So This is Christmas

I feel as though everyone I know is out at a Christmas Party – meanwhile, I’m having my own Christmas celebration, including catching up on a long overdue post. First things first. My new studio space! I moved in and sewed some luxe-as-hell pink velvet curtains.

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The first thing I started sewing in the new space was a cream wool and gold leather sculptural coat inspired by an Alexander McQueen piece I saw in an exhibition in Melbourne last year. Here’s my inspiration wall (they allowed photography in the exhibit.)

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In typical me-fashion I basically sketched the pattern onto the fabric and started cutting.

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Pictured: my design process.

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The tea cup and tennis ball are crucial parts of the sewing process. (If you roll around on a tennis ball for 5-10 minutes your mid-back might forgive you for kneeling on a wooden floor for an hour.) I’m still working on the coat, but this week I’ve been watching cheesy Christmas movies and teaching myself padstitching techniques as I shape the upper. Also, here’s an in-progress shot of the button tab for the back and pinning the hair-canvas.

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Updates to follow! ( love a good WIP, don’t I?)

Also, I’ve started and very nearly finished a new quilt. This one has a time limit, so it’ll be done before Christmas. You might remember the post I made about the beautiful fabrics from¬†Western Samoa¬†which I felt conflicted about using. I wound up using some of them to make a quilt for a friend’s new nephew who has Samoan heritage: I felt that using them like this, in an exchange (I traded a quilt for one of his exceptionally beautiful paintings) was an appropriate way to make use of them.

I sewed most of the quilt top while staying with my Grandmother. Pre-washing and drying in the sun:

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I had to work with more limited tools, because there’s only so much you can pack in a suitcase. Here’s pressing and laying out the pattern:

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And backlit after sewing up.

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Updates pending! I’m determined to have some WIP finishes for 2015.

Lots of photos and sleep deprived words.

Guess what’s happened since the last time I posted? I’ve gotten stuff done! I’ve pressed the dress, dropped my old clothes off at the op shop and although I haven’t finished the cape that’s largely because I haven’t been home at an hour when I could have reasonably sewn it without waking up my long suffering flatmate.

As a reward for my good behaviour/because I am like 96% done with my current project (I am, shut up)/because today was pay day I went fabric shopping. On the current to do list: a corset for my sister’s birthday and a surprise quilt for some friends of mine. I got all the fabrics for my sister’s corset today and most of the fabric for the quilt.

Look! Brown and green for the quilt:

And red for the corset:

The cherries are for the lining (I am a sucker for cute linings on corsets) and the outer is a lovely slubby red dupioni silk. Here is where I have to speak up in support of Sherazad Silks in Wellington, which is a fabulous treasure trove of jewel tones and metallics. Yum. (Also, if you would like to attract dubious attention in a quiet office try using the word ‘slubby’ in casual conversation.)

I sent my sister a list of the measurements I need to draft a pattern for her. In the interests of making this post as informative as possible, here are the standard measurements I use to draft a corset:

Bust
Underbust
Waist
High hip (where the bottom edge of the corset will sit.)
Full front length
Bust to waist (front)
Waist to high hip (front)
Bust to waist (side)
Waist to high hip (side)
Full back length.

To anyone who has worn/made a corset before I’ll be teaching my grandmother to suck eggs with this observation, but the height of the back should be not far off the height of the front. Basically if whoever is wearing the corset is in any way busty (larger than a small B cup) then you need the height at the back of the corset to cantilever the support at the front. Otherwise when you lace it the front around the bust has nothing bracing it and everything becomes a bit of a wardrobe malfunction risk.

My drafting method basically consists of drawing a line across a piece of paper and then ruling a line for the waist and the other measurements relevant to it. It’s not very easy to explain and my ability to draft like this and have things still fit is based mostly on the fact I spent my teenage years sewing tens of corsets and not going to parties. (The not going to parties isn’t necessary, but it did give me lots and lots of time to spent perfecting my freehand drafting skills.)

Here’s how the pattern looks (I opted for an eight piece design because it doesn’t have heeeeeaps of waist reduction.)

The phone is actually there acting as a calculator because it’s freaking 2am and I didn’t want funky arithmetic to affect my drafting. I’m trying out a new method of construction (for me) with this corset. I used to be a huge fan of 5 layer corsets with internal boning channels. This time around I’m trying external boning channels and self-fabric binding in the hopes of not annihilating my sewing maching with great chunks of fabric. This is the backing for the dupioni which I’m using to brace it against the strain the corset will be under, a heavy calico being cut out:

You can see my notes on the pattern about where the boning needs to go and how long it has to be (in this example 42S means a 42cm piece of spiral steel over that seam.) Have some more gratuitous construction shots:

The final corset will have a ruffle at the top over each cup and a sweetheart neckline. I also discovered today just how easy it (reportedly) is to attach rhinestones to things and let me tell you, as much of my next paycheque as the need to eat will allow is going to an assortment of rhinestones which I plan to attach to everything I can. The corset will very likely be on that list. Watch this space.

I didn’t sew any of the corset tonight because sewing machines are loud and my flatties are sleeping, but instead I cut a bunch of the quilting fabric into strips, inspired by this fabulous Stitched in Color tutorial.

Fuelling tonight’s spree of productivity was an album by a local band called Spook the Horses. It’s their debut Brighter and it is really astoundingly, fantastically, crushingly good.

If you enjoy doom/post rock (and quilting, apparently, if you’re reading this blog. Hi, in that case. It makes two of us.) I highly recommend grabbing a copy from their bandcamp.