Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lace Buttons

Fantastic GBACG workshop yesterday with Nancy Nehring, author of 50 Heirloom Buttons to Make. We made 5 buttons from her book. Four of mine came out great, the fifth was a hot mess. I would definitely make the morning star and the Victorian flag again.

Wood mold for braid and soutache buttons.

Finished soutache button
Completed morning star in hemp cord, couldn't get the evening star to work. The Morning star looked great in thinner gimp.
Singleton button starts with a running stitch 1/4 inch in from the outside.

Pulled in and back stitched around a brass ring.

Victorian flag in silk buttonhole twist

Completed Victorian Flag in black silk.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rockford Peach Halloween

Photo by Nina
I dressed up for Halloween at work this year and won the Costume Contest!  We aren't really a "fun" workplace so I've never dressed up before but  I can't resist a chance to show up in costume.

There was a good showing.  A crew of zombie Federal Regulators.  The Colonel as a Roman centurion complete with jokes, "They told me it would take a legion to transform Civil Works".  There was a surprising lack of punny costumes.  Maybe we're a very literal-minded bunch of engineers and scientists.

Anyway, this was a reprise of my Rockford Peaches costume, which I wore at Costume College this summer.  This is the team from the movie, A League of Their Own and was also a real team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

I altered a modern commercial pattern using images of the original baseball uniforms as a reference.  The hat and belt are purchased.  My friend Catherine embroidered the patches for me using a pattern that I believe she bought from etsy.  Modern athletic socks and modern black leather sneakers.

Zombie Regulators and everyone in costume. Photos taken by Ryan Mcclymont

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marathon Wonder Woman

Nike Women's Marathon 2013

I decided to run the full marathon again and since everything is better with a costume I made a Wonder Woman running outfit.  This was inspired by a fun group of gals at the inaugural Geek Girls Fun Run at DragonCon in August and many of them had superhero outfits.  Wonder Woman is well-known and variations in the outfit are easily recognizable. 

Marathon course through SF, lots of hills
I decided on a 3 piece outfit: shirt, skirt and regular running tights/capris under the skirt.  This gave me the option of neurotically over-thinking my race-day pants choices and provided the chance to buy some seriously overpriced compression tights that I do not think improved my performance. I did refer to them as magic pants for the week before the race to try and encourage a bit of the placebo effect.

I started with a men's athletic shirt so I could be sure to use a wickable base material and recut the shirt using my basic tshirt block.  I wasn't sure about the content of the gold material so I wanted to limit the amount I was using.  It ended up being rather cold and foggy for the marathon so it didn't really make a difference.

I appliqued the wonder woman symbol on my shirt front using a regular zigzag stitch, tracing over a paper printout to get the outline and then filling it in with more stitching.  All the seams were sewn using a three thread flatlock with wooly nylon.  The one thing I'd change is to use a solid red thread rather then the multicolor thread.  The multicolor was too much. 

The great thing about making your own clothes is that you can change things to fix common fitting problems.  One major problem I have with most women's running shirts is that the sleeves are not long enough.  I find that on long runs I get chafing on my upper arms, particularly when it is hot out (which in SF is anything above 65).  I made the shirt sleeves longer and had no problems at all.

The skirt is two rectangles, sewn onto the elasticized waistband and not joined at the sides.  This turned out to be a good choice as it didn't restrict movement in any way.  I did have to pull the skirt down a couple times so in the future I might make it as one garment with capris/shorts/tights or make the skirt longer.
skirt with ridiculously overpriced compression tights
Mile 23
 The shirt turned out to be very comfortable and the skirt was mostly in the right place.  The most difficulty I had was with the waistband of the compression pants so I cut that off and replaced it with a non-elasticized band.  After wearing it for 5 hours I think I'm going to cut that off and replace it with an even wider band to make it more comfortable. 

The race was ok, I rocked the first 18 miles and then came down with some blisters and leg cramping.  Mile 21 was a particular low point where my toes hurt so much I tried to run in my socks, turns out to not be a good idea. I managed to run/walk to the finish with the support of one of my friends/co-workers who came to drag me through the last few miles (he told me to smile in the picture above, otherwise there was no smiling).  Still, I ended up with a better time than the last marathon, even if I didn't make my time goal.

The support for spectators was great.  Tons of people recognized my character and cheered me on, which really helped towards the end. I would definitely wear this for another long road race.  Sewing with spandex and knits was not at all difficult and I am looking forward to altering some of my running clothes and making some more fun race outfits.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

TOS Men's Pants - Roddenberry Pattern

These are the original series pants with the bell cuff at the calf. Like the other patterns I used the company clearly expects these to be bought by people with little sewing experience and recommends getting help for the construction. You will definitely need it!

Pros: these have the correct cuff, multiple opportunities to fit the garment
Cons: everything else

I ended up with extra pieces. In my 15 years of costuming I have rarely ended up with extra pieces, let alone 2 of them. This is because no where on the pattern or in the instructions does it tell you how many pieces of each pattern piece to cut.

The second issue is the fly front. Or at least I assume the pants are supposed to have a fly front, although you would never get there from the instructions. After meticulously following the instructions, which appear to have been photocopied in someone's basement, circa 1992, I turned to the trusty Readers Digest Sewing to complete the fly front. The directions for the pants are very detailed for all the other steps except this critical area.

Otherwise these pants went together quickly. They are constructed using more theatrical techniques than fashion industry construction techniques, which allows for more opportunities to fit the garment. Particularly the waistband, which is seen so it can be easily resized.

Final Verdict: Not Recommended. I honestly think most people, both beginning sewers and experienced would be better served just using a plain men's pant pattern from any of the big three pattern companies. It is much easier to cut the pants shorter and make the bell cuff than to mess around with this pattern. As a bonus, all those patterns will at least have decent fly front instructions.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Star Trek @ Dragoncon

A mimosa a day, keeps the Con Crud away.

Dragoncon was epic!  We had a great time, the costumes were amazing and we even managed to get to some panels. 

Here's our Original Series Star Trek Group

Photo by Noelle, you can see her flickr stream here 

All the costumes were made from the Roddenberry patterns.  I'll get around to posting a review of the men's pants when I get some better pictures of the details.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TOS female skant, or what Uhura wears

Price $19.95

Wow, the construction of this dress is interesting. No two pieces are exactly alike and the sleeves are similar to a dolman sleeve an are cut in one with some of the body pieces. This would be difficult to flat pattern and is worth the price of the purchased pattern.

The pattern is drafted much more professionally than the men's pattern. This one actually contains notches and has detailed instructions. 

Be sure to measure the torso and sleeves before cutting as sizes run small, especially in the bicep. Based on my small sample size, n=2 of somewhat athletic size 10 and 12 nerds, you will need a couple of additional inches around the arm. I added to the seam allowance along the arm length evenly and then pinched out the extra at the neck hole and wrist.

The pattern also runs very short. If you have a large bosom or stomach it may end up barely covering, don't make my mistake, add extra to the hem.

Again there is an invisible zipper I omitted. If you are shaped like a rectangle and make this out of a knit you can probably pull it on over your head. Any other body type, and star trek purists, should not be lazy, and will need to insert the zipper.

The final product looks great but will absolutely not hide any figure flaws. Good underwear or lots of crunches, are probably a good idea. The pattern does not include Uhura's matching undies.  You will definitely want some shorts/cheerleader undies.

Final verdict: Recommended. Worth the price as it would be difficult to replicate by flat patterning or altering existing patterns.  Runs small!  Measure carefully and add extra, especially at the hem and bicep.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Demode 18th Century Court Ensembles Project

Another addition to the awesome group project idea.  Kendra at Demode came up with this one.  I don't think I'd ever try to do this on my own but with a deadline and a training group it seems possible (much like a marathon, my other major activity).

There are already a lot of fantastic costumers who have called dibs on specific gowns.  If you want more info head on over to the page Kendra set up for the Project.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Star Trek - Roddenberry TOS Men's Shirt Pattern Review

I'm heading off to Dragon Con at the end of the month for some nerdy costuming fun.  It's a mad dash of costuming around here for the next few weeks.  To make things a bit easier I ordered the patterns for The Original Series Star Trek costumes and will review them as I sew.  Patterns were purchased from the Roddenberry Store and are based on the originals from the show.

The men's shirt pattern is essentially a raglan sleeve shirt with some interesting extra pieces and a zipper.  The pattern is geared to those with little sewing knowledge and has good notes on fabric and materials.  The originals from the show are made of either velour (season 1 & 2) or doubleknit (season 3).  Seam allowances are 1/2 inch, which is standard for knits, but may confuse those who are used to home sewing patterns that usually have seam allowances of 5/8 inch.
 The sizing is very small.  I measured Hal and by that measurement should have used a size large, instead I used a size XL and added some additional width at the center front and center back.  I measured the pattern piece just to be sure and still felt that it was tight across the torso.  This was using a fairly stretch ponte knit so if you use velour you might want to include some extra sewing ease or cut a larger size.
The pattern is printed on nice heavy paper and is easy to trace.  There are 4 pattern pieces: front, back, sleeve and gusset. There are no notches! The sewing instructions have you matching the seams at the bottom to sew, which is a bit non-standard.  As a result my gussets line up correctly at the top on the back pieces but not on the front.  I walked the pieces to see if they lined up and they do not, so I suspect this seam was not trued. This seam between the front and gusset is the only one that did not match correctly.

There are good instructions for construction although there is an error in the step for basting the seam that will have an invisible zipper added.  The text describes the basting stitches as 5 per inch and the construction stitches as 3 per inch.  This would result in a very poorly sewn garment, standard sewing machine construction stitches are 10-12 per inch.  The zipper was on the original shirts so actors could dress without disturbing their makeup.  I omitted the zipper because my fabric was stretchy enough to be pulled on like a tshirt.  Instead of basting the seam I sewed it with a regular construction stitch.  Star Trek purists should follow the instructions and insert the zipper.
Summary: Recommended, with some reservations (for beginners).  This pattern appears to be the only one out there for sewing this garment, which doesn't give beginners any real alternative.  I found the actual pattern to be a bit sloppy and below industry standards, it has no notches and all the seams are not true.  The instructions are geared towards beginners and do not seem to expect the sewer to have much experience with home sewing patterns.  Aside from the stitch number error the text is fine.  The only difficult step is adding the zipper.  However, by using a stretchy fabric sewers can omit this step without changing the look of the final garment.  An experienced sewer, or someone who knows how to flat pattern, could make a similar pattern based on a raglan sleeve shirt.  Those without $19.95 to spend could approximate the look of the shirt using a raglan sleeve pattern from any of the major commercial pattern companies.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Accessorizing Head-to-Toe Challenge

I love the monthly challanges that have sprung up around the internet and Trystan, from Trystan's Costume Closet has put together one I feel that I can actually accomplish! 
First up: Hats

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Anyone want to go to tea in Savannah, GA? In Costume?

Want to go to tea in Regency Costume in Savannah?

I'll be visiting Savannah, GA later this month (March 2013) and am hoping to find someone to go to tea with me at Davenport House, preferably in costume.

Tea date: Thursday, March 21, 5 pm.  The website says 4:30 pm so I've sent an email to the museum asking for clarification.  Museum confirmed that tea is at 5 pm. I called and there is still space available and they are ok with us coming in costume.

Here's the info from the website:
Program dates and times: March 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 5 p.m., 20, 21, 28 and 29 4:30 p.m.
60 to 75 minutes
Admission: $18
Reservations recommended. Limited attendance.
Learn about tea traditions and experience an early 19th century tea in the historic atmosphere of the Isaiah Davenport House Museum. Patrons will tour areas of the historic home where tea service took place and will participate in an afternoon tea with costumed interpreters.
The performance requires that guests be able to walk up and down stairs.

I can coordinate the reservation and I was planning 1820s or anything Regency  for costuming since that will be easiest for me to fit in my luggage.

It will be a bit of a tight scheduling squeeze for me since I'm not familiar with the area and it is possible my schedule may change.  If more than one person wants to go that would be fabulous in case, despite my best laid plans, I'm not able to make it.

Please leave your contact info in the comments or contact me through the contact info on my blog (which I can't figure out how to do) so please use email: sahrye @ (take out extra spaces in email address when you send the email).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Retro fifties purple dress

A retro-style dress for a trip to retro Las Vegas.  The pattern I used is a modern version of a vintage Butterick pattern.

From the Stash:
  • 4 yards purple cotton broadcloth
  • 2.5 yards rayon bemberg lining
  • horsehair braid
  • bias hem tape
  • Purple zipper

I started with a muslin mock-up.  All grainlines were thread marked as I learned in Lynda Maynard's Garment Fitting Class (super awesome class, highly recommended, CCSF Fashion 16).  The large bust adjustment with a kimono sleeve was tricky, fortunately I found a tutorial from Texas A&M Extension that helped with that.  I ended up with a dart in the side seam that the original pattern does not have.

The bodice was faced with purple cotton and the skirt was lined with rayon bemberg lining.  The hem was faced with horsehair braid to help it poof, and bias hem facing.  I wore the dress with a full net petticoat and a one layer tricot petticoat.

In the club
And some pictures from the fantastic Neon Museum in Las Vegas.

Shortcut embroidered pinball

Two years ago at Costume College's Bargain Basement I bought a distressed copy of Pincushions by Averil Colby, B T Batsford Ltd; 2nd edition (October 1988).  The book is an excellent compilation of historic pincushions and includes instructions for makeing quite a few different pincushions, including an 18th century pinball.. Most of the pinballs described are needlework, worked in queen stitch or cross stitch and the book gives the pattern for a queen stitch pinball.  Other canvas needlework pinballs, including one in flamestitch, are found in Fitting and Proper by Sharon Ann Burnston, Scurlock Pub Co (March 1, 2000). There are also resources available for making knitted pinballs, primarily of Quaker designs.
From the Stash:
  • 2 - 4 X 4 inch pieces of embroidered silk tafetta
  • polyfill
  • 1/2 yard petersham ribbon

Guest post over at Demode

Baleen (from Wikipedia Commons)
Guest Post: In Defense of the Use of Baleen in Hobbyist and Recreation Corsetry over at Kendra's fabulous blog, Demode.