turn *PS in ch 1 space, ch 1*, repeat * to * to last ch 1 space, then DC in top of last PS in previous row. Turn
Row 3: SPS into top of DC, ch 1, *PS in next ch 1 space, ch 1*, repeat * to * to end, making sure that you finish with a PS in 3rd chain of chain 4 in previous row. Turn
Repeat row 2 and 3 until scarf is desired length.

You can leave the edge unfinished if you like or you can add a fringe like I did. I cut 80 pieces of yarn, 12 inches each and separated into groups of 4. 4 strands for each fringe, 10 fringes for each end of the scarf.

As of this post date this pattern has not been tested by anyone other than myself. If you find an error, please kindly let me know and I will correct it as soon as possible.

Most of us have been doing this a long time so I’m pretty sure someone else out there has created something similar if not possibly identical. Copying of any other pattern is not intentional….so please don’t sue me, I’m just a poor New Orleans Lady trying to spread my love of crochet to the masses.

Please feel free to share the pattern, sell the finished product, etc. Do whatever you want with it. Heck you can even line your kitty box with it if you don’t like it….but..I think you will.

So…happy crocheting….and don’t forget to Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Rest, Relaxation and Crochet

One of our favorite things to do is go camping.  Not the roughing it, sleep in a tent on the cold hard ground camping because according to my former military boyfriend, his days of tenting it are long over.  We enjoy an actual bed, electricity, and a fully functioning toilet and shower in our 2006 Jayco Jayflight travel trailer.

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This weekend was our annual “friends” camping trip. It’s that one trip a year where it’s adults only, no kids, no grandkids, and no dogs.  Nothing but relaxation, good alcohol, good food and good laughs with some of our closest friends at our favorite place, Flint Creek Water Park & Campground in Wiggins, MS.  The campground is beautiful, well kept with lots of shaded trees and lots of space between campsites for privacy.    This trip we managed to reserve one of the prime spots on what we call “The Point”, spot #60.  It has direct water access, lots of room to spread out and an amazing sunrise view.

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Good Morning Beautiful World

What a view to wake up to and crochet too.  It was so relaxing to sit there with this in front of me, the soft cool breeze blowing, the sound of the water lapping softly on the tiny little beach, and the birds singing “Good Morning”.  I had not a care in the world besides what pattern I was going to use to make my daughter some headbands for Christmas.  I chose the Easy Shell Headband by Andromeda’s Fiber’s Studios.  My daughter asked for pink so I used some yarn that I had picked up at an estate sale a while back, Red Heart Soft Touch in pink with an H hook to complete this simple pattern that produced a nice headband in about 20 minutes.  I had no problems with this pattern at all and love the finished piece.  I will definitely make more of these in different colors for both my daughter and myself.

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I also brought a couple of WIPs with me to break the monotony of headband work; a cardigan that I’m hoping to get finished for Christmas and a slouchy hat, but no peeks until I’m done with them.

Leona by Drops Design

Recently finished up this crochet vest, Leona by DROPS Design, done in Bernat Softee Baby light weight white yarn. My first adult piece of clothing, made as a Christmas gift for a family member.

Leona

The pattern is a relatively easy v type stitch.  The instructions on it are pretty clear with sizing from S – XXXL which I especially like as it’s difficult to find plus size crochet clothing patterns.  My only issue with the pattern is the DECREASE and INCREASE rows at the waist.  The pattern tells you how many total stitches to decrease/increase but doesn’t tell you how many to stitch before the decrease/increase so I had to figure that out on my own by trial and error.  That meant lots of frogging…4 times before I got the stitch count right.  Final assembly was a breeze as it’s really just one big piece that only requires stitching at the shoulders and along the collar.  This piece is a size Medium and used approximately two-thirds of a pound size skein.

At first I didn’t care for the finished piece all that much, but the more I looked at it the more I liked it, so I decided to make one for me, in Saints gold of course.  Made with Caron One Pound worsted weight yarn, this size XL used up almost the whole skein.

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The Journey Begins

Down here in New Orleans, we do things with a certain flair, a down-home southern flair that has earned us the nickname The Big Easy. We are easy to love and we know how to do things big. That Big Easy spirit shows in how we do things like Mardi Gras and in our love for the Saints.

My Big Easy spirit shows in my crochet.  I make hand-made pieces that reflect that New Orleans spirit; pieces like black and gold afghans to purple, green and gold coozies, and all the in-betweens.

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I spend most of my free time with a hook and yarn in my hands and most of my non-free time THINKING about hooks and yarn.  You could say I’m obsessed…or at least my family will say I’m obsessed…but let’s not ask them.

I first learned how to crochet during my mid-teens.  I remember watching my mother and grandmother make such beautiful doilies and blankets and thought it would be a good crafty hobby since my stick figure paintings…well they were just sticks.  So I took up hook and crochet thread and crocheted my little heart out…for about 2 weeks.  Mid-teens remember…that’s about how long my 14 year old mind usually stuck with hobbies.  I didn’t pick up a hook again until my early 40s.  This time around the hobby stuck and I’ve been hooked (haha) ever since.

I hope to share my love of crochet, the pieces I’ve made, the patterns I’ve found and some I’ve created, or anything I find interesting that is crochet related, but not limited to crochet.  You never know what you might find here.

So…as we New Orleanians say “laissez les bon temps rouler!” or for you non New Orleanians…Let the good times roll!