Friday, April 27, 2012

Completed: Victorian hat

It is done! Well, mostly. I should sew some elastic or combs to the inside so it stays on my head better.

Here's a shot of the back to show the trim on the underside:

Before I could finish it, of course it needed to threaten me with more physical pain... I wasn't falling for it this time! (here's the previous post if you're wondering what I'm talking about). After pinning the purple trim on, I went to put the hat on my head twice, not considering the pins were sticking straight out into the inside, as seen below. Ouch! Glad I stopped myself both times, disappointed in myself that I didn't learn the first time.

Oh thrift shopping, how I love thee.

I really want to take a moment for a short post about my most recent thrift shopping trip. I've scored some great stuff in the past (two pairs of platform sneakers and UFO pants within an hour in one store, on a half off sale day? One of my best shopping days ever.), and yesterday's haul is pretty sweet. To keep this somewhat sewing related...

check out all that bias tape! If I recall correctly, there's 13 packages there, with only 4 or so that have been opened - all for $3! On my way to the CD section after grabbing up that bias tape I noticed the modern cookie press ($8, a little pricey compared to my usual finds but it looks well made) then turn around and find the vintage one from the 1950s for only $4! It even has the instruction book! Check out the animal shaped disc for it, isn't that awesome?
I also got a new wallet, beads, tights, and some CDs (it's weird I didn't already own DJ Sammy's Heaven... It's one of the things that got me into electronic music in the first place, and still one of my favorite CD cover/insert designs. The other one is 97 Octane by Dieselboy. I'm not much of a fan, but it caught my eye the last couple times I saw it at this store so I went for it).

I can't praise thrift shopping enough. You never know what great things you'll find.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The hat of pain and pattern of many pieces

In my last post, I wrote about purchasing this hat pattern from Truly Victorian and some millinery supplies. Well, the pattern came on Saturday and the supplies a day before, so I got to work on my hat all day Saturday. I probably could have finished it in a day, but got stuck because I don't have enough trim for the edge of the brim. (Why do I never have trim?)

The pattern is great though (it's not the pattern of many pieces, that one will be discussed later). I've been doing it a little differently than instructed, mostly because of the qualities of my fabric - not because I can't understand the instructions or think they make things more difficult than necessary, which can happen with commercial patterns. This fabric is not the easiest to work with, don't let its simple black appearance fool you. It's pretty drapey, so the edges of the frame were very obvious when I tried covering it. To remedy this, I added a layer of fleece over the buckram frame.

"So," you may be wondering, "how is this the hat of pain?"

Friday, April 20, 2012

New fabric, and some other exciting thoughts

Today, I wanted to share my latest fabric acquisitions. The heart fabric especially drew me in, so cute! I might go back for more to make a couple skirts for sale (if the store still has it).

These both came from one of my favorite fabric stores, where everything is $1.99 a yard. They always seem to have something super cute or useful and just because all the fabric there is cheap doesn't mean it's poor quality. It's the same quality of fabric you'd find anywhere else, sometimes with factory errors or already cut into odd sized pieces, but often times no issues at all. The downfall is that the stock is not constant - see something amazing today? It probably won't be there the next time you go. I've gotten awesome fabrics in the past then wished later that I had bought twice as much, only to never see them sold again (the one I used for the yellow polka dot skirt is a perfect example of this).

They had several other fabrics I loved, though I'm trying not to buy more than I can store (it's becoming a problem...). This leads to the other thoughts I mentioned: I'm feeling particularly adventurous right now and considering pulling some money together to purchase some of the other fabrics I saw, then making some skirts in several styles/sizes to sell. It's risky, I don't know if anyone will buy my products because the market is pretty saturated with the skirt styles I like (well and there's that storage issue), but perhaps worth a shot. I'll see how I feel about the idea in a couple days, though I welcome any thoughts from you in the mean time.
Like I mentioned before, a dress form would really help in this sort of endeavor, so I caved and just ordered one.
I think I've fallen into the "retail therapy" trap this week, having spent money on patterns, millinery supplies, fabric, and now a dress form. I can just call these business expenses, right? Let's hope that's how this ends up.
Speaking of millinery supplies, I am expecting some in the mail soon to make a hat to go with my Victorian costume. It won't be exactly like the one pictured but similar. I purchased this pattern from Truly Victorian since I've never made a structured hat before. Lots of things to look forward to in the mail!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sims 2 Cosplay

Like I mentioned at the end of my post about my first pair of jeans, I cosplayed a character from the Sims 2 game last year with my best friend Eddy. 
Getting right to the point, here's the character I was aiming for:

and my rendition (The shoes were the only part of this costume I already had and didn't need to make):

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Victorian project - update 2

I went shopping last week to find trim for the polka dot mermaid dress but was unsuccessful. That shopping trip didn't go very well overall - I got some bias tape for the Victorian costume, but nothing else from my list. ugh. So, I'm still stuck on the dress.
On the plus side, I made some progress on the Victorian costume last week. Except, well, the cuffs are done but sticking out oddly. I thought it was just a matter of pressing them but that didn't help. I'm not really willing to re-do them... maybe I will though. You can kind of see what I mean in these photos if you look closely.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

To buy or not to buy...

Yesterday, I started thinking of some things I should probably buy soon. The biggest of these things is a dress form. I've never really wanted a dress form before because after working with the ones at the costume shop, I know my proportions don't match them very well (though, they don't match anyone very well do they?). Maybe it wouldn't really help me fit dresses and blouses, and definitely not pants, but it should help with skirts. Cutting circle skirt hems has always annoyed me because I can't keep them even. Being able to throw the skirt on a dress form would let me mark the hem with the bias stretched naturally, in theory getting a more even hem. Draping the overskirt for my Victorian costume would also be much easier. I could use it for photos of finished projects with less hassle than trying to take photos of myself. It could help with fitting and photographing commissions as well.
But...where would I put this thing? I'd need it to be accessible pretty much on a daily basis or there's no point of owning it, and I don't really have free space in my bedroom/sewing room. I guess I could move a box or two of fabric down to the basement to make space.
Probably the biggest issue - dress forms are expensive. The cheaper ones are $100 to $150. I don't really need anything more than a cheap adjustable form, but being unemployed, that's costly enough to make me hesitate. A little more and I could get a nice point-and-shoot camera instead. Though if I got some commissions that I needed it for, it would pay for itself pretty quickly.

Any thoughts anyone? Should I just go for it?

The other things I've been looking at are some patterns from Truly Victorian. I do need to make a hat to go along with my Victorian costume and I like one of the hat patterns they have. Of course then I'd need buckram and millinery wire too. If I ordered the hat pattern I might as well get a corset pattern at the same time, since I've wanted to make a corset for a while and have seen a lot of praise for theirs. I've never paid this much for patterns before, but it's not too bad, having to get the materials will be worse. I probably will go ahead and buy these sometime soon so I can make a hat in time for May 19th.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Victorian Project - update

I've made a good bit of progress since the last time I took pictures of this outfit. I say "took pictures" because in the last post I mentioned the bodice was mostly cut out already and I had been working on it for a couple days before posting.
So, here's what I've done over the past couple weeks:
- put the main bodice pieces together.
- figured out the shawl collar, which was one of the parts I was least enthusiastic about doing. It's not perfect, but acceptable.
- re-cut and fit the sleeves. Again, I wasn't really looking forward to this part. Back when I was doing this project for class, I had fit and re-cut the sleeves so many times I don't even remember. They're still not perfect, but much better than any of the other versions.
- adjusted the darts.

Time for a quick and easy project

A couple days ago I got stuck on the projects I have in progress. The Victorian costume gets tedious pretty quickly, and I need some trim for the polka dot mermaid dress before I can continue working on it.
Over the past week or so, my mind kept going back to a skirt I remembered my sister-in-law wearing. It's tiered with an embroidered border print and good proportions. I called up my sister-in-law and asked to borrow her skirt, which took a bit of explaining because I couldn't remember what color it was - for some reason I thought black/gray gingham, woops. Anyways, I'm not sure where she got it but here's that pretty skirt:

I already had the perfect fabric in my stash waiting for just the right project, a pin-dot cotton with border embroidery. Border designs on fabric are awesome by the way. I wish there was more of them available.
Here I've already cut up my fabric:

A little rant about photos

I know a lot of sewing bloggers take photos of themselves on their own but I've always disliked doing that myself. Unfortunately, I don't have anyone to take photos for me on a regular basis, and I didn't win that mega millions lottery drawing last week to hire someone, so I'll just have to put up with self-portraits. Don't get me wrong, I don't always dislike self-portraits. I set up mini photo shoots for myself just for fun sometimes, but I don't want to have to put that level of effort into a shot of a mock-up or progress of a project.
Even though I have a remote for my camera, I never seem to have someplace I can set it up. This house doesn't have much I can use as backgrounds either. There's always too much furniture, other clutter, not enough light or backlight from windows. I'd go outside, but I don't trust my tripod on the uneven ground. It makes me miss my old living room (visible in the indoor shots of the wedding dress post). Even there I was never completely satisfied with photos, so I'm probably idealizing the place since I miss it, but at least I had a consistent spot to use. I've been in the new house about a year and a half now and I can't find a spot I'm satisfied with. Oh well, can't do much about it except keep looking for something that works. Some of my education focused on photography and part of me would like to work in that field, so it pains me a little to say this, but please forgive the sometimes poor photos. I know I'm capable of better, but things just aren't working out.