Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Here is the finished vest!
There are some little wrinkles there. I am not a fan of them, but I'm not quite sure where they're coming from and I'm not sure they're fixable at this point anyway.
I put in a zipper at the neck, as well as another one under the arm.
Is it perfect? Nope. But it's a costume, and it was finished before the power went out. And it's good enough for trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Safe after Sandy

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful at how we were spared. It does feel a little bit anticlimactic for the storm to be essentially over already, given how hyped it was and how little damage it did. I went out running today and toured the neighborhood, and I only saw one tree down--ours!

Yep, a tree in our backyard fell over some time last night:
As you can see, we got lucky. Had it fallen left, the power lines would have been toast, and that line doesn't power very many households, so it would have been a long long time until we got power back. If it had fallen right, it would have destroyed the fence and landed on a highway.
 Our fence was not undamaged, but this will be easy to fix. Just a few nails and a hammer.

We were truly blessed. Not only was Sandy not nearly as bad as the meteorologists predicted, a lot of our dead stuff had already been blown down in the summer's derecho, and the weakest power lines had already been identified and fixed. What the news is telling us about those in other areas of the East Coast is tragic. My heart goes out to them.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blow, Wind, Blow?

So far, so good. Which is to say, we still have power, and nothing terribly bad seems to have happened. The fence in the back yard has partially been blown down, but there is no flooding and no trees down. I think perhaps we are seeing the benefits of the summer derecho--there aren't very many dead trees or branches left!

With that said, the internet is showing terrible things happening in New Jersey, New York, and so on, including quite near to where some of my friends live. The winds here are also picking up, so we might still get some damage. Please keep everyone in the range of the storm ( the entire East Coast, pretty much!) in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

FBI vest

Well, I'm not quite done, but with the Frankenstorm coming, I think it's probably better to post what pictures I have. The vest is pretty close to done. I need to finish the armholes and put in the zipper. Then I'll be done.
This photo is here so people can see the basic shape of the pieces I cut out. Yes, it's not quite symmetrical. No, I don't really care. Costume, people.
Here is the top layer pinned to the batting and the lining. You can't see the lining, but it's old black cotton from my grandmother's house. The gray stuff is wool from an old skirt.
The wool did have a tendency to fold up and pucker. Strangely, this seemed to be less of a problem when sewing faster.
This is how I finished the inside of the neck, which is to say, not at all. I was going to use bias tape, but decided against it because I am lazy. Also because we are gearing up for Frankenstorm, so easy and simple wins over complicated. After all, whatever I have left when the power goes out has to get done by hand!

I sewed up one shoulder seam and one side seam. I'm planning on putting a zipper into the other shoulder seam and the other side seam. I might do some quilting across the front and back too, but we'll see how the power lines fare.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Juggling the pieces of life

I'm sorry my posting has been a bit boring lately. I have three essays due this week, two of which I need to write in a foreign language, and one of which I have to record and mail to Chicago.

At the moment I feel like I'm juggling things. Nothing has fallen, and I don't think anything will, but I pick each thing up for a few minutes, make a tiny amount of progress, and then put it down again. So I haven't made any progress worth blogging about on my sewing projects.

I should be done with all my essays by Friday, and the weekend will be devoted to finishing the vest, because Halloween is on Wednesday. (Right?) I've also started a new project in the costume shop, which should be exciting. I hope.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know the reason for my silence. Once the number of balls decreases, I'll be in better shape to post something interesting.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FBI vest: started

Maybe. I mean, it is started, but I don't think it's actually an FBI vest. I don't actually know what I'm making, because I can never remember. (Sometimes I am so feminine I feel guilty. Then I try to talk sports with my friends and I feel so masculine I feel guilty.)

Anyway, I cut out the pieces, just not the batting yet. I haven't quite decided what to do about that. Are sewn bulletproof vests quilted?

This is my inspiration sketch. Yes, I am considering a career in art. I will be starting a PhD program as soon as I finish my degree in photography. *sigh* Seriously, though, I am saving up for a camera and I hope to have one within the month.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dear Anonymous

I don't know who you are, and I don't know why you keep posting on my blog, but here's my policy, in case you were wondering. I will allow your strange and only vaguely related comments, but I'm not posting any of your gross links.

Just FYI.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ME, in muslin

Well, I finished sewing up my body block muslin on Monday, and Gail fit it for me. It was rather strange, I have to confess, to have someone not in my family fit me. But on the other hand, she knew what she was doing better than anyone in my family does. So I'm not complaining, just noting.

We ran into problems because I kept forgetting to stand up straight. Instead, I would turn and look down to try and watch what she was doing. I didn't even do it consciously! She wound up setting up a three-way mirror so I could watch her in the mirror.

Here is my altered bodice. Interestingly, it still needed some pretty major alterations even though the pieces were made to my measurements. There's more than one way to carry a given set of measurements, I suppose. It's also pretty likely that the instructions assumed a symmetrical person!

 This is the back. As you can see, there are darts pinned going into the armscyes. (Did I spell that right? Spellcheck doesn't like it, but has nothing to suggest except armistices.) Gail says that those can be rotated up into the shoulder seam, which is where patterns are more likely to have them. The darts are needed because I have sloping shoulders and a rounded back. Other than that, the back fits pretty well.

 The front. Well. It came in at the neck, and in at the shoulders and sideseams, but the thing that threw me is that Gail took out about a half an inch all the way across the front above the bust--and then added about the same amount to the bottom of the bodice. Essentially, this changes where the fabric is, rather than how much there is. I had never thought to do that. (I guess this is why she earns the big bucks and I don't!)

This is my completed muslin. It looks pretty strange on the table, but it looks pretty good on me! Interestingly, wearing something so fitted makes me look more normally proportioned, not less. I had expected to look better in something that fit properly, but not necessarily better-proportioned.

Up next: altering the pattern pieces. Or maybe making new ones. I don't actually know what my next step will be!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Costumes for Hedda Gabler

Well, now that Hedda Gabler has come and gone, I can share some costume photos with you all. I wish I had gotten more photos, but we were really all hands on deck the last few days, and I honestly just didn't have time. Sadly, I don't have very many photos of finished pieces because of this. What also really frustrates me is that I don't have any photos of the two skirts I sewed! Anyway, here's what I've got.

This is two of the bodices, part way through construction. The bodice on the right got new lacing, of course.
This silver robe didn't photograph well on a hanger, but it looks so beautiful on the actress it was made for. Is that slit with pleated fabric in it called a kickpleat in the front? Whatever it is, I want one in my next formal dress.

This next robe is just fantastic. I think Gail must have spent hours on the collar alone, deciding where she wanted the decorations and making it stand up straight.
Here's a shot of the full robe, before it was done. See that stand-up collar and all that piping? It looks even better in person.

It was a fun show to work on. And now, after much messing around with buttons...



and fabric...

...we're all done! Until #crazypants, that is...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Well now.

Apparently Blogger decided to reset all my stats to zero. It has happened to others too, and Blogger says they are working on a solution. Just a heads-up that this is a wide-spread problem, so I think we should be able to expect it to be cleared up in a few days. I hope so, any way.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Look, look what I made!

I am so excited. Today at work, we had no more costume sewing to do. So my boss told me I could work on a project of my own choosing, such as a skirt or an apron. I knew what I wanted to make:

Why is the curve of my armhole in the back so strange? Haha.
A body block, aka a sloper. (They *are* the same thing, right?) I started with the bodice, because that's what I have the most trouble with. This is my first draft. In two hours, I created the paper pattern and cut it out of muslin. Now I just need to sew it together, and then someone who actually knows how to fit will fit it on me.

I'm beyond excited for this.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I just joined the Male Pattern Boldness Halloween Sew-Along. Hopefully this will motivate me to, er, start sewing that costume. I'm just so busy with school work right now. Maybe I can get started while watching the Orioles play the Yankees tonight.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Not my most attractive moment, perhaps

I have worn my Very Hungry Caterpillar skirt several times since I made it. Every time I wear it, I get a compliment on it. Yesterday CUA's honors program went on a fall hike, and I decided to go ahead and wear my skirt to hike in. After all, going hiking with a bunch of academics isn't a very strenuous endeavor, and Rock Creek Park isn't exactly the world's most challenging hiking grounds. Half our hike was along a paved bike path, for crying out loud!

Then I saw the group photo the ranger at Rock Creek Park took of our group.

Hmm. Not the most flattering of photos. The shirt length and the skirt length aren't well matched. It doesn't help that I'm not standing straight. But really, I think the worst thing is the height of my socks sticking out of my work/hiking boots. My hiking boots are not a flattering piece of clothing. But they cost $25 at Walmart sophomore year of high school, and they do their job.

Good thing I wasn't trying to win any fashion competitions while hiking.

And maybe someday I should cultivate the habit of looking in a mirror before I leave the house.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Want to see some beautiful costumes?

Ok, this past week has been pretty much hellish. But now it's over. Yes, I know, it's technically still Friday, and still part of the week. But my oral exam in my graduate class and my presentation for German class are both over, and I consider the week survived.

So, I will be sewing soon, I hope. In the meantime, let me throw out a plug for those in the DC area. Come see Hedda Gabler! According to CUA's facebook page, you can get 75% off a ticket with the code Celebrate. I don't know if it's still working, but I honestly think the costumes are worth the $15 ticket price. Every time I see some of the dresses, they take my breath away. I want them! Haha.

I am not familiar with the play, nor the actors who are in it, so I make this recommendation based solely on the costumes, but I make it wholeheartedly.

After the show closes, I will probably have a few pictures of costumes to post.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Next project: Halloween costume!

My next project is going to be a Halloween costume. Not for me, for B. He wants to know, I'm not actually sure what he wants to be. But he wants a bulletproof vest, and so I am sewing it for him.

I'm planning to just wing it. I don't know where to find a pattern for a bullet proof vest, and he isn't a very picky child. So I will take some gray wool we have that's a little bit moth-eaten, and make a quilted vest with pockets. That sounds more or less like a bullet-proof vest, right? Right??

Do bullet proof vests have pockets?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Costume shop photos!

I realized yesterday that I don't think I've ever posted photos of the costume shop. It's a pretty wonderful sewing place, and I am extremely jealous of it.

There are five regular sewing machines and one industrial one, and a vintage serger. We have two Japanese industrial irons and a large ironing table. There are two cutting tables and a giant rack for costumes in progress. There are half a dozen dressmaking forms and dozens and dozens of drawers for notions and the like.

It's a relatively hard place to photograph with a cellphone, but here are the two shots I did get.
 This is the ironing table. You can see that, rather than having water compartments in them, the water is in plastic buckets hanging from the ceiling. We are told that if you run out of water, Very Bad Things happen. Since these irons cost about $800 each, we all periodically check the water, even if we're not ironing. The cabinets in the back hold bias tape, serger thread, and corset supplies.
This is one of the cutting tables, and the fabric wall. The wall is where all the scraps of leftover fabric go. They get used for alterations, for practicing skills, for smaller projects, and so on. The bolts of fabric go underneath this table--you can see the underneath section in the lower right hand corner.
Those red chairs are a coveted item in the shop--some days there are more people than chairs!

The other cutting table looks similar, so I didn't take a photo of it, and everyone knows what sewing machines and clothes racks look like.

I also have some pictures of the costumes we're currently working on, but I don't know if they're supposed to stay secret until the show goes up, so to be on the safe side I'll save them. If you're in the DC area, you should come see it. The costumes we are working on are gorgeous, and in my opinion they alone would be worth the ticket price!