In which I talk about food and am indecisive.

Today was generally good, with a side of oh-no-the-supermarket-closed-early-because-it’s-a-holiday followed by a delicious student cuisine dinner of sub-$1 noodles which I suspect I have hauled from flat to flat for the last three years. They were marinating in so much MSG I don’t think it matters – they also came with a packet of sauce featuring such fabulous flavour sensations as VINEGAR and SALT. Not really the topic of this blog, but my deep disappointment that I couldn’t buy the ingredients for the mini-feast I had been planning for the last two hours of work needed venting somewhere.

I also got some sewing done tonight: I attached the binding to the top of the corset and played around with what I’ll do next. My sister mentioned she wants ruffles, and I was sort of envisioning ruffles over the bust, but I’m not sure how to do it and make it look good. I think maybe because the dupioni won’t hold a crease it isn’t looking as clean as I’d like. Here’s a comparison picture, anyway:

I’m also sort of considering lace:

But I’ve also got my little sparkle loving self invested in the idea of putting rhinestones on it and I feel like lace + rhinestones will be too much. Oh dear. Don’t worry, I’m really just wittering to myself here. I’ll probably pin the lace on soon to get a real idea of how it’ll look.

Anyway. There’s not a lot more I can do without the boning and busk (or embroidery cotton for the eyelets – I think I’m going to hand sew them, because I hate fun and enjoy sewing blanket stitches for 10 hours.) Instead I used some of the fabric I cut for bone casings and didn’t use to test a slightly different method of sewing herringbone blocks. I think I like this better:

Seeing it like that really makes me want to get a single fabric and sewing a sort of not-really-wholecloth quilt. Basically piece and sew an entire herringbone quilt of one fabric. Maybe this only sounds good in my head. I’m pretty stuck on it though, possibly a really chunky pattern? Maybe one of my next projects.

I also started piecing a block with the actual fabrics, but there are a couple of fat quarters still to arrive in the mail and I want to hold off adding much more so the various cottons are evenly spread. I like how it’s looking though:

Minor Updates

Just a quick update on where my various projects are at. The corset is progressing well – I cut the lining yesterday:

And then sewed together the outer and inner pieces. I started off making external boning channels and swiftly reaslised that was quite a lot of work, and wasn’t going to look very tidy given I prefer using 1/2″ bones. So I moved to twill tape internal channels and sewed them all today.

(For reference – this has the lining folded out from the back – the curve in the top right of the image is the centre front of one half of the corset.)

Then I attached the lining to the outer, and turned and sewed the hem so that there’s room for a 1/4″ bone just before the grommets.

Speaking of, I lost half the die for my hand held grommet setter 🙁 Boo. Not sure if the dies sold online are compatible, bother. I’m thinking of hand sewing the eyelets though, to make it tidier, but again, not sure if dooming myself to several hours of hand sewing is such a good idea. Hmm. Something to ponder.

The next step from here is attaching the binding to the top and bottom and inserting the bones and busk. The only fly in the ointment is that I still have to *order* bones and busk when my next pay cheque comes in, so that might be a couple of weeks off.

In the mean time I’ve been busily cutting strips from the quilting fabric, so once I’ve done all I can on the corset without further supplies I’ll start work on that to keep me busy.

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.

On why getting some things done just doesn’t happen.

Hello lovely readers,

I thought today I would talk about the ridiculous ebb and flow of my enthusiams for projects. As you’ll notice if you read back through this blog, the last thing I talked about before taking a six month hiatus was my long list of thing I was going to get done. I did actually accomplish few, smaller, things such as the knitted present, but unfortunately it has been sitting, with an addressed postage bag, for five months (I am not making this up) because I couldn’t find a nice piece of paper to jot a quick note on before I sent it. In a similar vein, over a month ago I decided I would clean out my wardrobe, so I dutifully packed the unwanted clothes into a couple of bags and put them by my front door, to take to the local op shop. They’re still there. Not because the op shop is out of my way, or across town, oh no – it is actually only 5 minutes away.

I’m just not very good at getting things done in any sort of consistent manner. I am seized by great waves of enthusiasm which usually buoy me through the initial stages of any project – I just lack follow through on the smaller details. I’m getting better at this in sewing (finishing the insides of outfits, rather than just sheepishly assuming no one will look at them) but I’ve yet to actually make this change in my day to day life. I’m quite hoping that this week I can finally send that gift, and finally drop off the clothes (actually the op shop and the post office are 20m from each other, so I could perhaps score a two-fer on that.)

But since I regained my interest in sewing (which is to say, since last Tuesday) I have immediately been gripped by plans to sew EVERYTHING. I have already planned out a quilt, and a corset, and two more skirts. I’m trying really really hard to keep my WIP list under control because I know otherwise I will buy a lot of fabric and then use exactly none of it, instead drifting back towards something else to occupy my time.

The other other thing is that I really enjoy being wrapped up in this kind of enthusiasm. I’ve been sleeping better, and waking up happy, and even though I’m dealing with all sorts of engineers reports and similar SNAFUs for my house I’m still quite excited to get home and sew at the end of each day.

And here, so this isn’t just a bunch of self-flagellation, is a picture of me in the cape I made to match the brown dress I posted the other day. It hasn’t been lined yet (and the dress still needs a matching belt and a good pressing) but I promise I will do both of these things this week, maybe even tonight. I’ll post about it when I do them, so you can check up on me, if you like.

Next up: fabric shopping on Wednesday, cutting strips of cottons I already own for the planned-quilt, and attending the Te Papa Unveiled exhibition for dress inspiration. Inappropriate daywear, here I come.

Giraffe dress! (Show your working.)

Here’s the progress update I promised, complete with pictures and a sort-of explanation of how I did things. I copied the bodice pattern from the red dress I’m wearing in the post from a couple of days ago, and altered the front a little so it looked more like this.

As you can see my drafting methods are exhaustive and highly technical.

I cut out all the bodice pieces first and sewed together the outer fabric, then did an initial fitting. I tried to take photos but apparently I failed Bathroom Mirror Photography 101, so no blank expressions from me as I awkwardly fit the front pieces.

Fun fact: I’m too lazy to wear a bra at home, but I couldn’t do a fitting without one. Enter me, sauntering around my house with a bra on over my shirt because I couldn’t be arsed getting changed. Pfft. Expending effort, what?

Anyway. Then I started attaching the lining:

To be honest, I sort of winged the skirt. What else is new? I also lost my tape measure (and by
‘lost’ I mean ‘carefully put away somewhere so safe I can’t find it’.) Bummer as. It turned out pretty ok though. Lots of hand finishing: the cross over front is handsewn, and I ended up turning and handsewing the lining at the waist seam:

To be honest, sewing chunky gathers like that in a heavy fabric without a walking foot was a bit of a task. I might see if I can commandeer the walking foot which Mum claimed a few years back when I head home next month. Sewing in an invisible zip without an invisible zipper foot (I had one, but I can’t see where it went! Hurr hurr) went quite well though, so you know, go team me.

Here’s the almost finished product:

It’s wrinkling a bit funny under the bust on the right hand side of the photo, so I’ll probably tweak that tomorrow, and the ribbon still needs to be sewn on, but otherwise I’m quite pleased with it. I’m still vaguely thinking of making a self-covered belt for it, but I might be too lazy for that. We’ll see. Now I’m off to find pictures of HIGH FASHUN capes, because I have fabric left over and this bad boy is just crying out for a wee little caplet.

Musings and Procrastination

Instead of *actually* sewing something I’ve been thinking about stuff a lot today, and lazing about in my pajamas. I’m about to shower and start drafting up a pattern, but in the interim I have a couple of questions for anyone in the audience who wears high heeled shoes or petticoats.

1. When people say ‘oh, they’re really comfy’ about high shoes, which of these things is happening? Have they, a) found a truly comfortable pair of high heeled shoes which love their feet and never give them blisters, have they b) found a pair of high heeled shoes which are comfortable as long as you don’t walk anywhere in them or c) are they lying through their teeth?

I have a secret love affair with really really stupid shoes. I am also really bad at standing still. If I get to a bus stop and the bus isn’t due for 10 minutes I will walk to the next stop, just for something to keep me busy. Even in my more sensible shoes I seem to wind up with feet that are grumpy and covered in blisters. Is there something I’m missing? Is the secret to wearing these shoes without my heels bleeding just to not walk anywhere?

Serious question, is there some giant high heeled shoes secret which I am not privy to? (My asking this may be motivated partly by a holographic red pair of Jeffrey Campbell shoes I would love to justify buying.)

My second, more fun, question is if you have petticoats: how do you store them? My wardrobe is too small to fit them easily, is there some ingenious storage solution you have come up with? Spill! I am all ears.

(Proper update with photos and progress and such things later on tonight, promise.)

Put on your Red Dress and Dance the Blues

I haven’t posted in a while. A long while. About six months ago I got very enthused about quilting. I decided to (with apologies to Hyperbole and a Half) quilt all the things! I bought fabric! I made plans! Then I jammed it all in a cupboard and spent six months focusing on my photography instead. Oops.

However, I made a vague New Years resolution to dress in a way that doesn’t look like a rolled out of bed with 5 minutes to get ready and put on something that passed the sniff test from my floor (current method of FASH-UN). Among the things I went and bought while on my quilting buzz was 4m of giraffe print short pile fabric. WHO DOES THAT? Me, apparently. Here it is:

Anyway. It’s been staring at me from under my stairs for six months and two days ago I asked Twitter what the hell I should do with it. Make a dress! said one of my lovely followers. Suddenly my head filled with visions of a Dior New Look style dress, but you know, in giraffe faux fur. I went on a shopping mission for supplies: I’d need a petticoat to fulfil my vision. Luckily my local fabric store was having a sale, so I managed to snag 6m of tulle, fabric for a waistband, thread and elastic all of $22.

Then last night I set about constructing a three tiered petticoat.

In the true spirit of sewing projects started at 11pm, I took my measurements, cut the tulle, squinted and went ‘that doesn’t look quite right’. Turns out I was right with the measurements and the finished product hung a tiny smidge too low. I fixed it with some hand sewing this morning, but that’s why there are no pictures of the petticoat by itself. I tried to take more progress pictures, but George insisted on helping:

My hands are covered in scratches from where he got all bitey when I asked him to move off his tulle so I could sew it. Bad kitteh.

However! I finished it in about two hours, and tried it on under a red dress I’ve never really worn because it doesn’t work without a petticoat. It’s made from this odd red fabric that it looks like I skinned a muppet for. I didn’t though, promise. No muppets were harmed in the making of the dress.

I look very stern, but that’s just my ‘it’s 2am’ face. Anyway. More pictures to come of the petticoat and the dress-to-be. I’m all enthused all over again though: I always forget how much I like sewing, and how relaxing it is. I fell asleep easily last night for the first time in months. I’m already mulling over more projects, but I won’t be counting my chickens before they’re hatched this time though.