Fashion Soiree: The Groundwork of a Dress

Every year on the last night of conference lia sophia throws a huge party for all of the attendees. Two years ago we took over the Harley Davidson complex. Last year, they closed down the pier for a massive white party. This year the Fashion Soiree is being held at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Knowing that we would ask, they’ve given us these guidelines for dressing for the evening:

Think New York Fashion Week, a Hollywood movie premiere, or even a summer wedding where stylish, understated elegance makes an impact. This is the time to break out your favorite summery cocktail dress, and don’t forget your dancing shoes!

The moment I saw the announcement I knew exactly which piece of jewelry I wanted to wear:

Having no luck in finding the right combo of color, cut and fit (that still fit my budget), I have decided to make my dress instead which means the possibilities are endless. That is not to say I didn’t have a basic style in mind when I made that decision. I’ve already got a deep sea green material, a midnight blue as well. Now tis the time for figuring out the details.

Here are some of my inspiration styles:

Black Halo - Red Carpet Dress

Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent - Perfect Picturesque Dress

Moschino Cheap and Chic - Perfect Bow Dress

Alice by Temperly - Cobalt Cyclone Dress

Yigal Azrouël - Black Jupiter Dress

I’m sure the final dress will end up pulling inspiration from several of these, but feel free to share your thoughts below :)

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Superhero Friday

Last night I was going to work on my backlog of blog posts needing to go up. Instead, distracted blogger that I am, I made a made a cape and utility belt and dyed a t-shirt and gloves. Why? Because today was Superhero Friday in our office and we were not only invited to come in dressed up, but there was a costume contest as well. How could I not participate in an excuse to wear superhero attire to work?

I’ll admit it, the hardest part was finding a superheroine whose attire is workplace appropriate. We’re pretty flexible in our office I think spandex may have a special addendum specifically denoting it’s evils. Considering that most superheroines are generally recognized in attire that is either spandex, reveals more than it covers or is some combination of both this was a more difficult feat than one might think.

Don’t believe me? Google at your own risk or check out these two illustrations – Women of Marvel and Women of DC.

After much research and contemplation of my wardrobe I settled on Misfit. Not only are all the necessary body parts covered, but her style isn’t that far off from my own AND it gave me an excuse to make and rock a cape at work today. One must keep their priorities in order on these matters.

Of course, I made this decision at about 5:30 pm yesterday, so my next course of action, obviously, was to stop at Salvation Army and I hit gold. Being in a bit of a hurry I didn’t think to take pictures until I was already mid-project, but here’s a break-down of the articles of superheroine attire that were aquired last night:

Cape: made from a full black skirt with two panels removed and scrap yellow lining, both purchased at Salvation Army. Total Price – $2.75.

Utility Belt: made from scraps of the yellow fabric. No additional cost.

Bat Tee: dyed tee with bat emblem drawn in sharpie. Total for tee, dye & sharpie – $3.16

Mask: white jersey scrap dyed in same dye bath as tee and tied with ribbon. No additional cost.

Gloves: I could not find black gloves, so I tried to dye a pair of white ones with some black RIT. They came out gray. I wore them anyway. Total cost – $1.

Denim Mini: Salvation Army find. Total cost – $1.50.

The leggings, chucks and jewelry I already owned, though the chucks should actually be black instead of teal.

Total Project Cost: $8.41


The best part is that all of the items I made can be used again and I do plan to beef up my utility belt with some better made pouches. Being a rush job they aren’t as well put together as I would like.

I was not alone in the costume craziness, though only a few of my co-workers wore theirs all day.

While the costume contest wasn’t really my focus, I actually did come away with an iTunes giftcard & Hershey’s bar making it a win kind of day. Especially since I came away with a pic of the awesome look one of our managers came in with. Yes, that is a he.

Happy Star Wars Day!

In honor of today being Star Wars Day, I decided that it would be the perfect day to share a little sewing project I did awhile back with you.

We’ve all had them. Those t-shirts that you love the design of but they’ve shrunk or you grew or your five-year-old got a hold of the permanent markers or… well, you know what I mean. For some reason that shirt is now unwearable, but you still love that part of it that made you get it in the first place. Such was the case with my Princess Leia shirt.

It was one of those unfortunate shirts that the more times you washed it the shorter it shrunk. Some folks may go for the tummy bearing look, but it really doesn’t fit with my day to day attire yet I resisted parting with that manga look and tough girl attitude.

Also in my wardrobe lived another shirt I acquired thrift shopping that fit well, but had been attacked by a small hole causing apparatus of some sort.

Both shirts had sat ignored and gathering dust in my bedroom when one day I realized that I had not one single Star Wars shirt in my possession that fit. Being a lifelong fan this was an appalling sort of realization. Before despair at this state could sink in an idea struck – why not combine the two for a new, even more fabulous shirt?

At first I thought that I would just cut out the Leia image and apply it directly to cover the holes in the magenta shirt.

Once I looked at it, though, it just seemed like it was missing something. Thankfully, if there’s one thing I am not lacking in my apartment it is loose bits of fabric so I found some white jersey to add some more contrast. After all, Leia should pop.

With the multi-layers decided, I chose some complementary thread and wallah! a new Star Wars shirt was born.

As long as I was modifying I also chose to change it from a crew neck to a v-neck, which is much more my style, and carried the raw edge through.

It’s been the perfect shirt to sport in honor of today’s celebration :)

Happy Star Wars Day and May the 4th Be With You!

Rag Doll Project

New Raggedy Ann Doll

As I am sure many offices across the nation did, ours adopted several families for the Christmas season and we had an angel tree for them with ornaments of their Christmas needs. After perusing the many options available I decided to do a doll for a three year old girl. I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend a lot but I thought I’d be able to find something.

Fail. Absolute fail.

Yes, there were dolls that were marked 3 & up when I checked on my next shopping trip, but nothing that I was willing to purchase in my price range. This led to Plan B aka Alaina’s craziest holiday decision of the year – make the doll.

I will admit this decision and project were largely inspired by the Raggedy Ann doll that I myself received from my grandmother as a girl.

The inspiration doll - my own Raggedy Ann

See how cute and well-loved she is?

That in mind I picked up some unbleached muslin on my next rip to JoAnn’s (the most dangerous store in a 30 mile radius) and promptly got absorbed in other things – like NaNoWriMo & putting together a rockstar poster for our lia sophia party.  Suddenly gifts were due in five days and I realized I had not only not started, but was missing supplies.

Three more days passed and it was Monday night. NaNo was 95% done. The poster had been a success. I finally made an emergency walk to JoAnn’s for striped fabric & embroidery floss.

After washing all of my fabric (so it would do any shrinking before the sewing) I began to cut and piece together the beginnings of a doll.

cut out pieces for the doll

I realized retrospectively that I should have been more careful in lining up those stripes because they were just bit off, but that realization came much later in the process. I also started on her attire.

half finished dress and apron

There were several different fabrics I was looking between for her dress before settling on this kelly green cotton jersey because it went best with the bright stripes in her stockings.  Traditionally, Raggedy Ann is in blue but none of the blues I had looked quite right and another run to the store was out of the question at this point.

Tuesday I knew I would have some work ahead of me with the embroidery on her face and chest.

close up

It really wasn’t that bad and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. What I was not expecting was how fricking (or should I say frakkin?) long it took me to do her hair.

That there is at least half of Return of the Jedi as well as the majority of Iron Man. Why? Check out the close up.

the hair

Every single one of those loops was hand pulled and knotted. If only I had realized what a process it was I would have attempted to spread that out over several sittings instead of one. I will say I am much better at it now than when I started. By the time I was done it was the wee hours of the next morning, so I called it a night. Her body and attire were almost complete.

completed unclothed doll

Wednesday was when gifts were due so I ran home over a late lunch and finished up the details like cutting the loops on her hair and edging her sleeves and apron. I also solved my biggest conundrum of the process – how to close her dress.

Being for a three year old, snaps and buttons were a no and ties probably beyond her skills. I don’t much care for velcro so I was a bit stuck. Then I found the random zipper that was exactly the length I needed. I;m not even sure where it came from, so I’m going with that it was meant to be. Once that was in she was complete.

She paused for a picture before being packed up and wrapped.

completed doll

Sometime this coming week she will arrive with her new family and be opened by a little girl who I sincerely hope will enjoy and find companionship in her just as I did in the Raggedy Ann I received. Aside from being nervous that she is not at all what her new friend is wanting, I am quite pleased with how she turned out. I won’t say that I’ll never do it again because I am sure I will, but I certainly will have a much better idea of what I am doing when the time comes.

P.S. This is also why there haven’t been any further posts from me this week. I do have a few in the wings waiting for final finishing touches that will be up sometime this weekend.

5 Things I Love – Nov 29

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. MP3 Sales

I’ll admit it. I kind of forgot that the Black Friday sales extended into real life on Friday. I know, craziness right? All I can think is that being in the office all day kept me separate from the insanity. The one thing – outside of a trip to JoAnn’s which I really just went in for buttons – that I did to participate in the sales was the purchase of mp3 albums. Amazon has been running some pretty awesome sales and for about $8 I got 4 new albums to enjoy (Sara Bareilles, The Band Perry, Train and the Tangled soundtrack).

2. Tangled

Our family Thanksgiving gathering was not until late afternoon on Thursday, so I decided to take myself to see the noon show of ‘Tangled’ beforehand. I enjoyed it personally and I’ll admit that the end caught me by surprise (even with the hint at the beginning). My one complaint was that I would have liked to hear more of the hero’s singing.

3. Holiday Dinners

Not only are holiday dinners a lot o great food, but it is also a great time to catch up with family. Our gathering was rather small this year, but it was a great time in spite of the horrid drive home afterward.

4. Thrift store shopping

As I mentioned in last week’s 5 Things I Love, I have become a bit addicted to Grosgrain’s blog (New Dress a Day is pretty inspiring as well). Reading this blog has gotten me thrift store hunting again. I had kind of gotten out of the habit since I haven’t costumed anything lately. Not only have I gotten a few lovely projects out of these trips but several non-project pieces as well.

5. New catalog time

Okay, so I won’t actually get the new lia sophia catalog (starting Feb 1, 2011) for a few more weeks, but the drop list from the Fall/Winter catalog came out today (I’ve posted it here) which always ups the anticipation for the new catalog even further once we’re past the shocked phone calls my mum and I always do back and forth upon its appearance. There is also a new Partylite catalog coming out but I will save that for another post ;)

5 Things I Love – Nov 22

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. Bolthouse Farms Juices

I don’t buy these often because (a) they’re a bit on the expensive side and (b) I don’t generally keep juice in my fridge. When I do splurge on specialty juices, though, I love these. Green Goodness is a particular favorite, but what caught my attention this past week was their 50/50 Berry Juice because it has a whole variety of berries (which I also love) without strawberries (which don’t love me).

2. Mario Bottlecap Pendants

This may be considered shameless self-promotion, but I made these Mario mushroom bottlecap pendants for Indigo Dreams Design (my other blog/brand) and they really do just make me happy. All I have to do is look at them and I feel a smile spreading across my face. They’re really too cute and, yes, totally nerdy for words :)

3. Grosgrain Blog

This blog is like catnip for sewing addicts. Every time I read it it makes me want to throw aside whatever else I am doing and drown myself in glorious sewing projects. It has added a whole new perspective to my trips to Goodwill and Salvation Army, though. I’ve actually got a partially refashioned sweater on my dress form as I type.

4. Unusual Cookie Cutters

I don’t have a huge number of these yet, but several weeks back I got a cookie cutter/mixing bowl special at World Market and it has this great maple leaf that I got to play with this weekend. The same day, I got an awesome butterfly cookie cutter and, of course, I would love to get Williams-Sonoma’s Star Wars cookie cutter set. Then, my co-worker introduced me to Off the Beaten Path. Dangerous. That’s all I have to say on it.

5. Motrin Tension Headache

It may seem like an odd thing to include on this list, but it is my OTC drug of choice for headaches. One word of warning – it does contain caffeine so do not take it if you’re planning on sleeping in the next few hours.

5 Things I Love – Oct 18

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. Pomegranate

The increasing amount of pomegranate products on the market makes me happy, but my favorite form of pomegranate is the fresh fruit. Sure, it’s a process to actually get to the seeds and if you’re not careful they’ll stain your fingers red, but those are minor once those sweet juicy bits of goodness are freed for consumption.

2. Used Book Stores

I’ve always loved books. It’s a familial addiction. I was introduced to used book stores as a kid and to me it’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what new gem you’re going to discover. I also love that when cleaning out my bookshelf I have a place to send old friends where they might be appreciated by a new reader who has yet to explore their depths. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s less expensive on a book addict’s pocket as well.

Note: I do shop new books as well and am aware of how important it is for authors that new copies of their books be bought.

3. Loose Leaf Tea

In preparation for NaNoWriMo I made a few stops while I was in Lansing this past week including Wanderer’s Teahouse and Cafe, a new teahouse across from Michigan State’s campus. All of their tea is handmixed loose leaf in a variety of types and flavors. I had the mango marigold ceylon when I stopped by and it was warmth to a tea lover’s soul. I can’t wait to be able to make a write-in there and try another of their blends.

4. Dress Forms

As anyone who has been to my apartment can attest I have a bright red adjustable dress form in the middle of my main living area just about halfway between the couch and the kitchen. After years of contemplating one, I gave in last Christmas and I am so glad that I did. Not only does it make it far easier to construct my personal sewing projects, but alterations that I’ve avoided are as simple as they should be. If you sew, especially for yourself, it’s totally worth the investment.

5. Dollar Store Weaponary

Have I mentioned recently that I’m a geek? This is another one of those wipe away any doubts moments. A shenanigan ago, when the zombie invasion took place, an ax and a butcher knife, er, appeared in our work area which quickly became absorbed into our office culture. The ax I had picked up last year for a rainy day (you never know when you might need a plastic ax).

Well, those weapons disappeared recently (rumor says into our VP of Tech’s office) and, geek girl that I am, I couldn’t help but pick up this awesome dollar store sword whilst shopping for our most recent shenanigan.

Weapons of the Trade

It’s really too bad that I left my equally high quality knight’s shield behind when I switched jobs.