A Seaming Reflection

This is my final entry. I am finally done with my graduation dress! The white garment is completed, invisible zipper and all. It took a great deal of work and little bit of struggling.

The objectives of my project were to learn how to sew, make my dress, and explore my new ‘hometown.’ In terms of these goals, my project was a success. I made my dress, learned how to sew complex garments, and learned the streets of Wayne. Walking in and out of town everyday and learning how to place darts and seams contributed to the main accomplishment of this project.

This project challenged my own ideas around (my simple) sewing and gave me a new set of skills to apply to my garment making. I used to think that sewing was an incredibly difficult venture and was borderline impossible to learn. By working with some else and making my graduation dress, I began to understand that garment construction is not as hard as it may seem. I guess this could apply to nearly any hobby you wish to try or something new in general: it’s not always as hard as you may think.

Sewing is something that I am really excited about and intend to do more of. As of recently, I haven’t taken up a lot of craft (getting ready to go back to school), but I am truly interested in pursuing this further.

One of the best parts of my project is wandering around Wayne and seeing all that is had to offer. Whether it was getting lunch at Vinnie’s Pizza or stopping by the local thrift shop, spending time in the town was very fun. I look forward to exploring it more.

All and all, my senior project has been a lovely time and I was surprised by how much I could learn from making one dress. This project was about my own improvement, but I cannot reflect on this experience without thanking those who helped me. I would like to that Haley from the Christine Shirley Design Studio. My dress would not have turned out as nice as it did without her help.

Almost done!

I apologize for the long period of time between this post and the last, I had to book a couple extra sessions at the sewing studio (Christine Shirley). I left off with the bodice portion of the dress is completed. Now, it is time to create and attach the skirt.

The skirt is made up of two rectangles sewn into a loop. In this case, there are four different rectangles (two from the lining, two from the outer fabric). In order to add a lining to the skirt, I basted a rectangle of the lining and outer fabric together. After doing that for both sides, I sewing the rectangles together on the edges. In doing this, I added pockets. The pockets were probably the easiest part, you can add them to nearly any garment. with side seams.

After sewing the skirt together, it was time to attach the skirt to the bodice. to do this, I gathered the skirt to fit the waist and sewed a straight stitch to attach. It was surprisingly difficult to get the bodice and skirt to lie flat, but after a lot of adjusting and some help (thanks Haley), it came together.

At this point I am almost done, I still need to attach the zipper and finish hemming the skirt. Which I will hopeful do tomorrow.

Sewing, sewing, and more sewing

I have begun to sew my dress at the Christine Shirley Sewing and Design Studio. I have made lessons for the week and will be walking into town (and back) every morning. I am working with Haley Newman to create my graduation garment.

I am using the fabric that I had picked out at JoAnn’s, and will be using a pattern from Butterick (B6453). The dress will consist of a princess seam bodice with a gathered rectangle skirt. Though, there are a couple alterations.

On the first day, Haley and I looked over the pattern and decided the gathered skirt had far too much fabric and would be too heavy. So we reduced it to half of the original pattern. Instead of a facing (as the pattern calls for), I will be doing a lining out of a thin broadcloth.

After deciding what changes we would be making, the first step was to cut out everything. This was surprisingly difficult. The broadcloth was a piece of cake; any simple cotton will cut nicely. However, for the outer fabric, an embroidered eyelet cotton, was like cutting through concrete.

After cutting through all of that fabric, I sewed together the bodice with a standard seam allowance. I did this with both the lining and outer fabric which I then basted together along the top. I used a Heavy Duty Singer sewing machine (and will continue to do so throughout the project.

Princess seams are very difficult, but I had a lot of help which made things much easier (Thanks Haley!). After sewing the bodice, I needed to press the seams. In order to iron and press a princess seam, I would highly suggest a tailors ham (basically a stiff rounded pillow); it helps when ironing a curve by creating a round plane. From the bodice, I will move onto the skirt and the finishing. Wish me luck!

Fabric Finding Adventure

The first step of any sewing project is to find material. To find something fun and suitable for my graduation dress, I decided to take the train and head down to Philly’s version of the garment district, Fabric Row.

Two different fabrics: Linen and cotton (possibilities)

Fabric row is a couple of blocks of 4th street where (around) seven fabric stores reside. Most of them are family owned and operated. I found that where ever I went, the employees of the store were incredibly helpful and friendly. At Fleishman’s Fabric and Supplies, Nick pulled out ten different fabrics to choose from and was able to give awesome recommendations. I found beautiful linen at Fleishman’s. That being said, we were a yard short of what I needed. I also went to Jack B’s and found really pretty eyelet cotton, but again, there was not enough fabric. Despite all the help I was given, I could not find fabric suitable for this project.

Nick (from Fleishman’s) showing me some linen

After four more stores, I had given up on finding material on Fabric Row. I got a pretty good sandwich at Reading Terminal Market and had a nice cup of tea, but my trip to Philly had been rather unsuccessful. This did not end of my fabric finding journey!

I took the train back to Wayne and made my way to my friendly neighborhood JoAnn’s. When I first walked into the store, I was immediately able to find some embroidered cotton.

This is the outer fabric I chose from JoAnn’s (the lining fabric is cotton broadcloth)

For my project, I needed four and a half yards of fabric, two to three yards of lining fabric, one yard of interfacing (to keep things in place), a zipper, and a pair of rings and sliders. All of this I found at JoAnn’s, thus concluding my fabric finding adventure.

The next step is to start cutting out the pattern and sew it together.

Sewing a Dress

Hello Friends! My name is Reena Bradley. For my senior project, I will be creating my graduation dress. One of the most significant events in a ‘high school career’ at Westtown is graduation in at the Greenwood. As a sixth generation Westonian, I cannot wait to walk down those stone steps as my mother, cousins, and grandparents did before me. It is truly a special moment and deserves a truly special dress.

One of the most prevalent traditions of commencement is that all of the young women graduating wear white dresses. My mother has been trying to get me to pick out a white dress for graduation since sophomore year as there are only so many white dresses in stores (and everyone wants to be unique). In order to make my dress completely mine and add my own personality to it, I have decided to sew my own dress.

I have limited sewing ability, but I’d like to consider myself an ‘advanced beginner.’ I have only made a few wearable items, but I am optimistic about my ability to do this. The project will be about understanding the effort and detail that goes making a more complicated garment, especially one that is made for such an important event. I will be working with a seamstress in Wayne to construct the dress. I am so excited to begin. But first, I must find some fabric!

In order to acquire material, I will be headed to ‘Fabric Row,’ thus beginning my journey.

This is one of the shops I will visit on 4th Street in Philly (Fabric Row)