Monday, 30 December 2013

disagreeing on the 'joy' of hand sewing

It fairly irritates me to the point of soapbox ranting when someone indicates that if I don't love hand sewing that I shouldn't be making historical clothing.

Had I lived at the time, I've no doubt that I would have had to do that (assuming I wasn't from a wealthy family), but I sincerely doubt I'd have viewed it as more than drudgery.  I like following tech development now, and had I lived in the 1790s+ when sewing machines were being developed I'd have been more than a little excited at the possible end to drudgery ... in respect of seaming etc.

It sounds like the Austrian Josef Madersperger's machine of 1814 might not have been what we today would expect from a machine, but functioned it shows that even then people were looking for an alternative to hand sewing and had made a utilitarian machine.

I find it a little disingenuous for women who have the luxury of not having to sew the entire household's clothing by hand - - and who because of modern cooking, cleaning and clothing methods (even if they sew all their own clothes and cook from scratch) have time to spend hand sewing the occasional garment (ie for rare not everyday use) to imply that those of us who don't find it soothing or meditative or joyful should find another hobby and not sew historic clothing.

How blinkered a perspective. Suggesting I try historical cooking .... when I likely only have access to a modern electric stove!  How can that compare to trying historic food recipes using original methods only ie with only hand tools, open fires or wood/coal fired ranges/ovens.  But using modern cooking tools & equipment is acceptable when it comes to a historic food hobby, but using modern sewing tools & equipment isn't a proper experience.

Phooey, I say. Phooey to snobbery, because that's what it is.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

sewing UFOs checklist

Not as shabby as I expected, as I've finished 6 of my ufos (none from the historical category however).  Sadly I've added one new one, as half made brown wool skirt which I started and got distracted by costumes. As it's now summer here finishing it can wait for cooler late autumn days. I'd like to fossick out the sheers and make/hang them in the next couple of days. The blue skirt will get done before the end of the week - it's not going to lurk past the 2 year mark. That and I really want it for work in a week's time.

I also tossed 2 old UFOs, an abomination jacket. Not the style, the fabric. It was a stretch gaberdine wool but instead of the stretch running across, it ran down the yardage. That made it impossible to set sleeves that would fit my hefty arms. And it was @ 5 years old, so whooshka, in to the bin. The other was something I'd cut out @ then and a style I'd not wear these days so that got flicked also.

Non costume
- replacement cotton sheers for my main room - cut out
- blue linen/rayon herringbone 1930s skirt - half cut out
- paisley self drafted pattern - 50% sewn
- aqua knit top - cut out
- Go Petunia's T - cut out
- brown wool Burda WOF skirt, partly sewn (new 2013)
- replacement curtains for my main room, with block out lining - cut out
- flannelette nightie - cut out

- teal knit top - half sewn (discarded)
- Decades of Style 1930s matinee blouse - 80% sewn
- apron - binding to be added

- striped pocket hoops - 80% sewn
- pink white stripe regency saque hat - half sewn
- regency bibfront cotton day dress - 25% sewn
- blue (with tiny black diamond) open robe - half sewn
- regency stays - daffodown dilly pattern, cut out
- regency stays - mantua maker pattern cut out for a friend
- regency stays - Missouri Historical Society, cut out
- 1850s ruffled petticoat - needs levelling & waistband. therefore needs cage crinoline.
- cage crinoline – bag & vertical straps sewn, needs steels & waistband
- stripe lobster tail cage bustle - sewn, needs canes/steels inserted & waistband
- red bustle dress - part cut out
- 1917 austerity corset - toile cut out

Pop Culture
- Hobbit, skirts cut out
- Idris - skirt cut out

Saturday, 28 December 2013

my 2013 costuming year in review

No wonder I'm happy this year, not only have I successfully defeated death again (this year gall bladder, last year hypertension) but despite being unable to sew for 7 months of the year I've had some successful sewing. In May I'd recovered enough to start sourcing fabrics and starting to work on both my Sydney Supanova costumes -

The Catelyn Stark was finished to an acceptable level (still needs the chemise)

And I got the hobbit costume done - though I'm going to take out some of the boning in the bodice as it's not working for me.

 2 weeks later in July my working class shortgown was done (needs the sleeves tweaked)

In the 2nd half of July it was accessories time. I got my saque hat finished for the Heritage Ball in Brisbane, and the working class fichu.

Which leads up to a great week in August where I started and finished 2 costumes I love - my bloomer and my regency steampunks.

Then there was a 3 month break for recovery from the tumour removal on my right knee - actually I still managed to hand sew 2 items of dark ages costume at the start of that.

Since then I made the Vampire of Venice costume

and then only had 3 weeks to make all 4 pieces (including petticoat) for my femme 8th doctor.

dining at the House of Crabs

I'm so very grateful that seafood isn't on my personalised list of inedibles, because thanks to the former colleague who introduced me to the concept of blogging about a passion I found out about the new eatery the House of Crabs.  It's upstairs at the Norfolk pub on Cleveland Street (they say Surry Hills, but I say Redfern).

I baited a hook & a friend was as enthusiastic as me, so we went last night for dinner.

As well as a menu with burgers etc, the main temptation is the louisianna boil type food. You choose from SA mussels, little neck clams, Queensland prawns, Blue swimmer crab, Snow crab and King crab in a 500g bag, with a sauce of choice.

We ordered snow crab in oriental sauce and qld prawns in cajun. 

I wouldn't recommend bothering with the side of green (kale, brocccoli & beans) as after the sauces on the main events it's bland and let's admit it, a token gesture towards a balanced meal.  We shared plain chips too ... I was willing to risk being glutened by the lobster sauce on the special 'lobster fries' but we didn't miss out on taste sensations this way. The cocktail I ordered with dinner had fruit in it that had just turned, and they were great about replacing it straight away - though I got an Arnold Palmer iced tea instead of the same again.

The idea is that you tip the bags onto the table so that you can easily share and dip the meats into the sauce, and mop up the sauce with bread.  I'd forgotten to bring some me-safe bread so dipped chips into the sauces instead.  There are disposable gloves on the table along with the implements, but we didn't bother with them ... and I'd do the same next time.

See that speck of sauce on my bib ... it's the only food I spilt despite being a messy eating experience.  And this is me, known for spilling food on my frontage all the time.  It's not a meal unless I'm wearing some of it somewhere.

House of Crabs, I'm coming back for some more feasting, and this time I'll have some bread for moppings.

A bonus is that downstairs at the Norfolk the Friday happy hour drink is margarita!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

mini sewing slump

Since I almost finished my femme eighth Doctor costume (the jacket will still happen) I've been in a bit of a slump. The mess I created hung around far too long and became a little oppressive. However I've tackled the worst of it and will get the rest cleared up this afternoon. I also had the mental reminder that having too many fabric options out of the storage cupboard and upstairs is counter productive. I've far too many pieces out to be used, more than I can make in the next month. To reduce that pile of 20ish pieces I'll chose the 4 projects I most want to make & pack the rest away - after listing what they were for the next set.

Friday, 20 December 2013

blast from the past - a pyjama pattern

I was looking for a vintage pattern online and came across this pattern from *cough1977cough* and it was one I made a couple of times!
Now the qualifiers, I was still at school, but my mother had decided that I could make my own clothes cheaper than she could buy them (and yes, that included a new uniform skirt when I needed one.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

next up: completing a 2 year old UFO skirt

Now that my urgent costume fix has been made & had an outing, it's time to focus on Real Life clothing.  First I think I'll finish my half cut out skirt ... I started cutting this out almost 2 years ago. It was the first Saturday in January 2012, and after cutting the front 2 pieces I realised the back piece wasn't in the envelope. 

So I thought I'd finish cutting it when I found the missing piece, and that it couldn't be far away.  After feeling poorly and packing it away by June as I'd not found the missing piece I then thought I'd re-purchase the pattern from Decades of Style's sale around the following Xmas/NY.  That would prompt the missing piece to appear, surely. 

No, and by then my gall bladder had a murderous intent, so I was incapable of sewing for the first 4 months of this year.  Costumes have obsessed me since then, so I need to take a break from that genre and start working on my everyday clothing.

The colour isn't accurate, it's more of a softer, muted periwinkle than this clear blue but that's it in a ziplock bag (so that at least the uncut fabric and cut pieces don't get separated).

femme Doctor leaves the production line

I stood no chance of getting the frock coat equivalent made, but it was so hot that I was glad about that.

I need to paint the bullet shaped part of my sonic with red enamel paint, but still got some appreciation from other fans. It's a solid heavy piece of skilled work - turned rather than cast. So, here I am ... though I'm sure 99.9% of those there had zero clue what my costume was but I made it for me & not them. Also I am even more of a McGann fangirl than I was before.  What a charming man. Most of the Who guests complimented me on my costume - it must be something about a well fitting corset.

Daphne Ashbrook told me I was beautiful, and even included that in her autograph for me ... which was lovely to hear (even if my inner voice says that I'm gilded, stout mutton).

And if you weren't sure, it's a femme version of the 8th Doctor.  I only let myself buy brocade, and it's nothing like the screen accurate fabric.


The reason my lacing cord is wrapped to the front is that it originally wasn't but I made it half way along my street & it came undone. Eeeek, had to try to fix it asap, and after that I didn't trust it to stay tied properly behind me. Stash used 10.5m (with more to be used in the jacket), and 1m brocade bought & used)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

femme Doctor - the corset

I'm still being a bit of a neat freak, so it's a quick & dirty corset for someone with a perfectionist streak.

When I mocked this up & tried it on way back at the end of July, I completely forgot to mark the waistline on it, and it's not marked on the pattern.  So, yes I didn't include a waist stay on this corset.  If it only survives a couple of outings that's ok ... as I'm happy to make this corset pattern again.

It's a single strength layer, with the brocade flat-lined to the coutil. I pin basted it, and am patting myself on the back as it's worked so well.   I also graded the seams coutil only, and pressed them to the sides.  I used 1: cotton tape for the boning channels and stitched all seams from top to bottom ... read somewhere to do this with boning channels so just did it for everything so I wouldn't forget.

I cut the brocade one piece at a time, flipping the cut piece & matching the brocade pattern & cutting the other side to exactly match.  Ugh.  because the pattern isn't cut all on straight grain the brocade is cut on the same grain as the coutil.

The only things left to do is stitch down the grey satin binding & set the grommets.  Oh, must make a modesty panel for the back. aaargh.

Double argh, need to make a narrow scarf in the silk satin I have.  It may be more of a tube so that I don't have to hand sew rolled hems ... have I mentioned my loathing for hand sewing

femme Dr: completed blouse/chemise & almost done skirt

I haven't tried it on since it's been completed ... as I'm a little afraid I'll spill something on it. Not quite completely irrational but mostly! I created a fake button band with a tube of fabric sewn into the neckline at CF, complete with functional button holes, with the buttons sewn to the CF & facing.  I then stitched the left hand side & bottom edge down to the bodice+neck facing.

And the sleeve cuffs are stitched to the under arm seam so they'll be neatly placed when it's on. The only problem I had with the blouse I made from this pattern all those years ago was that the cuff rotated around the sleeve.

The skirt is hemmed, and I'm about to pin the waistband on.  I quickly stitched a zip into the side seam even though that's historically inaccurate, I just want simple for a costume that isn't even screen accurate.  Plus I tell myself it's steampunk (just maybe they have nylon zippers in the alternate history).  The Doctor I'm doing a femme version of, doesn't have striped trews, but this was my only suitable stash fabric ... and I could only do this costume if all but the corset brocade came from stash.

my mental checklist for the femme Doctor

The blouse/chemise is done.

The petti just needs the waistband stitched - and it's pinned, ready to roll.

The skirt has the hem pinned & very late last night when I was about to pin the waistband onto it, I realised that I should insert a zip in the side seam - a placket would be period but it's a costume. Also depending on how I pleat the skirt the zip will be hidden anyway.

The corset strength layer is cut out & I didn't want to risk bodgy cutting the fashion brocade layer. I need to do that when I'm not so tired, as after cutting the strength layer I had a D'OH moment. I should have cut the back with a seperate facing to sandwich the fashion layer in, rather than not. But I'm not willing to sacrifice more coutil for this. Though I could cut a seperate facing from drill. Hmmmmm, yes this is tempting. It won't help the front, for which I should also have done the same thing, but meh, will figure it out when I get home.

I must remember to make a modesty panel for the back - more because I want the back to look neat and tidy as I'm not getting the jacket made in time.

Plus, NB make a silk satin narrow scarf to use as necktie.

Logic dictates that I could have got more done last night but I had to have a massage due to an increasingly tight left shoulder. That had me a bit zonked, until I mentally cracked the whip.

My grommets weren't posted on Monday, so I'm hoping like hell that they arrive tomorrow. Express post isn't guaranteed overnight delivery and it's xmas post season slowing things down.

I also ordered a gross each of 00 in black, pewter, antique brass and nickel from Richard the Thread and they were posted before my local stopgap order. I should have had a more structured order from these but I had the "order bulk grommets now before you forget" moment.

Monday, 9 December 2013

femme Dr Who costume is getting real!

Wheee, the blouse is 95% done. I've got 4 buttonholes & buttons to sew, and the sleeve hem to stitch down (pressed & pinned ready to go). Oh and to stitch the fake button band down once the buttons are sewn underneath. Oh, (yes I'm starting to forget things) also to stitch the wrist strap to the sleeve seam in the right spot.


The petticoat just needs the waistband, and it's being gathered, not pleated onto the band (cut from a 3rd fabric).  I've time, I can stitch down the trim I picked out of the smallish trim tub, there's slightly more trim than I need but hey, it works from the stash.

I also made it to Metro Fabrics today and got the busk & steels I need - it's a spendy way to buy steels - they have a flat price of $2 each + GST, so if you're getting long steels it's ok, but if you're getting short ones, it's wince making.  It's much better to plan ahead and shop from or

A friend is giving me some grommets, cos I don't have enough left of any colour and I'm not mixing & matching them, but I also ordered a gross each of black, pewter and aged brass from overseas, and a spoon busk cos I really want to try one.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

loving the ruffler foot

I didn't test the ratio of my ruffles, but adjusted the foot to 1 on the top option and wound the lower screw to 6 and just went for it. I was folding the lawn ruffles in half to save hemming and boost the somewhat limp lawn. It worked well in respect of the boosting, but not in saving time avoiding hemming.  Because the 2 layers wouldn't feed through the ruffle foot together without basting them together, and then I had to press them flat before ruffling, so the process only saved me the time it would take to belt along the edge with an overlocker (which I'd then turn up and stitch down, eyeballing the turn up the whole way. It's a ruffle - on underwear - so doesn't require absolute precision in the way a corset requires precise seam allowances. I did say how much I love my ruffle foot.  Here's the back section of the ruffled petti - I'm only putting the lower row of ruffles on the front section.
It's a 4.1m petticoat - the base pale celery stripe was 1.9m oaf 112cm, and these 3 rows of ruffles are 2.2m and that's fully used and I'll need to cut the waistband from a 3rd piece (left over from the vampire nightie).

I also got the blouse/chemise cut & started yesterday, though I didn't get the collar made & inserted. I'm doing that before inserting sleeves as sewing the collar into an oval opening be easier while the body of the chemise can be flat open. NB there isn't a CF or CB opening.  No buttonholes down the front makes it easier, and hmmm, that reminds me that I must get some buttons out of the button box for the 2 cuffs. They got completed yesterday. I've got tomorrow off work, going to get the corset hardware, have a dental check up and sew most of the afternoon. I'm aiming to get the petti & chemise finished, and the skirt hemmed - it needs turning up and the crin inserted before stitching down.  I can prep the waistband later in the evening while I watch TV - got the can can skirt up from the grotto so I can replicate the pleating.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

femme Dr fabrics together - skirt, corset, blouse, jacket

The petticoat isn't relevant so I didn't include it, and I did forget the silk satin for the 2nd colllar (or maybe a narrow scarf instead).  When I got home I drained the soaking denim & chucked it into the dryer. Mainly to help shrink it but also hoping it would soften a little.  Forgot to get it out when the cycle finished so it's a bit crumpled - a good pressing, or another soak & dryer session should help that.

A bestie popped in after work for a drink & nibbles - someone else who shares my love of pickled herrings!  If only I could still eat pumpernickel ... so the rest went home with her.

Got the skirt side seams assembled & the hem overlocked. I'll press it up 2" and insert 2" wide crin into it... that arrived today ... then attach placket & waistband.  I had time to stitch petticoat pieces into 2 halves, overlocked everything I could & hemmed them.  Plus ruffles joined for gathering on the gathering foot which is installed & ready to test run.

I aim to get the blouse cut out tomorrow night so that I can sew it on Saturday at the sewing group. If I get plenty done there, I'll cut out my corset structural layer.  I can get started on the corset on Sunday evening.  I've got Monday off work, dentist in the morning, and can finish all these ... and start the spencer. Part of me worries the costume will be too abstract to be recognised, but most of me doesn't care!

brocade for the femme doctor's corset

I ordered some brocade from puresilks - using ebay puresilks - using ebay rather than their website. It arrived today and I'm comparatively happy with my choice. I do have 1yard of a repro screen accurate that I bought into via an Dr Who online community group order, but I didn't want to use it for this in case I botch it completely. This is what I ordered, and although it's not paisley it works for my not screen accurate steampunky femme doctor. I've got paisley in the blouse.

I rationalised buying this in my year of stashbusting as it means I get to use 13m of other stash fabrics
2m beige/milky coffee linen/rayon (skirt)
3m paisley embroidered white on white (blouse)
1m white lawn left over from Dr who nightie (extend blouse length)
2m celery stripe cotton (petticoat)
2m white self stripe cotton (petticoat ruffles)
1m coutil (corset strength layer)
2m blue/green light denim (spencer jacket)

Though I suspect at the rate I've been stitching that the spencer may not get made.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

motivation slump, micro progress

I'm struggling to motivate myself to sew - this usually isn't a problem. I'm not sure what a solution is but I'm doing something every day. Today it was pinning all the petticoat pieces together, bar the side seams as they'll be joined after the rows of ruffles go onto the back.

Note for my memory, I'm using a short version D from Hunnisett's pattern sheet no 27, in Period Costume for Stage & screen 1800-1909.

I also pulled out the corset pattern pieces, well there was 1 piece missing when I packed my sewing explosion up in Brissie, but I have the mock up and can take a pattern of that piece.  I need to add height to the side front, thanks to the acreage.  I'm going to have to get a busk & grommets at Metro on Saturday morning - and some steels. I'll take my mock up with me so I can get the right length.

Its hard to get an impression of it from the mockup laid flat on the floor, but it's a good shape. It's the 1890-1910 corset on page 71 of Jill Salen's Corsets. The black with gold flossing.

Monday, 2 December 2013

you'll never know what Lincraft has to do with radiation eating bacteria

So I had this short but ranty post that the computer ate, and it was about how I phoned The Fabric Store and Tessuti to check they had crin (horsehair braid for hems). The first thought I was a demented milliner until I said 'hems', the 2nd used to have it or is currently out of stock. Same result. I don't need a 50m roll from Greenfield's.

Didn't bother to phone Lincrap cos Chernobyl radiation eating bacteria. Yes the full segue was in the computer eaten post ... which I now think is a little creepy especially as I was living in the UK when Chernobyl blew up.

Instead I went to eBay and found an aussie millinery supplier who's sending me 4m in the post.

For the hem of my femme Doctor's skirt.

Yes, trapped in hormone hell and thus a bit soapbox ranty.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

paisley in white on white

Here's the paisley white on white, nicely dried on the line today.

 I also pulled out this piece of celery striped cotton to make a petticoat - or ruffles on a petticoat to go underneath. I love my ruffler-foot and want volume down the back, so may just ruffle to my heart's content.


stashbusting blouse pattern & fabric selected

Wheee, I quickly found the pattern I was considering, and I'm going to stick with it. It's from 1990, and I made it in a lovely rayon print by Kaldor, and still have that packed away somewhere.

It's very loose fitting so will need an FBA but not much else to make it fit.  I'll extend it as long as the fabric allows, and then possibly add a short border in plain cotton.  I'm going to use it as longer chemise as well as bodice - using a mock opening rather than a real one.

I'll use the silk satin as a double collar - if I baste it onto the facing then I can used this white shirt as a more generic shirt-under-corset. The fabric pic will have to wait a little - it's being pre-shrunk even as I type.

I raided the white fabrics tub and there were 2 options, one a brighter-white narrow self-striped lawn, and the other a white lawn with paisley embroidered onto it with white thread.  I found that a more tantalising option.  There's 3m of it, so enough for the blouse and to make it a smidge longer. That, and I misplaced my camera {rollseyes}, but I'll find it soon & take a pic of it after shrinking