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Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Love Free Stuff!

So I have this really amazing friend named Sheila Cox. She is also a costumer, and we've worked on a couple of high school shows together--she as the designer, and I as a stitcher. That's actually how we first got to know each other, but we also go to church together, and we're good friends now. Anyway, a few days ago, she let me come over and plunder her stash of fabric and other supplies, as well as the dresses in her costume stash--some actual vintage, some vintage inspired. I came away with eight new (to me) dresses and lots of fabric and trims. Some of it is things I actually specifically need for the projects I'm working on/planning, and some of it is just stuff I really liked and she had no specific plans for.

I also finished my white skirt last night. It needed a lining, as white things usually do, so I used the lining fabric from that wedding dress I've been taking apart. It just keeps on giving!

Without further ado, pictures! (With bad lighting because Jon and I are often only together at night, and our apartment has terrible lighting.)

The outfit I wore to church today. Of course, I had shoes on at church.

My friend Holly of SableGreyhound Gifts made this necklace with earrings to match, and I love them!

This dress reminds me of Jackie Kennedy. It needs a shoulder seam repaired, but that's easy.

This should have three buttons, so I will need to replace all three. Again, easy.

I'm making a weird face in this picture.

I LOVE this one. I might shorten the sleeves because they are tight at the elbows, but I'm not sure.

Close-up of the embroidery

I also completely love this one. It needs work, too, including new buttons.

It also has this big rip in the skirt. I'm thinking of adding a band of black velvet to cover it.

My dog is very cute.

I will probably lengthen this skirt a little, likely with eyelet lace, and I think the stems should have flowers at the top, so I might add that as well.

I was feeling a little silly by this point because I never know how to pose for pictures.

I got motion sickness getting this picture because I did way too much twirling, but it was totally worth it to show the skirt off like that. ;)

So I really love all of my new dresses. I also got great fabric and trims, but I'll probably show those off as I actually use them.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

So Many Projects!

I've mentioned before that I have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. I have a lot of projects going or at least in the planning phase right now. It can be a problem, but usually it works out.

I thought my felt nativity was going to be a quick and simple project that would only get mentioned in one post, but it keeps not turning out quite to my liking. I bought some more felt and remade one Wise Man, but he still ended up just looking more like a tanned white man and making everyone else look very pale--like Irish pale--so now I want to buy a darker brown felt and change the hands and face on another of the Wise Men to make him black. I'm even considering changing everyone's hands and faces to the tan color so they won't look so pale. I know I'm overthinking this, but that's who I am. I do like how the new Wise Man turned out in general, though.

And sticking with projects I've already posted about for a moment, I found some fabric at JoAnn that should work for Batgirl. It is a poly/rayon/spandex blend and a very thick sport knit. It is black on one side and grey on the other, and we intend to dye it to make the grey side bluish or purplish-grey.

This is not true to color. The grey is darker than this, and the other side really is black.
I also got my order, and two of the items were for the Mary Poppins ballet costume. I bought beading lace, and I will thread red ribbon through it to go at the neck and wrists, and I will probably cut it in half for the top edge of the collar and the edges of the jabot. I know I was planning to use the lace from the wedding dress for the collar and jabot, but I have 200 yards of this beading lace now, so the different spots that need lace might as well match. I can use that other lace on another project in the future.

I bought sew-on Venice lace butterfly appliques to scatter on the chiffon of the blouse and the top of the tutu. I believe the embroidery or appliques on the original dress were flowers, but to get quality appliques of an appropriate size, butterflies were what I could get enough of for a good price, and they are still very much in keeping with the look of the original.

And I bought pink shank buttons for gaiters that will go over the pink point shoes.
This is not quite true to color, but it is close.

One of the other items that came from Cheeptrims this week was a beaded trim I was planning to use on a new Civil War ballgown, but Cheeptrims has finally disappointed me. I like the trim overall, but the teardrop beads have obvious seams and flat spots--I could live with the fact that they are plastic if it weren't for that--so the only way I'm using this trim on anything other than a kid's costume is if I replace those beads with something of higher quality. And I have not decided if I'm that crazy yet.

This Civil War ballgown is not in the works yet. I will be making it down the road, but I already have the fabric, and I will also be using the wide lace from the wedding dress for it. I intend to use the lace on the skirt and as the bertha (the decoration on the neckline).

This is actually pretty true to color, and the lace is about 6" wide.
My plan for the design is a mix of the two blue dresses in this picture, although mainly the one in the foreground. I do want the ruffle on the skirt to follow a scalloped pattern, but not such an exaggerated one.

I apologize for not knowing the origin of this photo.
Another future project is the pepakura sci-fi armor my husband is making for me. It's from Halo, which I don't play, but I do love sci-fi armor, and this particular armor looks both cool and believable. Jon is currently working on cutting out and gluing together the many tiny pieces of paper. This costume will be for next year at the soonest because it is going to take a really long time.

The bottom half of the helmet.

I think it's a little too big for Sal.
And finally, a more current (and more simple) project. I'm working on a new skirt for myself out of leftover fabric from a dress I made for one of my nieces several years ago and lace from one of my past Cheeptrims orders...and the zipper out of the wedding dress. It's a simple six-panel flared skirt.

I'm not sure whether to place the lace like this...

...or like this.
I'm using this pattern that my mother gave me a few years ago. I'm making the shorter version and shortening it a bit more to bring it closer to the knee. I think it will be a really awkward length with the lace if the skirt itself is much below the knee.
Hopefully, this week I'll finish the skirt and make some progress on the Mary Poppins costume.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I Love Mail

I have received lots of mail this week. It wasn't exactly fan mail. It was all stuff I ordered, but I like that too. Some of it was samples of different types of neoprene in preparation for my Batgirl costume. The artist's sketches say the jacket should be leather, but to match the color of the jacket and pants, they would also have to be leather. That's not out of the question, but it could get expensive, and I wouldn't be able to just take things in to get the fit right. You can't sew leather until you're ready to commit permanently to that seam line because the holes are permanent. That means I would have to be a good girl and sew a muslin and get it perfect before making the real thing, and I don't really like to do that. What can I say? I'm a little lazy.

So we're considering neoprene. It wouldn't look like leather, but it would have good structure and be comfortable and more forgiving to sew. But it is also fairly pricey. We'll see how this goes. Some of the samples we bought have been ruled out for sure, but others are still on the table. There's also still the question of color because even the artist doesn't seem sure if her costume is blue or purple (where it's not black and yellow).

I also really want these boots. They're pretty expensive if I only wanted them for the costume, but I also love hiking, so if they're actually good, I would use them for that.

My most exciting mail this week was from I can't say enough about how happy I am with their services. I'm new to making ballet costumes, and pancake tutus (or Russian classical tutus) are especially complicated, so I chose to buy one of their costume kits. I wanted the bottom few layers of the tutu to be pink because this is for the Mary Poppins costume, so I contacted them about that special order, and they agreed to do that for no extra charge. Then they apparently filled my order and shipped it off immediately because I placed my order by phone on a Friday and received it the immediately following Monday!

And their costume kits really do come with everything you need for the tutu and bodice--the different fabrics, notions, patterns, and a whole book of instructions! I'm on page 23 of the instruction book, and I intend to finish it before actually cutting anything because it walks you through every single step in the tutu making process as well as making the bodice. I do wish there were a few more pictures, but even without them, it's very detailed.

Hoop boning for the tutu, spiral steel boning for the bodice, boning tips, hooks and eyes, 5 kinds of elastic, twill tape, etc.

Bodice fabrics: coutil lining (left), and a shiny outer fabric (right)

If you look closely, you can see the herringbone weave of the coutil.

Tutu net in pink and white, softer tulle for some of the ruffles, and power net for the tutu panty.

Patterns and instruction book. has made a loyal customer out of me. I will be going to them for all future tutu-making supplies, as well as some corset-making supplies!

These also came this week:

Buttons for the Mary Poppins blouse (as well as a lot of extra for future use) from eBay seller huntr_gathr

I'll modify this Sandy Hunter pattern for the Mary Poppins blouse. The red belt I'll draft on my own.
This didn't come in the mail. It is the button loop tape and the narrow lace from the cannibalized wedding gown that I intend to use for the Marry Poppins blouse, since we're on the subject. I'll show the wider lace when I write about the project it will decorate.

I also embroidered faces on most of my felt nativity pieces this week. I didn't finish one of the Wise Men, though, because the original kit only came with really light-colored felt for the faces and hands, and I really want one of the Wise Men to be black. So I'm going to take him most of the way apart, tweak the design, and make him a black man.

I know they look a little goofy, but hopefully kids will like them. They remind me of Weebles.

Hopefully, I'll get more mail this week from This site has a minimum order of $65, and you have to buy any given item in large quantities--30 yards of some types of ribbon, for instance, so it's only useful if you want a lot of trim, but assuming you do, their prices are fantastic. In some cases, their prices are so good, that it is actually cheaper to buy 30 yards of something, than to buy 5 yards locally, so I just buy that much as long as I can justify ordering enough other things to make the minimum order. And the prices are so low due to ordering in bulk, not due to low quality, so I have always been happy with my purchases from them in the past. I'm excited for this order to come!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Odds and Ends

Hello, friends. I don't have much to show you on any of my major projects this week, but I do have some small projects and sketches to share.

I was shopping at Goodwill lately and found this wedding dress. It had some tears, but I really just wanted to take it apart for supplies.

The narrow lace on the edge of the outer skirt will be useful.

I plan to use this lace from the neckline as the bertha on a new Civil War ballgown.

And there's plenty of lace on the bottom of this skirt for the ballgown skirt.

I have also saved these buttons and the button loop tape.
I spent $29 on the dress. I would have preferred to spend less, but I would have spent more if I had bought the supplies in a more traditional manner. I have plans for a lot of these items, but I'm saving the buttons just for general future use.

Recently, the women from my church got together to make some Christmas crafts. One was these lovely Christmas tree balls. The nativity silhouettes were from an Etsy store, but I don't know which. If anyone wants them, I'll find out more. The silhouettes had adhesive backs and were attached to clear plastic cut in the shape of the Christmas balls. Glitter and iridescent confetti in the bottom and bows tied to the top provided the finishing touches.

The red ribbon and the silver and white came from the activity, but the blue and the gold came from my stash at home. I made a lot of these, and most will be Christmas presents, but at least one will go on my own tree.

I also made this felt nativity set, although I made major modifications. I didn't initially receive the layout guides, so I didn't fully understand some of the pieces and ended up changing them for that reason. Also, the original was intended to be sewn together in three groupings and used as Christmas tree ornaments, but it was suggested to keep them separate and use it as a nativity that you can let children play with. Kept separate like that, I thought the smaller wise men looked weird, so I made them bigger and changed them.

I still need to embroider on all the faces.

I like the little "funny face" lambie.
This bear belongs to a friend's granddaughter who has had a lot of surgeries. She's a sweet little girl, and she has recently had another surgery. My friend asked me to add a line of stitches to the bear to match her.

The dark line across the top between the ears is the new "scar."
And this is what I do when I'm having trouble focusing--I sketch costume and clothing design ideas. I'm currently working on a ballet version of Mary Poppins' white dress complete with a Russian classical tutu (also known as a pancake tutu) for a friend who is a ballet dancer. (And every single time I try to talk to anyone about this costume, I say tattoo instead of tutu. It's getting pretty ridiculous.) I'm also working on a jester costume for my husband. It will be recognizable as a jester, but much fancier than what you're used to seeing. I have no idea just how historically accurate it will be for what a jester would have actually worn during the renaissance, but it is based on real clothing from the late 1500s-early 1600s. (Please don't judge my sketches too harshly. I'm not particularly good at drawing, and I haven't taken any classes in it. I'd like to.)

The spats/gaiters will go over bright pink pointe shoes. And my husband thought it was funny to turn the hat into a flying saucer abducting a sleeping human.

We've already changed our plans for the pants, but sketching this out helped us get to an idea we liked more.

Jon likes the shoes on bottom better.

The doublet will button shut with alternating tabs representing the playing card suits. The ones from one side will be clubs and spades, and the other side will be hearts and diamonds. The two sides of the doublet will also be different colors.
I know this doesn't really illustrate my designs very clearly, but I thought some of you might enjoy seeing my sketches anyway. Hopefully, I will have at least a little progress to show you next week because tutu supplies, as well as some buttons and trims, are on their way to me right now.

In parting, I'll leave you with what I want to be this year: this version of Batgirl! Don't you love her? I haven't purchased supplies yet, but I have swatches on the way to figure out exactly materials I'm using.