Friday, December 7, 2012

Tote bags for Trauma Mamas!

Hummingbird Tote:  This pretty little tote bag was designed for a Secret Santa project.  The receiver of the gift likes Cloisonné, the colors blue and green, and hummingbirds.  The sturdy little bag is made with fabric scraps in a variety of textures, appliqued with a satin stitch onto a blue and green checked base.  It can be used as a reusable grocery bag or a purse.  
 The flowers are fussy cut from a bold print and appliqued to the bag.

Check out the hidden outside pocket!  Great for keys or a cell phone.  It also has a tab with a key chain ring to which has been attached a carabiner for keys.

The blue wings and tail of this bird are made from a gold edged trim that is left loose so it can overlap the pocket.

Messenger Bag with Bling:  This fun bag can be used to carry school books or just about anything else!  The young teen birthday girl was reported to "hate pink and like Bling!"  (Unfortunately, due to poor quality of the photographs, the majority of the glittery details are not apparent).
Messenger bag
This mixed-media bag is comprised of an eclectic blend of textures and patterns appliqued with a variety of stitches and sparkly threads.  Adjustable straps tie securely  to D rings attached to the top of the bag,  The front and back of the bag are distinctly different so the bag can reflect different outfits and moods.
Please note that you can choose whatever theme you wish for your bag. The poorly PhotoShopped image below has a Wonder Woman theme including a "magic lasso handle" and machine embroidered Wonder Woman quote.  "All Women can do WONDERS if put to the test." - Wonder Woman

Winner of the BeTA silent auction and more bags can be found here.
Purchase:  If you're interested in purchasing a custom tote or bag, please leave a message on this post -
your e-mail / contact info will not be published  
20% of your purchase of a custom-designed tote or bag will be donated to BeTA 
- a support organization for parents and caregivers of children who have experienced early trauma and have attachment issues.  They offer scholarships to an amazing annual retreat and  provide continual support to women by organizing regional meetings, networking, and education. 

Additional Posts on Bags:

Next Year's Auction Winner - Leather Luxe

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Curves that don't quit!

This 17 year old girl has a curvy figure.  She is busty, has small hips, and almost no behind, but a significant tummy.  

During a reconnaissance trip to help her decide what kind of dress she like that flatters her curvy figure, she fell in love with a full-skirted micro mini dress covered with individually attached flowers. Flattering, but WAY too short
Dress she found in the store
Dress I chose (bow will be in the back)

For her we chose a dress with an empire waist that emphasizes her small ribs and is fuller over her waist and hips. It's the same silhouette as the dress she loved in the store (with a longer hemline of course!), but coordinates with the colors and style of the other dresses at her event.  

The dress has a wide, navy band (accenting the slimmer area under her bust).  The skirt is a cream tulle, full skirt (the same cream chiffon as her sister's dress) with a navy blue sheer chiffon overlay.  The bodice is a cream strapless top with the navy blue chiffon ruched a little heavier than the skirt. The bust is framed by wide straps made in the same fabric as the sash - hiding her bra straps. She prefers lots of "bling" so the bodice and hem of the skirt have rhinestones. 

She loves it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Slender, Tall, and Curvy

This 16 year old girl is 6ft tall and slender but busty and has hips - an elongated hourglass shape.   
She wanted a fun, modest dress that flattered her figure. 

Fitted dresses were unflattering because they weren't small enough in the ribs/ waist and emphasized her hips.  The current style of full skirted micro minis did not look proportional with her long legs.  Shoulder straps were required so she could wear a bra..

For her we chose a pretty cream-colored dress with a handkerchief hem.  It is very fitted in the ribs and waist area showing off this slender area, but loose in the hips.  It was made in a sheer cream colored chiffon, with the body fully lined, but the handkerchiefs left sheer to give it a hint of the popular short lengths.
Here is the sketch.  The handkerchief hem is modified from a vintage pattern I brought home from Switzerland. 

The final version!  She loved it and it was fun to twirl in, although maybe not in 6 inch heels!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting to the perfect dress

Final version 
My girls chose evening wear for the family Christmas pictures again this year. I decided to make dresses for them using my fabric stash and chose cream and navy as theme colors because I have a ton of fabric in these colors.  One daughter looks great in cream, but her sister and I look better in "Winter" colors (black, white, jewel tones...)

We went window shopping to check out current styles and what looked best on our very different figures. Plus, I wanted to find something for myself that didn't look too young or too matronly (which seemed to be the only choices).

I was shocked at how SHORT the current dresses are!!  The most prevalent style seemed to be a full skirted princess type dress... chopped off at cheerleader lengths! It was crazy! 

Skirt length - I tried some of the short dresses on and I felt practically naked! They were also way too young a style.  I prefer a bit of an A-line skirt as anything that fits and cups in under the hips, emphasizes them.

I have an hourglass figure, but I am very top heavy (36GG) and I've had 2 kids so I've got a pooch too.   Like my youngest daughter, I have small ribs and substantial hips.  I couldn't find a dress that fit my figure in the stores! 

People have started telling me they can see the difference in the weight I've lost (~20lbs so far. is really helping!)

After trying on many different styles, I finally decided that a wrap dress was the most flattering to my hourglass figure (see below).  The soft drape hides the pooch.

At the fabric store, I couldn't find any patterns exactly like what I wanted.  Not a problem, I just bought a pattern that was similar.  This beautiful Vogue 2880 pattern, which I planned to alter by removing all the little ruffles and the side lacing.

The first challenge.  The dress requires 6+ yards of fabric! I don't have that much in my stash (longest of any piece is about 4 yards) - except for the off-white chiffon of which I have multiple bolts... but off-white is NOT flattering to my coloring!  I finally realized I had an 8 yard long navy drape in my front room that would be perfect!  It would even leave me a couple yards with which to make the sash and bow for my oldest daughter's dress!

Yes, this makes me think of Carol Burnett's "Scarlett O'Hara Curtain" Rod Dress too.  lol!

I decide I need to make a mock-up/ "muslin" dress, because the pattern has to be significantly altered (patterns are designed for a B cup, and I'm a double G).  At the same time, if the first attempt turns out well, I'd hate to have wasted the time doing this complicated dress in muslin, so I decided to make it in a pretty metallic grey dressy fabric from my stash (a shorter version that I can wear to church or on a date). 

This pattern has 4 layers (lining, boned foundation, draped layer and underlayer to which the drapes attach), and because it is an asymmetrical wrap dress, each side and layer needs to be fit separately!!  

Fitting on yourself is always challenging too, and I foolishly left my mannequin set up for my oldest daughter, since I'd worked so hard to match it to her figure.  I pinned myself into the dress a million times.

Flash forward through 2 weeks of anguish.  The "muslin" dress is finally finished.  It fits perfectly.  I get Hubby to take pictures to show everybody, and discover... 
I think I look dumpy and sausage-like.  Apparently the mirror I was using to fit it LIED!


So to fix it, I planned to double the width of the shoulder strap, and angle it higher so it was more on the shoulder, at the same time raising the neckline for more coverage.  The seam at the hip would be removed and blended into one long column drape instead of the original mermaid style.  Adding a decorative detail at the waist where the wrap intersects to distract from what's around it.  Also adding a slit in the skirt  from the bottom of the decorative detail to the floor.

PhotoShopped possible changes

The final version! 


It moves beautifully, fits well, and I love it!

Later I read some reviews of the pattern and discovered that all the layers are unnecessary.
I reviewed this pattern at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BrushStrokes Custom Design

Life is like a canvas. It begins blank & every day is another brush stroke. Make your life a masterpiece.

Mary Brush's family and friends often refer to her as a "Renaissance Woman" and it's not too difficult to figure out why. She is passionate about a variety of things, including working with small businesses, sales and marketing campaigns, manuscript editing, copy writing, graphic and CAD design, web design, custom sewing, interior design, and therapeutic parenting. Her enthusiasm, talent and hard work ensure that she excels in all of them. Her struggle has often been deciding where to focus her attention.

Today, Mary Brush lends her years of experience to the corporate world. BrushStrokes offerings focus on corporate consulting (including restructuring operations, HR, profit and loss, and sales and marketing - including marketing campaigns and web site design) and manuscript editing (business writing, ebooks, and fiction).

BrushStrokes began in 1988 as a clothing design studio, specializing in custom clothing and design, and quickly expanding to include interior decorating, architectural CAD design and graphic design.