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Last year we had so much fun at Rosewood Art Centre fashion camp that we’re doing it again! Rosewood has sewing machines available for class use and I will be supplying the fabric from community donations. (Thanks sewing friends)

The Camp

Day one – We all learn to use the sewing machines and get a lot of practice. Learning the sewing machine includes the parts of the machine, filling the bobbin, threading, tension, stitches, accessories and seam allowance. I make samples for the children to practice precision on. This year I will add a simple clutch to the first day. Any extra time at the end will be for open-ended sewing with scraps from the treasure chest. Attendance on the first day is very important.

Day two – We start with a basics refresher. Then we will draft skirt patterns from our measurements and make the skirts. If there is extra time we will make a belt that ties. Children that finish faster than the rest of the group will be able to enjoy open sew as no child is left behind.

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Clips vs pins, when and what to make it easy.

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The Concept of the Bio-Dress

Picture wearing a soft beautiful organic gown with imbedded wild flower seeds in the hemlines. After the big date you bury the dress in a garden. The dress slowly biodegrades becoming part of the earth while the seeds take hold and soon flowers bloom. With every years bloom good memories of your special day would return.

The Research

I started by researching paper fabric, the paper dress boom in the 1960s, organic materials and designs that were simple yet elegant. I watched movies like The True Cost and researched organic wholesalers and organic cotton farms in America. I found so much information it was hard to know what info was really correct and what was not. Some books would say one thing and then others would contradict. I also learned what IFOAM, GOTS and OTA mean. Even if I went no further on this project I was happy with everything I learned.

I found an Etsy shop, Conscious Elegance ,that specifically sells to sewist that make wedding apparel. She answered all of my questions promptly and with honest information. I also have a special place in my heart for Etsy because it is where I got my start.

Other Companies I found that sell organic fabrics are Organic Cotton Plus, Honey Be Good, Birch, Clothworks (was GOTS certified), Cloud9, Daisy Janie, Harmony Art, Monaluna, Timeless Treasures, Windom, Aurora Silk, and  Picknatural. To my surprise even Robert Kaufman had organic cloth.

Gaia Concepts a conscious clothing company with organic, US made clothing has a great article on cloth.

The Pattern

Okay the good stuff! The making of my bio wildflower wedding dress. I ordered 2 yards of wide width organic cotton sateen from Conscious Elegance. I had to figure out a pattern next. I love to get all of my patterns out and go through them.

I have always wanted to sew something from a 1930s pattern.

What about the thread, buttons and zipper? How do I make this dress and keep it biodegradable? I chose cotton thread and natural sea shell buttons. I thought about the zipper for a while longer.

Instead, for the closure I made eyelet button holes and a strap to tie up the side. After making the dress I realized it really could be a pull over as well. I love learning new things on these adventures.

Piecing the Dress

The piecing also was quite the learning experience. Being a 1930 pattern this was before everyone had sergers, marking tools and other mass made modern tools that we have today.

Pinning/sewing the bodice was pretty intense. These symmetrical pieces are supposed to be folded over and topstitched down. Here is how I made it easier, I did straight top stitching at my seam allowance with my tension turned up to 6. This made folding in my lines and corners so much easier. With the tension turned up those seams practically turn in on their own. A good iron press and some clipping in the corners and curves of the stitching really makes all the difference.

Lots of Topstitching

I did 3 rows of top stitching with cotton thread. I did not think it would biodegrade well with serger stitches.

Here are my finished photos.

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Tips for beginners matching stripes.

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We know how to celebrate the spring strawberry harvest around here! My motto is, every event, holiday and special occasion is dress making time!

The Fabric.

I love a challenge and while on our road trip to Ann Arbor I found this beautiful fabric called, Flower, Strawberry and Panda by Cotton Kobayashi. The fabric was imported from Japan and sadly there was only one and a half yards.  There are not many dresses you can make with only one and a half yards. Most shirts take three yards of fabric.

Strawberry Festivities of the Past This Years Dress.

I knew a fitted sheath dress could be done with one and a half yards. A strapless, fitted bodice, with a gather just below the knee – pencil skirt style was this years plan. Pattern McCalls 4829 hack time!

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Tapering Pants made easy!

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Why Frida?

Frida Kahlo is a Mexican artist and icon. She is such a powerful presence for so many female artist. The love for Frida goes beyond her wonderful art, her style and the emotion she portrays. There is a romance and power around her ageless story. In a time where women had little rights Frida lived her life however she wanted. She was independent, strong and outspoken. Artist have to put themselves out on display for the world to judge and Frida owned that courage despite being physically disabled and heartbroken!

Inspiration is monumental.

To be like Frida I am filling my life with people who motivate, mentor and have positive perspectives. My friends and family have helped get me to this point in my life. I can now truly say that I love who I have become.

The power of belief is unmeasurable.

The verbiage of setbacks such as, “I am not XYZ and I can’t,” have been discarded from my vocabulary. Today I say, “If Frida can do it then I can do it too.” I can be whomever I want to be just like Frida. I know I just have to work harder and not give up or lose confidence. In the last 4 years I have become so much more. I am a writer, artist, photographer, designer, athlete, and a business owner!

The Dress.

My dress looks simple although it took me about 30 hours from start to finish in the design process. Here I share just a few of my design photos.

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More time saving tips for your sewing projects.

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When googling swimwear I find articles with titles like Coping with Body Image, Swimsuits for Women Over 40, Amazon’s 21 Best Sellers, Why Women Will Not Wear Swimsuits, How Not to Look Old in a Swimsuit (leave it to Oprah) and Best Day to Buy a Swimsuit (It’s June 8th according to that article). With so much negativity it’s no wonder swimwear is such a hard thing to shop for.

A few years ago I found I could make my own suits for $7-$15 in supplies. For that price it was worth the risk of taking the time to learn to make swimwear. Four years later and I’m ready to share all I have learned.

In the early days I only made one or two suits per season. The first one I made had fit issues (meaning it didn’t fit right). That first suit is how I learned swimwear is not supposed to be loose on the body. To do it right you need to keep it tight. This means trying it on before I add elastic now. I did the elastic on the second suit and though it fit better, I pulled the elastic too tight and it puckered around the neck. I still wear it and no one notices. See what I am saying here? Don’t be afraid to take that dive into a new area because you always gain skills through practice and failures.

Eventually I learned that if my old swimsuit fits I can use it to make a master pattern. This is called a pattern block or a sloper. More tips with pictures!

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Lining activewear, for more on my sewing blog and sewing classes check out TracysSewingStudio.com

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