Monthly Archives: October 2016

 Star Wars dress prequel (with no actual Star Wars sewing)

In the universe of nerd-dom, as I’m sure you all know, there is a great divide: Wars, or Trek. I confess I am Wars all the way, though I suspect this represents a bit of a moral and philosophical failing on my part. So how could I resist when my work got this schematic print in:

After waffling and considering more creative options, I had to ask myself: what kind of Star Wars dress do you WANT to wear? And it came back to something cute and simple with a circle skirt. 

In other words, it was a perfect opportunity to finally try Butterick 5748. It’s like the ultimate fit and flare dress, and nothing else. 

Now, at this stage I rarely make muslins of Big 4 patterns. I know my basic adjustments and, especially for work projects where there’s a time limitation, I really just want to finish it. But given the simplicity of this project (and the epicness of the fabric) I wanted to try it out first, so this post is actually not about the Star Wars dress at all. It’s about my “wearable muslin.”

I re-measured my back length just to be sure (yes, it’s still 1″ shorter than Butterick standard). I also checked bust height, and determined that I should probably take the height out between bust and waist, not through the armscye. This handily meant I could just use the petiting line. 😁 Then, on holding the pattern piece up to me, I decided to add back 1/2″ to the front at the bottom, tapering to nothing at the side seam. This is basically the same as a swayback adjustment, except done backwards—having already shortened the back to fit, I tend to need a wee bit more length in the centre front to keep my waist seam level. 

Then there’s the neckline. It doesn’t look alarmingly high in the drawing, but looking at the pattern piece I knew it would be way higher than I typically enjoy. 

Anyway, because I wanted the Millennium Falcon dress to be Perfect, not just wearable, I wanted to do a practice version first. Fortunately (?) I have several other lengths of quilting cotton in stash purchased with novelty dresses in mind—it was just a matter of picking the right one.  

In the end I settled on this kanji print. It was a present or giveaway prize, years ago, from Kristin of Quiet & Small Adventures. It almost became curtains for my daughter’s room, but that never quite happened. I’m sure Kristin would be happier with this outcome anyway. 😉

So, having selected fabric for a quick wearable muslin, I promptly spent hours agonizing over  which way was up—heaven forbid I put my kanji upside down! (Never mind what it may or may not actually say… 😂) Google translate and similar sites did, in the end, convince me that the way I thought was up probably was, so  I put on my big girl panties and went for it. 

Then there comes the issue of cutting out a circle skirt this long from a 45″ wide fabric. The cutting layout would have you do it on the cross grain. Having just spent forever figuring out the right way up, I was NOT going to do that. (Nor would I on the Star Wars dress, so this was still good practice.) I would have to add a CF seam. 

I carefully positioned my pattern piece so that the front aligned mostly with blank space; after I cut it, I ironed my seam allowance back, and miraculously found the point where it mirrored. I wish I’d taken more photos for my own reference, but I wasn’t actually sure it was going to work until after I’d done if all. Anyway, it DID work, although since the section was mostly red it doesn’t show too much. I ended up with both pieces creased right at the seamline, then slipped those two folds together and stitched along it, which I think helped. 

Everything else was quite simple. The pattern calls for my favourite clean-finish technique for sleeveless lining, so that’s a yay. 🙂

I was happy with most of my alterations but did have a few minor tweaks to the bodice, so it wasn’t a wasted test run. I added pockets to the side seams (yay!) of the skirt but they’re a little low (boo!) so I’ll fix that next time. 

I gave the higher neckline a chance, even with the bow. Don’t like it. (Though the bow does help, and I like it more in these pictures than I thought). I’m thinking I may make it square in the final dress, to go with the square print. 

Of course, sewing in quilting cotton is just dreamy.  Everything presses nicely and stays where you put it. The invisible zipper? Cinch! I did hem it quite short—I turned the differential feed up on my serger and managed to get about a 2.5″ hem, which is a little insane on a circle. The shorter length is fun, but I might leave it maybe one inch longer for the next one?

I do like it better with a wide belt to give a bit of relief from all the crazy kanji. I think a solid black belt might be better than this stripey one, but this is what I had on hand. 


As you can see, the season of boring back-yard photos has passed, to be replaced by the even-more-boring season of indoor-in-front-of-the-closet pics. Look, I put on makeup on a Sunday for these pictures.  Take what you can get. 

So now that I’m all dolled up like a 50s housewife I may even make a real breakfast… And then start on the REAL Star Wars dress! 



Filed under Sewing

Underbuster Parfait

Last summer at the local Fringe Festival, i bought a costume piece from a local leatherworker (Of The Gods’ Blood Armory, fyi)—a steampunk-y (or maybe that’s dieselpunk?) faux gas mask. It was an impulse purchase, completely unjustifiable by any measure except that I was supporting a local artisan, and I love it to bits.

But it obviously needed an outfit. I have a few bits of army surplus gear from here and there, but nothing at all cohesive, and the army-greenish colour is not part of my usual palette. A corset was an obvious pairing, but I didn’t have any fabric that immediately spoke to me.

Except that I did. Whilst digging through the stash looking for something to complement the sweaterknit for my dad’s cardigan, I stumbled on this textured faux-suede that I acquired when a co-worker was de-stashing. It’s olive green, although that particular variety of olive green that looks mostly brown under fluorescent light.

The pattern is a further tweaking of Butterick 4254, underbustified, but at this point I couldn’t tell you anything else about what changes I made. Except that I felt like I had finally wrapped my head around a construction order that let me fit as I went, with the result that this is the comfiest corset I’ve ever made. It’s a bit big, in that I can lace it completely closed, but the shape is just right. (I was aware that it was coming out big and left it that way as it’s an “outer” corset and I wasn’t sure how much bulk I might add with garments underneath it. Anyway, I wouldn’t want it any tighter than it is when laced closed…

First off, this is NOT the sturdiest method of making a corset. It’s the same one I’ve used for all my corsets, and I havne’t burst a seam yet, but I’m also not wearing any of them for days on end. Five or six hours at a span, rarely more than once a month, and I’m not going for more than an inch or two of reduction.

anime-070It’s the method described in “The Basics of Corset Bulding” by Linda Sparks (mainly used because that’s the book I have. 😉 for making an alterable corset. You construct the front piece with the busk and the back pieces with the grommets, first. Then the other pieces are sewn together, and the seam allowances stitched open to make bone casings. But this time, I put in the bones around the grommets in the back, and then tweaked the fit—finalized some seams and added bones, and tweaked a little more—and so on until everything was just right.  This let me get the fit I like, the shape I like, AND end up with a super comfy corset, so I’m pretty stoked.

anime-162For fun, I added small sections of cording in the front. I think a bigger or firmer cord would’ve been a good idea, but they were fun.

And then I completely failed to take blog-worthy photos for almost a year. Sorry?


Walking with Wendy Marvel and Terry Bogard.

Well,it finally got an outing at the local comics expo this fall, and I managed to wrangle my sister-in-law into taking photos beforehand, so meet my  vaguely-airship-pirate outfit! (It’d be really nice if I could manage to blog the girls’ outfits, too, but we’ll see how I do. Oh, and the pants I’m wearing, which are Vogue 9210. They’re fun. And hard to photograph.)

anime-084My sister-in-law shot us amidst gorgeous autumn leaves, which are lovely and natural and not really suited to an outfit that demands wrought iron and gaslight, but I wasn’t willing to go further than the next-door park on that particular morning, so I’ll take it.

anime-73That’s the same white pintucked (not made by me) blouse I wore last year, come to think of it.

anime-138The camo coat wasn’t actually the best topper for the outfit—it kinda swamped the corset & hip decor, though it looked cool from certain angles. I have enough of the  faux suede left to make a matching jacket; I’m thinking something cropped and faux-military would be fun. Maybe in another year?


Filed under Sewing