29 november 2013

Silence in the Library!

I've been a Fan of Doctor Who for a while now, and when Fanbloomingtastic announced a sewalong I got genuinely excited. I loved how free the whole thing was: sew something Doctor Who-related, anything, by the 30th of November. At first I had a bit of a hard time coming up with an idea, since TARDIS dresses and female Doctor outfits have been done so many times before, and I wanted a garment that could be worn on its own without being obviously inspired by the show. So when I started looking at monsters in a less literal way, I remembered this:

One of the things that Doctor Who does well: making everyday things scary. It's easy to come up with big slimy creatures, but when you turn statues, water, mannequins or even shadows into a monster, the fear suddenly strikes closer to home!

I remembered something I saw in a video about a Dior collection being made, and loving the effect back then. An ombre design was created on a garment by layering pieces of black tulle in different sizes on top of the fabric. The final effect looked like a shadow, and I realised I wanted a Vashta Nerada party dress.

(For the readers not familiar with the show: Vashta Nerada are a swarm of microscopic being that feed on flesh. They look exactly like a shadow but when you pass through them they eat you to the bone. On Doctor Who, they appeared in the biggest library in the universe, prompting everyone to get the fuck out in a pretty creative way.)

So after loads of basting and hand-sewing, I present my flesh-eating party dress!

I drafted most of the bodice myself, changing a bodice block with darts to a princess-seamed one and adding rows of slanted tucks to the side panels (anyone interested in a tutorial on that?). I tried to mimic ribs with the tucks and clavicles and shoulder blades with the collar, while still remaining a bit subtle. The skirt is my trusted Chantilly skirt. I stitched all the panels together apart from the back seam, sketched the outlines for the tulle part in chalk and laid everything on top.

Here's a back view for a slightly better look at the collar and tucks. The tucks took some head-scratching to figure out and the finished pattern piece looks quite funny, but I love the effect!

Carnivorous shadows creeping up my skirt would probably leave me a skeleton, so I painted my face. And took a crowded train to get to the library. I got some stares and the paint was a bitch to wash off, but can I say WORTH IT?

That library is awesome by the way. It's in Antwerp, and this is one particularly old room called the Nottebohmzaal. Creaky floors and all.

The tights were a super cheap eBay find, and they arrived only just in time to wear them. They also don't really stay up, my kneecaps aren't situated halfway down my shins in real life, I swear!

Sadly enough, the ombre effect really doesn't photograph well. It's a lot more subtle in real life, like a gradient. I basted the pieces to the skirt and sewed them down using a very small prickstitch, starting at the bottom, so the largest layer covers all the smaller ones and there are no raw edges. After adding the tulle to one side of the skirt I realised the drape would be way off if I left it like that, so I interlined the rest of the skirt with leftover tulle. I should probably add a decent lining one day if I ever want to wear it for real, that stuff is SCRATCHY! And cheap. The hem is pretty stiff as well, but I don't think there's much I'll be able to do about that.

Creepy headshake picture because cool. And alphabet books.

I loved participating in this sewalong, and I love the dress I ended up with! Garments that are secretly inspired by things I love are my favourite thing, it feels like I'm wearing a fandom t-shirt only I can read. And I got to scare little kids in the process. Woohoo!

(Bonus points if you spotted the TARDIS in one of the shots before I mentioned it)

19 november 2013

Not a Real Post...

... Just to let you all know I picked the next recipient for the pattern pyramid! Congratulations to Deborah, I'll contact you to get your details!

15 november 2013

The Beekeeper's Dress

I just realised I'm posting three black garments in a row, if I'd include my halloween costume. Huh! Don't worry, fellow print lovers, I have a few slightly crazier projects lined up. This dress is VERY inspired by a dress I spotted ages ago:

I loved the silhouette, but mostly the golden bees on the collar. Bees communicate through the medium of dance, which makes them instantly awesome in my book. Also, honey. A google search pointed out that the dress was available here, with a Silence of the Lambs reference I don't really get, since it's called the black bee dress and those are clearly bees, not moths... Did I miss something in the book?

Anyway, I liked the dress, but didn't care for the price tag or the mystery material so I pulled a Roisin and set out to make my own. I've loved the Bleuet pattern by Deer & Doe for ages but was a bit unsure about it working on me. After realising that I could just unbutton the top buttons like I'd do with any shirt I stopped resisting and went for it. (The gorgeous versions Paunnet has been churning out might have helped as well!)

And what fabric do we use for a dress we've never made before, with some fiddly details such as a collar stand and loads of buttons? Black velvet of course! I had been warned about how tricky velvet was to sew with, but the cocky me took over and just went 'pshaw, it'll be fine!'. I don't have to tell you, it was not. I was making this dress on a deadline, for a job interview I had in a store where everyone had to wear black (the mission maxi was a bit too dramatic for the occasion...) and after cutting everything out with no problems I was sure this was going to be a breeze.

It wasn't.

All those stories about sewing with velvet? THEY'RE TRUE. LISTEN TO THE INTERNET FROM TIME TO TIME. This is what I had to do to make my fabric stay put whilst sewing:

Yeah, that's a shitload of pins and hand-basting. I'm not lying when I say I basted every single seam on this thing. Good thing I enjoy handsewing.

You know what else velvet likes to do? Shed. My place looked like there was a massive bug infestation, the boyfriend even reported bits of black fluff in his underwear. As a consequence, I decided to bind every seam with seam binding:

All this meant loads of extra work, but in the end I'm very happy with my dress (even if I didn't get the job). I'm sure you're tired of hearing me complain about making it by now, so here it is:

I look very pissed because there was sun in my eyes.
Woohoo! I didn't even make a muslin for this dress, I made an (unblogged) Sureau some time ago and it fit me really well, so I just measured the pattern pieces and crossed my fingers. It's pretty much perfect, no gaping anywhere! I also feel like Wednesday Addams when I wear it.

The dress is a really cute and girly take on a classic shirt dress. It has the collar and collar stand, but the princess seams give a great shape and the little bow at the back finishes it off perfectly.

I really wanted to add the bees from my inspiration picture, so I set out to find a way to embroider on black velvet. In the end I found a local store that sold Soluvlies, white and papery stuff you can draw on, baste it in place, embroider and then rinse off. It looked like this when I was working on them:

I loved how this worked and will definitely use this method again! Just not on velvet. or with metallic thread (seriously, it's like my brain just went: 'sewing on a deadline? Let's use the most complicated materials you have around!').

I'll end with another picture of my smug face the collar. I used this tutorial for attaching the collar and it worked brilliantly. This method seems to make a lot more sense than the one used in most patterns, I wonder why?

I'll definitely make the Bleuet again, it's a flattering dress that can be made in a variety of fabrics, working for loads of occasions. My kind of pattern!

12 november 2013

Pattern Pyramid Baby!

A while ago I was the lucky recipient of the Wellington Pattern pyramid! I gave a little squeal when Taracat let me know I won, since I love the idea! It's basically a package of patterns that has been travelling between sewists. Everyone who gets it takes a pattern, adds one or two and maybe some nice things and picks a next person to receive it. Imagine my excitement when I went to the post office to pick up this:

Aah! So exciting! Getting mail is always awesome, but for some reason this was even more fun. I opened the package to find this loveliness:

Loads o' patterns and a gorgeous card! I'm not exaggerating here, there are quite a few patterns in this bundle...

I also got candy and nice things. But I'm keeping those. Now came the task of choosing a pattern to keep from the pile. I had a hard time choosing between these two:

They are both lovely dresses and quite like my own style, but in the end I chose... (drumroll)

Tadaah! This might be a predictable choice but I love quite a few of the variations and I have a Frida Kahlo-printed cotton lying around that's just dying to be made into this dress (no joke)

Here are the patterns I added to the loot:

A vintage Burda jumpsuit pattern (I already own a very similar one I should try first) and a vintage Vogue! I hope someone else will be happy to receive these!


If you want to be the next recipient, just leave a comment on this post and a way for me to reach you. I'll pick a winner next Tuesday and get in touch to deliver the goods!

03 november 2013

A 'Ruined Childhood' party turned out to be a good idea after all!

The thing I'm writing about today might just be the crappiest thing I've ever sewn. It looks awesome, but it's so incredibly shoddily made I'm not even going to show you  any details! Drawing on a deadline works fine, but sewing on a deadline seems to be a big NO!

My boyfriend and I just moved into our first appartment (are you tired of hearing that yet?) so we decided to have a little housewarming party. It happened to be right around Halloween, and even though Halloween isn't really a thing here (people just use it as an excuse to throw a party I guess) we'd never pass up an opportunity for fancy dress. We decided on a theme that could have turned into a very confronting experience: childhood fears.

I decided to go as the 'Queen of Underland' (Koningin van Onderland), a character from a Belgian children's comic that scared the shit out of me when I was six or seven years old. Basically, she's an insane woman, the last descendant of a noble family, and desperate to regain the power her ancestors once had. She decides to start a new nation in the expansive dungeons of her castle, and to populate it with children, since they aren't strong enough to oppose her. To do this, she hypnotizes a local policeman and makes him steal children from their beds in the night. Of course, our hero finds out about this and goes to investigate, and after overcoming some troubles (he gets tortured! His parrot gets shot out of a cannon! They find the policeman, chained up and wailing about his doomed soul) he manages to rescue the children and catch the queen.

The comic isn't very widely know outside of Belgium, but I think most other Belgians will at least have anotion of this character. She turns up a few other times, always cruel and insane. I decided on this costume because it's impressive but not impossible to make, and because SHE'S FUCKING SCARY.

So here is my version! I'm not joking when I say this was made in one evening and a morning. I frankenpatterned a long black dress (my own bodice block with a super high neckline, the Saltspring maxi skirt and a lengthened Peony sleeve), drafted a hood-like veil and a massive cape. The dress is made out of the cheapest and most disgusting polycotton I could find, so I didn't bother with decent construction (or finishing seams).

Googling 'evil plans'.
The cape pattern was very simple, I just made a big flared shape that would sort of match my shoulder curve and didn't bother with matching it to the collar. In the end, I pleted the excess fabric until everything fit. The collar is just one big rectangle I interfaced with horsehair canvas (fancy!) to make it stand up. The white bands at the front are applied like binding so they encase the raw edge of the cape, and the whole thing closes with a button tab. The crown is yellow paper.

I enjoyed wearing this, it was comfortable and warm (always a plus). I did take off the veil part after a while, since the cheap polycotton in my neck got VERY itchy!

Here are some of the other costumes at the party:

My boyfriend didn't have a lot of time for his costume so he improvised and went as the hunter who killed Bambi's mother (I refuse to accept that she's alive. Fuck you Disney, you can't mess with my childhood heart like this and then say 'OH NO LULZ SHE'S NOT DEAD AFTER ALL). His badge says 'I killed Bambi's mother and all I got was this lousy badge'.

I've never been scared of my dentist, he's a nice guy, but I see things could have been different!

These two came as 'divorce' and proceeded to freak everyone out for the entire evening.

But the true winner of the night was this gigantic eyeball. Imagine opening the front door to see that one!