Apparel: October 2010 Archives
Since we're so close to Halloween weekend, I wanted to close out with an all-too-familiar last-minute scenario:
We've all been there. You find out hours before a party that it's a costume affair. Your child or spouse promised someone that you could absolutely make them a cape for that play... and forgot to tell you until the dress rehearsal. Or, life got busy and robbed you of costume prep time before Halloween.
Fear not! Even when you're in a crunch, you can churn out a quick costume piece that will earn you awed gazes from your fans and admirers. I can usually bang one of these out in about 90 minutes, which includes interruptions from my pets and my beloved. Once you have the construction down, you can really churn them out at a rapid pace.
What you need for this is a sizable piece of fabric -- I grabbed a piece of flocked taffeta I had left over from a costume several years ago that added up to about three yards. You want enough that you can cut 2 decent-sized squares out of it.
Ready, set, go!
1. Cut your fabric into 2 squares, one larger than the other. You will likely want to cut them as large as you possibly can. Mine are 40"x40" and 60"x60"
Note: for my larger square I had to piece it from 2 pieces which were 60"x30" so if you don't have a full square, you might be able to creatively build one.
2. Fold your squares in half, then in half again along the first fold to make smaller squares.
3. Locate the corner of the first square where both folds pivot. This would be the center of the original piece of fabric if you were to unfold it.
4. Use a yardstick to measure the side of your square, then pivot the yardstick at the fold point described above and mark that same distance from one corner of your folded square to the other side, so you create an arc of marks.
5. Repeat the process above using a radius of 3" -- this will create the neck circle.
6. Cut both of the arcs your created with your marks. You should have a circle with a hole in the center of it.
7. Repeat steps above for your second square of fabric, marking the radii of the full length and neck circle and cutting along both lines.
8. You will need to cut along one fold of your fabric to create an opening in the circle.
9. If desired, finish straight edges and large lower arc of your circle. I used a quick and dirty rolled hem. For non-fraying fabrics or for costumes where a rough edge is acceptable, you could even skip this step.
10. Lay smaller circle on top of larger circle, right sides down and matching up neck edge.
11. Stitch circles together along neck edge.
12. Flip smaller circle out to the right side.
13. Set a piece of ribbon between the two cape layers and machine at front edge of both sides of cape. This both attaches the ribbon and hides the neck seam.
14. Press if you wish. Your 2-layer cape is done! Go trick-or-Treating! If you want to go fancy schmancy, you can always add a bit of trim for extra sparkle!
The Kwik Sew Decorative V neck Top is a great pattern. Not only does it live up to its name, Kwik Sew, but it was easy. This pattern came together in about 3-4 hours including resting the fabric, measuring, cutting and sewing. I was most pleased at how quick it really was. On my initial read through of the instructions I was pretty confident it would be a fast project but you never know once you get into a pattern and this was my first Kwik Sew Pattern experience. I think the real time save was the seam down the middle of the front of the shirt. This short cut doesn't detract from the style or hang of the shirt but it does make it super easy to attach the ruffle. The ruffle pattern piece also helped to quicken the pattern. It is in a spiral shape so the ruffle is created in the cutting not in gathers. I was so excited when I saw this. I also appreciated the construction method of this top, similar to that laid out in Sew U: the Home Stretch.
The Mods: I used a very light weight rayon jersey. It is not quite a tissue tee material but it is slippery with a lot of drape (very like slinky) and SOFT. The drape posed some problems with construction and especially with pictures. I suspect the knit used in the envelope pictures had more weight and less drape. I like the look of both. I have to say that the shirt feels like a dream, looks amazing and fits better than I had imagined. I didn't modify the pattern too much but I didn't want to make what was already displayed on the envelope. I added bracelet length sleeves. I wanted the ruffle shirt but with cold weather incoming the need for a sleeveless shirt is a long way off. It was really easy and I was please that the sleeves from View A fit View B's pattern pieces. The only change I made was to take 6 in. off the bottom of the sleeve. This does make me wonder why there are 2 different pattern pieces for view A and B. The neckline is low but not self-consciously low. It is flattering and comfortable. It will also look great with a lace edge camisole underneath. This ruffle shirt also looks great under an open jacket. The ruffle can soften a military style jacket.
As you may have heard around the school yard, tulle can be a little persnickety to work with. Think of it like approaching a feral animal -- you want to be confident and in charge, but keenly aware that of its unpredictable nature.
Here's how I make a quick, adjustable tutu:
- Cut a length of scrap ribbon 5-7" larger than the intended wearer's waist. (This will not show on the finished product.)
- Cut a piece of tulle 4-5x longer than the your ribbon, and twice the length you want the tutu to be. 5x will give you more volume, of course, but if you need to economize, 4x works, too! My pieces are 5 yards long and 54" wide.
- Cut as many pieces of tulle as you want layers in your tutu. 2 works but can be a little anemic. 3 is better, and 4 gives you pretty good opacity, depending on the color you use.
- Fold your tulle in half lengthwise so each piece is 4-5x the waist ribbon length and the desired length of the tutu, double layered.
(I like to use our 54" tulle because I can leave the fold in it just as it comes, there's a good color range, and the length is good for an adult tutu. If you want to take a shortcut and don't mind wasting a little bit, you can do the same for a child, maintaining the center fold and just trimming the length.)
Once all your layers are cut...
-Mark the center and quarter points on your ribbon.
-Mark the same points on each of your tulle pieces. I use a Sharpie at the fold line, as it will be hidden by the waist band in the finished garment.
-Gather your first layer of tulle to match the marks on the waist ribbon, using your gathering method of choice. I like to use a plain old needle and thread, gathering with a running stitch and machine stitching down one quarter of the waist band as I go. I have incredibly bad luck with ruffler feet and tulle (I always end up shredding the tulle to pieces), but your mileage may vary.
-Once your first layer of tulle is stitched, repeat the gathering process with the second layer, and the third and fourth of you have them!
-Try on your tutu and check the fluffiness levels. Adjust as needed. I like getting a feline opinion. (Ozzel approves.)
-Once your tutu skirt meets your requirements for voluminous glee, cut a piece of grosgrain ribbon that is 2x the length of your waist ribbon, plus 2-3"
-Stitch the grosgrain down the inside of your previous ribbon. I make 3 rows of stitching to compress all that gathered tulle as much as possible.
-Trim any pieces of gathered tulle that are sticking up past the top edge of your grosgrain waistband.
-Take the long remaining portion of the grosgrain ribbon and fold it to the front side of the waistband to encase the original ribbon entirely. Stitch it at the top and bottom edge, folding in and extra so no raw edges show.
-Sew a series of snaps or pieces of velcro to the waistband to close your tutu. I used a scrap of snap tape I had lying in a drawer. (You should have some overlap, so you can adjust the waist slightly if needed on future wearings.)
That's it! Your tutu is fluffy and dreamy and ready for twirling - plus, it can expand if you eat too much candy corn!
Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones
I bought Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones as soon as it hit the stands, long before I was expecting my own little one, because I loved InStitches so much. The projects are ADORABLE and rated for difficulty (which is a blessing when pregnant with limited energy). Amy puts her signature style on baby items to help modern moms feel stylish, cool and totally unmom-like. I have completed a few projects from this book and so has my mom. The patterns are typical AB patterns, easy to follow, clearly written and sometimes a few surprise finishes that are fantastic. My two favorite projects have to be the Cute Baby Booties and the Modern Diaper bag.
I made the Modern Diaper bag when I was about 8 mos pregnant and was nearing the end and was nesting. I knew what I wanted in a bag and what I didn't. I supposed it would have to be big. I did not want black plastic that screamed diaper bag. I wanted a modern shape, lots of pockets (I have an affinity for pockets and drawers). After the cursory Google search for patterns, I went through my book stash. It had been a while since I purchased the book and had forgotten about it. As soon as I be held this bag, I KNEW it was the one. Maybe a half a day of cutting and sewing later and it was complete. I was even more in love it with than the pictures led me to believe. I immediately began packing it with wee baby clothes and sundries. (I ended up over packing as I later discovered) This bag made the trip with me to the hospital and has faithfully followed me ever since. We have successfully transitioned from tiny baby, to crawling and now walking/running toddler. This bag has carried everything and then some.
My second and perhaps most favorite are the Cute Booties. These were made around 7 mo of age, just as she started crawling. My little one didn't care to get past the army crawl for sometime because once you can go why learn a new way. This mode of propulsion was the demise of many a good pair of socks. She wore the toes out in less than a week. That coupled with the fact that she often crawled right out of her socks, I knew I needed something more. Once again I turned to my library and found the perfect solution in Amy's book. I cut 2 pair right away. The fluffy cushioning is just right to keep tiny feet padded and warm. The shoes are easy on and easy off and virtually unshakeable. The compliments these shoes garnered were also amazing. I had request from many non-parents for these booties in their size and many parents offered me great sums to make some for their kids. I have since retired the first pair but I have made several in graduated sizes since. The girl is too big for the given pattern sizes but thanks to my copier, I have managed to enlarge my pattern pieces and create more. They are really great for shoe-less homes, cold mornings and chilly nights when the footed Pjs are in the wash.
This book is a must for parents and non-parents alike. The patterns are easily adapted to adults, childless homes and when you are in need of a great shower, niece/nephew, or godchild gift.
It's a staple of a Victorian wardrobe, but it can also be used for all kinds of dress up fun: the bustle skirt! Fairies, princesses and even fancy female pirates can all use a good skirt with some pouf to it. And the best part? This is a shockingly easy project!
This is a great project for all kinds of fabrics. I used a striped home dec fabric, but silks and taffetas are also fantastic. Whatever you love that has a bit of body to it. I would not recommend this projects for lightweight or sheer fabrics.
You will need to cut three identical pieces for the skirt front and skirt sides, similar to the diagram below.
Line 1 = ¼ your waist measurement
Line 2 = the distance from your waist to the floor, plus 5"
Line 3 = 3x the length of line 1.
The 4th piece you need to cut (which will form the bustle) is a simple rectangle. I used the full 60' width of my fabric, 2 yds long. If you would like a less ample bustle, you may reduce the measurements to suit your taste.
- Sew your three front and side pieces together. Since they are all identical, order is of no concern.
- To attach bustle, stitch it flat to the side pieces 5" down from the waist, and 12" up from the bottom, leaving the rest of the seam open for now. You should have a longer amount of the bustle piece left loose than you do the side piece. (I had a remaining side length of 24" on my skirt side, and 56" of bustle left.)
- Pleat or gather the remaining bustle fabric into the seam. I like to use binder clips to hold the pleats while I test for placement. Once you have things the way you like, stitch 'em down!
- Repeat pleating on opposite side of bustle, matching pleats/gathers to the first side.
Turn your skirt right side out. You're probably thinking "I made a big wadded up tube!" and to some degree you're right. But now we will sculpt said tube into skirty awesomeness!
- Leaving your three skirt front and side sections flat, pleat the bustle in at the waist to reduce it to the size of your waist, leaving approximately 9" unpleated and loose at center back. This is a time when a dress form or similarly-sized friend is indispensable. Again, my love of binder clips shows.
- Baste waist pleats into place.
- Cut a waistband out of any scrap of fabric long enough to encircle the entire waist of your skirt. I used a scrap of satin cut about 3.5" wide.
- Use this waistband scrap to encase the waistband. Stitch the waistband to the the skirt, right sides together, all the way around the circle of the waist opening. (For a nice, clean finish, fold in the raw edge of the waistband where you start stitching. )
- Flip the remaining waistband fabric to the inside of the skirt and hand or machine stitch it in place.
- At the center back of the waist, sew in a heavy-duty hook and eye. Yes, you'll still have 9" of waist fabric flapping around with no tether.
- Fold remaining waistband fabric to form two even pleats across center back. Sew skirt hooks onto waistband to secure pleats. Now you can put on your skirt and it won't fall off!
To form the bustle - (here's where patience and play meet):
- Sew 3 30" pieces of grosgrain ribbon at the waistband of the skirt so they dangle free inside the skirt. Attach one at each skirt hook, and one on either side of the center back closure.
- Using safety pins, tack your skirt fabric to the grosgrain ribbon to create the bustle shape. Fold and billow your fabric however you like - there are no hard and fast rules for this!
- Once you have your fabric bustled to your ribbon, be sure to put it on a dress form or friend to check the shape and placement. What looks good flat on a table doesn't always translate on a body. If you're like me, it will take several passes to get things where you want them.
If you like the ways things are looking, lock it down! Stitch the fabric to the grosgrain and remove all safety pins. Cut any excess ribbon that dangles past your last bustle point.Try on your skirt to check the length, then hem either by machine or by hand.
Voila! A Bustle Skirt!
There are many places you can go from here. Add trim if you like. I cut about 300" of 7" wide bias and pleated it to make the two rows of ruffles pictured on the sample garment. Trim is always a fun way to really customize a piece like this one. You should also feel free to change the method of bustling if another makes more sense to you. Make a shorter version for a less formal feel. Remember, this is your creation - have a ball!
This is my first year making my daughter's Halloween costume. Last year, she was so small that I just took a store bought costume and embellished it. You can see it here. This year she is walking and active and I knew it was time to start making her costumes. I should explain that as much as I love dressing up for Halloween and as much as I have been looking forward to helping my kids go over the top with their costume choices, I don't want it to be a huge hassle, work or lead to crying/tantrums of any kind. That is my ground rule. Knowing that I picked a Pj like costume last year so she would not be uncomfortable, I would not have to wrestle her into something weird and she could go about her life as usual which for a 9 mo old was sleeping and eating. Now almost 2, her life consists of RUNNING, pulling dangerous items off counters, pull puppy tails and RUNNING. Knowing that I took the inspiration for her costume from her nightly routine. After bath each night, we have enough time to throw a hooded towel on her head before she runs off. Of course, Little Red Riding Hood came to me and it was perfect. It's a super cute costume, obvious (No explaining to every neighbor who little red is) and as unencumbering as I can get while still dressing up. The cape is short and in an organic cotton jersey, so it is soft and won't get in her way. The hood and cape will also keep her warm should Halloween prove cool this year. Little Red is also really easy for parents to pair their costumes with.
I went on a deep search looking for the perfect pattern. After weeks of failure, I decided to combine patterns. All the big name patterns had capes that were too long, too big, not in the right size or the wrong hood. I ended up using a poncho pattern from Making Children's Clothes by Emma Hardy (pg 100) which gave the short, swingy cape I wanted with the side seams I was looking for. I used the hood from my own Baby Carrier Pattern because it was the size I wanted and was made for knits fabric. I decided to add some ruffles to really send this costume into cute overload. I added a 2.5 in ruffle around the edge of the hood and down the front of the cape. I also added a woven ribbon along the bottom edge of the cape. The poncho pattern called for lining but after I added mine it really changed the drape and swing of the cape so I think I will remove it.
I started by tracing my pattern onto freezer paper. This was because I thought I might have to modify the pattern but I ended up tossing my mods (the pattern cape was perfect!). I used all my collective knowledge of knits (Thanks to Sew U, Home Stretch by Wendy Mullins) and let my knit rest after washing and pressing. I added the ruffle to the hood before completing the hood and sewing it to the cape. I stitched on the lining just along the bottom then added the ribbon before sewing the remainder of the lining on so I could have the ribbon just along the edge without having to measure it. I plan on using a brooch to keep the cape on but I may add a ribbon tie when I remove the lining. The initial fitting of the cape proved that the arm holes I had envisioned (that is why I wanted side seams) were not needed and ruined the fit of the cape. I measured down from the shoulder 4 in. and made the holes 4 in. long. When pinning the side seams I used different pins to mark where the holes were places. The arm hole pulled the cape in at the side and reduced the swing. The cape is short enough that the holes are not needed and the jersey prevents the cape from being a barrier to any toddler play. I also used my walking foot and it has turned my knit-sewing world upside-down, in a good way! I enjoy sewing jersey now and the hassle and frustration is gone! I recommend it for sewing all costumes.
Stay tuned to our facebook page for pictures of the finished costume! I am so excited for Halloween!
- Leggings have become a fashion staple for many. They come in many variations, instead of wearing them in the usual black try them in lace, different denim washes, patterned, leather and metallic fabric. They are ultra comfortable and are perfect paired with cozy knits, tunics and military inspired fashion.
- Military inspired fashions are a hot trend for Fall 2010. This includes cargo pants, military inspired coats, jackets and shirts. Since this trend can sometimes come off as masculine be sure to pair military inspired pieces with more feminine pieces like leggings, skinny jeans, dresses or a skirt.
- Once again animal prints have made the Fall fashion cut! They are perfect for spicing up any outfit. Try a faux fur animal print coat, a leopard print skirt or an animal print blouse, scarf or handbag. Don't be afraid to experiment with different fabric textures and colors!
- A popular embellishments for Fall 2010 is faux fur, which was seen every where during the Fall designer runways shows. Who doesn't love faux fur? It is luxurious, plush and guilt free! So make a fashion statement and look like a million bucks with faux fur! Try a fur jacket, cape, vest or add a touch of fur trim to items you already have in your wardrobe, like the collar of a jacket, purses or boots.
- Pretty, feminine and sexy, lace is perfect for tops, skirts and dresses. Lace is no longer just for special occasions, it can be incorporated into everyday wardrobe for a soft and pretty look. Try pairing a pretty lace blouse with a skirt or putting a lace camisole under a suit for a touch of femininity.
- You will be a fashion goddess in the hottest shade of the season, which is red! From rich deep wine shades to traffic stopping bright and bold reds, it is the perfect accent color for the season. Try a bright red blazer, dresses, skirts, tops, blouses and accessories.
- Try a cape or poncho to add a touch of fashion drama to your Fall wardrobe. Both capes and ponchos were seen all over the Fall designer runway shows. Something as simple as adding a cape or poncho can change the look of an entire outfit. Pair capes and ponchos with skinny jeans, pencil skirts or a fitted dress for a chic and sophisticated look.
- Camel is the new neutral for Fall 2010. Incorporate shades of camel, taupe and khaki into your cool weather wardrobe. These colors are great because you can mix them with just about any color and still look amazing. So if you don't have this color in your wardrobe, this is the perfect time to stock up! The must have camel colored pieces to consider are coats, sweaters, handbags or pants.
Ahhhhh... the corset. So many people have so many opinions about corsets. Just in the time it took for our photographer to snap shots of today's sample pieces, numerous staffers walked by and shared their thoughts, everything from "Hmmmmm.... I don't know," to "I love this!"
I could wax rhapsodic about corsets for days. I love reading books on the history of corsetry. I love seeing antique corsets. I love the way the proper foundation corset makes the difference between a good historical costume and a great one. The back support is pretty fab, too. I would like to dispel the notion that corsets are uncomfortable garments made to coerce one's form into distorted shape. True, there are certainly corsets out there of that nature and they have their enthusiasts, but for the average person, a well-fitted corset should support the body and clothing worn over it, rather than distort it.
I delight in making corsets - everything from steel-boned Victorian affairs to modern poly-boned bodices that are more fashion than foundation. And I firmly believe that every costume collection should have at least 1 (or 10). Wear one over a tee for a funky party look any time of year, wear one under a blazer for a more dressed-up look, or top off a skirt and add accessories for an insta-costume. Versatile and fun, corsets are here to stay, and I couldn't be more delighted.
Most people will probably not want to jump right into making a steel-boned corset, and since Halloween is sooner rather than later, I wanted to offer a few tips on a relatively fast and easy way to get some of the support and all of the style of a boned corset. Vinyl, here we come! Vinyl is usually stable enough that it will give you support and structure without having to mess with boning.
- When selecting a bodice pattern (this Kwik Sew is a gem), choose one with simple lines. Vinyl is tricky to sew fussy seams on, and you really don't have many chances to pick and re-stitch a seam with most vinyl fabrics.
- Choose your vinyl wisely. The stiffer it is, the more structure it will offer, but the more difficult it will be to work with. Just know what you're getting into.
- I highly recommend tracing your pattern pieces to the back side of the vinyl and then cutting along your tracing lines (remember to reverse when you need to cut two of something!). This is about 1000 times easier than trying to keep the vinyl and the pattern paper aligned properly during cutting.
- In lieu of boning, you can stitch grosgrain ribbon to the lining fabric at seams or in any position you wish to fortify.
- Some vinyls will happily accept grommets without tearing. If you choose to set grommets into your corset, I highly recommend using an awl instead of a punch to create the holes. It makes wiggling the grommet into place more difficult, but the fabric retains more strength.
- If you choose to use vinyl to bind the edges of your corset, I highly recommend gluing the back edge in place rather than stitching it. It will add another dimension of strength and will prevent the frustration of trying to hand stitch or stitch-in-the-ditch, which can be tricky.
- If every you find yourself at a point where you have to stitch something with the shiny fashions side of the vinyl against either your presser foot or the throat plate, know how to combat the grip effect! Cover the shiny vinyl with a piece of tissue paper. It will prevent drag while you're stitching, and can be easily torn away without damaging the seam.
If you've got a costume in mind this year that will involve a fitted garment like this, especially out of a fabric that can have some tricky elements as vinyl can, I encourage you to go for it, take your time, and remember - this is supposed to be fun! In your most frustrated moments, take a break and relax - you're making art. Sometimes it's a struggle, but in the end, it's worth it!