31 March, 2011

New Corset, Update

 It’s snowing. WTF. It’s March 30. And it’s snowing. Thus is the fun of weather in Indiana. :-P
So, my first step today is to finish the top-edge stitching on my corset. Following this, I’ll be ready next to pattern out the corset onto the facing fabrics. The front is a lovely gold tapestry-like fabric with a gorgeous filigree-style weave. For the interior facing I chose a matching microsuede remnant. 

So soft!! I wanted to make this corset pretty, rather than just functional. That way at the incredibly warm festivals, I can just wear the corset on the outside and make it my strapless bodice. The fewer layers, the better at the southern faires in late spring! Unfortunately, it’s starting to look like the channels aren’t going to be hand-stitched…the bones come so close that I think I’m going to have to hand-stitch the facing fabrics on to the final product before edging it all.

 You can see in this picture that I had to get creative with my side boning. I was feeling inventive (and a bit confuzzled), so I designed these lines myself. The pattern generator that I used (www.elizabethancostume.net/custompat/ ) had a great pattern line for the boning, but I didn’t feel that it would be enough support for me for a full day at the festivals. So, I got creative and added full boning through the first tab and created a 6-bone fan over the 2nd and 3rd, splitting over the tab split, as you can see here:

Also, for everyone’s safety (especially my own), I reinforced the section around where the split will be as well as stitching about 4 rows above each split.

Now that I’m here, I find myself divided. The tapestry fabric is gorgeous. The “wrong” side of the tapestry fabric is gorgeous. The microsuede is gorgeous (and so soft). I have three paths I can take from this point. Such a fun dilemma.
   A.) I can use the “right side” of the tapestry on the front, and the microsuede on the back. Optional to be reversible.
   B.) I can use the “wrong side” of the tapestry on the front, and the microsuede on the back. Optional to be reversible.
   C.) I can use the “wrong side” of the tapestry on the front and the “right side” on the back. Optional to be reversible…optional but encouraged.

30 March, 2011

A few days of rest...

...now it's back to the grindstone. I've been down and out with what I thought were allergies; turns out it was a minor sinus infection. And after a very mild bout of food poisoning yesterday, I'm back in the saddle. I've been crocheting my little heart out these last few days, so I've not been completely un-productive. I've also snared myself another commission. YAY! My friend Jess needs new garb and finds herself hating her seams and hating to pattern. So she's enlisted me to make her new costuming. Eventually you will hear about a gold and burgundy low-noble gown and a green and brown high peasantry get-up.
Additionally, today (should my body cooperate), I'll be finishing up the current stage on my corset and moving closer to the finish. As well, I'm hoping to get some skirt patterning done! Wish me luck!

24 March, 2011

New Corset

So, as I stated in March '08, I've started (and nearly finished) my second, more functional corset. This time I added tabs (no more scars!), and I'm going to face and back line, then edge it. Also, I was lucky enough to obtain some severely heavy-duty thread so that there will be no whisper of fail!

I'm off to my friend's house for a Stitch'n'Bitch today and taking the corset along to work on, so hopefully there will be some serious progress! Stay tuned for updates!

New Corset, Update
New Corset, Final Stage

21 March, 2011

Resting, Planning, Preparing

It's been a nice couple days of rest since finishing the jumpsuit. I've done a little more planning on the sewing room and puzzled on some organizational techniques to fully maximize my space. And I've been psyching myself up for then next phase of my work.
In May, I'll be travelling to both Georgia and Tennessee Renaissance Festivals. I'm planning a new corset (which I've already mentioned) faced with upholstery fabric and interlined with matching suede, then edged with black linen. Also planning two chemises, both linen, one lighter, one heavier; finally I'm going to build a skirt similar to the one I made for St Patrick's Day, but instead of brown and kelly green, I'm going with black and hunter green.
I'm a proud Chieftess of the Clan M'Crack, Head of the O'Cinneide Family. The Clan colours are saffron and hunter green accented with black and white. Up till now, I've not had a full set of M'Crack garb. After growing 3 cup sizes in the last year I needed to make a new corset. I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and make all new M'Crack garb while I'm at it? Makes sense to me.
So in the next few weeks, keep an eye on the blog for updates on the new M'Crack garb as it is completed! Also, I'm soon to be starting my gypsy skirts for etsy. I'll post a journal just on the first one, and if you like what you see, let me know! I'm always happy to do custom commissions and I'll ship most anywhere!

20 March, 2011

Elvis III, Episode 3 - The show


Three days of frantic patterning and sewing. Three days of headaches, sore fingers, cursing and dehydration from drinking too much coffee. Three days of limited sleep, frustrating fringe, and hammered fingers. But....


So here are some pictures from the show!
Right side shot, with purchased belt:

Back shot, showing shoulder dart in action:
Left back side shot (and me off to the right!):
Front shot, second set. He was dying from heat, but then again, we all were a bit warm:

Toweling off with a satin scarf:

Singing to his mom, Nancy. She's such a huge fan and he always brings her to his show:

She loves coming out the bars to see Mark perform!

So! What do you all think of the suit?

19 March, 2011

Elvis III, Ep 2 - Pt 3

And into Part, the Third. It is 10 of 8, and I have less than 13 hours to finish. So...here we go!

*NOTE: Today's chapter of Elvis III will be updated as I go, and posted at the end of the project, or the end of the day, whichever comes first!*

The shoulders are so deliciously easy. Pin. Stitch. Done. YAY! Don't even need pictures.
However, the sides were a little more difficult, as I had to additionally stitch in the godets at the calf. They went in pretty easy, but of course stitching a triangle into a straight seam is always a little funky.

Geh. Finally! Turns out, (fail number 2, for those keeping track) I forgot to pattern the neck facing for the collar. So that slowed me down quite a bit...Also found out that I didn't have the proper sized setting tools for the grommets. So after a short jaunt to Tandy Leather and Panera for lunch, I got back to work. And after some patterning, ironing and stitching, the collar is done!! Took quite a bit of arranging and ironing and cursing...and some blood (damned pins), but it's done! :D

When I first started this project, the first thing I stitched were the sleeves. So all I need to do now is attach them at the shoulder. Which is pretty much a matter of fitting them into the hole, stitching them and turning them right side back out. So, easy-peasy! We'll see, though, right?

Turns out that, yes, the sleeves were indeed easy! YAY! I had to add a box pleat and a couple of knife pleats to allow Mark enough room to move his arm, but my machine went through it just fine!

Just before the eyelets went in, I had to quickly hem the legs. I have to say, I'm not happy with the thread, but I didn't really have time to switch out and load a new bobbin for the 18 or so inches of blue. It ended up looking fine, but perfectionist that I am it bugged me a bit.

So, the worst fail of my work on this project, I must say, occurred during my run to Tandy earlier today...(remember? to get the eyelet setter?) Well, as it turns out, one should always double-check the size of the setter on both the wall and the package. I read the label on the wall, it said "5/16 eyelet setter". I assumed that since the manager was in the middle of stocking that wall, it would be right. So I paid for my item and went about my day. Well, when I finally got around to setting the eyelets, I discovered that the setter and the eyelets didn't quite fit. After much trial and error, I looked at the damn package and read "1/4 eyelet setter". Luckily however, I'm a corset maker. I scrounged my relatively large collection of grommets, eyelets and setters and found a matching set that worked. But the panic in the interim kinda sucked.

Unfortunately, I ended up working down to the wire, so there is no final photo of the jumpsuit that I could take in the "office". But look for the next post which will feature the suit in action!

18 March, 2011

Elvis III, Ep 2 - Pt 2

Here we are, the night before the show, and all I have to do is put in the zipper and stick all the pieces together. The fringe was an ungodly nightmare, I must say. Honestly, the only reason I'm typing this instead of dealing with the zipper is because I've been at this since 10 AM, and I still want to throw the thing out the window! But, alas, I can't. But enough with the babbling: to my work!
After much debate and many suggested and rejected ideas, my roommate Katie and I finally came up with the best solution for attaching the fringe. After laying a full-length piece of stitch-witchery where the fringe would lay, we started cutting and placing, using a smaller chunk of stitch-witchery every 8-10 pieces and pressing it to seal. This method ended up being the best solution ever! Happy mistake! It ended up being tons more adherent through the leather suede lace than we anticipated and only one zig-zag stitch over the length on each side was necessary!

The left side is done, the right side is close (can you tell we were near the end of the spool?):

A close-up shot of the left-side fringe. Is it just me or do the colours stink of Evel Knievel? :P

The next impossible task was the zipper. To create the smoothest finished edge along the front (and anticipating the grommets that will be added last), I opted to stitch the lining to the front, right sides together, then fold it back, creating a nice, smooth finish. I also ended up choosing to layer the zipper inside the fabric pieces in an effort to continue the smooth finish look already achieved above the fringe.
Additionally, my machine was originally my grandmother's. She gave it to me when she unearthed it in the process of moving. I've not really had a good chance to play. So when I discovered 24 stitch pattern cams, a little piece of me has been screaming to try them. So I did. I used a simple, but nice-looking, cam to add a little flair to the zipper line of the jumpsuit. If you look at it closely, you can tell that I'm still learning how to maintain my speed to keep a steady width/length of each segment. But from a distance it looks really cool! As an added bonus, I used inverted thread colors in the needle and bobbin, so it's blue on white on the front and white on blue on the back! Fun! :)

And a Close-up:

Now pushing 15 hours of work today, I'm finally into the last few stages!
The inseam is finally stitched; I say finally with such emphasis, simply because I fell victim to one of the most common sewing errors: I patterned two of the same leg. And didn't realise it until now (1.30 AM Saturday). Geh. Nearly an hour wasted un-stitching, re-patterning, and re-stitching...before I could even start pinning the inseam! Hopefully, though, this is the only major fail on my part and the rest of this project is smooth-sailing. (Fingers crossed!)

After fixing the issue with the legs, it was time to finish the crotch and stitch the back shut. The last 2 jumpsuits I've made for Mark had similar issues. He is very broad-shouldered. So my dear friend Katie (remember her? stitch-witchery lady? yeah...she's awesome) suggested adding a 6-inch long, 3-inch wide dart in the top center of the back and then box-pleating it under the collar, thus creating a nice dart of blue in the white of the buttersuede and allowing more motion for Mark during the show. Stitched in and pinned into place, this is what it looks like:

So, what I've still got left is to stitch the shoulders, attach the collar/neckband, attach the sleeves, put in the godets in the legs (the bright colorful things that make the wide-leg pants into "bell-bottoms"), hem the pants and set the grommets. If I get up at 7, I should be fine. As long as I don't dilly-dally. :P But, I find myself now staring at a clock that says 2.13 AM. I'm fried. Any more sewing tonight will end very badly for everyone. I'm giving up. A quick 5 or 6 hours of sleep, then it's back in for round 3!

St Patrick's Day

So, yesterday was the fantastic ST PATRICK'S DAY!!!! Matt and I had a blast at our local bar, the Main Event. Karaoke, drinks, and great friends and new friends!
I ended up making a new skirt out of some re-conditioned fabrics...the green was originally a twin-sized duvet cover and the brown was a set of curtains. Originally the brown was going to be a part of my new Peasantry Garb for Faire, and it still may be, but I needed something to line the thinner green cotton with. So I figured why not stick the two together?!? Turned out to be a fantastic idea and it took me a day to make. I started yesterday morning around 11 and finished it around 6, with a three-hour break in the middle while I went to lunch and ran a couple errands with Matt. So, without further ado: the new skirt, and the full ensemble when it was done!
Here are the two fabrics side by side. Sorry the shot is so dark, my camera is high, I think. It works, then it doesn't...anyway. I had made the brown skirt nearly a year ago and hadn't finished the waistband or the hem, so I decided to double-layer with it. First to get it out of my stash pile, and second because I love the colors together!

Here's the skirt as I stitched the panels together. I must say, I really like how the base of M4090 goes together so quickly and easily!

The down-in view of the two skirts pinned together. The green ended up on the outside, yes. But to get that final effect with the final look I wanted at this particular seam, I had to stitch them together this way. This is not what the pattern directions say to do, but I was feeling creative and inspired. I wanted to make the skirt a drawstring-waist and needed to make the waistband itself into a casing rather than just a waistband. So I skipped the interfacing and starched two pieces of waistband, then basted them together. But first was this step, wherein I stitched the top fabric to the under-layer on the inside and followed a guide (see next photo) to be able to turn the skirts out and have a "lacing gap" for ease of donning, as well as a nice, smooth inside seamed edge.

Here's a close-up of the guide for the "lacing gap" (still don't know precisely what to call it!). The basic premise is that I stitch all the way around the top, starting at the left side of the gap guide, then when I reach the right side on my way around, I stitch along the chalk line. For added security, I double-stitched this part, then clipped down the middle to within 1/4" of the tip.

Upon turning out the skirts, here is the un-banded waistline:

And a close-up of the "lacing gap". I keep referring to this spot as the "lacing gap" because in the original pattern, the instructions say to stitch in a continuous lap and then install grommets and lace across this space. I ended up using it pretty much as a spacer for putting the skirt on easily (think an unzippered fly in a pair of jeans).

After this, I attached the waistband and stitched in some strategic box pleats to take in the excess and give the skirt extra flounce. When attaching the waistband, I ran into a few tiny issues pertaining to how to making it a casing. I ended up hemming the edges with a double fold, then zig-zagged across the ends to keep them down. After that, I pressed it in half and pressed up about a 1/2" edge and pretty much attached it like bias-tape leaving nearly 2/3 of the band floating to hold the lacing.

Here's the final look!

16 March, 2011

My new sewing room, and how it transforms

When I moved into the house with my then-boyfriend Matt, I put all of my sewing on hold to focus on working at Faire and building our relationship. Also, the way our house was set up, there really wasn't a good place to set up. All the rooms are full of clutter, stuff, and people. We are lucky enough to have a 3-bedroom house with a living room and a family room, as well as an office and 3 bathrooms. Great house, right? Well, when Matt got his pot-bellied pig, he walled off a portion of the family room and filled the other half with a couch and entertainment center. That was a fine idea at the time, until that room (known as the back room)
became the landing zone for all of our crap that had no where else to go. Upstairs, there was a lovely little 8x9 room, but honestly it's too small. My sewing stuff eventually all landed there, but it just wasn't comfortable.
When it came time for the wedding, I decided that I was going to make all of the bridesmaid's dresses, as well as my own. So I enlisted the use of the "Black Room" (nick-named that when it was painted black by a former roommate, and though now painted white, still retains the moniker). Which was fine, until 2 days ago when Mark moved in. Katie now has moved back into the Black Room and Mark has taken the Grey Room next door. Which left the little room or the back room. Well, Matt and I had decided (since he hadn't used the room for nearly 2 years) that the large furniture stuffs in that room were going to go into the garage sale and moved all but the couch out. 6 months later, he and I have finally started moving me and my stuff into the back room and started the process of converting it into my full-fledged sewing room.

So, yesterday, I built the bookshelf that Matt and I bought months ago and set it up in my new sewing room... :D

In addition to finally building (and filling) my new bookshelf, I also finally got around to hanging up the important bits from our wedding...The group photo of us and our wedding party, our marriage license, and my bouquet (made by my Matron of Honor):

More changes! I've recently acquired (read: Hancock Fabrics was throwing them away) a bucket-style thread holder and a pattern cabinet. So I had to do a little rearranging and now all of my patterns and random bits of thread have new homes! YAY!

Also, remember the giant pile of crap? Yeah, that's getting organized today! Can't stand the jumble of junk and crap and other various shite that has collected in a pile to one side. It gives me limited space to work and it looks bad. So I'm fixing the problem by cleaning it, organizing it and sorting it. 
Not much work will get done today on projects, but I'm hoping that by the time I'm done organizing, I'll have twice as much room to work! 

Elvis III, Ep 2 - Pt 1

So, today has been tons more productive than yesterday in regards to Elvis III. So far, the blue lining has been patterned and cut, and now it's onto the white fabric. I will hopefully be able to update later this evening with the happy news that the fabric is cut and the two parts are together. That's my goal for the day. *fingers crossed*

Here are two shots of the Muslin:

This is the best shot I could get of the lining fabric. Unfortunately my camera doesn't show the true color very well. It's a few shades darker...think Royal Blue, with less purple.

The two back pieces of the Muslin laid out on the blue lining fabric. This shot is a better color sample. This is actually quite close to the final color scheme...The ivory buttersuede that Mark and I decided on ended up looking nearly white.

The collar bands and the godets laid out on the lining. The final result is hopefully going to have a white outer band on the collar with a blue facing. Also, a small blue godet in the center back across the shoulders as my "workspace" is *very* broad-shouldered.

So far, all the blue is patterned, as is the white. Haven't taken photos of the white fabric, but it's done! *le sigh* Tomorrow the plan is to put it all together! Haven't gotten the lining attached to the outer fabric, but by the time I was done with the pinning and cutting, it was already dinner-time and I was losing my source of natural light. The curse of using a picture window as my primary light source. :(

15 March, 2011

Elvis III, Episode 1

So, I find myself beginning the enormity of making and finishing the third Elvis jumpsuit for my friend (and now roommate) Mark.

The first was successful as far as it held together and looked ok, but in my eyes, it qualified as a fail. It was only partially lined in the sleeves, and the fabric that we used ended up being sort of see through. Not enough to really show anything, but rather, you could see every seam; and the decorations (conchos) were handstitched at the last minute and looked a bit haphazard, as you can see below:

The second was far more successful, but still not perfect. The outer fabric was a basic cotton bedsheet, which ended up being even more see through than the previous jumpsuit, so we decided to have a full-body lining of red satin. Great in theory; horrible in practice. The lining didn't move the same way as the outer fabric, and as any good fabric-person knows, didn't breathe worth crap! The rhinestones and the eyelets set into the cotton looked fantastic, but were an incredible pain in my arse. And once again, I ended up working down to the wire. The final results:

I would like to mention that the last-minute scrambles WERE NOT MY FAULT! Frikkin' Elvis delayed me until the last minute with late fittings and shopping late....So. To fix this problem, when he approached me regarding this third installation of an Elvis jumpsuit, I made it very clear that these last-minute situations wouldn't happen anymore. I needed more time. Well, it's happened again. Not his fault though, I have only myself and a bum hip to blame. I found myself unable to walk comfortably due to an increasingly stiff and painful hip, and knew there was no way I could possibly pattern. Once the ache finally subsided and I got the fabric and assorted add-ons, I find myself at today. With only 3.5 days left, I have to pattern, assemble and finish the third jumpsuit.

I am feeling a little better about this, as the muslin has been fitted and trimmed down, the fabric has all been pre-washed and pressed, and all I've got in the way of adornments is some fringe stitched into the front. But, once I have a chance to sit down later this evening, I will post the second episode of this jumpsuit, and the status at that point in time.