Friday, May 20, 2011

Petticoat & Gown update

Because boofiness (yes, “boofiness”) is the name of the game for this gown, I’ve made a petticoat out of one of the many gold brocades I have hanging out in my stash. 


I felt it needed a guard, and dug around until I found some green silk. (I really wanted some green somewhere in my outfit)  After I got the silk sewn down, it felt very plain.  I dug through my stash again and found some gold cording and did a simple design on the guard.  (Also did dual duty as stiffening the hem just a touch more)  I’ve dabbed glue at each of the cord joins – this gold cording is a fraying monster!

I may or may not add another, thinner guard above.  But as it is, the petticoat is properly boofy and will serve it’s purpose.



I ended up ripping out the stitching in the neckline and doing some internal surgery on the bodice and pad stitching some felt in.  I like it loads better now.  (Learn from my mistakes – it is very difficult to go back and fix certain things!)

The bodice looks abnormally long when on Bertha, but on me, it’s not that bad.  It’s a touch longer than I would have liked for this particular style, but because I’m a goober, I didn’t check my existing pattern before I started.  (The pattern was originally for the bodies that go under my coats, so the waist is just a smoodge longer than ‘normal’ so the layers of pleats stack upon one another without making the coats’ waist miniscule……I also have a ridiculously long torso and short ass legs!)


Bertha also suffers from ‘noassatall’ syndrome, so the skirts end up hanging flat down instead of boofing out nicely over the derriere.  I’ve got no problem in that department.  (d’oh!) 

Out of all the pictures I’ve posted so far, this particular one most accurately reflects the true color of the fabric.


I don’t really have anything to say about the following pic, other than I love the train.  teehee!




Also, because it makes me laugh:  (from watching “Dual Survival” today)  Sometimes I have the humor of a kindergartener.

Dave:  Hey, what’s this thing, man?

Cody:  That’s elephant poop.

Dave:  Looks like a freakin’ coconut.  Where’d you get that?

Cody:  Where the elephants are pooping.

Because I can’t have the chapel….

….it has been suggested that I somewhat recreate the “Italian Courtyard” that Aine and I did a few years back at Estrella.  The only thing is, the fountain we used was borrowed, and HEAVY.  (Like I crushed my fingers and toes and broke pretty much all my nails heavy)  

Since then, there have been some awesome resin fountains to be had, which makes me think this just might be possible!  I just need to figure out which one I want…..

54” “Tuscan Garden” (bwahahaha – it has laurel wreaths)


27” “Old World Design”


35” “Birdbath Fountain”


54” “Belmont”

31k-um iI0L._SL500_AA300_

23” “Acorn”


Red Gown Chopines

As much as I love the elegance of this shoe, it looks a bit tricky to walk in; also the geometry of the heel looks none too stable – I’d hate to break it off in the first wearing!

1500s chopine

The easiest chopine to construct (and walk in, I would imagine) are the “Spanish” style chopine. Not very elegant, but serviceable for creating height.


I could probably knock these out all by myself without any power tools at all, but then again, honestly, they lack a certain ‘sex appeal’.

After flexing my Google muscles, I found what might be an acceptable compromise: (The red velvet pair on the left)


I’m not terribly enamored of the Spanish-style lacing, but the curves make up for it. The curves aren’t so drastic that I’d worry about snapping off the heel, and the base seems wide enough to keep me nice and stable.

It is paramount that these chopines are comfortable enough to wear, since my gown is constructed to be worn with 6-6.5” chopines. (Yeah, I went a bit overboard on the height. Go big or go home, right?) EDIT: I tried on the gown again, and it’s looking like 4-4.5” will be plenty. Anything over that will be icing. Also, I just purchased some yoga blocks on, so hopefully they will be stable enough to use. (I bought 3, two for the base, and one to stack for a heel if more than 4” are needed.)

I’m a bit stalled on the gown right now, since I can’t decide if I want the tuck to be on the inside or the outside; there is evidence of both methods, but I don’t want to decide until I know about the potential hem trim, since that could affect (effect?! dang, I can never remember) the over all look. I’m slightly leaning towards an inside tuck, but that is still TBD.

I also can’t start on any of the shoulder treatments or sleeves, since again, I’m waiting on finding out about the stamp.

Today, I am going to start on either the camacia, the petticoat, the partlet, , or rehab of the bodice, but I’m so indecisive, I’m posting instead!

EDIT II: I am getting more and more excited about this gown….I just spent the last 15 minutes swanning around my sewing room picking up all manner of crafting detritus with the train. sigh.

Applique Scissors

Quick video to show how awesome applique scissors are – great for trimming seam allowances!

Applique scissors demo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More Red Dress

Bertha has already stage dived off my cutting table, so you know it’s a rock star dress! 

This pic looks really dark, but that’s the gown turned inside-out so I could work on the padded hem without having to muck around on the floor.


I was really nervous about the train (as I’ve never done this style before), but I’m really liking the outline.


I don’t have enough fabric to make the facing out of bias, so I’ve pressed and eased the curves as much as I could.  Because the curves are so gentle, it’s actually not that bad.


The turn for the clipped hem is just a smidgeon bigger than I had planned on, but I think will be just fine.  I’m going to leave the clipping until last, because I’m a bit nervous about it!


I was really nervous about the padded hem, but so far, it’s turned out the nicest!  Now I’m really mad at myself that I didn’t pad the bodice.  I may have to remedy that….but still TBD.

I’m looking into having a die stamp fabricated, and if it all works out the way I’m hoping, I’ll have cutwork trim for the bodice, hem and shoulder treatments – but only if the stamp comes through…..I don’t have the energy or hand strength to do it all by hand with an X-acto knife!

die stamp

I’m going to be doing the hem tuck (like on the Pisa gown), but again, that will have to wait for a minute….I still need to sew down the felt, figure out if I’m doing the trim, and try it all on and get an accurate hem length.

Red Velvet–coming together

I don’t have the luxury of being picky (what with time constraints and whatnot), so I think I’m more or less done with the major construction bits.

Here’s a picture of the bodice on Bertha, and on me – I certainly fill it out a bit more!




The pins are holding the lining seams in place – so you can kind of see what I did with them.  Here’s a better diagram:


This is the “pattern” folded in half, going from front to back/A to D.

“A” panel is the front two panels of skirts.  I used my angle method I talked about a little while ago to find the correct curve.  (Yellow line)  Because the back is straight across, I only needed to figure out the front 2/3.  I didn’t cut the curve until after constructing the skirt.

“B” panel is a full width of fabric as well.  I used the diagonal cut out of “B” panel to create the “C” panel gore.  In modern sewing, this’d be a “no-no”, since I’m using a velvet, and turning that piece upside down would put the nap of the velvet running the opposite direction, but since it’s all about historic re-creation, I decided to go for it and conserve some fabric.  I waffled about which seam to line up with my side-back slit, but ended up deciding that it would probably be best to go with the two selvedges as the slit.  So far, so good.

“D” panel is the ‘train’ bit of the gown.  I had some drama with my velvet being warped off-grain, so one of the “B” gores is a bit wonky, but I’m hoping with all the fabric all over the place, it won’t be that bad.  The yellow line is my final cut line of the hem.

I’m really kind of bummed out that I didn’t felt pad the bodice.  I honestly don’t know why I didn’t, I certainly meant to.  If it still bugs me, I can open up the neckline seam and finagle some felt in there.

Next up:  I’m going to move onto the felt stiffened hem while Bertha hangs out in her new duds.

Argh! I can’t say “NO” to a new sewing room gadget!

As I was checking out with my purchase of cording for the gown & some applique scissors (that I was lamenting recently that I did not own), I spied a promotional display of a new gadget called the “Pintastic”.  I, of course, could not resist adding to my hoard of sewing gadgetry, and with the promotional discount, I was helpless!

So, without further ado, “Pintastic”!


Red Velvet Gown–Skirt attachment

I’m nearly done with the skirt attachments – the next post will be of a dress on Bertha!  I’ve done a few things differently than I have in the past, and I hope it’s not going to come back and haunt me!

For now, I’ll be talking about the cartridge pleats (and how much I love them)

-Mark gather increments on inside of skirt.  For mine, I did every 1/2”, and used one of my favorite sewing room tools, the chalk pencil.


-Using a strong thread and large (upholstery) needle, make a large running stitch at the marks.

-I like to even the gathers out, and then pin at intervals to make sure I’m not over-packing the pleats.  (As I tend to do!)


-Take the same needle and some strong thread (I’m using buttonhole twist) and catch the edge of both the pleat and the bottom of the bodice.  I like to go through each pleat twice – and I’m going to go back through again for extra security since these skirts are far and away heavier than any I have done in the past.


Here’s a sneak-peek of what the skirts are going to look like:


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Red Velvet Gown

Bodice = complete!  Eyelets are the bane of my existence, and I putz’d around the sewing room, putting off eyelets at every given opportunity.  But, they’re done, and next up is skirts!  I’m going to be felt padding the pleats and the hemline.  I haven’t quite decided if I’m going to do the tuck or not…..hmmm.  Also to be decided – I may or may not do a strip of cutwork ‘trim’ over the felt.  This will only be a possibility if my die cutter comes through the way I want it to.


I spent an inordinate amount of time working up a pattern for a kneeler – my software was wigging out, but it finally came through in the end.

I did the embroidery up once in gold and silver, and I was having a really hard time with it – the thread kept snapping, and the bobbins were putting on their horns and somehow my fleur-de-lys got off-center.  I re-did the design in regular non-metallic thread, and a different fleur design, and I think it came out quite nice.  I’ll need to stain the wood of the stool, and figure out if I want anything else on it.



And this is why I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning!  Aaaaw!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baron’s War Gown…Neckline Decisions

As a refresher, here is what I’m pondering upon. There seems to be some sort of slightly bumpy detail at the neckline of my inspiration portrait.

Argument for scallops: I believe this neckline pretty conclusively shows scallops on the gown itself, rather than camacia embroidery. (same green as the gown, ‘on top’ of the partlet, rather than underneath)
Argument for embroidery/lace: I believe this neckline shows lace (potentially blackwork) on the edge of her camacia. (Black looks like it is ‘on top of’ rather than underneath the partlet’, however, may be that the partlet is tucked into camacia?)
Also, is strikingly similar to the neckline found on this extant piece:

Wedding Dress–Prep & Cutting

Tips – Prep

-Clean Up! Because wedding dresses are (usually) white, it’s imperative your sewing room is cleaned of excess color thread and velvet fluff. No one wants flecks of color sewn into their dress!

-Cover ironing/pressing board with clean white (or natural) muslin. Even a brand new or unstained color cover can potentially mess with white fabric. Besides, who wants to put a new cover on every time you sew on white? While we’re on the subject of ironing board protection, if you’ve never used a pressing cloth, now is the time! (I would have saved my stays a stain if I had taken my own advice!)


-Clean the iron as well! When is the last time you’ve cleaned your iron? Yeah, if you’re like me, it’s been a while! Clean the sole plate (this thread has a lot of tips), but I find that rubbing with a damp cloth and then running over a crumpled sheet of tin foil does the trick. Don’t forget to clean the inside, as well! (Vinegar works wonders)

-Swap to a new needle. Really, you should do this for every new project, but it’s especially important when sewing on delicate silks to have a brand-new needle of the appropriate size. (Here’s a good article about different types of sewing machine needles.)

-Wash up! It may seem trivial, but wash your hands. It probably is a bit excessive to wash your hands every 30 minutes, but do be sure to wash after eating, painting the house, petting the resident cat and/or dog.

-Speaking of our furry friends……Most seamstresses I know have at least one furry mascot hanging out in the sewing room. I’m not going to the extreme of completely kicking my dogs out of the room, but do be careful that they don’t maul the fabric! I’ll be doing fittings and storing the gown in a separate (closed door) room.

-Sharpen up. If your scissors or rotary cutter are dull, you’ll be tearing your hair out dealing with silk and chiffon. It’s not worth the pain, buy a new rotary blade, or sharpen scissors.

-Cutting. Taffeta, chiffon and basically all silk products are a crazy pain to work with. Usually when starting projects, I’ll cut out all the pieces I need at the very beginning, but since there are so many factors into keeping the fabric clean, as un-frayed as possible, etc., I’ll be cutting out only the pieces I need at the time. It takes longer, but is worth the headache of taming the wild silk fraymonster.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Post of Many Things

When Other Noelle was here recently, she introduced me to two new things of win; silk sewing machine thread (omg, if you’ve never used it, go try it…’s a heavenly experience!!!), and a book called “Ribbon Trims” by Nancy Nehring.


I just received my copy in the mail a few days ago, and it is so fabulous!


Also, Holly and Gypsy spent an unexpected night this weekend, and I begged them to look at my stash and help me figure out the Turkish robe trim & jewelry; both of which was accomplished! We ordered supplies I didn’t already have in my stash and had them delivered to Holly’s address.

She’ll be doing my jewelry for the red velvet gown, and Gypsy will be beading the crap out of my trim with crystals and pearls. (Below: the crystals are the right size on the left, right shape on the right……I ordered crystals of the right dimensions, all the pearls will come from my enormous stash of pearls I got a year or so ago. I just KNEW I would need them some day!)


Unfortunately, the chapel I posted about earlier is prohibitively expensive, and I’ll be going back to my original ‘sun shade’ plan:


I drew in fixed Savonarola chairs (or “Dante chair” or “x-frame” chair, or whatever you want to call ‘em) because that was the style I found for sale that didn’t completely break the bank, but I found someone locally that I could commission to make what I really wanted, folding Savonarola chairs!

I spent the better part of today running from place to place gathering all the little odds and ends I’ll need for upcoming projects:

  • small wooden stool to be stained and becushioned (potentially embroidered, but that’s TBD at the moment)
  • padding for stool (Just regular old high-density foam)
  • wool roving for PPoD….I AM going to finish this thing if it kills me!
  • red wool felt for velvet gown bodice & hem
  • red silk buttonhole twist for gown eyelets
  • red silk sewing thread
  • fleur-de-lys stamps for curtains
  • gold/silver tone paint for stamping curtains

I think I’m more or less ready to start on things – I’m having a hard time deciding where to begin, though! (hence posting instead of working…..)

The only place in the universe those fabrics match are in the store you bought them at.

color matching

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wedding Dress–Update

I’ve spent the last few days working on really boring stuff; redoing the bodice and the skirts… (you already saw the construction of the other bodice….if you really want to see what I’ve been doing, go back and look at that post again!)

The skirt is 2 layers of silk chiffon, and a lining layer of silk dupioni.  It’s a simple gored skirt pattern, so no big news there, other than I have now sworn to myself I will Never Ever work with chiffon again.

Here’s the progression of what I’ve done:  (The blogger outage has really put a kink in my posting plans this weekend!)

First, a mockup out of muslin (which I should have done in the first place.  Learn from my mistakes!)  The top seam allowance is not folded under, so it’s a smoodge taller than it would be finished.


Here’s the finished bodice:


And a rough draft of the top most layer of skirts.  It looks much richer with the other two lining layers!  I’ve since steamed the bodice and ‘peplum’ thingy, so it’s not quite as ruffly.


Since this picture was taken, I’ve attached all the layers of skirts, and hemmed the ruffle for the neckline. 

Here’s a picture of it all coming together, the gathers have been steamed, and I created the ‘real’ belt:


All that is left to do is a final fitting, zipper insertion and hem!  Hooray!  I am going to be setting aside the wedding dress for a couple of weeks until I can get the fitting done, so there will be more posts on zippers and final notes sometime early next month.

This also means that I will be moving onto a new topic!  Red velvet cutwork gown!  HOORAY!

I was going to start on the bodice tonight, but hubby reminded me that Game of Thrones is recorded, so I’m gonna go do that instead.  ;)

Here, look at a cute puppy old boy!