sewing journal

a bride to amazement! or, how Halloween is finally, finally, mercifully sweet Jeebus, behind me

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in sewing journal | 0 comments

If you have any questions as to how I made something, or where I found something – ask away! Remember anything you ask benefits those who come searching for tutorials.

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom, Halloween 2014

Last year I believe I created about a dozen pieces for people not related to me – and my children didn’t mind the modest assemblies they received as a result. This year I staved off favors and clients, sewing about six pieces. I wanted to give the kids exactly what they wanted, and to go all out.

So, that happened.

And without further ado:

10 Things I Learned This Halloween Sewing Season

(individual notes on costumes in the Flickr tagset)

Nels, AKA A Dragon

 

1. Sequin fabrics. Unbelievably beautiful, and wonderful to work with. After you’ve spent countless hours painstakingly removing, one sequin at a time, every sequin in your seam allowances. *whimper*

2. Easy “scales” makeup for mermaids, or reptilian what-nots – place a bit of fishnet or tulle over the skin to be made up, and carefully blot a little bit. Nels’ little scales (above) took about thirty seconds and I really adored them.

The Happy Couple

2. You can dye a synthetic wig with off-the-shelf hair dye. Phoenix’s friend Allison (above left) is sporting a thrift store wig that her mama dyed. It turned out fabulous! Phoenix’s wig was purchased as-is from Arda Wigs – and then augmented with a little black hairspray. Colored hairspray, in general, needs to be purchased in large quantities to make a serious dent on hair color.

3. For the bride: mixing dead colors: grey, ivory, pale green and pale grey-lavender – was a total blast! I look forward to making another layered, many-color piece again!

The Happy Couple

4. Tearing and tying one hundred billion strips to the waistline of the wedding gown: worth it. Looks great! I tore along the grain of the fabric which drastically reduces thread coming loose when you launder the costume – which, believe it or not, is machine-washable!

5. Benefits of a dead/corpse/zombie/apocalyptic etc. costume: no need to wash, set and style a wig. Just throw it on!

Nels, AKA A Dragon

6. My costumes are adored not only for their looks but for their wearability. I line and underline them which is why they last through many children. Nels wore his to school and spent our cemetery photoshoot mushroom hunting (there were a billion kinds of mushrooms out!). A garment fully-lined in satin feels wonderful to wear. And of course – I included pockets because that seems like such a lovely and humane feature to give children.

7. Dragon wings: two half-circles of crumpled taffeta, and two of regular taffeta. Each pair sewn right-sides together, then turned right-side out and topstitched. Attached from sleeve hem to hip in one straight line. Simple, sweet, and comfortable to wear.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

8. Bodysuit from mesh fabric, so one can eschew body makeup for that grey corpse-like look: perfect. And surprisingly quick to make. Spandex World for the mesh – using their sample swatch service for the color.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

9. Newspaper roses, spraypainted very carefully: yes. They look as pretty as I thought they might. They are actually rather time-consuming, so be warned.

To Have & To Hold. Plus, A Dragon

10. Crafting as a family affair is wonderful. The clients pictured above all helped with their costumes – and my children did their part doing extra chores so I could work on their pieces. And they thanked me about a hundred times. It’s nice to satisfy!

Happy Halloween!

 

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glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in dailies, sewing journal | 3 comments

It is getting seriously Halloween up in this here

Car Coat, Autumn

(more pictures of the jacket after the cut) -

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Little Halloween Dolls

 Seriously: these little ghoulish dolls (made by a friend; bought as gifts) are excellent). Like:

Little Halloween Dolls

 

They are slaying me!

I’ve been making stuff for myself, too. Some tights:

Multicolor Deconstructed Tights

Making the perfect-fit tight is pretty challenging. I have discovered my ankles and knees are slim, and my calves and thighs are full. These pair were my third try but I am getting it down!
Multicolor Deconstructed Tights

My ladyfriend B. sent us a care package – including some Cotton + Steel fat quarters. DROOOLLness:
Cotton & Steel Fat Quarters
Remember this skeleton thread holder my daughter drew a while back? He’s back on duty – holding my hair products.

Skeleton 'Sup?

Phee's Skeleton Thread Holder

 

Pumpkin pull-apart bread for my castmates. CHOICE
Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread, For Castmates

 

Herbet Pocket is being very witchy:

Herbert Pocket Takes A Rest

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“I know a thing or two about love. Well, maybe just a thing. A big, blurry thing, like Bigfoot.”

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in dailies, sewing journal | 2 comments

Ralph was out of town all weekend. I was so busy it is amazing I didn’t fall ill, or forget to feed some animal and child and find them a skeleton sporting a tuft of fur by week’s-end.

Friday I delivered a sasquatch costume to an Events concern that needed one for a handful of festivities during the year. So far a picture or two has popped up on Facebook, and everyone looks like they’re having a good time – including the first paid person to don the piece. Included with the costume: a few types of black makeup, and a few types of false teeth.

SQUATCHIN'

I know, I know. It would have been nice to get more of my trademark detailed pictures of the piece. Well, it was a miracle – in the entire pedestrian usage of the word – I got photos at all. It was quite a rush job.

SQUATCHIN'

 For the front closure: hidden snaps in a black canvas underlap. A great technique I’ll be using for more costumes!

SQUATCHIN'

Fully lined in a delicious, nubby black satin. The costume feels good on the inside. Ain’t gonna lie – probably a fairly hot experience to wear it!
SQUATCHIN'

Toes: sewn and glued to fur spats – a nice, long foot that can be worn out in weather. I even painted little purplish moons on the nails. Who is going to look this close? Well the point is – I do.

SQUATCHIN'

So that? Was my last week. Grateful to have the project finished according to my timeline.

Saturday I hadn’t recuperated before hustling my eldest to her soccer game adjacent to a mushroom farm in Olympia (the game ended a 2-2 tie). Came home and worked a bit on my vampire film project. I am getting into Halloween the way my rabbit is into eating slightly overripe bananas!

In the last two days I’ve had an audition, yoga classes, and two volunteer bits – as well as cooking for family and friends and a movie night.

An audition? Oh yes. Today I landed a part in the ensemble cast of a local production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Kind of a lifetime dream as I have adored the rock opera since I was a little girl – and I was really, really into it as a teen. (Ralph will still put it on when I’m sewing, and having trouble.

So yeah. This next week? A little respite might be nice.

 

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“I’m not going to lie to you… it’s gonna get weird. Two coats.”

Posted by on Sep 20, 2014 in sewing journal | 7 comments

 

I recently had the honor and privilege of making a friend’s vision come to life: M., who had saved up two large wool blankets for over twenty years, in hopes of one day having them made into a drover’s coat. M. and I exchanged some FB messages, I emailed him a quote, and he delivered me many pounds of heavy wool blanket. With some trepidation I cut into this vintage fabric to begin construction!

Thursday I grabbed a few pictures of the finished product (modeled by husband who is an inch shorter than client in arm and total height):

Wool Drover Coat For M.

M. had several visions for the coat: he wanted the end fringe of the blankets to be used as much as possible at hem, sleeve hem, pocket, pocket flap, and cape. Now is the time for me to point out that the two blankets were different – you can really see this at the stripe near the knee. I am super-proud to say that with careful planning I made an entirely balanced coat – in other words the left side utilizes one blanket for the body, and the other blanket for patch, pocket detail, etc. – and vice versa. I also managed to wrap the wool fringe to curve around the cape such that it looks like it was woven there – and to place another stripe at the shoulder on the cape!

M. wanted antler tips for closures. I got to fiddle/figure out how to use those without the typical toggle closure, which M. didn’t care for. My solution was a bound buttonhole – time intensive, but really a solid, rustic choice. The wool was so very thick I chose to use the selvedge/woven edges for the lips of the (pseudo-) bound buttonhole, thus reducing bulk significantly. Finally – I found tips that were cut in half lengthwise so could be worn very flush to the coat front:

Wool Drover Coat For M.

Hem fringe and cuff tab:
Wool Drover Coat For M.

The collar and collar tab, sleeve tabs, and cape are all lined in a cotton the same color as the shell wool.

One of my favorite details: the cape and collar. The cape is fabulous: it looks like it is sewn to the coat, and it fits perfectly snugly with underarm straps for security. But the wearer can easily unfasten the cape if they don’t want to wear it:

Wool Drover Coat For M.


The fringe – applied to curved cape edge:
Wool Drover Coat For M.

Ralph, about to go tend the flock. Wearing a hat I knit him too – by the way.
Wool Drover Coat For M.

I can’t express how wonderful it is to work with someone on their design – if their design is cohesive, and M.’s really was. I sew up other people’s designs rarely – because I like to make my own. However in M.’s case he had such a definite sense of what he wanted and I instantly grasped how handsome a garment it would make. Although the coat was a technical challenge – the wool in the blankets had warped, and had several very well-done repairs in thread – I learned a great deal while working on it.

The best part? I hand-delivered him the coat last night and he lit right up. “I am completely satisfied!” – a direct quote! And the garment suited him very well. It gives me great pleasure to make someone something they want – or have wanted, for years!

***

Second coat: one for my husband. This, part of my thirteenth anniversary gift for him, was constructed without him ever being aware I was making it (total score!). Waxed canvas, and lined with a matching grey liner with a semi-coarse, lovely finish. The effect is that of a rain slicker – except more breathable, and with a beautiful patina and long-lasting wear:

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Grey-green shot cotton binding at neckline. Waxed canvas – such a beautiful finish – and, now that I’m used to it, a pleasure to sew (this coat was the first I’d made in this fabric; Nels’ was the second, and things went better there):

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

 

Top-stitching: about as near perfect as you can get (using single-needle tailoring):

 

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

 

A fun stretch stitch at hem. Interestingly, in this photo the liner and shell don’t look like the same color; that is a trick of how they photograph. They matched identically!
Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Cuff tab – a triple-stitch for a heavier stitching line. Antique brass snaps I set myself. Kind of fun, actually!

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

 The coat was constructed using Green Pepper’s Frenchglen (adding length to arm and hem as per Ralph’s usual adjustment); the pattern featured a side pocket embedded in the zippered patch pocket:

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

And  a very special zipper pull tab – in a “bean” shape. I found one tab at Quilt Harbor in Aberdeen and knew I had to have it. But I couldn’t find another – not even online! A few weeks ago I ran across the second tab in Lady Lynn’s for $1.75! I was beyond excited. Because I am a huge nerd.

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Ralph, who stands this way – his arms don’t rest at his sides. I discovered this about him a few garments ago and I may or may not call his posture, “Ape Arms”.

Waxed Canvas Jacket #1

Something tells me I am just ramping up the coat and jacket sewing for the fall! Having all that heavy wool in my house during the hottest days of the year was… fun. “Fun”, she says, using “air dick quotes”. Next up: a brief snatch of air sewing an easy flannel car coat for my child – before diving into Halloween sewing, which ramped up so fast I was required to close orders before I could even update my Etsy shop or my website! Good lord.

 

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flyer coat; lumberjack shirt; adorable son!

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in dailies, sewing journal | 10 comments

 Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour

Nels, male model. Adorable times One Hundred! You know. I made all the clothes pictured: the Finn hat, the Flyer Jacket, the skinny wool trousers (Banyan by Figgy’s), and the hooded pearl-snap shirt. AW YEAH. Hell I (arguably) even made the child. Yeah. Yeah I’m pretty awesome.

OK, so down to brass tacks: I have two new garments to show you, and two patterns to discuss. Across the internetz many (mostly)lady-bloggers are sewing up a batch of boy patterns. They are all PDF indie designs, have a wonderful size range of 3 months to sizze 16, and they are all featured on sale this week. I was honored to be asked to participate. August 26th I will be submitting my second entry. If you like what you see here, you might pee your pants on the 26th! No, really. It’s that good!

So for today: I am showcasing the P51 Flyer Jacket by Terra’s Treasures and the Lumberjack Shirt by Patterns for Pirates, and I’ll be discussing them here and in my Flickr tagset.

Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour

Bundle Up Boy Blog Tour

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hero hoodie

Posted by on Aug 10, 2014 in sewing journal | 2 comments

I fell in love, instantly, with this semi-sheer little knit in “tomato and ivory” colorway. In between working for clients, it’s important to sew something that kind of warms my heart. So I did.

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

 It’s also quite gratifying to make someone something and watch them snuggle right into it, and wear it all day long.

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Stripe matching as per usual: LIKE A BOSS

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Twin needle at the hem:

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe 

Hero Hoodie; In Tomato & Ivory Yarn-Dyed Stripe

Next up: pattern testing three patterns for a blog tour (wonderful!), making a silk blouse for a client, and mapping out a drover’s coat for another client. Far less a “housewife” these days than a preoccupied, semi-bitchy tailor!

 

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