Summer Sewing Strategy (and MMM Pledge!)

I have come to terms with the fact that summer in the South is warm. One may even go so far as saying hot. Perhaps boiling. My northern sensitivity can’t take it. (Though as my Dad pointed out to me earlier today, I complained just as much about the winter in New England, so I guess I’m just picky regardless of where I live…)

My first summer here I stayed inside most of the day, and only really left at night. I didn’t have any reason to do otherwise, having no real job and no friends in a new place, and not wanting to spend any money as well.

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Last summer I had a job and friends, and spent the summer purposefully ignoring the heat, which is how I got heavy polyester high waisted trousers. Not that I regret that decision, and reasonably they were for a costume, but still. A good decision? Not in the slightest.

This summer, though. I plan to embrace the heat, at least a little bit. My makes, at least for the next month or so, will be focused on surviving the summer, with at least a bit of very-casual-office appropriateness.

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I’m envisioning a host of sleeveless tops. I’ve already made a sleeveless Nettie version, as part of a dress, and with I tweak I could love it for a top, but I also want to take apart this top that I love to death but is looking dingy around the edges and recreate it. And I’ve got the Miter pattern lying around waiting for more use. So those are three different types for at least 3 new blouse/tshirts.

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And then some skirts. I have this wrap skirt of this awesome seafoam green that I love to death. It’s essentially a half circle on a bias “waistband,” with a thin cotton layered under and eyelet-type fabric. The only downside is that it has ties, and that doesn’t feel secure enough for me, so I’m planning on making my new ones with a real waistband and buttons. Because I love a good buttonhole! I mean, really who doesn’t live for buttonholes? I may need a life.
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I also have been trying to make two more pairs of jeans, probably one bootcut and one long and skinny (since I’ve found my most recent ones a bit short when I want to wear socks and real shoes). These may not be the best options for my “breezy” sewing plans, but I want to use any leftover fabrics to make some shorts. Since I have almost none to speak of. And summer kinda requires them.

In terms of the actual next month, though, I’m planning to “attend” Me Made May for my third year! In case you’re not sure what MMM is about, you should check out Zo’s blog post here.

The first year I “failed” because I was moving and also burnt out and a smidge sick. Graduating from college will do that. But I still made it through the month with only one or two missed days, and I learned a lot about my dressing preferences. Last year, I also moved during the month, and spent a few weeks “adjusting” to my new place, which basically meant ignoring the outside world and living in non-me-made pajamas. So I did okay, but nothing spectacular.

This year is going to change that.

I, Annabelle from Annabelle’s Project Overload, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2016, with one day a week wearing an entirely me-made outfit!

Now, I find myself often doing this daily, but then there’s days where I’m in entirely not me-mades. So, I think this will be a nice challenge, and it will give me a good chance to test some of my less used options, and hopefully I’ll use some of my knits that are chunky but meant for summer.

P.S. I want to add in a clause that prohibits accessories, like my handmade purses, from counting, but perhaps its best if that’s a guideline rather than a hard rule. Never hurts to have a backup plan, right?

Green Julia Cardi

This post has been long in the making…

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I got the Julia Cardigan pattern from Mouse House Creations way back in late 2014, I think? Back when the Perfect Pattern Parcel was still around.

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I made it up for the first time in December or early January. And I’m still not sure how I like it.

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The fabric is only 2 way stretch, so the lower arms are a smidge tight, and they’re drafted small as well. There also wasn’t enough of the fabric to get two bands out, so I made due with one, and I don’t think it works well with mine.

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And my swayback game is strong, and this really shows it. I also tacked down the back neckline for security and flexibility’s sake.

But I reach for it weekly, so I guess I must like it?

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I’m thinking of cutting another neckband of a black or other complementary color to assist in the movement of the neckline, but I also have been planning a lot of things. Like jeans and corsets and house cleaning. We’ll have to see how much procrastination I do in the next week before my last final ever!

TARDIS Blouse

The final new piece of my TARDIS puzzle, the blouse, was a rush job.

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I’m talking the day before I left on a trip that I’d be also using for my first photoshoot of the costume, when I realized that the shirt I had planned on using looks crappy with the jacket. And I can’t really change the jacket, since it’s lined and I love it.

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It also occurred to me that because I’m not necessarily stuck in a summer con that I can wear long sleeves. So I did, and I think it helps balance out some of the elements.

I used the pattern I made for my Peggy costume, which is quickly becoming my favorite close fitting button up pattern (also known as my only close fitting button up pattern).

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The back needed to be redrafted so it was a single piece with no gathering, and I removed some of the curve that is meant to help with swayback, since this would be worn over a corset and was short enough not to really effect it.

The front was redrafted for a shawl collar, which would start its separation above I also decided that long diagonal darts would be neat for a change to the front. I wasn’t feeling the tucks this time, and they would be completely hidden by the outer corset anyway.

The fabric that I showed in this post three years ago that I thought I’d use for a bustle was originally going to be used for this shirt. I got all the way through making it, and was ready to cut the facings when I decided to try it on. And the fabric next to the side seam tore about three inches. Worst feeling ever.

Granted, the fabric was old and holey, and I think it’s silk, so I should have expected some mishaps. I ended up going to dinner with a friend, and once I got back I assessed my options. I looked at the pile of fabrics that I earmarked for this project, and I found this very neat, and very stiff home decor fabric. It would work for the body of the shirt, and I could use the same fabric from the apron for the sleeves. I was able to reuse the broken silk version for the facings, so that is could still be involved.

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The body fabric doesn’t press very well, which may have to do with the fact that it essentially feels like lightweight bendable plastic, so the seams and the darts aren’t flat, but most of that is hidden by the outer corset.

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There is a slight stain on the gold fabric I used for facing, but that also means I have an excuse to use my Eleventh Doctor’s sonic screwdriver pin. I felt it was fitting.

Now that I’ve worn it once, it’s not quite as fitted as I’d like, so I’m considering taking in the side seams, and maybe adding another dart, a smaller one, to help with some accidental saggy boob look, from being too loose at the bust with a tight corset underneath.

But regardless the shirt does it’s job, and once I bind the inside seams to keep fraying at bay, it’ll serve its purpose for as long as I need it to.

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That wraps it up for the new construction. I’ve got some more posts, like updates on older pieces, and I don’t think I ever showed you the TV purse, and also hair and makeup… But I might save that for next week! See you later!

Bustle and Apron

In case you’ve missed the last few posts, I’m giving notes on my most recent costume, and anthropomorphic version of the inside of the 11th Doctor’s first TARDIS. I’ve posted about the bum pad, the petticoat, and the console skirt.

When I picked up the gold taffeta that starred in the skirt, I also picked up this dark gold taffeta. Originally it was planned to be a part of the skirt, so it would have been aqua: bright gold: dark gold: bright gold: aqua, etc. But I thought that might be a bit too busy, and it definitely would have complicated the “I made the skirt way too big” conundrum. Then when it came to the bustle, I decided it would be the best option.

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Three years ago, when I started this concept, I had gotten this decaying silk (I’m pretty sure) gold fabric from a costume store in Cardiff. I thought it would be fitting, since we had just been to the Doctor Who Experience, and having something in the costume from Cardiff would make it even more special. That fabric would have been much too light for the bustle, I know now, so it will make an appearance later.

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The taffeta has enough body all on its own to hold up to bustling. I gathered it to the back of a waistband and attached it. Granted, I probably should’ve waited until I had the apron sorted as well, but I was not thinking clearly on day 4 of a marathon costume journey.

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Then I decided to work on the apron, since that would determine how long down the sides the bustle could go. The apron is entirely made up of curtain fabric that I got from a grab bag. And I’ve got plenty more if I need it. Because this stuff will shrink down to nothing, so I got to stuff the bag really full. It has two layers, or technically three. The outer orange-y iridescent layer, the lattice layer, and then the orange layer on the inside again (though this one is folded from the first layer. Come to think of it, the lattice one might be a double layer as well. I wanted the apron to be soft, but hefty enough to allow for the nice folded texture.

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I learned from this video that I should pleat upwards, which I used for both the apron and the bustle. I can attest that it really does give so much body to the garments that makes them so much better! And I got the idea to combine the apron and the bustle on the same waistband from this tutorial.

I fiddled around for awhile until I got the apron the way I like it, and then I pinned it to a ribbon hanging off the waistband on either side.

The bustle was equally as fiddly. I pleated the sides, and then I just fiddled until it looked less like a mushroom and more like a poufy cream puff. I attached these to more ribbons hanging down the back with some tacks.

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The waistband closes on one side with a whole row of hooks and eyes. I’m planning on adding some buttons to add to the design, but buttonholes would never work with all this fabric, so the hook and eyes are there to stay. The other side has the bustle and the apron sewn together, for ease of putting the contraption on.

So that’s it for the skirts! We’re nearing the end of our journey. Next week I’ll tell you about the blouse I cobbled together, and perhaps either the TV purse, or the accessories. Or maybe just the blouse. It’ll depend on how busy I get, and whether I remember to prepare… I do have a field trip this weekend, so we’ll see how much I remember to do!

TARDIS Console Skirt

Now we’ve made it to the real meat of the costume. Last week, or rather two weeks go now that I’ve checked, you saw the petticoat, and the bum pad before that. This week we’re onto the skirts.

This gold polyester taffeta has been sitting in my stash for two years now. And this week I learned that even if I sneeze in its general direction, it will collect water stains. Also, its super easy to accidentally melt.

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But back to the costume. In order to model it off of the console, I wanted 6 sections of gold divided by sections of light aqua.

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Super scientifically I measured the base of the skirt (on the ground…with my flat tape) and divided it into six sections. Now, this ended up being too big, but we’ll get to that. I then decided I wanted the aqua sections to be about 3 inches wide, and divvied up the fabric.

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When I saw how woodgie the aqua fabric was, I knew that I needed to not only back it with something, but back it with something solid, so I used the same taffeta for that as well. I cut the aqua 5 inches wide, and then gathered it every 10 inches or so, and basted it to the taffeta. I was using half inch seam allowances throughout, mostly so it would be easy to calculate the exact widths. I then realized that the skirt could use some extra texture, so I made wide pleats up three of the six panels, and centered one of them in the back.

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Once the entire skirt was sewn up, it was a panel too wide, but I was determined to keep all six, so I left the back pleated one (which I had accidentally melted the bottom of anyway), and cut off 4 inches of each other panel.

It still ended up a bit wide, but it was easily handled by pleating, and the apron and bustle covered up most of the top of the skirt anyway!

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I attached a waistband made out of the same taffeta (sense a theme?), and used a zipper to close it. It’s not a long zipper, so it’s still a smidge difficult to get on, but it works nicely. And it’s covered by the bustle anyways. If I knew it would be seen, I’d think of using a different closure, but it’s fine for this one!

Now, by this point I had spent nearly two days working on this skirt, when it was only supposed to take me one, and I hadn’t even touched the pleats on the bottom yet. I took a break to drape the apron and bustle and make the shirt. But it’s probably better that I did.

TARDIS skirt pleats

The break gave me time to buy some poster board, which I used to make a pleating board. It took nearly three hours to pleat enough to go all the way around the skirt. And I only almost melted the taffeta once.

There is always time to add extra trim, which is what I’ll be doing for the next month or so, since my daily life will be too busy to facilitate the extracurriculars. So tedious hand sewing could keep me on track! But that’s the skirt as it stood for the pictures that I’ve taken of the whole costume.

I’ll be back on Thursday to show you the bustle. Till then!

Tales of a Bright Blue Petticoat

On Tuesday I told you about my new bum pad, Fluffybutt, for my TARDIS costume.

Because this wasn’t a lobstertail, with some built in petticoat tendencies, I knew that I’d need to change my plans and make an actual petticoat. I didn’t want to go out and buy fabric, partially because of my fabric ban and partially because I didn’t want to lose steam. So I picked up this turquoise poly-crepe that I originally intended for curtains, and used that! It was a bit over 2 yards if I remember correctly.

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I first started by “draping” the fabric over my dress form, lining up the selvedge with the hem, and pleating over the bum pad. I tried to follow this tutorial, but I didn’t quite have enough fabric, so it was modified quite a bit. I made as many ruffles as I had fabric for, and tried to overlap them, but it didn’t always quite make it.

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The back piece, with the ruffles, I did cut down to a trapezoid shape. The front was pinned to my dressform, and I may have forgotten to cut it down. I had already pleated it so it would fit, and I was using ties as a closure instead of a zipper or buttons, so it didn’t really matter if it fit perfectly there.

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The main piece of advice that I utilized from the tutorial was not sewing up the entire seam of the petticoat, which would theoretically allow me to step with a wider gait. It would work if my skirt also didn’t impede on that problem. I’m pleased with the result, though. It hangs nicely, is lightweight and strangely comfortable. And it provides a nice swish…

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And the most important part – the overskirt hangs wonderfully! More on that next week.