Saturday, July 26, 2014

Two Petticoats done

. . . well, almost.

I have Castiel's petticoat done minus hook and bar closure, and Gabriel's bustle/petticoat combination is finished minus hemming and buttons. Cas' will be done as soon as I can convince her to put on her corset and bustle for fitting. It may need to be shortened, but if so I'll add tucks. Here's what hers looks like:
Back view showing ruffle.
Close-up of ruffle. Three rows of cording made by folding the fabric in half and stitching with the cord sandwiched in-between. Then I stitched the cording flat to the rest of the ruffle with lace underneath.
The hem is decorated with a grey Vandyke border that reminds me of the tips of feathers. Where did I find such nice trim?
$1 for three yards rick-rack, stitched so only half shows beyond the hem. And now you know my secrets.

Gabriel's bustled petticoat is based off of some images I found online. I won't be able to continue work on her outfit until she returns from her fieldwork next month.
The front two-thirds are plain, with the back third boned. There is a ruffle that goes around the entire skirt at knee level, and a separate piece of fabric with five rows of ruffles that covers the boning and back of the skirt.
With the ruffles moved aside you can see the boning underneath.
The back ruffles are trimmed in green bias tape for contrast and to help them stand out better. I'll probably add some little hooks and eyes to the back ruffle piece to prevent shifting. Still need to do the photo shoot for my skirt, but I'm feeling accomplished so far. I'll be switching gears soon and doing a mock-up for my friend's quilted armor, but I still think I'll be able to start Samifer's skirt before August. Things are finally starting to come together.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Panic and Things Accomplished

In my last post I mentioned receiving some life changing news. My husband and I were informed that we had to be out of our home by the end of the month.


It was only a day or two later that we were told the timeline had changed, we had until the end of the week.

Double Fuck

We still own our home (which is an RV), and we can still store things in it, but it had to be moved to a different property and we could no longer live in it (it is illegal to live in an RV unless you're in an RV park. It's very common in So Cal, especially on horse properties, because land is so expensive. The law isn't really enforced, but the county will kick you out if there's a complaint. And guess what? There was a complaint.)

So on Thursday my husband and I packed up our stuff, moved into our friends' loft, and had our RV moved to a different property. It was painful, and hectic. We had been living in our trailer for about five years in four different locations in three cities. Just the two of us and our one little bird (cat).

Our trailer is too old to be accepted into most parks, but we're looking into our housing opportunities and hopefully soon we will have a stable place again. And we are lucky to have such a wonderful support network.

I spent the first few days cleaning and organizing and getting used to the new environment. Yesterday I finally decided it was time to start sewing again. I was able to finish my skirt and am halfway through Castiel's petticoat. I need to pick up more muslin, but I should be finished with it tomorrow. Then there's Gabriel's bustle/petticoat combination, and I may even get Samifer's skirt done by the end of the month. I don't have any pictures yet, but they will be coming soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


On Friday I received some bad news (no one died, but it was still life changing news). I cried, I panicked, I got over myself and made an action plan. Things are going to be okay, but it's scary and I'm going to be busy over the next few weeks.

Yesterday was spent moping. Do you have mope days? You don't cry cause 'been there done that' and you don't need the headache, and you don't really freak out because it won't lead anywhere so you'd rather not take that path; you just ignore all your responsibilities and sit around to prove to yourself you still have control of your life. One of those days where chocolate, pickles, and ramen all sound equally good and you'd eat all three if you had 'em. One of those days where you need a small, brainless project that you know you can finish before dinner just to feel a sense of accomplishment. One of those days where a Netflix marathon is its own form of therapy. A Mope Day.

Yesterday was a Mope Day and I decided to make a set of pockets to go with my new petticoat. I pulled out fabric I'd been planning on using for pockets:
Drafted a pattern by hand, cut out four pieces, cut a slit in two, and bound the pieces together by hand using bias tape. The result:
I used the cotton twill tape the I had wanted to be my petticoat waistband to be the pocket ties. There was just enough to be able to tie it around my waist, so I stitched the pockets to it.
Over normal clothes, because I don't have full 18th century undergarments
The pockets are only attached to the waistband at the corners, since stays and a bum pad will likely change the placement. If I have to move them I can do so easily, and once I'm sure of placement I'll stitch the top of the pockets to the waistband as well.

The Challenge: #13 Under $10

Fabric: Cotton print bought years ago

Pattern: Made by me, based on the shape of existent pockets

Year: 18th century

Notions: Green thread, cotton twill tape, and pre-made bias tape

How historically accurate is it? The print is wrong, and both the bias tape and thread are cotton-poly blends. But the shape and construction are good. 75 or 80%?

Hours to complete: 5ish. The first pocket was done in an hour and a half, but the second took longer because I had to keep pausing to help my husband hack the terminals in Fallout 3. I am a pro at hacking in that game.

First worn: Just for the photoshoot

Total cost: Fabric was a remnant, I think it cost between $2-$4. The bias tape was a $1 clearance item, the thread was a gift and the cotton twill was leftover from a previous project. So total about $5.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly #13: Under $10

Sometimes, luck is on your side. Serious luck. A few months ago I was at a local Goodwill when I found this:
Not a bad dress, but not really my color. But there was something about the shine, the texture:
Holy shit, it's pure silk. And also, MINE! (I have a particular weakness for thrift store silks.)
The dress is an off the shoulder affair, a size or two too big, with pleated details.
You can notice that the shoulder strap is pinned about an inch to keep it from falling off, and the pleated detail of the skirt. Also, I really need to clean that mirror.
The entire skirt is pleated the entire way around, with an obvious seam at the waist. I don't think this could scream "petticoat!" any harder.
A look at the interior proved that someone upstairs likes me. (Of course the goddesses of costuming live upstairs, it's the best way to make a grand entrance.) In the photo you can see two lines of stitching, one for securing to skirt to the bodice and another for securing the pleats. Which means when I separate the top from the bottom, the pleats will stay there, perfect and waiting for a waistband.

So I did just that. After removing the few points where the lining was secured to the seam allowance, I used my seam ripper to remove the zipper. Then I separated the top from the bottom, careful not to break the thread so I'd have it for the stitching later. After the skirt was freed, I whip-stitched the zipper opening shut.
The crappy, uneven stitches in the middle of the photo are mine.
The skirt also had side seams, to ease the transition from bridesmaid dress to 18th century petticoat. Another bit of luck, the seam allowances were serged separately, so they could be pressed open. Ripping out serging sucks, and I was happy to be spared it. I measured nine inches down from the edge, marked it, put in a half dozen stitches to stop the seam from opening farther than I'd like, and then cut open the seam. I also put in a bar tack at the bottom, to lessen the pull on the seam.
From there I measured some ribbon (I.E. I wrapped it around my waist, tied it in a bow, cut off that much, and then cut a second piece the same length), centered it over one part of the petticoat, folded it over, and stitched it down hiding the raw edge of the skirt. Then I did the same to the other side.
The excess I left hanging as ties. The ribbon isn't really the same color, burgundy as compared to a fuchsia, but they both have shine and in poor lighting look similar. I was going to use cotton twill tape, but I didn't have enough. I put in a few tacks to make sure the seam allowance by the pocket slits won't roll to the outside and I was done.
The hem circumference is modest by most standards, only 90 inches, but it's a good basic piece. It's also long enough to handle some fluffing without going all flood warning. Right now the petticoat has no accompanying outfit, but I have plans. I still have the bodice, and will likely cannibalize it for trim and details that will say "I intended to make this outfit with a non-matching skirt," instead of "I couldn't afford fabric."

The breakdown:
The Challenge: #13 Under $10

Fabric: Fuchsia colored silk

Pattern: I used this guide by A Fashionable Frolick: (For some reason blogger isn't letting me do links.)

Year: 18th century, but likely to be worn for a number of periods, if only for the rustle.

Notions: Matching thread obtained from original dress, burgundy ribbon left over from another project.

How historically accurate is it? In styling, very. It has a narrow hem, slits for pockets, and heavy pleating. However, since I didn't deconstruct it and remake it by hand, it also has machine stitching, serged edges, and polyester ribbon as the ties. I'd say it's about 70% accurate, since you'd have to look at the wrong side and hidden edges to notice it's machine made.

Hours to complete: Three and a half.

First worn: For the photo shoot

Total cost: If you include the ribbon $7. If you don't since it was leftover from a previous project, $4. I am a thrift store ninja.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Today has been the source of a number of small irritations.

I forgot to pick up a squirt bottle while out shopping, which I need to make a vinegar solution to set the pleats of my skirt.

I can't find my grosgrain ribbon that I bought to make the ties for the bustles. I remember calculating how much ribbon I would need and buying it ahead of time so I would have it on hand for bustles. Now it's missing.

Not to mention that Gabriel didn't come to gaming on Tuesday, so I wasn't able to get her measurements for her bustle.

I had to spend twenty minutes to find a copy of my preferred character sheet for Pathfinder on the internet, and then ran out of paper while printing copies. And since I didn't collate my printing, I have five first pages and no second or third pages.

As a result, no sewing was accomplished today. Things were pinned, and fabric was purchased for me to make padded armor for a friend, but I didn't really DO anything.

That's a lie. I made tacos. And they were good tacos.

Luckily I'm working tomorrow (yay money!) and I can pick up some ribbon while I'm there. Maybe even a squirt bottle. One way or another, Castiel's bustle will be finished tomorrow. And even if I have to drive to Thousand Oaks myself, I will get Gabriel in her corset and take her measurements before she leaves for fieldwork.

So there

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Skirt Loading

Had full intention to take laundry, scissors, needle, thread, ruler, and fabric over to a friend's today so I could do a few loads and flatline my plaid to some muslin. I remembered everything . . . except my ruler. Unfortunately, the only ruler they had was a cheap plastic dollar store kind, which would be incredibly inaccurate at measuring out pieces forty-four inches long. (I'm sure some people could carefully measure out such long pieces with only a twelve inch ruler, but I have to triple check my eighteen inch quilter's ruler because I notoriously skew lines. Not worth the risk.) As a result, no flatlining was achieved until I got home. This was further delayed by my cat deciding to help.
Besides pulling the fabric out of my hands and unthreading my needle, she is also supremely skilled at attacking my fingers through the fabric and putting her head right where I want the needle to go.
Despite all this I still managed to get two of the eight pieces done. The rest should be finished tomorrow, and I can start sewing pieces together.
The teal plaid flatlined to white muslin. The color is a lot brighter in person, but this photo was taken after sunset when my phone is at its worst for color sensitivity.
Luckily, the laundry trip was not a total bust. Besides doing three loads, I was able to take Castiel's corseted measurements. I'll probably pause the skirt for a day or two  this week to make up Castiel's bustle and petticoat. If I'm able to get Gabriel's corseted measurements on Tuesday, I'll probably do them all together. If I can get all of the undergarments for everyone done this month, I will be a happy panda.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

So it is begun, again

I have officially decided to stop dicking around. I sat down today and wrote an introduction to Victorian clothes for my friends. Two of the group have worn corsets before and are comfortable with them, the other two are not. No one is terribly familiar with Victorian clothing, so I figured a guide was in order. I broke down what everyone would be wearing, the purpose of it, and the order it was worn, as well as how to care for things. Much easier to type it all up and email it to people than to tell everyone individually.

I also cut the pieces of my skirt today. I've been nervous about it because if the undergarments don't look pretty, but are still functional, it's not a big deal. But if the actual outfit doesn't look good, you done fucked up. So yeah, nervous. But I'm also starting to get nervous of my timeline. Gabriel is going to be gone for about a month doing fieldwork (she is an archeologist), so I need to get as much done while I have her. And I've got a wedding to attend at the end of the month, possibly one in September, and a week long vacation in October. So I've got to actually get to work.

My skirt is going to be pleated, alternating stripes of denim blue quilter's cotton and a teal and green plaid. The plain blue is heavy enough to stand alone, but the plaid is going to need to be flatlined. The plaid is too light (I can see through it when folded double), and it wasn't printed perfectly on grain. Since I cut along the lines of the plaid instead of on par with the selvage, I want to flatline it to avoid any possible bias stretch. Then I can sew the pieces together, pleat them, and add the waistband. I'm uncertain about the hem. I have the selvage at the hem edge, which looks tacky, but I worry that a hem facing will be too bulky. I guess I'll play around with it once it's all stitched together. I just don't want to disturb the look of the pleats.

Progress shots as progress happens. Until then.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


On this day in 1919, my grandmother was born. And sixteen years ago, almost to the day, was when she died. I was ten. There's a lot I didn't get the chance to do with her, and there's a lot I never got the chance to ask her. And being adopted, it can be hard feeling connected to your own family because whether intentional or not, people equate blood with family. Like there's something that people who don't share genetics are missing, even if those people literally raised you.

Though her health didn't really allow it during my lifetime, my grandma used to be an avid crocheter. There were doilies she made on every end table. There were crocheted dresses on the extra roll of toilet paper in every bathroom. And there were crocheted glass covers, only used on the sacred of days, the rare Rootbeer Float Friday. I tried to learn, but grandma couldn't teach me, and my mom is left handed. (Nowadays I can crochet left handed in order to teach others, but at seven or eight it was beyond my ability.)

But even though there was a lot that couldn't be passed on, a desire to be crafty was instilled in me. That and the fact that a house isn't a home without copious yarn crafts. As I grew I learned how the things I saw everyday were made, and through books I taught myself the skills I had been surrounded by.

Now, almost two decades after her death, I make my bed with purple sheets in remembrance of her, with pillowcases that I cross-stitched with violets and lace trim  I crocheted. I top my bed with the quilt that I made, and add a crocheted counterpane that I inherited from her. And I know that even though we didn't share a drop of blood, she was family, and I wouldn't be the person I am today without her influence.

I love and miss you, Grandma.

Crossing things off the list

Having finally been able to meet up with Crowley and work on things for her, I can officially cross stuff off the to-do list.
Firstly, Crowley's chemise. I was going to do more detailing on it, but lazy happened.
Close up of the handmade lace.
Secondly, Crowley's drawers. I still need to add buttons and buttonholes, but she needs to try them on so I can get the fit. Also, considering that it is physically impossible for me to pass up sale buttons, how do I not have any that are plain black? The best I have are domed black velvet buttons, but A) I may end up using those on Crowley's bodice, B) there aren't many so I can't waste them, and C) domed buttons under a corset sounds painful. So I need to buy MORE buttons. (I love buttons, but I can never spend less than $20, because I will buy buttons by the crapload.)
Close up of the stacked ribbon trim. I was going to do 1/4 inch tucks around the legs and stitch the red ribbon to the underside so that an 1/8 inch of red ribbon would peek out from the tucks, but once again lazy happened.

I choose to do Crowley's undergarments in black since all he wears on the show is black, with a touch of red because he is the daring-est devil you've ever met. It's a perfect color scheme for the King of Hell.

The corset, chosen for the player not the character, is an olive green stitched in gold. The whole thing is finished except the seams, since I like to do a final fitting before everything is flat-felled and encased. Once I do the fitting, I can bind it, bone it, and floss it. Considering I want to have everything done in 4 months, I need to get busy.

Project Steps:
Chemises (Completed)
Drawers (Completed)
Corsets (4 of 5 Completed)
Bustles (2 of 5 Completed)
Petticoats (2 of 5 Completed)
Skirts (1 of 5 Started)
Bodices (Not Started)

Just keep sewing, just keep sewing . . .

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly #12

I am, once again, doing things. Yay for motivation. For this challenge I made . . . another corset.

Okay, there have been a lot of corset posts, but to be fair I need five total and they keep qualifying for different challenges, so go with it.

My fourth corset is for Gabriel, and ended up very nice.

The corset is a peacock silk dipioni flat lined to coutil, stitched in brown silk. It has an olive silk binding and a ivy border.
I had to hit a couple of fabric stores in order to find a binding I liked. None of the options I thought would work in the beginning actually looked good when the corset was finished. The leaf border was a speciality ribbon I found as a remnant. Since I didn't have any matching thread I had to very carefully remove the ivy from the brown ribbon it was attached to in order to save the thread it came with.
For the laces I found this very nice brown cording that matching the stitching. The flossing is the same thread used in construction.

The breakdown:

The Challenge:  #12 Shape and Support

Fabric:  Peacock silk dupioni, olive silk dupioni, cotton coutil

Pattern: 1880s corded corset from Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines, drafted to measurements

Year: Mid-1880s

Notions:  Brown silk thread, brown polyester cording, spring and spiral steel bones, spoon busk, grommets, and 2/3 of a yard brown ribbon with ivy border

How historically accurate is it?  The pattern and construction are good, but the lacing is polyester and the glitter printed ivy trim is way off. Considering that these are pretty minor points, maybe 90%, though the color may have been too out there for the time period.

Hours to complete:  I had to take a break in the middle, so no clue.

First worn: Unworn as of yet, but hopefully photos will happen soon.

Total cost:  $60?