Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Secret Santa Can Suck It

Every year, Shadow Manor hosts Secret Santa Can Suck It, a virtual gift exchange between bloggers.  My assignee this year is Kathy White.  This is my first time participating.

I'm told Kathy likes Doctor Who, so I picked these out to keep her warm and comfy while she's waiting up for Santa:
via ThinkGeek
via ThinkGeek

Next, she's a fan of travel, so I selected this lovely set of luggage and this superb traveling coat:
via Sima Warehouse

via Style Hive

She'll be going to the Camuy Caves in Puerto Rico:
I've been here!

And since she's animal lover, she'll commune with bats:

Hope you like your gifts, Kathy.  Happy [whichever holiday you celebrate, or don't] to you and my readers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween 2014: Pictures

Wonder Woman

Heroic Pose


Handsome pirate is captured by the lasso of truth

Patterns reviews to come in the next few weeks.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014 IV: Happy Halloween!

So, so, so very busy.  Will post more pictures and pattern reviews when I have time to breathe.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Halloween 2014 III: Hair

I am unsure what I should do about my hair for this costume.  Wonder Woman's hair is long, black, and wavy or curly.  Mine is only one of the three (long).  The front of mine is currently neon pink and the back is the natural dark brown.  It's also stick-straight and won't hold a curl.  These complications strongly suggest wearing a wig, but I find them somewhat uncomfortable, and I think a wig with a tiara is going to be even worse.

I've already broken tradition by adding straps and a skirt, so not being accurate isn't really much of an issue.

Suggestions from the peanut gallery? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Halloween 2014 II: Pattern Selection

When it came time to select a pattern for my costume, I needed something that was tightly fitted to either the waist or the hips, with a sweetheart neckline.  Traditionally, Wonder Woman's belt is at her waist, but since my costume will be extending much further (since I will be swapping out panties for a skirt), I don't want to OD on blue with white stars.  Fitted to the hips sounds better to me.

I have been unable to find a dress that fits those criteria, so I have decided to adapt a corset pattern.  Butterick 5797 (view D) is my choice, and it shouldn't be too difficult to add a skirt to it.  I don't have a skirt pattern picked out, but it shouldn't be too hard to steal one from a another pattern or draft one myself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Halloween 2014 I: Planning

Last year for Halloween, I was Nefertiti.  The week before the first event of the season, I had a change of heart and wanted to be Wonder Woman.  I talked myself out of it (I barely finished Nefertiti in time, so I couldn't have imagined starting an entirely new costume under such a time crunch), but the idea has been kicking around in my head since then, and I decided I would follow through this year.

While the traditional Wonder Woman costume is essentially a swimsuit, that really isn't going to cut it for my needs.  Aside from the fact that I don't have the confidence to wear that in public, I wouldn't be able to get away with wearing that to work.  Old school WW does wear a skirt or skorts, and occasionally would in the Lynda Carter TV series as well.  Skirt it is.  I think I'll go more daring than usual and make it above my knee.

That'd take care of the lower half, but strapless doesn't work for me either.  I don't have the proper assets to pull it off, and again, needs to be work appropriate.  My co-workers properly wouldn't be too pleased if my cupcakes popped out.  So it looks like I will be needing straps as well.

Other things to add: a lasso, bracelets, a tiara, and perhaps a cape.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Elf Esteem

I turned 33 last month, which would have been my coming-of-age if I was a hobbit (despite my large feet, I am not).  I threw a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit-themed party, which meant I had to make myself a costume.  Female hobbits tend to be a bit frumpy, so I figured an elf was a better way to go.

There are a couple of elven dress patterns, like Simplicity 1551 and 4940, I decided to have a LotR party (which was over a year ago), I went with 9891 simply because I had already purchased it.  I suppose it would be a combination of views A (for the length) and B (for the sleeves, though I did the lacing differently and skipped the tie on the back).  I was rather enamored of view A, but since I was hosting the party, I knew it would only be matter of time before I dragged it through chili or knocked something over.  Instead of making the dress a solid color, I did the center parts in navy blue and the rest in black.

Due to a variety of reasons*, I ended up with only a week to make the dress and ended up having to make it out of sheets.  I felt kind of bad for cutting up perfectly good sheets, but that's my frugal side talking.  I cut the pieces Sunday, sewed the front Tuesday night, the back Thursday night, and sewed the front and back together Friday morning.  I put it on and... it was rather tight.  I managed to zip it up, but it was so snug that the armscye ripped.  I patched the tear, put the sleeves together, sewed them on and called it a day.

When The Boyfriend came over the next day, I put on the dress to show him and... I couldn't zip it up.  While I have put on a couple of pounds in the last few months, the zipper got stuck on my ribs, which aren't all that fatty.  This is the same thing that happened with my Jareth vest, and I was much trimmer then.  My only guess is that Simplicity costume patterns tend not to be as well-sized since they are usually one-off things.  (Or maybe I'm just a crap seamstress.  The sleeves on this made it SUPER TIGHT, and I had to yank them up past the elbow for them to be at all comfortable, which made them even shorter than they usually would have been on me.)

This happened at 8:30 on Saturday night, with my party starting a noon the next day.  My initial solution was to pout, but then the cogs started turning when I said the same thing had happened with the Jareth costume.  I figured the same solution would work again, so I pulled the dress back on and took some measurements.  This pushed us up to 8:45, and the JoAnn's closes at 9.  Luckily, it's practically across the street from my house, so I ran over and grabbed some more trim.  Ten minutes with the seam ripper, five more with the pins, and ten with the sewing machine led to looped trim stitched up the back.  I put the dress back on and had The Boyfriend lace me into it.  Boom, it worked.  Went from crisis to solution in under an hour.

I wore the dress at the party the next day and got loads of compliments.  The trim isn't intended to take the stress of lacing, so one of the top loops broke.  I think I will sew ribbon loops inside the dress or use grommet tape .

*: Lydia, one of my cats, went missing for a week and a half.  I was spending every waking moment (that I wasn't at work) searching for her, handing out flyers, and asking my neighbors if they'd seen her.  After an agonizing week and a half, I got a call from a neighbor who said she'd seen Lydia in a storm drain.  I lured her out and took her to the vet.  She was perfectly okay, if a little skinny.  But I spent the time she was gone bawling my eyes out and not sewing.  The day I got her back was the day before Easter, and my afternoon was consumed by ensuring that was healthy and safe.  So when the next day rolled around and I was able to sew, nothing was open except Wal-Mart, hence the sheets.

This little brat has no idea how much I missed her.

My missing cat, combined with general lack of mojo over my (now finalized) divorce is why I didn't have the thing started in February, like I should have.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PVC Party

Blah blah blah, depressed, blah blah blah, unmotivated, blah blah blah, lethargic.  I've said it before, you've heard it before.  Sewing mojo is hard for me to come by these days, so when inspiration finally struck, I worked like gangbusters to make it happen.

Some friends decided they wanted to attend a suspension event (just a week before it happened), and I decided to tag along.  I jokingly made the comment that "I guess I had better get started on a PVC dress", and while I was saying it, made the decision that I was actually going to do it.

I've sewn stretch PVC before (you might recall my Catwoman costume), and had seen it recently in stock at my JoAnn's.  I went in and couldn't find it.  I asked at the counter, and they said they didn't have it stock and never had, which is bologna, because I had seen it there.  I went home, defeated.  I checked online to see if they were full of crap; lo and behold, they had PVC, but not stretch PVC, and it was stored in the faux leather and vinyl section.  I went back the next day and grabbed it.

The pattern I used was McCall's 6602.  I chose this at the suggestion of a friend because it was labelled easy and showed lots of skin.  I left the "collars" off the back (their term, not mine) and did the usual shortening of the straps, which I wish I hadn't in retrospect.  For once, I didn't lengthen the dress, and it ended up well above my knee.  That's really shorter than I am comfortable wearing, but considering the nature of the event, and I would be wearing tights anyway, I figured it would be okay.  I also sewed in bra cups because there was no way I could have worn a bra with that.

I added studded trim on the bottom on the dress and studded grommet tape up the back, finished off with silver lacing.  Because it pulled tight, it could have stood to have boning up the back, but I was so pressed for time, that wasn't an option.

So how is the difficulty on this dress?  Aside from the little strips in the middle, pretty easy.  Despite the tailor's tacks on the strips, it doesn't line up with the dress well, and I think I ripped out the stitches at least twice on all of them.  I could never get the points to look as sharp as I would have liked, but oh well.  I imagine this would be easier in non-PVC.

I never got pictures of the full outfit, but here I am wearing it immediately after it was finished.  I ended up wearing my hair up, to show off the lacing better.

If I were to make this dress in PVC again, I would definitely use stretch PVC and go down a size (the looseness in the hips is kind of annoying, considering how tight the top was).  I also wouldn't have shortened the straps like I usually do.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rantin' and Raven II: Bolero

So, the day after I finished writing the previous post, the greater DC area got hit with a snowstorm, which meant a day home from work.  With my upcoming (now past) trip and some unexpected free time, I figured it was as good as time as to make the matching bolero.  And since the Sophistique Noir theme for this month is outerwear and I just got back from the beach, this seemed the perfect time to post.

The pattern is New Look 6675, which I bought for the dress (view B), not the bolero, but oh well, I will get to the dress eventually. (Or considering my general lack of motivation, maybe not.)  The fabric is just the white inverse of the print last time, from Michael Miller's Nevermore collection.

I know I have ranted many times about yardage allotments from Simplicity and New Look, but this was ridiculous.  A size 10 called for 1 3/8 yards of fabric, and I had only one.  I was prepared to have to do some parts of it in leftover black, plain white, or plain black (if I can ever find that in my stash somewhere), but I easily fit it within one yard with a bit to spare.

The whole thing got sewn up in under day, and the only part that as a bit tricky were the ties on the side, because it involves cutting out a small section, flipping it up, and enclosing the seam.  I'd recommend this for an advanced beginner.

The only real problems I encountered with this were the cats were constantly in my lap, demanding attention, for the whole project.  I tell you, it was pure torture.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rantin' and Raven I: Dress

Obligatory whine about how
we aren't the same shape -
the halter does not close
So.  This dress has been albatross around my neck since August.  I had cut out the pieces, but had to suspend work on it for my Halloween costume.  The motivation was severely lacking, so once I had finished that, it just sat in the sewing room for months.  I would sometimes get enough energy to work on it for an hour or two, but everything takes ten times as long when I'm in those moods, so even pinning a simple seam can take an hour.

But regardless, it is done now.

The pattern is Simplicity It's So Easy 2884.  Even with my cranky, crabby mood making everything difficult, I wouldn't say this is an easy pattern.  It has pleats and gathering, as well as boning.  Or maybe  I'm just losing my touch.  The fabric is Nevermore by Michael Miller.  I am sure everyone is shocked that I would purchase a fabric called Nevermore.

I have a love-hate relationship with halters.  They're so cute, but I don't like going out in public without a bra, and convertible bras rarely me fit correctly (hell, regular bras rarely fit me correctly), and the backs are frequently too low to wear a bra with anyway.  I could always wear an adhesive bra, but my feeling is that if it's hot enough to show enough skin for a halter, it's too hot for an adhesive bra.  So I made the executive decision to sew in bra cups.  More on this later.

Other alterations: the usual one to lengthen any skirt by several inches (it's been so long that I honestly can't remember how much I added; somewhere between three and six) and skipping the slip (basically, lining the skirt).  I also had to move the buttons for wear the halter attaches, or my cupcakes would have been hanging out, bra cups or not.

Somewhere between cutting out the pieces and getting back to work on this, I lost the lining pieces for the upper bodice.  I knew I had plain black somewhere in my stash, but a cursory search (I glanced over at it for five seconds) yielded nothing.  I had muslin nearby, so I used that instead.  You can see the edges, but I don't give a hot damn.

Despite my whining, this dress isn't as difficult as I make it out to be.  It could definitely be tackled by an advanced beginner.

Back to the bra cups: I was pretty surprised at the selection of bra cups.  I ended up buying these, in a B/C (by accident).  I was planning on taking them back, but tried them just to see, and they fit pretty well.  I am actually a AA, but I am taller than average and have a large band size, so I guess that translates to a B/C for someone of average proportions?  Well, it works, however it is.  When I was constructing the dress, I inserted the cups into the upper bodice, but didn't sew them until everything else was complete so I could get them aligned on my cupcakes properly.  I just hand-stitched them through the lining.

What motivated me to finally finish the dress?  Well, I am about to head out for trip to Puerto Rico!  I have been down in the dumps for a while, and thought the sunshine (looking at it, but not sitting in it), fresh air, and culture shock would do me some good.  The dress would be perfect to wear there and it felt like a good way to push past my motivational block.

I have the white version of this fabric sitting in the stash too, and I plan to make a matching bolero with it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Walk Like an Egyptian V: Accessories

Cosmetics: SoBe Botanicals
Earrings: I was a goth teenager in the 90s, so I've had these a long time, and I've no idea where they originally came from
Nose ring: Pierced Fish
Necklace: see earrings
Bracelet: Good Goth
Shirt: This is actually one of the shirts I used to wear when I ran outside (I run on a treadmill these days).  I gave the shirts a new life as a layer under my t-shirts in the winter.
Tights: Dunno.  Maybe Target?
Sandals: Famous Footwear