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1  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / What to do with stiff silk? on: October 30, 2010 03:18:01 PM
I don't know what to do with some fabric that I have. It's pure silk, with slubs, and it is pretty stiff, and I think it may have been originally decorator fabric. It's a gorgeous deep red-purple, and I'd like to make something special out of it, but I don't know what styles are appropriate for the fabric. I was thinking of something along the lines of a sheath, but I would hate to cut into it and end up with something unwearable. Any advice?
2  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Pleated Skirt with Pocket Openings on: October 29, 2010 01:50:37 PM
First off, I must say that I love Alexander Henry fabrics, and while I realize that technically they are quilting cottons, I will break the rules and use them for clothes. Besides, they're good quality cottons, right?  Wink

The design is mine, and it is pretty simple- I didn't even use a pattern. The pleats are sewn from the inside for a few inches, and over them, I appliqued the band.

The buttons are there as part of the opening, which is a bit complicated and I wouldn't use it again as it makes extra bulk around the waist. There are pockets which open up enough so that the waist of the skirt can fit over my hips, and the buttons make sure they stay in place while I wear the skirt. Unfortunately, the material I used for the pockets was too small, and as a result, the pockets are too small to be fully functional.

There is a button on the undermost layer of the pocket, a button hole in the top layer of the pocket, and a second buttonhole in the skirt itself. It all stays together, but as I said, it's a bit bulky. Not quite the stroke of genius I had hoped for. Tongue

3  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Romana's Coat (From the Androids of Tara Episode of Classic Dr. Who) on: October 29, 2010 01:16:19 PM
I made this for an event this summer and never got around to posting pictures. Unfortunately, it was a rushed job- I had only a few days to finish it, so it lacks covered buttons on the trim on the shoulders and has only half the correct number down the front. That, and I didn't finish the inside seams nor line it.  And I didn't closely look at the reference photos until after I got the material, so I realized too late that the coat was supposed to be made of velvet with only a little satin. Fortunately for me, the satin I had gotten was crepe backed, so I used the "wrong side" for most of the coat. And now that you know all my dirty secrets, on to the pictures! Tongue

Reference picture
4  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Classic Fourth Doctor Sonic Screwdriver on: July 06, 2010 02:56:04 PM
"Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, 'Ooh, this could be a little more sonic'?"

What Doctor Who costume can be complete without a sonic screwdriver?

First, here are the reference photographs I used:

Both are sonic screwdrivers of the Fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker), but they differ slightly- the ring of one is red, while the other is silver for example. Mine is a bit of a compromise between the two. It's thinner like the second (although the proportions differ), but I did a red wash over the ring so it's neither silver nor red.

It's far from perfect, but not bad considering the materials I used- a pen, an automatic pencil, a grommet I saved from an old shower curtain, and a button.

The cone at the top was the pen tip (or whatever you call that piece). The ring was the grommet. The piece below that was the inside cylinder from the automatic pencil, and next is the top of the pen (you can see where I had broken off the pen clip), and the rest is the body of the pen. I stuffed the inside of that piece with aluminum foil so it would weigh a bit more, and at the very bottom, I glued an actual button. I had to sand it all before painting it so that the paint would stick, and even so, it was still difficult.

I'm lucky that the Fourth Doctor's sonic screwdriver didn't have a light because I was looking for something around that I could use (before I looked at reference photos), and while I managed to salvage an LED with wires and batteries, in the process, I broke it. Electronics and I do not work together.
5  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Doctor Who and Romana Masks on: June 25, 2010 02:50:33 PM
So I'm hopefully going to a masquerade next month, and I had settled on going as Romana I (from the classic Dr. Who series- a companion of the fourth doctor who is also a timelord) while my boyfriend liked the idea of being the Doctor. However, in addition to costumes, we need masks. More mask-making for me!

Here is the mask for the Doctor that I came up with. I copied the design from the etchings on the Doctor's fob watch (10th Doctor in "Human Nature"). The background is blue because that's my boyfriend's favorite color, but I have many excuses: 1. The TARDIS is blue 2. The Doctor appears "out of the blue" 3. Blue is often associated with unearthly or heavenly things in part because the sky is blue. Following this logic, the map in Time Bandits is also blue.

This is Romana's mask. With her, it was even harder as she doesn't have necessarily any symbol or design (to my knowledge) so connected with her identity.

The left side is a clock because in the episode City of Death, a French artist draws Romana with a clock face. I used beiges and off-whites to emphasize that this is an antique clock- after all, she's over a century old. The face of the clock was also cracked in the episode, but I just interpreted it differently.

This side isn't as special. The design is from a display screen in the TARDIS (from the first 5th season episode I think). I really liked the look of the white plants and orbit lines against the orange and rose colors. I felt that the design would tie the Romana mask to the TARDIS and emphasize her other-worldliness.
6  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Poor Crafter's Mask (With tutorial) on: June 19, 2010 11:50:33 AM
I call this a poor crafter's mask as it is made from basic materials, no fancy plastic or anything.
First- pictures!

This one is the first I made. I needed a mask for a masquerade, so I improvised this. I went as an East Indian lady- hence the lotus flowers and the bindi.

This one is thinner than my first one and doesn't keep its shape as well, but it used less materials and was faster to make as well as lighter. The two swirls on the side are connected by a thin strand of clear thread used in jewelry so that the whole side will lie flat.

This one rather than a simple mask modeled to my face has an added nose. The frame-work for the nose are actually toothpicks taped together. It sounds fragile, but it's actually held up not badly.

Materials needed:
Aluminum foil (or other sort of foil)
Masking or artist's tape
Acrylic paint
Paint brushes
Hole punch, Exacto knife, or similar tool
Ribbon, elastic, or other tie
Needle and thread (optional)


1. Cut out a large piece of foil which is large enough to cover the area for your mask and more. For more strength, you may want to use at least two layers of the foil.

2. Mold the foil to your facial features.

3. Carefully mark where your eyes are. Take the mask off, and punch small holes for your eyes from the inside of the mask to the outside so there will be no sharp edges close to your eyes.

4. Put the mask back on and look in the mirror to see how it looks. Take the pencil and mark the outline of your mask.

5. Cut along the outline. Try on the mask again, and repeat until the mask is the desires shape.

6. Draw how you want the eye holes to be shaped. This is best done with the mask off and even on a separate piece of paper that can be flipped to trace both eyes.

7. Cut out the eye holes and make sure they look even.

8. Tear or cut small pieces of the tape and apply them to both sides of the mask until no foil is showing. Put on a couple layers of the tape so that the mask is not be so very flimsy.

9. Paint the mask. It is advisable to paint at least two base coats so that the edges of the tape will not be so obvious.

10. Let the mask dry.

11. At both sides, just above where the ears would be, cut a slit or punch a hole for the tie.

12. Thread the ribbon or elastic through the holes. Knot the ends or fold them under and sew across them.

Enjoy your mask!  Cheesy
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Crotch Seam Finishes on: June 13, 2010 06:38:25 PM
Lately I've been trying to be good and finish all my seams so that the insides look nice too. However, I can't find anything useful on finishing the crotch seam. Much of what I've been able to find online recommend serging the seam allowances, but I don't have a serger. I have an old sewing machine that can only do a straight stitch, so I can't even finish the edges with a zigzag.

Do you have any suggestions? What do you all do when sewing the crotch seam?
8  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Morning Glory Skirt (with tutorial!) on: June 08, 2010 10:20:36 AM
This is a skirt I designed and drafted a pattern for a few years ago, and didn't actually sew until maybe two years ago. I thought I'd share it though because the pattern is easy to make and a few people have expressed a desire to have one like it.

Note: it fits me differently than it fits the dressform because I made it for me, not it! Also, I think the dressform is pregnant. Soon little dressforms will be running around.  Grin
Anyways. . .

How to create the pattern:

Take five measurements: waist, hip, distance between the waist and hip, desired length, and desired width of hem.

Decide on how many gores you want (I chose to have six), but I recommend more than 5 because otherwise, it will not hang as well as the waistline will not have much of a curve.

Decide on the amount of ease you want in the waist and hip. I'd recommend around an inch for the waist ease and at least four inches in the hip, although this varies according to each person's body and tastes. Make a muslin first to check if you like the ease.

Divide the total of the waist measurement plus the waist ease by the number of gores you want. Do the same for the hip measurement and hip ease.

Draw a long vertical line as a base (it should be as long as your desired length).

At the top, draw a line equal to the waist of the skirt divided by the number of gores. The midpoint of the line should intersect with the vertical line.

Make a mark below the waist line for the hip. The distance should be equal to the measurement between the two taken earlier.

At this point, draw another horizontal line equal to the hip of the skirt divided by the number of gores. Its midpoint should also be on the vertical line.

Connect the ends of the two horizontal lines, and extend the line so it is as long as your desired length.

Draw the zigzag according to your tastes, but remember that it can't go any higher than 9 inches from the top on the edge because you'll need to put a zipper in (unless you make a drawstring version in which case you need to make the waist line longer than your hip measurement). Other than that, you have many choices. You can make the middle of the zigzag lower than the sides (like I did) or higher for a different look. You can make the zigzag fall at 2/3 proportions as I did or turn the bottom part into more of a bottom ruffle. It's all up to your tastes.

Cut out the top pentagon. This is a finished piece without the seam allowances. You can make a separate piece with the seam allowances, just be sure to mark the exact corners of the zigzag.

Cut out the bottom pentagon. Cut it in half along the vertical line. Arrange the two pieces so that what was the middle line is now the two outer sides. Don't tape it yet.

Spread the two pieces apart so that the top of the two still touch, but there is a space between the two at the bottom. This is to give the skirt extra flare at the bottom. How much is up to you. Once you have it as you like, tape it how it is and trace the outline onto a new piece. This is the finished bottom piece without the seam allowances. Again, if you do add them, remember to mark the actual corners of the zigzag. For those familiar with pattern drafting, generally the slash and spread method is used at several places in skirt pattern so that the flare is not evident in only one place, but I decided against this as it will be difficult to sew the zigzag as it is and there are enough gores to give an even overall effect.

How to sew the skirt:

Decide on the color scheme. You could make the zigzag very obvious by using contrasting colors (like black and white) or complimentary colors (purple and yellow), or you could make it more subtle with analogous colors (green and turquoise) or the same color but with different shades. I wouldn't recommend prints for this design.

I suggest a fabric with good drape. I used cotton broadcloth I think, but in retrospect, it is far too stiff for the design.

Be sure to cut out the number of gores you chose for each pattern piece. You can cut the pieces on the straight grain as I did, or you could be adventurous and cut them on the bias.

Sew the side zipper between two of the top pieces first as this is the easiest time. Sew all the top pieces together at the sides, but don't sew all the way to the bottom- stop at the mark for the zigzag edge.

Sew all the bottom pieces together at the sides also stopping at the marks for the zigzag edge at the top.

Pin the two parts together matching the zigzag marks. This is the trickiest part of making the skirt. You may have to pin and sew only one gore at a time. 

Finish the inside seams as you prefer. It's virtually impossible to make french or flat-felled seams, so I suggest mock French seams or stitching the seam allowances and pinking the edges.

Finish the waist. There is no waist facing because I don't like those- they only make it bulkier and they are hard to stitch down so they don't flip up and don't show on the outside. So instead, sew twill tape around the top edge. First trim the edge ( if you have a 5/8" seam allowance or more). Sew the twill tape so that one edge extends beyond the raw edge of the waist, stitching closely to the opposite edge. Iron this to the other side, and hand stitch (or top stitch) the free edge of the twill tape down. This is better than a facing as it is sturdy (and you don't need to fuss with interfacing), yet thinner (so the hand stitching is fairly close to the top edge) and doesn't have raw edges.

Let it hang a day before you hem it, especially if the fabric has a loose weave or if you chose to have a lot of flare, because of the bias.

If you do this tutorial, please don't sell the pattern. You can make, give away, or even sell skirts of this design all you like; I won't mind. But I'm giving it free here so that people can use it for free.  Smiley
9  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Totoro and Cat Fleece Hats on: January 06, 2010 10:15:48 AM
First post!  Cheesy

I was inspired by this project by ceevee, and in her post is a pattern and tutorial if you are interested.

I just happened to find a gorgeous blue fleece (it appears more grey in the pictures, but it's really more blue), and I realized while in line to cutting table what it would be perfect for- a totoro hat!

(Ignore my intent expressions please)
The eyes are just white buttons that I drew pupils on with a permanent marker, and the whiskers are thread chains.

I also made a cat hat out of black fleece and a red print cotton.

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