Sunday, January 27, 2013

Red Redingote: Bzou Hunter

 Adaptation of 18th style women's half-redingote. 

DESTASH! Skirt in flock, bodice in red velour (to imitate velvet), cuffs and lining in silver and black plaid taffeta (black lining in bodice). 

PURCHASED buttons, black bias tape.

 Also wearing my steampunk 'utility' belt, black leggings, Victorian boots (I thought I had some pirate-y ones to go better with the inspirational time period, but no go.)

Crossbow: Cheap bamboo 'toy' from Black Bear Haversack, design added with my new woodburner :-) Handle wrapped in faux leather. WARNING: much more powerful than a 'toy' should be. Whilst playing with this upon first receiving it in the mail, I accidentally put a hole in my roommates nice poster. (Rubber tipped bolts = fail.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

(Sort of) 1940s Style Overalls

In my continuous search for the perfect fabric to recreate Sharpe's rifleman's jacket, I wind up ordering a lot of random fabric in variations of green. This was obviously a fail (I think what I need is a heavy weight wool in hunter/very dark green). Anyway, several yards of 60" wide grey-green twill and dying jeans (with no will to buy another pair for some reason) = a pair of 40s Style Overalls.

1940s advert for overalls
I copped out and decided not to do a straight reproduction. The key thing about 1940s women's work overalls is that unlike modern bib-style overalls, they are fitted. Pants that taper in at the waist, a midriff piece, and a fitted bodice. Pants fromt 40s retro pattern Simplicity 3688 and bodice from McCall's 6331 (chosen in part because it has cup size variations, so I didn't have to think about the fit :-p).

I want this pattern!

Somewhat, but not really related, I want this pattern: The modern companies rarely put blouses in their retro repro patterns, which is silly because they are part of any ensemble.What good is a suit jacket and pants without the blouse?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nerdtastic Dress (on multiple levels)

My new favourite dress! (And don't red suede pumps go with everythin?!)
I'm thinking it needs a white blouse with puff  short sleeves and round collar to be worn underneath... Maybe a half apron in white...

If you can't tell by the simple fact of this dress' existence, I am a trekkie and sewing nerd.

Trekkie: Isn't is obvious by the print? I was insanely excited to find this collection (sporting retro Gold Key comic artwork) in the novelty prints at Jo-Ann fabrics. (Also, Marvel and Star Wars fabric series...)

Sewing Nerd: Do you not see the awesomeness of my fussy cutting the back pieces so that the print is not broken up/one continuous design? I was pretty damn proud of myself on this one! That's right. Two separate bodice back pieces, two separate skirt pieces and a zipper in between. :-P (Okay, so the zipper foot on my machine is frustratingly not an adjustable one and on the wrong side, if you ask me. Perhaps I was just spoiled by previously using zipper foots that could be adjusted to either side. At any rate, I can never seem to get zippers to align perfectly -especially when patterns tell you to sew the back of the skirt up until where the zipper ends before you put the zipper in, which frankly you should never do. Always put the zipper in first! Then you can adjust the seam as you sew up the skirt back seam and eliminate that annoying bubble that always happens.-But this time, spot-on!)

Bodice Back with hidden zipper
Skirt Back with pattern-aligned seam

Brought to you by (one of my favourite patterns), Simplicity 2591... which apparently other people have had issues with. Granted, it isn't the most fitted garment (but that's probably why I end up wearing these dresses so damn much... super roomy and comfy), but the style is cute and the large pockets built into the design are awesome!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Post-Apocalyptic Fashion Lesson: How to look like a Falling Skies survivor (with 2nd Mass Hat How-to)

AKA Why a (sewing) nerd should never watch Falling Skies whilst considering their pile of clothing repairs... 


First off, let us briefly discuss the series Falling Skies. While nothing extremely original (as far as sci-fi plots), it is enough of a contrast in creativity, intelligent story line development, characterizations and even originality in comparison to the bland cookie-cutter crime dramas inundating television, that I was immediately taken by it. Now on to the fashion of survival...

Survivors of the Alien Apocalypse
Survival Tip: LAYERS!
1. Likely the most important Survivalist fashion tip: LAYERS! Easily regulate body temperature by wearing as many layers as possible. Also, extra clothing equals extra fabric, for numerous uses from first aid (tourniquets, bandages, etc.) to collecting and filtering snow/water.

Extra pockets!
2. POCKETS Apparently, Tom Mason thinks the more the better, and I have to say, he isn't wrong. They're superior to a pack for storing essentials, since a pack can easily be left behind by accident or in a rush, but the pockets are attached directly to your person. (Excellent costuming detail, love the extra pockets added to Tom's jacket!)

Messy Look: Noah Wyle with Scruff
3. MESSY HAIR, UNWASHED LOOK: Obviously, baths and hot showers are few and far between when you're barely scraping by, constantly on the move, and also trying to take back the planet from a hostile alien force... That is, unless you're a woman. Then your hair should still be gorgeous and glossy, your hygiene excellent, your make-up flawless. (OK, so TV conventions only bend so far for the sake of style/appropriate ambiance...)

4. RATTY & RUNDOWN CLOTHING: Even though 90% of the population has been killed, and there is plenty of clothing in good condition to go around, one doesn't generally have time for shopping trips. And when there is time (between mech and skitters patrols), let's face it, you're grabbing the food (and weaponry).

On Hal's team of fighters, they all know web belts are where it's at.
5. WEB (UTILITY) BELTS: Specifically, if you're a 'fighter', these seem to be a must. Provides holster for sidearms, storage for compasses, snacks, spare ammo, knives, and lots of other useful things. Also, looks military and badass. (And holds your pants up.)

Pope sports a 'Cootie' Necklace
6. COATS/JACKETS: An essential layer for cold weather. For some reason, this group of people boast a pretty awesome collection of jackets (a little beat up looking of course), ranging from shearling to leather biker to military-style to winter/polar.

7. For the apocalypse (or post-apocalypse), you of course will want a good pair of SHOES. There will be a lot of walking (and running) over questionable terrain. Good tread, comfortable and durable is best. A work boot or combat boot. Or, if you just want to look cool, biker or western-style.

8. OTHER ACCESSORIES you might want to consider:

a.) Skitter tooth...? claw....? tentacle...? necklace to keep track of your kills (a la Pope).

b.) Firearms, preferably with anti-mech rounds (made from melted down mech armor)

c.) Something sporting the '2nd Mass' insignia... which brings me to...

How to make a '2nd MASS' hat:

Okay, so I used the cheater's method (used a pattern), which also makes this not so much a helpful tutorial.

Step 1: Acquire/Make a Hat

1. First off, acquire (or make, as I did) a military style hat. Mine is actually more 'newsboy' or 'engineer' since I used my favourite hat pattern, which happens to be a part of Simplicity 2581, a turn of the century 'motorist' theme jackets and accessories set. But it makes an awesome steampunk and everyday hat. (TIP: This time I tried some craft foam for the brim instead of a double layer of buckram. The buckrum never seemed to lie correctly/was always crinkly and deformed looking. The craft foam, too, looked a bit mishapened, but hit it briefly with the iron and warm craft foam will take on whatever shaped you give it. TIP2: I sew casing along the band at the back of the hat and insert some elastic so the fit is perfect.)
Step 2: 'Antique' the hat.

Rough up the hat
2. Apply wear. My hat was made out of a 'natural' twill, so off-white/beige in colour. This obviously will not do for a post-apocalyptic survivor look. Thus I 'antiqued' the hat in my usual way, applying watered down fabric paint in brown and black tones. I also roughed it up a little with my stitch picker (a very pointed, menacing looking seam ripper with a curved razor blade) to start some fray spots. (I think it still looks a little too pristine, but that can be fixed... perhaps by running it over with a car... or something.)
Step 3: Make '2nd MASS' patch

3. Make a '2nd MASS' patch. I found this artwork/ logo online, scaled it to my preference, printed it out. Then I made a stencil, using template plastic (because I wanted to save it for more uses later), but you can also make a freezer paper stencil (these work great, but are basically one time use). Tried out my new craft-size paint roller with fabric paint (so much easier and quicker than using a small brush, but I feel like it used up more paint... and fabric paint ain't cheap). It turned out sloppier than I generally like stencils to be, but in this case, it was perfect that way. Again, I applied 'wear' (roughed up the edges of the patch).

4.Position and sew the patch onto the hat haphazardly in a contrast colour (I like the visible stitching look in this case). If you do any amount of hand-sewing, being purposefully messy is actually a bit of a challenge, you'll find.

5. Sport hat. Go kill skitters!

Falling Skies Survivor Outfit 

(pulled from my pile of repairs/alterations and my closet)

I'm going to do this 'Outfit Post' style, as many bloggers do to display their fashion ensembles...

Hat: Handmade (by me)
Ratty Long-Sleeved T-Shirt: Columbia brand, acquired about a dozen years ago from who knows where anymore.
Flannel Zip-up Shirt: Ki-ko-mo (?) brand, hand-me-down from my mom
Vest: Eddie Bauer brand, acquired I don't remember where, approximately 5 years ago. Altered for a better fit.
Khaki-Green Web Belt: came with a pair of pants a long time ago.
Grey Cargo-esque Bumming-It Pants: Acquired from Walmart, 2 years ago, stained with fabric paint (not on purpose), holes in knee stitched up repeatedly.
CAT work boot shoes: These are my old, beat up pair of every day shoes, which I wore the in-soles completely out of (and replaced) and the tread is worn completely smooth in places.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Christmas present for my dad. One Thousand points to anyone who gets the references, because you're awesome, were around during the 90s, likely Canadian and have a great sense of humour!

Hand-painted with a freezer paper stencil assist.

Hogwarts Houses Scarves Set

This was a Christmas present for my room mate. I decided to go with the complete set, because they can coordinate with a variety of outfits, and of course, moods: Brave, Ambitious, Smart, Hufflepuff!

For each scarf, 21 fleece rectangles sewn together, and seams finished with zig-zag stitch. 
Clipped fringe. Purchased house crest patches.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey... Ornaments!

TARDIS box, River Song, The (11th) Doctor, Amy, Rory

Had to try them out on my little Norfolk Pine
My friends are crazy Doctor Who fans (recall a certain queen size invasion of the daleks quilt for a wedding present?)... But who isn't ;-)

At any rate, saw these supercute peg people made by jillybeans on craftser. And HP peg people ornaments.

Guess what I had to make for their Christmas present?

Their favourite Doctor and companions are Eleven, Amy & Rory. River Song couldn't be left out, because I got a little box and painted like the TARDIS (and made a sculpey knob for the top) and who travels in the TARDIS with Doctor but the Ponds!

I decided to keep them simple... one can get carried away with details. Perhaps the Pandorica costume wasn't the best choice for River... she looks a little like a jedi. But I do like how they turned out overall.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas (or any time) Dress: Burda 7179

I used Christmas as an excuse to make myself this dress with super cute fabric I got from Jo-Ann Fabrics (over Thanksgiving vacation, which I then proceeded to realized when I walked out of the store that I wasn't supposed to buy any more fabric for me... until I use up stuff in my stash! oops!). A couple of people said the fabric reminded them of the Queen of Hearts, and I'd have to agree.

It's my first Burda pattern usage, a retro style shirt dress,7179. I found the instructions took a little getting used to, and in some ways would have preferred none at all (since I already know how to put garments together from scratch).


  • Finish up Xmas presents (my room mate and I do Christmas in January and her gifts got set to the back burner with all of the more immediate holiday baking)
  • replace buttons on shirt (and finally be done with commissioned seamstress work for awhile) 
  • repairs/alterations (to my wardrobe)
  • 1940s Inspired Overalls (if there's enough of that olive green twill... if not, just trousers) because I'm once again out of jeans without holes/patches. Lined with flannel, I think...
  • begin Mystery Project
    • supplies
    • preliminary work
  • Red Redingote Ensemble
    • redingote
    • britches?
  • Continue to try to make the threadbanger crochet hat pattern work with my dollar store yarn...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 TO DO:

We're going to try something new this year... A project a week! (Likely loosely defined... such as a piece to an ensemble outfit or the like).

Also, likely will be no commissions this year (except if friends want me to make them something), since they are really not worth it when I have so little free time and nobody seems to want to pay a skilled labour wage to a seamstress.

  • Halloween Costume Options: Apparently, I now go epic for Halloween, my favourite holiday. And for some of these, I'll need to start early. This year's ideas are as follows (in ascending level of difficulty)
    •     Lily Munster: For some reason, love, love, love her look! It's60s retro-fitted 'gothic/medieval' look. Apparently in soft pink. I think I would approach this by making a fitted underdress out of white muslin and the overdress and sleeves out of a pale pink chiffon. We already have a long 'witch' wig that is black with white streaks and would probably serve for this. Simple and definitely 'Halloween'. I might make this to wear to work on the day of Halloween. The only issue is that the original make-up for the Munsters was a pale green, and make-up and work might not mix well... especially since I handle a lot of new, white labcoats.
    •     Rogue (a la 80s X-men comics and 90s cartoon): I've wanted to be her for a while, but she seems overdone lately. Also, I'd have to be pretty damn fit for this, more fit than I've ever been (or probably ever can be).
    •     Evil Queen from Mirror Mirror (adaptation): My friend is making the Snow White gown by altering Simplicity 1728. Since she's Snow White, I could coordinate and be the Queen. I would obviously be doing just a basic full/bell skirt rather than the ridiculously epic ones in the film. I greatly enjoy the peacock feather embroidered bodice of the red dress.
    • Arachnia, Queen of the Spider People a la Captain Proton: Star Trek Voyager's 30s sci-fi parody. Been wanting to make this reproduction for a number of years. The beadwork is intense however, and I'd really need to start now. Also, finding clear shots of the detailing is difficult. Particularly the shoes...
    • Demona (Disney's Gargoyles): How awesomely epic would that be? Issues with this is the body paint vs. body suit. Body suit would be easier, but matching the face paint would not work out well, I feel. One could go with body suit and mask, but masks are quite inconvenient for a night of drinking and eating candy. Also, would have to be insanely fit for this one. :-/
  • STEAMPUNK: Projects (hopefully) created entirely from my fabric stash...
    • Tinker Sue series
      • smock
      • striped underdress
      • one piece petticoat/jumper/romper
      • coveralls
    • Red Redingote
      • redingote
      • britches?
    • Knit dresses
      • with crochet lace trim?
    • Birthday Party whatnot? (It seems the tradition has become for me to through a steampunk soiree, and I'm really lucky I have friends willing to dress up and more than humour me, but get into it themselves.)
      • Sasquatch/yeti stuffie?
  • Mystery Project: I obviously cannot share about this before it's completed. ;-)
  • REPAIRS!! (must tackle that pile of clothes; fix or cut up for reuse)
    • Replace buttons on shirt for customer (last commission and I'm done! for awhile, just sewing what I want when I want!
  •  CROCHET! I intend to continue trying to learn this craft, in the vain hope I may someday be able to create lace for my steampunk/neo-victorian crafting.
  • Finish various incomplete projects (I'm not sure how many there are or where they're hiding, but I know they're out there).
    • Rockabilly Dress: This one I know exists in it's incomplete state.
  • Other Project Ideas floating around...
    • Plaid shirts
    • 1940s inspired overalls/trousers (lined with flannel for winter awesomeness)
    • 1960s Dresses
    • smock dresses
    • Burda 7198 shirts
    • cutting down too large t-shirts