Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Did you dress up to go to a party?  I did.   I love Halloween.  I love the costumes, the candy, the just brings back fun memories from my childhood.  Every year, my mother or a grandmother would make me a costume and then with friends we would walk miles trick-or-treating and when we were young with my dad following us for safety reasons.  It was so fun.  I remember so much excitement and anticipation for the event and then I would never eat any of the scads of candy I collected because, weird child that I was, I was convinced that some pieces might be poisoned.  So the candy would sit in my room until Easter when my mom tossed it. 

See...small arms but lots and lots and
lots of fabric makes for a bigger than
normal me
Given that I always had a made costume, I can't now bring myself to buy a costume.  I am fine with sourcing a costume through items found at a thrift store or making one. However, for a Halloween costume, the making should be minimal.  Thrifting a costume seemed like too much work so I made one. I went for a simple costume as a Greek goddess.  It was an easy breezy costume which required minimal sewing.  By minimal sewing, I mean 2 seams and 2 buttons sewn on for decoration and my peplos was done.  My belt was a leather and velvet piece I had made a couple of years ago for something else but it didn’t work so it went into the stash.  This outfit had a lot of pluses but also a lot of minuses.  It certainly was not the ubiquitous sexy Halloween costume….hello, I have 5 yards of fabric wrapped around my body.  I think this costume adds about 20 pounds to my look.  However, it was really cool and since the night I wore it it was 72 degrees out well after midnight, it was a good choice in that respect.  Besides, no dreaded foundation garments such as corsets were required!  A major plus if I may say so.

The funny thing is that after I made this, I remembered a bunch of other already made outfits which would have been perfect such as my anime costume.  Doh….really need to think things through properly.

Here's hoping that everyone who had to experience Sandy are doing well, recovering and if necessary rebuilding.  Out here on the left coast, I could only look at pictures and imagine what it was like. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fiddly Bits

This evening gown not only has the challenge of being made in the evil and slippery silk charmeuse but it also has a lot of fiddly bits. 

Like the sleeves.  It took me hours when muslining this bodice it took me hours upon hours to figure out how to sew the sleeves.  They are cut into the back bodice piece and hellishly artfully wrapped around to the front bodice to create the sleeve.  Sounds easy.  It isn’t.  The cut on piece is oddly shaped and I just could not wrap my head around it.  Of course, the instructions made the process as clear as mud!

Due to the lapse in time between msulining the bodice and working on the real deal, I had completely forgotten how the sleeve from hell was constructed.   A few hours later, the light bulb went off and I came up with this:

Isn’t the sleeve rather sweet?  Hats off to the designer who thought it up

Other fiddly bits include the shirring mentioned yesterday and interesting “facings.”  The  facing only covers the shirring and you have to cut into the fabric to fold it down.  If you don’t cut far enough it does not work; if you cut too far you have a hole.  Ask me how I know!  Luckily the collar covers my patch.  Oh yeah, attaching the collar, another piece of fiddly hand sewing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

You Say Shirring; I Say Gathering

Do you know what shirring is?  

I certainly didn’t until working on this dress.  I thought it was something utterly complicated and rather intricate.  What I found out is that it is just multiple lines of gathering perhaps done with a lot more precision than a typical gathering stitch.

Mmmm purpley 
This dress has “shirring”  at the neck and on hips.  After having a little stress out session on what shirring actually was, I got down to it.  I tried to be precise both the start and end of my stitching lines.  I also tried to keep the lines straight.  I tend to be more than just a little haphazard in my gathering.  The stitch line waving all over the seam allowance.  So it took some concentration to make the shirring precise.

I think I did a good job.  Though, I still keep referring to this as gathering.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Vintage Find

 We interrupt the sewing to share a recent vintage find.

Gah... a blurry picture of the clasp.
It looks much better in person.
Note, the ring for a chain/strap
I found this cute little purse with a lovely rhinestone clasp plus it is black and could be used in a variety of time periods.  It is truly timeless and a very useful find.

Gotta love the built in lipstick pocket
It was listed as a clutch but the reality is that it was missing its chain.  I love the details on the inside.  Not just a matching coin purse but with a place to put your lipstick.  Love!  I have never heard of the brand  “Frilo”  before but if anyone out there has, let me know.

So the fix for this bag was a $2.50 pewter looking chain from downtown.  I picked pewter over silver simple because it looked nicer than the silver chains I was finding.  Besides, the price was right.  I threaded it through and linked it back together and voila a fixed purse.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Going Slow ….or Doing the Easy Stuff First

I was seduced by that darn silver metallic thread again for topstitching.  I have had this stuff for ages ….why am I so enamored now?

After whipping out the cocktail dress, I wanted to start slow on the evening dress, so I start with the collar.  For interfacing I went the vintage route of just using muslin as interfacing.  It was perfect for the collar.  Just the right weight.  It added stiffness but was still pliable.
Collar pieces done.

Then the dreaded topstitching.  The thread kept breaking but I persevered. 

I also did the same muslin interfacing and topstitching on the belt.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Evening Gown

So now that the rush job on the cocktail dress is done, I have to make another silk charmeuse dress – this time a long 1930’s evening dress.

It looks black but it is not black
This is going to be in a deep dark purple.  Think night sky purple.  It is not too grapey but almost black.  The picture does not show the true color:

The pattern is this one. 
Find this pattern here

I did muslin the bodice back in April so I have the pattern ready to role.  I had to do an FBA which was a little difficult to figure out.  Though I am feeling more comfortable with the dreaded FBAs now.  There is no picture of the bodice because I had to take it apart to make the pattern but here is the mock up of the skirt portion in some heavy poly charmeuse substitute that I have acres of.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

San Francisco Taxi Drivers Redeemed

After that experience with bad San Francisco taxi driver I thought I would relate a story about the best ever taxi driver.  Yes, this happened the same weekend but it was the other end of the spectrum.

Again we were down by Chinatown but because of some event where streets were closed, we couldn’t get a taxi.  We spent about 20 minutes trying to hail a taxi…. not just standing on one corner but walking out of Chinatown heading towards hotels thinking that at least then we could get one.  Finally, a guy pulled over, hopping in we asked if he could get us to our B&B in 10 minutes.  He laughed thinking we were kidding around.  We were not.  We were going to be late for the car we had ordered to take us to the airport.  Now the B&B owner had warned us to be on time when she ordered this car for us because it was her name being used…and well you get the idea.  And here we were…late for the stupid car.

We told the taxi driver, no we were serious, could he do it and there will be good tip if you do.  He laughed and took off.  Think “Streets of San Francisco”.  We flew over those hilly streets.  I do think we caught air a couple of time!  It was fantastic.  The taxi drive LOVED every minute of it!  Every time we approached a yellow light we would egg him on to go for it.  Success…. we made it for the car which, of course, was waiting for us.  The taxi driver let us out at the EXACT designated pickup time.  He, unlike the other dude, was fantastic and really redeemed the whole San Francisco taxi driver experience!!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Cocktail Dress ---Revealed

Here it is in all its glory.  

It looked perfect for the occasion.  I kept it long though a friend thought I should lop off about 6 inches from the skirt.  Perhaps if I had thought about it BEFORE using all that silk, I would have.  But I wasn’t now going to chop off all that silk. 

Plunging neckline
Of course the BF was proud and went around telling people that I made my dress in a week.  I am much more stealth about my sewing; I didn’t really need this broadcast…lol.

But let me tell you about my adventure getting to the party.  BF had to leave early to go set up.  The party was at a restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown.  BF took a taxi from the B&B and ordered me a taxi from the same company.  There I am all gussied up, standing outside waiting for the taxi.  The taxi pulls up, and yes it is from the right taxi company.  BF calls me at the ordered time to make sure it arrived.  I tell him it just came and I am getting in.  I get into the taxi and the taxi driver confirms where I am going and then tells me he won’t take me there.  WHAT??  This should not be a surprise.  This is not a taxi I hailed; it was ordered in advance.  He asks, very nicely mind you, to please get out and get another taxi.  You see, his shift was ending and he did not want to drive the 8 minutes to Chinatown because it would take him in the wrong direction.  WHAT??  Is he serious…yes he was…. very serious.  So out of the taxi I get and call the BF who goes ballistic and calls the taxi company.  About 5 minutes later, the taxi returns…. same driver…he will now take me to the restaurant.  Hello…didn’t you ask me to get out of your taxi?  What is going on?   So I get in the taxi and he takes me towards Chinatown.  When we get to Chinatown, he stops the taxi and asks me to WALK the rest of the way.  He points out the restaurant about 5 blocks away but luckily it had a flag so one could pick it out of all the other buildings.  I am now late for the party, but out of the taxi I get and start walking in my really high heels to the restaurant.

Seriously…this was the WORST TAXI DRIVER I have ever encountered in this country.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Execution of the Plan

I am happy with the dress however it really veered off the plan.

Recall…this is the pattern.

My previous dress made with this pattern.
You just look at this dress
and it wrinkles

I started off thinking this was just going to be as the pattern intended but after cutting out the pattern pieces I decided I wanted a tie for the back.  I knew I was going to back off the piping for this dress and that stayed true to plan.  I also knew that from my prior make, I thought the sleeves were a tad long…just long enough to annoy the crap out of me so those were shortened.  I also wanted to lower the neckline.  Hello cocktail dress…. needs a low neckline.

I constructed the dress with French seams.  I love French seams in theory but they annoy me in execution because it really does mean sewing the dress twice.  I also hand basted the seams first before taking it to the machine so I could stop the slippery charmeuse from slipping and sliding all over the place.  Due to the time crunch I have to admit the basting was NOT pretty but it did its job.

Just the 2 rows of topstitching
and lower on the neck
First bee in the bonnet: I decided I should top stitch with silver metallic thread.  I had some wild idea this would look really cool.  Well, the first row of topstitching along the shoulder seams looked okay.  Sooooo I decided a second row would look better.  It was okay so why not add a third row??  So that’s what I did.  But when I stepped back and looked at the third row, I ….well I have to say I hated it!!  Really hated it and started re-thinking silver topstitching all together.  Out came the third row of topstitching but I just decided to leave the 2 rows remaining and revisit it later.
Notice how high the neck
is in the back.  Also you can kinda
see that there would have been a lot
more topstitching
When trying on the bodice with the lower neckline, I started making changes to the neckline in general.  I thought there was too much fabric in the back of the neck in that it was creeping up my neck.  But time was of the essence so no muslining changes.  When I bound the neckline with bias binding, I made further changes to the shape of the neckline which means that all the silly topstitching has all but disappeared.

Second bee in the bonnet: After piping along the waistline, I decided I needed to bring the silver metallic topstitching down to the waist.  I topstitched above the piping. …and it looked weird so I removed it.  I topstitched under the piping…better but the fabric was sliding and the topstitching was…well…very wavy.  So out it came.

This silly topstitching is eating up the time!!  I had to stop and just finish the puppy so I didn’t go to the party naked!