Problems? Let me count them

 

black flocking corset

This one nearly killed me.   It was a pattern which I’d used successfully a number of times before, but I just make mistake after mistake on it.  Some were silly mistakes and some were ‘learning activities.’

The exterior fabric itself was all upcycled.   The black and grey flocked material on the four front panels was upcycled from a skirt I found at a goodwill store.    The black velvet on the other panels came from my favourite fabric upcycling place – The Fabric Cave.  I know I keep plugging this place, but if you’re in Sydney, it’s well worth a look.

Problem #1 (Learning experience).    My first choice for the plain black panels was black cotton.  I found the blackest cotton I could, but it just looked lame next to the dark black flocking on the front panels.    I then remembered that I had some black velvet in my stash so I decided to try it instead.   Start unpicking all the cotton from the coutil backing.

Problem #2 (faulty fabric).   Replaced the cotton with the velvet and have it looking fabulous with a good fit.  Then the velvet pile started coming loose and left the corset looking like it has mange.    Start unpicking it all again

Problem #3, 4, and 5 (learning experience).   I headed to the Fabric Cave for some replacement velvet and found the perfect stuff.   Put it all back together again and find the busk is no longer sitting straight.   Not just a little off, but way off.   And the lacing at the back is also off.

Thought that perhaps it was because I didn’t sew the panels all in the same direction, so unpick and re-sewed the panels.   No luck.   4. Try again.   Thought it was perhaps because of the velvet, so I unpicked the velvet from the coutil and re-sewed the coutil only.   No luck.    I’m really wanting to give up at this stage, but the technical part of my brain is determined to find cause and solution    5.  Try again.  Finally I compared the flocked panels at the front and found they weren’t sitting identically.   Turns out that because the length of the sides weren’t absolutely identical, I’d joined the panels on left and right unevenly.    Note to self: make sure all pattern pieces have absolutely matching seam lengths.

Problem 6.   Don’t iron velvet flocking.  Just don’t.   Part of the flocking now has a dull patch on it.   Thankfully it wasn’t destroyed, but still……

I’m pleased to say that I’ve worn this a few times and it was worth persevering.  I am finally happy with it.  I could have given up, but I think I would have stayed irritated at not knowing why it sat unevenly.

 

 

 

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Going space age

We were invited to a 50th birthday party recently.  The theme was “dress in what we thought we’d be wearing today back in the 1960’s”   AKA Retro Modernism.   Now, this was a theme I could really get into.    And I had to come up with outfits for both myself and my hubby.    I started out gathering ideas on my Pinterest Dress-up box board.

My outfit started with a $50 silver wetsuit dress which I found at the Red Cross (thrift shop) store.  The old lady at the counter was rather worried about my dress sense, but seemed to relax somewhat when I told her it was for fancy dress.  It was way more than I’d normally spend, but the dress was just so perfect and I had to have it.     I added a silver cage skirt, silver boot covers and a ray gun.

My hubby’s outfit consisted of some upcycled skiing skins, a quilted silver breast plate, $3 belt from the thrift store, a wig and bobbly things for his head.

Sorry about the crap images – light was low and smart phones were the only camera option.   Read on if you want to know how I made them.   Basic sewing knowledge is assumed.

silver dress space man

So, first up we have the cage skirt.    I’ve put a closeup so that you can see how I constructed it.

cage skirt

For cage I used 3/4 wide inch elastic for the waist, 1 inch wide ribbon for the verticals, 1 3/4 inch ribbon for the hoops, 1/2 inch cheap fashion boning, glue gun and silver spray paint.    I found that the cheap boning doesn’t hold it’s shape if the circle gets too big, so I kept my largest hoop to a diameter of 22 inches.

I started with sewing the elastic to fit my waist.   Then folded the wide ribbons in half and sewed along both sides to make channels for the boning.   I then fed the boning into the channels and used a glue gun to secure the ends.  Next step is to attach the vertical ribbons to the elastic and three layers of hoops.  It’s really important to measure the gaps carefully so that the cage won’t end up wonky.    I then sprayed the whole thing silver.   Only problem with the spraying is that it took the pliability away from the ribbon – resulting in the ribbon not relaxing into shape.   Next time, I’d take a bit of extra time to find the right ribbon colour to start with – or perhaps compromise on ribbon colour.   But even with the added stiffness of spray paint, I was still quite pleased with it.

The boots (pictured above) were made with cheap stretchy silver fabric.   To make a rough pattern, I wrapped my boots in cling wrap and then in duct tape.  I then sliced the duct tape off the boots and flattened it onto the fabric

boots 1 boots 2

The resulting pattern was a bit too wide, but it was close enough to work with.  I just kept reducing the width of the boot cover till I got it right.   I used Sticky Dots to secure the top of the fabric to my boots.   They give a good grip, but are removable.

My ray gun was really simple.    It’s just a $6 water pistol from a toy store.    The original gun was grey, pink, orange and green.   I like the grey and the green, but the pink and orange had to go.   I solved the problem by covering colours I liked in masking tape and plastic wrap and spray painting the rest black.  It took a few layers of paint, but worked out pretty well.    The sticker on the back is a bit of clip art which I printed onto sticker paper.   The front end is an egg beater which was inserted and stuck in place with a glue gun.

ray gun

OK, onto hubby’s outfit now.

His breast plate is made from cheap woven silver fabric which is very shiny and frays easily.    It’s constructed using a solid front and two back pieces with a hole cut for the neck.    Each piece is fabric top and bottom with cheap poly batting in the middle.  I used a heap of pins to hold my fabric and batting sandwiches together and then quilted it all down.   I guess the quilting was overkill, but I do love quilting and so quite enjoyed it. I then joined the pieces at the shoulders (with about a 25 degree slope so that it would sit well) and finished the neck hole.   Just for a bit more overkill, I bound the edges with strips of fabric cut on the bias.    The back of the neck should have velcro or a button or something to hold it together – but I got lazy and used double sided tape for the night.

breast plate

You can’t see his pants in the photo, but they are a pair of vintage skiing skins with flared bottoms.   These pants went out of fashion over 15 years ago but he would’t part with them.     Until now.  Bwhaha.     I cut wide strips of bias from the woven silver fabric, sewed them into long cylinders, flattened them with the seam hidden on the back and sewed them onto the hem.   Easy peasy.

space pants

 

Phew!   I think that’s it.   A lot of sewing for one night out – but it was a great catch up and we had so much fun.

Simplicity 1464

It’s a rainy winter’s day and therefore perfect for a blog update – or two.   I’ve just finished making a skirt from Simplicity 1464 pattern and thought I’d do a review.

This skirt started out because I found a lightweight ruffled skirt at Vinnies (thrift store).   The second hand skirt looked more like a slip than an outer skirt, but I liked the ruffles and colour.   I’ve always had a thing for combining different textures and styles so I decided use the skirt as a lining to the Simplicity box pleat skirt pattern.

The fabric for the box pleat skirt is a poly/wool suiting and was great to work with.   The pattern itself is easy to follow but runs HUGE.   I have an 83cm (32.5 in) waist.  I cut a size 18 (about half a size down from recommended), but I probably should have cut somewhere between 14-16.   I trimmed probably another two inches off the waist to get it down to this size, and it’s still a fraction too big.   I guess this will be my “going out to eat” skirt.   If you’re going to do this pattern, trace the pattern and make a muslin waistband first to figure our your sizing – then continue as normal.  Anyway, once I got the sizing right, the rest was easy.

The jury is out regarding my matching of the ruffles and box pleats.   I like it, but a couple of trusted friends aren’t so sure.    Then again, if I like it, this should be all that matters, right?

ruffled skirt1ruffled skirt

Fossicking for fabrics

Some sewing friends recently recently introduced me to The Fabric Cave.   It combines four of my favourite things:  not for profit, supported employment, upcycling and sewing supplies.   The look and smell of this place evokes memories of 50 Nana’s sewing rooms.   Their stock has all been donated by people culling their stashes –  ready to find new lives in the a different sewing room.   They even have UFOs ready for some renewed inspiration.

My most recent trip there was with two dear friends – one of them the author behind Misty Cow Designs blog. How lovely it is to go shopping with people who ‘get it’.   I arrived with some odds and sods and one of my mother’s UFOs – appliqued squares for a patchwork quilt she started 20 years ago and then went off the idea.   She’d held onto it all this time because there was too much work in it to part with – but the prospect of it finding new love somewhere else spurred her into donating.’

My friends and I each spent about $50 and came out with very different supplies for our wide and varied interests.

Among my haul was this stash of vintage coloured patchwork fabrics.  I’d found myself looking at all the patchwork scraps and stumbled across a very retro piece;  I’ve been wanted to make a modern vintage quilt for some time and here was my start.    I immediately found a complimentary piece – and another – and another.     All the pieces seemed to jump out at me for re-use.   Yes, I was rather excited.    Because all the pieces are different sizes, I’ll probably go with some type of random pieced scrappy quilt.

retro fabrics

The top left piece was my starting piece of inspiration.  And the rest just followed

mid century modern fabric

OK, this one isn’t going to match my modern vintage quilt, but I couldn’t leave it behind.  I have no idea what I will do with it because at 25cm, it’s fairly narrow.   But I’m sure it will speak to me eventually.

Can’t wait for my next trip there.

Upcycled Blouse

Two posts happening in rapid succession here; I held off from posting about one garment because the other was complimentary.

I’ve been making an under bust corset in peacock colours and needed a blouse to go underneath.   I found this one at a local second hand store.  The colour was absolutely perfect, but all those wrap-around ties were awful.

IMG_4471

It was a fairly easy job to cut the ties off and square the front so that I could add some buttons.   I then discovered that my local spotlight store no longer stocks a wide range of buttons.   Aargh.   Some lovely sewing friends on Facebook pointed me in the direction of  the wonderful Fabric Cave in Meadowbank, Sydney (more on them later) where I found the perfect buttons. Voila – new shirt.

IMG_4487 IMG_4492

And it looks perfect under my new corset.