Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, No Regrets

Well, I started this blog with the intent to have a post once a week...that didn't go so well, looking back I can see that I struggled to make a post once a week. I look at the start of my poet shirt walk through and tend to kick myself for not taking more pictures when I make one of these shirts. The fact is, I've neglected my regular costume making about the same time as I started those posts. 

I could blame it on holiday madness, or the ending on the college semester, or being overwhelmed at the "bill paying job" but really those are only a small part of what I've put ahead of my sewing. 

As the year has slowly been coming to an end, I found myself doing more stuff for me, and only me. I had the stuff that I had to do, but in my free time I did the stuff that I wanted to do.  This is kind of a new thing for me. I fill my life with pressure from outside my control and with in, but for the past 3 months, I've been taking care of me. 

This did include completing my second workshop with Cin-City Burlesque. If you are in the area, I highly recommend these workshops, along with the fitness class that they do. This is a lovely bunch of ladies, all shapes and sizes, and full of positivity and love. The way these ladies empower themselves and encourage each other and all that they come into contact with is just inspirational. This is on my list to continue to participate in for 2014. 

So, I didn't make the deans list this year. So I skipped the summer term. So, I didn't make all of the costumes that I dreamed of, or finished the gifts I wanted to. So, I didn't get a promotion at work that was hinted to me. So my apartment looks like it is an overpriced storage unit. All of that doesn't really matter because I'm finishing the year the way I want to...with no regrets. I took care of me this year, and that's more important than anything else that I could have accomplished. 

Monday, November 25, 2013


I am currently enrolled into a burlesque workshop. This is my second workshop and I am loving every minute of my experience. One of the things that these workshops really play up to is my love for costumes. Neither of these workshops have required very intense costuming, but I can not help but let my mind play. 

So as the performance part of this workshop draws closer, I am scrambling to decide on my pieces. I have some ideas of some things I might make, and back ups in case they don't work or I run out of time. Either way, I think this is going to result in some fabulous creations. Perhaps almost as good as my sheep costume for Celtic days. 

Be careful what ideas you arm a Sewing Wench with. 


Friday, September 20, 2013

Into The Poet Shirt: Part 1

This is my favorite shirt pattern.

The pattern is from Butterick #5008. It has now been discontinued, unfortunately. You can still pick up the pattern from the website under "out-of-print"

As always we start by cutting out the pieces.

Some of the pieces require an interfacing such as the collar, cuffs, and collar-band. To do this, I like to iron the fabric to a fusible interfacing  and then cut out the pieces. 

I like to get all of the ironing and odd bits done first, starting with the flounce.

To get the perfect narrow hem, I sew a 1/4" stay stitch around the edge. Then iron along the stitch line, unfold and iron the raw edge touching the stitching. Fold over and re-iron. 

Do the same with the sleeve ruffles.

I like to use a ruffler foot to gather the ruffles, but you can use your favorite gathering method. 

That takes care of most of the tedious bits. 

In the next part we'll cover building the cuffs and collar. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Crafty Wench!

As I was preparing one of my favorite shirts I realized some of the pieces are getting a bit worn.

The flounce around the neck opening piece was looking a bit worn. Time to buy another pattern? Heck no! Just iron it onto some fuse-able stabilizer.

Then just cut it out and it's as good as new! Better than new in fact because it will be thicker than the old thin paper and hold up to a lot more uses. 

I do this with many of my favorite patterns, some of which are now out of print and can't be replaced. 

For this shirt and all of our items currently for sale visit our new full site!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Elvish Ways

This week has been the perfect week, no day job and the week before classes start. Just as I was starting this perfect week, I get a request to create an Elvish dress. SCORE!

So here is where I started.  Simplicity Pattern 9891. We're doing a version of "A" or the one on the upper right side. 

Because the dress is so full, pieces 2 and 3 have two pieces that have to be attached. This is done by simply matching the target marks and tape. 

We're using velvet for the entire dress, including the sleeves and nixing the sash. Once all of the pieces are cut, they go together simply putting the front together first and then the back. 

Now I also added ties in the front. So cut 16 pieces of a coordinating rat-tail, and place them about an inch and a half apart on the sides front center piece (1). 

I stay stitch these before putting on the front side pieces. 

Then sew the side front pieces to the center front. 

Do the same for the back center and the back side pieces.

Match the shoulders. 

This is one of the few times that I choose to sew up the sides before sewing in the sleeves. 

Then on to the sleeves. Match one sleeve front to sleeve back. 

Because we are not going to line the sleeves (which you could) I did a French Seam along the long underside of the sleeves. This leaves a neat finish when you look at the sleeves. 

Now once you have the sleeves finished, attach them to the arm holes. This is one instance that I pin. Pin every inch or so. 

The easiest way to sew this is with the presser foot on the inside. 

Add facing and hem the bottom and sleeves. Then you're ready to trim. 

Since this was a consignment piece, I gave a few options on trim. 

After the trim is sewn. You're all finished. 

And I love the Celtic style sleeves.

As always, you can check out my stuff here. 
This has really been a fun project. I can't wait to see it on the elf buying it!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Tools

I mentioned in a previous post that I bought a new sewing/embroidery machine while at the Creative Expo in Sharronvile last month, but was having issues with the embroidery function. 


Not exactly what I had envisioned when I bought a $2000 sewing machine. 

After a lot of frustration, and a two hour class, I finally have learned my new machine. 

And can put it into use in all of the ways I had intended.

In another post I will go over the construction of this hunting vest. At the moment I'm contemplating the closures.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Bit of Bustle

Last week a friend posted to facebook a photo of herself and her husband from a wedding "photo booth" set up. Upon seeing the photo it struck me that I had the very same fabric in my stash as the backdrop in the photo. That made me want to pull it out and play. But what to do with it? 

Then, as many days, I found myself in the fabric store and found the most beautiful crushed velvet on clearance. Instantly I knew what I was to do. 

The dress herself is a simple cut and a familiar pattern, and the apron included in the pattern. Of course this would not do alone, I had to top it. 

The bustle and train attach to the apron on the sides. 

It is very adjustable, so the bustles could be longer. 

Next up will be some undergarments and accessories to go with it. Hopefully I'll be able to arrange a photo shoot with models soon as well. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Updating, Posting, and Trying to Fight a Head Cold

Ohio weather can be a bit troublesome on the sinuses. This weekend is one of those times. As I sit here surrounded by bolts and boxes of lovely fabric and a band new Viking sewing machine I feel my heart sing out to create, but my head being filled with gunk says, "um...I don't think so." So what's a sewing wench to do when she feels the drive to create but her body rejects such notions? Well, she updates her blog and shops!

Back in March I posted a tutorial on a peasant dress for toddlers. If you missed it, you can find it here.  At the time I hadn't gotten to posting it to the Etsy shop. Now it's here, and ready for sale.

You may notice in that listing that I show the peasant dress with an overdress as well. That dress is listed here, (and pictured below). While that wasn't made on my new machine, it is still a very lovely piece and will soon have some to match it's elegance. 

While toddlers seem to be my favorite area to work in while I'm between custom orders, I also have a couple of child size costumes in the works including a highland boy and a court dress for about an 8 year old. 

For now, I'm off to de-gunk my head!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Adventure Continues

Well, I made it through the sewing expo with out buying a lot of fabric. In fact, I didn't buy any fabric. What I did buy was a Viking Sewing/Embroidery Machine. (insert rolly eye emoticon here)

This is it (stock photo), plus a quilting table attachment. All in all it was a great deal and I couldn't wait to try it out.

It sews like a dream, and quicker than my Project Runway machine that I have been using. And the long quilting attachment is wonderful for these heavy lengths of fabric that I tend to use. I wish I had this before I started the kilts! But when I go to use the embroidery I end up with this:

Not at all the brilliant work I was promised. 

I've been working with another seamstress who knows embroidery well more than I do and she's given me some tips, but this machine also comes with free lessons. That's on this morning's task list, call and inquire about the lessons.

In the mean time, as I mentioned, it sews like a dream and I've created these lovely tartan garters.

This is done in Black Watch and was created at the request of the bride buying kilts of the same tartan for her wedding. 

And the Royal Stewart I found as a ribbon, then found yardage of it, so if you need a kilt (men's, women's, or child's) or a flower girl dress to match I can do that as well.

You'll find these garters in my Etsy shop here. We'll be adding in Scottish National soon as well.

Hopefully, I'll master my new machine soon and we'll have lots more products to offer!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Temptation Lurks

Today begins The Creative Festival in Sharonville. This event is a huge place filled with demos, displays, classes, and of course venders selling everything from hand sewn dolls, sewing machines including embroidery and free arm quilting machines, and fabric. I haven't been doing as well on my mission of dwindling down my stash as I started out at the beginning of the year, and this show is going to be a huge temptation for me. So I've enlisted a chaperon.

My favorite bag lady, Heather who makes trendy modern bags, is venturing out with me. She also shares my passion for sewing and fabric, but is a bit more level headed when it comes to buying. 

I have decided to buy an embroidery machine, and this would be a great place to try them out and play before I buy, but the fabric is just...amazing.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This One is All Mine

Every once in a while, I will find a pattern or fabric that I am so in love with that I have to make something just for me with it. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a hard time spending money on myself, which is kind of odd since I am single and live alone, but it's true. I also have a really hard time justifying spending time to make something for myself. I always feel as if I should be creating stock, or book keeping, or some such. But some times the starts line up and I end with some pretties of my own.

This dress is one of those moments, well, a few of those moments actually. The patterns I found first. This is actually three patterns: undergarments, the dress, and the hat. Really they weren't anything that I thought right away, "Oh this is for me!" but they were like most of my amassed collection, I fell in love with them and bought them while on sale...several in fact.

The ribbon on the other hand is something I had coveted for many months before buying it. The soft pinks and tans are not in my usual color scheme, so I struggled with purchasing it. It was also much more expensive than I normally would purchase. Once I bought the fabric, I knew I had to have this ribbon to trim the dress with. 

The fabric took a bit longer for me to give in to. Though I was desperately in love with the patter, I just could not bare to pay the near $30 a yard that the price tag held. I pined for months for this fabric. I knew exactly what pattern I'd use, and even had that ribbon in mind, but for months it was simply dreaming. 

When I also found the pink fabric, I knew I had to have these two fabrics, I had to create this dress that was dancing in my mind. And this one would be mine!

It was still a few months before I bought the fabric. No matter how much I love it, no matter how much I knew it would be perfect, I just couldn't bring myself to spend the nearly $300 it would cost in fabric to have this dress. 

But, as fabric does, it eventually ended up on the clearance rack. When there was a 50% off clearance sale, I bolted right to these fabrics and bought all of it that was left. That night I went online and bought the ribbon to match. 

It would of course be another three months before I finished the dress, but as soon as I did, I could not wait to try it on! I knew I wouldn't be able to lace it properly, but I could get an idea what it looked like right? This was a serious miscalulation on my part. Sure the dress went on fine, but 6 yards of brocade, 2 yards of muslin lining, 2 layers of cotton canvas as a middle layer in the bodice and 34 steel bones meant that the dress is very heavy! On top of that, the bodice was so well reinforced, that it would not bend leaving me stuck in this dress at midnight...did I mention I live alone?

Frantic, and fearful of being eternally stuck in this dress, I did what any scared pretend princess does; I called my mommy. 

After she stopped laughing, she informed me that she couldn't come to me, as her car was not drive-able, but I could come to her and she'd let me out. She lived with my grandmother at the time who lives a good 30 minute drive away from me. 

Well, I had to do it, and the entire drive there I just knew I'd get pulled over and have to explain to some highway patrol officer that no I can't touch my nose because this dress does not allow my arms to move that high!

These pictures where her way of torturing me even more. 

After surviving that, I still decided to wear the dress to the local fair, but driving in a farthingale is impossible, so I arrived to fair in my Elizabethan undergarments and proceeded to be dressed in the lot. Which is not an uncommon thing at these fairs...or at least at my local one. 

My mother and I also like to stop for dinner after the fair, again this is how I was dressed as we ate at a Big Boy close to my grandmother's house. The waiter went on and on about how wonderful my costume looked. My mother, being my mother, then looked at him and whispered, "She's in her underwear!" making the poor boy blush more ruby than an apple. 

I left him a large tip. 

With all of the mishaps, longing, yearning, work, sweat, tears, and laughs that went into making this costume it has become my most treasured one. Sure there are improvements to be made (like putting the shoulder rolls on as an applique rather than trying to stuff them into the seam as I did) but the memories in making it could not be more perfect. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a Bolt

Everyone has memories that seem to last forever. Your first kiss, your first crush, your first car, your first date, etc... Well, this was my first mad hording of a bolt of fabric. 


I remember very clearly finding this bolt of blue/black/white plaid flannel on the $1 rack at Walmart. I fell in love with the fabric and bought the entire 10 yard bolt. Then I went back a week later, found and bought another 10 yard bolt.  

This was the first fabric I made kilts from. And the first fabric I made toddler's dresses from. 

This past summer it was nick-named "TARDIS Plaid" and a pre-teen Whovien girl wore it to the local Renaissance fair.

This fabric has been with me almost since the beginning of my passion. While it is good that I am completing my mission to deplete my monstrous stash, it's kind of a bitter sweet feeling this time. 

There are still a few yards left, so if you'd like to have your piece of this TARDIS Plaid before it's gone contact me here in my Etsy Shop or here through Facebook. 

Good bye old friend.