Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Summer Ahead

Summer is almost here, as evidenced by the ugly 90s that have returned.  Actually, we hit them briefly back in February, and were very happy to have them gone until just this week.

Only 2 weeks of classes and finals and then it's time to get busy and use that extra time as completely as possible.  Be it garb or mundane, there's sewing waiting to happen!

Over the last few years, most of my sewing has been period garb, and an occasional tent.  I've also gotten very lucky with second-hand garb, so I have enough for even a really long event, 1-2 weeks, regardless of weather.  Of course, garb is for SCA use, so 5th century through 16th century.  Since I do teach a costume history class, I am also determined to have period pieces for the 17th-19th centuries.

And as a fashion design instructor, I should be wearing my own work.  It's time to get back on track with that.  I want to use the core/cluster wardrobe concept too.  I am figuring on stripping out the over-stuffed closet, building 2-3 clusters, and letting the rest go; then making pieces for my clusters, and replacing purchased pieces every time that new custom pieces enter the closet.

What do I want to sew?  Hehe!  The 20's are coming, the 20's are coming!  In the 20's, I want to dress in 20's.  Of course, with my extreme triangle shape, this will be quite challenging, but I've got period patterns to use, both original and reproduction, and I am going to make this work.  I'm too excited to do anything else!

I also want to add some 50's dresses to the wardrobe, though perhaps not so much with clusters in mind.  Those should be easier to fit, as long as I stick with full skirts.  

And as for this blog, well, with as little as I've done here in the last few years, it seems almost pointless.  However, I'd like to give it one more try, and get serious about project documentation to be posted here - yup, dress or project diaries.  If I don't do that, I'm not sure I have any reason to have a blog.

We'll have to see how all of this goes over this upcoming summer.  I'm ready.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Forever and a day...or two...

December 2012...

The last time that I actually posted on my own blog.


I'd have gotten back on here sooner, but I could not remember how to log in!  Google, of course, was no help at all.

But I'm back...and doing fun things, and looking forward to posting here again...

Meanwhile, I'm also on the BIG EVIL TIME SINK - Facebook.  Let me know if you want to find me there.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thank you...

Oh my.  Too everyone who ever commented on any of my posts, thank you.  I had seen some of them, but was surprised tonight to find some comments, many months old, that I never saw.  I'm so sorry.

I'll have to check my settings and make sure that I'm getting e-mail notification when someone does comment, though I thought that I already was.  I don't know how I missed so many comments, and all so positive, even supportive.

I promise to try to do better...key word = try.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A post...

Old habits do stick around...and time slides by...and so I post again, after yet another long absence.  I'd love this blog to be more like the blogs that I follow, full of interesting and useful information.  Doesn't seem likely to happen.  My life just isn't working that way, not at the moment anyway.

And I'm struggling with creativity and with trying to prioritize so that the things that I have to do don't totally block out the things that I want to do.

It's likely to get harder too.  I'm going back to work full-time, now that my boys are almost 16/18.  They need the experience of not being able to depend on mom, every moment of every day.  They need to learn to think more, to plan and to explore independence and responsibility.  I need a break and a paycheck.

I've worked full-time before, within their lifetimes - a little bit.  My part-time jobs - teaching and costume work - have sometimes had some intense hours.  There was a theatre season of full-time costume shop work, combined with the part-time teaching, and the carpooling of the 6th graders...that year almost did me in.  But time has passed.  Oldest drives.  Youngest has come a long ways in personal development and growth.  I think they can handle the change, in their own way. 

Overall, I suspect that the household is going to it doesn't already?  Ha.  I'm no housekeeper or cook, never have been and likely never shall be, so things will probably only get worse!  I'll take the break anyway.  I need something that will eat enough of my free time, to make the remaining time seem more valuable, more critical, so that I'll focus more, accomplish more.  Oddly, yes, that's how I work.  I won't do a better job on the housework, but when I have less free time, I'll be more appreciative of it, more efficient in using it.

Ok.  Enough with the whining.  Have any of us been creative lately?  Most would say, yes, all the time, not just 'lately'.  But my creativity has been very dodgy these last couple of years.  I've gotten trapped in the world of FB and computer solitaire...and I don't quite know why.  When I do get to my studio, either I look around and leave, or maybe, just maybe, I pick up something to work on and for a brief moment, rediscover the pleasure of just doing.  If I could make enough of those moments happen in a row, I'd be back to the creative self that I seem to have misplaced.

 So, recent last post showed a project that had gotten me all fired up.  Here's the finished item.

This is the finished snood, made from this cord:

I photographed it stuffed with my fake braids.  Haven't worn it yet, so don't have a picture of it on my head.  It was a bit time consuming to stitch each intersection, but it was fun and I have plans for doing at least one more.  I'm thinking a plain gold cord, or perhaps a gold kumihimo braid, with pearls at the intersections.  Hmmm...that sounds like fun, so maybe it's time for me to head out to the studio and get busy...have to tackle while inspiration is active!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

So some days I just can't worry about "it's not period!"

When inspiration strikes, I have to go for it.

I wanted to test the snood from Simplicity 8735, a pseudo-Italian Ren.  I was looking for something like a gold soutache, when I came across this in the stash.

It is a fine cord that has been shaped into rose-like segments.  There is a finer green thread holding it together, and hinting at leaves for the roses.

Right now, it's pinned onto the pattern tissue.  It doesn't look like it will be very large, but I think that it will be gorgeous.  Period or not, I'm going to wear this!

Monday, February 27, 2012

November, December, January, February.....uh-oh....too long between posts again.

It's been a rough few months.  Had foot surgery back in December, which went well, but which required a healing process.  I'm a bit over 2/3 through the healing, based on the goal of being back in regular shoes at the 3 month mark.  I've been wearing men's extra-wide running shoes, so as to not irritate the healing foot, but of course they're too wide for the other foot, so it's been a challenge.

And then things got harder.  My mom suffered a stroke in January, from which we had every reason to expect a pretty good recovery.  Sadly, because of complications, we lost her 3 weeks ago.  She was too vibrant and excited about life to be gone so soon.  Between watching her struggle with recovery, and losing her after 3 weeks of that struggle, it's been a really hard winter.

So much to handle, helping Dad with Mom's stuff, her sewing room, yarn collection, and all of the knick-knacks and such.  We're getting there slowly, with tears here and there, and an occasional chuckle as objects and papers remind us of good moments.

I'm not old enough to not have my mom yet....I don't care what the numbers say.  She shouldn't be gone.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Brrr....ooh, cool!

Those who live outside of Arizona, especially the Phoenix area, may not be able to appreciate this, but it is so COOL to be able to say BRRRRRR........

And there is even a play on words in there!  Yeah!

Finally, the heat left, the nights cooled off, we got some rain, and when I went outside in jeans, tank top and sandals, it was actually kind of cold!  It's cold enough to be able to wear clothes!  hehehe Well, yes, we always do wear clothes, but oh, how nice to be able to put on anything I want and not roast!  Sweaters, jackets, long-sleeves, even stockings - all of those things that just hang ignored in the closet, or in the drawers, finally I get to wear them!

We're having a really nice day here!  It's kind of chilly!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

And it worked!

At the end of a long day, the hair is coming loose and everything is looking pretty ragged, but here's what I came up with late last night.  I wore it to Coronation in the Kingdom of Atenveldt (Arizona), and it stayed put perfectly.  There is a 4-5" wide, wire comb inside the front edge, pointing towards the back inside the band and it never slipped a bit.  The bun I made seemed a bit too low at first, but I had to work the band around the bun, and then the bun seemed to help hold the band in place too.

Construction was pretty simple - a 3" wide band of buckrum, the length needed for the desired circumference.  I folded it in half lengthwise, then wired both edges with millinery wire.  Covered it with a strip of brocade, with the raw edges just floating loose inside.  The brocade was machine stitched onto the band.  The gold fabric I pinned and fitted to the band, so that it is smooth on the top and sides, with some tucks across the bottom, to form the little bit of snood-like bagging.  There is one row of pearls stitched in place right against the gold, and another will be added on the front edge.  

I started this around 7:30 last night, and finished hand-stitching the one row of pearls around 11pm.  That time period did include a trip to the fabric store to get the brocade.  I'm very happy with how it turned out, and am going to experiment with some variations, now that I have some ideas about how to proceed,  
These pictures aren't great, but then, I did have to do the point-the-camera-at-yourself trick.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Headdress on the fly - need an Italian option in a hurry!

A while back, I found a sweater in a resale shop.  I'd never wear it, but immediately I saw possibilities for re-purposing it with the foremost option being some sort of head-covering - cauls perhaps.

Now I'm making a fast decision on the first item to cut from it, something that will pass for Italian Renaissance, more or less.  And I need to slap it together this evening because I'm going to wear it tomorrow.  With my hair and lack of hair-handling skills, the simpler the better.

Ideas that I've found and like, include these:

The Elizabethan "Cloth of Gold" Escoffion pattern from Lynn McMasters, seen here:

Well, you'll have to click on Patterns, and scroll down to find the pattern, probably 2/3 of the way down.

Eleanora of Toledo, c. 1562 by Bronzino.

The snood-like garment worn by Eleanora of Toledo.

This is a reproduction based on images as discussed on the page linked above.

Katherine B's intriguing headdress, discussed on her Flickr pages.

La donna gravida by Raphael, 1505-1506

Another snood-like piece.

Embroidered caul.

These are pictures of the sweater, but it was not easy to photograph, so they're not very good.

 The fabric is a mix of a golden-yellow yarn - cotton or acrylic - I've no clue, together with a fine metallic (mylar probably) thread.  It reflects light somewhat and sometimes seems to sparkle.

Regrettably, I'm just no good at arranging images in blogspot/blogger, so this is about the best I ever manage.

Overall view of one side of sweater.
 Another closeup of the fabric.
 Trying to get even closer.

 Holding a single layer of the sweater fabric up, facing towards a window to try to show the little bit of open-work in the makeup of the fabric.

Another view with the window in the backgroune.  The light section on the left is the space between my thumb and fingers behind the fabric.

With as much fabric as the sweater has, I can probably do 2-3 pieces.  
1. A snood-like piece - smaller than the "Rosie the Riveter" pieces of the 20th C., maybe with a band as seen in the La donna gravida image, above.

2. A smaller piece, sized like the Eleanora of Toledo headdress, but less open-work than hers since I'd be starting with this knit fabric.

3. A piece like Katherine B's, above.

4.  A caul style, similar to the embroidered caul, above.  

There might be a bit too much similarity between some of these 4 options, but I've got the fabric with which to play, so why not try them all.

Pattern-wise, I think that I have Margo's Elizabethan Wardrobe Accessories, and there is a caul shown in that collection.  I'm considering buying Lynn McMaster's Gold Escoffian pattern.  I have some buckram Juliet caps that I could manipulate, not to mention plenty of buckram, crinoline and wire.

I've crocheted snoods before, but have not cut one from fabric, so I'll have to figure out what the best size and shape for the flat pattern would be.

Ok, I've talked myself through my options, right here on my blog again!  Sure helps to talk through my blog instead of talking to the walls!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A garb-ish sort of day...

No progress on the purple gown today.  Life sort of got in the way.  Had to get a new microwave this morning.  The old one worked ok, but the interior was just worn out.

And instead of sewing garb this afternoon, I guess you could say that I went shopping for garb.  Mistress Amy Marie MacCormack was cleaning out her garb closet, and I was lucky to be able to wear several pieces.  I'm so very excited!  Cool new garb to wear!  There's a purple velvet Italian, a pink jacquard linen Italian, a green linen Italian and a blue linen Flemish (Van der Weyden), all finished and ready to wear.  I will need to come up with a chemise or two, beyond what I already have as none are appropriate for Italians.  And I'll be making a set of sleeves or two.  Beyond that, it's just my hair and my footwear, so these are outfits that I will be able to use and enjoy!

I think that I have figured out how to finish the purple gown, and how to cut it better for the next one, but I'll have to work on it some more, before I can really tell much about it here.  Still, it's been quite the productive weekend.  Yeah!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

88 Eyelets...

nope, these won't be hand-sewn; not given that I want to wear this gown in just 2 weeks!  It's really only 44 actual, finished lacing holes up the back of the gown, but I'm going over each one twice, hence the #88.  Even by machine, and having to line up carefully for the second pass on each eyelet, this is going to take a while.

Yup, I'm back, again.  Didn't mean to let a month get away from me, but shucks, every time I wake up it's Friday morning again, and I'm due in class to lecture for 2.75 hours.  That's how fast the weeks seem to by flying by!

And I'm back to working on garb.  Over the last few days, working at the dining room table while everyone else is gone, I've cut several new pieces.  The eyelets are the back lacing of a gown that will be somewhat like a cotehardie, and appropriate to wear under a sideless surcote.  I'm doing my test-run of the much altered pattern, Simplicity 8725, in a regular fabric, a dark purple/plum, rayon/linen blend.  I know that doing a muslin is a good idea with any new pattern, especially with my fitting issues, but I just don't want to put in the extra time right now.

As for modifying that pattern, it's partly for fitting me, and partly making it a much more accurate pattern for the purpose.  It will also use fabric more efficiently.  I had some ideas about how to change it from ready comments of several other people who have worked with it.

I cut the bodice portion pretty much as is, tapering out from my bodice size on the pattern, to the largest size in the hip area.  I did not cut the flare at the side seams as the pattern was drafted.  At the hip area, where it angled out for the flare, I just cut it straight down to the hem, so it's actually a lot like the patterns that one sees on sites like Robin Netherton's, a rectangle-based garment.  It hasn't been so carefully fitted through the bust, as it would be if I'd followed Robin's directions, but it's a start, and it's one that I can do without someone to pin me into the muslin.

I'm adding the fullness through wedges added at the side seams and CF/CB.  I'm not sure how full it will be when finished.

I've also cut 2 chemises from the La Fleur de Lyse  Medevial Romanesque pattern.  I'd cut the gown for the 1150 lady last winter, and was pretty happy with how it turned out, but with its V-neck, it really does need a chemise to look right, so I haven't worn it much.  I also cut outer gown/tunic for the 1060 Lady in a teal/turquoise linen.  It will have the wide sleeve and so will need an undergown as well as the chemise, so I may have one more piece to cut there.

I've cut sideless surcotes in several fabrics:  a woven-in-striped home dec fabric in dark plum, a dark brown velveteen, and a red woolen.  I'd like to cut one or two more, but can't decide on fabrics and need to finish gowns for those 3 anyway.  I am thinking of one parti-colored though.

And I cut several hoods too!  I wanted to experiment with the hood patterns that I've found on-line.  I drafted up patterns from Mistress Tangwystle's and Cynthia Virtue's diagrams, both from Cynthia's hoods article.  I also drafted up a pattern from one of I.Marc Carlson's diagrams.  Since I'm using up leftover bits of wool from other garments, I cut two in grey, two in navy and one in brown.  I have a couple of other patterns to try too, one from a Big 4 company, and one from DL designs, and plenty of the brown for those, as well as some luscious red, so I'll have hoods to wear and hoods for family or to sell.

Enough cutting, at least until I know how things are fitting.  Then I can see what I need to go with the new pieces, and what fits well enough to be worth cutting again.

I've been thinking about getting some of the other patterns in the La Fleur de Lyse line, and maybe a couple from Reconstructing History.  But it's not like buying patterns at JoAnn's for $.99 or $1.99.  These make a much bigger dent in the budget.  Once I see how the altered S8725 works, then I can figure out if I really need the RH cotehardie pattern or not.  If not, then why bother?  Then I could maybe get the Florentine patterns from RH and start another era in my costuming.

Not sure I need the men's pattern, but I'm curious.

Have this one, and once I figured out how it worked, I really do like it.  Truly, it's a lot like any of the rectangle-based gowns that you can find online, but it's worth while for the information that comes with the pattern.

Again, just curious.
 Could use this one for the stockings.

If my alterations to S8725 work out ok, then I may not need this one.

 I'm going to try using the pattern from S8725 for a chemise to go under the gown.  Again, if it works, then I may not need this, but I'm curious.  I might order this one anyway.

La Fleur de Lyse has accessories too, so I'll probably have to decide between that one and this one.

These last two go together and I like the look.  Once I'm caught up on my planned medieval stuff, I'd like to try these.  Of course, I'm also mapping out plans for some Tudor stuff from Margo Anderson's Tudor Lady's Wardrobe.  Don't think that I'm going to run out of sewing for a while...and I'm not even considering all of the mundane cutting and sewing waiting for me!  Ouch!

Ok, I think I'm rambling badly, and not getting any photos in here either, so I guess I should get back to the sewing room.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It rained! It really, ....

really rained!  I don't know the totals, and there wasn't much by way of hard rain, but it kept going long enough to make the world feel different this morning!  Yeah RAIN!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When it rains, it pours....

Unless you live in central Arizona, in which case rain may simply mean the sky spitting on your windshield.  We're hoping for more than that this afternoon, but we're not holding our breath.

When it comes to this blog, well, see the post title, above.  A drought of posts, and then two or three in a day.

Over the weekend, the bug to finish old projects bit, but in a different direction from the quilt.  Back when my youngest was in elementary school, probably about 3rd grade, I'd found the fabrics for my bedroom.  The main bed cover got finished a while back (see older posts) but nothing more than that.  As the picture from the pattern showed, this project was to include the bed cover, window treatments, bed skirt, table cover and a lot of pillows.

As part of getting ready to re-enter the full-time workforce, I have been getting my closet and dressing area cleaned up.  That is an ugly story in itself, but for now...the dressing table.  When we first bought this house, I was determined to use the previous owner's color schemes as much as possible, so that I could avoid painting for as many years as possible.  The master bedroom was a decent shade of strong peach, so I coped.  I had added some seafoam green and mauve, through prints that contained all three colors and was fine with that.  But those pieces: comforter, dressing table skirt got old and rather worn, so I let them go away.  That left me with pretty much nothing but odds and ends.  We haven't had a decent window treatment in years, and my dressing table has been completely naked!  Oh-no! 

I had hoped that once the main bedcover was finished, the rest would follow right along, but that has not been the case.  Just too many other things going on, I guess.  But during the big clean-up, I decided that I'd have enough of the bare wood table top under glass, and the naked iron hairpin legs.  The table top is semi-kidney-bean-shaped, much like one that I had as a child.  I snuck the glass out from under all of the stuff and headed for the studio.  I'm about 1/2 way through assembling the skirt - no pattern, just the top plus some rectangles to gather in for the sides.  It will have 4 full widths of fabric in the skirt portion.  Three are seamed together and cover the side fronts, sides and back.  The 4th panel will be hemmed and separate from the others, filling in the center front, but making for easy access to the storage beneath the table - a 3-drawer unit from which I am constantly pulling hair accessories and such.

Probably an hour or so of pinning the gathered panels to the top and adjusting the gathers all around, before it all gets sewn together, and that seam finished.  Then a hem and it will be done.

I really have to wonder sometimes, why do I wait so long to tackle these things when they turn out to take so little time to get done?

Pictures will follow, ASAP!

The next long, dry spell...but it ended in a big way!

Well, summer is not my strong suit, and my blog is sure evidence of that!  Between not working, and being home with kids all day, every day, I don't cope well.  I get frustrated and cranky and so very unproductive.

I should NOT ALLOW summer to do that to me!  It is up to me, yet I just have not found my way to a healthy, productive summer attitude.  I guess the positive thing is that I'll get to try again next year!  Of course, the boys are getting older fast, so in another summer or two, summers won't bother me so much.

The other BIG fix for my summer problem would be for me to be working full-time, year 'round, and that's on the agenda.  We've just gotten to a point where me being off all summer is not good for the budget.  Since the boys are old enough, it's time for Mom to re-enter the full-time workforce.

Sadly, I do live in an area where there's not much that I can do in my field, and with my BFA in Fashion Design.  I'm going to have to rely on the office skills that I've developed or kept honed during the 17 years that I've been teaching and making costumes, to snag myself an office job and a hopefully decent paycheck.

Well, that's a long ways off from the intent of my blog in general, or the post that I thought I was going to write! 

I did finish a REALLY OLD PROJECT!  We're talking about something that I started in California, between '87 and '91.  Hehehehehe.

I had signed up for a quilt-making class, my first ever.  I was young, well, not exactly 'young' but much younger than I am now, and young enough to think that everything that I knew would be enough to cover every situation!  Silly me!

I knew about fabric grain and tearing fabric as part of getting fabric on grain.  When the instructor (poor woman) said no, no tearing of the fabric to get an accurate grainline on each piece, Idiot Me got all upset at the idea of ignoring the grainline and left the class!  I sure have had some moronic moments in my past!

I had spent about $125 on the fabrics for this sort of match the master bedroom in the house that we owned in CA.  I didn't finish the class, and we left CA.  There isn't a color in those fabrics that goes anywhere in my house here!

But once we got settle in here, sometime around 93-96, I decided that I'd better do something with that fabric.  I'd fallen in love with the Quillow concept, and with Eleanor Burns' Trip-Around-The-World, in her Quilt-in-a-Day series.  I had gotten through some other fabric-piecing class, in the years between the grainline issue, and the moment that I got back to this fabric, so I was actually ready.  I had enough fabric to easily cut strips for 3 quillow-sized, Trip/World tops and that's what I did.  Got them all cut, the strips joined, re-cut into pieced strips, and assembled into 3 quilt tops.

Then I got distracted by babies and teaching and life, and just had to let them sit for a while.  But it wasn't too long.  I was ready to finish them as quillows, but with the couple of years that had passed, my perspective had changed.  I laid two of the tops on the floor together and had an A-HA moment!  By removing just one row from one top, I could join the two, and get what I call my DOUBLE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD quilt...which is probably about a queen size!  And it's GORGEOUS!

I loved it so much that I got it assembled fast, then found someone to quilt it professionally, a husband-wife time with a business called Turkey Tracks.  She was reasonable and she certainly did a nice job on it.  I didn't want to pay her to hand stitch the binding, so I got it back from her.....and there it sat for possibly 10 years!  All it needed was the binding!

Well, heck...last winter I knew I had to get it finished, so one weekend afternoon, I bit the bullet and took it to the machine with some plain old, wide, double-fold bias, the packaged stuff.  Got it sewn on to the right side and wanted to do the rest by hand.  Took it up to my bedroom, along with thread, needles & scissors, and set myself up to work on it in bits and pieces, where I had a good TV and movie access, so I could get it done.  Had 3 sides finished before the weather just got too warm to bother.  All summer it's been sitting there waiting for the 4 side to get done....TODAY.

The weather isn't all that much cooler, some but not like it was when last I touched the silly thing.  But I worked on it last night, until someone came in and turned out the overhead lighting...guess he didn't want to sleep with the lights on.  Figured if I didn't want a repeat of that tonight, then I should grab some time this afternoon and go for it.  Took two episodes of SMARTER THAN A 5th GRADER, plus 2/3 of an episode of Dr. Oz, including time to take notes from his nutrition section.


It doesn't go with any of my color schemes, but it's done.  Now I'm debating whether to list it on Etsy, or store it until one of my boys is ready for it, like say after he's married.  Hmmmm....

Well, it's hard to photograph around here, without getting background stuff, but there you have it - a finished, Double Trip-Around-The-World quilt, only 20+ years in the making.

Now what I'm I going to do with that third piece?  hehehe

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Garb-ish stuff...

Cleaning up the studio a bit more.  Trying to get the notebooks full of garb articles into some sort of useful order.  The Garb Planning & Inventory notebook is starting to look pretty good, as I've gotten quite a bit done this last year.

Wow, about 1 1/3 years since I started building garb for Highlands War last year.  I do have quite a few pieces now, though I'm still struggling to get complete outfits put together.  Accessories seem to be my downfall.  I started logging my garb pieces on my A&S 50 Challenge page, on this blog.  In just over a year, I've made 46 pieces - ok, so some aren't quite finished, but I'm definitely going to meet the deadline for the Challenge!  If I finish my outfit for Middle East Feast (Labor Day weekend), I'll probably have my 50.

Some of what's on my list isn't all that spectacular, so I think I'll keep going on the Challenge, after the 50 are done, and see how many pieces I really have at the end.  Then I can count the 50 best for the Challenge and do a blog post with pictures of all.  That would be fun.

Ok, time to go back to the notebooks and piles of papers.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

And as for the great stash reduction...

...phase one is complete.  Approximately 144 pieces of fabric found new homes amongst my fellow SCA'ers, and in a children's theater costume shop.  Thank heavens for costume shops!  Fabrics that had me wondering how insane I had gone to have bought them in the first place - no problem - they'll fill some need or other and look great on stage.

Can't help but feel that I still need to cull almost as many pieces again, but it's harder now.  The pieces now gone were pieces that either I actually disliked, or pieces that I sort of liked but knew would not be sewing until a lot of other pieces had been used first.  What's left is ALL stuff that I do like and can envision wearing eventually.  I guess the dilemma is to decide which pieces are likely to be the last ones that I want to sew, even though I like them all.  That's not easy.  So much depends on the inspirations of the moment.

Oh well.  I still feel that a fabric stash is a marvelous source of inspiration in its own right, and a therapeutic tool that calms and relaxes when too much else is stressful and hectic.  I can stare at my stash and see new combinations amongst fabrics that have been there for a long time.  Re-arranging the folded pieces, every now and then, seems to re-charge the stash potential and bring to my mind new possibilities.

Will I miss any of the pieces that are gone...NOPE.  Many I've already forgotten and am not likely to recall.  Maybe I'll go visit a few of them when they're on stage, during a show.  Otherwise, I'm moving forward and those fabrics are definitely behind me.

Have camera...will shoot! (LONG)

Yes, finally have a working camera once more.  Gave up on finding the old battery charger and ordered a new one.  Of course, that just about guarantees that the old one WILL now show up!

And so, I can catch up on photographing garb to show, good, bad or otherwise.  I'll also be posting pictures of some past projects, as well as some things that are going to be leaving my studio in search of new homes.  My camera and I will be busy this week!

For now, my most current project - a Persian coat in the works.  I'm debating how to finish it and thinking that a partial lining - facings really - in a blue/green silk will be the way to go.

No, the pictures don't do justice to the shape of the coat, but I'll figure out a better way to photograph garb eventually.  Here is the full length of the coat.  The two shots below show the lining/facing fabric stuck into the front.  I feel that the contrast lining/facings are necessary as the printed fabric is white on the back and not attractive at all.  The facings will be on the front, around the neck, and around the hem, with the hem facings deep enough that the white won't be noticeable in most wearing situations.  Sleeves will get hem facings too.

The fabric that I used for this coat was on a sale table, quite cheap, and I was using it to test the pattern for this coat.  I got in a bit of trouble over that as some people felt that it was too nice to use for pattern testing!  The pattern turned out so well though, thanks to Lady Adelicia, that I can absolutely finish it!  Even though I was cutting without regards for pattern matching, I ended up with some surprising matches!

Once this coat is done, I'll be cutting the fabric that I considered to be the 'good' fabric for this project.  It's a home dec fabric - more upholstery than drapery, so a bit heavy and warm for Arizona, but I'm sure that I'll get some opportunities to wear it, like in January maybe!

Back side of fabric

Recently completed is the corset that I started at Costume College 2010.  A bit less than two weeks ago, I was looking for some hand-stitching with which to wind down for the day.  There were no projects ready for hand work, at least none that I felt like working on.  It was probably 9 in the evening when I walked over to the drawer where the unfinished corset was waiting.  It needed all of about 4 rows of boning channel stitching before I could machine stitch the bias to the edges and have it ready for the hand-stitching to finish the bias on the inside.  I gave it about an hour that evening, and finished it by lunchtime the next day, after 11 1/2 months of avoiding it!

Within 2-3 days after that, I got an e-mail from Marcia, my carpool partner and roommate from CoCo last year.  She wanted to know if I would be interested in buying a CoCo membership, as her roommate had cancelled just 2 weeks before CoCo is happening.  I had decided months ago that I would not be going this year - budget issues - but when this happened, how could I resist!  So, just 2 weeks before CoCo this year, my project from last year got finished!  Good timing.

The corset fits me better than my dressform.  The dress form is smaller than me, so the bust area is gaping, and the foam is not compressible, so the waist can't be laced in any smaller.  Still, it doesn't look too bad on her and it does fit me.  That's the importing thing - it fits me.  I can fit other people, but I can't fit myself, so getting this fitted in a class setting was a necessity.

I was so excited about getting the corset finished that I immediately cut another one from remnants saved just for this purpose.  The fabric was just a synthetic brocade from JoAnn's.  But the pattern was so pretty, I loved it in spite of the polyester content.  I had originally bought it to line a coat from a Donna Karan pattern, the coat that has been in the works for about 20 years!  hehehe

It's a cocoon-type coat, with dolman sleeves.  The sleeves were originally cut so low in the underarm that it just made me look even shorter and dumpier than normal, so I scooped the underarm/side seams upwards some.  Once I did that, I like the coat well enough to want to finish it, but did not like the way the interior was looking.  The fabric is 'ribbon' fabric, with 1/8 ribbon woven to form loops on the surface.  The pattern did not call for a lining, but the inside looked so bad that I knew I had to add a lining.  The pink brocade was my choice - a perfect match for the ribbon fabric and such a wonderful pattern. 

The coat is still awaiting a last bit of finishing - hand-tacking the sleeve hems, and coming up with a really wonderful closure.  Then I just have to wait for the weather in which to wear it.


The rest of the fabric from the lining will make a scruptious corset, lined in a cotton-candy pink faille that I found in my stash.  There won't be much left in the way of scraps!

Hmmm...Coco Chanel lined jackets in fabric to match the blouses for the suits.  So a corset to match the lining of the coat - following in some impressive footsteps, hehe.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Progress, slow, painful but progress...and some big leaps too...

Well, maybe the painful part is an exaggeration, but yes, things have been slow.  Finally however, some things are coming together.

I should have a replacement battery charger and a new battery for the good digital camera, so I'm going to be able to start taking pictures again, lots of pictures!  Then I can share the things I've been making, and the plans for future projects.  I can also get pictures of things that I'm going to be putting on E-bay, so that my studio can have some open space and room to maneuver!  Yippee!

Which leads to today's big project, though that requires going backwards just a little bit first.  A few weeks ago, I decided to really cull the pattern collection, with the intention of inviting a vintage pattern dealer to look through the discards and then selling the rest on line.  Right now, there are two grocery bags (plastic) full of pattern envelopes - no content - just envelopes.  Not sure how many, but those will be going to that dealer, or online very soon.  I'll probably cull a few more patterns before I'm done.  The pattern collection has truly gotten absurd and it's time to reduce it in a major way.

Well, if I can do that with patterns, I can probably do it in other areas too.  I'd read an e-mail on one of the sewing groups, about a woman who'd found a major load of stress gone after she donated a majority of her fabric collection.  It felt as if I might actually be at that point, ready for that kind of a change too.  So, week before last, I pulled 200 +/- books from my studio library.  It almost seemed as though I hadn't pulled any...the shelves were so overflowing.  Those are going to go away either via e-bay or more likely, via a used book dealer who will come to the house and pick them all up, or so I hope.

TODAY...I looked at the fabric and felt something give way...and set the goal of pulling 100 pieces of fabric that I no longer love, and sending them on to new homes.  I've got 76 pulled and bagged, 24 to go, and that will have been so very easy.  Unfortunately, I don't think I've pulled enough.  If I can get through all of it, I can probably double the number of pieces, the number of bags.

Yes I'm using numbers like 100, 76, 200...I am truly a fabriholic, a sewing supply addict.  It's time for a change.  When one walks into one's studio or sewing room, and feels nothing but the stress of pending projects hanging over one's head, maybe there's something wrong.  Maybe it's time for a change.  Maybe I do not need to be a fabric pack rat, or a pattern collector.  Maybe I don't need hundreds of books to which I seldom refer, either in my own sewing, or in my teaching and class preps.  I want to walk into my studio and see enough fabric to give me inspiration, but not so much that there is no chance of my ever using even a portion of it in my lifetime.  I want to have enough space to work comfortably, even when I've got multiple projects going on all at once.

And today was productive in other ways too.  Actually, 2 nights ago I was looking for some handwork to do while watching a little TV before bed.  I didn't find anything ready for handwork that suited my mood.  However, my mood must have been a little strange because I ended up pulling a project from a year ago, diving in and getting ready to GET IT FINISHED!  I'd taken a Victorian corset class at CoCo last year.  It should have been finished that same day, but I just did not quite get there.  It needed about 6 more rows of stitching for the bone channels, the boning inserted, and the binding put on.  I just had not been in the mood to deal with it for most of the 11 months since CoCo.  I don't know if I just didn't care about it, or if I really thought that I didn't know how to finish.  At any rate, I sat down at the machine, buzzed in those channels, inserted the boning, machine-stitched the edge of the bias to the edges of the coutil, and started folding and pinning the bias for the hand-stitching on the inside.  With the help of a few episodes of Charmed, finally available on Netflix Instant View, I got the bias all stitched in place and it is finished!  YEAH!  Why did I wait so long?

That project being done really did fire me up to get back into the studio and get sewing, which is why I was out there today, in place to have the lightbulb moments that led to the Great Fabric Reduction!  I also cut out a new corset, using scraps from an old project - the lining fabric from my ribbon fabric Donna Karan coat, a project that goes back at least 17-18 years, and STILL needs a fastener!  The lining fabric was a Joann's brocade.  Yes, sadly, it's a poly, but those brocades did/do come in some really pretty patterns and colors and this one went so well with the ribbon fabric for the coat.  I had just enough left to cut the corset.  While weeding out fabrics, I stumbled across a perfect fabric for the lining for the corset too!

I've also set aside the fabrics for the next two corsets - one in a blue-on-blue jacquard, and one in a faux tooled leather.  Getting that corset from CoCo finished, really got me fired up, even though it wasn't my first finished corset! 

Yup, as soon as the battery charger gets here, I'll get set up and start taking lots of pictures.  I'm ready to start enjoying my studio and my fabrics and projects again, and I'm ready to share the fun!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Oh my....

I finally forced myself to take a serious look at the book collection.  This is just the books in my studio, not anything from the rest of the house!  It's scary.  The shelves have been over-flowing for a long, long time.  Too many times, I've managed to acquire duplicates.  My interests have changed, yet books have not moved on when they no longer suited my activities.  It's time for a change!

Getting rid of books is not easy, if one is not willing to drop them at the local thrift store.  I can't do that, not with this many books, many of which are brand new, unread and still, really wonderful!

Listing them in e-bay is a pain in the neck.  Likewise for Etsy.  For now, I'm just listing them on a page on this blog, in a table format with prices.  It will be interesting to see if any of them move!  In a couple of months, I'll look at going back to the e-bay store arrangement, if necessary. 

I just really want my shelves to be neat and orderly again, or at least to have room for all that I need them to hold.  Once the books are under control, next will probably be the sewing patterns.  I think I've reached my breaking point, being tired of being overwhelmed every time I set foot in my studio.  Time to say enough already.  This has got to end!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And so it continues!

Down again this morning.  No, I don't want this blog to be about my weight-loss trials and tribulations, but I'm feeling to good not to share this here.  I really did pass the 2nd of the 'zero' numbers and it looks like it will stick - I won't be going back and forth across it for a few days at all.  Yeah!