Monday, 19 October 2015

Fudging it: or how to create a late Edwardian hat in less than 30 minutes

Today was Election Day.  A number of acquaintances through the local steampunk/costumers group had advanced the idea of voting whilst attired in full suffragette kit.  As someone whose initiation into the history of the women's suffrage movement came through Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins and biographies of the Famous Five, this struck me as a wonderful idea.  And then it hit me.  The stereotypical woman's conundrum.  "I have nothing to wear!"

Or at least, nothing truly Edwardian, which was the historically notorious period of the militant suffragettes under Emmeline Pankhurst.

The organizers of the event had suggested a long skirt and suit jacket as a suitable imitation of Edwardian wear, so I reached into my closet for a green 1890s skirt and petticoat (from this outfit), then added a pale purple tailored shirt and black suit jacket from my everyday wardrobe.  The  green-and-burgundy tie was lifted from my brother's wardrobe many years ago.  Thus, all I needed was a period-appropriate hat.  I took inspiration from bicycling costumes of the period such as this one and from images of shopgirls of the period.

A trip to the local thrift store provided a boater-like imitation straw hat (paper and polyester, for anyone who's interested).  Michael's provided the 1.5-inch brown grosgrain ribbon and a pair of barred pheasant feathers.  I also picked up a fall garland of imitation leaves and berries from a dollar store, but those will probably be later additions.

I don't know if you can see, but I covered the existing black grosgrain band with brown, cut another piece for streamers,  and folded the remainder into a multi-looped bow.  Once I get a good photo of the back, I will add it.  I then stuck the feathers into the side of the stitching holding the bow in place.  They will probably get attached more securely as the design of the ornamentation on the hat evolves.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Bikers, karma, and UFOs

Today, I decided it was time to clear up some of the UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in the stash, one in particular that I discovered while organizing my new sewing room (which is, in itself, a work in progress).  This was a project I had taken on for a friend many years ago (like, um, fifteen or so), but life circumstances got in the way of finishing it at the time, and then two moves served to bury it in the bottom of the stash.  
Anyway, the project today was two biker-style "do-rags", actually a semi-tailored head cover with an adjustable tied band, or what looks like a fitted bandana, but in fun printed quilting cottons instead of the traditional polka-dot or paisley patterns.  

The first was more of a challenge, in part because I had to re-learn how to assemble the darned things, but also because the large scale of the whale print made motif placement more challenging.  I opted to center the side panels over some of the smaller, more colourful fish in the pattern, leaving the larger centre panel to feature the whales.  

The other was just a bright, fun jumble of a marine-life print, much easier to work with because I didn't have to worry about pattern placement.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

New Look 6150/Gertie's Easy Knit Pencil Skirt mash-up

The gathering in the dart area-- well-hidden by the print.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was working on creating a mock-wrap dress using New Look 6150 as the basis for the bodice.  I performed the full bust adjustment required, but because the knit was a trifle too springy for a dart, especially the "Big Honking Dart", to borrow a phrase, I opted to gather the entire dart base area, trusting to the pattern of the print to disguise the adjustment.
Hard to see, but the pleat replacing gathering in the shoulder area.

Aside from cutting the top front and back pieces at the waistline, that was the only adjustment I performed on the pattern pieces.  In sewing, I replaced the gathering on the front shoulder seam with a single pleat double-needle hems with machine blind stitching, and I stabilized the waist seam with elastic.  
The finished product, ready for a long day of marketing workshop and serving as a dresser at a fashion show.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Exciting developments

After considerable consideration (and isn't that a mouthful), I have decided to take this hobby of mine to the next level and turn it into a business.  Initially, I will be focussing on creating custom-tailored and made-to-order work, specializing in professional attire, special occasion wear, and costuming/cosplay wear for plus-sized and otherwise hard-to-fit women.  I am also in the process of developing some retro-inspired pieces that are suitable for workplace wear (more on that at a later date).

Friday, 3 April 2015

New Look 6150 review, Part 2

After the relatively simple project that was the T-shirt version of the top, I was hoping that the wrap top would be of a similar difficulty.  Short version? It wasn't.

I chose the same jersey knit, in a different print,
 and based on the amount of ease in the pattern, I opted not to do an FBA, just to test.

I traced the pattern pieces and cut them out, which was where the challenges of working from stash fabric come in.  I was about 10cm short of having enough fabric to cut all the pieces, so I had to piece the outer front near the hem.

I followed the directions as given in the pattern, although I did lengthen the sleeves about 5 cm.

The directions for the collar and front were a little hard to follow, especially for the forming of the pleat that helps to form the lapel.  Next time, I will figure out the assembly process on my own.

Also for next time:

1) Do an FBA.  The top can be worn, but the upper edge of the draped front hits a little high.
2) Lengthen the top about 7-8 cm and do a swayback/big bum adjustment.

Pattern ratings:

  • Size range: 3/5 -- New Look is a division of Simplicity, so the pattern only runs up to an 18.
  • Instructions: 4/5 -- The clarity depends on the view.  The T-shirt is easy to follow, the wrap top, not so much.
  • Construction process: 3/5 -- Could be much more streamlined.
  • Final fit: 4/5 -- The shoulders, sleeves, and back fit fine, The front fits without gaping at the front, but is a little tight and pulls on the back of the neck.  It's a little short for my comfort, too, with a minor tendency to ride up in the back.  That might because of the need for the full bust adjustment, but I think I'd adjust the length anyway.
  • Overall rating: 4/5

Friday, 27 March 2015

New Look 6150 review

I am finally posting a project I finished back in the autumn, since my notoriously camera-shy daughter allowed me to corner her to photograph the finished project.

For this project, we opted for the simpler, boatneck T-shirt version, with elbow-length ruched sleeves, in part because this was my first-ever knit project in nearly thirty years.  We opted for a light-to-medium weight sweater knit in an abstract print.
Since I don't have a serger, I sewed the seams with the narrowest possible zigzag stitch and finished them with my machine's overcast stitch.

The hems were pinned up and topstitched with a double needle.

Overall, this was a very easy project, which I would recommend for a relative beginner who has a good understanding of their sewing machine (I made it up in about one-and-a-half hours, including layout and cutting).

The only alteration that was required was taking in the centre back seam about one inch total at the neckline to rectify a bit of a gap.

The directions in the pattern were fairly straightforward, the only hint of a challenge coming from the application of the elastic used to ruche the sleeves.

Draft day

Recently, a friend asked me to make a duplicate of her favourite draped cardigan, which was somewhat the worse for wear after an office move.  The original was somewhat similar to this but in black, and more flared at the hem.

The other day, I used the original to make a master pattern on grid paper, which I have since copied onto waxed tissue.  In the interest of fitting it all onto one sheet of pattern tissue, I copied it without seam allowances, which will be cut in when the pattern is applied to the fabric, a rayon-elastane knit with a fair bit of horizontal stretch, nearly identical to the viscose-elastane blend of the original.

I also copied out the pieces for New Look 6150, view A, which is a surplice mock wrap top with three-quarter-length sleeves.  The plan is to make a wearable muslin in this medium-weight sweater knit in abstract floral, which has been sitting in my stash since late summer.  The pattern has been there for nearly a year, waiting for the proper fabric to make it up. 

Once I've mastered the fit, I plan to adapt the pattern for the bodice of a mock wrap dress (skirt based on either Gertie's Knit Pencil Skirt or Sew-So-Easy's wrap dress) to be sewn in this lovely bright printed knit.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Pattern Review: Gertie's Easy Knit Pencil Skirt

After a bit of discouragement with a project that just didn't go quite to expectations (more on that at a later date), I decided it was time to stop beating myself up and move on to an easier project.  Over the Christmas holidays, I picked up Gertie Sews Vintage Casual.  I've been dying to try some of the projects, particularly the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt, which is, quite simply, two pieces of fabric plus elastic for the waistband.

In the fall, I had picked up a lovely grey-and-white jacquard knit from a remnant bin.  Lo and behold! What had Gertie made the illustrative skirt of? Why, an almost identical fabric!

Thus encouraged, I traced the size 14, graded up to the 16 at the waist, and went to town.  With the size grading, the skirt was almost a perfect fit, although I might take it down about half a size next time for a more curve-hugging fit. (Sorry about the dirty mirror.)

All told, it took me about two-and-a-half hours from start to finish, including tracing the pattern and a fifteen-minute break for lunch, so not a lot of time invested (and with the discounted fabric, not a lot of money, either).  As far as wearable muslins go, I would call this one a winner.

Next time, I think I will try the gored, flared version, perhaps in a navy or charcoal ponte knit.  This one pattern will, I think, become a tried-and-true addition to my repertoire.