Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wednesday's Child Is Full of Woe

Cobwebs of Shadow Manor celebrated her birthday last month, and I wanted to make her something cute and fun.   If you recall, she runs the Secret Pumpkin exchange every year, and a couple of years ago, I made an Edgar Allan Poe doll.  Inspired by this, I decided to make her a Wednesday Addams doll.

Her dress was modified from the Raggedy Ann dress pattern, though I made it longer and didn't do the gathering.  The dress, shoes, and scalp are made out of black polar fleece.  The doll itself and the collar of her dress are muslin.  Her eyes are blue buttons from my ex-husband's grandmother's vintage button collection; I had a bug up my ass that Wednesday should have grey eyes, and despite finding five or six different sorts of grey buttons in her stash, I only found ONE of each sort, so blue it was.  The buttons up the front of her dress are from the same collection.

Her hair is made of black yarn.  I'm not super happy with how it turned out; it ended up being as tangled and crazy as my own hair.

Happy belated birthday, Cobwebs!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Return of the Red Dress

So remember last Valentine's Day, when I completely lost my mind and decided I needed a strapless red satin evening gown?  Which was a total disaster and nearly ended up in the trash?  In another bout of completely losing my mind, I decided I was going to make the damn dress work for me, lumpy and flat-chested as I am.

First thing I did was kick up my exercise routine.  I was already running over 30 miles a week, but I kicked it up to 40+ and started lifting weights again.  On days I didn't run, I rode the stationary bike or did a combination of yoga and bellydance.  I didn't eat all that many sweets, but I cut them out entirely. Unrefined carbs are a rarity for me as well, but I cut those way down too.  I even stopped drinking orange juice in the morning, replacing it with V8.

Guess how much weight I lost.  Go on, guess.



No, I didn't lost fat and put on muscle.  No, I didn't end up being more toned; I was as lumpy as ever.  Yes, I did feel better exercising every day, and I would keep doing it even though I didn't lost weight, but it wasn't conducive to the red dress looking good.

I was despairing over getting to wear the thing to my company's holiday party (which was last week), when I came down with a nasty GI bug that left me eating nothing but bananas and rice cakes for a week.  Not how I wanted to get trim, but I'll take it.

The gloves are from Target, purchased from the costume section many years ago (featured in the coffee dress outfit), the shawl is from Charming Charlie, and the bag came from Amazon.  The shoes, which you can't see here, are from Leg Avenue.  I wore sparkly white jewelry, right down to my nose ring.  Crappy lighting, but my hair is orange here, and I wore it up in a sock bun.  I wanted to do something more elaborate, but I didn't have enough time and/or skill.

It seems like the dress was a hit!  But I think I will probably stay away from sewing strapless dresses in the future.  Unless I lose my mind again.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween from Cuz I Said Sew!

Guys.  I totally half-assed Halloween this year.  Everything from my party to the decorations to the costumes.  Especially the costumes.  Behold my tale of woe.

It starts back in 2014, the year of Wonder Woman and the pirate.  We were laying in bed, playing with our phones, when I came across color pictures from the Addams Family TV show from the 60s.  I made the comment to The Boyfriend that I had always thought Gomez and Morticia would be an excellent couples costume, but let's face it, Morticia is only a slight exaggeration of how I typically dress.  Then the fateful words came from his mouth: "Well then, next year, I will be Morticia and you can be Gomez!"  And so our fate was sealed.

Except that last year, we were not Gomez and Morticia.  Despite our best intentions, the trip to Germany took up so much time and energy that we wore our trachten (his purchased from a department store in Stuttgart).  We also wore those costumes to a 17th century market last spring and we have a Christmas market event his December, so we are definitely getting our mileage out of them.

Then we moved in May.  Honestly, the sewing room was the second room in the house to be mostly functional, with the first being the kitchen.  And, really, I promise, I was sewing, but it wasn't for me, so I didn't really bother to take pictures for the blog.  I made two cloaks for a friend of a friend of The Boyfriend, and did some upholstery projects for his boat.  I also seem to became the Baby Pumpkin Hat Crochet Factory.  I also threw a pretty big (and secret) baby shower for a friend of mine and his wife.

I will apologize for these terrible pictures taken at our party.  They were taken in dim light by an inebriated person.

So I was left with very little time to do our costumes.  I'm ashamed to say, the only thing I did for mine was make the smoking jacket.  And that started its life as a $8 velvet robe on clearance at Target.  I bought it on a whim, years ago, intending all along to turn it into a smoking jacket, because I am sure it shocks everyone that I would want to own a velvet smoking jacket.  So all I really did here was chop off most of the skirt of the robe.  I intended to do some trim it in burgundy or purple, if I had the time.  Which of course, I did not.

Everything else was in my closet or The Boyfriend's.  I had a black tuxedo shirt in the pictures above and the pinstripe suit.  I wore heeled saddle shoes that I purchased several years ago.  For a mustache, I originally used a stick-on one, but after I sweated that off in five minutes, I drew one on with eyeliner.

I ended up drafting the pattern for his dress from a long-sleeved t-shirt of his and a pair of pajama pants (to get the length and general shape).  My intention had been to make it out of cotton jersey, but he wanted velvet.  I was also going to make it as a two-piece, to make it more comfortable for him, but he said he wanted his dress to resemble Carolyn Jones' as much as possible, so we went with the classic Morticia style.

The tentacles on the bottom were just free-hand cuts and I zig-zagged over the edges to keep them from ravelling.  The organza drapes on the sleeves were also free-handed but I left them unfinished because I wanted them to look a bit distressed.  It ended up fitting him well, but he complained about the lack of pockets all night, and kept saying "how do you dress like this every day?"

I ended up buying a garish ring and a fake cigar.  His necklace is one of mine.  We ended up attending another party after ours and I wore a white button-up shirt and one of ties instead of the black shirt shown here (see below).

Gomez doesn't work as well without Morticia, so I wore a different costume to our work party: the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who.  I bought the 3D glasses and Converse, but otherwise had the rest.  Believe it or not, this is a different suit.  The Gomez suit was double-breasted and this is single.  The shirt and tie here are the ones I wore for our second party as Gomez and Morticia.  I had the sonic screwdriver because I am a ridiculous fangirl and the psychic paper is just an old checkbook that I stuffed with some printer paper.

And for last party that we are attending tonight, I think I might resurrect my pirate costume.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Along Came a Spider

I'm slowly putting my sewing room back together, but I thought I'd share a dress I made two summers ago that I forgot to blog about.

The pattern is Butterick 5642, view C.  This is a super long dress; I could have not lengthened it at all and been fine, but I added three inches because I had enough fabric.  It's now long enough that I have to wear heels with it or it will drag on the ground.  The fabric is Marvel Ultimate Spider-man Spidey's Web Black (isn't that a mouthful).

I found the instructions for putting the dress together to be weird, so I didn't really follow them.  I also skipped a lot of steps, like enclosing things in a bias casing.  It was still pretty easy.  I had the pieces cut out and the major parts pins already, but I recall I managed to get it all sewn together while watching a Troughton-era Doctor Who series.  If I made this again, I might do a contrasting insert in the bodice, instead of using the same fabric like I did here.

These pictures were taken at The Boyfriend's marina.  Minutes afterwards, the sky opened and we got completely soaked.  Phones, etc, were thankfully not damaged, though I did spend several shivery hours with my dress draped over a fan, waiting for it to dry out.

I get a lot of compliments on this dress, probably more than most of my other clothing.  I guess Spider-Man is more appealing to the average person (or at least my co-workers) than Halloween?  Twerps.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Movin' on Up

The Boyfriend and I just moved into a new place earlier this week.  Most of my sewing stuff is still at my old house, and the new place is chaos, so it's going to be a while before we're settled in.  Looking forward to setting up the new sewing room!

Friday, April 29, 2016


Tomorrow I turn *gulp* 35.  Last Sunday, I had a dinosaur-themed birthday party.  Me being me, I had to make a dress.  Me being me, I ended up with only three nights to do it.

The pattern is New Look 6776, which was also the Green with Envy dress (also, wow, my hair is shoulder-length in that post, but now it's down to my butt).  I picked this mostly because I had done the pattern before and knew any weirdness I would face, which is crucial when I was so pressed for time.  The fabric is Urban Zoologie Dinosaurs Bright.  Not my first choice, but the one I had originally picked was out of stock by the time it came to be cut.

While I changed the construction of the bodice (as it would have had exposed seams on the inside of the bodice) and shortened the straps, there is nothing else I changed here.  There are some pleats in the skirt, but nothing too terrible.  I did space out when putting in the zipper and did it backwards, but managed to figure that out after I'd sewn it to the lining but before I'd sewn the rest of it.

The highlight of the party was the ostrich egg, which The Boyfriend deviled.  It was HUGE.  Even after a few days, we didn't finish it and I ended up taking half of it to work.  Some of my guests and co-workers were in complete disbelief that it was even a real egg.  After boiling it for two hours, we ended up opening the shell with a Dremel so we could keep it.  I think we might stick it back together and paint it with green dots, like a Yoshi Egg.

I also took green tortillas and used dino cookie cutters to
make chips.

Volcano Cake

Massacred dinosaur

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Have Completely Lost My Mind

I had elaborate plans for Valentine's Day.  I made a gift for The Boyfriend and then had another one custom-made, and planned a six-course French meal.  All this planning required a fancy dress for the fancy meal.  And I somehow got it in my head that it needed to be a red satin strapless gown.

I can't wear strapless anything.  I don't have the proper assets for it and I feel I like kind of look ridiculous.  But I'm never one to let logic stand in my way!

Through an unimportant but convoluted set of circumstances, we had to move Valentine's up by a week, which ended up leaving me four days to make the gown (start on a Monday and be done by Thursday night).  While I also had to go to work and prep for a fancy meal.  Hey, I have other fancy dresses I could wear.  But I had it in my head that it absolutely had to be the red strapless dress.

The fabric is red bridal satin and the pattern is New Look 6454 (I have previously made a different view in black and purple crepe-back satin).  I picked this one partially because I had already done it and knew the tricky bits, and I could save some time by not having to cut a new pattern.  I chose bridal satin because it's heavier and less shiny.  Like any satin, it is slippery to cut and frays like crazy, so every edge needs to be finished.

Monday, I bought the supplies and cut the fabric.  I also pinned the bodice.

Tuesday, I sewed the bodice and lining.

Wednesday, I was starting to panic about finishing.  I realized I wouldn't have much of Thursday to work on it because I had to shop for the fancy meal and would need to wash the dress before the big day.  So I left work two hours early and put my shoulder to the wheel.  I sewed in all of the godets (six of them!) and put the skirt together.  I sewed the skirt and bodice together and put in the zipper.  I hand-sewed in the bra cups and sewed the bodice lining down.  At that point, the only thing I had left to do was hem the dress.  I finished the seam and threw it in the laundry basket, thinking I could finish that part at any time (which still hasn't come yet).

And then on Thursday, everything fell apart.  I tried the dress on and I looked awful in it.  I felt like a little girl playing dress up in mommy's clothes.  Even with padded bra cups, I looked even more flat-cheated than usual. Every flabby place looked flabbier.  I was so upset, I nearly threw the thing  in the trash.

The whole plan was a total disaster.  No more strapless dresses.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Nautical by Nature

As I've probably mentioned before, The Boyfriend lives on a boat.  We spend most weekends working on it, which is part of the reason I don't have a lot of time to sew.  Anyway, I was perusing nautically themed fabrics, because that is a what a supportive seamstress girlfriend does, and I was disappointed by a lot of what I found.  Most of it is navy, instead of black, and a lot of the patterns are boring or would be too overwhelming as a dress.  Or the fabric is just plain uninteresting. Hall, if this post-30 sorta-goth chick is gonna wear nautical fabric, it's gotta be special.

I found this one, Anchors Aweigh by RJR, and it was long out of print, so I think I ended up picking it up on Etsy.  I love the old-style diving helmets and the knots (wanting to learn to tie knots was half the reason I joined Girl Scouts).  The whole thing has sort of a marine steampunk feel to me.

I don't know why I'm on a remaking old patterns kick, but this was McCall's 5094, the same pattern as the cherry dress.  Due to the weird layout this pattern calls for (the grain goes perpendicular to the selvage, rather than parallel), I shortened this a bit to make it work.  Think I will ever learn my lesson about double-checking the layout before purchasing fabric?  Neither do I.

I did the majority of this on Monday, my last day off of work from the snow day.  At the time of writing this, well over half of our three feet has melted and we're expected to hit 60 degrees this week.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Yo Dawg, I Heard You Liked Sewing

For those of you who haven't heard, the greater DC area, was the center of a major snowstorm over the weekend.  I don't know what our official totals were, but the meteorologists were projecting two to three feet, and I had a snow drift up to the top of garage.  Thankfully, I didn't lose power, and I'm waiting for the plows to come through (which they haven't since Friday night).

This fabric was a gift from The Boyfriend.  We had gone to Joann's shortly after Christmas because he wanted to peruse their outdoor fabric for his boat.  I saw this and cooed over it, but declined to buy it.  I ran off to work the next day and he went back and bought it for me, leaving it in my sewing room.  I only discovered it a week and a half ago, which tells you how frequently I go in my sewing room these days.

So the combination of being snowed in (I couldn't open my door because the snow was piled so high.  I had to take the glass pane out.) and four yards of lovely fabric in the stash that was calling to me makes for Snow Day Sewing.

The first task was to find a pattern in the stash that used four yards (ish) of fabric.  It's a weird amount; they're usually 2 to 2.5 or 5+.  I ended up settling for an old favorite, Simplicity 2884, which was also the Nevermore dress.  This was View A, as opposed to B.  The differences are the halter (A ties and B attaches with buttons) and the skirt (A is longer and pleated, whereas B is gathered).  This one went together much faster, probably only slightly from previous experience with it, and mostly because I am not suffering through a divorce like the first time I made this.

I did change how the bodice was constructed so I can slip in bra cups later, so the lining isn't entirely sewn in (which is why the bodice looks somewhat, um, deflated).  I'm going to need to get the beige-ish ones, because white will show through the cream-colored fabric.  Surprisingly, I had cream thread in the stash (not sure from what).  The zipper is actually white, and it came from a pillow cover that had torn.  I ripped the zipper out before throwing the cover in the compost, originally intending to throw it away.  The fabric might have been shot, but the zipper as perfectly functional, so into the stash it went.  Good thing too, because I have a bunch of black zippers in the stash and one in navy blue (the doomed zipper from the elf dress).

 Thank you, The Boyfriend!  If you can't be snowed in with me, making a dress out of your thoughtful gift is a nice substitute.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jareth III: The Jarthening, Featuring Toby

I had originally written this post in November, with the exception of adding the pictures, intending it to go up immediately.  And then I was going to post it some time in December.  And then I was going to post it last week for David Bowie's birthday.  And with his recent death, I decided that now was the time.

The Boyfriend and I went to Muppet-themed party in November.  When the party was announced, I was in the middle of frantically finishing the dirndl.  He asked what sort of costumes we should wear, and I gave him a dirty look.  Since I already had the Jareth costume in the closet, I told him we were doing Jareth and Toby and I wasn't going to be making two new costumes on top of everything else.  The Alamo Drafthouse was showing the movie last winter, so I had thrown together a hat for him then (which I had mentioned but never did a post about).  This time around, he asked for pajamas too.  In a fit of madness, I agreed.

At first, we were going to emulate the movie costume: one-piece footie pajamas with a boat-ish neck with snaps.  I pointed out that would make bathroom breaks a bit difficult, so we changed it a zip-up front, maybe with a drop seat just to be ridiculous.  I ordered the fabric with that in mind.

...And then The Boyfriend decided he wanted a two-piece, which uses more fabric.  I managed to get it all in, but it was tight.

The pattern I used was Butterick 5572, which I picked out of a number of possible candidates because it had all the adult sizes in the same envelope.  The Boyfriend is very tall, but slightly built, and I'm not very experienced in sewing for him, so I wasn't sure what size he would be.  We also only seen each other on weekends, so getting measurements easily wasn't going to happen.  And, just like me, we carry our height in our limbs, which means sleeves and legs need to be lengthened.  We ended up deciding on an adult medium and added two inches to the sleeves.  For the legs, I just cut them the extra-large length and that was perfect.

This pattern is size for knits, which are super-duper fun to sew.  This isn't a difficult pattern, but I did have some tension issues because the fabric I used wasn't as heavy as I would have liked.  Surprising, considering it was a Riley Blake (and not too cheap either).

So when it came down to it, I churned this out in about five days, finished seams, pockets, at all.  The Boyfriend said they're comfy enough to use as, well, pajamas.

As for my costume, back when I made this, I was still married to the old stick in the mud.  I had intended to pack the crotch, because, well, it is a pretty essential part of the costume.  Not for work, of course, but for the party at my house.  The ex was very upset with that idea and damn near flipped out. he never really explained why, so I still don't know to this day why he was so upset.  All he said was that it would make people uncomfortable.  Butthead.

Anyway, the party goers were the type to be amused by such things, so I decided to stuff.  I was going to use socks, but then I remembered I had this little item in my drawer.  (Ironically, given to me by my ex-husband.)  It's soap, which he bought for me as a gag gift when I saw an ad and found it amusing, but never used it as I'm more of the shower gel type.  I shoved it down my pants and swaggered around.  After a few hours, I was tired of adjusting, so I hung it around my neck.  Which actually worked out pretty well with the costume.

The death of a celebrity never really seems real, because they never seem like real people.  David Bowie, in particular, seemed so far beyond common experience that it was a real shock to me.  To his family and friends, I extend my deepest condolences, and hope he knew in the end how much his art touch other people.