Friday, January 20, 2012

LOVE this boring costume - L

We're going to the Edwardian Ball in SF tonight (the entertainment night vs the actual ball).  All I have left to do is sew on some buttons and iron my blouse.  I'm really happy with it.  I realize that this event will be full of amazing, over-the-top outfits, and I will be dressed like someones maid.  I shouldn't be excited about this, but I am.  First, this is the outfit I was aiming for when I first created something to wear to a Steampunk event.  It embodies my ideal 'scientist', and I needed to make it properly.   Second, being large and flabby, I am just not comfortable showing a lot of skin.  Finally, I'm getting a chance to wear my homemade black hat again.  It lives in the odd region between 'hat' and 'fascinator'.  And it has real raven's claws on it (legally collected) and is crocheted from black wool.  A crocheted midi top hat.
(I'm totally channeling Jenny from 'A Good Man Goes to War')

Here's a more close up view of the top.  The sleeves are actually quite full from the shoulders and are pleated into the forearm. They just aren't ironed yet.  And I need to press/steam the tie.  It's vintage, from my grandfather. I will ask Robin to take pictures tonight when everything is as done as it's gonna get.  I wasn't sure I was actually going to get there.  After she did my buttonholes, I thought the rest would be a breeze.  I was so very wrong.  I had to hurry and.....yes I made mistakes.  I'm not going to fix them.  And usual, it's the sleeves.

Why are sleeves so demonic?

Here's a lower sleeve, pinned and ready to be sewn.  It took longer to pin and press, and a LOT longer to stitch down than I thought.  I stitched both sides of each pleat.  I got so caught up is pleating that I forgot that sleeves should be mirror images, not the same.  Didn't realize until I had them stitched.  I don't think it's terribly noticeable though.  AND I checked the size by wrapping it around my arm.  Of course there was a lot more 'give' in those pinned pleats than there was in the finished sleeve.  I had to undo the 'side seam' near the wrist by a about an inch and a half more than I planned so I have a decent range of motion (and roll the edge by hand).  I also added some lace at the bottom for length (and for pretty).

I have decided to name the blouse Ripley.  I watched Alien as I pinned and sewed.

Finally a picture of the pattern I used for this blouse.  Remember, I changed the sleeves to full at the top with tapered, fitted forearm.  Made the collar fit taller and more close to the neck.  Added length, added to the bust, raised the darts and added pleats down the front.  This is the only the second time I've flown this far off course with a pattern and not had a total melty.  Also, who's idea was it to call a pattern 'Kwik Sew' that has a two piece collar, fitted darts, and cuffs?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Fine Art of Finishing - R

You've seen the pics of the Victorian Outfits, but what you don't know is that I'm not happy with them.  After dancing in the ballgown, I shortened it and the petticoat by one inch.  I stepped on it constantly and so did everyone else. Also, the corset was never finished. I shortened some of the bones (believe it when the instructions say to leave 1/2 inch of "wiggle room" for the boning, you will need it) and sewed the satin edging on. I just hated that frayed edge look.  Of course, the corset is almost too small for me now, so I'll either have to make another or lose the weight.  As I hate the thought of making another corset right now, I think I'll go on a diet! It's not hard to make a corset, it's hard to make a corset that fits properly.

As for the boyfriend's Frock Coat, I don't think I'll ever be totally happy with it, but there are some hem issues that need to be addressed. I don't know why/how the lining is pulling the hem up in a funny way and I hate the thought of unpicking all my hand sewn stitches, but it needs to be done.  Heavy sigh.  I'd much rather make something from scratch than fix something. All I can say about that coat is "I learned a lot". Another heavy sigh.

I need an outfit...quick! - L

A while back I had made a black Victorian style skirt because the idea of it was hammering my brain.  And I started the muslin for a bodice to go with it.  And the bodice is stalled.  I know how to fix it, but I'm not sure I'm still as in love with the idea of it.  The Edwardian ball is this weekend and we are planning to attend on Friday for the 'carnival'.  I really wanted to channel a more steampunk attire so I decided to make a vest and shirt to wear with the black skirt.  Then I can add some gadgets and accessories.  Months ago I had modified a vest pattern to wear with a corset.  Due to my shape, there was extensive modification required.  I grabbed a faux suede remnant that I got super cheap (a dark reddish brown) and whipped out this vest.  I even added a welt pocket.  I'm really proud that the modified muslin worked right the first time!  (I added 5 inches in the bust and took out 2 inches at the waist - which means the original pattern was clearly NOT what I should have been using).  In fact, it fits me much better than the dress form shown here.
Next I started making a blouse.  I have a pattern for a plain
blouse with fitting darts front and back.  Outside of that, it's not really what I wanted.  So I modified again.  I wanted to added pleats in the center front, and I needed to add boob-room.  I also wanted the collar to fit snugly at the neck rather than the pictured 'open button casual' fit shown in the pattern.  Here's what I did.  I took a piece of muslin and pleated it like I wanted the the center front pleats.  I laid the pattern on the muslin so that the pleats would be where I wanted them in the blouse.  In addition I added a large (2.5 inches total) fold in the muslin at the shoulder area (adding for bust).  I cut the pattern over the pleated muslin.  I used the largest size on the pattern for everything except the collar and shoulders.  That way the collar was a good fit and the shoulders wouldn't be too big since I'd added for the bust.  I modified the armscye on the fly while cutting.  I unpleated the muslin and used it as my pattern (marking for pleat location).  I'm not done yet, but everything seems to fit.  The photo is the actual front of the blouse with pleats.  Robin is going to do buttonholes for me today and then all I have left is side seams and sleeve decoration.
I made the sleeve extra wide and am going to pleat it around the forearm.  All this must be done by Friday evening.  I will seriously try and take pictures of the whole outfit.

So, overall, I decided to try and make something in a very short amount of time, and modify patterns extensively while I was doing it.  So far, so good.  My goal is to look a bit like Madame Vastra's assistant in Dr Who (A Good Man Goes to War).  With a hat, but not a sword (just because I don't have one handy)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Machine Embroidery Blackwork or An Exercise in Patience - R

 I'm supposed to be doing all the blackwork embroidery for our Renaissance stuff.  This is the first time I've used the machine since it got its tune-up and that makes a world of difference. But I didn't want to tell Lisa that the reason I was stalling was that I couldn't find the right parts to do this!  I had no idea where the embroidery card was, no idea where I'd cleverly stashed the hoops.  It took me two solid days of office cleaning to find those missing items so that I could even begin the experiment.
 Here are two sections of blackwork butted together.  You can hardly see the join.  I'm not sure why this design stitches slightly off-center, but it does.

I stitched out a few samples so Lisa could choose what she wants on her chemise and I'll bring them to her tomorrow.  This time, all went well. I've been dreading this for such a long time because of the last disastrous use of the embroidery machine had me ruining the silk on my corset and recutting. Thank goodness these chemises will all be made out of muslin, so I'm not so worried if things go wrong on a piece.  
Ah!  That's what all that 'I'm busy filing' was about.  NO ONE has that much filing.  I can't wait to see them, and also, I'm going to need your help with buttonholes...this week.  I'm making a vest and blouse that I will post soon.

I do too have that much filing and I still have a pile left to do, but it IS true that I can't find stuff in my sewing room.  And today I find that YOU'VE got my buttonhole measureing device that I've been searching for for weeks.  Yarrgghhh!   You left it at my house sweetie!!