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Making a belt

24 Mar

It seems that I build in a new challenge for myself with each gown and this one is the belt.  This is a pretty much involuntary thing and typically I arrive at a place or two where I wonder why on earth I decided I needed this special element in the gown, but there you go.  Why do simple?

Here is the beginning of the belt.  Naturally, there were great intentions of more photos through the process that didn’t get taken. I get a little cranky with bloggers who do this, but this time I did figure out a couple of  reasons why this happens.  Either the thrill of having a project go well or the intensity of focus during a tricky part of the process seem to keep the “take pictures for the blog” portion of the brain turned off.

Anyway, here it is – three pieces of heavy power mesh, 5 pieces of poly boning sewn in place.

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A closer look.  The boning is sewn into one layer, which will be on the body side of the belt.  Plastic sew in snaps will be in the front panel and nice flat purse magnets will hold the back of the belt more or less in place.  I hope.

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Notion inspiration. The thread tree.

3 Mar

The thread tree.  Basic cheapy from the fabric store.  Plastic and wobbly, but does the job.

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It has holes for screwing it onto the sewing table, but as I move machines and things around all the time, I was not interested in that.  Plus, it would put holes in my lovely Freecycle computer desk!  Though about mounting it on a board, but that never happened.

But today I saw this:

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Little cup full of computer screws, which we have by the billion around here.  Since there are no small kids here anymore, they are a bit like our Lego.  Step on one of these little beauties and it will make a big impression.  Get it?  Anyway, I was about to dump the works into a container to make yet another pattern weight, which I don’t need, when I thought of the thread tree;

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Took it apart.

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Flipped the base over.

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Filled it with screws, removing all the light plastic whatsits for max. weight.  Traced the outline onto a plastic yogurt container lid.

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Glue gunned it in place.

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Reassembled the tree.  I know glue gun glue doesn’t bond perfectly with plastic, but it feels pretty firm so far.  I can always add some tape around the edges for security.  Worst case scenario, I have a bunch of screws to pick up one day.  In the meantime, the tree stands firmly and doesn’t rattle around!

 

 

Time for a couple of photos

2 Mar

New dress finally!  Began last June  I think, and stuck after the initial construction got done.  This is roughly the idea for now.

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Added a belt to get the idea of how it would look and I like the black!  This is actually two stretchy elastic belts from the 80′s that have been sitting in that drawer – you know, the one with all that weird stuff?

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A lot of work to go, but nice to have the basic idea in place.

Alphabet soup day – TNT from LA

23 Feb

So happy to have been able to go to the fabric district in Los Angeles during our recent trip and got some lovely fabric.

Here is the first top:

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Ritzie Mitzie is modelling the second piece of fabric.

The top is Simplicity 4076  which has become a tried ‘n true (TNT) pattern for me.  Luckily it is very forgiving and in spite of me forgetting to put a bit of gathering in place of a dart, it fits ok.  The banding is from the last incarnation of this same top.

We are having a snow day here so in between shoveling and maybe a few trips to the hot tub, the sewing room will be busy!

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Sewing stuff on vacation

10 Feb

What a wonderful surprise to see in an outlet mall!  AllSaints in California with dozens of lovely old machines in their front windows.

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And fantastic art in the Portland OR airport using pattern pieces.

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How to Build a Yoga Bolster – Stuffing! Part Two

14 Jan

I like to stuff my bolsters with blankets for a couple of reasons – one is that blankets are much easier to come by than the cotton “felt” batting used commercially and the other is that they can be taken out and washed, if necessary.  I also have a fair amount of fabric stashed inside of bolsters:-)

Most blankets are between 80 and 90″ long, which makes them a good size for our bolsters.  They do not have to be exactly 90″.  There is some wiggle room.  I folded this one in 3, so it is a nice 30″ width.  It is a rather awful, cheap acrylic, which turns out to be ideal for a bolster because it rolls well and is lighter than a wool blanket. I pick them up at thrift stores for $5 or so and run them through the wash a couple of times, but have found them in stores like Walmart for not much more.

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The next blanket in worked better folded length-wise:

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Pretty pink!  Time to start rolling:

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In truth, I did add one more small blanket to this to make it fat enough.  It will all depend on the size of the blankets.  Two king-sized blankets may be enough.  Sometimes a blanket must be cut in half to make it fit.  Another good reason to use the acrylics.  They won’t ravel.

Finished roll:

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Slide the blanket roll into the liner:

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Tie the knot:

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Slide the open end into the cover. Mr. Bolster has a lovely hat!

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Tie it up.  Now the circle that was sewed into the liner shows through the opening:

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Fully  functional bolster:

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Stuffing – Part Two (B)

I don’t have any of the studio’s covers and liners here, so I can’t show you that until our group stuffing day.  Here is the bale of cotton we work with:

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You can see that it is nearly as tall as the patio table.  The massive plastic bag the bales come in is my pattern tracing medium.  Since we use three bales per batch of bolsters, more or less, I get a lot of tracing plastic!  The heavy brown kraft paper is also great stuff, but I haven’t found a perfect use for it yet.

A partly used bale.  It is unbleached cotton, still with lots of impurities and grit in it.  This stuff is often used in upholstery, under the cover and over a foam block to give the cushy factor.

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It is simply rolled and inserted into the liners exactly like the blankets.  Photos will be posted when we have our stuffing party!

How to Build a Yoga Bolster. Part 1

13 Jan

You will need: 2 pieces of fabric, each 30″ square – one for the lining and one for the cover.  2 circles of fabric, about 9 5/8th in diameter.  A dinner plate or pot lid can make good templates, otherwise, you need to use a compass or string and pencil version of circle drawing apparatus.  Make both circles from the cover fabric.

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Cording, string or a self-made drawstring.  The black one in the photo is made from the lining fabric.

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Serge or sew 1/2″ seams on one side of each of the squares so you have a tube with two open ends.  Be sure this seam is secure as it will take a lot of strain.  Zig zag to finish the seams if you don’t have a serger.

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Quarter the circles by folding in half and marking the quarters.

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Quarter the tubes and pin at the marks.  Finish pinning the circles in place, easing the fabric as needed. Sew/serge/finish.

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Turn under the open end 1/4″ all the way around, then turn under again 5/8″

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Leave a good gap in the casing and securely finish the beginning and ending of the stitching.

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Insert the ties.

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Now you have two long bags with drawstrings.  Next up – stuffing!

Sewing machine woes.

2 Aug

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.

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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 armscye.

30 Jul

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.

Closeups by request

26 Jul

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.

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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:-)

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chinelo bally

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