Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pleather Costume Dress & Garter Belt

All photos can be seen larger here.

I needed a costume for a party in August, and decided this homage to Emma Peel of the original Avengers would be fun.  I'm not sure Mrs. Peel ever wore anything exactly like this, but surely something very similar in spirit.  After all, it was the Mod 1960's.

This dress is made from Pleather from JoAnn's.
I used a Marfy sheath pattern (#1128) as my starting point, with some changes that are not really too drastic design-wise, although the look is quite different from the original here and here.
I've made this dress several times, and it's a very versatile pattern.  This iteration has been shortened, the neck scooped, the back neckline changed to a very deep Vee, and the side zipper exchanged for a below-the-waist CB separating sport zipper. 

You can see the back below.  For ease of fitting, etc., and since it's only a costume, I decided that leaving the Vee open to the top of the zipper and exposing the back strap of my bra would not be a problem.  It would be easy enough to put a modesty strip or panel across with snaps, and if I wear it again, I may do so.
The pleather was very easy to sew, but the fact that pins make permanent holes made it difficult to fit quickly.  Tape didn't hold well to try things, and I ended up using clothespins at times.  I did use some pins where I was going to be sewing anyway.  All edges except the hem are turned and stitched with either a straight stitch or a 3-step zigzag.  You can see both in the photo at left, which shows the ties on the front shoulder 'straps'.  They control excess fullness in the neckline.

The original design has a front jewel neckline with gathers in lieu of some of the dart shaping, and I should have rotated that fullness out before cutting.  This did the trick though, and is kind of cute anyway.

To the right is the back of the dress laid out on the ironing board.  You can see the zipper at CB.  The zipper zips up from the bottom.

You can see the bottom of the zipper below and the double row topstitched hem from both the inside and outside of the garment.  The hem was turned up and stitched along the zipper while the zipper was inserted.

I used a large-toothed sport zipper for this garment, and I think it fits well with the design and the fabric.

To the right you can see the CF waistline from the inside and outside of the dress.  I took a tuck at the waistline between the front vertical darts.  There is no give in pleather, and there was just too much fullness there.

I put elastic inside to gather it up across the grain a little as well.  This seemed to help the fit quite a bit, and it was all hidden by the sash belt.

On to the matching garter belt.  Every 1960's heroine needs a garter belt.  After all, it was before pantyhose made their appearance.  Here it is closed and open.

The pleather made it very quick and easy to sew.  Sturdiness, no raveling and no stretch meant no reinforcement or lining needed.  This sped up the process a lot.  I used purchased garters which came with the elastic attached, and put loops with 2 attachment points on the inside.

The seams were stitched, then each seam allowance was topstitched down.  This might have been overkill, but I wanted it to last, and to be very flat against the skin.  I used the triple zigzag on the edges, again to make sure the edges were very flat.  I had thought it would be fun to add some embroidery or some kind of embellishment to this, but I ran out of time. 

I will leave you with 2 last dress photos.  The side/back view, and the 'fun' shot.  Many of you know that my sister takes all my best photos, and we were getting silly at this point.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Two More Swimsuits

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I made these two suits in July. The Violet Geometric one is a success, the Pink Sequin one, not really. I did not put zippers in these suits, otherwise they are very similar to the ones I've  made previously. The violet fabric is from LA, as is the Fold Over Elastic (FOE) on both suits.

The reason the Pink Sequin suit is NOT a success is my own fault. The fabric is from Hancock Fabric, and although it's marketed as a swimsuit fabric, and seems to hold up well to chlorine (almost too well from my point of view) I did not take into account that the application of the sequins, which I think are laminated on, would affect the stretch qualities of the fabric. There is almost NO stretch in the lengthwise direction, and less than the normal amount on the crossgrain. I of course paid no attention to what I could plainly tell, and cut the pattern out as usual. Well, I can wear it, but it's pretty form-fitting. The worst thing though is that the 'sequins' are almost painful along turned edges with no FOE. I have been wearing this suit in the hot tub, which usually manages to stretch out and soften any suit very quickly, but naturally in this case, it's not doing it. I think if I would put FOE on the plain edges, I might be able to wear this pretty comfortably, so maybe I'll just do it. I love the way the print worked out on this, and I do like the look.

Here's the back of both suits.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Copying RTW - A Summer Skort

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I found a really fun RTW skort the other day, and I've been wearing it quite a bit in this horrible heat. I decided it would be terribly easy to copy, and I think it turned out well. The photo above is my copy in a coarsely-woven cotton print. Here is the original in denim.
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This style reminds me of the kind of shorts they used to wear in 1940's musicals. I've always liked that style, and this was very easy to copy. Because of the apron across the front, there is not even a zipper in these. The original is closed with a button and loop at the apron edge, and a hook and eye at CF. I used a hook and eye at CF, but decided to do something a little different, and ended up with a tie and bone ring closure at the apron edge. I think it's kind of cute.
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Here's the inside, and you can see the lack of a zipper. It does have sewn on placket extensions, but that's the only 'complication' in this design, and it's not exactly a problem.
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I copied this by the needle tracing wheel method onto newsprint. This is a very simple method that works extremely well.

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If you go to the Photo Link under any photo, it will take you to the gallery, and you can see much larger and more detailed versions of these photos. The pattern photo may be especially interesting.

Spatter Print Skirt

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This skirt is made with fabric I bought at Elfrieda's in Boulder, Colorado last month when I was in Denver with Patti and Mardel viewing the YSL exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.

The pattern is Marfy 093, which I've made before. It's a great summer skirt, sitting just below the waist. This version has the Alice/Olivia Vogue pockets I did once before.
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I've been wearing skirts a lot this summer since it's been so very hot. There's just nothing cooler than a skirt.

Here's a side/back view.
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Here is the front with the skirt laid out flat.
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Sewing/Fashion Trip to Denver

From Denver 2012
Patti, Liana and Mardel in Westminster, CO.

I had such a great time in Denver near the end of June. I got to view the Yves St Laurent retrospective exhibit at the Denver Art Museum with two fabulous fashionistas, Patti and Mardel. You see us above just before we left for the airport to go our separate ways.

The show was well worth making a special trip to see, with over 200 outfits, the largest show of its kind. This was the only showing in the western hemisphere. How they got it in Denver, I do not know, but I'm so glad they did. It was a very nice space for it as well.

There were so many stand-out pieces, but since we were not allowed to take photographs, I will just have to settle for quick descriptions. Truly, I went into sensory overload just trying to remember and take notes of all the wonderful details and effects.

There was a one-shoulder lace column evening gown with galloon edges that did not meet on the sleeveless side and was held together with two medium-sized shocking pink satin bows. Charming, and ultimately wearable, if only by the brave. The masterful handling of the lace was wonderful.

The hem edge of a brown blouse that just peeked out under a boxy skirt-suit jacket resembled leather cut into perhaps 1/2" fringe. Examined more closely, it was silk with a turned up hem which was cut vertically into strips and whipped along the raw edges to form loops. Amazing work, and so pretty, and really, quite simple if you have the time, patience, desire, and the hand-sewing skills.

Of course all of the beaded pieces were fantastic, the Monet Iris and Van Gogh Sunflowers jackets were probably the most stunning of a very stellar group. The texture of the paintings had been recreated using not only beads and sequins, but silk ribbon embroidery as well; in places 'piled up' to imitate the thick impasto of the original artworks. Of all the garments in the show, these were the only two not shown on mannequins. These were under glass, laid flat, both so you could get a very close look, and, I imagine, to save the garments from their own weight as they hung on a form.

YSL's combinations of fabrics, color and line was incredible, and as always, seeing the actual garments is a revelation after only seeing photographs, no matter how detailed and good. I would recommend this show to everyone, and any time you have a chance to see fashion in person, go and see it. You will always take away something of value, if only one idea. I know I came away from this weekend with many, many ideas.

As you may have guessed, I also came away with a little bit of fabric. I was very restrained, and only bought 2 pieces at Elfrieda's in Boulder. One is a cotton print which you will read about very soon. It's already sewn up! This is a gorgeous silk print I could not resist. I am thinking a slip dress, possibly to wear to the opera in Chicago in October, again with Patti and Mardel.

From Denver 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Plum/Turquoise Lingerie Set

Photo Link to all photos

I had great fun making this set. I got the fabric at G Street Fabrics when I was in Maryland visiting Linda. It's been aging gently in the inventory, and I'm glad I finally made it up. It's pretty wild, but I had a good time dying all the elastic/findings/notions to match. In fact, at this very moment, I have 3 white lace tangas in the dyepot. I wanted more than one matching panty, and realized I might as well just sew them first, and dye later. This works beautifully, as long as you use Nylon Thread when you sew. This is very important, as polyester thread won't dye, and you'll suddenly have contrasting stitching everywhere. That can be a great look, but not when you didn't plan it.

Here's a closer view of just the bra.
I used the pattern I copied from a Freya bra. This is one of the few bras I've made without any lace on it, and I think it turned out pretty well.

I wanted a matching panty, and the tanga pattern I like is for stretch lace only. Well, with no lace on the bra, that seemed to be a bit of a problem. I dyed lace to match the notions for the bra, and ended up using a little of the bra fabric on the panty. It's kind of a reverse applique, in that I placed it underneath the lace and stitched around it on some of the lace lines, then cut away the lace over it. I think it works. The lace itself was sold with the selvedges still attached, so you had to cut the galloon edges free. You can see what it looks like when partially cut away.

From Lingerie

You may have noticed that the lace seems to be wider than what was used on the finished panty. Well, you're right. It was wider than I like (I like about a 3-1/2" lace for these) and so after finishing the whole thing, I decided I just wasn't happy, and so I carefully marked and cut between the top and bottom lace motifs, then joined them with zigzag stitching along a motif line, cut away the excess on the top, then stitched again and cut away the excess on the inside. This worked beautifully, and it's very hard to see the join, even when you are holding them in your hand. Lace is just handy that way.

I knew I wanted a garter belt for this set, and I copied an older Vanity Fair one I have. I dyed the components for it as well, including some silk organza to underlay the centerfront piece, and some very narrow non-stretch lace edging for the edges, ribbon to cover the garters, loopy elastic for the garter straps and waistband, and SeamsGreat. The original I was copying was 'taped' along all the edges and seams with some kind of tricot strips. I thought about it a lot, and finally decided that SeamsGreat would work okay. I think it worked great, and I doubled it for strength. It was very easy to dye, and I am keeping that in mind for future plans. I'm sure it could come in handy for a lot of things, and I have a lot of it on hand. Here's a view of the inside of the garter belt, and a close-up of the inside front.

I think the garter straps, etc. are just as cute as they can be. I love the little ribbon flowers. I got those at JoAnn's, they had the perfect color. You'll notice there's one on the bra as well. Making a garter belt was a new experience, and not difficult, but pretty fiddly. There are just so many little pieces and steps to put them all together. I would do it a little differently next time, if there is a next time. I wouldn't try to make it so adjustable in the back. There's no point really, I know what size I am, it only has to fit me.

I'll leave you with a photo of the garter strap.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Shoes and Flowers

It seems that spring is early everywhere this year, and everything is blooming early as well. The wisteria is just gorgeous this year, and I got a photo of the smaller display on the top deck (3rd story). This was when it was just beginning to really show. It's almost done now.

From Drop Box

I could not resist showing you these great shoes. Just what I need. Not really, but they do intrigue me. They remind me of the pair of shoes Kenneth King almost couldn't get through airport security. He had glued his spikes on. These are done for you.

From Drop Box

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Turquoise/Plum Bra & Dyeing

I finally started on another bra. This one is a wild turquoise/plum fabric I got at G Street Fabrics when I was visiting Linda. First I had to dye findings for it. I had thought a lavender-blue strap elastic was the perfect color, so I dyed some things to match it. I was extremely thrilled that the color match to the strap elastic was so good, but then I decided that what I really needed to go with this fabric was teal. So, I began again. Here's what I ended up with for dyed things.
From Lingerie

And this is the teal dyed items with the fabric swatch.
From Lingerie

I'm using a pattern I've used before, which I copied from a Freya bra. Since I'm now making 'cheeky' style lace tanga panties, I'll have to figure out a way to make them 'match' this bra. I have a few ideas, but I'm not sure just what I'll end up with. This is how far I've gotten on this bra.
From Lingerie

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back With More Swimsuits

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Most of you know that I went out to California to visit my sister again in February, and while there, went to LA's Fashion District. One thing I was looking for was swimsuit fabric and FOE (fold over elastic). These are the first two suits I've finished from some of the fabric I bought there. I think they turned out well. I'm still using the same traced pattern with a few modifications. Here's the first suit I made, and a link to some others.

The most obvious change is the CF zipper. Back hooks are just a little hard to hook and unhook, especially early in the morning, which is when I wear these for water exercise classes. I have made several suits with zippers by now and they're super easy to wear, and not too hard to construct. They just take a little more time. I use a piece of powernet in the front, and the zipper goes through it and the suit fabric. This gives me very good support, and the silhouette of a sports bra, that is, pretty flattened. Perfect for aerobics.

Here's the second suit I have finished since I came back.

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Dear Kathi Rank took us to the promised land (where the fabric lives) again, and guess who was with us? VonneVo! She and her DH were here on a trip from Australia, and what fun she is. Just as nice and pretty as she can be too. Here's a photo of Kathi and Lisa in the amazingly packed shop where Kathi found damask and other tablecloth fabrics. Vonne was out of sight, probably behind some of the fabric rolls.

From 2012 Feb CA