Tag Archives: too much talk

Tent-ative

I love the look of this Kwik Sew nightie—but I have a sinking feeling it would look less glamorous in reality (and it takes a LOT of fabric)

Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow is on a tent-dress tear right now. And she’s making it look good. Off-handedly I commented that she’s making me think more seriously about the whole shape and the several vintage patterns I have that use it, when I’m really not sure about the shape on my actual body. Of course she said she’d love to see one made up. Wait, you mean I should actually SERIOUSLY think about this?

Sleepwear again, but the version on the left is a pretty basic pillow-case dress.

Well, I haven’t gotten that far, but here’s what a quick trawl through the pattern stash turned up.

Here’s a sort of half-pillow-case.

This 90s McCall’s might be a good woven option—it would be perfect in a soft rayon, with the bust dart for a nice fit through the bust.

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore McCall’s old Carefree pattern line? All the cute and sweetness. I love the sleeves on the short red version. As far as I can tell, this one is shapeless with the tie extending from the bottom of the V neckline to tie under the bust.

This John Kloss  (Wait, better yet, here’s a whole post on Madalynne about him) Butterick pattern is probably my favourite in theory—fitted through the bust and then flowing free below. The maxi version looks especially yummy. I worry about those cut-in shoulders on my actual body, however—I tend to not actually like that look when I see it on me. I do love the long slit at the throat, though.

I guess this one is not actually a tent-dress—I’d call it more of a babydoll. I’m totally seduced by the Carefree cuteness again, though. I’ve had the fabric for this one picked out for years…

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Victorian Romp

_MG_0155My ersatz Victorian dress is finished, or at least as finished as it is likely to get, which is to say there is trim of some kind on all three main elements. (Waist, aka bodice, skirt, and overskirt.) I’m actually reasonably comfortable that it falls within the range of Victorian “normal” and isn’t too weirdly stripped-down, which is actually the biggest thing that often seems off about costumes (at least to me). Well, the skirt is probably a little too plain. And the whole thing is on the plain end. Just, hopefully not too plain. (And my neckline is completely inappropriate for a day dress as far as I can tell, while my suiting fabric would not be a good choice for evening wear… but this was my “fun” project and I don’t personally like high necks, so I picked the neckline I liked.

Button Fixin

While getting dressed, I lost a button. A significant amount of the editing involved photoshopping the button that popped off when I was getting dressed.

The bodice has a pleated ribbon trim; the overskirt has the same ribbon, but unpleated. For the skirt I took all the remaining bias tape from my main fabric and folded the edges under to make a trim I could stitch down. This was the least successful trim as the bias is somewhat rippled (even though I stitched both edges in the same direction). I wasn’t convinced the placement was any good, either, but actually looking at the photos I don’t mind it. I don’t feel inclined to rip it all off, in any case. If I had more of the red fabric I would add a pleated trim around the bottom of the skirt, but I don’t, and at least at present I don’t feel like buying more.

_MG_0132Anyway, this completion happily coincided with a couple of things. With my most recent Victorian Sewing Circle afternoon. Also, my sister-in-law, who has always dabbled in photography (and even worked as a portraitist a few times) has decided she wants to really get into the game. Photographer with a Real Camera who just wants some serious practice? Sign me up! So I got her to meet me at the Marr Residence that morning for a fun (almost*) period photo shoot.

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We started with boudoir shots.

It’s been a really long time since I did a real photo shoot with, like, an actual photographer. It was really fun.

 

with book light playing 2We bounced around the house, playing with the light.

At the firexcfEvery room was different.

With Tree

The Marr Residence has a great little double-lot park, and the day was warm enough that it wasn’t a huge sacrifice to run around in the snow—although the tail end of winter is not the most scenic time of year anywhere.

Angie was good enough to let me have at the electronic files. It’s also been a really long time since I took the time to seriously edit photos for anything. I am not on the Better Pictures Project.😉 most of my blog photos are quick snaps with my iPhone, occasionally tripod shots on my point ‘n shoot, and the editing I do is only basic straightening, cropping, and a wee bit of contrast & exposure. Mostly via the built-in iPhone editor. It’s a hard reality that I have accepted—if I wait for good photos before I blog, there will be no blog.

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But it was sure nice to actually take some time with these, both the photo shoot and the editing. And I even had RAW to play in! (I am not a good enough photo editor to tell you if RAW actually makes a difference in the final photo, but it sure is FUN!) though most of these were done from the jpeg as it’s just faster for me. RAW is like a rabbit hole from which there is no return.

Water sepia glow (2)

I can’t help it. I love me some cheesy filtering sometimes.

I did most of the editing in GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) which is photoshop’s slightly awkward but most importantly free little brother. It can do pretty much whatever photoshop can, and doesn’t cost a dime (and it took about three seconds of googling for me to find and download the add-ons for processing RAW format and batch-editing. I do find it difficult to bounce back and forth between the two programs, as you have to remember two different ways to do everything, but if you don’t want to shell out for Photoshop it’s a pretty awesome alternative.

 

Laughing on the path redI may have had a bit too much fun with the editing process, making sepia and low-colour versions. Oh, well. They’re my photos and I’ll cheese ’em up if I want too. I also lost the cover off one of my fabric-covered buttons while getting dressed, so that had to be photoshopped out of a bunch of pics. I will warn you, I also took the liberty of some SERIOUS Photoshopping once or twice—so if you catch yourself wondering “is her waist really that small?” The answer is probably “no, not even in a corset.” PICTURES LIE!!!!

Outside house tight red

PS, should you have the inclination, you can find my photographer at Angel Jems Photography—facebook page for now, hopefully a real website at some point. Also I’ve uploaded a few more photos on my Flickr page:

Victorian Romp

and:

Victorian Romp Sepia

What we didn’t get were any shots resembling an actual Victorian portrait, standing stiffly against a backdrop and not smiling. These pesky modern photographers and their action shots and candid snaps. Maybe next time.

Outside and pensive*you’ve seen my hair, right? Short of concocting a story about how I cut it off and sold it to buy a chain for my husband’s prize watch, which he sold to buy me a comb for my beautiful hair, we’re kinda stuck. I don’t have an appropriate wig, and I’m disinclined to go out and buy one at the moment. I also don’t have a period hat for the outdoor shots.

Tree hug contras

Ok, I’ll stop now.

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So not cool.

img_3410So a crummy thing happened last Friday. Not a tragedy, exactly, but a bummer. And I’m not mentioning it to condemn humanity, or even as a plea for sympathy (though I’ll take it), but just because this is my record of things to do with my sewing and nothing like this has actually happened with any of my sewing before.

Remember this green dress, Burda 6686, made for a work project a couple of weeks ago? Well, like a good little employee I hung it up at Fabricland, nice and front and centre on one of the little plastic half-mannequins we have for such display, and boy did it look cute, if I do say so myself. (I think my Courtney Love reference was a bit lost, however—it just looked like a sweet little sundress.)

Well, during the busyness of last weekend’s half-price sale, somebody seized a moment when no one was looking, pulled the mannequin down, pulled the dress off it, and walked off with my dress. It was such a little thing it would have fit easily in a pocket…

img_3425So yeah. Kinda bummed.😦 Which I already whined about thoroughly on Facebook, but anyway. One nice thing did happen since then—my management was approved to replace my materials, so I can make the dress again.

2016-03-23 22.09.10-1Plus they threw in a little bonus of comp goods of my choice as a partial comp for my time—so I was able to pick up some trims for my next Victorian costume. Because, y’know, priorities.🙂

So really I should just buckle down and make the damn dress again, because the last thing I want is the fabric sitting there in stash mocking me. I really, really, really should…

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Teeny little fix

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Over a year ago, I spent a slightly obscene, K-Line-worthy amount of money on this bra. It’s gorgeous, and when I tried it on, the fit was perfect—on the tightest hook, because it was a 32″ band and really, according to the bra-shop ladies, I should be wearing a 30″ band. Fortunately, they also offered free alteration with the purchase, and it would be quite easy to have it altered (and I hate altering things myself)—so, when I picked it up the next week, the bra was as gorgeous as ever, but the band was, invisibly, mysteriously, just a little shorter. Yay!

Except, when I got it home and put it on, something that I hadn’t noticed at all when trying it on happened—the wires dug in like CRAZY between the breasts. To the point where I couldn’t wear it after a few minutes, never mind all day. What the heck? How had I missed this at trying on? I was dismayed. Not to mention upset at the wasted money—no returns on altered bras, my friends.

But what could have gone wrong? It was really uncomfortable. Sometimes you don’t notice a little fit issue until you’ve worn something awhile, but this didn’t feel like that. This was too big a problem to have missed. So, perhaps it was a problem that hadn’t existed when I tried the bra on the first time. What had changed? Only the band length. How would that affect the wires digging in?

I examined the bra more closely. Sure enough, the bridge between the cups was distinctly stretchy. With the added tension on the band, I surmised that the bridge was stretching, too, throwing off the angle of the cups.

Did I mention I hate alterations? So it then sat in my underwear drawer for a year or so. Finally, in a fit of wardrobe purging this staycation, it had to either get fixed or go. I grabbed the first thing to come to hand, a scrap of silk charmeuse with some selvedge, and stitched a stay across the inside of the bridge. I think the silk will be perfect, strong and soft but not bulky.

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And tried it on and—no pokies!!!!

Not a glamorous or time-consuming bit of sewing, I know, but I wanted to document it just because it seemed like such a strange thing to throw off the fit of a bra. And such an easy fix. Why do we avoid these little chores so long? (Or am I the only one?)

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Somebody Else’s Handmade Dress (II)

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I bought an old dress.

Apparently, my Value Village now has a “Vintage” section. Apparently I am a sucker, and bought a dress, which I may well not wear. Because it was nifty, and handmade. And it makes me think about the kind of blog post whoever it was sewed it, might have written, had there been sewing blogs back in the 60s. Finds like this always make me want to trot over to the Vintage Pattern Wiki and hunt down the pattern. Unfortunately for you guys, all the photos were taken by Syo on the iPhone, so are pretty much terrible (more to do with lighting and iPhone than Syo). I miss the days when I had time and space to take actual good photos (and then edit them properly), but at this point it’s largely iPhone photos or no photos.

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Woo crazy hair

I assume it’s 60s. The construction is straight out of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. It’s a green lace underlined with what is currently a rather beige lining (either rayon or a much nicer species of polyester than I’m used to.) I love the hem detail with the buttons (is that a flounce at the bottom or an extra-extra dropped waist?), not so much the high neck with the placket-yoke-thing.

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Problems with the facing rolling out.

Despite her careful understitching, the facings have a tendency to roll out. Obviously they’ve been doing this a long time—she hand-stitched around below the understitching to try and keep everything in place. She even went as far as to handstitch much of the facing down to the underlining.

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Side-ish view

It’s a classic 60s sheath, high cut neckline, straight profile, with steep, curving French darts that reach the side seam somewhere around my hips. The dart placement is pretty good on me, but the tips are a little high. Presumably whoever made it was a shorty. Or very perky.

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French darts

It’s a touch roomy in the bust, and a touch tight through the hips. Although possibly that’s just from all the chocolate I ate over Christmas.

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Back view

The yoke wraps around to the back of the neck. I bet there was a version on the pattern image with big buttons on the front.

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Front placket

It’s trimmed in lace, which just barely stands out from the rest of the lace texture. I guess she was going for subtle. I do wonder how the colours have faded over time. Did it originally match better? Was the lining always a pale, nude under-layer, or did it used to be a brighter, seafoamy colour?

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Lapped zipper

Our unknown seamstress did a killer lapped zipper. Teeny and neat!

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“Design feature”

Maybe the coolest feature is this little wedge pieced in at the side of the skirt. My first thought was that she needed a little extra room in the booty, but the piece is only on one side and doesn’t extend into the flounce, so my next thought is that she either was trying to squeeze the pattern out of too little fabric or, had it folded to cut and didn’t notice that a little wedge was missing on the under-side. C’mon, I know you’ve done that too. Can you imagine how much she swore when she figured that out? Or maybe she was an old hand, and just sighed and pieced it in and trusted the texture of the lace to keep anyone from noticing. Although I notice the lace is running in the other direction—which makes me think she was probably short of fabric.

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Bottom “flounce”

Look at that bright green hem-tape! Did the dress really fade that much? Or was it always meant to be a fun flash of colour?

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Hemming with seam binding (and handstitching)

The edges are tucked under and hand-stitched to the underlining, so the finishing is invisible on the right side. Also those buttons are great.

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Running out of hem tape.

But look at the other side of the hem—d’oh! More swearing, echoing down the decades. Running out of that perfect colour of hem-tape just a few inches from the end! Obviously, she made do. One does.

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Happy. Grainy, but happy.

I love examining vintage construction (when I run across it, which admittedly isn’t often). There’s one more weird feature, that I didn’t get a good picture of—the inside of the front, under the yoke, has a big slash cut in it. At first I thought the lining had just given out from age, but the cut goes right through the lace, which is quite sturdy, and is very straight in the lace (more frayed in the lining). So maybe the yoke is a cover-up for some earlier mistake? Or maybe there was the option of an opening in the placket, and our seamstress decided against it mid-construction? (There’s a centre seam down the middle of the yoke that makes me think an opening option would be likely. Unless she really was just that short of fabric.) Or maybe it was cut into at some later date… the neatness with which she hand-finished all the other mods makes me surprised she didn’t at least overcast or otherwise neaten those raw edges.

I love these little mysteries. Problem solving, or design feature? We’ll never know…

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Madly off in all directions

Despite actually having a wee bit of time that could’ve been spent sewing this weekend, I instead dithered to the point of getting almost nothing done.

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I have started a Hallowe’en outfit—not really a costume, but a fun outfit. Above will become a neon green crinoline.

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And then the blouse will be this spiderweb lace.

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This is the pile of various knits that I want to become leggings and underwear and other handy basics for the fast-impending winter.

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My Victorian obsession continues apace. My post-birthday splurge on some Truly Victorian patterns arrived. But I really can’t even start fantasizing about the outer layers before my underpinnings are under way. The pantaloons are finished (photos pending) so the next logical step should be the chemise, but of course the corset is far more fun to fantasize about even though I haven’t pulled the trigger on ordering the necessary hardware.

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I’m actually contemplating two corsets, one sedate and underwearly, and one more glamorous, using this gorgeous scrap of red and gold brocade that’s too narrow for much of anything else.

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I’m leaning towards this pattern for the chemise, as it appears most similar to the chemise instructions in my Victorian sewing texts—although the same texts refer to patterns that are available that have more shaping.

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This cotton batiste is ready to go whenever I stop dithering. Also a selection of lace.

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But of course what I really should be working on is this pair of jeans for my niece, whose birthday is tomorrow.

/sigh.

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To infinity and beyond!

Today, my Dad dropped off a slightly bittersweet present: the sewing machine that belonged to his mother. My grandma* (who gave me these quilts and also this fabric) is moving from her small senior’s apartment to an even smaller room in a care home, where there will be people around a little more continuously. I’m sad for her, (especially giving up her machine) but hopeful that she’ll be well taken care of.

The Cabinet

The Cabinet

I hadn’t really thought much about her machine. The last time I snooped it, I think I was nine or ten, and I remember being unimpressed. Obviously my tastes are a little more refined these days, because now I find it quite charming in that mid-century way.

Buzz Lightyear, eat your heart out.

Buzz Lightyear, eat your heart out.

I once claimed my other grandma’s machine looked like a rocket ship. Well, this one is DEFINITELY going to the moon. Actually, the comparison between the two machines is kinda fascinating, since as far as I can tell they were both purchased within a year or two of each other in the early sixties. My maternal grandma—okay, I give up, I’m going to call her Grandma South—‘s machine is a Japanese-made Singer 15 clone, a sturdy old-fashioned straight-stitcher dressed up with a nice coat of paint and some cute decals. Kinda like a horse and buggy sporting racing fins. My paternal grandma (henceforth, Grandma North)’s machine, on the other hand, is full of newfangled gadgetness.

We Are New Technology

We Are New Technology

It starts with this proud patent label. This is not your Grandma’s sewing machine, Grandma. Er.

Mysterious Dial.

Mysterious Dial. The wrong settings probably bring on planetary destruction.

But seriously. Aside from the zig-zag, it has what looks like a plate for cams on the top (I have no cams, but my Dad thinks there’s another box of odds ‘n ends that are sewing-machine related still back at his house, so I shall live in hope for another day or two). And a very mysterious dial. I hope there’s a manual in there, too. Although I can ask Grandma, if push comes to shove.

Drop in bobbin.

Drop in bobbin.

And it has a drop in bobbin. I had no idea these went back to the early sixties—I feel kinda like an archaeologist who unsealed the Pharaoh’s tomb only to find Pharaoh buried with his iPhone.

Remove, Darn, and Stitch

Remove, Darn, and Stitch

I have not actually tried any sewing with it yet, although I presume it’s in working order—it’s been a while since Grandma made a quilt, but I imagine she’s mended the odd thing. Speaking of which, I had assumed this lever dropped the feed dogs, since it says “darn” in the middle position (machine darning being like free-motion quilting, usually done with the feed-dogs dropped). Well, it doesn’t. What it does is lift the needle-plate. If you move the lever all the way to the left, it pops the needle plate right out. Crazy, no? I’m presuming this is one of those aforementioned “patents” that didn’t catch on like wildfire… but maybe I’m naive. Anyone else ever seen a machine that “dropped” the feed dogs by raising the needle plate?

Grandma's Pantry

Grandma’s Pantry

In addition to the machine, I was handed two large boxes from Grandma’s kitchen. Mostly food, dried pantry stuff, which is nice enough, although I have no idea what I’m going to do with three bags of shredded coconut. Unless I find Grandma’s recipe for Coconut Mountains**, which were one of the highlights of the Christmas season of my childhood, but that seems a lot like work, and baking would take away from my sewing time. Anyway, much of the stuff we can use, and eventually use up—but it included the contents of the spice cabinet, a random array of little bottles, some of which are older than I am, although I’m going to assume that the contents have been consumed and replaced many times over the years. Anyway, I find them adorable in their slightly gungy glory. I have no idea what I’ll do with most of them, however.

*I grew up calling both my grandmothers “Grandma.”  This makes it a little awkward in the context of the blog, since it’s not immediately obvious that I’m not talking about my maternal grandmother, whose machines I’ve already scoped out here. My kids are much luckier, having a Momo and a Gigi and a Nanny (sometimes referred to as Kokum).

**A search for “Coconut Mountains” only turned up this recipe. These look nothing like the things my Grandma made (I’m not convinced hers were even baked) but I suppose the idea is similar. Grandma’s always had the tips dipped in chocolate “snow”

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