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The Tailor's Daughter by Janice Graham is a novel that takes place in Victorian England in which a young girl deals with disability, death, her place as a woman in 19th century society and her calling as a tailor following in the footsteps of her father. Janice Graham goes into great detail in the backroom goings-on of a tailo,r throwing out jargon like she, herself, grew up a tailor's daughter.
Superfine wool: (see red coat above) This is a type or degree of Merino wool. The term Superfine is used to describe diameter of each wool strand and not the quality of the wool itself. Superfine is a thin, soft wool fabric typically used in evening or special occasion gowns which is why Veda decided to use it for Mrs. Truelock's mourning gown.
Crape: (also known as Crepe) is a thin, opaque fabric that resembles gauze but is most often made from wool and silk and lately polyester and blends. In the Victorian period crape was most often made into dresses or formal wear for mourning or feast days. Crape has a great deal of body and had some stretch but also wrinkled very easily which was why it was reserved for special days and the wealthy.
Moire: Although typically linked with silk, Moire is a treatment and not a type of silk like Dupioni. Moire gives a water like effect on the surface of a fabric. It can be applied to cotton, linen, silk, taffeta. There are two methods of achieving a moire. The first, changeable, is not a proper moire but gives a good enough imitation to be called moire. It is the process of weaving the warp one color and the weft another color so that the color changes in the light and the watermark effect is more noticeable in the sheen. The second is called Calendaring and is an actual treatment, not a weaving, in which the fabric is folded in a specific pattern and pressed with ribbed rollers to produce the water streaked effect. Moire silk is highly prized because of this expensive treatment.
First, let's start with leaves to accessorize your skirt. To make this pattern, I simply folded a standard letter-sized sheet of paper in half lengthwise, and cut out the shape free hand. I know it doesn't exactly look like a leaf now, but later on, we'll add a little tuck to give the leaves shape and dimension.
I used my pattern to cut out 8 copies in blue stretch charmeuse -- it matches the yoke tier of my pettiskirt. I also cut 8 out of dupioni. The leaves are reversible, so I can always flip them to show the silk side. The dupioni also adds a little body to the leaves. Just charmeuse on its own would be droopy.
I sew each charmeuse piece to a dupioni piece, leaving a small opening so that I can turn the leaves. I just use a discrete straight stitch on the sewing machine to close the opening, but if you prefer to keep your stitches 100 percent hidden, you can hand stitch the closure.
Once each leaf is turned and ironed and stitched closed, I add a buttonhole at the top of each side of the leaf. This doesn't have to be very exacting -- because of the way the leaves are attached to the skirt, a little variance is no problem. My buttonholes are about 5/8 inch, but yours can be smaller if you prefer. They just need to be wide enough to comfortably pass a ribbon through.
Here is what each leaf looks like with both buttonholes in place:
After the buttonholes, I make a small pleat in each leaf and tack it in place with my sewing machine. I'm using white thread to make things more easily seen here, but this stitch will be mostly covered anyway, so again, no need to be exacting.
Open up your buttonholes, and then use the ribbons we attached at the waist in the last post to attach your leaves. I pull both ends of the ribbon through two overlapping leaf edges. Then, separate the ribbons and tie bows using one ribbon from each side of each leaf.
Once all your leaves are in place, you won't be able to stretch the waistband out, so put the skirt on before tying the last couple of leaves in place. And voila! Your skirt now looks like an upside down flower. The color possibilities are super fun to play with here. While this version is more or less monochromatic, you can make green leaves with almost any color skirt, or select a color that will mimic your favorite flower!
Now, what's a fairy without wings? These wings are an inexpensive way to custom match your entire outfit.
It all starts with four wire hangers. If you don't have any lurking in your closet, check with your local dry cleaner. Some cleaners will charge you a tiny amount, some will just give them away -- especially if you're a customer!
My wings will have four parts. For the top two pieces, I didn't even untwist the hangers. I used them as they were, and reworked the bends so I had the shape I wanted.
For the lower two pieces, I first straightened my hangers out, then I shaped them into simple loops. Your wing shapes are only governed by your taste! Make them any shape you desire!
To cover the wings, I used knee-high stockings purchased from the drugstore. All four stockings needed for this project cost me all of $1.00. You'll be stretching one stocking around each wing section.
Once you have your stocking stretched around your wire form, clip off the excess stocking near the base of the wing.
Next, pull the end of the remaining stocking in two pieces, and tie them into a double knot to secure your stocking.
Once you have your wing pieces covered, time to decorate! I used a little Mod Podge around each edge, then covered my sticky areas with glitter, shaking off excess and working in sections. Remember to use a container or paper plate under your glitter efforts so you can return the leftovers to the jar! Once my edges were done, I painted on a design with Mod Podge and applied glitter the same way, then I added some crystal embellishments with my hot fix applicator. I didn't have any problems using the hot fix rhinestones on my stockings, but it's a good idea to pre-test on one of the pieces you cut off, just to be safe. An unintentionally burnt fairy wing is heartbreaking.
After my embellishments were in place, I joined all the uncovered ends of my wing pieces together and tied them with leftover stocking pieces. Of course, you'll need wire cutters to cut your wire pieces to be more or less even in width, and it's a good idea to use some of your stocking scraps to cover all the wire ends for safety.
After I tied everything together and got all my wire ends smoothed over, I used a scrap of my charmeuse, cut on the bias, to wrap the whole thing. I secured the ends with hot glue. I also used this step to tuck the tie-ends of my stocking pieces in.
After I have the middle section secure and wrapped, I use organza ribbon to make a series of long streamers that will hang down the back, and then I tie pieces long enough to tie around my arms so I can wear the wings.
For those occasions when full-size wings aren't practical, you can always make mini-wings!
I quickly sculpted this pair out of 12-guage wire, and covered it with leftover pieces of stocking from the full-size wings.
Once again, I used Mod Podge, glitter and crystals to decorate the mini wings.
I cut a single flower from a scrap of organza rosette ribbon to trim the center.
I sewed a quick look out of grosgrain ribbon to match the width of the wings.
Then I hot glued the ribbon to the back. Now I can use hair clips or safety pins to attach my tiny wings to almost any shirt!
I hope this gives you ideas for how you can create custom fairy finery of your own! Let your creativity fly and have a blast this Halloween!
So, I decided to sprinkle a little pixie dust in the sewing room and create some fairy finery.
I decided to start with a pettiskirt. A couple of years ago, I made this pettiskirt in black. In the time since then, I've made quite a few others, and I have refined and altered my approach a bit. I still use the same tiered construction with a wide center strip that folds in half to form the casing for the elastic waistband, but now I have two layers of identical skirting so the pettiskirt is reversible, and I add a 2-inch wide ruffle of fluff at the bottom edge. This is similar to the ones that are often made for little girls, and I think it is SO fun. You really get plenty of swing.
I started with blue nylon chiffon tricot. I LOVE that it comes in 108-inch wide cuts. That means I don't have to cut as many strips to make a skirt, which is ALWAYS welcome news.
To start cutting, I fold the fabric onto itself a couple times, so that I can quickly cut strips with my rotary cutter. Because this fabric can be slippery, I line it up as best I can, but then I just true up the end by cutting it.
Tier one: 4 8-inch wide strips
Tier two: 7 8-inch wide strips
Hem ruffle: 20 2-inch wide strips
I don't fret too much over perfection on these. All the ruffling hides most sins. Here are my three piles all together:
Once the pieces are all cut, I start ruffling. If you have a good relationship with your ruffle foot, this project could whiz right along. I find I have problems working with sheers on my ruffler, so I gather by hand on my machine.
I just gather and gather and gather, layering strips together at the ends instead of joining them with a seam.
I assemble it all as one loooooooooong piece, and then I cut that piece in half at the mid point to create the two separate layers of skirt. For me, this saves time, because I can just crank everything out while only having to keep track of three piles of strips, instead of separating them into six piles. However, if you prefer to work with smaller pieces, that's fine, too!
Once I have all those ruffles together and then split into two, I attach them to the waist section, which I cut from the charmeuse. It's one piece, 16 inches wide, and I cut it the full width of the fabric. Then, I sew one set of ruffles along each raw edge, and sew a seam that closes up the circle, stitching from one hem up to what will become the waistband, and then back down the other side, all in one long seam. Next, I fold the satin at the middle and stitch a 1-inch deep casing for my elastic (remember to leave a small opening so you can insert the elastic!). This is what it all looks like from the inside:
Here's a tip: I don't really worry much about getting all the layers to math up perfectly in length before I sew them together. I gather all the pieces, stitch the tiers together, and if any piece is longer than another, I just clip it right off. When assembling the tiers all as one piece before splitting into two layers, I still end up with two perfectly even layers of ruffles. The only time I really make sure I match up is when I attach the layers to the waistband/top tier satin.
So, I cut 8 pieces of sheer organza ribbon to match my skirt, each 28 inches long.
I stitched the pieces of ribbon down along the waistband of the skirt.
The distance between your ribbons will vary depending on the waistband you need, so I just try to distribute them evenly.
For now, you can let your ribbons dangle or tie them in sweet little bows.
Help your kids make their own super hero costume by first whipping up a pair of solid colored tshirt and pants combo using a Kwik Sew tshirt and Oliver + S knit pants pattern. Next, follow Martha Stewart's basic costume instructions on turning this basic emsemble into a superhero's bread & butter!
The creative types over at Spoonful.com have a huge selection of kids costumes both quick and fun. I love the Princess Fairy Costume. My little one isn't into princesses but she has plenty of pals who are. Their moms are always asking for great ideas to create their own instead of buying the plain or low quality big box store versions. I would gladly recommend this adaptation as well as showing them Fabric.com's amazing Tulle selection.
For this lovely Flower Costume from Parenting.com all you really need is some great felt. Our Rainbow CraftFelt is a green fabric (as in good for the environment) that you can feel good about your kid wearing and playing with until they outgrow the costume. This pattern uses found and recycled articles from your kid's wardrobe and makes them floral with huge felt petals. It looks like a lot of fun that older siblings can help out with!
Atlanta is having an unusually delightful September -- much cooler than normal! This drop in temps has me hoping for a chillier than usual Halloween, and just in case my wish is granted, I thought I'd prepare with a jacket to keep me warm but still in the spirit of the season (my absolute favorite time of year). The female castmembers at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion attraction have adorable little green jackets to wear in the winter that have fabulous batwing collars, and I thought it would be fun to make my own version.
I started with green and black upholstery velvet. This was mostly based on color -- the green available in the upholstery velvet was my favorite of all the green velvet options. Since this jacket will be a little costumey, I also like the sheen on the upholstery velvet.
The jacket is pretty straightforward, but I wanted to share the pattern alterations I used along the way. It's so simple to tweak a design to make it something truly your own -- if you've never done so before, I highly encourage you venture outside the pattern envelope and do some experimenting.My standard jacket pattern is actually a Frankenstein version of various pattern pieces I've used, liked and copied through the years. It's somewhere between a tailored jacket and a barn jacket, and I usually just tweak it for any given occasion. It's rather similar to this Indygo Junction pattern. But it has a neckline that's cut for a two-piece collar, which is not what I wanted for this project. So, first, I had to cut the front neckline to have a gentle sloping edge, as shown below.
I'll come back to the collar piece in just a moment.
I wanted a finish to the sleeve similar to the ones I so admire at my favorite Disney attraction, so I cut the sleeve with a curved notch at the bottom, and I cut matching pieces in my black velvet to applique over the bottom edge to create the cuff.
I basted the black overlays into place (a little tricky with the nap of the velvet fighting me), and then treated it as one piece going forward. The bottom edge is finished by the seam that joins the sleeve lining, and the top edge of the appliqued piece gets covered with trim.
Here's the collar piece on its own, so you can see the shape. It's cut on the fold. Because this fabric has a good body on its own, I didn't interface it. I just stitched it to the lining along the curved batwing edge, turned it, and set it in at the neck line.
And here are all the pieces together, in jacket form. You'll notice these sleeves are a little shy of full length -- I want the option of basting in a ruffle later if the mood strikes to more closely emulate the Haunted Mansion costumes.
This is how the cuff detail turned out. I hand stitched the braid in place, because all the layers were making my machine fussy. I could have applied the braid before closing up the seam, but I wanted to avoid the bulk at the stitch line,
This is the back of the collar (in need of a little more steaming!).
I am now ready for some real-and-for-true autumn weather this Halloween! Whether I'm taking a walking ghost tour through the cemetery, visiting a pumpkin patch or taking a hay ride, I know I'll be cozy. I'm now wondering if I could adapt this jacket to having some sort of elfy or poinsettia vibe for the holiday season ... hmmmm ....
I often am surprised and amused when talking to people about costumes or showing them photos. There are so many reactions of "Those are really nice -- they're like normal clothes!" I think that people who don't sew are only exposed to the costumes in large party stores or temporary Halloween shops -- when they see a costume piece that's made as well as any other garment (often much better), it sort of blows their minds. And there are so many Dragon*Con costumers doing work that's really high quality -- so I wanted to share one with you.
The dress I'm featuring here is a recreation of a costume from "Titanic" -- Rose's dinner dress. The costumer is my dear friend Dawn, and she really did a spectacular job on this project. She started off using a pattern as a basis for her custom pattern, and then heavily modified it. The salmon taffeta is from Fabric.com, of course. That lovely black overlay with all the embellishment? It's custom draped by Dawn, and every single bead and sequin is sewn by hand. Every. One.
Dawn estimates she spent roughly 150 hours on embellishment alone, and it shows.
Every detail is attended to, right down to the decorative pin on the front of the bodice.
Dawn wears this dress so beautifully -- she is the epitome of grace and elegance. She's also the perfect ambassador for costumers, showing couture-level style in her recreations of film pieces she loves. I hope I get to see her wear this piece again and again, but knowing Dawn, a new creation will dazzle me first!
You really have a harder time finding people in street clothes than people in costumes at this show. It's so fun to see all the hard work people put into their sewing and craft projects -- just to be able to play dress up for a weekend and share their passion with friends and strangers. It's really what makes fan conventions magical.
I thought our Fabric.com readers might enjoy a look at just a few of the great outfits I was lucky enough to see this year, so here we go ...
This first pair is from a video game series called "Kingdom Hearts." I'm a huge fan -- I played the first title relentlessly for hours on end -- so I was thrilled to encounter these two in the hotel sundries shop.
Next up is a really impressive Xenomorph from the "Alien" movie series. This should give you a sense of the dedication that goes into fan-made costumes. This is not a costume you can just purchase -- each element of the exoskeleteton is hand made.
How cute is this classic Batgirl? SO CUTE. Every detail is just perfect.
All of the armor on these three custom robots is hand made. That's an iPad lodged in the chest plate of the largest 'bot. So cool!
The next two photos are for my fellow blogger Tara. She's a fan of the "Wheel of Time" book series, and while I was initially worried that I would never recognize the right costumes for her, the Saturday morning parade came to the rescue! There was a whole group of them, carrying "Occupy Shayol Ghul" signs and not even showing how hot they must have been in the late summer heat.
This is an instance of a costume that's tiny -- made for a hand! This Kermit puppet is made from basic materials -- fleece and ping pong balls -- but the end result is nothing short of magic.
Two lovely ladies in 18th century finery. The diversity is another thing I love about Dragon*Con -- you'll find gorgeous historical gowns with loads of handwork right alongside all the robots and Jedi.
There were numerous versions of Effie Trinket from "The Hunger Games" at this year's gathering, but this was one of the very best.
I hope this little tour gives you a taste of what the Dragon*Con is like. For every photo here, there are thousands -- literally thousands -- of other beautiful costumes that I didn't capture. I also can't give you full picture unless I can somehow simulate the huge crowds you have to work your way through to see everything, but it's always worth it when you run into something that makes your eyes widen and inspires you. I already have my project list for next year!
In my next post, I'll share close-up photos of a Titanic reproduction gown to give you a sense of just how much work goes into one of these costumes. Stay tuned!
*Special thanks to Dawn Murphy for the last three photos in this post.
When I first found out I was pregnant back in January, one of my first objectives was maternity/baby items search on Etsy and wouldn't you know what the top maternity item was at the time: Hospital Gowns. Apparently moms are tired of looking washed out and plain in these first pictures with baby. New moms want to look as fabulous and glamorous as they do every other day, despite the fact that they are in a hospital. So the market for designer hospital gowns took off. I put a designer hospital gown at the top of my "To Make" list, found this pattern by Lazy Girl Designs and quickly decided on my fabric. I choose Spot On Mini Dots Navy Quilting Cotton for several reasons:
1) I love polka dot right now and it works well with everything. I certainly don't want to clash with hospital issue receiving blankets should I forget to swaddle my little one in my own first.
2) Navy is a good color for me; It won't wash me out.
3) Navy should be easy to wash because, let's face it, this gown is going to get dirty. I don't want to ruin 3 yds of Amy Butler fabric and I don't want to spend my first few days at home trying to rescue my hospital gown with delicate washings to remove stains
Now you may think why would you spend all this time on a gown you will wear once? Well, just like your wedding gown it is mostly about the pictures that you will cherish for a lifetime and you want to look good! But also after careful thought I figure that I can wear this gown many times the first few weeks or even months. It will make a great nightgown until baby gets a night time schedule. It will make night feedings that much easier and comfy. I can certainly wear it at home the first few days until I am feeling better. And afterwards I can use the fabric to make a memory quilt or some other small project. This pattern only required 3 yds of Designer Quilting Cotton so making your own is cost effective and fun!
Even more appealing for all you non-pregnant folks out there is that this free pattern is not a maternity hospital gown but just a regular hospital gown pattern that can be adapted for maternity use. I cut mine out with two left sides for the back and it fits me perfectly being 8 mos pregnant. You can make this gown for any loved one with an upcoming hospital stay. It is a great way to brighten up what is sure to be an anxiety-ridden adventure. My only changes would be to recommend lowering or widening the neckline. It is a lot too modest for me. Not that I want to look like a vixen in the hospital but I don't like my neckline crowding me. I like to have plenty of room around the neck in case I sit on my gown funny or it gets pulls accidently. I am going to lower mine at least 3'' and make it into more of a scoop neck just for the extra room for movement in the hospital bed. I do love how this pattern does away with all the gathers and frills of most maternity gowns. I enjoyed only spending a few hours on this pattern instead of several days. As stated earlier, yes I want to look good but this is not a wardrobe staple so I want to invest just enough time to look good with it being a time suck. The Velcro at the shoulders was a blessing over the snap tape I see in most hospital gown patterns. I want the quickness of Velcro over the precision of a snap. I also used self fabric to interface at the shoulder seams for looks and added double folded trim at the shoulder edge and neckline. I cut six 1 yd 2'' strips from the scraps cutting out the gown and pressed 4 of them into double folded trim. The two strips I didn't press I pinned RS together on my shoulder edges and stitched on. Then I pressed the seam towards the gown and folded the trim towards the gown and topstitched in place (see picture above). Then I added the Velcro. I omitted the button because I am not really sure of its purpose but I can always add it later. I also serged the sleeves, back edges and bottom hem to save time and because I just received my new serger and I am LOVING it! I was also able to use the remaining strips as back ties. I will add one more to just above the rump so I don't have my bottom poking out when I walk around.
Overall, I really enjoyed this pattern. It was quicker than I anticipated, looks more fabulous than I expected and it comfy, comfy comfy. I recommend it for any expecting mom or hospital go-er!
Thank you Lazy Girl Designs for your wonderful pattern!
Halloween is fast approaching and I need to hurry up and get ready. This is my favorite holiday to decorate for because anything goes. This year I am going big and stuffed. It might be my nesting urge but I want to surround myself with large-eyed, soft items that are super cute and maybe a little spooky. To start my Halloween decorating off I created this giant, soft, stuffed spider that was an instant success among the 3 yr olds polled at my house. It also turned out really well according to me. I wanted something I could strap to my door, hang from the ceiling or pose on my table and it would be instantly noticed. With bigger items you need less so you can decorate faster and enjoy more. Also with small children, dogs or clumsy family members, stuffed decorations are prized over ceramic any day.
Here's how to make your own Giant Halloween Stuffed Spider.
1 bag of poly stuffing
Scraps of felt and 2 buttons for eyes
1 dinner plate for body template (no smaller than 9'' and no bigger than 12'')
1 thread spool for eye template
Cut eight (8) 4''x 24'' strips from your fabric for the legs. For the body trace your plate onto your fabric for the top body piece and then trace half the plate twice to make 2 semi-circles for the bottom of the body.
Fold the each leg in half along the length, RS together and stitch across on short end and down one long end. Clip corner and turn RS out. Repeat for 7 remaining legs. Stuff each leg, leaving a 1'' gap at the open end. Baste open ends closed.
Place a pin or mark top of head on top body piece and beginning pinning legs onto top body piece starting 1 1/2'' from this mark and spacing each leg ¾'' to 1'' apart, 4 legs on each side. Baste legs in place. Pin semi circles of bottom body pieces to top body piece lining up seam with top of head mark/pin. Stitch around body using a ½ seam allowance, letting the legs hang out of the opening left by the 2 semi-circles. Turn body RS out and stuff. Stitch bottom body opening closed with whipstitch.
Trace your spool twice onto your felt and cut out using pinking shears. Sew button onto each felt circle and then stitch felt circle onto spider's head using whipstitch.
With spider RS up, fold leg in half and ½'' down from the fold stitch the leg together to create a spidery bend in the leg, stitch at front and back of the leg. Repeat for 7 remaining legs.
You can opt to add more embellishments like embroidery, a red hourglass or a small loop in the seam at the backside for hanging. The possibilities are vast. Couple your spider with my knitted spider's web for the ultimate in spider Halloween decorations. Don't forget to share your pictures on our Facebook page!
This edition of the "From Screen to Closet" series goes out to all the men in the house (and the women who sew for them)!
Over the last couple of weeks, I've posted about my dress prep for 100-year anniversary Titanic parties. But of course, I'll need my handsome escort to join me! I'm lucky to have a husband who is totally up for costumed events. He has a couple of late-Victorian suits, so after a little discussion, we decided on a brocade Edwardian dressing gown for him.
A quick historical note about this particular fashion trend. Gentlemen of the era really would come home at the end of the day and change out of their suit jacket into one of these dressing gowns for the remainder of the pre-bedtime evening. The trousers, shirt and tie were still worn under the dressing gown. As the fascination with all things of the Orient was at a fever pitch in this era, I have a sneaking suspicion that many a gent fancied himself as the perfect emulation of the Emperor of China in his fine brocade robe.
The beauty of this project is that it starts with a basic bathrobe pattern -- Kwik Sew 3177 is a perfect candidate. It's nice to be able to put together a menswear project without having to worry about tailoring!
I really only made five changes to the pattern:
-- I added a breast pocket in lieu of patch pockets.
- -- Instead of the banded edge to the robe opening, I cut a basic shawl collar out of velveteen.
- -- I added velveteen cuffs to the sleeves.
- -- As mentioned above, I lined it.
- -- I made bias tape out of duchess satin and ran it around the edge of the belt tie.
Behold, my handsome husband, ready to enjoy a snifter of brandy in the lounge.