Monthly Archives: September 2015

Susan Sto Helit

Sask Expo Selfie!

This weekend is the local comics convention. A few weeks back I bit the bullet and bought tickets for the kids and I—we had been¬†to the one in Cow Town, but we’ve never been to this local one (this is only its third year running.) This local offering was definitely a bit more budget-friendly, even without the seven-hour drive each way. And while it’s much smaller than the Cow Town event, it was still plenty big enough to wander around, and being local I knew several people with tables there, which makes it nice. ūüėČ The hubs declined to join us, alas… somehow the prospect of escorting a passle of teens¬†hither and yon through bedlam and mayhem didn`t appeal to him. I can`t imagine why.

Joker, Elf, half-ass-Ninja-Turtle, and Wendy Marvell.

Joker, Elf, half-ass-Ninja-Turtle, and Wendy Marvell.

Tyo went as a generic elf (it was that or wear the Batgirl costume I made her last Hallowe’en), in a couple of my costume/dance pieces that she tried on in a fit of playing dress-up one night, and totally rocked. Moms out there, you know: that moment when your daughter steals your clothes and looks way better in them… yeah. I still love her. Mostly.

Syo wanted to be Wendy Marvell, a character from her current Anime obsession, Fairy Tail. Which outfit deserves its own whole post, so I won`t go into it too much except to say, it went well, better than I had anticipated, actually.

Still life with rat.

Still life with rat.

Me, I went as Susan Sto Helit, arguably the best female character in the whole Discworld (with exception of Granny Weatherwax, of course. And¬†Lady Ramkin is pretty awesome also. Actually, there are lots of awesome females in that series…) I knew I wanted to cosplay her at some point as soon as I heard that Terry Pratchett, the author, had died earlier this year. He was one of my favourite authors, maybe my most favourite. His books are the most amazing blend of humour, wit, fantasy, and social commentary, and I will miss him terribly.

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Now, Susan actually appears in the movie The Hogfather, based on the book of the same name, so I could`ve gone with that version of the character.

Everyday Susan

Everyday Susan

But a) I hate to be bound by one person’s imagining of a literary character, and b) I was busy making Syo’s costume and with a few liberties I could throw a Susan costume together pretty much entirely from pieces I already had on hand, if I didn’t¬†try to match the screen version.

Fancy Susan (with Death, her grandfather.)

Fancy Susan (with Death, her grandfather.) This would still be fun to make at some point, of course.

All I needed was the wig and the Death of Rats, which are what really make the costume, of course.

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Back view, not that you can see anything with all the hair.

OK, I’ll be frank here—the main reason I’m posting this is that I wanted a reason to post¬†cool and self-indulgent pics of the costume. This post containers very, very little sewing. So there are way too many boring pics of me standing by my¬†¬†fence (not even in cool dance poses) and if you click away now I will be completely not hurt at all.

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A fair chunk of the costume, including the key elements that make it recognizable (wig and skeletal rat, as I said before) weren’t even things I made.

Blouse & Vest

Blouse & Vest

The blouse is a pseudo-Victorian-looking thing I yoinked from my mother last spring when we did all the historical costuming stuff,* and the vest is a really-too-small piece that belongs to Tyo. She wears my clothes, I wear hers, I guess. Sometimes it works out. As long as I don’t try to do up the top button, anyway.

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I wore a pocketwatch, because it just suited. Although technically for the character a big fancy hourglass would’ve been better.

My mom had actually purchased the little skeletal rat for her own Hallowe’en decorating, so I was able to borrow him, and all I had to do was make him a raggedy little black robe.

The Death of Rats.

I haven’t¬†sewn anything that small since I stopped making Barbie clothes when I was about fourteen. Plus I decided to use some scrap black knit (so I didn’t have to finish anything) that is a beast to cut and even worse to sew on a regular machine (and no way I was trying to maneuver something this tiny through the serger). Let’s just say it was not a couture creation. I do like how his (inaccurately bony) ears hold the hood in place, though.

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I did make two elements of the costume. The skirt I blogged here, and while it may not be the only long black skirt in my wardrobe, it has been the one I reach for the most, at least in the winter (since I oddly don’t often reach for full-length black wool-blend skirts much in the summer…). In a perfect world I would’ve make a real Victorian skirt, but this one did the job just fine.

The other part is the little black underbust corset, which I made back at the beginning of the summer. It was supposed to be part of a costume I’m making for¬†for a friend, but has a number of flaws, so I’m going to call it a prototype—first, I couldn’t find my pattern pieces, so I cloned the pattern off my boring corset with Press ‘n Seal. This was not a bad way to do it, but I “lost” a teeny bit at each seam due to turn of cloth that I didn’t think to accommodate for, so it ended up being just that little bit smaller than I was aiming for.

Underbust corset, with other costume elements.

It also isn’t quite as curvy as I wanted—I think to do with cutting down the full-length pattern to basically a waist cincher. And then I didn’t fully bone it, and I used spiral steel along the back lacing—not a good idea, incidentally—and didn’t leave quite enough seam allowance for the binding in a few places and, well, it’s fine for my own use but not something I’m proud enough of to sell.

All in all, it was pretty nice to just throw something together from what I had (because let’s face it, at this point I have quite a bit). In the end, the hardest part was probably adding the black streak to the white wig I found… via Sharpie marker. Maybe not the best way to do it… ūüėČ

Fun!

Fun!

*FYI, and in case I don’t manage to blog it again because I’m terrible these days, we are doing another Historical Sewing series this fall, only more hands-on—bring your own project! And yes, the first date is next weekend.

A Victorian Sewing Circle

at the Marr Residence, 326 11th Street East, Saskatoon, SK     

 

Sunday September 27                  

Sunday October 18                         

Sunday November 15                    1:00-4:00 p.m.  each date

Come join us this fall at the Marr Residence for a Victorian Sewing Circle! We invite you to bring your historical sewing project to spend the afternoon sewing, planning, and sharing information about historical costuming in Saskatoon. 

We provide space, basic sewing equipment (straight stitch machines and pressing equipment),¬†light refreshment and—best of all—lively discussion and learning about historical costuming,¬†especially with regard to the periods interpreted in the house (1880s-1920s).¬†Marr Residence volunteers will also be on hand to provide guided tours and information¬†about the history of the house.

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Secret Pyjamas

Butterick 6241

Butterick 6241

I made Butterick 6241.

 

This project, for once, started with the fabric. My pokey little Fabricland has actually gotten some REALLY nice fabrics this fall—the nicest since we moved back here. One that I was really dying to work with was this slinky rayon knit that is just that much heavier than most of the thin rayon knits they get—making it extra scrumptious (though I’m sure not quite as luxe as the stuff K-Line has been playing with…). I came *this* close to making a Jalie Bella dress, but I thought the rayon is still just a wee bit thin for that… Butterick 6241, on the other hand—perfect.

Too many photos.

Too many photos.

It was kinda hard to wrench myself out of historical costuming mode—I’ve been pinning regency-era stuff pretty much obsessively since mid July and I REALLY want to get started on a actual dress. But I reminded myself how much o loved the fabric and sucked it up and changed all the machines to grey thread. (Yes, all. While I did most of the construction on the serger, I set up the Rocketeer for twin-needling and there was still a fair bit of basting and stay-stitching to do on the Pfaff. )

 

Slinky!

Slinky!

My fabric is pretty stretchy and the pattern called for moderate stretch, so I decided right off the bat that I’d size down a bit. After a quick comparison with my knit sloper, I thought a bit of shortening through the armscye was in order, and since there was a back seam I took the opportunity to add a bit of a swayback adjustment. I roughly squared the shoulders, as well. It’s always a bit hard to tell in a knit if the changes you make actually made make a difference or just didn’t matter, but the fit ended up being pretty much spot on so I’m not going to complain.

Back view

Back view. Catches up a bit on my butt, not helped by the not-at-all-slippery leggings.

I really really hate sewing knit patterns with 5/8″ seam allowances, so it takes a fair bit of love to get me to sew one. And I won’t say this pattern changed my feelings on that score, but it wasn’t overly traumatic, either. It’s not an easy knit pattern, however. There are a lot of seams that have to go together without rippling.

I did a LOT of stabilization—knit fusible stay tape (out of curiosity—it’s a little lighter than the knit interfacing I usually use and I think the heavier might’ve been better in this case—but it was still nice and convenient), clear elastic, and even old fashioned stay stitching. Which doesn’t make for the prettiest insides. I also wish I’d matched my serger thread better—I could only find two of my dark grey serger spools so I used lighter grey in the loopers. It stands out, and is somewhat visible inside the pockets and when the collar is unzipped. ¬†Blerg.

Collar closeup

My only real change to the construction was to skip the front facing.I mean, everyone hates facings in knits, right? ¬†Well, it would’ve made for a much nicer finish on the inside zipper if I had kept it, and since I mostly plan to wear it with the collar open, it’s not ideal (although it’s not as bad as I had feared it might be.) also I think the method described in the instructions for inserting the exposed zip would probably have been better than what I did, which was tuck the edges under, hold everything in place with wonder tape, and topstitch. It is not particularly perfect, plus I had to stitch down the collar inside the zipper by hand. Go with the instructions, though I would stabilize the outer fabric with more than just the stay-stitching they suggest.

yummy unipped collar

yummy unipped collar

The collar itself is pretty interesting, with a weird raw-edged overlay with topstitching and grommets for the drawstring. I thought it was a bit weird that they tell you to baste on the overlay and then pull it back to insert the grommets underneath. I added the grommets first and everything was just fine. While they do have you interface the side of the collar that gets the grommets, I was using a super-light-weight knit interfacing for that so I added some squares of regular interfacing where the grommets were ¬†going. The collar overlay piece is slightly longer than the collar piece, I think to allow for turn of cloth, but since the collar is interfaced and the overlay isn’t, I actually would up trimming off a couple of cm to get my overlay to fit. They’re all rectangles—not the end of the world.

Zipped up collar. Still cute, less me.

Zipped up collar. Still cute, less me.

Steam-a-Seam came to the rescue again for hemming the pockets and the bottom, and I think the walking foot on the rocketeer was a big help for keeping things together over the pocket part. I had actually expected the pocket to be formed by some nifty fabric folding at the hem or something, but no, it’s just a big piece basted to a smaller under-piece so it drapes nicely. Much simpler that way, mind you, plus I could decide to shave an inch off the bottom without causing too much trouble. I actually might’ve shortened more—not that it’s long, but I was thinking mini-length in my head and it’s really a very comfortable knee length (I’m 5′ 7″)—but I was worried about getting into the drapey part of the pocket.¬†Although now it’s hemmed it seems shorter… some of that is probably my camera’s 18″ high tripod perspective.

Dress

Dress

I was not overly pleased with the sleeve, solely because there is sleeve-cap ease. ūüė¶ this isn’t necessary on a knit, I think, ever, and certainly not on a little flutter sleeve. I actually cut the smallest size of sleeve in the hope this would get rid of it, but there was still a bit left. I then made the mistake of just trying to ease it in with the machine, which resulted in a rather stretched out back of the armscye. Blerg. So partly my fault, too, for not bothering to address the problem properly. I don’t think it will bug me too much, anyway.

Dress

Dress

So, all in all, despite a few quibbles with the pattern and instructions, and a few more issues with my own choices, I’m pretty darn happy! It’s a cute, comfy dress that is already making me less upset about the fact that fall is here. And I LOOOOOOOOVE that ¬†fabric. ūüôā

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