Tuesday, February 25, 2014

American Duchess "Nankeen" Regency Boot Give-away!

American Duchess is hosting a give-away! 
Just stop for a moment and imagine being Elizabeth Bennet on her way to Netherfield to visit her sister. Hopefully, your hem won't be six inches deep in mud. ;) 
Head on over to her blog for your chance to win! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fan-Girl Sewing: Bofur Hat

(This could also be part of Throwback Thursday posts, but it seems to fit better under the fan-girl label.)

Can you name all the dwarfs in the Hobbit? Can you tell them apart? Okay, can you at least tell me you know the dwarf that has the hat that looks like it wants to defy gravity and take off flying? Okay, good. That's Bofur, and he's probably my favorite dwarf in Thorin's company (with Fili close behind). But isn't his hat the best? I :had: to have it.

So I started shopping around. Unfortunately, the only ones on the market were either expensive or cheesy. I figured I could make one, I mean, really, how hard could it be to make a hat? Granted, I never recreated something from a movie before or made a hat before. This is going to be an adventure! 

With all the farming craziness of summer all finished, I had more time to dedicate to geeky sewing experiments. ^_^

Looking at the hat, it looks like a bomber hat (I hope you didn't read that as Bombur...) with some serious dramatic dwarf flair to it.  But there's one problem: there aren't any bomber hat patterns. Anywhere. I did find a video tutorial on youtube, but still no pattern to work with. Drats. Being my stereotypical, crazy, crafting self, I jumped right in with making my own. Maybe one of these days, I'll get around to making a tutorial and printable pattern to share with y'all to fill that empty place in the cosplay universe.

 After making up the first draft for the pattern and then making the pre-mock-up mock-up out of some thread-bare, old sheets that I had stashed away for the sole purpose of being a mock-up, I felt comfortable moving on to the mock-up. (Wow, that was a run on sentence with a sad lack of vocabulary diversity. Ahem, anyway.) So I made the daring move to start working with the curly brown faux fur that I had  found at the fabric store.
"Perfect chore hat," says I, "It'll be wonderfully warm for doing those winter tasks."

 The final product certain had a Siberian hobo feel to it because of the fabrics I used. ;)
And that's why they call it a mock-up. It's comfy and that's all that matters.

It was finally time to move on to making Bofur's hat. I sewed up the leather exterior (it looked like a vintage football helmet), embroidered the crown seams, jimmy-rigged a frame/system to use to hold up the ear flaps. But I couldn't find the right kind of fur for the lining. Anywhere. Seeing a trend with this project? I checked the fabric stores in the area. Nada. Etsy? Zilch. Unless you wanted to pay an arm and a leg. Amazon? Same story there. :sigh: Then my brother played the Weird Al song, "eBay." Inspiration can come from anywhere I guess. So I checked the online auction house. Lo-and-behold, FUR! And I had choices too! And it was a 'purchase now' listing. Oh happiness! Guess where my perfect fur came from. South Korea. It was funny seeing my mom's face when she handed me the gray plastic package, 'Uh, what are you getting from South Korea?' 'Oh chill, Mom, it's North Korea that has nukes. It's my fur!' It takes a while to ship things across the great wide Pacific and to my front door step. I finished the rest of the hat that afternoon. 

Good luck trying to convince me to take it off. I LOVE it!
With the recent snow 'storm' that came through, the hat proved its metal (or fur). It's fabulously warm, and the pleather-like material that's on the outside is pretty water resistant. ;) 

My dad was asking about my recent 'obsession' this bomber hats. I shrugged. 
A friend showed me a link to where you can purchase the official movie replica. Guess how much it cost. Just guess. $50? Nope. More. $100?! Nope. It will cost you $200 to own the replica from the movie. That makes the money that I put down for this look like pocket change. (actually, it was, everything was either discount or clearance!) Maybe I could turn it into a business of some sort. Hmm...

Until next time!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Mid-1800's British Uniform

With much gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair, staring at it awkwardly in fear, wracking my brain over how historically 'accurate' it is going to be, taking my brother shopping with me at the fabric store, some more staring, and going back to the store... oh you get the point. It took me almost a year to finish this coat. My brother asked me if I could make him a very specific coat (and this is coming from the guy who rarely asks for anything) - a British officer's uniform from the Zulu War. We worked out a trade, and I sorta set to work. It certainly ranks #1 hardest project I've ever done in my sewing career. I can point out all of the oops, shortcuts, the what-was-I-thinkings, and the 'that-shouldn't-have-worked-but-it-did-anyway.'  I've never done any sort of man's garment before, let alone a lined, tailored jacket! But I survived to sew another day. ^_^

The lo-down:
Pattern: McCalls 4745 (A)

- The pattern is originally drafted for American Civil War, not the British Zulu War. So the color is obviously different. ;)
- lapels on the shoulder drafted from one of my brother's trench coats
- gold braid and decorative buttons added to collar
- My brother has a very strong, athletic build, so, even with cutting it to his measurements, I had bring in the waist even more and put more ease into the shoulders.

- The gathers on the sleeves weren't long enough per the instructions, so I had to spread the gathers out even farther.
- The coat tails... a living nightmare. I couldn't figure out the directions after studying it and rereading it. The pictures with the instructions hardly corresponded with what you were doing... I eventually wound up on a pattern review site and I went through everyone's suggestions on how they survived and managed to finish the coat. Those were life savers.
So the final verdict? Would I do it again? Eh... Maybe. :shrugs: Maybe if I can work up the courage to do it again. ;)
Now my brother just needs to find the hat, boots, accessories and what-not to make the whole outfit complete. Then we can get some better pictures with him all decked out in the apparel. My part of his ensemble is finished.

Until next time!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Captain America Tote

A few weeks back, I was able to test out a Captain America Lego block, but I was left with a quilt block that I had no idea what to do with. It went into the project pile while I waited for the inspiration to strike. 
I don't know where the thought came from, but I eventually landed on the idea to turn it into a bag. So I consulted my fabric stash to see if I could do this without spending any money or going to the store. I love it when all I have to do for a project is go to my fabric collection and see what's going to jump out at me. 

With patriotic cotton and comic book fabric in tow, I sat down with my sketch book to draw out what I wanted the end product to look like. Rough estimates, undecided measurements, scribbles and lousy drawing skills somehow became this: 

My new favorite tote.

And the lining is onomatopoeia!  
I think my obsession with Captain America is becoming too much. ;) 

Until next time!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Baby Quilt: Tractor

Some friends of mine are having a baby! Actually, last year was the year of weddings, this year is the year of babies. So I've been cruising along and making quilts as the inspiration hits. When I found Lori Holt's tractor block tutorial, I knew I needed to make it. I didn't know who the quilt would go to, but I had to make it. I finished the piecing the tractor and sewing on the borders. I just needed the final motivational push to quilt it. 
Last year, one of my friends married a farmer and moved to the other side of the country, and now they are expecting their first little one! I had all the motivation I needed right there in that email. ^_^  

Since they're farming, I thought it would be appropriate to include a Bible verse pertaining to the theme of the quilt. Deuteronomy 11:13-15 fit the bill perfectly. "13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied."

I'll try to get better pictures in the next few days. :)

Until next time!

Throwback Thursday: Blue Civil War Day Dress

Several years ago, a friend and I embarked on a sewing project together - we were going to sew Civil War dresses. Neither of us had sewn something like that before (Regency dresses and medieval gowns are pretty straight forward all things considered), and we wanted the challenge of a mid-1800's gown. We both studied up on the dress construction, blah blah blah... and jumped in. 

Step 1: find pattern. We landed on Simplicity 3727. It looked straight forward enough.
Step 2: procure fabric. Nothing at Joann's was going to cut it, so we ventured to the biggest fabric store in the area. There's an acre of fabric. Slightly overwhelming. But we found a reproduction fabric section which helped a lot. ;)
Step 3: Create the correct silhouette. Yes, there are petticoats, hoops and a corset keeping everything where it's supposed to be. 
Step 4: Make dress. My friend got her dress all finished in time for the reenactment all those years ago. Mine? It was done. But uh, well... my oops was that I made the bodice to my non-corseted measurements. In other words, it was too big. ;) So in the to-do-later pile the bodice went to be overlooked by more new and exciting sewing projects (don't worry, that blue bodice had lots of friends that pile).
Emily looking gorgeous in her 1860's ensemble

And I farbed around in what I could make-do with the time and skills that I had. And yes, I wore flip flops under all those layers. ;)

Well, I went through this phase of finishing the unfinished. Time for procrastination to be pushed to the back seat. Let's get stuff done. I pulled the bodice out of the bag and assessed where I had left things:

- The fringe. It looked like it was being eaten alive by golden fringe. I guess using interior decorating trims has its downside. So the lion's mane was trimmed 3 inches shorter. Proportionally, it looks much better now. 

- There was that silly sizing issue. Do you know how hard it is to get your measurements of yourself by yourself when you're wearing a corset? ;) Brought in the areas that needed it, and it fits like a glove now. No more bagginess making me feel like a giant lumpy blueberry. 

- The under sleeves needed tacking on and the cuff links needed to be made. That's pretty much self-explanatory. 

- The collar. The pattern included instructions for making your own to attach to the dress. I made it, but it didn't look... right. But I left it there. One day, my sisters and I decided to stop in an antique shop that we hadn't checked out yet. Guess what I found. Yep, a gorgeous, much more elaborate collar than I could ever make. But it didn't have a price tag. It's bartering time. I got it for $4. ^_^ And it fit the dress perfectly.

Then I took a step back. It was done. All those years of just sitting in the cupboard, and it didn't need that much work done on it. I could have been wearing it all this time! Now I just need to come up with an excuse to wear it. 

And that gap in the front? It's not there when I wear it. My dress form and I can't agree on historical silhouette sizing. ;)

Random end note: In looking at those pictures from all those years ago (okay, maybe it was only 2 years ago, it feels so much longer than that), it's weird to see how much Emily and I have 'grown up.'  

Until next time!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Colonial Jacket

My patterns finally came!!! 

Okay, I'll back up a bit. 
I found some gorgeous Waverly fabric at an antique mall in town, and it was begging to be made into a colonial jacket. The only problem is... I'm not very familiar and I haven't sewn much for that fashion era. After doing some research, pinterest scanning, and asking some gals who have more experienced in this style of clothing, I landed on J.P. Ryan's patterns. And my patterns have finally arrived. ^_^
My Waverly fabric and JP Ryan jacket pattern

But alack alas! I have other projects that are higher up on the priority list, so I can't get started right away. Oh well! 

Until next time!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mission Mini Bolt

Take a look at this picture below, but don't look at the dress. Look at the messy fabric shelf behind the dress form. 
Unorganized nastiness that was. 
Key word: was.
We'll call that the 'before' picture.
Here's the after: 
It's so pretty! And I can see everything that I have! And I'm not digging around looking for fabric that I think I have and I don't! And I won't double buy fabrics! And it doesn't get all frayed on the ends! And they stay nice and unwrinkled! And, and, and...

Slowly, slowly, I've been working through my fabric stash and getting it all on mini bolts made from delivery boxes. Yep, I just used the plain-old cardboard boxes that get dropped off on your porch. I grabbed them before they were thrown into recycling and sliced them with a utility knife. Easy peasy! 

After seeing what I did with my stash, my youngest brother commented on how I should open a fabric shop with all those bolts. Hehe! Nope. It's all for project usage. 

Until next time!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Damask Green Regency

It was 2009 and graduation was coming up. Being the off-beat, homeschooler that I was, I wanted a Regency dress for the event instead of a cute, trendy summer frock. No, I needed a Regency dress. It was my second 'big' sewing project, the first time I would be doing it on my own without much in the way of mentoring, and the first time I had worked with a pattern so... drapey. A friend of mine let me borrow her pattern from Sense and Sensibility Patterns. It looked pretty straight forward and simple enough, so, true to my style, I dived in without really knowing what I was getting myself into. But I wasn't ecstatic about the final results. It felt frumpy and baggy, and the closure on the front just wouldn't cooperate. I still wore it to the graduation, and I even wore it to a bachelorette tea party. I decided that crossover Regency gowns weren't my thing because of the kinks in the pattern that wouldn't seem to work themselves out. The dress landed in the farthest corner in the costume closet as more structured dresses were added to the collection.  

Fast forward to August 2013. I got my sister and myself tickets to a Regency ball. And I hadn't a clue what I was going to wear. Anything that I would choose would have to be altered (loosing 30 lbs. will make your entire wardrobe not fit anymore). It was an excellent time to see if there was any hope for that light green damask crossover dress. 

I checked out books from the library and scoured Pinterest for ideas. It didn't take much research to find bits and pieces that I wanted to incorporate. But first, fixing that darn closure and those funky sleeves. I wish I had a before and after picture of that closure. It was a mess before. Some ribbon here and some stitches there, I'm much more pleased with the final results. But, as a whole, it didn't seem complete. 

I had enough time to spare before the ball (it was still several days away) to make that something more that the dress needed. A spencer! I had the pattern, fabric, trim, buttons... everything already in the stash (and it was all given to me by different people at different times o_O) I did a mock-up, and somewhere along the line, I decided to make it sleeveless. There are sleeveless spencers out there; just check out this beauty. After doing a coat for my brother, this project went really quick. The only kink that I ran into along the process was the ribbon on the waist that I had on my dress - the spencer wasn't long enough to cover it up. A 1 1/2" waistband needed to be added in the front and 3" to the back. After drafting some pieces and adding a seam allowance, the problem disappeared. 

I took a step back. It was finished (long before the day-of). And I loved it. 
I just needed to figure out what to do with my hair for the ball. ;)

Want some pictures from the event? 

After lots of dancing
I ended up doing a turban up-do for my hair. It seemed rather pirate-y to me. 

The gorgeous venue

Until next time!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rococo Panniers

If you love recreating historical fashions, you know what I'm talking about. You see gorgeous fashion plates, preserved gowns in museums, detailed paintings, immaculate reproductions, and you want to get that same look. You make a dress inspired by the originals. But the same conundrum rears its ugly head when you look in the mirror - it doesn't look the same as in the pictures! But how? Where do you wrong?  

It has taken me a while to get to the point where I've convinced myself that the unmentionables are a worthy investment when you're in the world of historical costuming. If you want 'the look,' you will need all the proper structural undergarments are a necessity. My Civil War wardrobe is off to a good start (corset, chemise, petticoats, etc). Now, I'm diving into the world of Rococo. 

What's one of the first things that you notice when you look at dresses from the mid to late 1700's? All that hip action! No, not like Elvis Presley. Skirts so wide that carriages had to be remodeled to accommodate the fashion trend (Ah, the royal French court). How did dresses reach such feats? Panniers. In a word, hip extensions. And I'm crazy enough to have made a pair of my own. 

Pattern: Simplicty 4092
Lady Catherine, the dress form, modeling panniers
The only thing that I changed was the addition of the ruffles. Otherwise, everything was straight forward and relatively simple. It was a bit of a wrestling match with the boning and turning things inside out and right side out and sewing things together, but everything you needed to know was right there in the instructions! I love it when patterns play nice. 

Oh la-la!
My next project challenge is going to be the 1700's stays (or corset). I've never attempted corsetry before, so this is going to be new territory. 

Just keep sewing!

Captain America Quilt Block

Have you been over to Quiet Play? Kristy is a paper piecing pattern making queen. Her patterns are easy to follow and they have fun themes. Want Star War Lego blocks? Woodland critters? Australian animals? Retro kitchen? She's has all that and more in her craftsy shop! Recently, she posted on her blog that she's been developing Marvel Lego squares, and she needed testers! I jumped at the opportunity and was able to give Captain America a shot. I love the results: 

And I was able to take out a few pieces in my scrap stash! Not much of a dent since the block is just 10"x10", but it's something. 

Now, I'll admit... I'm still pretty new to the world of paper-pieced quilting and am by no means an expert in that field, so if you look closely you'll find plenty of 'oops.' My biggest nemesis is skinny diagonal seams. They like to torment me and give me grief. Oh well...  The block is finished. ^_^

Now to figure out what I want to do with the block. Hmm...

Until next time!