Monthly Archives: November 2013

I am a bad girl.



I have a winter coat cut out that needs to be sewn. Syo needs some costuming made for a dance performance at the end of the month. And did I mention I’m working two (sometimes three)  jobs right now? AND I need to get started on my Christmas sewing, if I’m actually going to do any. Which I want to. I have a whole post on that in drafts, alongside the post on the Vader Dress and a number of other things I haven’t managed to blog.

So what am I doing?

Vogue 1094

Vogue 1094

Making Vogue 1094. Because no reason, except that this border-embroidered mesh (which really wanted to be a sari in another life) demanded it. Because I need another fluffy fifties dress SOOO badly. (The poor 70s, they are getting so neglected. I actually had someone at work say to me that I had a 50s-vintage style going on, and I was all like, well, the 50s are fun but really the 70s has my heart, and then I took stock of what I’ve actually been WEARING, and, well…)

I’m probably going to use some of the rest of it to make a gathered drape around the top rather than do the folded bias bands the pattern calls for. I love the drapes (even if they are a little strangely-constructed) but really, with this fabric, how can you not use the lace, um, EVERYWHERE?

When I went to trace the pattern, I found myself boiling it down to a mere three of the Voguety-million pattern pieces. Bodice front, bodice back, and skirt. For the skirt, it calls for six identical, tapered panels. There is a separate piece for the skirt lining, but on comparison the only difference was length. I knew I wanted to use one wide, gathered rectangle to make the most of my embroidered mesh, so I only traced the one.

For under my mesh, I found a gorgeous, two-toned taffeta that is mostly black with just a hint of blue. I wasn’t sure about the blue with the black overlay, but in and of itself I liked it better than any of the five other black taffetas I looked at, and the part where it was 70% off an already reasonable price didn’t hurt, either. It is, by the way, the hardest fabric to pin through that I’ve ever met.

Bodice front

Bodice front

The construction described for this dress is, well, odd. There’s a lot of handwork, not surprising, and the lining is more of an underlining—which suits me fine, I suppose, but as I said, I’m not using the lining bodice pieces, which don’t extend into the shoulder region. Yeah, I don’t really get it either. Although I’d be curious to try, at some point, just to see what it turned out like. Just not with this particular fabric. For this make, the fabric is totally boss.

Before tracing the bodice pieces, I pulled out my pieces from Project Drop Waist to compare. I wound up shortening only at the waist, and adding a centre back seam to make my swayback adjustment. We’ll see how the shoulders end up fitting—it’s pretty hard to gauge in this style. Other than that, and a little side-seam twiddling, I don’t THINK I need to do much. I suppose we’ll see if it fits.

Yesterday, when Stylish and I got together for our weekly Jacket Makings session, she made fleece pants (one can never have too many) and I worked on this. Since I didn’t have anything over there good for marking darts on dark fabric, I mostly worked on the skirt. Yes, we had a largely jacket-free Jacket Makings day.



I cut the skirt panels from the taffeta and sliced off one entire side of my 4.4m of lacy yardage. I shortened the skirt by 2″, which puts the hem more at my knee than below it—which is where I like it, although it may throw off the overall proportions of the dress. So be it. I also narrowed the bottom flare of the pattern piece just a smidgeon, because  it was SO CLOSE to fitting double on my taffeta and it would save so much fabric. Not that I know what I’m going to do with an extra metre of blue-black taffeta, mind you.

Hem interior---braid on right, taffeta on left.

Hem interior—braid on right, taffeta on left.

I also got the pattern-recommended 3.5 m of horsehair braid. Which brings me to my biggest irk so far. Recall that I shortened the pattern, and that I narrowed the skirt slightly, all of which would have narrowed the hem. I still wound up being short about 15″ of braid. ARGH! WTF? Should I have stretched the horsehair more? I know it’s flexible stuff, but somehow that seems like a bad idea. If I’d been at home, I probably would’ve had a remnant somewhere I could splice in, but as I was at Stylish’s, I didn’t, so I settled for splicing in a piece of the taffeta, cut on the bias. Probably some interfacing would’ve been helpful, but I was irate and didn’t think of it until just now when I was typing this. It doesn’t show on the outside, and I suspect that the small, slightly-more-flexible part of the hem won’t be at all noticeable once all the gathering is said and done, but still. I’m annoyed.

So the skirt is pretty much ready to be gathered on to the bodice, which leaves me with the scary part of the dress-making—the bodice. I guess I’d better go pull up my big girl panties and find my tracing wheel…

(And did I mention that there’s about three metres of the other edge of the mesh fabric, with the same lace border, left? can we say skirt?)



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The Body

My mother has struck again. It’s that murky stretch between my birthday and Christmas, so a present can be justified, right? Actually, it’s Stylish’s birthday today. She can’t have this one, although I might share…

The Body

The Body. With mop.

Anyway. My mom found it at a flea market. My mom informs me that it should be called “Judy,” but they have been calling it “The body.” I kinda like that.

It has the usual adjustments—bust, waist, hip, waist length. With a fair bit of twiddling, I was able to get them all where they should, perhaps, be. Note how the gap between the pieces goes from narrow at the top to wide at the waist to narrow again at the bottom. I still don’t think the details of the shape are terribly close.

The bust.

The bust.

Especially the bust. That odd, pointy bust is, well, not anything like mine. Adding a bra helps.

With bra.

With bra. No way on earth my hips do that flare.

The biggest thing that will bother me, I think, is that it doesn’t have a swayback.  So my swayback adjustments will always look a bit odd.



On the other hand, my clothes mostly (aside from the swayback) seem to fit her. I tried on the Star Wars dress, arguably the most precisely-fitted thing I own, and it worked quite well, although the photo turned out a bit blurry as the light in the multi-purpose room isn’t great.

It fits!

It fits!

In other news, it’s Remembrance Day. Between this present and Stylish’s birthday, I don’t really feel like I’ve been properly observant; I didn’t even manage to get a poppy this year, which kills me. Anyway, in lieu of actually doing anything substantial, I’ll point you back to this post (scroll down to get to the Remembrance Day part), and just say: Lest We Forget.

And, thank you, Mom.


Filed under Sewing

Hallowe’en (Epilogue)

Y’know, that slow bit after all the exciting stuff, only read by the true fans who love the characters more than they love good storytelling? That’s kinda how I feel posting this so long after Hallowe’en, when all the excitement, and even most of the candy, is long gone.


Regardless, because it’s my blog and I’ll blog late if want to ;), here’s some quick and not terribly organized glimpses of my Hallowe’en outfit. It’s not really a costume since I’m not actually anything in specific, but I still had a lot of fun making it and wearing it. Even if I did work the whole damn day AND evening so the only pictures I got were crappy bathroom mirror pics and staffroom selfies. I am obviously not a real “Millennial;” I suck at selfies.


Man I miss my basement-bedsheet-photo studio! These days even if I might have time to take some decent pics it’s a gamble whether I’ll even be able to FIND my tripod, and that doesn’t even address the complete lack of any thing approaching appropriate space in our current home.


You can’t have a circle skirt without a petticoat (ok, I can’t, anyway), so of course I had to make a crinoline. As it turned out, I had to make two—the neon green tulle one I made first was, unsurprisingly, woefully inadequate. So I pulled out the black crinoline fabric and ribbon I bought last spring to make a black petticoat, which worked really nicely, although I fear it’s more costume-grade pouf than everyday pouf. I may have to make another, not-so-fluffy one for every day wear. Which means I’ll have four crinolines to store. My husband may leave me, just so you know.


Also, no circle skirt is complete without horsehair braid. I covered the join in a scrap of my fashion fabric, which, if you can’t tell, was an awesomely over-the-top acid-green taffeta with black spiderweb flocking. Don’t ask me why it needed to be a circle skirt, but can you really imagine it being anything else? Short of a complete eighteenth-century ballgown, anyway. That would also be awesome.


I constructed my circle skirt EXACTLY the same as my old grey one, even using the same waist template from Elegant Musings. This is the facing for the slit I made for the not-invisible zipper.


Of course poodles are traditional for circle skirts, but this one had to have a spider. I wish I’d had enough of my green thread to go around the applique a second time so the black edges didn’t stick out—I wasn’t really thinking about that when I bought my thread and only got an itty bitty spool. I used a supplementary (acid-green) cord of embroidery floss under the zig-zag to give it a bit of dimension, and because, ah, the manual for the Rocketeer (on which I sewed all of this) suggested it. I love the little techniques old manuals suggest. Although somehow they never mention all the massive amounts of actual skill it takes to use most of these techniques. So, y’know, your black velour fabric doesn’t stick out on the wrong side of your zigzag.


I used a skirt hook and a thread-chain loop. We’ll pretend this was a couture touch, and not because I couldn’t find a bar to match my hook. It needs a second hook & bar, too… I confess day of I just used a safety pin. Do you see how wide that waistband is, by the way? I think it was around three inches, finished. Which pretty much brings the top of the waistband right to my underbust. Fortunately I’m fairly cylindrical in that area, so I can get away with a straight waistband rather than a contour one.


Because I’m bored of detail shots, here’s a slightly naughty pic of my layered petticoats. You can see clearly the sheer inadequacy of the green one (sheer… snork… see what I did there? hyuk, hyuk.), but the black filled it out nicely and the green was still a nice touch of colour.


And this eye-searing green is actually the little tank-top I made to wear under the black lace blouse. I used my brand-spanking-new walking foot to sew it, and while I don’t sew enough spandex to really compare, it sure handled it nicely. I didn’t get any actual shots of the tank-top, (I used my old pattern… the real miracle is actually that I FOUND all these old pattern pieces), without the ruching, of course, but it went together fairly nicely until I got to the straps. They are ugly. But I can always cut them off and do better at some point, I suppose, and they weren’t exactly a prominent part of the costume. I cut out bikini bottoms at the same time, should I someday wish to own an acid-green tankini.


I decided, rather belatedly, that what the ensemble really needed to finish it off was yarn falls. Pushes it a bit into anime territory? Anyway, it only took me three different yarn shops to find what I was looking for, which turns out to be 100% wool superwash, whatever that is. It certainly was warm, and the texture was great, although a bit fluffier would’ve been nice. These are ridiculously easy to make, just cut a bunch of lengths and tie them on to a hair elastic. I’ve been trying to look up the knot I use but I can’t seem to find it…


Oh, look, here you can actually see me edging the applique! (which I adhered with Steam-a-Seam, by the way) I forgot I took this one. I’m using the “Special Purpose Foot” on the Rocketeer, which has a little piping-hole. It seems like a really flimy, cheap little foot, but I guess it’s held up for fify-some years already, so it can’t be too bad. It worked fine, anyway.


The blouse was made out of a spiderweb lace. This pattern, McCall’s 6467 (view D), was not the best choice. WAY too many seams, all of which had to be finished super-neatly, in this soft, floppy, annoying-to-sew lace. Of all the frilly blouse patterns I possess, why did I pick this one? *headdesk.* To make it worse, the pattern had hella crazy ease and I did not want it to be a sack on me (the way it looks on the envelope model). I made the size 8, a full two sizes smaller than usual. I went a little easy on my usual bodice shortening because of this, but apparently not easy enough because I had to cut down under the armpits to make it fit. In the end it looked fine and the sizing was about right, but it really wasn’t the best pattern for the job. And did I mention that’s a lot of annoying seams to sew in an annoying fabric?

Ah, well. Deep breaths. A week later, it’s all water under the bridge, right? It was a really fun outfit when it was all put together, and I have at least a couple of pieces that will (maybe?) be useful in the future.

Hope you had a scary Hallowe’en!



Filed under Sewing

Another little thing.

It seems to be the season, or perhaps I’ve just reached a certain age. Anyway, I had to make another baby thing. For those of you keeping track, that brings my total of baby clothes ever made up to three items, two of them in the last two weeks.

I had a baby shower to go to. It was Epona’s. Some of you may have picked up on the fact that she’s, well, a bit of a cowgirl (the bit where she wore cowboy boots with her wedding dress might’ve given it away). I try not to hold it against her. So, of course, I had to make something that no one else would possibly give her.

I made baby chaps.


Yup. I went there.

After I had thought of the idea, I went to the googles and found this tutorial, which was enough to get me started, anyway.

baby chaps diagram

baby chaps diagram

I started with a baby pants pattern, since I didn’t have a pair of baby pants handy. It got me in the right scale ballpark, anyway (since obviously I no longer have any idea what size babies are, see my last post for evidence.) I wanted an outseam so I could add fringe to it; in hindsight I could’ve made the inseam on the fold and saved myself, oh, six inches or so of sewing. Anyway.

I chose for my fabric this browns stretch velour a friend of my mother’s gave me because she didn’t know what to do with it. Obviously I didn’t know either, as I’ve been sitting on it for a couple of years now, but it’s soft and cozy and the colour was reasonable for leather, so I think it may have found its true calling, presuming I need to make about fifty pairs of baby chaps. I made each leg lined, so they’re fuzzy on the inside, too. I used my new walking foot from Sew Classic, and while I didn’t do comparison samples without, it did a very nice job of feeding all the layers together, straining only little when I had four layers stacked to sew the outseams.  I stitched the outseams so that the extra-wide seam allowance was on the outside, and then went to town snipping little fringes. They’re super cute now, although I won’t vouch for how they’ll hold up in the wash. Then I added the band at the top, with elastic (hopefully about the right size for a baby waist, I have no frickin’ clue at this point.), and made a belt buckle out of some silver lining left over from this vest. For the belt-buckle, I followed Sew A Straight Line’s tutorial pretty much exactly.


Baby big-ass belt buckle.

Then I sewed it on backwards. That is supposed to be a Z, not an angular S. And my latent dyslexia kicked in, so I didn’t even realize it until looking at photos after. Just shoot me now.


With fringe.

I actually thought the fringe turned out really well; I was not at all sure it would, and they looked pretty lame before I snipped it, but I think it worked great, maybe because there were four layers of fabric to snip.

Anyway, I think they went over well. There were plenty of onesies and blankies and even a full-blown diaper cake, but there was definitely only one pair of baby chaps.

Although, I have a sinking feeling I should probably get started on the next size up…


Filed under Sewing