Wednesday, December 30, 2015


bead, bead, bead.

I'm sewing them on in sets of three, anchoring the third with a sort of back stitch (I don't know proper beading terminology).  This will be the midriff - beading will continue up the sheer part of the bodice and down to around my hips.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bodice muslin nearly complete!

sinus infection face didn't need to be on the internet
Granted, it will be all the same color, but this is more or less what my dress is going to look like.  (Also beads)  I'm thinking of putting a small crinoline underneath to make it more of an A-line instead of just falling right off my hips... but that can wait until everything else is done.

I want to do one more version with the chiffon overlay, to get the wrinkles, and that funny fold ober my bust out, but otherwise, its looking pretty good.

The bodice is a super hybrid franken-pattern.  The front of the underlay (highly modified) is New Look 6557, the back of the underlay is a cropped Vogue 8727, and the overlay is By Hand London's Anna Dress, also cropped.

I'm about 90% certain the pulls on the lower back are due to it continuing beyond my natural waist and not having room for my hips.   In the final, the skirt will be sewn on and the area beneath it trimmed. (Also, it will be reinforced and beaded, which will help)

Think happy thoughts, since I'm going to start on the beading tomorrow!

Monday, December 7, 2015

I have a skirt!

This doesn't do justice to all the pinning, gathering and hand basting that has been going on to connect the three layers of the skirt.   (Cotton batiste half-circle base, silk chiffon full-circle middle and silk chiffon 2.5 full circles for the top layer.)

I took over the living room for the evening.  (ha - let's be honest, I've taken over the living room for the month and will continue to work on it there, as the cats have been banned and cannot caress my lovely chiffon with their pointy little claws.) 

Don't I look absurdly tall?   The funny crease around "ankle height" is actually where the skirt hits the floor and flops horizontally for about 6 inches.  Chiffon *grows* -- especially on the bias.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

swords and things.

My fiance has taken to storing his swords in my stash.

but then, we have a drying rack just for armor. 

If you will be in the area, come see all the swords and things in action in January.   This is historically accurate recreations based on translations of 15th century texts.   Its a nifty bunch of people, and I'll be there as a scorekeeper / timekeeper.


Monday, November 30, 2015

bits of progress

I've started in on the bodice - this is the (first draft of the) plan for the underlayer

Downton Abbey, season four

The current plan is for a beaded chiffon overlay, somewhat similar to this.  I am going to use the Anna dress for the upper bodice, to get the cap sleeves and boat-neck, but there will be an under-bust seam and discrete midriff.    (Also, the tiara, headband, sparkle-hat she's wearing?   I have that too.)  (Its kind of too much, but its also kind of amazing.  I was trying to find something similar to what Mary wore in her wedding - a wreath like look, and found the actual vendor for the above headpiece.  In the description, it is listed as 'as seen on Downton Abbey, season four, so off to google I went, in a giddy frenzy.  It is stupid sparkly in person.)

Jenny Packham wedding dress

My plan for the beading is a little closer to this -- more twisty branches than geometric patterns.

I would say it looks a lot more exciting in person, except after getting one of the five skirt panels beaded (quite a bit more than this) I decided it was all getting hidden in the drape, undid it, and am planning to do the beading on top of the gathers around my hips, so it shows.   The beading will continue up to the neckline, but avoid the skirt, so the chiffon can still billow about.

Not really dress related - but fun - Greg is practicing calligraphy, and if he is happy with the result, will be doing our invitations.

Monday, November 23, 2015

holy bias-stretch, batman!

measure measure, cut cut

and then hanging until the bias stops growing.....

Monday, November 16, 2015


Silk shrinking worked out well, and the first three panels of the skirt are cut out (chiffon is kind of annoying, so I'm taking it slowly)... but I still haven't decided on what the bodice will look like.

current thought:
Charles James - 1945

Maybe something along the lines of ....

super photo shop skilzz

I'm already set on (and committed to) the flowy chiffon skirt -- but most of the bodices I've been thinking about don't really need chiffon -- in fact, they are better with something sturdy and structured.  But a gathered sort of a bodice, with an opaque something or other underneath, could look rather nice.

hrmm hrmm hrmm     I keep changing my mind every few days, which is why I started with the skirt.   The way I see it, this will be my most photographed dress ever, so it had better look good.   (Plus everyone, their brother and their second cousin twice removed has been asking me if I'm making my dress and then saying they are looking forward to seeing what I come up with.  So I need to collectively stun them.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Shrinking Silk

free, with the breeze running through my fur....

The theme of my wedding is stress free and happy.   (Even if I have to kill everyone to make it happen)   This means my dress can't be so delicate I'm spending the entire day worried something will happen to it -- so I decided to investigate pre-shrinking all the silk chiffon I'd gotten so that the water that I *know* will get spilled on it when I get excited, forget I'm holding a glass, and start talking with my now-empty-because-I-dropped-the-glass-on-my-skirt hands doesn't ruin everything,

I popped a sample into the washer on hot, and then into the dryer on no-heat fluff.  Total shrinkage is at about 14% in each direction.

The process changes the texture and the opacity -- as everything has tightened up, its a bit thicker and not as smooth.   While I prefer the look of the untreated silk, the shrunken is still very nice and will be a lot more robust to whatever I throw at it over the course of the day.    (Although, realistically, I am 100% going to be wearing a full length bibbed apron during whatever part of dinner I get to sit down for)

So-- as its time to start the skirt, I figured out what I needed, added 14% to the length and popped it into the washer.  (This is sounding so much more carefree than it actually was.)

and now I wait as 15 yards of silk rumble around where I can't see them.....

so many yards.....

soon to be 12.9 yards.....

Sunday, November 8, 2015


We went as a black plague -- Greg was a doctor and I was the patient (victim / body / whatever) or.. more accurately, I got lazy and didn't feel like doing the 1400s giant horned hat, veil and gown I'd been planning and just made myself a shift instead and declared it a couples costume.

Greg's coat is a combination of a (highly modified) simplicity 2333 for the coat and simplicity 5840 for the hood.   In order to fit comfortably together, we removed the collar and lapels from the coat and changed it to have a center front opening.

He made his own mask -- it is composed of two layers of craft foam, a muslin backing and held together with rivets and waxed thread.   He used the lenses from welding goggles for the eyes and sneaky air holes on the bottom.

The pattern is his own design, based on a combination of tutorials online and images he's seen.   It was a fairly entertaining evening as he tried various ideas and wandered around with a giant cardboard beak.

My costume is actually a civil war era shift - simplicity 1139.   I'm aware its 400 years off - but, I had it (the pattern, not the shift) and I figured no one would actually notice.  (Besides -- how much did shifts really change?)  Anyhow, it is SUPER comfy... so I might see if I can dye it, wear it with a belt and work it into  my regular wardrobe.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Its time for a wedding dress!

How will she reach anything?

Greg and I are engaged! 
(and have been, for a little while, but we just got around to getting a ring and making it public)

(This has also meant he has gotten stuck with all my ramblings on about lace and silhouettes and such.   For all that he is learning to sew, I think this may have been a bit much. - SOOOO now I get to yammer on to the internet, and the joys of fancy fabrics I usually forbid myself since they just don't fit into my life.)

Anyhow, I've set myself a few rules for the dress:
1: I need to be able to breath freely and move easily (so no corsets, trains, long tight sleeves, etc)
2: I need to be able to dance without falling over (so just slightly shorter than floor length)
3: I need to be able to use the bathroom without a squad of helpers.  (the skirt can't eat me alive)

I know I want some sort of straps or other over-the-shoulder-something, a long, full skirt, and some kind of textured embellishment - but otherwise, I'm not sure what it will end up looking like.  Right now my thoughts are running along these lines:

okay, probably not this.  I would catch on everything, but its a pretty amazing skirt.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

smurfing the couch

Why cover a perfectly lovely couch?   Silly Greg is allergic to cats and doesn't want them rolling back and forth on the furniture until there is a removable, washable cover.

So I'm slowly, but surely, making that cover - during which time the cats are living in the (finished, furnished, has been used as an apartment) basement.

Now, I have to attack the back and sides... bum bum bum!

Monday, September 7, 2015

M7121 - Meh

before and after modifications,
with a hefty dose of why-I-am-putting-these-pictures-on-the-internet?

 Excuse the potato quality pictures.  I was pretty lazy about getting these.  

I'd been particularly excited about this pattern, as I thought the chevron would solve the fabric problem I was having.   My lovely stripy fabric (found on the bargain table) stretched ALONG the stripes, instead of perpendicularly to them.... (which is probably why it ended up on the bargain table.)  But with a bias cut, I could avoid horizontal stripes and still manage to get into it.

Silly me.

Straight out off the pattern (I know.. but I didn't bother to muslin this) it was a mess.  Despite being a knit and what looks to be a fairly close fit, it has an elasticized waist  -- but not enough material to make it bloused -- just enough to make it pull oddly.  Plus, the whole thing hangs rather low.

Anyhow, I have since taken out the elastic, taken it in the waist and pulled the shoulders up by about three inches.  It's helped, but I'm still not very happy with the fit.  (Greg's verdict: 'It's okay, but your other dresses are nicer')  

Whoever drafted this pattern really punted hard - rather than facings or binding or lining or anything, it just calls for folding over and sewing.  Not even with stabilization - no way the armholes won't grow like crazy.   So, someday, when I'm less disappointed by this dress, I'll probably do a binding of some kind.  However, for the moment.  meh.  Mostly just a bit annoyed over wasting fabric I really liked.

If you are thinking about using this pattern, make sure to plan some significant redrafting into your plans.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sewing Autonomous Region

Alternately known as the Woman Cave, the Sewing Room and MINE

ahahahah MINE.

I have my table for my machines, a couch for lounging while I hand-sew, a tv for stories and shelves for all my things.    Not pictured, is the door to the back yard where (once tamed) I can take pictures, and not yet hung, is a full length mirror.  (I've been without the past year, which has made fitting tricky.)

Moving has been going on for the past nine weeks - and is juuuuust about done.  Which means sewing fun times again soon.  (Well... some home dec.  I've promised Greg a slip cover the keep the living room couch from getting too catty.)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beautiful, inside and out.

My fluffy dress got its first outing, and I got around to taking pictures.

This is the most thoroughly 'finished' dress I've ever made.  The pattern is a modified tried and true, B5748.  This time I went with a gathered skirt to best utilize the border print.

The crinoline is built in, all the rough edges are bound, fully lined.  You name it, it's there.

I used double fold bias tape on the crinoline hem, which brought attention to its frothiness.

 I also added a stealth pocket, hidden inside a pleat in the gathering.  (see above, for intense pockety sneakiness) 

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