Tuesday, November 20, 2012

DIY: Gone Cuckoo

I know, I think it's sacrilege to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving as well but I was just dying to hang my new cuckoo ornaments on my tree. If it makes you feel better, I still have Halloween decorations up. From last year.
 As you might recall from my previous post, I've gone completely cuckoo. More so than usual. Remember I told you I was crafting a new dress from some super cute fabric by Kelly Lee-Creel's Storybook Lane collection? Well, here it is! And not only is it a brand new dress...it's a brand new pattern (cuz you know I usually just sew this dress...over and over and over and over). It was a pattern that truly tried my patience and made me question humanity so it's a marvelous miracle I was able to pull it off.

Now I've only sewn from two dress patterns, this one and the aforementioned. One was vintage, this one contemporary, both Simplicity. I like their patterns because the directions are clear(ish) and come with plenty of pictures (that I had a lot of fun coloring when I wasn't gouging out the eyes of the model in frustration).

My first dress with pockets!

Sometimes, whilst frustrated, I dubbed this the "Nine Levels of Hell" dress after Dante's Inferno. I ain't even gonna pretend I'm the least bit literary, I've never read the book. Or poem. Or is it a limerick? Dunno. What I do know is that at least eight of those levels of my Dress Making Hell where trapped in the land of The Sleeve.

Would you believe I had to take several photos of this sleeve because my ugly-old-lady-wrinkly-elbow kept photo bombing the picture? Hence the hand-on-elbow.
 This sleeve had many a problem. Firstly, look at that inverted "V" thingie. Cute, right? Not so much when you've had to seam rip it seven times and redo. And just look at it. It's still as wrinkly as my elbow. In the other photos, you'll see that the sleeve is tufted or puffy or pleated (can I get a correct word here, please?) on top. Boy that was fun. The first sleeve actually took me just under two hours to complete. Do you hear me? Dos horas.That translates to something like "too freakin' long!"
 You know, because inverted "V" sleeves just aren't hellacious enough, why not add one to the neckline? This one was actually not nearly as bad as the others. Prob because I'd had all those hours of practice.
Can we please pause a moment and take a look at my hair? Because it actually did what I told it to today. All thanks really to my amazing new hair dresser Jesse Linares. Not only did I get a great haircut, but, after removing my bumpit like a doctor would an alien baby (complete with appalled expression and wonderment), he gave me an amazing teasing comb. That's right, this big 'do is sans bumpit.
 As usual, when the dress making hell just became too much, I resorted to crafting. I had all of these adorable cuckoo clock scraps that I just couldn't bear to part with. So I decided to create some ornaments out of them.

 A friend of mine gave me a bunch of jewelry gift boxes in various sizes. I painted the brown boxes completely white and once try, I added lilac or light blue to the lids. Using a tiny brush, I added a pattern of lines.
 I cut out several of the clocks (using my tiny sewing scissors for the job) and Modge Podged them onto the lid. I bedazzled 'em with some gold glitter glue, drilled holes in the top for the string (and bottom of a couple for the buttons to hang from) and viola! Cuckoo Ornaments!
 After making the first batch of ornaments, I went back upstairs and tried to decide if my dress actually needed two sleeves. I mean, I could bring back the asymmetrical look, right? I decided to go back to crafting.
 These guys were created on the larger lids with random bits of wood. Did you know you can cut popsicle sticks with scissors? It's the truth, Ruth. I hot glued these together and spray painted them in my neighbor's yard. Didn't want to mess up my own grass.
A little work-in-progress photo.
After some spray painting, bedazzling and gluing, I was ready to hang these guys too. I used cinnamon sticks at the bottom of this clock.
 After all that crafting, there was nothing left to do but return to my dress. It turns out that the hard part was over as attaching the skirt, taking up the hem and inserting the zipper were all things I'd done before. And that's a good thing, because I've already cut out a couple more versions of this dress that are waiting to be sewn. These new ones, however, will be sleeveless. 

Thanks for dropping by!


  1. Anonymous11/20/2012

    Oh, I love that you have a pink Christmas tree!!!! The dress turned out so well and I am super-impressed with your sleeve tenacity!

  2. That dress is so darling. I'm glad you persevered, but it's a shame that the sleeves were hell because I wanted to make the same dress. I'm still at the low intermediate sewist level, so I would probably be just as frustrated. Also, your hair and ornaments are both great too!

  3. Tessa -- I think you should give it a-go anyway. My sewing level is low ... but the directions are clear. There is also a capped sleeve version that looks easier -- no tucks and no inverted V. Thank you for your kind words :)

  4. Sue Ellen Carnahan Parker11/20/2012

    I feel as if we've known each other for years -- we talk about irritations in exactly the same way! Once I was making a smock top and couldn't figure out the Simplicity explanation, so I called an expert sewer who came with 18-year-old twin daughters (who sew) in tow. When THEY couldn't figure it out, I threw away the pattern! Your dress looks great!!

  5. Wow, wow, wow! The dress in front of that pink tree is like watching one of those retro, heartwarming Christmas movies. I can almost hear Bing Crosby crooning in the background. Congratulations on the sewing persistence and fabbie little cuckoo clock ornaments!
    You so bring back my happiest childhood memories of crafting and creating with my mucho-talented artist and art teacher mom. She would have loved what you did with those little boxes and sticks. She lived for Christmas and started in late November with the crafts, carols, and clip earrings - a different pair to wear for every day until Christmas. Thanks for stoking my Christmas prepping inspiration!

  6. The dress is gorgeous Casey, and the sleeves look just perfect even if they did give you a lot of bother! I'm loving your tree too, you're making me want to get some Christmas decorating done!

  7. Luv, Luv, Luv the dress and all the various clocks! :)

  8. That dress is just such a happy looking dress, and you look wonderful in it. The pleated shoulders look wonderful, and are not the easiest thing to sew, so go you! Could it be that the little wrinkle in the V is caused by not cutting it in completely to the thread on the inverse side? It's definitely not very noticeble though, and I might just have to get the crazy awesome fabric too.

  9. This is fabulous, and you've made me very tempted to get the pattern for myself - I've always passed over it because I don't like the pattern envelope, but it looks gorgeous on you. So fresh and fun!

  10. I love this dress! It is lovely. I find ALL simplicity patterns to be the nine levels of hell. My brain just jives more with McCalls for some reason. The directions on Simplicity confuse the me to no end!

    1. Ah, McCalls!! I've not tried one of their patterns ... but now I will! Thank you for recommending them. Simplicity is ohhh-kay. It's Vogue patterns that are actually The Worst. I'll def be checking out some McCalls now!

  11. I love your dress!! What a great fit and fabric choice! :) I've been eyeing that pattern for a while but need to sew up the ones that are already in my stash first. :)


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