Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm a bit of a sewing machine myself

"Why Laura," I seem to hear you say. "Is that a serger in your home?"

"Why yes," I would reply, had I actually heard you say such a thing. Alas, this beast of a machine is merely on loan. I may have mentioned, I've been commissioned to create a couple of jackets for a coworker of my mother's. Another one of my mother's friends happens to own a serger but doesn't know how to use it, so she loaned it to me to use on the jackets for the trade-off that I'll figure it out and teach her and her daughter. Pretty good trade, if you ask me, though I kind of wish she'd decide "Oh, I don't need this thing" and give it to me... well, a girl can dream.

The jackets I'm making are based on the patterns Vogue 1081 and 1040, with some minor alterations (of course, because I just can't manage to make anything like patterns tell me to!). She's a bit of a hard-to-fit woman, so I'm glad to have the chance to make her something she really likes that will fit her right. After all, I know about difficulty in finding off-the-rack clothing that fits right and is flattering, being tall and curvy.

Like my pattern weights? I pulled all the small cans from the pantry -- black olives, sliced mushrooms, tomato paste. Dad asked if I was making a giant pizza. I wish. And excuse the mess behind the dining table -- we're all pulling stuff for a potential yard sale.

The toughest part about this project has been making myself actually work on it. It's partly my trepidation about making everyday wear, especially for someone I don't know well -- everything I sew is costume, and almost all of it for the stage, so the finishing is different. But it's also because... well, other than work, I don't really sew. Sometimes --very rarely -- I feel like I love sewing, but even when I do, I don't want to do it outside of work. The only person I've known who enjoyed what they did enough to do it outside of work as well is Mary Ann, the woman who taught me costuming in college. She was *always* sewing at least one or two projects at home as well as working at least 40 hours a week in the costume shop. But when I get home at the end of the day, generally the last thing I want to do is pick up another needle. Even now, being on hiatus, I can get excited about ideas for me to design and make for myself, but when I look over at the sewing machine, it just makes me want to procrastinate ever longer. Blah.

I'm hoping that taking some time away from the costume work will help me get over that feeling. Being able to sew without deadlines or divas or outside stress would be helpful in changing my feelings, I hope... especially as I need to get these ideas in my head out and into 3D!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Evolution of a garment

The Theatre company I worked for the last two summers kicks off the season with a themed Gala, which is the one really fancy event of the summer. Last year the theme was "1940's Red Carpet", as the cornerstone show of the season was "City of Angels", but as I was new, I didn't realize what a big deal the Gala was. My outfit left something to be desired. I was determined not to let this happen again.

This summer, the theme was "Witches and Wizards". The fact that I don't have a workroom, cutting table, or serger, means that the finishing on the garment isn't quite what I'd like. But it was done, so there ya go.

I decided, rather than go with the broom-wielding, orange-and-black stripe wearing witch, or the Gryffindor sweater vest-wearing type, I'd go for more of a medieval kind of feel, bodice and skirt kind of thing. The color choices... well, I made them for one reason, and that reason is named Professor Snape. I heart him. As you can see from the photo at right, it's sort of the Slytherin colors. I decided to do a bodice from the brocade, and a green skirt with a sheer black overlay.

The pattern I chose was Simplicity 9966. Of course, I purchased this even though I chose to make lots of alterations to it. Like I do. I guess it's all the same, since nothing fits me right anyway (I'm pretty curvy).

I started out by cutting all the pieces from muslin and putting it together the way I wanted (as opposed to how the pattern wanted me to). Then I severely altered it, doing all the pinning myself, through some contortion and clever usage of multiple mirrors. I have to say the fit left a little bit to be desired in the end, but that's what I get for trying to pin the back of a garment on myself (already altered in pic).

After I was satisfied with the mock-up, I retraced all of the pieces on the only large paper we had: a leftover roll of Christmas wrapping paper. That's when I discovered the brilliance of this! The wrapping paper has a grid printed on the back, which is to theoretically help you cut and wrap your presents more neatly, but this was perfect for placement of the pattern pieces and to keep me true to the grain lines.

I don't have any further photos of the process because, well... I put most of it together the night before I drove up there for the summer (as in, was up till about 4 AM sewing on the living room floor) and finished it the afternoon of the Gala, so I had zero time for photo ops. And I don't have any decent photos of myself wearing it yet, but I should be getting some in a few days, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here are a few photos of it on my new dressmaker's dummy! It fits me better than the dummy. Oh, and please excuse the wrinkles... I don't have a proper steamer.


Top, close-up

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Fresh Start

Hello all! I think I may have told some of you, but as of this October, I'm going to be back in school -- I'm working on a Baking and Pastry diploma from the Art Institute of Ohio. A big change of pace, yes, but I'm excited to get my hands dirty and try this new challenge. I'll still be blogging about my hobbies and costuming over here, but starting in October you can also catch my kitchen adventures over at It should be interesting!