Monday, December 12, 2011

Solstice 2011

I had a wonderful time at my birthday party Solstice!  John came to his first court event, and Jaquelinne kindly shared her table and spread as a 'home base' for our little crew.  (By the by, she shared the most delicious goat cheese I've had in quite some time.....I need to find out where she got it!)  Final court put a damper on our dinner plans with Aine's crew (*sad*), but a small cadre of people ended up going to dinner in garb (except for Jane) at Macaroni Grill.

I made a whole bunch of plain (due to potential nut allergies) toffee, and pawned it off on anyone who would take it.  The tub disappeared towards the end of the event, but I'm not to sad about that, since I technically met my goal of not taking a single bit of toffee home!

I wore my chopines all day long with a trained skirt and a very crowded hall, and managed to only have one close call! I (at the end of the day, wrestling with bags and skirts!)

I had multiple comments containing the words 'elegant', 'graceful' or 'statuesque'. Never, ever, ever have these words been applied to my person! It is amazing what happens to ones carriage when one is aware (and slightly terrified) of every step!

Hubby took some pictures of the event, and they turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself!  It will be nice to have some more photographic evidence of events past; after the first year or two, I stopped taking pictures at events, and now, of course wish I had been taking pictures all this time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I have for you, a Post of Substance!

I have not been feeling well for going on two weeks now, and I took a day to stay home and sleep and take cold medicine…..I feel better right now than I have in days!
Which brings us to The Post of Substance…..(I apologize in advance once again, for my severe lack of photography skillz.)
I’m going to talk about pinking machines!IMAG1479
While Other Noelle was here, I gave in and purchased one of the swanky versions of the Simplicity rotary cutter.  Because I’m a ‘go big or go home’ kind of gal, I purchased every cutter blade I could get my hands on.  (I am really hoping for more styles…..wouldn’t it be lovely to have something that would do pinked scallops?!)
I would very much suggest buying the machine and blades on sale, while it is a fantastic machine, it’s on the pricey end, for what it does.
I was kind of surprised as I started playing with it to realize that you need a Phillips head screwdriver (oddly enough, not included in the package) to unscrew that clear plastic piece every time I wanted to change the blade.  There is a safety switch that doesn’t allow the machine to run without the cover, which is kind of silly.  I’m sure I can resist the urge to stick my fingers in a rotating cutting blade.  I’ll be thinking of a way to keep the safety switch engaged all the time, so I can operate without the cover, or a way to quickly snap the cover off and on.
The adjustable width guide is pretty flippin’ awesome.  There’s also a pedal and a separate speed adjustment knob which is pretty helpful.
Ok, on to the cutting blades!  Well, the term ‘cutting’ is a bit misleading….the ‘blades’ aren’t at all sharp; pinking is achieved by squishing and stressing the fabric fibers until they break apart….which is the same way my antique pinker works.  The antique pinker and the modern motorized version work surprisingly similarly, in fact!
The antique pinker has the blade on the bottom of the plate, and the blade is adjusted up/down;
Whereas on the Simplicity cutter, the blade is stationary, and the solid cutting wheel is adjustable underneath the plate;
Here is a sampling of the cutting blades currently available for the Simplicity cutter:
Small pinking:
Medium wave:
Large wave:
Medium scallop:
There’s also a straight cutter (awesome for cutting strips!), and a deckle cutter, which I didn’t purchase.
My antique cutter (which I purchased on eBay some years ago) has a much more decorative cut:  (although it needs to be cleaned and tuned for a better cut!)

My Favorite Toffee Recipe

1 lb Butter
1 c.  Water
2 c.  Sugar
1/4 c. Karo Syrup
OPT. 1 Tbs. Vanilla
(this recipe scales up really well. One batch will make a roughly 11x17" sheet of toffee)
Boil all ingredients in a heavy pan on med-high heat. Stir *gently* with a wooden spoon. As the consistancy changes, test by dripping into glass of ice water; toffee will be ready to pour out when hot toffee makes brittle strands in icewater.
There are temperatures you can track for readiness, but I prefer the old fashioned icewater method. After making toffee a couple of times, you'll be able to guess fairly accurately when the toffee is done, the color and consistancy changes quite dramatically when the toffee is ready.
Pour onto parchment paper lined pan.  (I like to pour mine on my parchment paper covered marble counter.... The thickness is perfect by just letting it pool) After cool, dab the top with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
OPT: melt chocolate while boiling toffee. Pour over cooling toffee. Add toasted nuts, or whatever sounds delicioso.
When completely cool (factor in at least a couple of hours!) break into chunks, eat, and enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I did sewing! (and candy making....)

My sister and I got down to business and nearly completely finished the doublets for the boys' christmas gifts. We're down to buttons and ties now, exciting!
Last night, I also taught Astrid how to make toffee (or at least I was trying to be a bit informative while making it! )
It is also my birthday this week, hard on the heels of my first 'real' paycheck in nearly a year. The point of this story is that I want to buy myself a present, and I can't decide if I should get
A) Some books that have been taunting me from my amazon wish list/other various and sundry 'wants' from the land of Internet.
B) Fabric (my stash *desperately* needs some fleshing out after the last two years! Mostly basics, but I want something new and inspiring! )
C) Bias tape maker (the super fly kind.... That would go with my awesome strip cutter. Hm, I should post about my strip cutter, it's awesome!)
D)  1820's-ish corset. That time period is severely lacking in my wardrobe, and I'd like to at least *try*
Because no post is complete without pics, here's one of my recently (mostly) reorganized costume closet. I just need to find the time + energy to go through one last room of sewing/costuming/book/craft horror show, and I'll be feeling much, much better!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Hangover

Thanksgiving dinner was quite a success! It was so fun to host various family members, and get the kids together. I am so thankful the family pitched in on side dishes and setup, you guys are lifesavers!
My stuffing didn't turn out nearly as well as it has previously, but oh well, the turkey turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself, and the cheesecake, pumpkin and apple pies turned out better than I could have hoped. I somehow missed the mark on my pecan pies, but still edible.
As soon as I can get the dishes under control, it'll be time for turkey noodle of my favorite things about leftovers!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Here; look at pictures!

I finally got a minute to get to my computer (started new job day after Other Noelle left to go home).  I don’t have much to say about the pictures that follow, other than I am so glad they’re done, and I think Other Noelle looks smashing in her new gowns!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


So.  Updating regularly during the sewing extravaganza….not going so well.  Mostly because the 18th c is trying to kill me.  Kill me dead.  There were some major issues RE: back pleating/neckline yoke, but for the most part, they have been sorted out.
There are some serious fitting issues in still to be addressed in the pictures below, but just to prove that we have, in fact, done something, here is some proof:
The wide gap in the waistline of the first picture has been narrowed quite drastically, and I’m still pondering how to fix the bagginess of the side seam (probably involving unpicking seams and re-doing them outright), and some lining issues to be sorted out, but it at least looks like a dress.
I really just want to lick Kendra’s brain and gain enough knowledge to get this bloody thing done so we can move on to the enormous list of other things to be done this trip.  The schedule is woefully behind at this point, and I’m getting nervous!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Skirts and Pattern Matching

I was asked a question today that got me thinking….hey, I don’t even know how many yards go into my skirts!

Figuring Out Skirt Yardage

My basic (very basic, no gores, cartridge pleated) methodology is this: 

(Personal caveat:  I rarely actually measure.  I rip out the first panel, using the “step on it and pull up to waist” method, plus a generous hem allowance, and do pattern matching from the top by “rounding up” to the next matching element at the bottom of the fabric and cutting there.  I feel like I’m not making sense.  Please let me know……)

waist-to-floor" x 2/3/4 panels + 12+" = total inches needed

waist-to-floor"  My waist-to-floor, straight down* is 41”.  I find that if I measure straight to the floor, I (usually) get a good walking-length when petticoats are added.  I usually don’t wear shoes with heels, but if you do, make sure to either add a few inches, or do your base measurement with the heeled shoes you’re gonna wear on.  (If you’re feeling particularly confident, skip the whole measuring bit, and go ahead and rip off a panel as I described above for the first panel, and use that as a guide for the rest of them)

Where it gets different is if I’m doing pannier skirts, haaauge bum skirts, or anything with a cage/crinoline, but basically same dealio, get the waist-to-hem measurement**.

2/3/4 panels This is where it gets a bit….squidgy, and has a lot to do with personal preference, type of fabric, type of skirt,  width of fabric etc.  I usually end up doing two or three panels, as a general rule.

12+"  More squidginess over here.  The very, very bare bone minimum I feel comfortable squeaking out a skirt + hems is 12” over all.  (that gives me a mere 3” hem, since about an inch is taken up in doing the cartridge pleats) More hem is always safer.

So, all that to tell you with no pattern in the fabric, that I use 2.6 yards (very minimum) to 5.5 yards (very maximum) for a plain, no gore/train cartridge pleated skirt.  I suppose my average skirt is somewhere in-between!

Pattern Matching Skirts

Ok, now on to pattern matching in skirts.  The basic rule of thumb is, the bigger the pattern repeat, the more yardage you’re gonna need.

For fabric without a pattern repeat, all you have to do is figure out your length, and you’re set to cut.

The very first thing to do when figuring out yardage for patterned fabric, is to measure out your base panel (in this case, 46”)


Unless you’re really, really lucky (it’s only happened to me once), your pattern isn’t going to just match up with your specific measurements***. 

The top of the panel starts half-way through the repeat, so the 2nd (3rd, 4th) panels will also need to start 1/2 way through the first repeat.



Here is a link to a post I did about how to figure out the top curve when attaching skirts to bodices without all that fiddly draping.  After sewing the panels together, that’s the next step in my skirt/gown construction process.


*An easy way to get this measurement with no help is to step on the measuring tape, grasping the end (the 1” end!) and stand up straight, holding the end of the tape to your waist.  Bend over, and see where the edge of your foot is marking.  Here is a totes cool stick figure showing you what I’m talking about:


**To get a waist-to-hem measurement with hoops, it’s backwards from the waist-to-floor measurement.  First off, it’s easiest to have someone do it for you, but if you’re totally stuck doing it yourself, make sure your measuring tape isn’t all curly at the ends (like mine tend to be), or use a retractable metal measure-y thing.  What is that called?  Ummmmmm…..huh.  Just googled it.  I guess that’s called a Tape Measure too.  Anyway, I digress.

So, put on your hoops or petticoats, or whatever fluffy bits you’re gonna be wearing , and feed the 1” end of the tape to the floor, going over whatever bit of you is sticking out the most.


***FYI: most modern brocades & jaquards I’ve used have been woven so the two selvages are the same. This makes it easier to match up patterns. There have been times where the patterns are off-kilter, and instead of matching across selvages.  If this is the case, then you’ll have excess at the top of one, and at the bottom of another.  If this doesn’t make any sense, lemme know and I’ll draw it out.


I certainly don’t deserve it, since I’ve been a Very Bad Blogger over the last few months, but woohoo!  I am now at 50 followers!
I’ll have to think of some appropriately seamstressy give-away to celebrate.  (I am open to suggestions…..)
With that in mind, I hereby swear that I will be a better blogger in future! (And I have the perfect opportunity coming up, since Other Noelle will be here to sew for a week….)

Post of Updates

Collegium went very well, and was far better attended than I could have possibly hoped. From all accounts, it was a success. I still have some paperwork to do (ugh), and return the keys to the site. (bad Noelle!)
Just as Holly left to go home after an extended stay to get her gold gown completed, Other Noelle (from CA) is coming to visit. We have a full schedule of sewing to get done, and I am extremely excited!
My garb room (actually guest room) is getting a complete overhaul as Other Noelle is the first in many more house guests through the holiday season. (sorry you had to sleep in a mass of petticoats, Holly!)
Because no post is complete without pictures, here is one of Tiny, taking over the entire bed:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The NOT ACC dress

Holly was originally going to do this gown for her ACC entry, but she decided to pull out of the competition….but that also means that I got to do it for her instead!
The gown itself isn’t anything new, it’s the same side-back lacing bodice style I’ve been enamored with lately, with the addition of a teeny tiny train.  (This was a last-minute addition, so I didn’t end up doing a gore in the skirt, but it turned out quite nice nonetheless!) 
What I’m totally excited about are the freakin’ cute sleeves.  Holly wanted something ‘different’, so she brainstormed and surfed portraits to show me some of her favorite elements.  This is what we came up with:
The teeny tassels really make the dags *pop*…..I’m really excited about them. 
I didn’t really do any dress diary pics, but rest assured, I futzed and agonized over the best way to go about making the sleeves, and I changed my mind (as is my prerogative, right?) at least a dozen times.  I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out!
The jewelry, of course, is Holly’s own work, and more information on how and what she did can be found on her blog.
We only had a short while to grab pics before she had to leave, so the lighting is atrocious, but you’ll get the idea, right?  I’m hoping to get better pics this weekend at Collegium, with her own partlet and chemise, and hair done properly!
Still left to do:
  • Second row of stitching on padded hem
  • Steam iron the heck out of the hem
  • Button/loops for sleeves

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Progress (sort of), and even more drama in the household

And the hits just keep coming......Last night Holly and I were concerned about the hollowed, skeletal look developing on one side of Tiny's face. I made an appointment with the vet first thing in the morning.
Basically, he (probably) has an auto immune muscle wasting disease that attacks facial muscles. At the worst, it could give him a kind of lockjaw in which would make it impossible to open his mouth. It could also make it painful to chew. Right now, he seems to not have any side effects at all, other than the cosmetic wasting. We are hoping that with steroids, it will halt (and hopefully reverse, even a little bit) the damage.
Anyway, after all that drama subsided a bit, I was able to continue to work on Holly's gown, albeit more slowly than I had intended.
I am hoping to get the skirt fully attached before I pass out tonight!
( SD card is not playing nice for some reasoon! Argh! Pics forthcoming....)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Full Day!

I got Holly's skirts cut, sewn and pleated; just need to get them attached to the bodice.
Val came over today, and I got her set up with the basics for a steampunk costume. (She may be coming back tomorrow to make a hat, but we will see....)
I also tested out a new hairstyle on Holly (courtesy of my cousin Jessicas blog)....I'm quite pleased with the result!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

*Actually* sewing! OMG!

I started digging into Holly’s bodice this morning, and even took pictures!  (Ah, excuse the messy background, I didn’t realize how awful it was!)
Alas, it’s a pic of boring pad stitching that doesn’t even show up that well, so meh.  But my post now has a pic!
The remainder of the day is going to be divided between dinner (roast is in the oven, rolls are rising, and pumpkins are mashed for pies…..I’ll have to take breaks periodically to keep the kitchen magic happening!), and getting the bodice underway.  My own personal goal is to get the bodice 100% done so the evening can be spent eating nommy dinner and doing eyelets. 
Tomorrow should be skirt attachment and patterning – I’m hoping to keep up the momentum, last time Holly came up to sew, I was so sick I barely left the couch all week long! >.<

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh my gaws this dress is Faaaaabulous!

Dress, ca 1867, Kent State
I now know what I am going to do with that million yards of black lace!  (But now to find striped silk satin.... Woe is me!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Long time, no post!

It’s been a really, really long couple of months, but the short version is Hubby has been in the hospital for 8 days for necrotic pancreatitis, and had surgery to remove a portion of his pancreas and remove his gallbladder. 

Shortly after he came home from the hospital, my little Momo fell off the bed and broke his leg in two places.  For a couple of weeks, they thought it would heal in a cast, but eventually, it was decided that the leg had to come off, as the bone was not knitting.

Pepper in other various and sundry ‘crappy life stuff’, and I’ve not had a single thought put towards sewing for what feels like forever.
Now that things are settling down, I am hoping that I will be able to get back into the swing of ‘doing things’; especially sewing things!
The current project is to help my sister get my two older nephews suited up in doublets for their respective birthdays!
So far, we have all the bits cut out, and the peplums sewn.  A couple more serious sewing sessions, and we should be done.  Hooray!
I’ve officially withdrawn from the ACC, but if things continue to look up, I’ll probably try to play along anyway.
Also of semi-related note, I’m in charge of scheduling the upcoming Collegium, and I am breathing a heavy sigh of relief that I’ve actually had time to devote to it, and things seem to be in place.
I’m also co-teaching a couple of classes at Collegium, so it’ll be a long day!
I apologize to any readers I still have out there…..I promise I’ll be gearing back up to a regular posting schedule!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Long time, no post!

I feel I had better give an 'official' notice - "Adventures of a Wannabe Seamstress" is on hiatus for a little while.

I'm hoping to be back and blogging within a couple of months, but until then, feel free to browse through my blog.......I've added a bunch of stuff from my Livejournal blog if you get bored and want to look at some of my old projects.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I've been posting to Facebook (a bit) and google+ (a lot) but have neglected to post here. Hubby has been in the hospital all week, and this morning, finally got a diagnosis of necrotic pancreatitis.
It's been a long haul, and surgery is still forthcoming. Anyway, hit up google+ if you want more of a bow by blow, or FB for general updates.
I return you to your regularly scheduled blogging!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ACC: Muff

I finally got myself into a craft store and picked up matching floss, and while I was there suddenly decided I wanted a bigger button than I had in my stash, so I picked up a small package of bigger wooden beads.

I spent a couple of hours messing around with different thread wrapping patterns,  and finally came up with one that I can live with. I wanted the buttons to have a little bit of gold in them as well,  so I ended up with gold ribs.

I only have two more buttons to go,  but got bored doing them and moved on to the loops. I'm doing a seven stranded round braid with 4 gold and 3 red. Somewhere along the way, I messed up the cord,  so the pattern shifts a bit,  but it doesn't bother me enough to re-do it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ACC: Muff

I'm still stuck on muff ponderings.  Right now I'm stuck on whether or not to use faux fur,  or the beaver pelt. (Below, beaver on left, faux fur on right)

I'm leaning towards the faux fur, just because if I mess it up, I wouldn't be terribly upset.  The color is kind of weird, however. 

Hmmmmm *ponder*

I'm going to drop by a craft store in a little while and pick up some floss either way, since I'm going to need it anyway. (I'm still a little shocked that I don't have an appropriate color in my stash, but at about $0.40 a pop, I'm not too worried about breaking the bank!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

ACC: Muff

I messed around for a day and a half with couching and different embroidery ideas, but finally settled on letting the fabric speak for itself.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to do a black (or brown) velvet muff in the very near future as well, so I’ll probably save up my embroidery energy for that project.

I decided to center the muff on the oblong motif on the fabric, and as luck would have it, worked out quite nicely. 


I remembered my nice, wide gold lace from my stash, and decided that it would give a little ‘excitement’ to an otherwise dull muff.  Here’s the trim pinned in place:


It didn’t take too long to stitch down the trim, and I quite like how it turned out. 


The only thing that concerns me is I’m not terribly enamoured of the finished size.  It seems a bit long to me, hmmmm.  If I can convince myself that I like the proportions, I’ll cut into my beaver pelt.  If not, I’ll use some of the faux fur I have lying around and do an embroidered velvet version for the beaver.


I thought that I had some embroidery floss is the correct colors to do buttons, but alas, I do not, so I’ll have to the first (of hopefully few) purchases for the ACC.