Threads of the Pattern

Posts Tagged ‘sewing

Colorful

Posted on: October 3, 2013

Suffice it to say, real life is a bitch. A lot has happened over the last few months that has kept me from writing for this blog, and feeling creative in general.

I’m hoping to get back in the groove of things, and to do so I thought I’d try some writing prompts. Turns out they’re not so easy to come by, but I did find quite a few photography prompts and I was able to think of some things to say about a few of them, so I’m going to adapt them to suit my needs. I may use a few, or just one. We’ll see.

So the prompts I’ve pulled for today’s post are: something colorful, stash, homemade. These fit perfectly with a project that I’ve been considering for a while now.

I’ve been looking around for skirts to wear at my new job (selling medical equipment to emergency medical personnel), and I’m finding the selection in stores to be quite lacking, so I’ve decided to make my own.

Being the nerdy gal that I am, I of course turn to my hobbies for inspiration. I tend toward more vintage and historical fashions, and I frequently think about ways I can bring my favorite bits of those styles into my modern wardrobe. Of course, then there are the fashions in my favorite books, though they’re usually at least somewhat based on real styles. The Wheel of Time is no different, though there happens to be a LOT of talk about clothing in the series and who wears what and why. There are a lot of wonderful specifics.

In the spirit of the series, I’ve crafted a pattern for a skirt in a style that I’m going to call Aes Sedai Modern.

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I went through my fabric stash, and found a nice brown wool(ish) fabric that looks like it has enough for a skirt. This seemed like a sign, seeing as I’d definitely be a Brown Sister if I had the choice. You know, and if it were a real thing.

The skirt is planned to be a pencil style, with a ruffle at the bottom, and I decided to add pleats with colored inserts, each one a color of an Ajah. Fat Quarters from Joann’s were on sale, so I had a bit of a look through at them. I decided to play it loosey goosey on the patterns, but sticking to things like spheres, vines, flowers or just thread like squiggles. Very low stress.

All told I’m happy with my choices, and I can’t wait to see it come together!

Tomorrow’s prompts: light/change/in my cup/bubbles/cozy/car/lunchtime. No real idea yet which of those I’ll choose or what I’ll write about, but that’s the point, right? 😉

How do you break through your blocks?

Are there any styles from books, shows, history, or anything else that you’d love to wear if you had the chance?

 

~Rosie

This fabric, a deep red silk, is going to become a lovely formal 13th century Mongolian noblewoman’s robe. (del, as they’re called natively)

I’m basing my choice off this image and (many) others like it:

 

Red seems to be the most common color for the formal overrobes the women wore, and as you can see above, they were big on embroidery, but not always. I have not yet decided if I will embroider mine or not. I think that will depend on how the winter goes, project-wise.

 I’m basing the cutting on a couple of different pieces.

©Gold, Silk, White and Blue Porcelain; p58-59

 and this diagram for cutting a Han Chinese Banbi: http://torguqin.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/shangyigencutting.png

I’m using the linked image as a sort of pattern. Obviously, the actual Mongolian piece has cuffs attached, which I will be adding. I was largely looking for direction in shaping the sleeves.  the rest of the del (the body) I’ve done before, and is pretty much the same no matter who was wearing it, so it should be pretty straight forward.

When I am finished, there will also be a pair of slippers and that fantastic hat with the feather sticking up out of the top!

 

~Rosie

You only turn one once!

For my niece’s First birthday, my sister decided to have a ladybug themed party. (And by my sister decided, I mean she wanted to do an Adventure Time theme, but we couldn’t find any decorations, so Rose and I helpfully nudged her into the choice of ladybugs.) So, I wandered through the internet, trying to find any inspiration for ladybug decorations or themes. I didn’t find any decorations that shook my creative tree, but I did decide while looking at cute black and red patterned tablecloths that I wanted to make her a dress. Now, anyone that follows me on Pinterest will know that I have been eyeing up pillowcase dresses for Bug for –ever-. Like, since she was born. After the Kosode Incident, I wasn’t sure I wanted to brave the sewing machine again but I reeeeeeeally wanted my baby girlie to have a pretty ladybug dress for her birthday.

A few creative searches on Pinterest and a few more knocks to my sewing prowess later, and I decided to make this dress, for my Bug, with many thanks to Ashley at Lil Blue Boo.

I envisioned black and red polka dots with a bright red top, maybe a little red tulle peeking out of the bottom. However, my local Hobby Lobby had a completely different vision in mind, presenting me with pink and white or black and white polka dots. If I wanted something ladybug themed, I could chose between a Kelly green background with red ladybugs or something baby pink with red cartoon lady bugs.  I ultimately chose the Kelly green, because I thought my niece had way too much pink in her wardrobe as it is.

I also bought a pretty red ribbon, thinking I could use it around the edge, or maybe in place of the straps. I’m kind of a fly by the seat of my capris kind of sewer…I just knew I liked the ribbon.

Now…I’m afraid of sewing. I think we all understand that by now. So you know I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that these directions were so frickin’ easy! They were simple to understand, even for a scardy cat like me. I measured the baby twice, plugged in her measurements in the super simple drawing and bam! I was off like lightning!

The only thing I ignored was the measurements for a pattern repeat…because I reasoned with myself that it was going on a one year old, who would be eating a piece of cake the size of her head that day…and no one would be looking at her booty. Plus…all those little wily ladybugs were going in 42 different directions, and trying to make that match made my head hurt.

All my pieces were cut quickly, and I even ironed it! (Don’t have a heart attack; I really do know how to use an iron.) All that was left was to thread the sewing machine and jump in there!

Did you read the Sewing Machine Wars? Do you remember the tip on avoiding thread barf? I sure do, which is why I had to take a picture of my properly threaded sewing machine, before I began.

This proves that even the most resistant sewer –can- learn from her mistakes!

I’m almost sad to report that it went together so nicely, I was afraid to even pause to hit skip on Pandora! I worked for 3 hours in sheer disbelief at my good fortune!

The loose gather for the skirt worked (mostly) and the top folded very nicely over it. Let me say, also, that this was a genius way to add a banded top! I wasn’t really sure what I was doing as my aunt and I read the directions and folded away, but man, it’s a beautiful thing when it’s done!

Then…it was time for the straps. I toyed with the idea of using the ribbon, but in the end I decided I wanted them to match the dress. I didn’t have bias tape (OK…I don’t even really know what bias tape is…) but I followed the directions as best as I could, with my Aunt cheering me on, telling me that turning those babies right-side out would be a piece of cake!

If cake is made with a healthy amount of cursing, a gigantic, Throw-The-Straps-Across-The-Room size fit, then yes, it was just like a piece of cake. Nevertheless, with help, I prevailed and the straps were turned the right way, ironed and sewn into place.

By the time I got to the ribbon, I was tired, sweaty and pretty disgusted with my Fabulous Ideas. So..rather than sew it on, I cheated. I used fabric glue and not a little bit of prayer that it would hold up.

It was ironed again after this picture, I swear.

On the day of Bug’s birthday party, we slipped her chubby butt into it (I measured a little –too- well, not giving her any growing room, of course) and she was the best looking one year old on the planet.

See? You can’t even see the seam!

Things I learned:

  1. Sew the damn ribbon on. Fabric glue is messy and tiresome.
  2. I need a better way to gather fabric for pleats. The method described in the tutorial was rockin’ but my Rosemary’s Baby sewing machine didn’t care for it at all.
  3. Ponder buttons or a zipper for down the back next time. While the dress was utterly fabulous, it might not fit her next month.

Mistakes and fears aside, I had a ton of fun with this project, and seeing my beautiful niece in a dress that I made was 100% worth it.

Have you tackled a project you were more than a little afraid of? How did it turn out?

At the new year, Rose and I decided my whole clan needed fantastic garb to go along with the Japanese persona I have chosen for the SCA.  Rose chose this pattern for us to follow for a start, and it was on! Life being what it is (hectic and crazy), the clothing wouldn’t be finished in time for the closest event, so I took a deep breath, promised myself the sewing machine wouldn’t eat me, and offered to help. She had already done the hard part, I assured myself, in making the hakama (pants) for my son.

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Aren’t they adorable???

We cut out the pieces for his two kosode (like a kimono, only from the Heian Period) , and I was totally psyched! All rectangles! How hard could it be? Piece of cake! She helped me pin the first one together to show me how it was done and I thought, ‘Omg! What was I worried about? Sooo easy!’

And then….she left.

This would be the very first time I attempted to sew anything with my aunt’s very old and crotchety Kenmore, without her watching me, steering me clear of committing any grievous sins against the poor, little used machine. To say I was terrified would be an understatement.

The next morning, I bravely pulled up my big girl panties and made a deal with myself that I would do nothing, -NOTHING- else until the job was finished! I got out my camera, to document the feat of the century, put on my booty shakin’ music (which happens to be a lot of glee songs and 90s music, TYVM) and sat down to work…

…and the needle broke.

This was immediately followed by a lot of cursing and yelling and shaking my fist at the Powers that Be.

20 minutes and 4 sewing needles later, I decided the Powers that Be either hated my guts, or were laughing at me. A lot.

The NEXT morning, after my husband had knight in shining armored over to Walmart and brought me replacement needles (in two different sizes ‘just in case’) I once again sat down, determined to have at last -someone- dressed in new garb by the end of the day. With the Glee cast egging me on (Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ , hahaha) I started up the sewing machine again.

…and then the thread on the bobbin barfed all over the yellow kosode.

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But was I discouraged? Hells no! I am a mother of 4, dammit! I’ve faced tougher problems before my morning caffeine! And hey! At least the needle wasn’t broken!

Thus my seam ripper,became my new, non human, best friend. I used said seam ripper no less than 10 times, before, finally, I called my mommy and asked what I was doing wrong.

Oh yes, I went there. I am 32 years old, and the moment all my options are exhausted, I call my mommy. It’s a good thing I did, too, because the mistake I was making was so newbish, I would have been embarrassed to reveal it…if, you know, that stuff was embarrassing to me.

Folks, fellow newbie sewers…don’t forget to feed your bobbin thread up through the floor of the machine with the needle before you begin!  If you do? Say…10 times or so? It won’t make a pretty sewn line. It will make thread barf.

Lots of thread barf.

After the mistake was fixed, the kosode came together pretty quickly.

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I had a moment of panic when I got to the collar (or eri) because I couldn’t quite figure out how to attach it when it wasn’t as long as the kosode. I couldn’t remember – was it supposed to hang out? was I supposed to sew it down? Maybe I had done it completely wrong?

Finally, after reading and rereading the directions, I pinned it from the center of the back and just um..tucked in the ends. yeah…I choked and did a whatever move. It came out pretty nice, except for the jacked up seam that was totally a user error and had nothing to do with the Rosemary’s Baby of Sewing Machines or the awesome instructions.

The second kosode came together so quickly, even -I- was surprised!

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Useful tip? Don’t rely on the foot of your sewing machine to keep your seams pretty. and try to pay attention to your seam allowance! That’s why there is one, for pretty seams! Mine aren’t so pretty, but hey, it was for a 6 year old. He just thought he was a Jedi, anyway.

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Since the epic sewing machine battle, I have retired it to the confines of it’s sewing table unwilling or unable to get up the nerve to press my luck and make another set of garb. I had a moment in the spring where I really thought I would take it out and make my niece a dress…and then I had a margarita and let the feeling pass quietly into the night. Crafting ADHD being what it is, I know I must conquer the sewing machine…but I’m hoping the terror of using it will fade from my memory first…kind of like childbirth.

Is there a crafting item that you are unwilling to use? Or maybe one that just resists all attempts at being conquered?

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