Posts filed under ‘Costumes and Accessories’

Handmade appliqué on stretchy knit dress; 1st try, not bad

I love red. I would probably wear it all the time, but for limited closet space and funds. My favorite red dress has this tiny hole on the back and I was hoping no one would notice. It’s small, one-tenth the size of a penny. My manager noticed the hole and the dress code stipulates clothes with holes may not be worn to work. That was my signal to fix it. I thought of replacing the whole back of the dress, but color matching was a problem and the danger of taking the dress apart and never getting it back to it’s former glory. I could just sew a new back piece over the original, but that might make the dress unsuitable to wear on some of the warmer days in San Luis Obispo. Just covering the hole with zig-zag stitch wouldn’t do the dress any favors. And suddenly, I had the appliqué epiphany.

Stretchy cotton knit is not the easiest material to appliqué. I’d experimented with sewing t-shirts together, and the puckering and over-stretch discouraged me. Enter Pinterest and the interwebs. The traditional appliqué method for knits requires a hoop and tear away stabilizer. Meh. I don’t want to send things to the landfill if I don’t have to and I don’t have space in my craft box for a hoop. I did come across several tutorials for putting appliqués on kids leotards. Jack. Pot. The basic idea is to stiffen the fabric with liquid starch or other spray stiffener, eliminating need to use the tear away stabilizer. I chose Alene’s brand fabric stiffener. I also picked up a fabric glue stick of generic brand for good measure.

So, I have the dress as my base, my vehicle for appliqué. What to use for the ACTUAL appliqué? I got t-shirts. I got lots of t-shirts and some that needed to become muscles tees and a tank top developing a hole that needed replacement anyway. Cutting off the sleeves is limited amount of material for an appliqué and I wouldn’t get a do-over if I screwed up (I do recommend doing a practice run on other materials; advice I should follow). So planning became important here. How do you like my plan sketch? As you may remember, I adore Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha, which is where I drew inspiration for this sketch. I drew it out full scale so I could cut it up and use it as a pattern. I don’t have much confidence in my freehand, but it didn’t turn out too bad.

unnamed-4I sprayed two coats of stiffener to the base and all appliqué fabrics before cutting, allowing to fully dry between coats. After cutting, I used the fabric glue stick to put the pieces together and I sprayed another two coats of stiffener. The fabric wasn’t stiff as a board, but stiff enough to resist stretch. (All told, there were probably five coats of stiffener on the base (dress) and the appliqué pieces.) I took a lot of time during all these steps, probably a month or two, just meditating how to keep the project from going wrong. Really, I was paralyzed with fear of screwing up my favorite red dress.

I sewed the pieces of the applique together first, to minimize the sewing I had to do on the dress. I had no idea how resistant the stiffener might be and didn’t want to degrade it. After the initial sewing, I sprayed the appliqué with stiffener yet again and then left for CiderCon 2017 in Chicago.

The dried stiffener had cause the appliqués to be bumpy and curl at the very tips. I pressed  them after my nose stopped leaking from the cold I developed in Chicago and set out to pinning it to the dress. I used a ruler to get it centered and proceeded with lots of pins. I mean, a lot. Just in case. Just for my piece of mind. I also grabbed some Stitch Witchery, a double-sided iron-on thin fusible whatsit, and pinned that under the appliqué over the hole in the dress. I doubted the hole would get bigger with the appliqué protecting it, but again, just for piece of mind. Then finally, FINALLY, I started sewing onto the dress. I chose a very small stitch size, like for button holes, and a medium-wide zig-zag stitch on the machine and I went slowly. Very slowly. Experience has taught me to start from the middle and work my way out with sewing on a machine because the top and bottom fabrics tend to move at different speeds due to different friction effects. It’s a really good habit to keep things even and symmetrical in your sewing, so the shoulders meet the sleeves in the right place, for example. Last thing to do was follow directions on the Stitch Witchery package to seal the hole to the appliqué.

Whew. Looked pretty good. So I washed it. Even after drying it still puckered a little, but I’m still very pleased by it. Next time, I’ll do 10 coats of stiffener and sew even slower. Yes, I did wear it yesterday for the Day Without Women March.


March 9, 2017 at 7:53 am 1 comment

The month of purple

Amethyst is the birthstone of February. I failed in my new years goals to make anything amethyst or purple, but I did donate platelets and get a purple pressure bandage. (Public Service Message: go donate blood! Make your appointment today at your local blood bank. Give blood three times a year!)

I took a break from a Mucha-style headdress to do some sewing. It’s been tough getting out from behind my sewing machine; I have been in the zone! Since January, I have made three vests, three reversible bow ties, two reversible berets, one reversible suspenders, altered one brazier (you know, a bra), and made my own appliqué (post coming shortly) while watching Star Wars Clone Wars on Netflix (in the correct order). I have plans next to alter two dresses, a pair of silk boxers, and make my first neck tie, but I thought I would give the machine a break.

Other exciting things have kept me from making new purple jewelry, such as Cider Con 2017 in Chicago, kicking the cold I developed after Cider Con, a baby shower, a singing gig with In the Groove, an Oscar’s viewing party (I don’t really care much about the Oscars, but it is a dress-up party), and an unpredictable work schedule to offset the time I missed. I did make a nail-enamel-flower comb/headdress that turned out awesome of the Oscar party… I’ll put it on the store soon.

Meanwhile, I do already have purply items on my Etsy and in my store. I should start on March with aquamarine before doing anything else.

February 28, 2017 at 12:34 am Leave a comment

Purple Flowers for Colleen

Colleen and Geoff wedding

Colleen and Geoff by Luke Jones Photography

A best friend of mine got hitched to a lovely gentleman this weekend. I was so honored to stand with her at the ceremony, sing for her, and, make her pretty hair bobbles to wear on her special day. You can kinda see it on the right side of her head in that top picture.

First draft

She chose this style, which is a method I want to learn. She chose this method, or maybe it was me that really wanted to use this method. Long ago I figured out I needed at least a first draft in jewelry just like in any piece of writing (including this post);  it allows me to be especially proud of the final product.

Shout out to Luke Jones Photography. Not only did he do a fabulous job but he was a pleasure to work with.

While this is primarily a post about my crafty contributions to this event, another boisterous shout out goes to Colleen for this DIY wedding. Apparently there is a TV show about DIY weddings; I haven’t seen it, but if you have it will help you appreciate the details and effort it took for Colleen and family and friends to pull it off. She and her mom spent many a weekend collecting plates from Goodwill, collecting coupons for glasses, washing them, storing them. Mr. Geoff (this is what we call Colleen’s husband) made all the graphics for the posters and invitations and DIY photo booth. Lauren (best woman AKA maid of honor) and her mom did a beautiful job on the center pieces for the reception tables. Miss Partner (also an attendant for the bride) and Colleen’s brother brewed beer for the reception. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Purple flower hair clip

On the day of, everything came together beautifully with minimal drama. What better way to celebrate the love and commitment of two people to than for family and friends to make the wedding a labor of love. I can’t think of a better way to show support for their union. Okay. Gonna make myself cry again.

September 29, 2014 at 5:33 pm Leave a comment

In progress: Mardi Gras mask

I know. First post in a long while. Well, I’m still here.20130202-142012.jpg

It’s Carnival season, with Mardi Gras fast approaching. Even though San Luis Obispo no longer has a grand Mardi Gras celebration, there are still a few masquerades that can be attended. That’s the reason for me to design a new Mardi Gras. It’s going to be beautiful! Here it is in Hipstomatic. This also marks the first MMI post I make from my magic phone.

February 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm 1 comment

In progress: Bead-net dress

Looks like this year is getting off to a good start, except I missed a blog post last month. Oh, and I didn’t brew a beer, but the kegs were still occupied with heavenly liquid so I really couldn’t. Never fear- I be doubling up this month on beer and blog.

I assure you, I have been busy with projects and been struggling to finish this one all winter. While in Boston last September, I was inspired by a trip to the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) to make a bead-net dress I saw in the Egyptian exhibit. I’m replacing the ancient faience beads with Czech seed, twisted bugle, and fringe beads. The belt is entirely embroidered with bugle beads. This is a huge project. How am I not going crazy? Buffy the Vampire Slayer is taking my mind of the tedium. I will post another photo when it’s all done.

In other news, I got an iPhone so I can take photos and blog from my phone!! I used to hate them, because Morgan would pay more attention to hers than to me. Now we can send messages to each other from three feet away and play Scrabble without having to get out the board.

March 3, 2012 at 1:33 am 1 comment

Stuff for my brother’s wedding

2011 in review: My brother Mike married the lovely Erica on October 8th of last year in San Francisco. It is one of the favorite weddings I’ve been to. Hard to beat gorgeous locations, beautiful weather, fleet week, vintage trolley ride between ceremony and reception, live band, passion fruit cake, and beer favors. I’m pleased to have helped with some of it.

Mike really wanted a live band and couldn’t think how else he could get one. He was pretty well ecstatic when I offered our jazz and blues band MoonPie to play at his wedding, though he is a rock enthusiast. I’m pleased to say the band had a great time and got all the guests on their feet to dance.

Morgan and I also offered to brew beer for the wedding and were sad to find out we couldn’t serve our beer. BUT we could bottle and give away as favors. We started brewing in August and produced a wit, rye IPA, sweet stout, and barleywine, which should have aged pretty well by now, so if you have a bottle stick it in the fridge so you can enjoy it tonight! While everything finished fermenting on time, we were down to the wire bottling and designing our label. The logo evolved from something reminiscent of a mud flap girl to a more refined art deco and art nouveau style, sort of optical illusion. (All photos except for bottom left were taken by Rhee Bevere and her crack team of shutterbugs.)

Meanwhile, while rushing around getting beer bottled and labeled, band organized, working and being in-and-out of town left me with little time to make my dress, and I just had to make my dress. I couldn’t wear just any old thing to my brother’s wedding! I had long ago chose Butterick 4919 pattern of a dress from 1952 and a fabric from my closet that I bought 10 years ago, a beautiful dark red nearly purple taffeta with black velvet flocking in a swirling flowery design. I only had two days to sew it together, which was just enough time. I didn’t think it matched the picture on the pattern all that well, and sometimes that happens with patterns. It didn’t show off enough décolletage. I used some elastic strips to pull open the neck more. After the wedding I altered it to make the ties come from the back zipper instead of the sides, and added a buckle to the ties in the back that I found at a thrift store. I styled my hair 1950s as best I could and used one of my favorite necklaces (pictured bottom right).

January 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

Duvet Transformed into Sumptuous Victorian-Style Robe

Behold, our old duvet cover. Beautiful red brocade and the adorable five-month-old Krau (short for Baron Krausen von Dopplebock). In January, I made the old duvet into a sumptuous Victorian-style robe, very Sherlock Holmes. I washed as much cat hair off as I could. I think Krau has a nostalgic feeling about these covers. I made him a bed out of the pillow slips so he would leave the rest of the robe alone…

I hoped it would fit me, but sometimes the pattern says one thing about final measurements and doesn’t stick to it. I used a regular bathrobe pattern, but made the skirt a little fuller and longer. I used some corduroy Mom gave me ages ago for the collar and cuffs contrast, and I added a gold piping to the wide collar. The result is a very kingly, heavy, warm robe. My tall friend Chris modeled for me as the waist is too low for me. I’m currently trying to find this beautiful robe a new home. If I can’t find a friend to take it, maybe you’ll see it on eBay.

February 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

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