creations

Fabric Fear Overcome! aka The Tana Lawn Robe

Most people I know who sew or craft have some variation of fabric fear — the dread of messing up some rare, expensive, precious, irreplaceable fabric or craft material — either by making a mistake when working with it, or by making it into something substandard or dumb. This fear often contributes to stash accumulation as we add but refuse to actually sew the unicorn fabric.

I have my own herd of fabric unicorns and many of those take the form of Liberty Tana Lawn. Most of my Tana Lawn was given to me by my husband and because of this, it’s some of the most precious (and expensive) fabric I own. But recently, I conquered my fears and actually cut and sewed some of it! I also happen to be pleased with the result.

I’ve made Simplicity 8510 from 1969 twice before. (Previous versions here and here) I really love this robe in flannel but it’s useless in Atlanta heat. I had a fair quantity of the Mauvey print in Tana Lawn. Since I knew that I liked this pattern, and it turned out well, I decided a Liberty lawn version would be wonderful and luscious for summer and easy to pack for travel.

It was very scary making those cuts and actually, I found the lawn a little tougher to sew than expected due to its light hand. I definitely had a bit of learning curve with it so I am glad I wasn’t attempting something that wasn’t guaranteed success. Having already blogged about this pattern, there’s not much else to really cover so here’s the final product!

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Oh, well I lied. There is one construction thing to cover. I used much smaller buttons than the pattern called for so I also used many more of them. I think the smaller buttons messed up my buttonhole placement. The buttonholes are too far from the edge in my opinion. I also sort of remember not liking that the last time I made this robe so now there is a note on the pattern to disregard the placement. Other than that, I’m thrilled with this. It’s such a lovely garment that I’d consider making another one. I also have a nice sized piece of the Mauvey left that could possibly be used for a blouse test run.

I put this robe on as soon as it was complete and I’ve been wearing it so much I’ve already pulled some of the stitches out of the pocket edge — whoops. I even tried to get this guy to love the robe but it probably isn’t as snuggly as the flannel version. Oh well!

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Secret Cinema and Sewing Experiments

On my latest trip to London I attended my first Secret Cinema, an immersive film experience. While it isn’t so secret anymore (they used to not tell you the movie until you arrived), it’s still a very fun, very detailed evening out. Essentially Secret Cinema creates an environment based on a film, gives its attendees “characters” and provides a sort of LARP lite immersion before you watch the event’s film. When I found out they would be screening Blade Runner, well, I was there.

I received my character brief and set to figuring out what exactly it meant and what I should wear.

 

Upon reading more about the Job Title: Professional Friend, it became clear to me that I was a “basic pleasure model” similar to the replicant Pris. So what would an overweight, middle aged sexbot wear, I wondered?

Originally, I was going to wear my black lace fetish dress but then I thought, “Why aren’t I making a new outfit like I do for every event? Don’t be cheap and lazy!” So I set out to figure something that would be kind of spacey and future but still wearable by me.

I decided to experiment and try something I’d never done, sew with scuba. I really stay away from unusual fabrics but my idea seemed simple enough and I had a backup plan (the fetish dress). I went out looking at my retail options but ultimately found my fabric online from Fashion Fabrics Club. I found a neoprene that is black on one side and white on the other. So I decided to do a kind of 60s space take by sewing a color blocked mini dress.

I chose the trusty New Look 6889 as my pattern. It has the lines I needed and it is very fast and easy. I read up on sewing scuba / neoprene, which seemed pretty straightforward and similar to sewing most knits (use a new ball point needle). What I did not realize is that scuba fabric and neoprene, while similar in look, are not the same. Scuba is a polyester double knit fashion fabric. Neoprene has a foam core between the layers of double knit. The fabric I bought had a very thin core but it was there. That core also can make neoprene more hot to wear.

The neoprene was very easy to sew but not forgiving. It shows stitch marks but they do basically come out. Like all knits you need to make sure that you don’t stretch while you sew. I was also concerned the neoprene might snag on my feed dogs but I didn’t have an issue.

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The dress on top of other things that hang out on my dress form.

Originally I was going to leave all my edges raw but I am bad at cutting a straight line so I turned everything over and did a narrow hem. I also originally planned on making the dress more like a checkerboard so the back was the reverse of the front. I cut out my pieces incorrectly so the left side was black and the right side was white — not what I intended but it worked just fine.

To accessorize, I purchased a pink holographic harness from Apatico. I got a ton of compliments on the harness at the event and one of the immersion actors even tried to barter it off me. I turned her down.

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Zhora and her raincoat

As part of the immersion we were are told repeatedly to bring umbrellas, raincoats and to wear flat shoes due to “LA’s persistent acid rain”. This is because they actually made it rain, repeatedly, inside the immersion. I really wanted a clear raincoat like Zhora’s but I couldn’t find one in my size. I figured I’d try to make that too.

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I decided to make a cape to avoid setting sleeves made out of vinyl. I already had a teflon presser foot. I bought heavy duty needles and set to work.

I was shocked how easy it was to sew the vinyl together. It did not get torn up by the feed dogs. I did have to be a little careful that the vinyl did not stick to the metal plate though. It started off really great! Then I started trying to topstitch my seams and it started going wrong. I put it on. The cape flared out in a really weird way. It could have been a cool effect but I wasn’t buying it. Between the topstitch issues, the weird fit and the fact that I was trying to do this at the 11th hour, I gave up. I bought a super cute white vinyl raincoat on Amazon (it’s in the 1st photo on the dress form) instead.

IMG_8983As it turned out, London had some freaky weather while I was visiting. The day of Secret Cinema it was almost 80 degrees! Londoners were dying and it definitely was not a day for a vinyl raincoat. I was both glad I didn’t suffer through trying to make the clear one and annoyed that it was too hot to wear my white one. One of my friends was cast as a private detective and bought a super cute trench coat to wear. It was too hot for that as well.

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I bought a light up clear umbrella when I arrived on the site and boy did I need it. They were not kidding about the acid rain! It “rained” about every 15 minutes and it was not a light sprinkling. There were food stalls surrounding the rainy area and you could eat noodles barely shaded from the rain just like Deckard did in the film. A couple of times I was caught without my umbrella up and my neoprene dress turned out to be the right choice because rather than being soaked the rain just rolled off! We also had drinks in The Snake Pit after being let in the backdoor by Zhora herself.

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I had a great time during my trip to 2019 Los Angeles. That’s next year! Wow.

Oscar Party dress, or I finally managed to sew a thing!

My first post of 2018 was an ambitious list of my sewing hopes for this year. So what did I not do at all in January and February? Yep, no sewing at all.

I finally was able to get back behind the machine to make a formal dress for an Oscar Party.

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I was very excited to give Simplicity 2506 from 1958 a spin. It was a good score to find this pattern in a 24 1/2 (45 bust). That’s actually a size too big for me but I made the dress with no alterations. This turned out to be a mistake as it was too big in the shoulders and at the neckline. I can make a fast and dirty fix on the dress I already made. I should take a wedge out of the center front and redraft that piece before I make this again.

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Originally I was going to make this dress in a sort of tiki inspired fabric of tan tropical leaves and flowers on a black ground. I misread the pattern however and after I had cut several pieces I realized I was at least a yard short of fabric. Since that fabric was essentially free, this error turned out to only be extremely annoying versus tragic or expensive. I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash with enough yardage so I went out the day before the Oscars to try to find something else.

I, like most people, was totally thrilled by Black Panther. After watching, I immediately put a vintage dress out of African wax cotton on my sewing list so I’d have something “Wakandan” for DragonCon. I was striking out with Oscar dress fabric but the shop I was at has a wide selection of wax cottons. I immediately fell in love with this one. I love all the colors and the almost tech or cellular look to it. I also didn’t realize that African wax cotton prints come in set yardages. So I was a little worried about making that work with my big skirt pieces but bought a little extra it turned out fine. I was a little worried with how stiff the wax cotton was but I figured it had to soften up with washing. It softened up and had an almost brushed texture after a trip in the washing machine. It was a dream to work with and very easy to sew.

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I finished the dress at 7:30pm the night of the party. The red carpet started at 7pm so by the time I got dressed and ready I made a very late entrance. But, I did finish the dress, I did make it to the party and in addition to looking fab, I was super comfortable. I also had pocket since I put one in! I accessorized with an earring necklace combo from Dames a la Mode. While you can’t see them I’m wearing very cute blue suede heels I just rediscovered after several years being lost under my bed. This dress would look even more period with a small crinoline underneath. I actually have the perfect one, but in my rush to get the party I totally forgot about wearing it.

While I now I have the perfect gown for next year’s Oscars (I’m sure Black Panther will win something — costume design seems obvious), I’m still planning to make another more casual dress as a Black Panther homage. I’d like to use a print that is a little more traditional. Also, African wax cotton was a dream to work with and affordable so I’m completely down with sewing it again and often.

My 2018 (intensive and long) list of sewing goals

It’s officially 2018. It’s been a bit of a start since our heat went out New Year’s Day and it’s been quite cold (below freezing) here in Atlanta! Being stuck in one room with space heaters or in the much more spacious and warm studio has had me seriously thinking about sewing goals. I feel like I really dropped the ball on historical last year. I’m in fairly dire need of new Victorian gowns for both day and evening. I had planned on making both — made neither! I also have a late 1860s gown started but not finished. And don’t forget piles of awesome fabrics waiting to be turned into several other gowns. I need to prioritize!

So, in no particular order, my top goals for 2018:

Late 1860s Ball Gown and Day Bodice — I have the bodice half done. I “threw in” my hoop in favor of commissioning Black Orchid Atelier to make one for me. I bought trim in LA last year that I think will work on the ball gown. I might have enough silk for a day bodice. I’m thinking I may try to turn my hoop fail into a circular hoop, just so I have one and so I at least save some of my effort. I just have so many icky feelings about wearing Civil War fashion.

Early Bustle Era Day Dress — I have a stash black and whitish sawtooth cotton to use for this. I just need to pick a final design and make it.

18th Century Riding Habit — I took Lynn McMasters’s fitting class at Costume College so this also is basically ready to go. I should probably mock it up once more before I use my fashion fabric, a kelly green linen / cotton blend that I originally bought to make a Slytherin themed 1890s suit. But as that fabric is not precious and replaceable, maybe I should just get to it instead?

More Regency —  I’m already slated to go to Jane Austen Fest so I want to make something new. I bought a beautiful sari in London to use for a ballgown. I got a fabulous blue and white striped gauze from my husband for Christmas that I’d like to use for something. I only have three meters so most likely it would be an open robe or a sleeveless overdress. I don’t know. I just don’t want to make another white gown to go underneath. I made a white dress last summer.

1910s Ball / Evening Gown — I have a different sari from London for this. I also have a paste rhinestone buckle, most likely from the 1980s, that I got at the Paris flea market as a focus. This dress will most likely be a little loud and more Hollywood than history but I think it will be fabulous. I tried starting the Laughing Moon pattern but didn’t get very far with the mockup. Not sure if I should revisit that or use a different pattern.

Figure out how to make myself a pair of jeans — this was on my list last year and didn’t happen. I need a pair of vintage / retro style jeans. I need to conquer pants, but I have fear.

Of course that list doesn’t include the Elvis and David Bowie themed dressed I had tentatively planned for Costume College. I don’t even know if I can stomach the cost or intensity of my Elvis idea. Nor does it include reviving my 1901 Mourning Ensemble or sewing anything else practical or vintage. Oh and there is also the time of real life too! I’m just not sure where to start exactly, since the only current deadlines I have are Janefest and Costume College. But if I just picked one, hunkered down and started, I feel like the priority list could be possible!

In the time it took to write this, my heat finally seems to be fixed! Another good sign!

Any suggestions? Make them in the comments!

 

2017 in Review

It’s the last day of the year so that means it’s time to recap my sewing adventures from 2017. I probably should have split this into more than one post. I didn’t realize exactly how much I actually managed to sew until I was well into compiling this recap. Some items don’t have photos nor did some end up getting a blog post (until this one).

All in all, 2017 was ok but I didn’t get as much done was I had hoped in terms of historical sewing. I had planned on making at least one new Victorian gown. Still, I had some great makes and I also now have a whole weekend’s worth of Regency. My 2018 to sew list is very long. We’ll just have to see how it goes!

Without further ado….2017….

I tried to get better at knits and made three shirts from the Montlake Tee from Straight Stitch Designs.img_2139img_2121

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The 3rd tee was a present for my mom

I made two shirts from Simplicity 3852 as Christmas presents for my uncle. I have a photo from the one I made as a late 2016 present (I sewed it in January 2017) but I don’t have a picture of the one I made on time for 2017. Even worse, my uncle was at my house on Christmas morning! How missed getting a photo I’ll never know!img_2154

A patriotic pantsuit from Simplicity 5556 circa 1973.img_2162

Two more versions of Simplicity 1577 from 1956.

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a UFO of black lace and pleather

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a Poison themed Housewitch dress

A groovy maxi dress from 70s era McCalls 5337.IMG_3928

A couple of bowties from a 1970s Kwik Sew patternIMG_725218235921_10154532898787337_567025972_o

Three different dresses / cosplays from McCalls 2276, an 80s does 20s pattern.

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A day dress for the jazz age lawn party

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A 20s themed Slytherin dress based on fan art

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A jazz age take on Birdperson from Rick and Morty

 

I made, but did not blog about, a titanic era day time outfit made from TVE 45 – 1911 Narrow Panel BlouseTVE 30 – Narrow Panel Skirt and a remade church lady hat. While I successfully wore this outfit to a Titanic themed escape room, and while we successfully escaped the sinking ship before the time was up, this outfit has issues. I need to revisit and potentially remake it. I didn’t have enough time to let the fabric settle before hemming so fixing that would be a big improvement at the very least.IMG_3999IMG_4004IMG_4005

A Flamingo dress from Simplicity 4478 from 1962.IMG_5488

New daytime sleeves to take my purple Regency dress to half mourning.IMG_5474

A brand new Regency dress ensemble, including dress, shawl, reticule and fixed turban.IMG_5915IMG_5522IMG_5536

A Regency / 18th Century chemise and 18th Century petticoat. My stays were made by the very talented Anthony Canney / House of Canney.IMG_5762

A music dress from Simplicity 1427, View 2 from 1955.IMG_7197

This year’s robe from Simplicity 8510 from 1969.IMG_2227IMG_2228

A “science” housedress from a 1960s nightgown pattern — I don’t have the pattern number handy!IMG_6400IMG_6401

Wizard Robes for my mom!IMG_7536IMG_7535

Skirts for friendsIMG_4557IMG_4559

I finally finished putting the finishing stitches on my Edwardian safari outfit. The majority of it was sewn and worn a few years ago but I never finished the jacket. I also wore another House of Canney creation — a proper S Curve Corset — for the 1st time.IMG_7044

I also remade my Mod Christmas Dress from 2016 into a mod Disney dress from Costume College.IMG_5774

Finally I made Christmas stockings for our new pup Ollivander and our first time Christmas visitor, my Uncle Ronnie. We had seven stockings on the rail this year! A Santa record!IMG_7789And that brings us to the end of 2017!

I wish you all the best and all the luck in 2018!

 

It’s not easy knitting green

2017 was quite a year, mostly due to the terrible things going on in American politics. But  one (kinda sorta) momentous thing occurred, I finally finished a sweater that I started in 2013!

I give you my completed Owl Sweater by Kate Davies!IMG_7673

I also give you my husband, sneaking in on my project selfies!

In preparation for doing this blog post I looked up exactly when I bought the yarn for this project. I purchased the original skeins of Brava Bulky in the color way Dublin in 2013. I ran out of yarn at some point and had to buy more in 2015 (sadly causing a somewhat noticeable dye lot shift). After finishing the actual knitting, it took me 2016 and most of 2017 to sew on all the button owl eyes. This is probably the longest it has taken me to knit a sweater so far. I have several UFOs in my yarn closet though that could potentially break that record.

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I don’t understand why this sweater took so long. It is knit bottom up, in the round. The only “complicated” part is the cables that make the owls. The cables aren’t really that hard either but they are a bit time consuming. I guess it was because I only worked on this when it was cold in Atlanta, which is often a very short amount of time.

I finally finished sewing on all the button eyes while visiting my mom over Thanksgiving. I wore the sweater for the 1st time when I joined her at her knitting group at the yarn shop Three Bags Full. Since I don’t knit that much anymore — and still have quite a yarn stash from when I was always knitting — I’ve stayed away from yarn shops. Three Bags Full is a lovely place though! So many tempting yarns.

Sitting and chatting and watching everyone knitting really made me want to get a new project on. I wanted a new knit hat to go with one of my winter coats so I was convinced to buy some yarn to make the Dustland Hat by Stephen West. Normally I don’t really go for these elongated watch cap type hats. I am more a beret person. There was a sample of this hat in the shop so I tried it on. It looked cute and I was told it was a fast knit so I gave it a go. I don’t remember what yarn I bought — but it is really nice. I need to ask my mom to find out what it was!

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I knit this thing in about a week. I made some major mistakes when I stopped paying attention to the pattern and starting actually watching the remake of The A-Team. I’ve been wearing this hat pretty much non-stop since the beginning of December. We keep our house pretty cold and this hat is nice and warm. It also really covers up a bad or unwashed hair day. I call it my dirty hippie hat. I already have 2 friends who want one.

After finishing both the hat and the sweater we had a crazy experience in Atlanta, snow in December! We got maybe 4 or 5 inches but some areas got even more. Most of it melted pretty quickly and was gone by the time we left the house the next day but our neighbors made a snowman and I got a much better photo op!

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Muggle no more — Mom turns wizard at 75!

On November 21st my mom turned 75. In anticipation of this milestone birthday, she told me that she didn’t want any big ta-do or hoopla. Now coming from some moms, that would be the signal for a giant blow out bash, but from my mom, it was pretty sincere. Even though I planned on respecting her wishes I knew I needed to do something special.

I flew into Chicagoland on her birthday. The only plan we had that day was to order a pizza from Lou Malnati. She opted out of a dinner out since we were going to the opera and out for Thanksgiving on the next two consecutive days. I was fine with this as it gave me a cover to put together a little surprise. I arranged with one of her friends to get a couple of people together and for everyone to drop by unannounced with a small cake. Three of my mom’s closest friends arrived with cake, balloons and gifts. My mom was pleasantly surprised and we had a lovely, fun evening.

IMG_7509IMG_7512IMG_7513After seeing my wizard robes, my mom had asked me if I would be willing to make some for her with a bunch of her old sentimental t-shirts. Of course, I said yes. But then the shirts sat for at least two years. I had decided over the summer that this had to be the year that I would finally get the robes done. I had originally planned on making them for Christmas but then I realized her birthday was the perfect occasion.

IMG_7535IMG_7536Since my mom had given me the shirts for the robes, to finally have them wasn’t a complete surprise. It was clear though that she was really thrilled to finally be a wizard!

Happy birthday mom! Love you!IMG_7540