getting tangled up

It’s a good job I have a stubborn mule like tendency to finish off a project, otherwise I fear this project would have been abandoned some time ago as lacking a satisfactory “happiness inducing” factor. I have, thank goodness, finally got through the last of the grommets. Not before one of them took a bite out of my lining when the fabric shifted during insertion. Its now been patched up with the help of a little interfacing.

After overcoming the little metal fiends I got stuck in to adding the boning to the casing. Slide metal into channel. How hard could this be? well, given the nearly zero ease you have to work with the twill tape width its not very forgiving if you have not, to the mm, stitched a straight line. I had thought by using a zipper foot I would be pretty accurate. I literally got stuck several times and had to restitch several channels to get it to work.

Then the existing and long awaited finale – how did it fit? one final further problem, the laces I had purchased were too short. At this point you can imagine, after an evening of acquiring sore fingers manhandling spiral boning I was not in the best of humours. I was on the verge of retiring the sewing (battle) field when my housemate returns home.

Bearing in mind this was at midnight, the fact that I agreed to her kind offer to borrow the laces from one of her corsets and help me put it on shows just how obsessed I am with getting this to work. Which means, dear readers, you finally get to see some pictures of me wearing it after several posts. Given my state of tiredness I please beg forgiveness for lack of artistry or pose in the following images. To finish off the catalogue of errors one of the grommets popped during the lacing up, so its not quite as tight as otherwise it would be.

Its going to need some fitting adjustments at the top, but I think (to my inexperienced eye) the bottom doesn’t look too bad. Also the large boning channels are currently unfinished so I could make any required changes.

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not quite a hole in one

It was time to approach (with trepidation) one of my least relished tasks of the current corset project. Grommets. I’d bought a pack which had promised me they were easier to insert – including special instructions and a gadget. A good 48 hours later, after having purchased an awl, loaned a friend’s grommet setting machine and spent more time than I care to consider I was beginning to despair. The blasted things would not be set. Thankfully I was at least using practice fabric.

After appealing for help some more experienced souls advised me of some tips (careful to apply central force, not too much strength, on a flat strong surface etc) and I decided to try again. Which is why, on a cold October evening I was to be found on my knees outside my back door in the half dark. Yes, truly I am dedicated to my craft…..

Let me share the reason why (yes, there is an explanation!). Outside there is some nice sturdy flat concrete. Which appears to have helped greatly. Its not perfect, some of the dratted things are still buckling. But I have (tadaaa) managed to set one side this evening. I proudly showed them off to my corset wearing house mate. What did she think? apparently they are the wrong way round. Quite how you are supposed to know this in advance, when the instructions don’t show WHICH way up the sample fabric is I don’t know. I’m calling it a design feature. So there.

Wish me luck with the rest tomorrow.

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line up, line up! progress report time

So, for the last few evenings I have been working out which way to line up my (very difficult to guess which way) corset pattern pieces, and then sew the seams and channels for the boning.

Despite carefully numbering them all up with slips of paper my careful plans were clearly not thorough enough, as I discovered this evening I had sewn on the back panel on the wrong way upt. Fortunately, one benefit of using green thread on black coutil is that its very easy to unpick.

Compared to the normal “in progress” reports this feels some what less than exciting. Instead of several green pieces, I now have two. Don’t all fall over in excitement now. But, I can see its starting to take its final shape. I have also (even less interesting to take a photo of) sewn up the black polished cotton lining. Lovely fabric, and am really pleased I found it.

So, here’s a picture of lots of (hopefully neat) lines. Need to add the front busk and holes to the back for lacing before I can really see if it fits.

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One final p.s. for this evening. Remember the fabric I mentioned in my previous post? I’ve decided on advice of several other more knowledgeable sewers its not going to work with that pattern. I have found a replacement pattern which I like. The only catch? its got 102 (I kid you not) steps. This may be going on the stash pile for a while….

stepping back in time (a short summary of the last weeks)

so, what have I been up to of late, given my reassurances about returning to my corset project? well, I cracked and bought a new version of Simplicity 9769. Luckily it was during a sale but it was annoying all the same. One day I will be reunited with the original and will finally have the answer as to its hiding place.

But I haven’t just been working on the corset. Given my tendency to get distracted and fall for new projects it will not surprise you to learn I decided to also make the chemise of the same pattern. Now, I am more a PJ person myself, but I liked the idea of making something historically accurate and learn some new techniques. So I decided to make it for a friend. As she’s half way through her pregnancy I added some extra gathering to the centre front and back, but otherwise its exactly created as instructed, hand stitching and all. This “simple” looking project has nearly 20 (!) pieces to cut out and stitch together. the instructions said for true authenticity you could hand stitch everything. Umm…..forget it.

I really like the underarm guests, despite them being a pain to insert. Pivoting at the corners is rather tricky, and cotton lawn likes to pleat when it shouldn’t. `It does require a fair bit of fabric (over 3 meters) but the result is very pretty. I even found some cotton lace to go with it which didn’t have any (unauthentic looking) bling attached. In these pictures it still requires hemming. Unfortunately daylight quality wasn’t great today so will take more photos later. P1050362 P1050363 P1050364 But, I mentioned corset making. Apart from grading the pattern to fit me all over again (sigh) it also took a while to cut all the pieces out three times. I self inflicted this as I am using a coutil middle layer, a silk/cotton blend outer layer, and a polished cotton lining. Trying to keep all these pattern pieces straight has been a pain. I carefully numbered the pieces with bits of paper, but found its still easy to get muddled up (which way is up or down?). Here’s what we have so far: P1050366 Moving on to my final piece of news to share – because of course today is Saturday and an opportunity to visit my favourite fabric shop – I have some new fabric to show off. I intend to make view C of Mccalls M6800. I spent a long time trying to work out which fabric to get and finally settled on the large piece of fabric in the bag below (ignore the other small pieces, they are samples for someone else). P1050365

sea(each)side quilt

Don’t worry, I have not suddenly changed focus in terms of sewing output. But special occasions warrant extra care and attention. So when a very good friend told me she was expecting, the opportunity to venture in to the realms of decorative fabric was irresistible. My maths is fairly basic when it comes to making quilts, so I must have tried the patience of the poor shop assistant whose job it was to work out how much fabric I needed for the baby quilt I had in mind.

A few weeks later, and after much time spent on hands and knees arranging said purchased fabric and also deciding on the layout I am pretty proud of the end result. I have quilted around every dinosaur and palm tree, used two types of variable coloured thread and vacuumed the house repeatedly. All that cutting sure does make a mess.

This creation is roughly 1.5 meters by 1 meter and is fully reversible. I used cotton curtain interfacing as batting (convenient width, locally available and also inexpensive) which is nice and light weight. My favourite bit is the border showing a coastal seaside view. I fell in love instantly and the rest of the quilt was based around it.

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let’s slip this out of the stash

Have you ever bought any fabric for a planned project, had second thoughts, and its languished at the back of your stash pile for years? This next item was made from fabric bought in my naive innocent beginner dressmaking days when I did not have a clue about what was a good idea or what was very foolish. Like my idea to use habatoi silk for the lining of my very first dress making project.

This was originally going to be a PJ. Then I made the same pattern out of cotton and decided I had really been rather deluded to think this would work in silk. A rather flimsy one at that. Roll on the years (4 to be precise) and it finally gets a proper pattern to go with, a slip from Kwiksew (2325). Replacing the recommended lace with bias tape worked well, until the neckline flipped out. Two small darts later and its behaving better but I also learned some lessons. Like not letting your iron slide whilst working with bias cut fabric.

The yoke is made out of silk organza leftover from my self drafted dress for the city and guilds course. You may recognise the colour, which is an exact match to the yellow on the fabric. I had to take a 3cm scoop out of the back centre seam to improve the fit, but otherwise it was perfect.

So, some photos!

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I have also used up some more stash to make another PJ set for my friend’s daughter – Newlook 6170. Nice to use up the scraps on a cute little project. Learning point for future reference, don’t try appliqué for stars on flannel. It really didn’t like all the shifting about.

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gone and legged it

After all my work on my corset toile, I was most frustrated to discover I could no longer locate the pattern pieces. Somewhere I have put them away but they are not to be found. Grrrr….hopefully they will turn up soon!

Happily I have had something to console myself (can’t have my hands too idle). Here’s the rest of the pattern I made earlier (Newlook 6236). Nice practical items, and another chance to practice my knit sewing skills. So, leggings and a bolero. The cotton knit I chose was very nice to work with cheap too at £5.50 a meter.

This project was a perfect example of why you should take pattern fabric requirements with a pinch of salt. According to measurements this would require 80cm for the bolero. With 90cm I made both bolero and leggings. 

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adding to the armoury

You may have noticed a delay in the corset making project. A combination of being ill, going on holiday, a new housemate moving in and a vital missing piece of equipment all contributed towards a lull.

I now however, am the slightly bemused owner of a bolt cutter. Something I never, ever, envisaged the need to buy. After eyeing up the effect of trying to use some snips on my sturdy steel boning I decided something more substantial was required.

The result was one of my more bizarre dressmaking sessions. Sitting in a chair with the bolt cutter on the floor (little bits of metal can fly up) chopping down to size the long coiled sections of spiral boning I had bought. It was harder work than I had imagined and I felt more like I was embarking on an engineering project than my usual dressmaking!

I am way too lazy to add all of the channels required to my toile version, so the following photo isn’t the full picture, but I have added boning to each of the seams. The good news, its now looking much sturdier. Of course the final version won’t have the stretch this basic cotton has.

Photo on 11-08-2014 at 22.49

 

One final footnote, I used up the scraps left over from the last little dress to make an even more little dress (tunic length). This is from Newlook 236.

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and the final petals and stitches fall in to place

Well, I got over my usual button hole phobia and bit the bullet by finishing the 4 button holes (ok, we all have our fears, this is one of mine) needed to complete this project. 

Funnily enough it was actually trying to pose this dress that presented more of a challenge. You see, the little lady due to wear this creation is 5 1/2 hours train journey away and not exactly available for a quick pose. Careful use of cushions has created hopefully an idea of what it looks like when worn.

I am really pleased with the silk lining, which is gives it that something extra. I literally had just enough in terms of length. Still, its meant that very little has been wasted. This fabric actually has “elvis” written on it interspaced with little guitars. Very cute rock and roll. I used it for a jacket I made a few years back and thought it would be such a shame not to make more use of the left overs.

I’ve added mother of pearl buttons purchased on my recent holiday to Croatia, I think they match really well.

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yes, it’s another blooming dress!

I’m just back from holiday, and you can guess the first thing on my mind after the usual unpacking – you’ve guessed it, I missed my sewing machine. Today has been spent doing not much, bar the occasional bit of work on a dress which is now (almost there) nearly finished.

It’s another one of the vintage ones I blogged about earlier, Simplicity 4878 – from the 1960’s. It still needs a bit of final work (buttons and button holes, plus the back belt) but it’s looking pretty good. I chose a cotton Cath Kidson fabric to give it a more vintage feel and will be using some lovely mother of pearl buttons I picked up on my holiday (perfect excuse to do some shopping).

I’ve added a silk lining to this which I’ll show off later. A few key changes, I’ve lengthened it by about 10cm and reduce the hem to 6.5cm instead of the instructed 11cm.

 

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