Holly: September 2012 Archives
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.
In a previous blog on fascinators, I described how I create a base for each design by singeing the cut ends of two pieces of grosgrain ribbon, and then stitching the two pieces along each long edge to create a tube. The tubes can be any length -- different sizes work for different designs -- but they have to be wide enough for a headband to slip through for wearing. I like to make a handful of these tubes and have them at the ready so I can just be creative and flow from one project to the next without stopping.
For my first bit of Halloween finery, I started with a length of spool tulle (say that three times fast), and gathered it with my machine so that one side of gathers was shorter than the other.
Next, I glued the gathered tulle to a doll's hat. I've mentioned before that starting with the tiny chapeaus made for dolls (I usually get mine at a craft store, rather than a toy store) is one of my favorite tricks for speeding up the process of making fascinators. I'm using hot glue in these photos in the interest of time, but craft glue also works great.
I recently found some really fun skull beads at a novelty store, and bought them without a plan for their use. But now is their moment to shine! I glued eight of them around the crown of my mini hat.
I wasn't loving the way the tulle was sticking out from the hat, so I decided to carefully fold it under, leaving the fold well past the edge of the brim, and then I tacked it down with glue. I carefully worked all the way around the brim this way.
To finish, I glued one of my grosgrain sleeves to the underside of the hat. The hot glue shows on the underside, but since this hat is small and will sit right against the head, it won't show.
And voila! A little bit of haunt couture.
The second design started with a scrap piece of white crushed chiffon that I cut on the bias. It's about 4 inches wide, and I gathered it at the sewing machine, and then glued a grosgrain sleeve to the back of it .
Next, I added a piece of Riley Blake elastic lace trim (I am in love with this stuff) and a small scrap of gimp braid.
With the addition of three novelty spider rings -- I cut the ring portion off the backs with kitchen shears -- it becomes a gothic maid's cap. I like how the spiders blend a little bit with the background, so people might not notice them until they're up close.
Last year, I made a ballgown witch dress that used black faux foliage as a trim. I had several leaves left over, so I decided to put them to work.
I glued the leaves on in layers to one of my grosgrain sleeves. I find that with silk foliage and hot glue, I have an easier time applying pressure from the back than from the top. Saves my fingers from getting too hot!
Another novelty store find -- tiny bone hands. I think I paid $3 for a dozen of these. I glued them right on top of my leaves.
A simple black satin ribbon bow, and I am ready for a creepy night out!
If you're like me, you have a drawer full of odds and ends of lace and ribbon. In an effort to use some of these scraps up, I grabbed a length of black lace and gathered it into a circle with a running stitch.
I glued my circle to a base with a loop of ribbon on top of it ...
... and added an eyeball to complete the look!
My last fascinator started with a leftover white lace loop gathered into a circle just like the black one above. What I really wanted for this one was a bat. But none of the bats I had on hand were quite right, so I drew a little bat onto a piece of Presto felt and then adhered it to the back of a scrap of black velvet. Then, I cut the velvet around the felt bat. The adhesive keeps the velvet from fraying for light use.
With the bat layered over the lace, and a couple of hotfix rhinestone eyes, my fascinator is complete! I have been wearing this one around the house because I like it so much!
Now, I'm feeling very ready to celebrate right up until the big day!
I hope you're inspired to raid your stash and create something uniquely you for the Halloween season! If you do, please be sure to share with us on Facebook!
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 actually assembled this pillow both with and without the trapunto approach so you can see the difference in dimensionality you can achieve with this method. Both of my pillows are made with upholstery velvet, so other than the difference in the detailing, all things are equal on these two.
For the first, non-trapunto version, I sandwiched two layers of Warm & Natural cotton batting between my velvet and my cotton backing fabric, and stitched the design through all layers to create the front of the pillow. This creates a very gently quilted look. Cotton batting is not as high-loft as some other batting choices, so a high-loft poly batting will give you a little more depth to your stitching.
For the second version, I assembled as directed in the pattern, stitching the design through the velvet and backing fabric, then cutting small slits in the backing fabric and gently stuffing in the details with small bits of batting. As you can see, this version has much more dimension -- the details on the leaf really stand out.
Here are both pillows together again so you can really see, side-by-side, how differently they turned out from one another. I like them both, but I really love the sculptural look of the second one.
This is also a good gift project. If you know someone who loves the great outdoors and likes to bring nature inside, you can easily customize these to match any decor. Since they're autumn-themed, you might have to give out holiday gifts a little early so the recipients can get full use out of them right away!
Ready to try your hand at these dimensionally-detailed pillows? Download the free pattern here, grab a half-yard of your favorite home dec fabric and get started!
One of my favorite movies of 2011 was "The Artist," without a doubt. It was such a beautiful, charming film, and the clothes -- to die for! It's no wonder it won the Oscar for costume design. I love love LOVE 1920s style, but it's not always the most flattering on my figure -- I'm definitely an hourglass, and my bust line and hips make it tricky to achieve the lean, boyish look that was so vogue in the Roaring '20s. Lucky for me, the accessories are just as fun as the garments!
After the third or fourth time I watched "The Artist," I had developed a major itch for a velvet cloche to mimic Peppy Miller's style. Now that we're heading into fall and velvet is one of the "it" fabrics of the season, it seemed like the perfect time!
I dug through my ridiculous pattern stash (seriously, I need to inventory sometime), and found this pattern from days gone by that seemed like a good start. Kwik Sew 3481 is another great pattern for this project.
I mentioned already that I used velvet for the hat, but of course, I wanted a fun, contrasting lining. I used a scrap of blue taffeta that I had on hand. One of the best thing about hat patterns is the opportunity to use up some stash and have a little fun when it comes to lining!
To trim my hat, I wanted a pretty jacquard ribbon, and I was smitten when I saw this black and white peacock trim. Just the perfect touch of deco flair!
Assembly time for a project like this is fairly short -- count on 2.5 to 3 hours, give or take. Perfect for a rainy afternoon or a quiet evening at home.
I will be wearing this hat all through autumn and into winter. I love its simple lines, and the velvet makes it feel a little luxurious without being fussy -- I know I can still wear it with cords and a blazer.
Don't forget: October is breast cancer awareness month. I know many seamsters like to make chemo hats to donate, and as I was working on this project, I thought it might be nice to really strive to make super stylish hats this year. I always think about comfy and cute, but I don't always focus on elegance. Who wouldn't want a velvet hat? Long after chemo's over, it can still be worn just for style.
I also can't wait to accessorize this accessory. I have a number of sparkly pins that I'm sure I will rotate as an adornment for this little number. And I'll dance through the cooler months, feeling like Peppy Miller!
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.