Sunday, March 16, 2014

Steam(punk)y Summer Blouse: An Experiment in Cutwork (Part II)


Firstly, I found a really, really, covetously lovely example of the same style of blouse I've set my sights upon.

DROOL! Here's the link...
Even if I had the money, and could somehow rationalize buying such a thing, it wouldn't fit my gigantic modern build. Well, not gigantic, I suppose. I'm not tall, just large. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that a woman's bust can be the size of my rib cage/underbust. Tiny people, what's that about?

Anyway, this -as well as the other example- are composed of lace, rather than cutwork. (Although the 'eyelet' referred to in this blouse is more of what a cutwork would be). But I don't do the knitting thing, so definitely don't do the lace-making thing. However, I do do the embroidery thing, so I'm going to emulate this style, only in cutwork and maybe some purchased lace hem tape.


I do really like the shape of these blouses; the neckline, the volume that gets gathered into the fitted waistband, the little peplum/tails, the inset look of the center front piece. I know this was worn over the typical high-collared, long sleeved shirtwaists, but I've realized that high-collars make my round, round face look really big. And it's going to be July when I'm wearing this, so I claim 'steampunk' and am only wearing an overbust corset underneath.

For these pieces composed primarily of lace, they are obviously put together after the individual sections are made. However, with cutwork, and wanting my pattern to fill the allotted spaces (which I won't know the size/shape of until I start putting it together), I've decided to piece the blouse first and then to tailor my design to the shape of the blouse. However, the sleeves and the peplum pieces will have to be done first and then attached later. Because, the embroidery hoop will not fit in the finished sleeve very well, and the finished bodice will be gathered into the waistband.


Why do I sketch pieces first? As I go through the process of drawing the garment, putting in seams and decorative portions, considering the fit of it, I'm simultaneously thinking about how it will go together, how to design the pieces (alter certain patterns in my possession or draft from scratch), what measurements are needed,  etc.


Following my calculations in my concept sketch, I cut the pieces out of a white tone-on-tone stripe. They're basically just strips of various widths, with a little bit of shaping. The fit is mainly achieved through the gathering of the blouse at the front waist. The waistband will be the same hem lace used along the center back and center front pieces.

I did end up putting a button placket on the back left side, but will put the buttons and button holes in later.

I finished the peplum and sleeve pieces to the point to be emboirdered. I'll have to attach them to the rest of the blouse later. (And shape the sleeves a little?)

NEXT UP... Designing the Cutwork Embroidery

Friday, March 14, 2014

Flannel Sheet Sale + Burda 7198 = Pajam Win!

Boscov's has their flannel sheets on sale around Christmas time every year, and while it's not all the useful for getting a set for your bed (they're sold in separates... and it's difficult to track down coordinating prints in a fitted and flat in the same size), they are a cheap source of flannel fabric. I really liked this cardinal print... bar the candy canes which makes it sort of seasonal specific 'Christmas' instead of 'Winter'. 

I used Burda 7198, the longer length, and narrow-hemmed instead of the larger allotted hem (1 1/4" I think it was) so it was more nightgown than top/tunic. You can't see it very well, but there's a henley style placket and neckline. The back is a little weird, especially for using a patterned fabric instead of a solid, being pieced (seam down the middle, even though the piece edge is not contoured so it's not for fit) with a horizontal dart at about the under bust line. I'm not really sure what this odd dart is supposed to accomplish... And neither the center back seam or the horizontal back dart are shown in the garment front/back view sketches... weird.

The fit looks nice, but it's a little tight in the upper-back/bust. Guess I should've upped the size for comfort. Appears to run true to the measurements given on the pattern pieces themselves. The flannel itself is a little stiffer than flannel designed to make garments, so once it's worn in, it will probably be more cozy.

And I do have a decent amount of the sheet fabric left...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Steam(punk)y Summer Blouse: An Experiment in Cutwork (Part I)


So, definitely settling upon this inspiration for the blouse component of my Steampunk Egyptologist (Mummy Huntress) Costume. And therefore, it's time to play with doing some cutwork embroidery.


 I think this is going to be a serial, so be prepared to be bored (or, possibly entertained) by the craziness that is my crafting process. Well, then. Let's start at the beginning, because as a certain singing-former-nun-nanny informs us, it's 'a very good place to start.'

 Cutwork is a form of embroidery in which portions of the fabric is cut away. Sounds simple enough. And with just a few steps, and knowledge of just three (?) basic stitches, it is. Just labor intensive... I imagine.  Honestly, have never done it before. But we'll discuss this in a minute.

 First, for a better idea about the craft in question, here's a straight forward tutorial about the basics of Hand Embroidery Cutwork (not to be confused with machine embroidery cut work -which is obviously the style in the first/main photo of the tutorial) by Maya of Little Treasures.


The answer to this question for any person, in any endeavor should always be YES! Refusing to even attempt something on the grounds that you don't know how will never allow you to grow as a craftsperson, or a human being. Not to say that you should ever cave into peer pressure to do something you do not wish. But don't be discouraged to try something you want to try. 

My personal approach to new sewing/crafting techniques is ALL OR NOTHING. In other words, I ignore the very sage advise of trying a small project first, and then move up to the more intricate/complicated/labor intensive/difficult. If the difficulty level is too low, I grow bored and abandon the project. I'm not interested in having a nicely decorated doily for a nonexistent end table. I'm interested in having a nifty blouse to wear with my costume. 

That being said, I do have some knowledge and experience with needlework, including hand embroidery. Actually, one might say my first 'real' craft was cross-stitch, taught to be by my mother. It was her craft of choice at the time... Not really sure when I completed my first project. I vaguely remember a bookmark... Anyway, later in life, I found I did not care for all of the counting involved in cross-stitch, so I opted for the much more freeform hand embroidery, looking up a needlework encyclopaedia at the library and experimenting with a variety of stitches (and fills) in projects such as these wonderland scenes...

As for time, can anyone say several hours of bus commute per work day?

I have the basics, needles, scissors, knuckle-thimble thingy, embroidery hoop. 

Thread? I probably don't have enough embroidery floss in the stash, so will have to buy some. Upon consideration, I do tend to like bright colors, but I think in this case, I'm going to opt for the clean white tone-on-tone effect. While rayon or silk would add a lovely sheen, I'll probably opt for the cotton for ease of cleaning/durability.

Fabric? The best materials for this kind of work is cotton or linen. Since I've decided that I also require a new overbust corset for this costume (my old one is too big and a little worn -although not worn enough to merit one of the knobs falling off the busk, especially when it wasn't one that's a pressure point, and busks are not cheap), I had best shop the stash for this piece. I have several white cotton fabric remnants, mostly striped white-on-white, but maybe one will suffice.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Even More Aprons...

Are you sick of seeing them yet? I always thought it funny how aprons have become such a trendy item in the crafting world. But I guess I understand now. They're easy to make, with the potential for much creativity and variation. And so here's a couple more. And no, for once I did NOT buy more fabric. I was a good girl and shopped my own fabric stash. (But they did take three packages of bias tape each.)

You might recognize some of the fabric from Ally's Apron

Not so practical, I suppose, with the lack of pockets... but frilly and cute, and a bit retro.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Summer Steampunk Costume Inspiration

If you've been following this blog for a while, then you are probably already familiar with what has become my birthday tradition, Steampunk Parties! And of course, I must treat myself to a new costume. Here's the nebula of inspiration and ideas in my head thus far...

Random Lady Adventurer Photos

Pattern Link

Link for Dress at Shabby Apple

TOPPER: Feminized Pith Helmet

This Veil + Pith Helmet = Practical Classy

SHIRTWAIST: Edwardian Style



BOTTOMS: Riding Skirt
(Pants & Skirt In One? This. Is. Happening.)

Link to Folkwear Pattern

Not summery, but I do like this coat...


 And just because... I want to be her in this photo...

Claudette Colbert in Cleopatra (1934)