Monday, May 30, 2011


I'm saying May is basically over. My last weekend for this month (and since I oft fail at accomplishing anything after work, primary crafting time) was spent headed back North and then over to Vermont for my cousin's wedding, which was very beautiful and a good time despite the sporadic torrential downpours.

Thought I would get a jump on organizing priorities for June, which the bulk of my crafting prowess will be devoted to the Steampunk Croquet party (date now set for second weekend in July, which happens to contain both Nikola Tesla's and my birthdays).
  • alter skirts (for paying customer... sigh, guess I have to get it done) 
  • scrub top (another must-do, since the lady is paying me...)
  • father's day gift
    • make stencil image
    • acquire t-shirt
    • stencil/paint 
Slight Sidetrack from Sewing: So excited that I got to make some potato and leek soup today (since I managed to hunt some out in the woods when I was home -most had already died off)! Delicious. And it will be even better in a few days when the potatoes absorb the flavour. Sadly, I will yet again miss the raspberries, and the ever-elusive lawn strawberries.
Elusive Lawn Strawberry Blossom

Proto-Potato & Leek Soup
Home Sweet Middle of Nowhere
I knew I missed it. I just didn't know how much

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011


    This will probably be added to frequently and abundantly as I realize everything I must accomplish for Steampunk Croquet & Tea...

    • My Oufit
      • Skirt Draft, Mock-up, Alterations
      • Draft basque OR alter basque pattern(already drafted and altered for previous steampunk costume)
      •  fabric (acquired supercheap silkessence from JoAnn's, going to be good and use this instead of buying expensive silk)
      • Make bustle (caved-I want the hoop kind, lighter weight)
        • hoop wire
        • tin snips?
        • buckle
      • Make Skirt & Basque
      • Make cartridge belts (black poly?)
        • do I have black wide elastic?
      • Order 'cartridges'
      • Find squirtgun/toy gun to alter
      • Steampunk a gun
        • retrieve gold spraypaint
      • Topper (to match dress and basque, accented with raven feathers?)
        • wire?
        • do I need more buckram?
      • Steampunk Jack (my fake pet raven, who lost his eye when I took him out several Halloween's ago -he shall be getting a prosthesis)
        • retrieve sculpey/fimo from home
        • large googly eye
      • acquire/make goggles (probably acquire, given time restraints)
      • cave and buy those delicious boots?
      • gloves, parasol, sunglasses?
    • Roommate's outfit
      • fabric
      • blouse (short-sleeve version of fav simplicity blouse pattern, from off-white sheet?)
      • waistcinch (figures now it would sell that I didn't think to take it out of my etsy shop, so I do have to make another one)
        • Do I need more brass clips? belt buckles?
      • knee-length bloomers in cool brown 'lone-star' print cotton
      • gunbelts in brown twill
      • acquire & steampunk guns
      • borrow my saloon boots
      • use my old goggles
      • Hat for friend's bf (in camel suedecloth)
      • prize captain's hat (we shall be playing for the captaincy of an airship)
        •  pirate/tricorn hat 
        • feathers
        • goggles
      • find/alter glassware
        • thrift store? 
        • dollar store
      • alter croquet set
        •  wickets
        • wire for wickets (coat hangers)
        • paint/alter mallets, stakes, balls
      • Comestibles/Beverages
        • shrimp puffs
        • mini (?) tourtiere
        • chocolate pie & whipped cream
        • cucumber sandwiches
        • Paumanok Iced Chai? 
        • 'absinthe' (the not 'real' US legal variety, if I can find it)
      Making this list has just stressed me out/overwhelmed a bit... But now I know what needs to be done so my focus might function a bit better. (Note to self, stop rereading the Soulless series of books. Just because Gail Carriger's fourth one comes out in the end of June, doesn't mean I should be sitting on my bottom delighting in her fun steampunk romps instead of practicing my craft and accomplishing something tangible in my limited free time... stupid real job...rather be sewing for myself... grumble grumble.)

        Sunday, May 22, 2011

        THE STEAMPUNK DRESS PROJECT: PART X (Skirt Mock-up, More Fabrics, Boots)

        Skirt Mock-up unbustled

        Crazy fabric (can't quite see the weird bit)

        After figuring out where to tie it up

        Back has darts/space for bustle pad
        This is a riding habit pattern, so the skirt is meant to drape and completely cover the legs while riding sidesaddle. I picked this one because I liked the drape (of it tied up for walking) in their fashion plate illustration.

        So this pattern is just a draft layout with small blurb about the outfit/construction. Things looked dubious from just examining the pattern, but I figured I'd have to play with it a bunch to really figure it out. It ended up much easier to figure out than I had anticipated. Once the 8 darts went in, the shape definitely took form. There was a weird bump on the right side with three dart that seemed quite pointless, but I think that's where the knees would be whilst riding side saddle? Just pin it up against the sideseam (will attach ribbons in real version) and the drape looks pretty good. I pinned the skirt on the left sideseam drawing the bottom of the placket up to the waist for the drape (will attach ribbon/cord here as well).
        Definitely needs Bustle pad.

        I was surprised by this draft for several reasons. Firstly, I didn't want to try alterations straight off, because with all of the darts and whatnot, the waist measure was not obvious.  So I drafted as is/laid out (besides altering width of back piece slightly so I have the option of using 54"wide fabrics -since I cannot find any 60" I like, and no 100" whatsoever), thinking i would figure out the construction and then alterations. I had not expected it to even be large enough to fit my skinny-ass display form (it was much cheaper than a real dressform, but is thusly not my size) since Victorian patterns are generally very petite. Surprise, it was loose on my dressform. I tried it on, and it only requires about an inch at the waist in the front piece for the side seams to align properly. Otherwise, it fits beautifully around my waist. So if I had that inch, there will be room to spare in the back, which is good, since I believe the bustle pad ties will be at waist level.

        And it definitely requires at least a bustle pad. there are three large darts in the back that cause it to billow in the exact shape. So guess I will get to try out my newly acquired bustle patterns :-)

        Purple-Gold Silk Taffeta
        Plum Silk-Cotton Sateen
        Still trying to find the perfect purple silk. Well, in this case, I have to compromise with the width I need. 45" definitely is not going to cut it, since I had to alter the pattern so I could use 54".

        The matte plum is probably much more classy/universal, but shiny bobbles attract me (hence the degree in archaeology).

        I like the other iridescent silk dupioni's colouring better, but the Purple-Gold is a taffeta, which appeals to me in its smooth, crisp texture/hand. Not really feeling the Japanese Royal Purple silk, but it is much cheaper in price...
        Royal Purple Japanese Silk

        I have also come across a iridescent purple-turquoise silk, which appeals to me because my other colour consideration was turquoise. Their swatch is matte, however, didn't have the lighting for iridescence, I guess.

        And Finally, I WANT these boots...
         Rather expensive, since they're leather. But frankly (no offense meant to PETA people) I want to know an animal died in the making of my shoes. I loathe synthetic materials. When shoes are marketed 'vegan-friendly' I instantly lose interest, knowing they're just cheap plastic things. And synthetic, chemical-derived products are far more harmful to the environment than using an animal hide (in my opinion, research, knowledge).

        Thursday, May 19, 2011

        THE VICTORIAN STEAMPUNK DRESS PROJECT: PART IX (Redefinition and some fabrics)

        [I accomplished my goals for the month! WOO! You'll have to take my word for it because since some were gifts, I'm not risking posting them until they've been received (not that the recipients are probably even aware this blog exists). I will share later on, because I'm quite pleased with the results.]

        Anyway, considering fabrics for my VICTORIAN STEAMPUNK DRESS,

        Purple Silk-Cotton Poplin

        Iridescent Plum Silk Dupioni

         I have already decided on a plum/purple for some reason. I guess because I read somewhere that plum is a good autumn colour, which with my olive skin and brown hair and eyes, I supposedly am. It also may be I have a an affinity for the colour. :-) To be honest, for once , I do not enjoy the more textured fabric. Dupioni has never especially appealed to me, except for the fact that it comes in spectacularly iridescent tones! Bright colours would not be appropriate for a Riding Habit, but since I, 1. Don't ride, 2. Have given up on this being a period piece, and 3. Decided to steampunk it up, I think I'll do what I like. :-P (Which of course, in of itself, being nonconformist/traditional/sticking it to the man is an essential part of steampunk).

        Problem: The Riding Habit skirt pattern I'm using is in just two pieces (front and back), both of which are extremely wide and long. Enlarging the pattern, which is inevitable to fit any woman alive today, unless you are EXTREMELY petite (which I am most definitely not), will require even more fabric. In other words, not even 54"/60" wide is likely to cut it. I could just adjust the waist, and the drape would just be not so intense/gathered. This may need to be rethought....

        Saturday, May 14, 2011

        Simplicity Goes Steampunk

        About fricken time they realized they could get in on a massive DIY movement. Of course, by now, most people who like steampunk and sew have figured out their own style and do not need the aide of a pattern.

        Just sayin'...

        But better late than never, I suppose...

        Simplicity 2172
        Simplicity 2207

        (and yes, I totally will be acquiring these during the next pattern sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics!)

        *EDIT* I feel like the fabric they employed in making the fuchsia dress totally legitimizes my desire for the iridescent purple/plum/blue silk dupioni for my Victorian -okay, okay, steampunk dress.

        Steampunk Outfits (for Croquet party): Concept Sketches

        To Make: waistcinch, bloomers, blouse(?), gunbelts(?), (ray)guns

        To Make: (Hooded?) Bolero, My Easy Bustle Skirt, Underbust  (With slots for 'throwing knives'?)

        To Make: Topper, Goggles, Belts, Jacket and skirt (adapt Riding Habit pattern), gun and catridges 
        Already Made: Chemise (may skip if too hot), Corset

        Guess it's silly to keep using the fashion figure base for designing costumes for me and my friends, who are all on the short and shapely side, since they won't look the same on us as here, but damn me, I guess I've somehow conformed. Or am lazy, and have this base figure always on hand in my notebook I carry with me. I'm opting for the latter. Mostly pieces I've made before and can theoretically not have to think too much about, which is good because seeing how my free time just evaporates, there may be a time limit involved. (Still waiting on friends to set an actual date besides 'maybe July-ish, around my birthday' for when they are free to visit and play STEAMPUNK CROQUET!!)



        Pretty excited! Even though, I think making the Riding Habit for my costume will negate the necessity for the bustle...

        Tuesday, May 10, 2011

        Nothing Like...

        Washing fabric in the bathtub to appreciate modern technology.

        What can I say? I was too cheap to pay $1.75 to wash less than a yard of a fabric (plus $1.50) to dry it. I was also too impatient to wait until I had enough fabric for a real load of laundry.

        As crafts/sewing people, you know what I'm talking about. Like me, you've likely done it before. And you'll do it again.

        I just hope I was rough enough to get any excess dyes (that would run out of the fabric). I think most manufacturers use colorfast dies nowadays, but since I say that, it probably won't be true...

        Saturday, May 7, 2011

        One last thing for today...

        I may have snapped and bought a cute pair of shoes that I don't really have anything to wear with. So the question I put forth is... 

        What can I make to go with these?

        Jersey Wrap Cardigan

        I actually made this last weekend (notice the wrinkly white cherry fabric beneath, before I fixed it). 
        *Tutorial possibly forthcoming (if I feel up to remembering what I did and/or if anyone is interested).*

        Red 'Silk' Retro Tie Bag (courtesy Butterick freebie pattern)

         This bag is one of Butterick's Free Projects that you can download if you sign up for their free email newsletter (which if you at all use their patterns, isn't really asking that much... I think I was already a member of their ClubBMV or whichever it is called). There are some other interesting freebie patterns in there, too. I downloaded as many as I could get my greedy little hands on :-)

        Anyway, 'purse' size bags don't do it for me/would not hold everything I need in a day. I take a backpack to work (I also walk a mile and a quarter to a bus stop and take two buses and thus always need to be prepared for inclement weather), so I feel unprepared with just a wallet/small purse. Thus, I scaled this pattern up to 1 1/2 times its normal size to hold more stuff :-) that probably makes it not so retro, since small handbags were the vogue in the 50s?

        Scaling up the pattern -I like to use the connect-the-dots method
        I ended up forgetting to widen the ties... but I think I like them the same width as for the original pattern. I might even make them a bit shorter on this size bag. Or maybe not. Sort of pleased with how it turned out. I'd recommend using an invisible zipper, even though the pattern doesn't specify. I used a regular nylon zipper, and the topstitching around the zipper opening turned out rather messy near the pull (because it is so bulky, and I couldn't manipulate it like I usually do with the method they had you use to install the zipper).

        This is made from red 'silkessence' I got at Jo-Ann Fabrics, which mimics the texture/sheen of dupioni silk. I think it was a poly, maybe an acrylic. Can't remember the fiber contents. It's lined with a basic red apparel fabric (but not actual 'lining' because this was cheaper and of better quality).

        Other alterations I made to the pattern was to interface the ties and the lining (since it began too look like it would turn out rather floppy/without form).

        Adjusting Retro Cherry Dress

        So... Without A Crinoline.... I think the full circle skirt (the back piece -in black here) looks rather wilty:

        I like it With A Crinoline. More body full, and fun to spin around in:

        The Problem is that the front piece (white cherry fabric here) is not full at all. In fact it's rather fitted all the down through the skirt portion:

        Thus, it doesn't drape over the Crinoline properly and looks all Wrinkly:

        So I added two godets starting at where the darts end to the hem, for better fullness:

        YAY! Now I'm ready to party like it's 1959!


        I've never had a sinus infection in my jaw before, but reading info on several health websites, state an upper jaw ache as one of the main symptoms of a maxillary sinus infection. I knew it wasn't a toothache, because I just had my dentist check-up a month or so ago and had X-rays and everything and was perfectly fine (no watch spots, even).

        Why discuss this on a crafting blog?

        Basically, it meant that I got NO sewing done all week long. :-( Which in of itself made me more miserable than the rather severe, persistent ache in my jaw. Seem to be moderately better now (knock on wood).

        I did get the mending done I had been putting off forever by pure force of will last night. Accomplishing something made me feel ten times better even though I can still feel the pressure building in my sinus cavities. And apparently happiness begets happiness, because I got a couple more projects done this morning (which will be elaborated upon in subsequent posts).

        Sunday, May 1, 2011

        MAY TO DO:

        Sigh... some rollovers... Some new stuff. Maybe I'll get my act together this month. Also, I need to start on the Steampunk Croquet preparations soon.
        • Wedding Gift (already started)
        • 50s Outfit
          • Red 'silk' purse
          • Black jersey wrap cardigan (with tutorial if I'm good about keep tracking whilst drafting)
        • big basket of various mending for a friend of my father (about halfway done)
        • Yet another Baby Gift
        • Victorian Bustle petticoat? (aquired patterns)
        • Design Steampunk Costume  for roommate to wear for party