Friday, November 10, 2017

Yellow Wool Kirtle

I made this kirtle from the pattern diagram in the wonderful book The Tudor Tailor.


The wool was a gift from a coworker that from her relative's de-stash. It's a gorgeous yummy color and kind of an odd weave; it's a double cloth with a somewhat coarsely woven layer joined to a finer, smoother layer. I'm pretty sure the rough texture was the proper right side, though both sides looked finished and usable. Anyway, I liked the coarser, fluffier side better.

I took these next few pictures in my backyard after a long, hot, sweaty day at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. I felt a bit bedraggled!




Here's the process.

I just did one mockup since the shaping is so simple. I put a few bones in the mockup because it's just muslin.


I used a set of fitting lacing strips to draw in the back more easily.


Not bad bust support.


Felt a little barrel-ish from the front.


Here's that same mockup with changes. I pinned out the small diagonal wrinkle at the corner of the neckline, raised the neckline slightly, made the neckline slightly wider, and raised the back waist a bit. I also ended up taking the whole thing in a bit at the sides. If the laces were touching, I knew it would soon stretch to be too big.


Then I started cutting and sewing! I had originally planned to hand sew the whole thing, but I ran into a deadline and ended up doing it about 50/50 hand and machine.

I didn't put in any bones, instead using cotton kitchen cord because I wanted a softer look (and I also kind of just wanted to see what would happen!).

The front and back were each fully flatlined in lightweight linen. I also cut a piece of heavy linen to interface just the front. The cord channels were machine stitched into the interlining layers only and the cords threaded between. I stitched the cords in small clusters of 2-3. When the interlining was corded, I pinned it to the fashion fabric's wrong side.


Right sides pinned together at CB, sides, and shoulders. I machine stitched these seams.


I turned the fashion fabric's seam allowances under and secured them by hand with a catch-stitch.


The lining is a medium weight linen. I machine assembled it, then turned the edges under and used a fell stitch to attach it to the bodice by hand. I hand sewed the eyelets with linen thread in a spiral lacing pattern.


Onto the skirt! I stitched the side and CF seams by machine, then added a wide strip of linen to face the top, also by machine. I hand topstitched the CF slit opening. Then I started pleating the skirt to fit the bodice and whipped the pleats together to hold them in place. Finally I attached the skirt to the bodice by hand and hand-hemmed it!


I also made a pair of sleeves to go with this gown, also from The Tudor Tailor's pattern. They are a lightweight peacock blue wool, unlined, machine seamed and hand-hemmed, and simply pin to the kirtle's shoulder straps. It was a shame the Renaissance Festival was too hot for sleeves this year!


Overall, I was very happy with it. The fit was pretty good, and I liked the soft shape and support of the corded front. The color of the wool just felt happy. I felt very cute in it!

I'll be writing about the details of the cap and smock in a separate post!

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Lace Wedding Dress

This summer I sewed another wedding dress, this time for my very good friend Lainey.

I am not typically in the habit of sewing bridal wear, and it was a complete coincidence that two very important people in my life got married one year after the other, and both needed dresses!

After sewing my sister's wedding dress last year, I felt I had learned a lot of useful lessons, and this one, while challenging, was not quite so intimidating.

She showed me a few inspiration pictures, and we came to a final design of lace bodice with a skirt of satin and a soft, sheer overlay. The final result was fabulous!


Most of these great photos are from our friends Kelly and Matt Haupert at Haupert Photography.



The skirt was absolutely diaphanous and moved beautifully.



Very good for dancing in!





Okay so let's get down to the bones. I started with a New Look pattern (6341) for the basic shape.

We went through multiple muslin mockups to perfect the fit. Lainey was very patient with me!

Cutting into that lace and sewing those princess seams was terrifying. I started with a base of poly/cotton broadcloth lining, then placed the silk/cotton satin fashion fabric over it, and the lace on top.

I did several test swatches with the lace to figure out how best to cut and sew it. At first I thought it would need to be fussy-cut around the motifs and hand-appliqued onto the base fabrics, but surprisingly it didn't really look best that way. I ended up just cutting and sewing right through it, right sides together like any other fabric.

The lace had a decorative scalloped edge that I utilized at the waistline. I cut it so it would hang slightly over the waist seam.


Once I made it to here, I felt I had conquered the scariest part.


I hand-stitched a traditional zipper. I figured this was the best way to get a zipper into a lace dress. 


I wasn't entirely pleased because the zipper opening gaps slightly. In retrospect I probably could have used an invisible zip and machine sewed it, but at the time I just didn't want to take the chance.

There is a single hook and eye at the top. The bodice is fully lined with Bemberg rayon.


The skirt made up of two layers. The base layer is the same silk/cotton satin as the bodice, cut with gores to flare smoothly from the waist into a very full hem. The overlay is a very soft tulle netting. 5 yards of it are gathered into the waist with a single seam in back. The bottom is cut and left raw. There is also a short inner lining in the skirt made of Bemberg rayon. It falls to about the knee.

Finished, on the dressform.


Here she is wearing it when everything is done except for hemming!


And done!


I had a lot of fun making this and I learned a lot from the challenge. I was so grateful to be able to make something for my friend's special day. She looked beautiful and I wish her and her new husband all the happiness in the world!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My Little Pony Costumes

My daughter and I both love My Little Pony, so this was a perfect cosplay for us, and CONvergence 2017 was the perfect opportunity!


We were going for humanized versions of the ponies, but still drawing from the Friendship Is Magic series ponies (rather than the human versions in Equestria Girls).

I wanted to be Twilight Sparkle, because I love her as a character. She's so organized, and she loves books!


First I made this simple dress out of light purple cotton. The bodice is princess-seamed and the armholes and neckline are bound with single-fold bias tape. There is an invisible zip up the back.


I wore it over a white button-up blouse from the Goodwill and added a bright fuchsia pink sash.


The cutie mark was cut from the same fabric as the sash and fused in place with Wonder-Under. I stitched around the edges of the large motif with a zigzag on the machine, but the small white bits were too delicate. I put the cutie mark on just one side.


I really did not get a great shot of the whole finished costume, but you get the idea! 


This was another very fun costume to wear! It was comfy but also very recognizable - lots of people stopped and said hello to us! I also really loved wearing that wig, a lot more than I expected. It was difficult cramming my hair underneath, but I really like the color on me.

The Girl wanted to be Pinkie Pie, because she loves Pinkie's energy and general jumping-up-and-down-all-the-time-ness.


I used a basic t-shirt pattern and improvised a simple skirt. I made the cutie mark the same as for Twilight, with Wonder-Under, but I also used a zigzag to create the balloon strings, and put it on both sides. I also made a matching tote bag.


We stopped at Party City for a few balloons to finish it off. 


The wig's bangs were too long for her, so we clipped them to the side with a barrette.


Ponies love coloring.


The wigs and tails are the "official" My Little Pony ones; I bought them from Amazon. Find them here, here, here, and here. They were okay. The quality was good, the price was alright. I wasn't entirely pleased with the electric neon pink color for Pinkie Pie. It's not quite the color from either the toys or the show; it's much brighter. The ears were also troublesome; they didn't want to unfold at all!

We are probably going to wear these costumes again for Halloween. I'd really like to get some more wear out of those wigs!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How To Make a Star Trek Communicator Badge

For my daughter's Deanna Troi costume from Star Trek: The Next Generation, I made this communicator badge.


I had thought about buying a nice fancy com badge, but I was feeling thrifty so I decided to pull this together from scraps I had on hand. I like the way it turned out a lot! It's 3-dimensional, which makes it much more realistic than embroidered or appliqued ones, and since it was so cheap and easy to make it's perfect for kids and/or more casual costuming.

What you'll need to make this:
  • 3" x 6" piece of fusible Peltex interfacing
  • 4" x 4" piece of Wonder-Under fusible web
  • 4" x 4" piece of yellow cotton fabric
  • 4" x 4" piece of silver lame fabric
  • 2" x 3" piece of felt
  • Metallic gold fabric paint
  • Pin back
  • Hot glue gun or fabric glue
  • Thread and needle
  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Printout of your com badge

For the silver part, I used a metallic lame fabric, and for the gold, I used metallic paint on plain cotton. You could definitely use metallic paints for both fabrics, or try to find metallic fabrics for both parts instead of doing any painting. This is just what I had on hand.

There are tons of different com badge styles for the various series. A Google search brought up loads of charts and images. The one I chose is from an eBay product listing of a repro com badge for sale.

What To Do:

Trace your com badge components and cut out of the fusible Peltex. Make sure you cut this with the fusible side facing UP. I did this wrong the first time and ended up with a mirror image shape. 

Also, don't be afraid to spend time making tiny adjustments to the shape. Details matter, and you want the right shape and perfectly smooth edges here, because you can't fix it later.


Fuse the Peltex shape to your silver lame: put the Peltex piece on the ironing board, fusible side facing up. Lay the lame over the top. Cover it with a pressing cloth. With your iron set to a medium heat and steam, press firmly for about 10 seconds. Don't move it until it is cool.

Trim the excess lame around the shape to about 3/8". (Please note this photo is of the one I traced backward. Oops!)


Fold to the wrong side and sew in place, using long stitches to connect the opposite sides like a ladder. Fiddle with the corners to make them nice and pointy and then stitch them firmly.


It's probably possible to use glue for this step, but I don't recommend it. Glue is messy, slow, and much more difficult to make smooth. I know this because I tried it on my first (backward) attempt! Sewing it is quick and simple and you don't have to care much what the stitches look like because they will be covered up later!

When you're done it should look like this.


Set aside and move onto the gold part! 

Apply the Wonder-Under to your yellow cotton fabric. Leave the paper backing on. 

If you've never used Wonder-Under before, its job is to make any fabric into an iron-on fabric. First you fuse the Wonder-Under to the fabric, then you fuse the fabric to whatever you want! I happened to have a yellow scrap with Wonder-Under already fused on to it, or I might not have bothered, since the Peltex is already fusible, but it did make some of the next steps easier.

On the other side, paint a few coats of gold metallic paint. Wait for it to dry. (If you're using gold fabric, skip this step.)


Peel off paper backing. Place your Peltex shape on the ironing board, fusible side up, and put your painted fabric on top, fusible side down. (Fusible sides of each should be touching.) Cover with a press cloth. 

Press lightly, just in the center, using the tip of the iron only. You don't want to fuse the whole piece of fabric to your ironing board! Just the middle of the oval shape.

Trim the edges and notch the fabric. This makes them turn in more smoothly. Be careful not to notch too close to the Peltex or you'll have a cut in your finished edge.


Fold all the edges over and press to fuse them down. I did this by placing my press cloth on the ironing board, then putting my oval piece on it and gathering the cloth up around the oval shape. The press cloth pulls the edges in and keeps them neat while you iron over the whole thing.


All done!


Warm up your hot glue gun, or get out some fabric glue. Cut an oval of coordinating-color felt a little bit smaller than your gold oval. Glue in place.


Glue your two pieces together.


Find a pin back. I got this one at a craft store but I actually ended up ripping it off later and using a safety pin instead, because this pin back had a very thick pin! I could not pin it to the costume without damaging the fabric. So check your pin first.


Glue in place. You can see that I am super messy at hot glue. But that's okay, because it's the back, and no one's gonna see it!


The finished communicator.


It was a perfect accessory for her costume!