Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alterations Plus

I decided to change strategy yesterday. I committed to taking my DIL Maria's christening dress that is thirty five years old and see if I could make it viable for our precious Violet to wear for her upcoming christening this weekend. I took the various parts with me to Florida to see if I could resurrect the yellow color into something closer to beige or white. Before I even left their house in March we tried the little hat on Miss Vi. That was two months ago and it already looked like someone was playing a joke on her because that thing didn't even come close to fitting. Maria was about seven pounds and was christened at six weeks. Violet, as of yesterday, weighs in at a healthy 15 and a half pounds and is four months old. Do the math; there's no way that ensemble is gonna fit, even if we have to squish her into it. I thought that we could put her in a cream colored body suit and just lay the dress on top of her with a couple of ribbons wound around her body but G put the ca-bash on that and said I was just being lazy.

So, instead of putting away boxes and bags of my crap in studio cabinets and drawers that I have forgotten what is in them, I decided to take up the task of making a wee little set of clothing to fit our gal. I spent the good part of a day about a month ago just seeing what I could do to bring around a usable color to the outfit. I was, in the end, thrilled with the results. It came out almost perfect, and anyone but me and maybe Maria would never know that it wasn't purchased this year. The only piece that didn't resurrect was the hat and as I said, it didn't matter anyway. I think the hat remained a bit yellow because it had the most condensed amount of ruffled lace.

So, my plan was to fix it up enough that we could do a fitting early in the week so we could see what needs to be further altered. I sent an anatomically correct email to Maria for a few vital measurements.

Check out the profile picture on the right. I have told you time and time again that I can't draw and here if a perfect example of it.

I started off with the hat. I didn't have any lace so I had to bundle up my cohort (Bella) and off we went to JoAnns. They had nothing that looked like the lace on the outfit so I got as close as I could to it. After I gave the lace a good stare, I decided it really didn't matter. Lace kinda melds together.

I constructed a hat that copied the style of the original. I put it together as a pattern rather than a finished piece. It needs the head and I was missing that. No problem, because that is why I started early. I looked all over for a stand in Violet
but found a sleeping dog instead. Placing a bonnet on a reclined dog doesn't necessarily go unnoticed.
All of a sudden, there was an Amish dog laying on my sewing cabinet (not that there's anything wrong with that). This model didn't help much.

All three pieces of the dress/slip/coat needed to first be lengthened. I added two inches of lace and on the slip I snuck a little violet flower just to make it more personal.
The slip was originally a slip on but that wasn't gonna happen so I made a deep slit in the back (showing) and hand rolled the edges and topped it with ribbon ties. I increased the arm openings too.
To the christening dress itself, I added on the bottom two inches of lace, took off the buttons in the back and replaced it ribbons and made the opening much longer and hand sewed it just like I did the back of the slip. The puff sleeve was a problem because they were way too tight so I took off the tiny band edge and was going to add soft elastic and a little lace trim, but then I noticed as I was removing the band, that it was the sewing machine sewn edge that just needed to be dealt with. I just hand sewed the band on and it relaxed so much that it easily conformed to the size that would fit out little princess. You know, it was the sewing that you can just spread a little and you can hear threads pop? That was how it was. I got a good inch and a half more just by doing it by hand.
The coat had the length added on the outside and the inside lining. I eased the elastic in the arms to accommodate a little more bulk and took off two sets of ribbons that were originally used to tie the coat closed. I left only the top set. The other two went to the dress and slip back.

These four items are going to Maria today via G, to try and see what else needs to be done. I was just picturing all my work under a brief case or a starbucks cup in the car so I decided to cover them up for safe keeping. I thought of a trash bag but then pictured a cute little baby garment bag and couldn't resist.
A half a yard of bleached muslin and twenty minutes made it just a little bit more fitting for our little non shrinking Violet.

Try on is tonight. I can't wait to hear the results. I still have my seam ripper at the ready.


Cindra said...

Violet is a lucky little girl to have you.

Melody Johnson said...

Adorable. I wish I had a leetle gurl to sew for.

Anonymous said...

Y O U are (lovingly) too much!!

Karen said...

Tommy, you are a magician with fabric. What an awesome keepsake this ensemble will be. I'll be waiting to see the pictures.

Robbie said...

How wonderful! And a keepsake that will continue on in the family!

Anonymous said...

How sweet!

dee said...

So beautiful Tommy. Never having sewn garments of any kind, I'm in AWE!The little cap is too darling.