Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bag of Tricks

Remember the contest I held for Halloween?  Erm.  Well, my personal life kind of hit the fan (and is still actively hitting the fan, but that's a story for another day) and there was a huge delay in getting the prizes made (apologies once again to C Girl and Melody Brown).  Well, I have learned my lesson; if I do this again next year (which I plan to), I will either buy prizes or have them made before the contest ends.

Top view
Anyway.  This is the first prize, which C Girl won for being the first person to answer correctly.  Simplicity 2274 features an overnight bag, clutch, and luggage tag.  C Girl's prize was the overnight bag.

I had Dem Bones by Carol Elridge (in green and purple) sitting around in my stash, waiting for a project perfect for it.  C Girl and I thought this would do quite nicely; we planned on purple for the outside and green for the lining.  I laid out the pattern on the fabric and... I discovered I did not have enough.  I tried all the twists and tricks I know, but I could not get the pattern to squeeze into the smaller fabric without separating the pattern pieces.  The main body (top, long sides and bottom) is all supposed to be one piece.  I split that one piece into a top, sides, and a bottom.  I then did all the sides in purple and the top and bottom in green.  The front pocket is in purple and the side pockets (the pattern called for one, but I did two) is in green.  I found a fun, sparkly bat print at JoAnn's that mostly matched and used that for the lining and handles.

Side view with zippered pocket
Standard garment zippers were called for in this pattern.  While I did use those for the side pockets, I am always antsy about using those flimsy things for something that is opened frequently and takes a lot of stress.  So for the main zipper, I used a separating one instead, and just stitched the end together so it couldn't open all the way.  I couldn't find one in purple, so I went with classic black.

To give the bag shape, the pattern calls for quilt batting.  That's all well and good, but there was no interfacing at all in this pattern.  I reinforced the bottom anyway; I've made bags like this in the past, and it is utterly necessary.

Side view, sagging disturbingly
Speaking of bags that I have made in the past, I have noticed a trend for patterns to call for exposed seams on the inside.  (You sandwich the batting between the outer fabric and the lining.)  The instructions generously "allow" you to finish those seams if you choose.  Pfft.  An example of this is Simplicity 2713 (out of print - get it while you can), a diaper bag.  (An aside: I have made this pattern four times, and only once was it for a diaper bag.  That was the first time, for my new-born nephew in a Beatrix Potter print.  The second was for my now-deceased grandmother in a lavender rose print to use for her knitting.  The third was for my mother, in a print called "Caffeinated Kitties"; it holds her needlework.  Lastly, I made one for me in a spider print.  This holds my much-neglected crochet.)

Returning from my wild tangent about diaper bags, I have gone ahead and left exposed seams if it was something I was making for myself and in a hurry, I would never do that for someone else.  So with those aforementioned diaper bags and this overnight bag, I sewed the batting to the outer fabric and sewed the lining separately.  You have to be careful when sewing batting, because it likes to get caught in the feed dogs and presser foot.  To join the lining to the outer part, I sewed the seams together on the inside.  I had to leave an open seam - I picked one at the top that had to be hand-stitched closed, but it was in the lining and didn't show.

So, is it fair to call this a pattern review?  I only kind of used the pattern and only kind of used the instructions.  If I had followed the instructions and had enough fabric, the project would have been much easier, but I couldn't stand for those exposed seams.  If that doesn't bother you, then the only bit that's difficult is the side pockets.  Due to the way the zipper is installed and the pleats, It's trickier to do than it appears.  Machines with weak motors might have some difficulty getting through the layers of batting.  So if your machine is strong enough and you don't mind exposed seams, then this is a good pattern for a beginner.  If the seams bother you, then I would bump the difficulty level up to advanced beginner or intermediate.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Here Today, Gown Tomorrow

The status report for this month is Holidays in the Office.  While there was a party in the office, I was not able to get a shot of my outfit (it was pretty awesome though: black pencil skirt, black tuxedo blouse, skull tights, skull suspenders, Victorian-inspired shoes, derby hat, skull jewelry).  This is the gown I wore to my company's holiday party.  It was at a super fancy resort and lasted the whole weekend.  I apologize for the quality of these pictures; despite the fanciness of the place, the lighting in our room was absolutely terrible.  Only the bathroom had bright enough light, so please ignore the towels in the background.  Also, we had left the camera at home, and these were taken with my cell phone.

Anyway, onto the review.  The pattern is New Look 6454, in a combination of A (the halter) and C (the godet).  Strapless dresses don't work on me because I don't have the proper assets to keep them up, and I don't particularly care for those super skinny spaghetti straps.  The back was too low to wear a regular bra, so I am wearing one of those adhesive ones.  I can't remember why I chose the gore instead of the fuller skirt of view A; perhaps because those little godets would look silly in a contrasting color?

 I made this to wear almost two years ago to my birthday party.  It was a Clue (Cluedo for non-North American folks) party; or rather, it was intended to be, but folks didn't really play ball as much as I would have liked.  I made a character up for myself that was a baroness, so I needed a fancy dress.  The fabric I used was crepe-back satin.  The party was in June (though my birthday is not in June; it's a long story how that happened).  June in the greater DC area is hot.  While I was stuck with synthetic fabrics for the dress, I opted against lining the whole thing (I don't think a lining is necessary for the whole dress unless you opted for a super-light crepe), I lined the bodice in cotton.  I figured that would mitigate a bit of the problem the synthetic would cause, and it did.  Other changes I made: I skipped boning and lace overlay.  I don't need the support of boning and it's a pain in the ass anyway (both to sew it and wear it).

One note here: this has a side zipper, so southpaws might want to switch it to the other side.

So how difficult was this?  I remember it as being time-consuming, but not difficult.  Perhaps it was time-consuming because I was planning the party at the same time?  The bodice construction wasn't any more difficult than any other dress with similar lines.  Satin is a pain to sew because it loves to fray (so you really should finish all the edges, and I do) and likes to slip against itself.  Cutting can be a bit difficult if your scissors aren't sharp enough too.  So if you can triumph over the challenges of satin, then the actual sewing isn't too bad at all.  Just remember to keep your grain straight when cutting; that seems to be an issue with me for satin more than any other fabric, and it probably due to the slipping I mentioned already.  So overall difficulty assessment leads me to recommend this for an advanced beginner.

The wrap did not have clear instructions for cutting and sewing.  It's just two rectangles on each side, so how hard could it be?  Well, the copy of the pattern I have gives a length of rectangle to cut, and the instructions simply state to "sew the ends together" without specifying which ends.  I was pretty annoyed at that.

My accessories:

  • Purple tights from
  • Gloves from Good Goth
  • Choker from Etsy
  • Earrings from Charming Charlie, Claire's, and Good Goth (going from the bottom up)
  • Bracelet from Charming Charlie
  • Satin flowers made by me from a tutorial that I can't seem to find again.  I also had a wrist corsage that I didn't wear and a large one in both black and purple to hold the wrap.
  • Nose ring from Pierced Fish in purple
PS: Theora turns six today. Please join me in wishing her a happy birthday.  She will return your wishes by waking up from her nap, yawning, rolling over, and taking another nap.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

McCall Spring Collection

McCall has just released their spring collection for 2013.  There's nothing too exciting here, but they seem to have gone a bit nuts with the bicycles.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jareth IV: Accessories

For the last post in the Jareth saga, I wanted to cover the items that I did not sew.

  • Wig; I can't remember where I bought the wig from, nor can I find a record of purchasing it.  But here's the exact wig for sale somewhere else.  The style was called Long Rocker Mixed Blond.  It was a little lighter than I would have liked, but was quite nice for the price.
  • Scrying ball: purchased from sage-woman on eBay.
  • Leggings: my mother bought these for me when I was a teenager for a SCA event.  I'm not really a leggings person, but I'm also a packrat, so they've been sitting in the back of my various closets since.
  • Boots: I acquired these when I was in grad school; they're from Journey's.  They were the last pair on the clearance rack, they were my size, and they were $5.  It was fate.
  • Gloves: from Spirit.  Wicked cheap.  You get what you pay for.
  • Eyeshadow: I don't wear makeup on a day-to-day basis; only for Halloween, weddings, or company holiday parties.  It shows.  I got this from SobeBotanicals on Etsy.