Thursday, March 31, 2011

Calling all sewists and seamsters

I am about to buy fabric to make myself jeans. I have never made jeans before and have been inspired by the many bloggers who have made great looking pairs for themselves. New project! Exciting!

I want to get enough fabric to make 2 pair. Should I buy 4 yards of a single color, so even if I make a mistake and cut out 2 right legs, I will have enough to make a full pair? Should I get 2 yards each of 2 colors, so I can have two different colored pairs of jeans? If I make the above mentioned mistake then I am out of luck for that color.

What would you do?

My very first corset

I've decide to break up these critiques into 3 posts each. The first will be a short introduction to the piece, the second will be the good things about it, and the final post will be the things I don't like about it. I am very nervous about posting the bad bit, especially with pictures. I know I have improved quite a bit since I did some of these things, but that just means that now I know enough to be more embarrassed by my mistakes.

This is the first corset I made and honestly, one of the first sewing projects of mine that I would call a success. I had just learned to use a sewing machine after a year or two of struggling along with my atrocious hand sewing skills.

This was my first foray into pattern making. I had read online that you could use the duct tape double method to make a corset pattern, so I asked for my then boyfriend’s help and jumped into the project with both feet. The idea is to put on a t-shirt and have a friend wrap you tightly in duct tape in the shape you want to corset to have, make some markings and cut the thing off. I had a cheap Frederick’s of Hollywood corset that I decided to put on under the t-shirt to make getting the correct shape easier, and my then boyfriend started wrapping. The one piece of advice I would give to someone trying this is to have a pair of paramedic shears handy, since this ended up being the first time in my life that I fainted. Turns out that boyfriend could wrap tighter than I would have thought…

Since I had already marked where needed, I still counted it as a successful attempt, although while I came out wound free, that Freddy’s corset was not so lucky.

It doesn't fit as well as it once did, so despite the boning and such, I now think of this as a 'fashion' corset. In this shot it was snug but no where near tight. I made this when I was 21, and my size has varied quite a lot over the years, but I found that this fit for quite a lot of that time. The lacing up front gives it a little more leeway in fit.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The mission, should I choose to stick to it...

When I make something, other people see what went right, but I can always pick out what went wrong. It may seem like I am too critical of my own work, but the truth is that I can learn so much from the things I don’t like about a garment. When I got back to examine my own work I can see exactly how I need to improve my skills and by looking at multiple projects I can see how I have improved overtime.

From time to time here, I am going to look in detail at items I have made over the years and see what I can learn from them. What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What would I do differently if I made this today? My focus will probably be on corsetry, since that is what I sew most often, but other items may make their way in here.

And here is a quick spoiler on my first analysis.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A taste of hat making.

This past Saturday, I was feeling grumpy. Very, very grumpy. So, my boyfriend suggested we go to Nihon Machi in San Francisco, which is one of my favorite places to wander around and window shop. It was a great idea. I love checking out the craft magazines and books in Kinokuniya. It greatly improved my mood and provided me with inspiration.

If you have never been to Nihon Machi, there are a bunch of little accessories store. A lot of what they carry just isn't my style, but this weekend almost all of them had dozens of really cute frilly hair clips. I was sorely tempted to buy them, but $8 for an alligator clip, some ribbon, feathers, and a tiny piece of tulle? I don't think so!

On the way home, we stopped at the craft store and bough a couple sheets of felt and some hair clips and this is what I came up with Saturday night. I am so incredibly proud of how it turned out. My very first sewn tiny hat! It isn't perfect, but I don't think the average observer would notice the flaws.

I made the pattern, and figured out construction as I went along. My first idea was to try to be lazy and glue the tube part of the crown, but the glue just wasn't sticking, so I sewed it instead. Then I stitched the top on. The stitches that hold on the top of the hat are visible if the light hits them right, and they are not as pretty as they could have been. Finally I sewed on the brim. I didn't cut the hole in the center of the brim out until it was sewn on, because having the solid circle was giving it a little more stability. That was really helpful because I kept feeling like I was about to crush the hat. The still eco-felt didn't really want to be sewn,particularly in the spots that had glue on them from my original bad idea.

I wanted it to match a corset I finished a few months back, so the hat band is a bit of scrap fabric leftover from it. I ran a straight grain strip through my 3/4 inch bias tape maker, and stitched it on. It is only held on in a few places, since it was difficult to get my fingers into the small openin in the hat, but it seems sturdy enough. The flower was an experiment, which ended up turning out well. I was going to put a little black bead in the center, but I couldn't find one I liked. Since I knew some of my friends had spent the day at the Nove Albion Steampunk Exhibition, I decided I gear I had from taking part some old broken watches was just what my little hat needed, and the feathers are a simple clip I bought at Joann's about a year ago to use as a hair clip. The feathers can be removed since they are just clipped to the hat band.

You may notice above that I said "first sewn tiny hat". That is because a couple of years ago I made one using poster board, glue, and lots and lots of glitter.

Don't you just love the big button as a hatband decoration? I think I had seen Coraline recently and was had picked up the buttons with no idea what to do with them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

...and away we go

I was talking to my best friend today, while we carpooled home from work about meeting new people. We both have a hard time talking to new people and today she came up with theory of why that is so, which I thought was rather ingenious. I want to talk about what I spend time doing, but what I spend my time doing is sewing, crafting, and reading about sewing a crafting. I really love talking about it and have spent hours discussing new patterns or my latest triumphs, but most people aren’t nearly so interested in the minutia of pattern drafting or millinery. I can’t count the number of times I have seen someone’s eyes glaze over when I mention sewing, or worse yet the condescending , “Oh, you *craft*”. So I feel that one of my favorite topics of conversation is largely off the table, making conversation a bit more difficult.

That is why I am starting a sewing blog. There are people out there who actually want to talk about sewing, crafting, and making!