Friday, August 31, 2012


The ultrex arrived today!!!!!  (This is the generic gortex equivalent I was talking about the other day)  and I think I have found my coat fabric! (!!!!!!)   (!!!!!!)   (!!!!!!!)  There is a dark slate blue (they call it navy, but its too gray for that) with a 500 denier codura facing -- think backpack weight, but still really tough.   Within 20 minutes of getting the package I was outside rubbing samples on concrete.   I tested a three ply, the codura faced one and the two ply.

 The real difference between two and three ply weatherproof materials is the need to add a lining.  In the two ply the rubbery weatherproofing is exposed on the inside, which isn't a good idea as it can get scratched and whatnot -- but if you are planning on using a lining anyway, as I am, then its fine, and about $5 a yard cheaper.

Anyhow, they all performed admirably, so should you be in the market, I can recommend any of these.  Now I just (hah, "just") need to do my final muslin to get full yardage and I'm ready!   My arbitrarily chosen 15 seconds ago goal is to have it done by the 1st of November.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

on mild amusement of various sorts

Nothing like a nice evenly cut yard of fabric....

...and what makes it even more ridiculous is the guy actually spent a while making sure it was even and straight.  

I don't have pictures, but the bottoms are mostly done and I have been assembling parts for the top. (Fun story -- they have a store front in Philly, so I wandered over the other day.   Turns out they don't really -- they are the basement of the corset shop and do mail order only.   They were nice enough to get me what I asked for and I had an entertaining 10 minutes looking at some of the more exotic items.  Most amusing-- Probably more so if I hadn't been sick at the time, but even through my bleary eyed haze I saw they had nifty things.)

also: my sister has started a quilt blog, if such things happen to interest you, check her out here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Various Technical Fabrics

 You may recall my blatant and ruthless abuse of gortex a few weeks ago ---   well, despite being quite pleased with the product, the price was a bit more than I liked, so I looked around for another supplier.  Well, I found one (SeattleFabrics) that offered an off-brand version of the same material as well as several others I'd never worked with but found rather intriguing, so I ordered sample sets.   The maddening thing is that the one set I really wanted -- the Ultex -- is back ordered and not in the package, so I'm still waiting for that one to show up....   However, in the mean time, I present an exciting swath of technical fabric fun!

Wicking Lycra

Think yoga clothes or long underwear for backpackers.    It comes is a gazillion colors as has a similar hand to thick cotton jersey.   Its a little rougher feeling on the inside, but still perfectly comfortable for clothing.


This is a water repentant fabric - I haven't put it through its paces like the gortex, but for a non-waterproof jacket, it seems like it would work well.   Their big thing resisting water without all the chemicals (and environmental impact) of the gortex types

1000 Denier Codura

This is the stuff suitcases are made of.   I'm trying to show you all the colors, but I am particularly fond of the brighter green I'm holding up.  I think it will be a bag *and* shoes.   Yes shoes.   I found  awesome soleing!

Reflective Materials
The silver and orange on the right side are all (there are in fact three, two silvers and an orange) reflective fabrics.   The others are ribbons or piping.   The top silver fabric is floppy and lightweight while the other two are quite stiff.    All items are very reflective.

various thickness of thinsulate and permaloft (the uber fluffy one)   I got these to gauge thicknesses -- permaloft seems like nothing so much as batting.   with a layer of something I can't identify on one side.   Their thuinsulate has layers of something on both sides (kinda feels like disposable diaper material) which would prevent a lot of the problems I had with it catching on things.    I also got a pre-quilted swatch --- its only done on one side, and the fluffy catch stuff side is still open.

 Clothing Mesh

at this point I may have been going a little sample happy -- but it worked out really well as in the very back (where you cannot see in this picture) there are samples of powermesh.  Its supposed to be great for lingerie.   The other materials are what you'd expect if you've ever dealt with a sports jersey.

Bag Mesh

This one included trampoline fabric.  I have no idea why -- but it is glorious.   It also has mosquito netting, so I have visions of a glorious trampoline in the middle of the amazon....

The other meshes are quite stiff and seem sports baggy to me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PAC MAN!!!!!


Our tale begins with a the glory of pacman and the sorrow of men's sizing.   For behold!  It is pacman and he doth nom all the things!  But he resides on a shirt most rectangular.

Sorrow.   Longing.  Inspiration.   

Okay... I'm done.   Anyhow.  This is your standard t-shirt re-fit to take a rectangular men's t-shirt and make it lady-shaped.    Unpicked the the sleeves and then plopped a shirt I wear often on top to get the correct sizing.  (The sleeves are tucked in to get the armhole placement.) 

Short story even shorter,  I cut the pacman shirt just outside the purple shirt (just enough for a seam allowance) and angled the hip down to the edges so I could keep the original hem.

Serged up the sides - pinned the sleeves back in (mild easing, but they fit very well without any alteration) and serged those too.

After trying it on, I decided the neckline was too high, cut it off, rolled the hem and proceeded to stretch the living daylights out of it with my zigzag.   Most irritated, but such is life.   Someday I will manage a sewn knit neckline with out doing something horrible to it.

but -- PACMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

found my bathing suit fabric!

Not much in the way of sewing lately, but I have found bathing suit fabric!    I was wandering around on Saturday and came upon a store that specializes in stretch materials (Fabrics on Fourth, if you are in the Philly area)  and fell for this one.   It looks kind of like gears and kind of like splotches - and is of course nothing like the rich, deep red solid or the blue polka dot I'd had in mind.   C'est la vie.

now to decide on a pattern....   I've been thinking along these lines:


picture sources:
top row: target (a few seasons ago), bravissima veronica, bravissima antigua
bottom row: all from unique vintage swimwear  (middle suit is this one)

Monday, August 13, 2012

In which I become a blacksmith!

A friend of mine is, among other things, an amateur blacksmith and over the weekend I got to play with the forge!  Really, I only hammered for the first two heatings, after which Kel took over (there is a reason smiths have HUGE arms) and I acted as apprentice and held the rod while he bashed at it with a sledge hammer.   (I also art directed, the insanity of the spork (yes spork!!!)  is entirely my doing.)

 The following is a selection of pictures without much in the way of an explanation  as it would be along the lines of 'making the steel really hot', 'bashing it with a hammer', 'bashing it with a different hammer' and 'curling it into a spiral!'  all of which certainly have technical terms that I am wholly ignorant of.   Nonetheless -- I present blacksmithing fun!

tools!!   clockwise from bottom left: original steel rod to be fashioned, forge, oil cans, anvil and mini anvil and in the center, the anvil in all its glory with zillions and zillions of nifty hammers.
heating and hammering and shaping! oh my!

Clockwise from top left: removing the excess, rolling the scroll, adding the twist, more with the scroll.  As you can see, Kel loves trees.
ye old fancy spork.   Pretty damn awesome, if I say so myself.

Kel has yet to start a blog of his own, but he does have an etsy shop where you can see more of his work. (look at the prior sales section to see his knives)  

Monday, August 6, 2012

In which I abuse gortex

 Being the somewhat less than ladylike girl that I am, and knowing that I am often hard on my clothes and that the color representation of most monitors is actually quite inaccurate I ordered myself some gortex samples so that I could perform a few experiments.

Of the colors I ordered, the only one I really liked in person was the blue, so it receive the lion's share of my attention. (The hounds-tooth is disappointingly moldy colored)
after.  the marks are ground in dirt.

Now, I don't know about you -- but when confronted, well anything really, I will usually end up trying to sit on it.   Philly in particular is chock full of waist high brick walls with concrete caps, which are quite handy when waiting for buses, but do mean I scootch my butt on rather rough surfaces.   Thus, I decided, I needed to see if the gortex could handle it -- so I ground it into the concrete as hard as I could.

My methods were described as 'rubbing with extreme prejudice'  but I wanted to get a good sense of just what it would handle .

checking for waterprooficity

Anyhow, I washed the dirt off, let it dry and it looked good as new.   Then I put more water on it, let it sit.  It pooled in the areas I'd scratched, but when I checked the back, it didn't make it though and everything was still bone dry.

lovely and dry!

So, me thinks I shall end up with the lovely blue gortex.   (And I seem to have done an unintentional commercial for the supplier as I kept the tags on... well, now you can get some too.)

I want to do a full muslin of the pattern with everything as it will be to figure out exactly what yardage I'm going to need, then I'm going to take the plunge and order the material.   Think happy waterproof thoughts :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Insertion lace takes five thousand years

Time consuming... but pretty.   If you are unfamiliar, the basic idea is you pop some lace onto a piece of fabric and sew down the edges.  Then you cut away the fabric underneath, roll up the raw edges and sew them down.  This results in nifty see through sections.  I used this tutorial for the insertion lace (near the bottom -- check out Thread Theory's beautiful polka-dot version while you're there)

Rather than use the official lace placement guidelines that came with the pattern, I've been putting it along the seam (so the lace acts as the seam) So far I've only done the front, but I'm thinking about going all the way around.   Still on the fence, mostly due to all the rolling and pinning that would involve.  (The original only has lace on the front)

I'm also deciding what I want to do about the neckline.   I'm not in love with the original squared off-ness (the lace pattern, that is, I like sqaure in general)  and the slip has developed a bit of a gape in the center front, so I'm thinking of a scoop or a v....

rolled seam on the outside
and on the inside.
Continuing the variations, I find I really like the look of the rolled seams on the outside.  Really, the should be internal, but the fabric is so thin they show up as brighter stripes no matter what and I rather like the texture they add by being on the outside.

I've cleverly not sewn any other seams, so I can take my time deciding.  (Fortuitous accident-ish -- the original plan was to convert all seams to lace.....)

(You can't tell, but I've been thwarting a very persistent gray cat who seems determined to help me write this post.)

Anyhow --- I think I've decided to ditch the ruffle on the bottom (I was never going to do the pleats.  Lets be honest about those *ever* getting ironed) as white + lace + ruffle = a little sweeter than I think I can really handle.  Straight lines and angles make it feel a bit more modern and a bit more like it is intended for an adult.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

fitting the VPLL princess slip

While I wait for my gortex samples to wend their way across the country to me, I've decided to work on the VPLL princess slip.    While I got the test square to be the right size for the pattern print out, I think I chose the wrong paper as there was quite a bit chopped off in the margins.   Check out the text -- it ought to read 'Ladies Princess Slip'  instead, I have 'LadieNcess'

However, I didn't really feel like printing it all out again, so I decided to make it work.

Raw Fit

Upon measuring the new bust/waist/hips I found they were exactly right --- exactly right --- this never happens.  (never ever ever ever)  So I cut it out just as it was, pinned it up and tried it on.

Interesting fact -- the circumferences were correct, but their placement on my body was not. So... it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't right either.

Preliminary Alterations

I moved the waist and hip down about two inches (this is all with pins) and took fullness out of the high bust by pinching the excess together at the seam.   I didn't really want to cut this out again, so I avoided adding darts.   To get rid of the sagginess on the rear armscye I raise the shoulder strap diagonally, taking more fabric from the outer edge.

The front turned out well, but the button placket was all wonky....

Secondary Alterations

While beautiful, the placket was not only irritating during fitting, but not really a sensible option for a woman without a lady's maid to do up the buttons all the way up her back.   I popped in a zipper (I'm still trying to figure out something a bit more period appropriate, but we might have just accept this will be very anachronistic)

Anyhow, fussed a bit more with the pins and waist/hip placement and came out with a fit I'm quite happy with.

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