Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Ball -- or party, depending on who you ask

The Holiday party was probably the most fun I've had with my friends in a while.  We made sure to take some pictures before everyone starting trickling away, but I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I expected to.


We tried to do a "dramatic" pose à la Downton Abbey.  It didn't work so well :)

My skirt, with my brand new petticoats on underneath, miraculously poofed more than when I tried them on the first time.  Since I had added another petticoat to go underneath the new ones, my theory is the extra petticoat helped them to stand away from my body more.  I seriously want a hoop skirt now.

What happens when a Lolita and a steampunk walk into a party?  They discuss their petticoats, of course!

Modern Petticoat -- Done!

I finished it with time to spare!  Now I can concentrate on hair, makeup, and accessories.

Recap: going to a ball *cough* holiday party at my friend's house *cough* tonight.  Found a great petticoat tutorial here.  Had a lot of fabric and some time.  Decided to make a petticoat for my yellow upholstery skirt (see it in action here).

I thought I would have to do 100 yards of sewing, but I realized I had done some of the math wrong, so it would have been 70 yards instead.  However, I decided not to mock flat-fell the seams of the tiers in the end, so the total yardage was 60 yards.  I finished a spool of thread (in its defense, it was not a new spool).  I realized that I go through brown thread faster than any other color.

I was surprised to find that the gathering and pinning was much more difficult than the sewing.  It was very time consuming to gather and pin so much fabric.  I did it while watching a few episodes of Merlin with my sisters.

I wasn't as surprised to find that the petticoat is not very effective for poofing out a heavy skirt like my yellow one, which is made of upholstery fabric.  This fabric of the petticoat is from a curtain -- it's meant to drape nicely rather than hold a shape and be supportive.  It looks fluffy on it's own, but only fluffs out the yellow skirt slightly.

** I apologize for the blurry photos.  I will try to retake them at the earliest convenience for all involved.**

The longer petticoat.

The shorter petticoat on top of the longer petticoat.  This is the only way for the yellow skirt to have any poof at all.

Sans petticoats.

With both petticoats.  The resulting poof is hardly noticeable.

Sugardale's tutorial was great for helping me to figure out the measurements of my petticoat.  I didn't follow all of her instructions to the letter though, mainly because I am too lazy to go out and buy ribbon.  To hem the longer petticoat, I used the finished side of the curtain.  On the shorter petticoat, there wasn't enough finished curtain side to use as a hem so I simply used a rolled hem to finish it.  Also, to finish the seams, I used a zigzag stitch rather than ribbon.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Modern Petticoat Progress -- Sewing

Allow me to begin this post by saying that if I had a great deal of patience and a longer attention span, I would be done with this entire skirt by now.

The first thing I did after I cut out all the pieces was to take a break, which ended up lasting several hours.  But, once I got myself back to Brunhilda, I made some moderate progress.  I started by sewing together all the strips in each tier.  Then I added a casing for elastic to go through on each of the top tiers.  I made the casing by hemming along one edge with a really wide hem and leaving some space free to add the elastic in when I'm done.  I also went ahead and hemmed one of the middle tiers, which will become the bottom tier of the shorter petticoat.  

Tomorrow I will work on gathering each piece and sewing it all together.  I foresee myself doing a lot of mind-boringly repetitive sewing.

Let's think about this:  I have to gather 10 yards of fabric for the bottom tier and five for the middle tier, but I have to do that twice, so it adds up to a total of 20 yards to be gathered.  Gathering means that I will have to make two rows of gathering stitches, so 40 yards of sewing.  Then sewing the tiers together is another 20 10 yards, so 60 50 yards total.  And I will probably secure them with a zigzag stitch and a mock flat fell seam, so that adds another 40 20 yards to bring our total to 100 70 yards of sewing to do tomorrow.

ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY YARDS OF SEWING!?!?!?!?!  Tomorrow will certainly be an interesting day.

Ten yards of fabric to become the bottom tier. 

I'm getting better at French seams.  Ignore the random dot -- it's on a piece of paper behind the fabric.

Everything in neat little piles, ready to be sewn tomorrow.  The bottom tier was too much yardage to even attempt to fold.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Modern Petticoat Progress -- Cutting Fabric

The Lady Mother is getting new curtains for the living room, so she gave me the old ones.  A few of them are ripped, but there is one very long swag (the part that drapes across the curtain rod and hangs down to the floor) that is in fine condition.  It's a transparent/gauzy synthetic fabric about 5 yards by 59 inches -- which is a lot of fabric.

I am following this tutorial from Sugardale.  In it, she makes a short three-tiered petticoat with the yardage of each tier doubling as it goes down.  Since I am making a petticoat for a long skirt I thought it would be better to have more tiers, so I decided to go with five (I read somewhere to always have an odd number of tiers).  I wanted the bottom tier of my petticoat to have a circumference of 10 yards, then next one up to have 8, then 6,  then 4 and then 2 yards to be gathered to my waist measurement.  This would have worked out perfectly with the amount of fabric I have.

Here comes the math: I realized (and this may or may not be true) that the poof of a petticoat really comes from the gathers -- the more fabric that is gathered, the poofier.  So if I were to gather 10 yards to fabric to 8 yards, it would be a 10:8 ratio, which simplifies down to a 5:4 ratio.  Eight yards gathered to 6 yards would give a 4:3 ratio, and so on with 6 yards to 4 yards giving a 3:4 ratio.  Only 4 yards gathered to 2 yards and 2 yards gathered to one yard would give a 2:1 ratio -- for every yard of fabric, two yards would be gathered to it.  This creates significantly more poof than having five yards gathered to every four yards of fabric.  I think this would result in a bell shape as there would be more "poof" at the top than at the bottom, though the amount of fabric at the bottom would help weigh down the poof at the top and reduce the bell shape somewhat.

With those numbers in mind, I decided instead to have a three-tiered petticoat, still with a bottom circumference of ten yards, but with 5 yards on the middle tier, and 2.5 yards to be gathered to my waist measurement.  This gives each tier a ratio of two gathered yards to a yard.  I believe this will produce a more conical shape.

I'll skip over the rest of the math of figuring out how long (vertically) each tier had to be.  It's pretty boring.  However, I will say that I do end up with extra fabric -- enough to make another top tier and middle tier, yardage wise, though the length will not be the same.  I will go ahead and make a second petticoat with the extra fabric that can be either worn on its own under a different skirt or added on top of the longer petticoat to add more poof on top (if I ever want a bell-shaped skirt).  Effectively, I'll get three petticoats out of two!

It took me less than thirty minutes to cut out all the pieces for a modern petticoat, which surprised me.  I really dislike cutting things out, especially slippery things like this fabric.

That is one looooong piece of fabric.  It ends about where my dogs are in the background.
First I laid the fabric out, just to get a nice long look at the sheer amount of fabric (haha, PUN! 'Cause the fabric is sheer!) that I will be working with.  I very briefly contemplated cutting it out all laid out like that -- measuring and marking the whole five yards.  Then I remembered the beauty of folding fabric.

Messy, the fabric is too slippery to want to fold nicely.  Also, it can't be ironed because the entire thing is synthetic.  It practically SCREAMS synthetic.

Neater.  I safety pinned all the edges together to keep the sides more or less even and reduce slippage.  I wish I could have ironed it...
Next, I marked out the measurements of the bottom tier on the long, hemmed edges of the curtain.  I cut one side, then transfered the safety pins from the cut fabric's edge to the new edge of the main body of fabric.  As I was cutting and measuring, the phrase of the moment was, "more or less," as in, "It's okay that the edges don't line up perfectly.  It's more or less accurate."  Or even, "It doesn't matter that I completely messed up that measurement.  It's more or less accurate."  Or my favorite, "Eh, it's more or less even."

All the pieces cut out!  More or less even.
Then, once everything was cut out, I placed them in messy piles.  In the photo below, the longer petticoat is the three pieces on the right, the shorter petticoat is the two on the left.  The top tier of each consists of one 2.5 yard strip.  The next tier, which we'll call the middle tier even though it is the bottom tier for the shorter petticoat, consists of two 2.5 yard strips, so 5 yards total.  The final tier is four 2.5 yard strips, making it 10 yards total.  I could have kept the strips for the middle and bottom petticoats at 5 yards, but I wanted to make it easier for myself when I'm gathering them.  

Everything placed in their piles and waiting to be sewn.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Modern petticoat

Woohoo!  Exams are done and I am free for a few weeks!

Here's what's on the agenda for ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I have to do over my break:

  1. Get out to the Garment District downtown and get LOTS of fabric
  2. Make a dress for Semiformal (which is the first school dance I will ever attend, so I'm kinda freaked)
  3. Make various outfits for five of my friends who will be my models for the FASHION SHOW in March
  4. Clean up the Lady Mother's old machine that has been sitting in a garage for a good twenty years
  5. Make a dress for Sister Dearest (she has been insisting upon it for months, yet she doesn't want to go fabric shopping with me)
And yet, I'm going to make a modern-style petticoat to go under a long circle skirt that is in my possession (you may recognize it from one of my steampunk outfits).  Strangely, I have no pictures of the entire skirt without something obstructing it, so you will have to enjoy this one.

I just love showing off my shoes.
Backstory:
  1. I was browsing the web for "50s petticoats" because the design for my Semiformal dress is vaguely inspired by the 1950s (but that's another blog post that has yet to be writ).  I came across this tutorial from Sugardale
  2. The Lady Mother is purchasing new curtains for the living room, so I came home one day to find the old curtains in my fabric scraps box.  The curtains are a gauzy brown.  One panel is fine, but the other has rips and tears.
  3. I am going to a ball (a holiday party) at my friend's house over the weekend.
Cool tutorial + gauzy fabric + ball = petticoat for my skirt.  I'm not sure if I can get the entire thing sewn in a couple days, but I can try!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The bling necklace -- materials

This is a post about the materials/construction of the bling-y-est necklace that was every blinged.  To see all of them, follow the "Blingy Necklace" tag at the bottom of this post.

First, every chain mail necklace needs jump rings.  A lot of jump rings.  Close to 500 of them.  I am making them all by hand (ie, wrapping the wire around a dowel, cutting the coils).  I think I had 281 of them at the last count.



I bought four different kinds of chain.  Three of them are pictured here and the other is a ball chain, which came in a package and is not very interesting to photograph.  Unlike the chain you can get at a fabric store (or at least the chain that I got at the fabric store), these are actually metal -- I got them at OSH, which was one of the few times that OSH has worked better for me than Lowes.




The charms are triangles cut from sterling silver sheet metal.  I used a thicker gauge than I normally do when I make jewelry because I do not want these to bend.  I will texture them with stamps later and then darken/polish them to bring out the texture.

It's hard to saw and take pictures at the same time!  I used a scrap piece of silver sheet...
This might be the closest I come to a "mockup."  I was playing around with the placement of the triangle charms.  Props to Newby for recognizing the Star Fleet insignia (Star Trek), which I decided to add as an homage to my geekitude.  I cut it from a ridiculously thick gauge of sheet metal -- I broke so many saw blades before I remembered to bring out the thicker saw blades!
I soldered jump rings to the triangles to complete their transformation into charms.  I hoped that I could make the entire necklace without soldering once, but that was not to be.


Inspiration for the bling-y-est necklace that has ever been blinged

Whoa.  I haven't done a jewelry post in a while.

I think the last thing I posted about was my steampunk eyepatch?  I have since finished the eyepatch, but need to add or fix some little things, which will take some time as I get the supplies I need.

The next project I am tackling is either my "chain mail necklace" or my "bling necklace" or the "bling-y-est necklace that has ever been blinged," depending on how you see it.

The idea for this necklace effectively starting sometime last May.  I knew I wanted to do a collar necklace similar to the type that the Egyptians wore, but with more metal (cause I'm taking a metals class, not a beading class) and more stones.  My original idea was to have a couple of panels, each with a number of large stones set on them, connected by a chain mail jump rings -- kind of similar to the inlaid collar below but mixed with more chain mail.

The MET
Inlaid collar
Etsy reproduction.

And then I met the gals of Damsel in this Dress (and their Facebook and their blog) at Comikaze back in September.  I am perfectly okay with shamelessly promoting them like this.  They create amazing corsets that are unique and recognizable as theirs, which is surprisingly hard to see.  Every time I see one of their corsets cross the blogosphere I smile.  I am always happy to support family-run small businesses.  But anyhoo, getting back to the story.  My sister and I stepped into their booth in the Exhibition hall at Comikaze to do some slobbering over their gorgeous corsets, though we were not shopping.  Somehow, I ended up talking to the fabulously spunky Michelle, the owner, about something to do with scantily clad women at cons.....?  I'll let that sink in for a moment.  As I was talking to her, I could not help but admire the chunky necklace she had on and wondering if I could make something like that.  A few weeks later, when I was revisiting the idea of making a collar necklace, I remembered Michelle's necklace and decided I wanted to make my necklace as blingy and over the top as hers (and I say blingy and over the top in the best way possible here -- just look at the pictures!).

Moderate bling.
Blingy.
SUPER BLINGY!!
I think that was when I decided to go the whole chain and charms route.

I will be following the instructions to make this necklace for the actual chain mail necklace part of the collar, which I've been referring to as the base...
This is the very first concept sketch I made just to get an idea of what I wanted the necklace to look like (update: helpfully annotated, but not as great quality)
I made this sketch once I found what materials I wanted to use.  The charms and chains are placed less randomly to reduce the bulkiness of the necklace.  (update: helpfully annotated, but not as great quality)
Follow the journey of this necklace by selecting the "Blingy Necklace" tag!

The Lady Mother's Pirate Costume


The Lady Mother is off on a cruise right now.  Right before she left I whipped up a pirate costume for her to wear on the cruise's "pirate night."  It was a combined effort on both of our parts to cut and sew the fabric in time for the cruise.  The Lady Mother did the cutting and some of the pinning and I did most of the sewing.  

The entire costume is straight from Butterick's B3906.  I've only ever done the dress for it before, as an underdress for my steampunk Irene Adler costume.  The entire costume was extremely easy to throw together.  I'm sure that someone working diligently could make the whole thing in just a few hours.

I had intended to tailor the vest to fit better because the vest looked huge once the Lady Mother  upscaled it to fit her, but after a few tries and fails, I gave up so she wore it without any tailoring.  It ended up fitting rather well around the body, but the shoulder straps did not stay up.  However, I looked at some reviews of the pattern and I am comforted by the fact that this is apparently a problem that everyone has with it.

I started with the skirt over Thanksgiving weekend, believing that if I didn't finish anything else, the Lady Mother would at least be able to wear the skirt with black leggings or something like that.

Skirt fabric 
Skirt trim -- that's a very lovely seam right there if I do say so myself.
Moved on to the vest the week after Thanksgiving.  The Lady Mother upscaled and cut out all the pattern pieces, and then hand basted the interlining and the fashion fabric together.  I am totally amazing that she hand basted them.  I suppose it's a generational thing -- I use the machine whenever I can, but I guess she learned to baste by hand.  I gave up trying to tailor the vest so I set it aside until last weekend.

Hand-basted interlining and fashion fabric
Wrong side of the vest, all sewing together

Bleh.  Failed attempt at fixing bagginess on the shoulder straps.
Last weekend, I got up early on Saturday morning (early for a teenager on the weekend, at least!) to finish the vest and make the dress. I was inspired to finish the seams somehow.  And then I had to take pictures!  I think I was having a bit too much fun with the macro focus on my camera. :)

It looks kinda flat-felled...  
But it's mock flat-felled (I think that's what this technique is called.  I went through a sewing techniques book that was in the school library during my free period, but I can't remember off the top of my head)!
 While I was having fun finishing the seams and playing around with whether I wanted to add plastic boning or not in the casings the seams formed (would have been nice--but no time), the Lady Mother worked on cutting out fabric for the dress (ha! Teamwork!).


The Lady Mother went to Joann and came back with this adorable pin cushion, which I promptly stole from her so I could add a peacock crown with pins.  I gave it back...  reluctantly....


The last thing to do was the dress.  I'd made it before for myself, so I was able to breeze through making it.  The one change was that I moved the casing for the elastic up about 1-1/2 to 2 inches up from where the pattern instructions said to put it.  This gave the sleeve a bit more of a wenchy look.  Compare:


The morning of, just a few hours before she was due to leave for the cruise, the Lady Mother kindly dressed up in the entire ensemble, sans jewelry, so I could take pictures.  She also has orders to take pictures of everything on the cruise, so hopefully I will get some photos of it in action.



They're not Kensingtons, but these dress shoes work well enough.
Perhaps a few more pictures to come when the Lady Mother gets back.