Still pretty much nothing happening in the sewing room here. It became a dumping ground when I cleaned up for Thanksgiving (the “real” one in October :-) ) and there has been no time at all to clean it up. But good news on the hair front!
I bought two new hairpieces from The Head Shop some time ago and spent a loooong time working on them to get the look I was hoping for. The first one looks like this and the second one is this one. I didn’t take photos while doing the work, but will get some the next time I do the process.
They are really cool pieces because they come with several ways of putting them on. There is a mesh wig “cap” that is maybe 5 or 6″ across when fully opened, elastic drawstrings around the edge so you can make it bigger or cinch it up and tie the elastics around your own ponytail or bun. Then there are flexible metal hair combs that you can use to secure it plus a big claw clip, which is removable.
The simplest way to use them is to do your own bun, pop the piece on top putting the claw clip over your bun and tie up the elastics. It would likely be secure enough for a typical evening out. Of course, our evening of dancing is not quite a classy dine and dance to a softly playing jazz band! And aside from one of the top amateur ballroom ladies, who has inexplicably started wearing her hair in a low ponytail, ballroom hair must be secured, smooth and seriously styled.
After a couple of failed attempts and some creative thinking, here is the result:
These were taken after our club’s closed competition and you can see that it is held at our local recreation centre, which also has a lovely pool complex! We took first place in Waltz, Tango and Quickstep, second in Foxtrot, which is fun in spite of it being a very small field of competitors. Many thanks to the top couples who stayed home! LOL!
But it has become very fussy about needles and the only way it would work was with Schmetz size 14 stretch. Once I got that worked out, after some fruitless and profanity filled tests, it was happy again. BUT I am totally stuck on how to decorate this dress and have been starting all kinds of other projects to keep myself occupied while mulling it over.
Today’s project, spurred on by the Design Helper telling me to work on it or he would send it to the dump, is my Grandad’s chair. I love it because it has beautiful lines, is a beautiful example of late 1960′s “Danish Modern” furniture, is extremely well made (I am sure he paid a lot for it back in the day), because it is one of the few arm chairs I have ever sat in that allows my feet to fully touch the floor and of course, because it belonged to my Grandad. We have hauled it around with us for decades and although I had to finally let go of the matching couch, which nobody ever felt comfortable sitting in (weird paradox there) I have used in one way or another for ages. But in this house, it has mainly resided in the garage. We tried it for awhile in our bedroom, but in spite of the best of intentions of using it as a quiet reading spot, it ended up as many bedroom furnishings do, as a repository for discarded clothing.
So off to the basement! I found it this morning with the seat cushion askew, our set of jumper cables under the seat, a drop cloth, and old cammo jacket belonging to one of the kids and a copy of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town tossed in a variety of ways over and around it. Here it is:
I think it is happy that it is getting attention. See the smile?
Step one is to remove the coverings piece by piece. The bottom had about a hundred staples in it, all of which were rusty. None of the staples underneath it were rusty though, so that is a relief. Here is the strapping under the chair. No springs, which I hope somehow will make the job a bit easier. A little “before” pic.
And the “after”
The strapping is stretched out and will need to be replaced. The frame is in beautiful shape and heavily bolted together. Time now to bring in and set up another “use it or it goes to the dump” piece of furniture – a huge table currently sitting outside with a “free” sign on it. Stay tuned!
This is why people are hesitant to take machines of all kinds in for servicing. My super wonderful awesome $5 thrift store machine is fantastic. It is quiet, it isn’t fussy, I never have to fidget with settings etc. But then it had that little seizing up problem and I took it in to be properly serviced by an actual professional. And now it is gradually skipping more and more stitches, the bobbin thread is showing through onto the needle thread side and I can’t figure out why.
It doesn’t skip on wovens (this is a piece of flanelette) but you can see the bobbin threads popping through. If I loosen the needle thread enough to match this, the seam becomes ridiculously loose. *sigh* Can’t deal with it today, but I will be visiting Sawyers next week.
Raising the what? One of those archaic Ye Olde Englishe terms that has remained in sewing circles. It just means the arm hole. Wikipeidia has an interesting explanation and if Wikipedia says it, it must be true!
In ballroom gowns, the sleeves must be shaped much differently from a regular garment because we run around with our arms reaching upward all the time. If you have ever had a shirt or jacket that lifted up at the bottom every time you moved your arms, you had a too large armscye.
So we have to raise the armscye and flatten the sleeve cap (top of the sleeve) to make it look right while dancing. Of course this is even more important for the guys, as they have their bulky jackets to deal with. Thank heaven I do not sew those! Laura Lagassa has a version of how to do this on her step-by-step gown construction page. This is the system I have been using, but found I needed to alter each dress on the fly and haven’t been happy with the results 100% of the time.
Yesterday I was searching Pattern Review for some info and found this discussion about how to do this alteration and I really like it. Here is a link directly to the directions on how to do it.
I have ended up with a very weirdly shaped sleeve pattern, which I will take a photo of later.
So far I have the dress skirts sewn together, the bodice pattern made and the sleeves adjusted. Yesterday involved a LOT of basting, checking and ripping out. So nice to have my cover stitch machine that sews a chain stitch. Much easier to rip out than zig zags and shows the seam more accurately, too.
Here are a couple of close up shots of the skirt with rhinestones and sequins. At the moment I am leaving this gown lightly decorated.
Wow! When I click on these I also can zoom in, which gives a seriously detailed picture! I am constantly amazed by technology and how much cool stuff I can do sitting at my kitchen table:-)
The Fab Fifties dress is now complete and except for fabric acquisition and some pattern drafting, it only took 6 weeks!
It helps a lot that I am off work for the summer and have extra time, but several of those days were non-sewing days due to dance camp, so this has really been a quick one.
This can only mean one thing – Dress # 9 is on its way!
Dance camps are loads of fun but often are too far away, too expensive, offer dances we don’t do or generally offer what we are looking for. So we made up our own! We spent the lst 5 days in Vancouver with our good friends, Terry and Candy taking lessons from Young Ryu and sightseeing, shopping and generally having a good time.
Plans made ahead got pushed around a bit by Bill having a bit of a problem with a calf muscle and Young having a cold, but we managed a good bunch of lessons in amongst our trips to Gastown, Granville Island and La Casa Gelato. Now to practice, practice, practice and hope some of the work has sunk in!
Oh yes – we did go to Dressew and I did get stuff for the next gown. Of course!