29 May 2011

S2621 corset boned and basted

Believe it or not, I am still alive ... even though in the past week I have felt like that was debatable.  I've even managed to make some progress on my Simplicity 2621 corset mockup.  Just very slow progress.  I did finally get all the cable ties cut and filed and basted in ... despite my fat fluffy cat's best attempts to "help" catch the end of the cable tie when I was filing the ends smooth.  So it's boned, and sitting on the corner of my table this morning:
S2621 corset boned and basted
It has cable ties in the middle, but I chose to "hide" them by only stitching the boning channels in the middle two canvas core layers.  I think the pic itself is fuzzy ... and not just me still feeling fuzzy.  Meh.

The entire house has the sinus crud.  Hubby has employed a wet warm washcloth to get his eyes all the way open, and son's voice sounds as raspy as mine ... meanwhile I have been resisting the urge to check my ears after each sneeze to see if any brain matter has been forced out.  Blech ... y'all probably don't want details.  Just that y'all know it's bad when I leave Ren Faire early like I did yesterday.

Since we're not going today - still hoping this mess will decide to clear up and LEAVE the house - that leaves only tomorrow, the official last day of Faire.  I still don't have my new Elizabethan corset mockup done yet ... and last year's version is too stretched out to wear anymore.  Yesterday I went in my denim mid-Victorian again, as my back was acting up and I really needed the lumbar support.

If I can get my few tiny thoughts focused today, I should be able to bind this and put in eyelets (dependent upon headache level, of course).  Here's hoping.

22 May 2011

Random garb notes

For future reference, some garb notes after spending almost all of yesterday at Ren Faire:

  • Must make friend's Tudor cap, since I did promise him he would have it no later than Memorial Day ... a week from tomorrow!  Even if it does end up too hot to wear it, he still needs his matching Tudor cap to go with his doublet.
  • I finally found my other red petticoat, the one with the fleur-de-lis contrast panel.  How did I "lose" a bright red petticoat?  I folded it in half and hung it on a regular hanger ... next to fluffy-poofy sleeved shirts that hid it.  (*Sigh!*  *Loud audible sigh!*)
  • I have decided I should make a top to go over the smock and corset/bodies instead of a full overdress.  Not only will it be quicker and easier to sew, but that will be less skirt to maneuver in the porta-potties.  That's also a major reason I do not have a farthingale planned ... I just can't imagine the logistics of the portapotty use with one on.
  • Must finish the new corset this week!  Last year's model is just too stretched out to wear even one more weekend.  It just did not feel right yesterday.  I'm over half done now ... boning channels sewn, so what's left is to cut and file the cable ties (I am not making this one period correct at all), floss them in, then bind and put in eyelets.  If I get my (*donkey*) in gear I can get it done, plus the Tudor cap.
  • More wistful cringing at improperly worn corsets ... the number one mistake is wearing them too loosely.  Yeah, I know, I know ... any corset made from a "Big 4" pattern has too much ease in the pattern (Butterick, Simplicity, McCall's are the major offenders, I haven't seen one from Vogue that would qualify as a Ren Faire corset yet) and most folks just don't know any different since corsets are no longer daily wear undergarments (or in my case, outer garments!).  I saw a lady in a wonderfully-sewn 18th century stay (colonial period, probably Butterick 4254 in fact!) who had the room in back to lace it up tighter.  I don't nitpick on spiral lacing since I haven't made one laced up that way myself ... but if she had tightened it properly it would have been perfect!  Even with jeans shorts and a modern knit top, since my mind works that way.  She certainly wasn't the only one yesterday in a too-loose corset (HOW can that be comfortable??) just the one who really caught my eye.
  • To top everything off ... I want a new smock/shift/chemise for next year.  My hankie linen one worked a little too great last weekend ... the temperature never even cracked 60F, and it let every tiny breeze  through and up, so it will definitely keep me cool next weekend.  Well, as cool as I can reasonably expect since the petticoat and corset aren't linen (although the new corset is lined in linen).  So, just what am I wanting?  An Irish leine!    Silly me ... I am expecting it to be a gathering nightmare on the sleeves, but darn it, I want!  I don't know why this has popped into my tiny brain, because I haven't seen an example of one at Faire yet ... but for some reason that idea moved into my tiny brain last night and is still here even with coffee.
I have no pics for today ... yesterday's intentionally mismatched outfit (for "pirate invasion" weekend) is pretty sweaty since we easily were into mid-80s (Fahrenheit) after last weekend's cold.  At least I had the "mighty umbrella" at the ready for when the sky opened up in late afternoon - this IS Tennessee and it IS spring.  About 45 minutes before the sudden downpour, some kids in their late teens or early twenties were laughing at my weapon of choice, since I carry my umbrella on my dagger frog.  I was looking for them as everyone scurried to find shelter ... just to have the last laugh.  OK, I sort-of have a pic ... my very feathered tricorn hat, which stayed dry!
Feathered tricorn "pirate" hat
Hmmm ... I've added a feathered pin to the other side since this pic was taken ... it's quite the dandy's hat.  Not a single feather got wet yesterday - a good thing since some of them are dyed!  I learned the hard way on Halloween '09 that the dye will run in rain.

18 May 2011

Hubby and I dressed up in clothes I've made

One more pic ... the official pic of hubby and I before going into the banquet last night wearing a bunch of clothes I've made:
dressed up in clothes I have sewn
If you've read this blog even just a week, you know what I am wearing: B5355 tunic in silk charmeuse (yes, I was petting the sleeve hems during the speeches) and the Butterick 5221 knee-length shorts in linen.

Hubby's shirt is much older ... the first thing I sewed for him last year.  It is Simplicity 7030 in an offwhite linen/cotton blend, and he still loves it because it is lightweight, cool, washable (he dripped chocolate sauce on the sleeve during dessert!), and best of all he picked out the decorative stitches and was able to ask for two pockets instead of the standard one.

I have to confess: yesterday afternoon as I was ironing hubby's shirt I was cringing.  Ye-ouch ... it looks so sloppy to me now, but almost a year ago I was quite proud of it.  When I remarked on this to hubby, his response was oh-so-predictable ... make him a better one!  He'll still wear this one to tatters because he likes how it feels.

So, along with all my other want-to-sew-now projects, add in a new dress shirt for hubby ... and about four more casual shirts that I already have fabrics for.

17 May 2011

Better pic of Butterick 5221 shorts

Hubby is home now, and honestly, I really did just press these!  LOL  Meh, it's linen ... it's allowed some wrinkling.

Wearing Butterick 5221 shorts
 I forgot to mention in the previous post ... I have just enough of this linen left over to make a matching hat!  Now I just need to decide on a hat pattern ... and debate between fedora style versus a brimmed sunhat style.

Butterick 5221 view A shorts mirror pic

Got'em done ... finally found my motivation today (something about needing them to wear this evening!) and they took me less than four hours because I stopped for lunch before hemming and the waistband.  Since neither of my guys are home yet to snap a decent pic, but I still want to show them off ... here's another good example of why I probably shouldn't post up mirror pics:
B5221 view A mirror pic
Hmmm ... are those spots on my mirror?  Or paw prints?  Probably spots as high up as they are ... and it also looks like I'll need to press these again before leaving out for son's sports award banquet.

My only problem on this is at the hips where I graded from a size 18 waist out to size 20 hips ... if I hadn't been so quick to topstitch the outer side seams down I could have fixed it, but I was "on a roll" at that point.  I am pleased with the mock fly this time ... I also interfaced it this time!  No floppy fly on this pair.  I was intending to do a blind hem, but when I double-checked the instructions, they call for some funky regular hem with zigzag raw edges and slipstitching .... odd.  So I did a more traditional hem.

I think I'll still do up view C with hidden side seam pockets and the cuffs out of the black silk/linen suiting.  But first, I need to finish my ren faire garb before ren faire ends!

14 May 2011

A plan for pants

Is it safe to post again?  LOL Most of y'all have probably read about Blogger's little problem this week ... but that isn't my only excuse.  Along with another flareup of sinuses and back, I was struck by indecision ... more than usual this time!  I started out with a fabric, a pattern, and a plan ... I have some mostly-black silk/linen suiting that I (still) intend to make into Butterick 5221, view C ... the midcalf pants with the cuffs.

Ahhh, but then Thursday evening, my salt-n-pepper linen started talking to me from near the bottom of my want-to-sew pile ... you remember this one surely!
the salt-n-pepper linen
Yes ... the one that made me want to cry last month because I didn't buy enough to make a blazer from it.  I had decided that this linen would make some lovely culottes or gaucho pants ... but it has piped up and wants to be view A of Butterick 5221!  I then wiffle-waffled over adding side seam pockets, but this morning it occurred to me I want to conserve my scraps and make a matching hat, since this linen is beefy enough to pull it off with style.  While moving the charmeuse scraps ... I am now thinking if I can get pants and hat done by Tuesday evening I can use the charmeuse as a hatband or trim ... it's probably a bit too ambitious but I tend to shoot for the moon.

Pattern prep is done, and I am embarking on a bit of a fitting adventure: last year's gaucho pattern fits very nicely through the hips and crotch, but the waistband has seemed a bit loose since I made them so I will try to cut a size 18 waist and grade out to the size 20 hips.  Without pockets, it's only 3 pattern pieces, one mock fly (which I did twice last year with success), a few seams and a blind hem this time.

09 May 2011

Pics of me wearing Butterick 5355 in silk

First some gushing - this IS SILK CHARMEUSE, after all!  (I believe the current exclamation is "Squeeee!!").  This fabric is so light and airy ... even a light breeze catches it:
wind catching silk sleeves
It brings to mind the old joke: "Flap your wings and FLY!"  As y'all can see, my hair is barely moving in the breeze ... and my hair is still baby-fine in texture.  More views:

B5355 front view

Side view of B5355 - my favorite pic

B5355 silk - now I know how the back looks
The pics show me how the side and back of this tunic look.  I definitely have a case of "bra strap peekaboo" going on.  If hand basting doesn't work tonight with bringing the neckline binding in enough, I will need to resort to small safety pins.  The side view and windy pics are my favorites, as the angle of sunlight hits the fabric just perfectly.

Just a note: silk charmeuse is definitely a bad choice to use as a self-fabric sash.  The sash slides against the body pieces and migrates from my underbust down to below my waist and back ... just as a I breathe or move!  I keep petting this slippery sash ... and the hems ... because (duh!) it's silk charmeuse.

I also have to admit I am currently loving just how slimming this tunic looks ... before the pics I felt as though it was clinging to every lump and bump, but it instead is skimming over them and hiding them.  Color me happy overall - in black, white, purple, and green!

B5355 silk tunic done? Maybe

So I bit the bullet (after spilling coffee on myself earlier) and attached the sash carriers and finished the neckline ... Pic first then commentary:

Butterick 5355 raglan tunic in silk charmeuse
First up: using the sleeve casings was not a good idea.  Bias binding would have looked much better.  I may be able to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat ... right now a tiny thought from one of my two last working brain cells is whispering about handbasting embroidery thread around the top and gathering it in just enough to persuade it to lay flat against my neckline.  Maybe this evening ... so if anyone wants to sound the "bad idea!" warning you have most of the day to do it.

I moved the sash carriers down from where the pattern has them marked ... and they still feel a bit high when I put it on.  Or maybe I should have graded the hips out a little, considering I went down one size from the measuring chart.

Another observation: silk charmeuse makes a very poor self-fabric sash!  Then again, the charmeuse would probably slide against fine grain sandpaper (might be an exaggeration) but I am thinking a sash made from a fabric that stays tied may have been a smarter choice.  Despite this, I still like how it looks ... except that neckline.  If my handbaste-and-gather idea works though, I will be pleased.

Final note: The neckline is still wide even with going down one size, and I will need to be careful about the bra straps playing peek-a-boo.  I do like this pattern, so will probably make it again.

B5355 progress pic

Maggie has shown great restraint in chat the past couple evenings, not "bugging" for an update pic on this Butterick 5355 silk charmeuse blouse ... so I thought I would throw her a bone (photo) as I have only two things left to do on this silk tunic: the neckline finishing and attaching the sash carriers.  Here's Mathilda showing off my progress so far:
B5355 in silk charmeuse - almost done!
I am to the point where I will cry my eyes out if I hose things up.  There is no picking stitches out of this silk, especially not with a 1.6 stitch setting!  I abandoned the casings for the sleeves after noticing I could see the black through the white patches of the print (also the darker parts of the purple and green) so I intend to use the casings I sewed to finish the neckline.  I like where the neckline is as cut and don't want to turn it down (not to mention, that is a pain in the *donkey* as I discovered on the hems).

Speaking of hems ... my hems aren't exactly even due to the slipperiness of the silk ... but if anyone can actually see that I will be asking her/him for tips!

Another cup of coffee to work up the nerve to place those sash carriers ....

06 May 2011

New thread test SUCCESS!

Since I still wasn't quite satisfied with yesterday's thread tests for the silk charmeuse, I looked again at the thread section at Hancock (yes, hubby also included hitting Hancock as part of yesterday's anniversary outing).  Something *shiny* caught my eye this time: Sulky viscose/rayon embroidery thread!  They had two types, and I got the high quality one (after all, this IS for silk charmeuse) with the 943- in front of its SKU number.

I just finished a test on one of my few remaining scrap pieces, and am pleased.  I have found the right thread for this project!  Other than forgetting to trim the edge on the french seam, this one came out pretty much perfect:

Sulky rayon thread on silk charmeuse
 If you click through to the larger image, the label on the spool came out in focus and is readable.  I'm getting a better feel for pressing the silk charmeuse as well ... I just need to let the iron sit on top of the press cloth a little longer than other fabrics.  Pictured is my best seam so far ... and it even looks like the thread smooths out a bit when pressed.  Did I mention the rayon's shiny sheen closely matches the silk charmeuse's shine?

While exploring Hancock's thread section, I discovered the problem with the Gutterman cotton thread: I bought the wrong kind by accident.  In our local Hancock, the 200m spools are handquilting thread.  The 100m and 800m spools are for machine use ... strange.  But it does explain the stiffness in the seams.  I have moved this spool and what remains on the bobbin here to my desk where I do all hand sewing.  The Gutterman machine cotton thread looked like it would probably work, but it didn't have the shine that the rayon thread does.  "Shiny for the win!" as my hubby and son would say.

NOW I am finally ready to put this blouse together ...

05 May 2011

Scrap thread testing - silk charmeuse

Maggie is wanting in progress pics ... fair enough, since I did bug her about progress pics when she was working on her denim corset.  LOL  I waited more than 48 hours before bugging though .... but in her defense, she does have this same silk charmeuse so I can understand her interest in this project.

I spent yesterday testing thread, stitches, and practicing french seams on scraps of the silk charmeuse ... and I am starting to run low on scraps!  I tried out different stitch lengths on my Brother CS-770 (my daily driver and delicate fabric machine) and decided 1.8 setting is too long as it starts to have a gathering effect on the finished seam (note: this may come in handy for the neckline).  The 1.6 setting looks good - little puckering, but not the too short bulletproof look that begins to resemble perforation that the 1.4 setting started to look like.

Now, about the thread itself ... I had gone out and bought Gutterman cotton thread on Nay's advice, because she has done bridal work and sewn much more silk than I have (recall this is my first time sewing silk!).  She verified in chat that I had the right thread by its color number, so that part was good ... the problem I am seeing is this thread seems too stiff for this silk charmeuse!  Honestly, it has a "light boning" effect, especially on french seams (where it is sewn twice).  So I tried what Gloria recommended: embroidery machine thread.  While it still is stiffer than unsewn silk, the effect is noticeably less ... here is my *attempt* to capture this on pixels:

Machine embroidery thread versus Gutterman cotton thread
The stiff part shows, but the curve on the machine embroidery thread sample isn't as obvious.  This is after trying to press both samples, as well.  About that ... this silk charmeuse does not like taking a press.  I should have guessed that when I laid it out and there was hardly any wrinkling even though I had to hide this fabric in a box to keep inquisitive and destructive felines away from it!  I am using a press cloth (don't want any accidental marking of the silk from my more-than-a-decade-old iron) but am just not brave enough to try increasing the heat beyond the silk setting.  I don't have enough left over to cut any new pieces.  (Go ahead and call me chicken!  LOL)

Now, for a little fun and fabric acquisition with little expenditure: here is the "to iron" pile on my ironing board, with my newest acquisition on top: the rayon floral Maggie mailed me left over after she made the very lovely classic keyhole tunic last week (that she hadn't worn as of last night!). 

Floral rayon - It's MINE now!!
 It's about 2 yards ... just enough for ME to make a classic keyhole tunic just like this one ... except in my size.  Not only did I have fabric envy when she posted this ... I had finished garment envy, and since Maggie is iffy about this project I first had to find out what size she made.  Maggie and I do not wear the same size ... I need a size 18 for my shoulders (too many push ups as a mouthy private in the army ...) so I couldn't trade for the finished tunic.  If she ever gets over her "tablecloth fabric" idea and actually wears this lovely tunic she's made ... we'll have matching garments sometime this summer!  Oh and fabric lovers ... fear not.  This rayon floral is now in a truly loving home, where its beauty and classic print will be truly appreciated.  Did I mention its even prettier in person?  It has a second floral motif in subtle white-on-cream to go along with the very pretty pink themed roses that the camera doesn't pick up too well.  Maggie is getting about 2-1/4 yards of my white handkerchief linen with a couple swatches ... the prop in the first pic.  She hasn't been bitten by the linen-love bug ... yet ... but I am intending to fix that with a sample swatch of the FM couture linen (which I now own four colors of ... they're under the rayon in the to-iron pile).

I may not make much progress today, as it is our anniversary and hubby is taking me out (to include hitting Hancock!) once my clothes dry.  I want to wear my simple skirt, a bright pink matching knit top, and my denim mid-Victorian corset.

03 May 2011

New project - B 5355 raglan tunic ... in silk charmeuse!

All those carefully laid (half-baked?) Ren Faire garb sewing plans and corset plans went out the window with Friday's mail.  My son has another sports award banquet scheduled for the 17th, and I have no warm weather nice clothes.  As I've learned more about fitting, I've learned there is just no possible way I can buy clothes at a store that will fit me, so sewing it is!  Besides, I have some really nice fabrics I've scored on sale, that sit and look pretty and inspire dreams of beautiful garments ...

My silk charmeuses are a good example!  I knew when I bought them back in January I wanted drapey-flowy tops of them ... and I have now started on the first one: Butterick 5355 raglan tunic, in this silk charmeuse:
B5355 silk charmeuse
The pattern cries out for drapey-flowy fabric, just as the fabric cries out for a pattern to show off its fluid finery.  And the word "fluid" is especially appropriate for this silk ... it really does want to find its way to the floor!  Getting it laid out is the first major battle on the cutting table, because it loves to slide around on itself, even when folded wrong side together, right side out.  It's ten times worse if you try to fold the right side in ...!

Before I even dug the lovely silk out of its hiding spot, I asked for tips, tricks, and advice on cutting and sewing it in the PR chat room.  Here is what I was told would help preserve what little sanity I have:
  • Make sure cuticles are trimmed and fingernails are filed ... charmeuse snags easily!
  • Get a pinking blade for the rotary cutter, and have a good mat to cut on ... Olfa was recommended by name for both.
  • Silk pins help ... I bought a new (PINK!) tomato pincushion to keep my silk pins separate from the normal ones.  If you are inclined to pin your pattern pieces, do so only in the seam allowances.  I pinned the selvages, then weighted the pieces with votive candle holders.
  • Use cotton thread - Gutterman was recommended by name.  Test on a scrap before sewing to see just how small of stitch looks best - 1.5 to 1.8 was recommended (mm, I *think*).
  • French seams to sew silk charmeuse, which automatically finishes the inside.
  • Quilting gloves called Machingers were also recommended, but I have no way to get them in a timely manner.  I may order them anyway since I do have the two couture silk charmeuses, plus the silk brocades.
  • Sharps needles ... I thought I had size 8, but I only have size 10s.  The size 10 Sharps still sew better than size 8 universals in my test.
I'll spare y'all all the whining and blubbering of the past week ... except to say my son looked dashingly handsome in his rental tux for prom, and we had two and a half days rainfree which included the kids getting to prom without getting wet.

A little more coffee, and I'll go wrestle the silk charmeuse into place to cut the wide billowy sleeves .... then the sewing silk adventure will start!