Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing


The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Epilogue

Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353….continued from part 3part 2 and part 1

I thought it might be nice, since half my blog is about this one dress, to post a picture of the final dress in action.  Here is the dress I wore to my friend’s wedding over the July 4th holiday:


Me, having a conversation with a mystery person. I cropped her at her request.

A few days before the wedding, I added the thread belt loops and a fabulous gold belt from TJ Maxx ($9.99).

Belt loop






The wedding was wonderful – everyone had a great time.  I was so happy to see my friends take this next step in their relationship. I also couldn’t believe that I got a few compliments about my dress, from people I didn’t know and who didn’t know I made the dress.  It gave me a great ego boost – and I was ready to dance up a storm at the reception (not pictured).

Dress for WeddingOne final picture, then I swear I will never speak of this dress again!  Haha!  But seriously, I would use this pattern again, I especially liked how the bodice fit and I didn’t need to make too many adjustments on the skirt.  It would be interesting to see it made with a different print, so if anyone out there attempts this dress, let me know!


Seriously who is that mystery person?? I know you all want to know!




The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Part 3

Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353….continued from part 2 and part 1 Phew!  It’s finally done.  Actually, I do still need to buy a belt, but all the sewing is finished! Where we left off...okay I put the invisible zipper in.  For those who don’t know, this is what an invisble zipper looks like.  The teeth are not exposed on the outside, like a regular zipper, so the material is sewed around the front of the zipper tape. Invisible zipper

Invisible zipper foot

Plastic invisible zipper foot – a great alternative to buying a whole new foot

It really wasn’t that complicated, but there were a few minor beginner hiccups that I will share.  I watched this video, which described the whole process perfectly.  I didn’t have a proper invisible zipper foot, so I just used the cheap plastic foot pieces you get at the fabric store and it worked just fine.  Pinning the zipperI also wasn’t going to take any chances screwing this one up, so I made a bright colored basting stitch where the zipper was going to go, and pinned one side as the video instructed me.  After I sewed the first side, it seemed right, but I had trouble zipping it up.  It seemed twisted.  Thinking I did the whole thing wrong, I un-did all the stitches and tried to figure out what the issue was.  I couldn’t see what I was doing wrong, so I attempted stitching it again.  It seemed right, until I tried zipping it up for the second time.  I finally figured it out – the bottom of the zipper had just flipped to the inside, so it only looked like I pinned it wrong.  Ooops!  Oh well, I know for next time. After sewing both sides, the zipper flipped in with the material and indeed became invisible within the back seam.  But all of a sudden I couldn’t zip the whole thing up to the top.  This puzzled me for a bit, but after some examination found that I had just sewed one section too close to the teeth and the zipper was getting stuck.  Minor fix – all set! Invisible zipper finished I think it just needs a press so that the material is a little flatter around the zipper, but otherwise you can barely see it.  Major learning: it is extremely important to sew as straight and close to the teeth as possible.  This is where that plastic foot comes in handy since it actually has a groove that allows the foot to glide easily over the zipper teeth, keeping everything straight and tidy. This dress has a full lining in it, which attached at the neckline.  The pattern also had me cut out a hem facing, which was to be sewn to the bottom of the dress.  As I completed this step, I realized I was to hand sew along the top of the facing with embroidery floss, making a straight decorative stitch line above the hem.  Nope!  Not going to do that.  For one, I’m not so comfortable with my embroidery skills.  But mostly with this print, I didn’t think it would add anything.  That would have been a lot of work so I opted to just sew the hem facing rightDress hem to the lining skirt, keeping my stitches hidden. Unfortunately, this made the bottom look kind of like an open umbrella, with the bottom of the hem tightly pinned on the inside lining.  I realized I had to keep the lining skirt free in order to keep the dress looking normal.  I ended up cutting the hem facing and folding it up like a regular skirt hem, realizing this is what I should have done in the first place instead of bothering with the  facing in the first place.  I serged the ends of the lining skirt, since this was now hanging free, and then hand sewed the lining around the back zipper.  The skirt looked a lot better with this simple fix. Below is the finished product!  I will be adding belt thread loops and a purchased belt, preferably in a dark color.  I will make sure to post a picture from the actual wedding. Dress for Wedding People have commented on the material, which is fantastic.  I have to give a shout out to Sewfisticated Fabrics in Framingham, Massachusetts, where I got this wonderful material for an amazing price.  I’m thinking I probably paid about $5 a yard.

See the final result in Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Epilogue


The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Part 2

Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353….continued from part 1

There is nothing like a slightly rainy holiday weekend to give you the motivation to sew!  Things have been so busy over the last couple weeks with work, random obligations, and my actual graduation from business school that I hadn’t gotten a chance to work on my new dress.  I was grateful for the 3-day weekend to get started.

But I first want to mention that my oldie New Home machine is now in semi-retirement.  I’m sad that I won’t be using it as I’ve gotten quite attached to it, quirks and all. It will be a good thing in the end because I have far less bobbin issues with my mom’s old (my new) Husqvarna machine.

New Home sewing machine

Okay back to the dress.  The pattern seems very straight forward, instead of cutting the front bodice on the fold it had me do a little flip-around thingy instead since there were really no other pieces to cut on the fold.

Bodice patternI was able to get it pretty even.

The front bodice has darts and pleats.  I hadn’t done darts in forever, so I had to try to remember how they worked.  I had to go online for a refresher video to remind me how to sew the triangles in and press them down.  Ah yes, it was all coming back to me.  They were so easy, I may start putting darts in everything now!

The pleats along the neckline were something I hadn’t done before so I watched a few online videos (like this one) and figured it out.  I had some trouble with this research because there were a lot of references to box pleats and knife pleats and I had no idea what type this was.  I still don’t actually know, but the video I found showed me a picture of a pattern that looked like mine.  Works for me!  The pattern markings had these sort of squares, and I figured out how to fold the material over, matching the dots on the squares and pin the pleats in place.

Neckline pleats

I was surprised how well these came out on my first try.

I then basted the pleats in place, down the front, just to keep them from going anywhere while stitched them together at the neckline.

Basting….I hate it.  Oh, the tedium!  But I put my hatred aside for this project and basted everything.  With my small shoulders and rib cage, I usually have a bit of trouble fitting a bodice to my shape, so I basted all the pieces first before I stitched to make sure I had the right fit.  I think the extra work paid off, because the bodice seems to fit me pretty well.  I think this pattern is pretty well suited for me too as the pleats probably help with the fit around my small shoulders.

And next…more pleats!  I sewed the ginormous skirt pieces together and started to figure out how the skirt pleats worked.  For some reason these seemed harder than the neckline pleats.  I had tried marking the fabric, but kept having issues, so finally I just drew in the dots on the wrong side and used those to match up the folds for the pleats.  I made a couple attempts on these before they looked right, and I think they came out alright…

Bottom skirtThen I put the pieces together.  I tried a basting stitch first, to ensure a straight waistline, which I know I can get a little lazy with.  I’m pretty pleased with the result.


I will be adding a belt as the pattern suggests.  This is how far I got this weekend as the next step is the scary invisible zipper! (oooohhhh!).  Actually from what I’ve heard, it’s not that tough, so I’m excited to try it.  The real reason I had to stop is because I couldn’t find the invisible zipper foot attachment, and my mom finally told me she had stored in the machine.  So stay tuned for part 3….curses of the invisible zipper!

 Continued in part 3


The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Part 1

Kay Under Pattern V1353Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353

I almost put the title as The Wedding Dress Challenge, but changed it because I didn’t want people to think I was getting married, or worse yet attempting to make a wedding dress!  Eeeps!  A friend of mine is getting married on 4th of July weekend and I thought it would fun to wear something of my own creation.  I may be eating my words later.  But I feel like I have enough time to complete this task.  Plus I’ve had this pattern that I’ve been dying to try and some lovely material I bought many months ago that is just itching to be used.

Dress for wedding material

I think this is cotton, and it also has a little bit of stretch to it

I know, it looks pretty complicated.  But the rating says “easy” so I have some confidence in this project.

I had hoped to do some cutting on this today, but my day just got in the way.   So check back to see my progress as I attempt my first special occasion dress.

Something Old: This pattern has been sitting in my collection for about 9 months, which is not too old, but older than other patterns I have.

Something New: It calls for an invisible zipper!  I’ve never worked with one before and it looks like I need to use a special foot for it.

Something Borrowed: Technically I am borrowing my mom’s old sewing machine (only 10 years old), since she just bought a brand new one.

Something Blue:  I think there is some navy blue in there somewhere.

I also need to get about 2 yards of lining material, which means another trip to the fabric store (hooray!).   The material design kind of reminds me of a water color painting, which I think will look nice as a wedding dress.  As in dress for wedding….you get the idea.

Okay!  I will keep you updated on the progress as I go.  Wish me luck!

Continued in part 2