Something Fishy About Them Florals

It should be a familiar story at this point.  I see a garment online/in a store/on Man Repeller.  It’s beautiful.  I want to be the sort of person who wears whatever that is.  But HOLY FUDGING SKIT-BALLS BATMAN IS THAT THE PRICE??!!  HAHAHAHAHA!  NOPE.  Cannot afford.  Nooooooo.

This time, the garment in question was a little sun-dress from The Reformation.  Now I am usually vehemently Not A Dress Person.  I often have places to be via foot or bus or train with multiple bags of bricks to carry (you know how heavy bags sneakily make your dress ride up at the back until everyone on the train platform gets some accidental fan-service?).   I also hate being the person clutching their skirt with grim determination in a 24 knot gust, wishing they had more hands to hold the damn thing down.  The rest of the time I hate how I suddenly look 12, or I associate dresses with auditions and get jumpy, or they just feel… unfinished.  But this time…. ?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s the slightly grungy insouciance with which they’ve styled their models?  Maybe it’s the fact that they were wearing white Converses and I too (I know, surprising!) own a (very scuffed) pair of (used to be) white Converses.  Maybe it’s how El Niño took so long to bugger off that Sydney was still 20+ degrees in the middle of freaking May. Maybe I’ve been watching too much anime and have been coming to terms with the fact that looking cute is, well, cute.  Whatever it was, a cute little mini-sundress suddenly looked a lot more appealing than its ilk has in years.

Sadly I can’t say my take on it is as environmentally sound as The Reformation’s.  My fabric is a synthetic (viscose/rayon, I think?) from Darn Cheap Fabrics which created God-knows-how-much carbon dioxide and waste water (and also I’ve heard rayon’s very bad for you long-term), but they let you order online now and they often have a good range of unusual prints.  I know.  Synthetic.  I hate it.  But it’s the only way I’m not going to be precious about it and actually wear it in casual situations. The best thing about it is the print.  It looks like a floral from a distance, but get up close and:

Photo on 26-05-2016 at 2.36 PM #5

THEY AREN’T FLOWERS AT ALL! (APART FROM THE BITS THAT ARE)  THEY’RE GOLDFISH!

So down to the nitty.  While I wanted my dress to look close to the original, there were also a few things I wanted to change.

  1. I wanted a slightly more flared skirt because a true quarter circle skirt (as I suspect theirs is close to, just cut in panels) ends up needing shaping to fit both my hips and my waist, and I’d rather flare the skirt more than have to shape it at the top.  I ended up taking the pattern from the horsey mini and adding flare.
  2.  Pockets.  One of the things I hate about dresses is automatically going to hook your hand into a pocket and then realising with great sadness, after pawing in at the side of your hip for five minutes, that there are no pockets.  And then where do you put your hands?  Because it’s awkward now. You fold your arms.  You unfold them.  You put your hands on your hips, but that’s wrong too. Pretty soon you’d give your kingdom for a pocket.

Mostly it was trouble-free to pattern and put together.  Apart from the bit where I need to re-do the back of my bodice block because it’s always a bit tight across the shoulders, and in my attempt to correct this on the fly I introduced about 2cm too much excess fullness across the bust which needed to be taken out at the end.  Fortunately I’d included a CF seam, and strangely enough my shape likes a bit of CF seam shaping.  The sleeves were a total fluke, patterned from my French sleeve block, but again with extra fullness added into the top on the fly.  The innards are all finished with pinking shears, because this stuff doesn’t seem to fray easily (win!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I apologise for the blurriness of that photo.  I dropped my phone shortly after I took the other photos and the camera is no longer what it was.  But you can see all the adjustments I ended up making to the basic pattern in all the taped-in bits of tissue paper, as well as the tiny fold I ended up taking out of the back because I still can’t seem to get the fit right. Damn my prominent shoulder-blades.

And next up in What Strange Hemming Method Will She Try Now? is tying 18th Century costume garters around your legs and pinning your hem to match them.  I didn’t take a photo because I was too frustrated at the time.  The manga-stack method I used for my PANTS gets a bit unwieldily once you get above the knee.

Then it was just stick-an-invisible-zip-in-the-back time, and done!

Photo on 26-05-2016 at 2.38 PM #2

And behold!  It pairs well with gold Supergas and over-the-knee socks in my opinion.  And stupid poses.Photo on 26-05-2016 at 2.37 PM

The setting of the zip could be better, but I only have a normal zipper foot, so all things considered it’s pretty good.  You can’t tell in a blurry photo anyway so why am I even telling you?  Geez Belinda, shut up!

Photo on 26-05-2016 at 2.36 PM #6

And tbh who even cares about zip setting when there are pockets and goldfish, and the fit is good.  Honestly I put on a RTW skirt this morning and almost died at how appallingly it fit, so I think next up will be making some more skirts.  Maybe.  You know how scatty I am.

Advertisements

Robe a la Revamp

The robe a l’Anglaise strikes again.  One of my housemates loves costume parties, and decided to have a 1980s movie themed birthday party.  I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to make a whole new costume, so I decided it was a good opportunity to fix up the robe a l’Anglaise (shh.  Amadeus was made in the 1980s.  Terrible, terrible costumes.  But shh.  This totally counts).  I was never really happy with the skirt the first time, and it needed a bit of trim, which I’d mostly done earlier, but needed an excuse to finish.

2014-07-16 15.51.50

The trim was just strips cut out with pinking shears and then pleated prickstitched to the sleeves and neckline.  I only had one cuff left to do, so that was easy.  It was pretty crumpled from being in the bottom of the sewing chest for so long though, so I steamed it as well, using a pair of chopsticks to zhoosh it out while I was steaming.  Don’t hurt yourself with steam, kids.

I was kind of dreading re-doing the skirt in a faint pit-of-the-stomach, this-should-be-easy-but-god-I-hate-it way that’s normally reserved for filing my tax return.  The original problems were that it wasn’t long enough at the back, and the pleating was meh.

DSC_0178

You can see a good 6 inches of petticoat at the back in that picture.

Weirdly enough, the solution wasn’t that hard.  The skirt had been made of two rectangles sewn together selvage to selvage originally, but I HAD left them longer at the back… I’d just been a dill and sewn the wrong selvages together.  The short ones.  The ones that were meant to go at the front edges. So I took it off the bodice, unpicked the CB seam and re-did it on the right edges.  Problem solved.

I then decided that seeing I’d been such a grownup and done my tax properly the last couple of years, how hard could re-attaching the skirt properly be?  I just needed to approach it with a strategy for a change.

The strategy, for all ye who struggle attaching skirts to quarterback-style Anglaises is that I measured how far around the bodice I wanted it to go, then measured that length on the ironing board, putting pins at the ends and at the half and quarter-way marks.  Then I divided the skirt in halves and quarters and pinned it to the ironing board where the marker pins were.  Then I knife-pleated it until it fit and basted the pleats in place.  Then I just backstitched it to the bottom edge of the bodice.  The back point isn’t as pointy as last time, but the whole thing just sits better.

Finished product:

13054844_10153538275895592_330106693_o

Who’s your favourite 18th century babe?

Also, behold my mad hedgehog skillz!  It partially works because my hair is very layered at the moment, but also because period curling techniques work really really well.  And all you need is some tissue paper and a hair straightener.  I didn’t even use curling product this time and it still worked.  Then brush it out with a bristle brush, tease the crapola out of all of it except the long curls at the bottom, hairspray till you can’t breathe, and boom, you have a hedgehog.

I don’t think I’ll be wearing this dress again though, unless I let it out a bit.  I’ve gained some muscle in my new job.  Not much, but enough that I should be wearing the stays looser, but the l’Anglaise doesn’t close unless they’re done up all the way.  So it wasn’t very comfy, and on top of the fact that I was super tired already and loathe late nights, I spent half the party napping on a chair in the corner.

13090641_10153538213405592_2094953209_o

Who’s the life of the party?  Not me.

PANTS

Sure, I’ve been doing a bit of sewing over the summer and never got around to blogging about any of it.  So what’s dragged me out of the non-blogging stupor?

PANTS.  In capital letters because they’re not just pants, they’re PANTS.  HUGE PANTS.

Long story short, I finally got around to drafting a pants pattern just before I moved out of the share house in Melbourne, and I tested it by making a pair of shorts for me (which are ok but not mind-blowing), and a pair of pyjama shorts for my sister, which have the best stripe matching since the beginning of time.  Which sadly I can’t show you, because I can’t for the life of me find the photo.  You’ll just have to believe me.  The stripe-matching was mind-blowing.  EVERY SEAM.  EVERY STRIPE.

Photo on 9-04-2016 at 1.27 PMForgive these shorts for they are not ironed. 

The main flaw in the more boring, less stripy test-pants was that the proportions are off by a smidge.  So they’re kind of tight in the hips but saggy in the butt.  I think this is because the standard figure for which the block is meant to be is more of a usual shape with a more pronounced butt and less pronounced hips, whereas I don’t really have a butt, but I’ve got hips for days.

Then I moved up to my parent’s for a month, and I made another pair of shorts (or short culottes really), which again aren’t mind-blowing, but I was working with remnant fabric so I didn’t exactly have room to play around a lot.  I also sewed my first fly-front, using mostly this tutorial, and it was vastly easier than I expected.

Photo on 9-04-2016 at 1.26 PMSlightly disappointed by those shorts (though now I have no idea why because they’re actually super cute), I then made a shirt out of super-gauzy grey checked cotton with a pussy-bow instead of a collar, because by this point I’m just enjoying farting around with the shirt pattern and seeing how far I can push it.

DSC_1691

How much bow is too much?  Am I bowverdoing it? Geddit? … ?

After that I started working at OA for the schools company, and I’ve pretty much lived in activewear for the past two or three months, and had very little reason to sew anything.

But then I saw a pair of pants in COS, and they were green wool, high-waisted and super wide-leg, like palazzo pants and flares went and had a baby together.  These weren’t pants, they were PANTS.  And even though I didn’t think I needed giant pants before, suddenly there was a gaping hole in my wardrobe that only PANTS could fill.  They’d be Going Out PANTS, Family Occasion PANTS, even maybe Audition PANTS in the right circumstances.  They’d magically look put-together and insouciant at the same time.   They’d trick people into thinking they were a skirt and then BAM I’d take a stride and they would shockingly reveal that they are actually PANTS.  They’d be massively comfy and make up for the fact that I’d probably only want to wear them with stilettos.

But they didn’t have them in my size anywhere.

So I got my pants block, went through the motions of adjusting it for extra fullness as suggested in the Fashion Supplement at the back of More Dress Pattern Designing, and then slashed up to the darts, closed them off and taped in a heap of extra fullness at the bottom.  I won’t deny that looking at the pattern freaked me out a bit.  They could so easily turn into Circus PANTS, which I didn’t want.  Especially seeing the soft wool twill I got was a bit expensive, and they were going to use A LOT of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As in really A LOT of it.

But they went together really easily.  I just used pinking shears so I didn’t have to finish anything, I popped in a side zip and then I hemmed them using a method called Stack Two Books on the Floor and Try and Pin the Hem Up So It Sits Level With the Top of the Books While Checking in the Mirror and Then Swear A Lot When It’s Fiddly and Time Consuming and I Wish Emily Was Here to Help Me But Now We Live Interstate and URGH.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Manga isn’t just entertaining, it’s useful.

The hem itself was originally going to be a micro-hem, but then I decided a folded-up-twice hem would make it sit better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Surprisingly neat, all things considered.

And now I have PANTS.

Photo on 9-04-2016 at 1.20 PM

They’re stealthy.  You think they’re a skirt, but no!

Photo on 9-04-2016 at 1.22 PM

They are in fact PANTS!

Photo on 9-04-2016 at 1.24 PMWhat’s huge and dark green and coming to get you?  PANTS

I highly recommend them.  Make yourself some PANTS.

 

Naughty (Thigh High Boots) and Nice (Sproglet-Approved Dragon Plushie)

Naughty first because it’s just a triumphant update:  I FINISHED THE SATSUKI COSPLAY BOOTS!!!  They’re a bit baggy, but they’re my first real proper try (the Attack on Titan ones were just boot covers so they don’t count).  Glued to a pair of high heels and everything.  I’m moving this week though, so I’ll post about them properly later, and for now you can have a photo:

DSC_1602 DSC_1594

Now for nice.  I promised I’d post about the new dragon plushie dragon I made for my friend’s child, especially seeing I never posted about the first one.  It was small and green and made of felt, which was a nightmare to turn right-side out.

DSC_0760

Damn cute though.

This time I thought I would be clever and make it out of green polyester taffeta with spots on, which would be easier to turn.  On second thoughts I decided to make it twice the size of the previous plushie as well.  Was it any easier?  …Eh?… Kind of?  My advice is not to do this the day before you want to give the plushie to the kid.  Or you’ll be up till *@#$ o’clock in the morning (even though that didn’t matter so much when I saw his happy little face).

DSC_1559

Should you wish to make one of your own, you will require:

-A couple of big sheets of paper (A3 would work well) to draw out your pattern.

-Some measuring tools, ie a tape and a ruler.  If you want to get fancy and get a compass too, by all means do, but I didn’t and I survived.

-About 50-75cm of fabric in the dragon’s main hide shade and about 25cm for the belly, feet, inside the ears and under the chin.  I used polyester taffeta and satin to make for easier lunch-stain-removal.  If you’re giving this plushie to a kid, it’s inevitable that at some point it’ll encounter tomato sauce or hummus or chocolate or all of the above.

-Some offcuts of a stiff fabric like cotton twill or felt (recommended, would have been easier) for the various features like horns, spines, a forked tongue or claws.  Go nuts.  If you want to do button eyes instead of appliqué eyes, you’ll need some of those too.

-Some felt to underline the belly to make it hold its shape better (not compulsory).

Step 1) Nut out a pattern

I broke the dragon down into the following parts:

dragon

  • The back, including the neck and tail (two identical halves).  Once it’s drawn, add a small dart to the place where the neck meets the back in order to round it out more.  Making the neck curve like so at the edge where you set in the head (which for clarity’s sake I will refer to as n) will give the head a charming downward tilt.
  • The belly (one part, cut on the fold).  Make this a half-football shape.  Measure the curved edge and make sure it isn’t too long for the lower edge of the back.  You don’t want it going too far into the tail.
  • The foot base.  This is a circle.  It will be the base of all the feet.  Measure the radius and work out the circumference (2πr thankyou highschool maths).  We’ll call this c.
  • The front leg (cut in two identical halves).  Start by getting your measuring tape, marking half c on it, then bending it slightly to get a shallow curve.  Trace this curve.  This is the bottom of the leg where you will set in the foot base.  After that, you can draw whatever leg shape you like above it.  Trace that base line on another piece of paper though so you’ve got a matching one to build the back leg off.
  • The back leg.  Start with the tracing of the front leg base and then draw another leg shape.  I made mine fatter and with a slight bend for the dragon’s knee.
  • The top of the head (which is cut on the fold).  This is where it gets kind of tricky.  What you want to do first is measure with your measuring tape.  This is what you have to work with re: the edges of the head that attach to the neck.  The top of the head is most important.  Allocate about 2/5 of n for it.  We’ll call that edge h. Draw as a straight line (because that’s easier).  Then measure about 5mm above h and draw a straight line for the fold edge from there.  You’ll end up with this:  Then what you want to do is decide how long your dragon’s head should be and add in some curves to complete the shape.  That 5mm from before will come out as a dart to differentiate the forehead from the neck a bit more and give you a guide for where the eyes go.  Now measure the bottom edge of the pattern piece and write it down.  I’ll call that edge b
  • The chin (cut in two identical halves).  I learned the hard way that it’ll be better to have  some kind of centre seam in the head somewhere, and the chin works.  It can be a straight seam.  Allocate about 1/3 of n for the neck-edge of the chin (let’s call it c).  Make c a straight line, then remember that measurement that you took before?  That is how long the top edge of the chin piece will be.  We will call it b2, using all the powers of our imaginations.
  • The cheek (for extra head-shaping) also has an edge that is whatever is left over of n.  We’ll call that edge k.  It doesn’t matter how long the cheek is so long as it’s the same length on both sides and so long as it’s shorter than b.  We’ll call the upper and lower sides of the cheek e.  They’re the same so I figure they’re interchangeable.
  • The eye, if you want to appliqué, however big you want
  • The wing, as you like.
  • The ear, in a vaguely star-trek logo shape is nice, but really you can do it however you like.
  • Misc other features like spines, toes, tongues etc can be up to you.

Still with me?  Have a picture of the bottom of the dragon.

DSC_1561

Step 2) Cut out your fabric

I chose to do the body, top of the head, cheek, legs and upper wings and ears in green, the belly, chin and under wings, feet and inner ears in yellow and the spines in black.  You do you though.

Step 3) Start your engines  (I’m so sorry I didn’t take any photos…)

I started with the details so I wouldn’t forget any.  I sewed the wings right-side to right-side around the edges, clipped the corners, turned them the right way out and sewed veins onto them in a zig-zag stitch.  Then I decorated the spines, belly and tongue with a zig-zag stitch in green.  I also sewed the dart in the back of the body pieces.

Then you can get down to business.

Pin the body pieces together along the spine with any spine details and wings sandwiched between.  Sew that seam down to the end of the tail and a little way back along the other side of the tail.  Clip the end of the tail and turn it the right way out.

Sew each leg together right-to-right leaving about an inch gap along the top back.  Very carefully baste the foot base pieces in to the ends and sew them in.  If you’re adding toes, do this in the same seam.  It’s fiddly.  Then clip the seam allowances and turn the legs the right way out.  Stuff them firmly (I used cut-up fabric scraps, but you could use commercial stuffing or lentils or whatever), then slip-stitch the gap at the top firmly closed.

Get the head-pieces ready to go on the body.  Sew k to right-to-right with the wide end of the cheek piece level with on both sides of the top head piece.  Then add on each side of the chin, with the edge of the cheek pieces level with c.  Then you can add eyes to the dragon however you wish.  I just appliquéd mine on with a zig-zag stitch.  I also added a forked tongue.

Now sew up the ears (if you want them) and more spines (if you want them) and baste them to the top of n on the body pieces.  Baste or pin the complete head on over the top, right-to-right, ensuring that the centre chin edges are level with the bottom of the neck.  Too long is better than too short, and if the head edges are too long you can just pleat the cheeks a little to bring them level and it’ll give the dragon a slightly chipmunky appearance.  Sew this seam, then turn it all the right way out and check that you’ve caught all the bottoms of the ears and spines.

Turn the whole thing inside out.  Carefully fold the wings up and baste them so they won’t get caught when you sew the belly seam.  Starting at the chin, sew straight down the centre seam of the dragon, attaching the belly to the other side of the body, and then stop at the end of the belly.  From the other side, sew the bottom tail seam up, leaving about a two inch gap so you can turn the whole thing the right way out.

Turn it the right way out (it will be frustrating).  Check that everything’s ok and you haven’t sewn the wings into the belly, and then you can stuff the whole body and slip-stitch the gap closed.  Then I added the legs.  A curved needle would have been useful here, but I didn’t have one and I managed.

Step 4) Give it to a kid

This is the fun part.  The kid will hopefully hug the crap out of it and then start explaining to you that it’s actually a water dragon and it likes to cook with chocolate even though it can’t eat chocolate because dragons eat meat.  (This is legitimately what happened).

DSC_1560

The kid hopefully won’t care that the spine’s wonky.

See you after I move!  I need to post about some exciting things like SHORTS.  YES, I MADE SHORTS.  I’M SO PROUD I’M ONLY TALKING IN CAPITALS FROM NOW ON!  Stay (vaguely) tuned!

 

 

Behold the Field Where I Grow All The Things I Have Finished!

Lay thine eyes upon it and thou shalt see that it is full of finished things!

I’ve been super good recently and finished a bunch of things before I start other things.  Aren’t you proud of me?  So far I have:

Made a slightly rude cushion for a housewarming present.

Made another dragon plushie for my friend’s sproglet’s birthday.

Finished fixing the badges on my Attack on Titan jacket.

Finished that blue ruffly shirt even though my sewing machine reeeeally didn’t want to.

And I am a whole two steps closer to being finished the Junketsu!

But for now, allow me to focus on the rude cushion.  I’ll post about the other things another time. Everyone’s come across the Bayeux Tapestry memes, yes?field of fucks

A shining example of how gloriously pertinent a meme can be.

I have an aunt who had recently moved, and who I was sure would appreciate said meme.  I also found that embroidery hoops are surprisingly cheap.  So I got about a metre of canvas, a cushion insert, a zip, four tassels, a couple of skeins of embroidery cotton, and went for it.  First I drew up a square 35cm x 35cm to match the cushion insert, and then using a mechanical pencil I copied some selected design elements directly onto the canvas.  I figured I was sewing over the pencil anyhow.  I chose the little man in the pale kirtle (is that a kirtle?)in the foreground, and the words, because I didn’t want to get in too far over my head.

I used backstitch for the words and outlines, and satin stitch (without the outlining or padstitching) for the fill colours on the little dude.  The dots and full stops were done with a french knot (I didn’t bother swapping needles).

DSC_1538

The little dude with the field.

When I was done with the embroidery, I put the cushion together using the Dreamstress’s foolproof tutorial.  I lightly basted the tassels into the corners before I sewed the front and back of the cushion together.  All in all, a surprisingly fun thing to make (especially seeing embroidery combines well with sitting up in bed and watching an entire season of Nisekoi).  And much appreciated.

DSC_1575

Pre-sewing

DSC_1578

Post-sewing up, with tassels.

I apologise for the poor lighting in that photo.  The light in my room’s been broken forever and seeing I’m moving in about a month, it’ll be easier to install a new one when the room is devoid of furniture.

Stay tuned for a lightning-quick dodgy guide to how to make the most darn-tootin’ adorable, 100% sproglet-approved dragon plushie, which I promise I will upload soon and not in like a year.

Opera and Cosplay Duke it Out

When I last posted I had this vision that a heap of things were going to be done by now.  I was going to be finished the Junketsu and I was going to have worn it triumphantly at PAX.  I was going to be churning out shirts and skirts and things for summer.  I was going to have finished all the performance dresses that I stupidly started right before comps and concerts.  Hell, at one point I even thought I would make a gown.

Haha, NOPE.  It’s a crazy story.

So I entered the New Zealand Aria the night before entries closed.  Then I realised that it was on at the same time as PAX so there was no point finishing the Junketsu (wrong, but we’ll get to that in a minute).  Then I cut out two Man Repeller-inspired ruffled shirts for My Wardrobe S/S 16, but sewing the pleather for my Attack on Titan cosplay had killed the tension wheel on my Janome and it went off to be serviced.  Two weeks of waiting for it to come back and consoling myself with fan art later…

Kyojin_Con

I tend to only ship characters with musical instruments.

…I should have done all the finishing on the fuchsia performance dress then, but stupidly I chose to binge on Noragami instead.  Then I did an audition for Opera Australia in Sydney.  Then I got a callback, so I had to cancel on New Zealand SO THE MORAL OF THAT STORY IS IF I’D JUST FINISHED THE DAMN JUNKETSU I COULD HAVE GONE TO PAX ANYWAY.  I was sad and happy and confused so then I entered the Diamond Valley Eisteddfod (again the night before the damn thing.  Noticing a pattern?). I hand-hemmed the fuchsia dress at the venue on the day, and then I won the aria section.  Then I found out I had the job with OA.  Then I didn’t sleep for about 48 hours.  Now I’m doing weird random procrastinatey sewing things instead of finishing the summer clothes that I know I’ll need up north.

Like how I suddenly decided that the arm and pocket badges on my AoT jacket look wrong and need to be fixed.  The method I’m  using now (just appliqueing on a big general wing-shaped cut-out and then zig-zagging the lines on over the top) is a lot quicker and easier than the first method I used, and I think it reads better too.

DSC_1540

DSC_1541

Way better, right?

I’ve started on one of the summer shirts, but I’m currently baulking at the buttonholes because my machine is still a bit hit-and-miss with buttonholes.  It’s just the frumpster shirt pattern with the sleeves cut in further, and a ruffle on a strip of bias binding added over the top.

DSC_1543

If it looks like it’s spent the week scrunched up in a corner, that’s because it has.

The Junketsu has now been hemmed.  Behold it in its shortness if you dare, along with my best attempt at a faux-fringe (which really just ended up looking kind of vintage.  Oh well.  Satsuki’s kind of a pin-up anyway).  I ordered a wig online yesterday, taking my chances with a random cosplay wig shop on AliExpress.  The shipping times are so variable that I just put in the address as my parent’s place in case it takes a month and I’ve moved out of the sharehouse, so Mum, if you get a very long blue wig in the post please don’t get a shock.

DSC_1528

As if getting a wig in the post could be any more shocking than the length of that skirt.

I have decided I’ll attach the sailor collar with snaps, but the ones I have in my stash are tiny, so I’ll zip out to somewhere and get bigger ones.  I’ve glued  I-don’t-know-what-you-call-thems on the boards.  They’re the bits that you pass epaulettes through to button the boards on.

DSC_1542

They don’t look very nice because I glued them on and used Fray-Block to finish the edges.

I will add epaulettes to the Junketsu and then the boards can button or snap on.  I was worried that the boards were too big, but even just pinned on they look really good.  The scarf tie things are another story though.  I’ll take them off and make them smaller and pointier.

DSC_1534

With both boards in dynamic pre-transformation pose

I’ve also ordered the white stretch-PVC for the boots, and I’ll put them together on my friend’s serger, because I really don’t want to be servicing my poor old machine twice in as many months, and comparing my sewing machine to Sergei the serger is like comparing an elderly lady who’s still ok walking the dog with some kind of super hardcore Russian SAS person with muscles on their muscles.  Then I’ll get a pair of op-shop heels and glue them over the top.  The PVC was a bit expensive, but there’s really only one place in Australia that had it and I only need a metre for my scrawny pins so it’s not that bad.

Then the only thing will be the sword, Bankuze.  It’s basically a big white katana with a fancy cross-bar (no idea what you call that part on a katana, and behold my apparent inability to google it).  The internet has many which are expensive, not super great-looking and of dubious customs-passability.  I’m contemplating how hard it would be to make a passable Bankuze-like-object out of cardboard or papier mache or plastic or something.  Satsuki doesn’t even usually bother to unsheathe it unless she’s fighting Ryuko anyhow.

 

Any Excuse Will Do…

As in pretty much any excuse is good enough for me to make a dress.  And a very, very long post, so schedule loo breaks now, ladies and gentlemen.  This is an actual transcript of the conversation that happened between Logic Brain and Soprano Brain:

Logic Brain: Liederfest is coming up.

Soprano Brain: So it is!  QUICK!  TO THE SEWING MACHINE!

Logic Brain: Errr……. shouldn’t that be ‘to the practice room?’

Soprano Brain: Oh poor foolish Logic Brain.  Surely you realise that there’s no point in practicing for a competition if I have nothing to wear.

Logic Brain: But you do have things to wear.  Why not wear that dress you wore last year?

Soprano Brain: Because I wore it LAST YEAR, duh.  How passé!  The reek of bad technique clings to it like the stench of burning rubber to a smoke-tainted wine.

Logic Brain: Stop it.  You’re getting carried away.

Soprano Brain: This year’s dress shall be bold!

Logic Brain: Are you even listening to me?

Soprano Brain:  It will necessitate an extravagant trip to the Fabric Store!

Logic Brain: You can’t really aff-

Soprano Brain: IT WILL BE LIKE THE ARMOUR OF A VICTORIOUS KNIGHT AND SHINE AS A TESTAMENT TO MY AWESOMENESS!

Logic Brain: Fine, whatever, I’m not talking to you when you’re like this.

Now really, I’m sort of on Logic Brain’s side here. I only have nine days to whip this thing up in, and I will not be sacrificing practice time to do it (seeing it’s Liederfest, not Seamstressfest).  I have other dresses I could wear.  The main problem is that I made a massive rookie error on my break at work the other day and spent most of it drooling over the Christopher Esber website, oogling masterfully-cut, ridiculously beautiful garments I will never be able to afford.  I also rummaged through my wardrobe with a friend deciding on clothes for photoshoots the other day, and was palpably disappointed at the lack of badassness therein.  Everything’s a bit frumpy, or a bit dainty, or a bit vintage, or just too… safe.  Which I know is what adjudicators-of-a-certain-age/the Opera Police* tend to go for, but it’s not how I want to represent myself, and I want to have the sort of stage wardrobe where I feel like I can grab anything that’s weather-appropriate and just feel right in it, Opera Police be damned.  If you don’t feel like you’re offering up yourself on stage, you can’t expect the audience to feel a genuine connection with you.

So I had a think.

lefouImafraid

Le Fou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…

I examined my current daytime performance dresses with a critical eye. There’s a grey cuoprene/silk Alpha 60 dress for summer, a black Viktoria Maine for winter and a rust-coloured Victoria Maine for in-between.  The rust one’s pretty stained and gaps badly at the CB neckline (also I feel about 40 in it, which isn’t how 24 year olds generally want to feel), the black one is nice to wear but a bit underwhelming, and the Alpha 60 one requires tape (which isn’t great when you go to put it on and then realise you can’t find the tape, and then have to rush around madly in the 40 minutes before your Masters recital trying to find something else that you can wear to perform in 35 degree heat without flashing anybody.  True story).

DSC_0320DSC_0321

Classic case of party at the back. Super-deep-cut armscyes, ergo tape.  With a slip it looks suspiciously like some kind of dressing gown.

DSC_0322

This is the one I wore last year.  It’s inoffensive enough.

DSC_0324

I used to like this one.  Now I think it’s boring.

What I gathered from this sartorial navel-gazing were these lessons:

-No boob-tape-dependency.

-No more frumpy/underwhelming.

-Fit is paramount.

When proper designers design things (I imagine, at least…) they think things through carefully.  In each collection, there’s almost a character in their mind; their girl; their muse.  Who are my muses?  What qualities and features and traits do I like?  Who is my girl these days?  I had a look back through my sketch folder at my recent fan sketches, looked at my bookshelf, at my favourite movies and shows – in short: what I’m interested in because I actually like it, not because I feel like I should, or to prove a point – and I noticed a trend.

Basically it boils down to this: my muses are almost invariably Fierce Armed Ladies (and gentlemen).  Buffy.  Anita Blake.   Katniss Everdeen. Shaun Mason from Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy (fights zombies, busts conspiracies) Sabriel, from the eponymous book by Garth Nix (has magic bells). Nimona, from the eponymous web comic by Noelle Stevenson (turns into things, including a SHARK.).  Mr Virgil Tibbs, from the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night (not just a fearsome dude, but also possibly the biggest crush I’ve ever had).  Pretty much every character from Norihiro Yagi’s manga Claymore (the basic plot is: genetically-altered ladies hit monsters with swords whilst questioning their humanity).  Even the characters I invented in highschool to indulge the rather niche combo of rococo fashion and dragons now help to fuel my love of rococo fashion… and zombies.  The dragons got dropped at about year 10.

DSC_03

Princess Sharianne slays zombies now.  My boss thought I was a tad disturbed for drawing this on my break.  And now, dear internet friends, you have the opportunity to find me disturbing too!

Hell, even the singers I like best have an element of steel to them: Billie Holiday is still my favourite singer ever, and she was one fierce lady.  There’s no amount of Edda Mosers singing die Hölle rache that will ever replace Billie for me.

So the dress must reflect these influences whilst still being appropriate stagewear and not tremendously offensive to the Opera Police.  So the list of direct influences had to be narrowed down a bit, and mixed in with some proper fashion.  The final cut was:

– Christopher Esber, for this shape:  It’s like a rococo waistcoat and yet somehow armour-like.

Esber

From his AW13 collection.

-Dion Lee for the futurism, and how his designs remind me a lot of the wetsuits from Catching Fire; there’s a sort of action/functional look to them (even though body-con dresses are never really very functional).

dion_lee_1 dion_lee_2

Also via the website. Watch out, the homepage makes noises.

-The suits from Claymore.  I’m nicking the CF and CB seams, because they’re quite distinctive and not often used in these sorts of dresses, and also the colour scheme.  I want my dress in grey/white/silver.  Plus a bit of emphasis on my gigantic man-shoulders probably wouldn’t go astray.

DSC_0332

From my very own copy of Vol. 4.

This is the design I arrived at:

DSC_0318 DSC_0319

After a bit of sleeve editing and fiddling, I got the toile to the following stage, over a RTW pencil skirt (the skirt’s going to be the easy part, I say flippantly now, probably to my later regret).  It looks very wrinkly and wonky mostly because I had to pin myself into it with great difficulty.  In the real deal there’ll be a CB invisible zipper, which I can do now because I FOUND MY ZIPPER FOOT!!! HOORAH!!! As far as actual flaws go, the collar needs more building up, the ‘shoulder protectors’ need reshaping (it’s my first attempt at a raglan sleeve; once again I’m trying to run before I can walk), and so do the front and back waistcoat tails, and the bust darts need moving.  But hey, it’s a toile.  Corrections are what they’re for, right?

   DSC_0340DSC_0341DSC_0343DSC_0346

I’m also very proud of my new shoes.  They’re pointy.  And taxi-coloured.

*Opera Police: a friend of a friend recently used this term to refer to the stuffy, usually middle-aged and older self-appointed gatekeepers of operatic validity, taste and propriety.

Oh wow, oh yay!

I just got nominated for a Liebster Blog Award by Montana Designs!  (If you haven’t read her blog, btw, get over there and do it NOW.  If for no other reason: she recently knitted a super kawaii hat with ears on it, and not just that – she sews too. Awesome with a capital A) And it certainly has brightened up my weekend! 😉

liebsteraward

Well pip-pip-hurroo and how’s your uncle!

*unsubtle Blackadder reference*

Liebster Blog Awards are designed to share the love of blogs with less than 500 followers, (I’m just counting it as WordPress followers, not facey likes or anything, fyi, because I’m a soprano, ergo numbers confuse me) with these rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
3. Nominate 11 other followers with less than 500 followers
4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
5. Tag your nominees & post a comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them
Here are the 11 questions Montana Designs gave me:

1. Why did you start crafting?

Because clothes are expensive and ill-fitting.  At least if the ones I make don’t fit me, I can only blame myself, and as a soprano on a budget it’s better to spend $150 on silk for a completely unique, structurally-sound, exactly-how-I-want-it gown than have to go to a store and spend $500+ on a lacklustre, polyester thing that needs 5″ taken out of it before it’ll fit right.

2. Would you consider making a business from your crafting?

Eek no!

3. What other hobbies do you have?

Drawing (constantly), drinking litres of tea (also constantly), eating, wallowing in my favourite trashy novels, nerding around with manga, anime and board games, growing scraggly vegetables, pretending I’m wildly fashionable, and patting other people’s cats.

4. What music do you like?

For singing: Puccini (when I can sing this thing without stopping to cry…) and Berg (hang out for the high D at 2:04).  For listening: French Baroque music.  For thinking: Webern (it starts at 0:50). For general awesome: The Rite of Spring (this video has an animated graphic score, which is mesmerising)

5. What films are you into?

Anything so long as it’s sci-fi, Western, horror, animated, related to superheroes or has Arnie in it.

6. Favourite colour and why?

Orange.

DSC_0206

Because Rupert.

7. Where are you from and what’s interesting there?

I’m from a small town called Berry on the South Coast of NSW, Australia (oh hi, stalkers!).  It has scenery, the fragrance of cowpats, too many tourists on the weekends, and Rupert.

8. Who inspires you?

Pretty much everyone I know.

9. Who do you craft for mainly?

Myself. Because I’m selfish.

10. What do you like making the most and why?

I like making things that are challenging for me, or that have a couple of new techniques in them that I can dive right in there and suss out.

11. What really annoys you and why?

Rude entitled ‘special snowflake’ customers at work.  The Stompy Boots of Entitlement don’t look good on anybody, especially when you pair them with the Oversized Cocktail Ring of Rude, the Pants of Flagrant Privilege or the Muumuu of Misdirected Whinging.

So without further ado, my 11 blogs are:

1) Bryce Halliday.  I know this is more of a website than a blog, but the more people know of Bryce the better.  I went to school with him and he is one hilarious duck.

2) Creating Miranda. The food posts get me every time, my keyboard has so much dribble in it.

3) The Patient Cook.  You are also to blame for my dribble-clogged keyboard.

4) Aesthetic Contradiction.  If I could wear latex on stage and not get mugged by elderly audience members, this is where I would get it from.

5) Women on the Shelf.  Because women write stuff you should read.

6) Bobbins and Whimsy.  Sewing, wit, wisdom, cats… what more do you need?

7) The Pragmatic Costumer.  Because we all need more pragmatism, and the result she gets with even the most minimal materials is enough to make any theatre or opera costumer weep with jealousy.

8) Tanit-Isis Sews.  If you’re wondering how to take a Big 4 vintage pattern and then make something so completely individual and awesome no-one will believe you used a pattern, this is how.

9)  Thanks! I Made This Myself. I have the deepest admiration for anyone who quilts.

10)  Matt’s Mutterings.  Ponderings, wonderings and general cogitations from a maths-mad friend of mine.

11) Ashlee’s Costume Closet.  This ain’t just cosplay, this is seriously amazing costuming.  I wish I was her.

HOORAY!

My questions for you are as follows:

1) Cats or dogs? (or armadillos?)

2)  What was the last book you read? (graphic novels count)

3) Who is the best Doctor?  (non-Doctor Who fans, just give this one a miss.)

4) What is your favourite global cuisine?

5) Which is your favourite season?

6)  In the inevitable zombie apocalypse, which five people would be on your dream survival team?

7) Whose shoes would you like to spend a day in?

8) Coffee or tea?  (or neither?)

9) If you could gain instant proficiency at/afford any musical instrument (that you don’t already play, musos amongst you), what would you pick?

10) Thoughts on David Bowie? (gosh I’m getting desperate for questions now, aren’t I!)

11) What is your standby go-to meal to cook when you don’t have anything in the cupboard and feel flat as a tack?

Have fun with those and share the love onwards 🙂

Skirting the Issue (geddit? Skirting?)

Eighteen days since the last post; two new skirts.  Plus a shirt toile, but it’s nowhere near ready to be seen by the good folk of the internet yet.

The first is a mini with pockets, made from a cotton twill (so essentially denim) fabric that I found in the Nowra Spotlight of all places, which was surprising because it has an unusual and quirky horse print on it:

DSC_0300

Construction was pretty basic, just the standard  mini pattern I made when I altered the lace Jigsaw skirt, only plus pockets and flat-felled seams, and minus lining and a fair bit off the bottom.  The pattern matching is… passable.  I tried for perfect but I was a bit too impatient to achieve it.

It’s not one I’ll be riding a bike or climbing a tree in, but at the same time it’s definitely not the awful nearly-a-mini-but-not-trying-hard-enough frumpster length that I was complaining about many moons ago on another post.

DSC_0299

Frump it hath not.

DSC_0298

But pockets it hath in spades.

The other skirt is, to put it bluntly, a knockoff.  I saw a vintage organza Chanel skirt in a book and remembered the 6m of black (sadly polyester) georgette that’s been languishing in my stash since a friend gave it to me after a de-clutter at her gran’s.  I also had various scraps of black opaque silk left over from sundry projects, and one very short metal zip.  Because the polyester frays like a son of a bitch, construction was more of an issue, so I went with what’s basically an 18th-century petticoat construction: i.e. rectangles sewn together at the selvedges (woohoo!  No fraying and no finishing?  I think we can call that a win.) and then gathered into a waistband.  Only, I added a zip-side fastening and to kill frayage at the hem, I added a black silk facing that I turned to the outside and whipstitched down by hand.

It doesn’t look much like the original inspiration garment, in retrospect (I couldn’t find a photo on the internet), but it still looks pretty interesting, and offers up various opportunities for layering.  Or not, if one feels daring.  Transparent skirts have been floating around a number of designers for quite a while now, and aren’t unheard of in RTW either (although, I must offer up a prayer of thanks that I no longer see those impossibly vile mullet-cut ones from Supré around anymore.  WHY WERE THEY A THING???).  One of my favourite ever Vogue covers featured Bella Heathcote in a translucent-skirted Christian Dior dress, there was plenty of inspo floating around – Dries van Noten, Nonoo, a particularly risqué Jean-Paul Gaultier – and of course there was Jennifer Lawrence (on whom, along with the rest of the universe, I have a gigantic lady-crush.  Can’t you tell?) in that transparent dress last November.

Here’s my version styled with a black pencil skirt and, alternately, a blazer and heels, and a scarf and clogs.  Also, unlike all of the inspiration garments mentioned above, mine was effectively free!  All pre-loved stash materials, scraps and leftovers!

DSC_0285

Oh consarn it, the damn thing’s dipping at the front.  Even hemming’s never been a strong point of mine.  Also, I look like my face is made of plastic.  What’s up with that?

DSC_0297

Feelin’ sorta vaguely maybe even a tiny bit French.  Hence wolfishly triumphant grin.

Now for some construction pictures:

DSC_0303

It’s a bit uneven where the zip’s gone in, but that’s my own carelessness at play, combined with the warpy, uncooperative nature of the polyester.  This is why I always splurge on natural fibre.

DSC_0302

From the inside, the whipstitches holding the exterior facing up.

DSC_0301

The one seam in the exterior facing was flat felled.

Finally, some slightly more daring styling: the JLaw-sanctioned bodysuit combo.  Now’s your warning to mosey on outa here if it’s going to be too weird for y’all, though to be honest, I have shorts that are worse than this that I wear in public, it’s just once you reference that a skirt *should* be there, it seems kind of strange.  JLaw’s just too badass for us mere plebs.  I have attempted my most angry badass face to complement the style.

DSC_0293 Sadly I think the badassness would be better complimented by large boots.  Or maybe brogues.  

Now that I’ve fed my inner high-fashion-monster for the moment, time to skulk off and make some t-shirts.

Woah Holiday!

Sorry I’ve been gone so long.  I was visiting my parents, who now have wi-fi, so I could have posted, but to be honest I haven’t been doing all that much sewing.  I tried, honestly I did, but barely anything got finished, and then I got bitten by the drawing bug again, which sealed the fate of the small herd of UFOs that’d been generated the week prior.  But anyway.  The full story:

The night before I left to go home, I stayed up stupidly late trying to get a dress off the ground for Mum’s birthday party. (Probably her first.  She’s not big into parties.)  That was a dumb idea for two reasons: firstly I’d only just as in literally that day moved all my stuff downstairs into a new room – one of my housemates had just moved out and we play musical rooms when this happens. Secondly, I had to get up at 5:30 the next morning to catch a flight.  Long story short I managed to finish the dress just in time for Mum’s party, but not before I also (stupidly stupidly) started two skirts and two tops, only one of which is actually completed.  The casual assumption that in the holidays there is this magical thing called ‘time’ is so very very wrong.DSC_0281

Ignore my grumpy frown.  Camera was being frustrating.  This was the first not-massively blurry photo of the lot.

It’s nothing special, just a basic fitted-bodice+pleated-quarter-circle-skirt thing with a back zip and a bit of trim.

DSC_0282

With a bow instead of a hook and eye because there weren’t any hooks and eyes at home and I was not bothered to buy any.

DSC_0283

Such tired.  So grump.  Wowe.

The fabric is a crisp, mid-weight cotton with a cute zodiac print. Drumroll for close-up:

DSC_0284

Also, the edges are bound with some sheer stuff from the stash that’s just been pinked at the edges:

DSC_0285

It looks a bit hairy, unfortunately, and requires occasional trimming.  But it’s interesting, and that’s what counts.

I’ll resist the urge to post further about the UFOs until they’re actually in a state to be posted about.  I’ll also resist the urge to post too much about the elf costume I bodged together for my sister for a Hobbit-themed party, apart from saying that is was a simple matter of adding sleeves to an old formal dress from an op shop, and whipping up a cloak up out of a sheet a la Cation Designs.  I don’t have any pictures of it anyway.

What I do have pictures of though are some of the drawings I did in the hols, which I’ll save for another post.  For now, there are pictures of Rupert being his usual insolent self and sitting in strange places.  Enjoy!

DSC_0172 DSC_0178 DSC_0196 DSC_0208 DSC_0210 DSC_0237