Saturday, February 17, 2024

Floral Velvet

This is the second version of Vogue 1907 that I have made and I posted a lot of the process over on Instagram.  I'm not all that proficient with knits, but I was drawn to this pattern when it was released, and I decided to finally get to it with a sweater knit that I had in the stash for a long time.  And then things got complicated with Mr. Tino.

I went to work with essentially no sleep that Friday, and finally managed to exhaust myself enough during the day to fall asleep for more than a few hours that evening.  When I woke up Saturday, I knew that I needed something to keep me distracted, and my hands busy.

This project seemed like a good option where nothing was too complicated or was going to be super involved.  I also feel like this print reminded me of two dresses from the late 90s, one printed rayon velvet Nostalgia brand dress that Elaine from Seinfeld would have felt right at home in, and one rayon challis print that I made early on in my garment making journey with a winding oversized rose pattern.  Velvet also seemed comforting in some way, even if this knit is polyester, and I don't have the greatest history with velvet sewing projects going my way . . . but my grief-addled brain wasn't really thinking in a logical way.

I did finally get around to trying a rotary cutter with a knit on my cutting mat that hadn't ever seen a blade, and used pattern weights that I picked up last year at an estate sale.  I am not completely sold on the technique, but it does give a nice clean edge, so maybe I just need to give the rotary cutter another chance.

As with every other knit fabric I have stitched together (with the exception of my Alabama Chanin inspired outfits) I used my machine to stitch the seam and then went back with the serger to trim a small amount off the edge to keep that cut edge from rolling.

I suspected that this knit velvet textile might be a bit less problematic to work with than a silk or rayon velvet, and I was right.  There wasn't a lot of fighting to keep edges even as it fed through the machine, although it was not quite as well behaved as a crisp woven cotton, for instance.

Instead of that plastic stuff that I have seen used to stabilize knits at the shoulder seam, I like to use a length of rayon seam binding, since I have plenty of that stuff on hand.

The fabric also gathered down nicely, even with the added bulk of the velvet nap.

Since I just made this dress in a similar color (although it is a solid) I wanted to do something slightly different with this version.

The first thought that came to mind was to add a point to the sleeve cuff.  I extended the sleeve by drafting a small addition to the pattern piece.  To finish that new shaped edge, I cut a duplicate of that addition and used it as a facing piece after adding a lightweight fusible interfacing.

The skirt came together easily with the same technique of stitching with a narrow zig-zag on the sewing machine, and finishing the edges with a serger.  The sweater knit did not drop on the bias, but I made sure to give this velvet a chance to stretch before hemming it.  Turns out, this one didn't need any evening out, either.

After leaving the skirt to hang on the dress form, it was time to get back to the bodice.

As with the previous version, I extended the collar by an inch, just because the versions shown on the pattern envelope made the collar look slightly chintzy, in my opinion.  Having just a bit more fabric to pool around the neckline worked fine, and I think I prefer it this way.

I was curious to see how this would look on the dress form, but this was probably a mistake.  Stretching the unfinished lower edge over the wider part of the form stretched the fabric slightly so that it wanted to curl under.  This made attaching the bodice to the skirt slightly more aggravating than it would have been had I not stretched that lower edge prior to stitching the seamline.  But that's just something to remember for next time.  And I suppose it depends on the textile, because the sweater knit didn't do this.

For the second change to the pattern, I wanted to add a band to the high waisted seamline that would extend into two ties and would drape down the back of the dress.

I cut two ties on the bias (not certain that the bias was necessary considering that this is a stretch fabric) and folded it wrong sides together.  At this point, I was unsure how much length that I wanted, so I wrapped the pieces around the dress form to get an idea of how large I wanted the bow, and how much length I wanted for the ties.

The portion of the ties that would drape down the back were finished, while the section that would be sandwiched in the waist seamline were left raw.

The remaining raw edges were serged and hand stitched into place for the sleeve facing hem, and the skirt hemline.

While this dress clearly resembles the previous version, both in color and style, I am glad that I made a floral velvet version.

I have already worn this dress twice in the last couple of weeks, and it makes an easy-to-wear, yet still put together outfit which is always nice for the dreary Winter weather.  Am I suddenly sold on polyester?  Absolutely not.  But this print was special enough to make an exception for . . . and since I always plan on wearing a silk slip underneath, the feel of the synthetic material is made a lot more bearable.

And while I desperately miss my furry companion interrupting my sewing progress throughout the day and reminding me to take a break, having something to focus on is extremely helpful (although maybe not the healthiest way of coping).  I am still struggling in moments where I am not multitasking at work, or completely distracted by something else other than missing his little face and tiny warm body keeping me on the couch, whether I liked it or not.  Thank you to everyone for your lovely words about my little man.  My world has changed, although I am extremely mindful of the fact that I wouldn't trade the sixteen-plus years I had with him for anything.

Monday, February 5, 2024

My Valentino

My precious Valentino came into my life on July 7, 2007.  He pranced his way right into my heart.  And while the prancing slowed down over the years, he could still put on a show whenever he wanted to impress someone (usually another canine) with his little tail straight up in the air and his high-stepping trot.  I never would have imagined that he would be such an incredible companion to me for over sixteen years.  It wasn’t enough time.

I don’t know the story of his first few years of his life, other than the records that stated he was brought from Madera County to the Marin Human Society.  We never could figure out why anyone would have abandoned him.  He was amazing, right from the start.  I am convinced that we were meant to find each other. 

It took him a few months to find his voice, and for a while there, I thought he might never bark.  He never was yappy like some chihuahuas, but he had plenty of vocalizations to choose from when he wanted to express himself.

Errand Girl for Rhythm” by Diana Krall was the only song he ever sang along with, although he would vocalize with me when I was warming up with scales, up until he lost his hearing.

He travelled with me to Sonora, CA where we stayed with a lovely family that included a small pack of dogs.
  This was soon after his adoption, and he definitely learned some bad behavior from those goofy fur friends.  A young vizsla named Amber was staying at the house for a few days, and my little 7 lbs chihuahua was out-lapping her in the back yard as they ran in circles on the grass.

The home had pack of deer just outside the fenced yard and he was fascinated with them.
  Tino was small enough to escape through the fence and joined the herd of 20+ deer as they ran around the extensive property.  It was terrifying for me, but he had the time of his life!  The only mark on his body from that adventure was a tiny cut on one of his back legs, which is a miracle; I guess the deer considered him more friend than foe.

He was a little athlete.
  At my old apartment, he would run up and down five flights of stairs multiple times a day.  He was a very independent gentleman, and did not want any help up that endless staircase.  Even in the last months of his life, when I would bend down to pick him up toward the end of our walks, he would suddenly take off in front of me, wanting to do all the walking for himself.

In 2015, he travelled across the country to Pennsylvania on a plane with my Mom and me.
  He was a brave angel, and even had his own seat on the way there thanks to a kind airline representative who wanted us to have the entire row of three seats to ourselves.  I like to think that he enjoyed that little adventure!

He survived hernia surgery in 2019 with flying colors.
  The scar he returned home with was horrible, but within a couple of years, it had completely disappeared.  I wish my skin was that resilient!

He was feisty, that’s for sure.
  And if anyone wanted to get too close to me while I was holding him, he was sure to let them know his displeasure.

In the last couple of years, he started to go deaf until his hearing was completely gone.
  Once he wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly where I was with his ears, he started following me around.  If I had the audacity not to carry him up the stairs with me (he stopped trying to climb the stairs a few years back), he would stand at the bottom of the staircase and yell at me.

And while he was never very fond of being held for any significant amount of time, in the last few years he became a consummate lap dog; any time I started moving in the direction of the couch, he was right there, waiting to get comfy.

He was my constant companion, and I was lucky to be able to bring him to the office every day.
    He was an excellent office mascot!

He had his choice of beds at the office, but for the last year or so, as his hearing was failing, he preferred to stand in the middle of the hallway so that he could keep track of everyone's comings and goings.  And when he finally wanted to settle in for a nap, it was rare that he actually made it into the bed, but seemed to prefer a half-in/half-out position.

Looking back, I think there were less than 14 days over those sixteen years that I was separated from him for more than a few hours.

It’s very disconcerting to run up and down the stairs and not have to make sure to let my little man know that I will be right back.
  I keep looking under the table in your bed for your little face.  And I keep expecting to see you when I turn around, waiting for me to pick you up onto my lap as soon as I sit down.

Mr. Valentino was my world for so very long, and I don’t know what I shall do without him.
  I keep expecting him to be right at my side, only to have the heartbreaking realization that he won’t be there ever again.

Seven hours before his passing, I saw a rainbow on the drive home from the office, right as we were turning onto our street, and I like that think that it was a sign that his journey on this earth was coming to an end.

I take comfort that you no longer have any pain or discomfort, and your little body is no longer holding you back.

I feel so very privileged to have had this amazing little creature in my life for over sixteen years.  I could not have asked for anything more in a best friend.

I love you, Bubba, and I miss you so very much.
  Say hello to Buddy for me, Baby.

July 7, 2004 - February 2, 2024