Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Jane Austen Ball part 2

Last summer, I bought a Regency day dress off the rack. Where you might ask?!? At a costume resale event hosted by Atelier Mela, a hat shop in Fullerton, CA. Totally random walk by, I know, but the dress fit and I thought I was set for the ball. It even came with a gold velvet Spencer jacket.

The fabric is a lovely sheer Indian cotton lawn with a tiny gold medallion print and border. There were a few alterations to make for perfect fit. I wanted to take the long sleeves off, add beaded trim and make undergarments to convert this gown for ball readiness.

A few months pass and I realized that in the amount of time I would spend converting this dress I could make myself a new one in ball-ready fabric. I remembered that I had a lovely iridescent bronze raw silk Dupioni in my stash. It and a matching sheer velvet floral cutout fabric were purchased years ago and intended for a 50's style cocktail dress that never got made. I had 5 yards of each. Perfect for the gown I was now envisioning. Of course, lots of time was also spent on Pinterest looking at ideas.

This picture shows the start of the collection of materials. Folkwear pattern for period-correct dress and McCall's for sheer overlay option. The shiny gold fabric at the bottom of the picture was intended for a shawl that never happened.

These are other bits I had to gather as I went along. Ribbon for ties, bias tape, buttons, horsehair for hems, woven trim for decoration, etc. And, yes, armpit pads for sweat protection!

I started with the underdress. I bought a soft white cotton fabric. So many pieces for just the bodice.

The skirt was 3 pattern pieces, center front, side and center back panels. I French seamed these pieces. Long straight seams are easy to do this way. The bodice raw edges are all overlocked. I know, not period-correct but easy to sew!

Most Regency garments have center back openings. I thought it would be a good idea to convert to a side opening so I could dress by myself. I moved the neck drawstring opening to the center front. I also moved the center back placket to the side along with the underbust drawstring. It took a bit of finagling as I made the alterations as I sewed the pieces together instead of re-drafting the pattern. I wanted to see how the garment fit without having to rip out too many stitches if it did not.

Bodice before the neckline drawstring was inserted.

Close up of the tiny button hole I sewed in the center front.

Close up of finished side opening. Small hooks and bars keep the side closed.

Bodice with neck drawstring pulled.

Finished underdress. Turned out it fit perfect. No adjustments needed.

I used my sewing machine to assemble the dress. It occurred to me after the garment came together quickly that had I been making this dress in 1789, I would have sewn all the seams by hand. That would have taken MUCH longer to do.

Jane Austen Ball part 1 can be found here.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

Jane Austen Ball part 1

Yes, that's right...a Jane Austen Ball.

I'm a fan of Jane Austen's books. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibilities are some of my favorite stories. But I'm not a super fan. Apparently. Because I had no idea that there were giant events and conventions all about Jane Austen and her writing.

There are week long events in Britain, Regency Society groups around the world, and lots of dancing and balls where one can dress up in the style and have fun. I found this out as I did research poking around on the internet after a friend invited me and a couple of others to attend a ball with her.

For my friends and I, the event was about the costumes we made. I will share that story in succeeding posts. For everyone else who attended, it appeared to be all about the dancing! Formal original line dancing. Just like in the movies!

There were over 200 people dancing. Lots of men, too. Men in kilts, tuxedos, frock coats, period military uniforms. Women in day dresses, cotton, linen, plaid silk, taffeta, brocades. A few were in modern formal dress but most everyone was in Regency period costume. Because it was about the dancing, most folks wore comfy flat shoes. Some even wore slip-on tennis shoes.

This is the music program. It was fun to hear these OLD pieces of music. We had a live five piece orchestra and dance caller.

The ball took place at the Pasadena Masonic Lodge in the great room. It was amazing to see it full of regular people dancing in sync, who just happened to be wearing period clothes. This event has been taking place every January for 22 years!

The ball is hosted by The Evening with Jane Austen.

The Historical Tea & Dance Society is another local group. They host events all year long featuring different time periods. My dancing friend has attended a couple of Victorian Balls with this organization.

I had a BALL!



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fried Egg Tote Bag

I knit this tank top in 2010. When I finished it and put it on I saw that the variegated yarn had pooled color into "nice" uneven fried egg splotches in the most awkward place. It was the same on the back so I could not wear it backwards.

A friend suggested I convert it into a bag. Once I refolded the tank, the armholes became handles!

The tank languished for many years. However, yesterday, I decided to dig into the sewing UFO (Un-Finished Objects) stack and work my way through it. I finished 6 things including the bag!

This is the lining, fully interfaced. I laid the knit tank on top of the fabric and rough cut the shape.

I also added a pocket with some fabric that reminded me of the first garment I made for myself back in 9th grade. Yes, I made a wrap skirt with fabric in shades of brown with clusters of mushrooms all over. For kicks I searched for "1980's wrap skirt patterns" and found the exact same one on Etsy here. My teacher asked me twice if I was sure about the fabric choice. Of course I was! I wish I still had the skirt because it must have been most hilarious.

Once I had the body sewn and the corners tucked to make a flat bottom I had to clip and fold the lining into the handles one edge at a time.


Then sew each one after pinning before moving onto the next edge.

I did have to patch the top of the handle as I didn't cut the lining long enough to go over the shoulder/handle. You can barely see it.

Corner button that I think adds a nice detail to the bag.

Finished bag. I love it!

Sometimes its good not to think to much or measure to much about a project. Just wacking out fabric shapes is not my normal way of sewing. This on-the-go method is freeing and a UFO got crossed off the list.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Backstrap Complimentary Pick Up part 2

A quick post to share a band I just finished weaving on the backstrap using complimentary pick-up.

I had a lot of trouble keeping the yarns in the correct pick-up order on the last band. See this post. I finally looked at Laverne Waddington's book Complimentary-Warp Pick-Up to see if I was missing a step. Sure enough, I was not using two swords to hold the pick-up cross. That is the magic step that keeps the yarns in order. I hardly made any errors on this band after faithfully using this technique.

Close up of the band. I wanted to do another 9 thread motif from her book and this mirror image hook was it.

This is the finished band. I'm quite pleased with how easy it was to weave (using the two swords).

These are the two bands with same color yarns in different placement. I plan to use them as the handles of a tote bag. Yes, I'm using the one with all the errors in it because I want to remind myself of the difficulty I had weaving it and remember not to repeat the mistake.





Thursday, May 10, 2018

Done and Done!

See first post on this subject here.

While I'd much rather be writing about my SUPER AWESOME backstrap weaving workshop last week I need to finish my Little Mermaid story. I'll get back to the workshop next post.

The skirts were delivered before I left town Friday before last. I put everything into a big black trashbag and dropped it off backstage. It was a huge relief to get them out of my house.

This is what was in the bag! Seven sparkly, scaly skirts.

Here are four of the Mer-sisters. I think they are very happy with their skirts.

Onto the bandeau tops. This is the sparkly fabric. Nylon netting with iron-on sequins.

I cut all 7 in short order. The little white tabs are plastic boning so the side seams did not collapse.

I sewed the seams using a small zigzag stitch to bag out the top. The fabric was really sticky to sew though. I had to change the needle twice as the glue from the sequins gummed up the needle badly.

This is what the inside looks like after some quick and dirty sewing. I did use a basting stitch to gather the center front before sewing down the ribbon tie. The gathering under the boning was done on the machine.

I will deliver them on hangers tomorrow morning.

Done is beautiful...as we use to say in the costume shop at college.





Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Backstrap Complimentary Pick Up

A week from today I leave with my friend, Kathleen, to attend a backstrap weaving workshop with Laverne Waddington. The workshop is taking place in Sonora, CA at a friends home. There will be 8 of us in the workshop. I can hardly wait.

The topic is Pebble Weave. This weave structure is a type of complimentary warp pick up technique. In preparation, I have been practicing my complimentary weaving.

This is the warp I started with. Plain weave is relaxing and easy to do. Pick up is very finicky. I had to really concentrate to get the pick up portion correct.

I was weaving at Kathleen's a couple of weeks ago and this is how I anchored my loom. I used cork and cardboard to protect her nearly antique window sill.

This is the end of the tape. It looks perfect. right?!? Well, in full disclosure, it took me about half an hour to do each hook motif! I had a lot of trouble picking up the warp yarns in order. Each motif is only 17 weft picks. I was very frustrated. Sometimes the weaving went smoothly with no errors, which was surprising. Then I would make about 10 errors and had to weave and unweave over and over until the motif came out correctly. Arrgh!

As challenging as pick up is, I can tell you it's even more impossible when the warp is upside down and backwards. Laverne tells us to start picking up with the light thread and then follow with the dark thread. Well, Of course I had it set up completely opposite. I had to start with the dark warp and follow with the light warp. I could not figure what I was doing until Kathleen pointed out the backward/upside down warp thing going on.

You can see the errors in the photo below. The top tape has clearly shaped hooks. The lower tape shows lots of twisted spots and specs with no clear definition. I almost gave up. But that is not allowed! With Kathleen's guidance the weaving got easier. Sort of. I still picked the wrong threads. But that's because the yarns wanted to fool me by squishing together and making it hard for my fingers to pick up the correct warp yarn.

I persevered though and finished the tape. I am happy with the results. AND I learned how to unweave on the backstrap. Always an upside. Right!?!

You can find my post on weaving my backstrap here.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Little Mermaid 2018

For the third year in a row I am making costumes for the school play. My son is again NOT involved in any way except as a spectator. You can find my costume sewing adventure from last year here.

This year the show is Little Mermaid. I am making Ariel and her six sisters. That equals 7. Seven!

Seven little mermaid costumes have been on my plate for awhile. You know the usual...shoulda...woulda...coulda...started earlier...etc. Anyway, I've had the skirt mocked up for some time and finally got a fitting last week.

I cut all the skirts on Monday. I cut all the tulle today for the ruffles. And started sewing.

Here are the seven combinations. These four pictures are from the director.

The main skirt fabric is a 4 way stretch metallic nylon with overall semi circle cutouts.

I used a knit interfacing on the sewing edges to stabilize the edges.

Because...look what this fabric does with just the weight of the tulle ruffle on the hem!

Looks like fish scales, eh?!? I love the fabric. I can't imagine what it was designed for or who would wear it except as a costume. But it's pretty fun.

Gathering the tulle onto the hem.

 Tulle ruffle on the right side. I still have to edge stitch and sew up the back and waistband.

This is the skirt mockup. The tulle ruffle represents the flippers. It's so cute.

More costume adventures to come. After the skirts are done I have little bandeau tops to cut and sew.

The end of the story can be found here.