Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finished SWAP Blouse

Hi, guys! I know, I know, I'm the worst blogger in the history of forever, but guess what: I have a finished (or nearly finished) product to show you all. Here is my lovely white crepe blouse, made from New Look 6599 View A:

It needs a good iron, and it technically isn't entirely finished, because I need to go over the seams with my serger and put a button on the back, but I just couldn't contain my excitement and had to show all of you. If it looks a little lopsided, it's because my zipper doesn't go all the way to the top, so the back is just kind of flopping and it's being held up by the sheer power of my basoomas and prayer until I get that last button on. I really like the fit of this top; my big worry was that the sleeves would look dopey, but they came out quite nicely. I'm especially proud of the pintucks; I was really scared of them, but they were actually quite easy. I just wish I had known how much crepe ravels before I started this top. I won't be able to finish the seams properly until I get a new needle clamp for my serger, which I am going to order tonight, so that's why there's random stray threads under my left armpit, in case you're curious. I can't wait to get more sewn for my SWAP; I have another almost-done top (which, alack, also needs my serger to be finished) and a partial skirt, so I'm really cranking on these babies. It helps that I only have four classes this semester, too. As a two-weeks-post-New Year's resolution, I will try to be a better blogger for y'all; how does that sound?

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy SWAP year!

Merry Christmas, everyone! So, you know that lovely SWAP plan I posted about a month ago? Well, it's a goner. Not a complete goner, mind you, but at least a partial goner. As I watched Christmas-y things (ok, and not-so-Christmas-y things like the new Star Trek movie) with my family tonight, I was browsing the web and kept finding lovely things about Steampunk, and my little brain started a-whirring. For those of you unfamiliar with the term (as I was until recently), steampunk is a style of clothing (and, for some, a lifestyle) that combines old-fashioned, Victorian styles with a mechanical sci-fi tech of such things as time machines, dirigibles and ray guns. It usually looks a little like this:

Isn't that cool? As those of you who read this have probably figured out by now, I really like Victorian-styled clothing, and I really like sci-fi, so this style is a natural fit for me. As such, I'm moving my SWAP towards a steampunk feel, with lots of buckles, hook-and-eyes, keys, and gears. (I've got my eye on a large set of watch parts on eBay right now, as a matter of fact.) I'm ditching the blue and making it gray, black, and white, with one plaid that has a hint of brown in it. But never fear-it won't be boring, I can promise you that!

I'm actually not starting sewing on my SWAP until January 5th, because I'm going to Atlanta tomorrow to visit my lovely distant cousins/best friends, (Hi, Cody and Suzanne!) and I won't be back until the 3rd, then I'm going to stay with my brother in Denver for a day to do a little shopping and have some fun together. That's ok, though, because unlike the last SWAP plan, I won't be able to just pop color in some pattern line-art and call it a day- I'm modifying/inventing almost every pattern I'm using in this SWAP, so I'm going to hand-sketch and color in all of my designs. It'll be a great way to kill time on the plane, and I might draw the designs on cute little chibi characters just for the heck of it. I haven't drawn in a while, and once I started sketching out ideas for this SWAP, I was surprised by how much I had missed it, so y'all might be getting some crazy-elaborate art pics serving as a storyboard when I get back from Georgia.

How crazy am I about this idea? Well, here's a picture of one of the skirts I want to copy:

I really, really don't like installing zippers. They kind of scare me, so I avoid them whenever possible. In the past, I have made fitted non-stretch woven dresses without a zipper. This results in the necessity of painfully pulling them down over my boobs while sucking in and completely displacing my strapless bra (if the dress requires one) in such a way that I have to reach down and pull it back up lest I go through the day looking like I have mutated and sprouted a second pair of bosoms somewhere about my bellybutton every time I put it on-just so I won't have to put in a zipper. And yet, here I am, really, desperately wanting to make a copy of a skirt that has not one but three completely unnecessary zippers. Installed in LACE, yet. And I'm actually looking forward to making it! Yes, I am insane. But you all knew that already, didn't you?

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Fabric, And More SWAP

This Tuesday, I was on extreme tenterhooks, waiting for the UPS truck to come so I could get more fabric-yay! Everything (well, almost everything) looked even better than I expected, so that was very nice. Here it is:

This is a beautiful pale lavender embroidered cotton eyelet, and its sister fabric in light yellow. As much as I love winter (Velvet! Snowball fights! Hot cocoa and Christmas!) , springy fabrics like this always make me long for warm days where I can flutter around in a pair of cute sandals and a light dress, no cardigan or thick tights necessary. I just got a really lovely New Look sundress pattern that combines two of my favorite elements, surplice bodice and princess seams, and I'm really feeling it for the lavender. For the yellow, I'm leaning towards a fifties-style dress with scoop neckline, cap sleeves, midriff band and full skirts.  

This is a great satiny stretch jacquard. The images on Fabric.com showed it as more of a red-on-black, but I actually like the brown a little better. I'm thinking this is very much a sixties dress, with a boat neck and slim skirt- a simple style to better showcase the elegance of the fabric.

These are both what Fabric.com called "Lamour Dull Satin"- they are lovely and heavy, with a very subtle sheen to them. Not at all shiny-tacky, like cheap satin. One is nude, the other silver. The silver is going to be used in my SWAP- it coordinates really well with my other fabrics, contrasting nicely with the blues and complementing the grays. I think I'm going to be replacing the stripy grey and shiny purple-gray with it and the gray crushed velvet I got at JoAnn's Black Friday sale- those were nice, and I'm definitely going to be using both of them in the future, but these cool gray fabrics fit a little better with my plan than the others, which had reddish undertones that might have clashed with some of my blues.

This is the only one of the bunch that was a little disappointing; it's called "Caribbean Interlock Knit", and it's quite a bit thinner than I thought it would be. It is, however, a very pretty color, and very soft- I'll probably make a casual dress or a nightshirt or something out of it, and I can always use it for lining fabric if that doesn't work out.

This isn't fabric per se; it's actually a very large, '80s style blouse I thrifted for $2 from Downtown Duds in Brush. However, the fabric is wonderful, matches with my SWAP perfectly, and I just couldn't pass it up. I don't know yet if I'll try to make a whole garment out of it or just use it for an accent fabric, but either way it is very cool.

Now I know some of you out there are probably saying, "Yawn. More pictures of fabric and yammering about plans. Does this chick ever actually sew anything, or does she just buy fabric to look at?" Well, I do indeed sew actual garments, I just am not very good about getting pictures of me in them. I know some people use their sewing dummies, but mine belonged to my great-grandmother, and it's not in such a pretty condition that I want to post pictures of it all over the web. I like seeing pictures of garments "in action" so to speak, and I refuse to do crappy mirror pics with flash whiteout, so I have to get other people to take them for me. (My brother is a professional photographer and I can't figure out how to use the self-timer on my crappy little Nikon. Go figure.) I also have done a lot more thinking about sewing and planning what I want to sew than actual sewing in the past few months, due to the fact that I'm a senior in high school and juggling college classes, scholarship applications, and loads and loads of activities, leaving me not nearly as much time to sew (and blog about sewing) as I would like. A lot of my stuff is winding down, and I'm hoping next semester will not be nearly as busy- so I hope I will have more time to devote to doing the sewing that I love, and sharing that with all of you. In the meantime, thanks for bearing with me and my irregular blogging, dreaming and scheming- I promise it will pay off into real projects soon!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fabric Extravaganza

Hi, all! No, I didn't die, I promise- I've just been super busy the past couple of weeks.  I'll actually post real project photos in the next couple of days, because my brother the photographer is out and I'm going to bully him into taking pictures of me. I really do sew things, I promise; I don't just post pictures of patterns and fabric. It's just that it's easier for me to get pictures of the patterns and fabric than pictures of me in the finished product. In the meantime, may I make amends for my long absence by posting pictures of the loads and loads of fabric I bought today at the Black Friday sales? As well as a couple of really awesome thrifted RTW items I snagged at Arc Thrift in Greeley? That's what I thought. First off, they had their flannel prints for $1.50 a yard (!!!!) as a doorbuster at JoAnn's, so I went kind of wild:

It has giant music notes! Giant rainbow-colored music notes! It is awesome. I don't know what I want to make with it yet other than it will be a dress. 

More giant music notes, this time in brown on ivory. I got four yards of this, because I really want to make another version of Vogue 2960, with big brown buttons. (I'll post pictures of my striped version I made for the Forensics meet soon, I swear!) 

And here is one with sleepy frogs on it. I think another dress, possibly one of the '60s style princess-seamed, moderately full-skirted New Looks I've bought in the past few days.

And this one has the best of both worlds: frogs and music notes! I didn't think such a cool fabric could exist, for fear that it would rupture the space-time continuum with its sheer awesome, but it does! Yes, I am dorky enough to think that fabric with frogs and music notes is the coolest thing in the universe.

This one isn't a flannel print: it's a cotton print that was on clearance for $3 a yard. There was only about 1 1/2 yards, so I'm going to make it into a short, ruffly skirt with some black lace trim. It is awesomely girly,and I lurve it muchly.

This was the most expensive fabric I got today; it was on sale for $5 a yard, normally $10. I got 2 yards, and I'm going to make a blouse out of it for my SWAP, since it fits my colors and will let me have a relatively easy pattern to match, since one of the requirements is matching a pattern and my only patterns are abstracts that would be hair-tearing-ly hard to match.

Finally, my last fabric from JoAnn's was this gorgeous black lace, $2.50 a yard with a 50% off coupon. I don't have a specific plan for it, but I can always use more black lace in my wardrobe. Apologies for the crap picture, but lace is really hard to photograph and I'm lazy. :)I also got three colors of crushed panne velvet, red and black to make dresses and silver to make a blouse. I didn't take pics because I think you all know what panne velvet looks like, and see above about my laziness.

I also got two fabrics at Hobby Lobby. This is a great little white/blue stripe I want to make into a sweet Lolita dress, probably New Look 6699.

This is a lovely, sort of wooly baby pink/black plaid that's also destined for a Lolita dress with lots of ruffles and cute buttons.
And, because this post wasn't long enough already, here is some of the great RTW I snapped up at Arc, where practically everything was 50% off:

This is a long leather skirt that I got for $12.50, if you can believe that. It looks a little lame in the picture, but so truly awesome on. I intend to wear it with lots of Victorian style blouses, including the above dragonfly fabric one once it's made up. It's so very steampunk vampire hunter, I think that the combination will make me feel completely badass!

Lovely lace-lined blazer from Plato's Closet, that was only $6. Since the thought of making a lined jacket or blazer makes me break out in hives, I went ahead and snatched it up, since I had been longing for one for ages.

These were my two biggest steals of the day, even more so than the leather skirt. The top is a black lace formal with red beaded trim, floor length with spaghetti straps. I'm going to have to do a little surgery on it, since it is very tight in the bust- I'm going to separate the bodice lining from the outer lace and add some extra black satin panels to give myself some breathing room. The bottom is a silk suit with faux pearl beading- it has an ankle-length skirt and matching jacket. It is very elegant, and I think it will be great for future job interviews and other times when I need to impress people. They were $10 apiece, and both in pristine condition- I don't even want to think what either one cost originally! Tune in tomorrow for some excellent vintage patterns I picked up for a song at Arc as well. It's kind of a pain in the butt digging through the cramped bins of awful '80s patterns to find a couple of good ones, but so worth the effort when you get some real gems.

Monday, November 16, 2009

SWAP Part 2

Ok, so it's a day later than promised, but here are some of the fabrics I'm planning on using for my SWAP. After browsing through my stash, I changed my mind about my color scheme. I found some really lovely blue and grey satin-types, so rather than black, white, royal blue, and red, it's black, white, royal blue, navy blue, and a couple of complementary greys. I think this won't be quite as splashy as with the red, but a little more elegant and sophisticated. I hijacked my mom's computer to get the pics uploaded, so here they are:

This is a royal blue crushed velvet. I'm going to use it to make the blue corset top with the drapey sleeves. The picture really doesn't do it justice; the color is much richer and it has the most heavenly texture. Unfortunately, I only have around 1 1/2 yards of it, (it was a remnant) so I needed this fabric to complete the top:

It's just a simple, cheap black sheer from Wal-mart. I'm going to use it to do the side panels and the sleeves. I was thinking about using some black lace, but I decided on the sheer so that the velvet would receive the attention it deserves. It has a nice, subtle sheen to it, so it will look dressy enough to be paired with the velvet but not make the top look fussy.

This is going to be used for the frilled blouse that is red with blue trim in the storyboard. Again, pictures don't due it justice: the colors shift from steely grey to blue-tinted to red-tinted as you look at it in different lights.

This is a pretty black print that will be used for the black blouse with red trim in the storyboard. I am simply going to sub out the red trim for a soft dove grey and it'll be gorgeous.

This is a simple navy-blue satin that I will use for the button-down blouse with the ruffled collar. I've been wanting a nice button-down for a while, and I've never made one before, so I'm really looking forward to constructing the garment!

This is a really lovely white print satin with roses and polka dots on it. I'm going to use it to make the white tiered skirt, though I think I will just put black trim on it rather than the colored, since the colored might limit its use, since I'm pretty anal about stuff matching.

This is a faintly pinstriped silvery grey satin that almost feels like taffeta. I'm going to use it to make the gored skirt that's red in the storyboard, and as an accent fabric in the blue velvet corset top if I need it.
The other fabrics I'm using- plain white, blue, and black satin and black velvet- aren't really worth posting pictures of- I think you all know what those look like! I can't wait to start sewing these items- sewing begins December 26th, but pinning and cutting can be done beforehand, so I might get started pretty soon here. Right now, I'm doing a new dress for my second forensics meet in Strausberg on Saturday- I'll probably post about it tomorrow or Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

SWAP Ya For Some Blouses and Skirts

This year I've decided to take the plunge and participate in Stitcher's Guild's annaul SWAP, or Sewing With A Plan contest. More than anything I'm doing it to force myself to sew some blouses and skirts, something besides dresses. :) I will need some separates for when I go to college, so I picked a plan that would allow me to sew coordinates- six tops, four bottoms, and one "your choice" piece. I never really thought of myself as a SWAP person, mostly because the directions given when I googled it seemed staid, boring, and pretty much entirely opposite to my personal style and sewing philosophy. However, when I looked at some of the SWAPs Stitcher's Guild members have done in the past, and saw the beautiful and unique garment sets that came out of it, my mind was totally changed. I've been wanting to add more Victorian and Lolita-inspired pieces to my wardrobe, so I figured this was a great opportunity to do so. I browsed through my stashes both fabric and pattern, pulling out pieces that I thought would work together well. I actually have all but one of the patterns in my stash, and the one that needs to be purchased is a New Look, so it shouldn't exactly require a large financial outlay to get it. I might need to invest a little bit in fabric if I decide to change my mind about the color scheme, but that remains to be seen. Here is my plan as it is now:

A lot of my focus is going to be on trying new techniques and using things I have never used before, like boning, hook and eye tape, and corset lacing. I'd go on and on, but it's midnight and I probably ought to go to bed. :) Tune in tomorrow for some pictures of my potential fabrics and some more discussion about my plans to start SWAP 2010!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Sewing Success

Arrgh! I can't believe it's been over a week since I posted, but time flies when you're filling out scholarship applications and going to Forensics meets. I did as I had threatened earlier and made Vogue 2960 out of my striped fabric, and I think this is my first solo project that I can basically say was an almost unqualified success. Other than a tendency for the straps to slip off my shoulders (which I think will be easily remedied by deepening the darts in the back by about 1/4 inch apiece), the dress was awesome- it fit really well and I had so many compliments on it at the forensics meet! I wore a homemade petticoat underneath to properly plump the skirt out, and looked appropriately retro. I'll get some pics this weekend and borrow my mom's computer (with cardreader, which the machine I am currently on lacks. My other laptop has been in the shop for FOUR WEEKS, and every time I call they say they're still looking for a part...argh!) to upload them. I wore it with a semi-sheer peasant blouse underneath, which turned out to be a mistake because the blouse was too small and the elastic bisected my armpits all day. Which might not sound so bad, but the bus left the school parking lot at 5:30 A.M. in order to get to the meet on time, and by the time the meet was done, we got supper, our bus broke down by the side of the road at 9:30 at night and the district had to send another bus 50 miles to come get us, and my mom and I finished our 25-minute drive home from town, it was a LONG day to have elastic bisecting your armpits! Oh, well- I looked and felt really good all day. One of the judges even wrote on my score sheet "Rockin' Dress!" I was one point away from sixth place (which is, of course, where they start handing out awards!) and got an "Excellence" ribbon. Considering this was only my second time doing Creative Storytelling, not too shabby! It was an insanely fun day and I wore an insanely fun dress to match it.

I'm already plotting my dress for the next meet, in two weeks. I like performing in a dress I have made for myself- I feel like I am 100% me, and that certainly helps my confidence when performing! When you are given prompts like "Mr. Clean and Pigpen from Peanuts are street corner preachers trying to convert each other", "A high school choir and football team work to put on a beauty pageant that garners national attention", and (my personal favorite) "Elvis and Michael Jackson meet in a Starbucks and plot to take over the world", you have to have as much confidence as you can get! All of the above prompts were the ones which I personally performed on Saturday. Others included "Cinderella and Snow White make peace in Iraq" and "Hermione Granger discovers that Harry Potter is actually Lord Voldemort in disguise." Creative storytelling is not for the faint of heart! Neither, I discovered, is wearing a nylon net petticoat for close on 18 hours. Note to self: wear long bike shorts with petticoat next time.