Finally Complete with the Holiday Treats

Starting late also means finishing late, i was reminded of this year unfortunately.  Alas i have finally finished the last of the holiday giftyness and am ready to pass them onto the parental units!  A scarf for each of the parents as they plan this year to start building a house in a cooler climate then where they live today.  Really i think anywhere is cooler than where they are in the Southern California area ... yep, another 80 degree Christmas this year.  So i decided to help build their non-existent winter wardrobes up with some cute scarves.  I am super pleased with how each turned out and it was only my third time blocking lace!  My first time blocking anything so wide (other blocking adventures were for Lace trim only a couple inches wide).

A Snowy Vintage Spring Dress

So i have this filing cabinet, which i have owned since i was 10.  It's a legal width 4 drawer filing cabinet.  I have never had that many papers but when i was offered one i knew it would all be put to use someday. Nearly 20 years later as i try to find room in it for just *one* more sewing/knitting pattern or cooking recipe I noticed too many things over the years have been purchased and promptly been filed away.  Since i am working from home over the winter holidays this year i saw it as an opportunity to make some of the things i have set off to the side for years.

My first project was an adorable Vintage Vogue Sewing Pattern - 1954 Bolero & Dress (#2267) ... i decided on just the dress for now as i have TONS of adorable sweaters to coordinate back i would like to wear more often.  I purchased this pattern years ago at a sale for a dollar.  It has a super cute fitted shape and a goregous square neckline.  What i did not notice until closer inspection yesteray morning were the bust darts and the side zipper.  Now i get that it might need bust darts if i was looking to make the dress in a stripe or some other type of vertical pattern to help keep the pattern straight at both the skirt and the upper body.  Since i was using a ditzy floral repeat i really didn't want the evil darts nor was i too thrill about a side zip since this meant an invisible zipper as no one needs extra giant zipper sticking out along the side of an extremely fitted dress making them look at least one size larger.

Saturday morning i traced off a copy of the original pattern and began to work out the problems.  First off i added to the bust circumference at the side front panels as when i measured the bust it was an inch small.  I played with working out the dart on the front side panel, but it wasn't cooperating.  The dart was stubborn and looked awful when i would release it into the body of the dress, oh well!

I cut out a muslin of the dress of the dress, did a quick sew up job, and got it on the form to see the damage.  Not bad Vintage Vogue!  I ended up tripling the dart depth at the bust, not suprising as i am much deeper than i am wide.  Also there was absolutley no shape at the back waist so a fair amount of scooping out there was also pinned out.  Lastely the shoulders were a bit too long.  After a bit of truing on the neck/armhole facings i felt i was ready for the real fabric as most of the change were pretty minor.


Pattern was adjusted by the evening and luckily i had already washed and ironed the fabric so i was ready to go.  I went with a medium weight brushed twill to flat line the dress as the base fabric was a quilting print cotton.  Normally i would not think to line something like this, but i wanted to ensure that the sweep really looked full and didn't just hang lifeless when worn.  I wanted a stiffer, more rigid 50's look to the dress then the recommended single layer of poplin.  After cutting everything out the serger made an appearance going around the edges of all size dress panels to secure the twill to the fashion fabric.  I love you serger!!!  If you don't have one and do a lot of knits or flat lining i highly recommend one as they add tremendously to your sanity levels, especially when you are trying to power through a project.  After an entire day of sewing i had finished nearly the entire dress, got it back on the form, and was totally in love.  It's so cute!  AND the invisible zipper went in on the sewing machine without any complaints. Either the zippers have gotten better or sewing for 20 years is starting to pay off.  This morning i awoke, popped in a movie, and began ironing the last portion of the dress, the hem.  After a couple hours i had a completed beautifully hemmed dress.


With a whole other week of the holiday break i am hoping to keep up the momentum and complete another project or two.  Some Christmas scarves and many even a button front shirt or two?  Also i have some fantastic White/Black printed Geisha fabric that is totally calling to me Goth Lolita with giant black satin bows...

Grateful for a Delayed Holiday

As usual i am a teeny bit behind on my holiday gift completion.  Just two scarves only 60% behind.  Luckily the two scarves are for mom & dad and i will be seeing them in January, so it didn't seem like the gifts had to get in the mail pre-Christmas.  The scarf for Mom is coming along beautifully!  I love how the cashmere feels to knit and the stitch pattern with a simple 6 stitch x 6 row repeat is super easy and allowing me to catch up on Dexter (almost up to everyone else...).

To the left is the scarf for Dad.  This will be my second ever gifted crocheted item, and i'm really like'n it!  I picked two colors that my father always wears in hopes that even living in SoCal with an 80 degree Christmas he may some day decide to wear said scarf.  Still no word if he ever wears the socks from his birthday last year...i'll totally have to harass him about them in January...hehehehehe.

Details about Dad's Crochet Scarf:
* Yarn = Rowan Lima
* Colors = Hunter Green - AND - Beige

* Chain 12 Stitches (Base Row)
* Chain 2 Stitches (Fake Double Crochet Stitch)
        (Double Crochet all stitches on every row)
* 10 rows of 2 Strands - Both Color A
* 10 rows of 2 Strands - 1 Color A & 1 Color B
* 10 rows of 2 Strands - Both Color B

Beginning a bit late..

I made the decision to start a couple of Christmas gifts a little late this tonight. It's nice to have a small family that is also super understanding that hand made = takes Andrea forever to make ;p

I just started a scarf in Cashmere for me ma using a shawl lace pattern from "Victorian Lace Today" Miss Lambeets Shetland Shawl. It's a super simple six row repeat with only six stitches across. So far so pretty; now I just need to figure out how to finish it before Tuesday night and somewhere also knit Dad a hat. At least the bro's is done, and adorable if I don't say so myself! Pictures to follow once it's been gifted away.

FIlling the need for somewhere to put my phone for dickens - AND - Making a VIctorian Purse

Dickens Faire!!!  Finally the time of year to dress up in your best walking costume and go stroll the fantastic streets of a time long ago.  Well it is super hard to look good while strolling if you're holding a camera and an iPhone.  So today as the costume was pulled out and accessories were gathered all together a gaping hole in my ensemble was discovered...i have no purse for the Checked Wool Costume!  It does have a couple of welt pockets on the front of the jacket, but not enough for all the goodies required for a day out.  The brain started thinking and decided that it would the perfect rainy day activity to whip up a Victorian Purse for all my strolling needs.

A dig through the fabric bin of things long since past produced more than enough of the Red Velveteen used on the Checked Wool Costume saving me the headache of having to try to match it.  Next a trip to Lacis to procoure a Metal Purse Frame and Chain.  I found a super cute Antique Nickle color frame with Rhinestones in the clasps that was adorable.

If you have ever sewn a reticule...this is even easier depending upon your Metal Frame type.  I went with a "Sew-on" type frame so i would not have to mess with trying to crimp down a frame.  There are also frames that will screw together to hold the fabric in place.  Another great method, but sewing was going to be the least intense for me and with trying to make this a couple hour project i was all about easy.  I found a fantastic website with simple instructions and pictures where appropriate for putting together the bag.  I opted against super cute trimmings and lace as the walking costume is on the clean side with very little trim.

i LOVE how it turned out and can't wait for Dickens tomorrow to show it off.  It was so quick i've already pulled out some bags to buy frames for and convert from drawstring and reticule type bags in the future.  I really enjoyed attaching the bag to the frame and prefer the clean and structured look of having the bag attached to a metal frame.

Pretty Woven Things from New York

During November i had a very short trip to New York and managed to squeeze in 30 minutes at Mood and find two things i could NOT live without.

"Spring Stripes and Flowers"
This was screaming at me to become some sort of short sleeved regency dress...i can't wait to pick a silouhette!!!

Spring Stripes and Flowers

"Cotton Grey Diamonds"
This was soft, dark, and had a great small ditsy diamond all over. Not sure what will come of it, but i got four yards just in case a knee length jacket with a shirred peplum comes to mind...again

Cotton Grey Diamonds

I did not find the things i was looking for, so if anyone knows a good place for corduroy please pass it along.  I can't believe how hard it's been to find the right fabrics for the Miss Hatter costume!  I am looking for a hunter green cord and a deep velvety black cord for a jacket and hat.  I will eventurlly need to come up with something for the dress as well...but that will need to match the jacket so cord is the top priority.

The Day Dress has Begun

After a few weeks of going back and forth i decided to work on what i will enjoy, so the 1880's Day Dress has been started!  Not sure if it will make Dickens this year, but so far so good.

This evening i cut out and sewed up a muslin of the bodice of the dress.  The skirt is a *very* simple shirred straight skirt so no need to mock it up.  I was super impressed!  The bodice fit very well for a first fitting.  The only corrections i needed to make were to the back scooping out some of the excess along the princess seams as i have a small back waist - AND - shifting the front armhole excess to the side panel, i'm deeper then wider and could use the width at the back armhole much more than the front.  The corrections only took a few minutes and now the pattern is ready to be cut out! 

The bodice fitting...


Unfortunately i am short on muslin for the bodice lining...and i don't want to cut anything until i know i have enough and everything fits!  Nothing worse then finding out you do not have enough fabric when you are already so committed and have cut most of what you do have.  It's not all bad as this means a trip to the fabric store tomorrow.  YEA!!!!

Finding out i don't have enough fabric :(

Back at my home away from home

Yes folks...I am in New York. Just when I thought the travel was nixed for the rest of the year work was able to squeeze in two trips across the states before Christmas. This trip will be to attend the Apparel Tech Conference; an annual event where companies showcase their latest products that are revolutionizing the world of apparel manufacturing. It's actually facinating to see all of the 3d modeling and design applications as they improve over the years. Last year was the first time I saw applications that actually felt like they were helping to speed up the process instead of making it overly complicated and ridiculously technical (and not in an awesome Steampunk style). I've got fingers crossed this year things will start to become integrated and we will start to see seamless transitions between applications. Imagine if illustrator spoke to a pattern design program and drafted the initial pattern without me having to do a whole lot. Oh the beautiful world of 2025 ; )

Also this means fabric shopping!!! I will be trying out a new hotel that is blocks away from the fashion district so hopefully my nearly empty suitcase will be full of goodies for Dickens and the Miss Hatter Costume that has been ratteling around in my head.

What to make next...

As Dickens approaches and I come to terms with the fact the I barely have time to make one dress much less two I am now faced with a choice. I have patterns and fabric for two dresses. Below are pictures of the sillouhette and fabric of each of the items I could work on next.

The first is a ditsy blue floral on a white background in a light weight cotton. The dress is a super cute and is a pleated dress that is the right years for Dickens.

The second is an adorable dress from the 1880's (more my time period and sillouhette) in a beautiful white and blue plaid that is a medium weight cotton.

Audience participation time! Which do you think I should work on? 1) time appropiate blue floral pleated dress - OR - 2) super re-wearable blue plaid???

Costumes for a new day

Tonight was spent at a dance theatre watching the first draft of a new piece for Double Vision to help all the collaborators get inspired. I'm inspired! It super rocks and I can't wait to get started on the costumes!!!

So initial thoughts include stripes, maybe cat wash or asymmetrical skirts, and some strappy top (probably also asymmetrical). The piece feels stiff in a good way, rigid. It inspired stripes and steel grey with black and white. Shiny may be required ; )

Here are some concept sketches... (also maybe some wristlettes and anklettes???)

Recap of a Brass Filled Weekend - Steam-Con

For months everyone has been listening and watching me prepare for Steam-Con.  Sewing pretty much took over my life, minus a life changing road trip in the middle, for most of 2009. This all consuming passion helped me in ways to focus, feel productive, and motivate me to do what i love...that i sometimes forget just how much i love.

Steam-Con took place in Seattle at the Airport Marriott with an approximate 1,200 person cap of attendees the hotel was completely infiltrated by brass, airship captains, and stupendously creatively like minded was fantastic!!!  I swear posts will follow with costumy bits, but first the con.  We arrived Thursday afternoon and had already noticed a few who looked like they had the same destination as us.  Hat boxes were a plenty on the plane and more than once prior to take off you heard someone say "i have a hat up there, do you mind moving your bag?" so awesome!!!  Upon arriving at the hotel, via free shuttle, room was gotten and suitcases exploded.  I took a fifth of what i brought to the con when i traveled Europe in the fall for three weeks.  The Con was only 3 days; but in all fairness the Victorian/Steampunk styling does require both a lot of undergarment layers that are otherwise not necessary, and more costume changes a day then a wear in a weekend.  There were day outfits, evening outfits, and even some morning/dressing outfitness.  The many pieced outfits were pulled out and hung out to increase the sanity by decreasing the quantity of ironing required.  Some how we went the entire weekend iron free.  Thursday evening there was a bit of exploring and lots of discussion of what the next day was to bring.

Friday morning i awoke to a small line of people visible in the indoor courtyard of the hotel.  Over the hours as we got ready we watched the line slowly increase, but not move.  Somehow the line was only growing, not moving or having any kind of processing.  Early afternoon we may our way downstairs to said line and found that it was for on-site registration which had been announced to be nearly sold out and lots of people wanting to join the party.  It was fantastic to see so many people at a con that was in it's first year and awesome to watch over the weekend at how well the whole thing went off!

Friday afternoon involved lounging around and fluttering from panel to panel.  All good, but all hot from the large amounts of people in each room.  This wasn't frustrating and everyone remained calm and collected.  When we got to hot we ventured outside for a bit, no biggie.  Friday evening offered a DJ hosted dance, where *much* dancing and fun was enjoyed.  The room had a good amount of people especially for being a 21 and over event.  I was glad to see that they offered a dance as it gets people out and together.  Most of the con's i've been to over the last few years have been seriously lacking in the after hours activities.  Well i took full advantage of the dance, a bit more enjoyment that was necessary and thus spent the first half of Saturday sleeping off the fantastically good time had on Friday.

Once i did arise on Saturday a couple more panels were attended and totally enjoyed.  There were smart people there with smart things to say.  Some things said were things i knew, especially things about sewing/costuming/tricking things out; but there was also large amount of insightful dialogue theorizing about how it was and tons of great explore conservations about what steampunk is and what it means.  I am really enjoying watching this new genre form and listening to all of the idea forming conversations around Steampunk.  People are making it up as they go and finding evediance to back up their statements, and it's good!  I can't wait to see how this continues to evolve over the next few years with new cons popping up all over the world.

Also on Saturday afternoon was a tea and fashion show.  Fantastic tea setup with goodies and weak or strong tea for all while we enjoyed a Steampunk fashion show.  No pictures, they were hauling it down the runway and back so they were all blurry city.  A recap of some of my favorites: Mens Ties sewn together as the back of a jacket, some Illig inspired strappy skirts, and a wide stripe black/white dinner jacket very circus inspired.  Everything reminded me of some great items collecting dust in the closet.  I really enjoy how much of the brighter side of the industrial scene comes through in Steampunk.

Saturday night was the "Airship Invasion" concert.  Abney Park was the only band we caught, after the great changing of the clothes.  It was good, but i've seen them before and just wasn't feeling large amounts of energy in the room.  It was "sold out" but there was TONS of space in the room so it felt kinda sparse.  Still worth the $15!

Sunday was packing and returning home.  It was nice to sleep in my own bed again without a line of people hanging around outside my window, but i also miss looking at all of the creativeness that was at Steam-Con.

Panels that rocked
* Faux Finishes , Aging Gear & Apparel | Panel members were costumers and the audience participation in conservation led to fantastic technique discussions
* The Sharp Dressed Man | There were quite a few panels focused on mens fashions, nice to see as often only the women get this attention...also the most packed with people

Panels that *sounded* like they would have rocked, that i missed
* Celestial Navigation | Super helpful for character building of anything airship, also stars rock
* Dungeons and Dickens: How to Steampunk your RPG | anyone helping people be better story tellers gets points
* Rusty Gears & Shiny Sprockets | The con was so well organized they even scheduled a "tell us what you like and didn't like" panel.  The entire con was this well planned and excuted, very impressive for the turnout and for the first year.

Bottom Line ... Yes, i would/will go back next year.  The panels were fun and interesting, the location was easy and affordable, and the people were super cool.

Let the Holiday crafting/cooking begin!

I love the fall and winter.  So many different celebrations for all different walks of life.  Time for hand made gifts, fantastic recipes, and time with friends and family.  Of course Christmas gifts always sneak up on me, but this year i'm taking it all in stride and have already decided that the world will not end if everyone doesn't get fancy things this year.  Between looking for a house and my crazy works schedule i am hoping to fit in some good baking and cooking time so watch out Thanksgiving...

Part of my holiday plans this year include attending Dickens Fair in San Francisco a couple of times which means a couple of new costumes.  I do love sewing no matter how much i complain about it.  There is some fabric lying around and a couple of cute time period appropriate patterns hanging out that have been givin each other the eye.  I need to give everything a once over and nail the outfits down so i can plan the holiday creativity out and set some goals.

Holiday gifts will also need to be made this year and a couple of birthdays.  I do have parents and a brother to think of and lots of fantastic friends that have been there for me a lot over this trying year who super deserve some awesome treats.  Luckily the family is very easy going and low key.  The brother has requested another beanie, which shouldn't take more then a day or two, and the mom/dad got blankets and socks last year so this year can be on the smaller side.  I just finished a pretty rockin Christmas Stocking for me that might work with different setups for some others...I can't wait for the yarn shopping!!!  I always forget that i can also "Sew" for others.  For some reason gifting pops into my head as knitting and a bit o' crochet.  Sewing is just as awesome and something i have been doing a bit more of this year.  Any ideas for some cute sewn gifty items?

Released from the Sewing Machine for one weekend of fun

Hi!  Yep, i'm actually *not* dead as many probably figured.  No no, what really happened was silly drama and a super evil costume deadline when i was totally not in the mood.  For the last two months i have been sewing non-stop day/night/twilight.  I managed to finish a large amount of the wish list prior to heading off with a costuming buddy to Steam-Con last weekend.  Luckily i finished enough and had other goodies in my closet that i was able to outfit for the weekend even with an evening costume change ; )  Unfortunately i spent all weekend posing for other peoples pictures of my fantastic outfits that i only ended up with a couple of pictures on my own camera (nothing really to be ashamed of).  Below are pictures of the daytime outfits and more "fill in the gaps" posts to follow now that the sewing machine has been tucked away for all of an hour.

Bustle Appropiate Petticoat and Traveling Bustle Complete

This week was all about getting the under garments for the Checked Wool Costume complete and ready for me to begin fitting the garments next week...and i did it!  I finished the petticoat that has the extra length for the bustle to be worn underneath as the over garments require a bustle.  I again used the Truly Victorian pattern for Victorian Petticoats #TV170 selecting view B (small bustle back, flat front).  For the outer fabric i found a plaid weave linen in unbleached cotton.  The entire petticoat is lined with a heavy unbleached muslin.  And again all clean finished seams.  It will be great to have a petticoat that works with a bustle!

Truly Victorian #TV170 Victorian Petticoat with bustle extra length | Front   Truly Victorian #TV170 Victorian Petticoat with bustle extra length | Side   Truly Victorian #TV170 Victorian Petticoat with bustle extra length | Back over traveling bustle 

Also i drafted a pattern for a "traveling bustle".  An under garment to help with the bustle effect on the back and be completely fold-able.  I did some rough math and then went for it.  I am very pleased with how the traveling bustle came out (Full instructions to follow in separate post).  The petticoat above is shown with the traveling bustle underneath.  It gave it a perfect 2 1/2" extra length in the back.  Some pretty pictures!

Traveling Bustle | Stiching together    Traveling Bustle |

Trains Traveling Bustle | Side View    Trains Traveling Bustle | Back View

Petticoat #2 Update!

Bustle Petticoat Pintuck Closeup
Progress has been made on the new petticoat (#2)!  Everything was cut out on Sunday, About 50% sewn yesterday with a bit of working from home to help, and this evening another 15% was completed.  If work would have released me at a reasonable time instead of nearly 12 hours after walking through the doors that morning i may have gotten through more...but who knows.  This one is moving much faster than the first one, but also i have been able dedicate large chunks of continuous time which super helps.  We are now down to:

1) Sewing the grograin ribbon along the front and side seams (This requires a Stone Mountain run to procure the correct color of thread tomorrow after work)
2) Shirring and attaching the ruffle along the sweep
3) Sewing the grograin ribbon along the Ruffle seam to clean finish
4) Pleating the Back Waist to Fit the Waistband
5) Sewing the Waistband to the garment
6) Crossing my fingers that i have enough left over ribbon to use for the tie at the waist
7) Starting the next project!!!

Next project is the "Traveling Bustle".  Here are some links to pictures.  There are patterns out there...but the sewn up versions look awful!  I am *so* capable of doing i challenge me to do better.  The plan to complete this task is to draft a pattern and test it this weekend, hopefully it's close enough that i can cut and sew one up real quick afterwords and call it complete with the undergarments for the Checked Wool Costume this week.

Let the Costuming Countdown Begin!

So i have 8 1/2 weeks to complete all of my costume goodies for Steam-Con.  Ummm... Yes, i could you a very hard kick in the pants to get moving.  All of last week should have been spent sewing, but alas.  I decided it was much more enjoyable to read, take long baths, and go to the movies.  None of which have helped me prepare for the trip.  Tonight i finally found some motivation and got moving.  I cut out the petticoat for the Checked Wool Costume and should have no problem sewing it up over the next couple of days.  This week i need to complete the petticoat, traveling bustle, and begin working on the Checked Wool Costume if i'm going to get three outfits completed in less than 2 months.  Ahhh!!!

The petticoat will be a quick sew as this is #2.  I am using the same pattern, with an added scoop to the CB to accommodate a bustle, that was used for my first petticoat.  I found a super cute woven fabric the shade of un-dyed muslin with a plaid weave style running throughout the fabric and have cut out a heavy un-dyed muslin lining.  It will be a bit heavy, but super cute, and the weight will be necessary to stand up against the wool, heavy twill, and velveteen of the Check Wool Costume.  Also things are going tons faster since the purchase of my fantastic dress form.

Hunter Green Lacy Beginnings

So i have 3 complete Victorian costumes to finish in about two months ... so i started a new knitting project, the Hunter Lace Tank, to help keep me sane amongst all of the sewing madness that will be happening.  I have had the yarn, Tsuki in a hunter green, specifically for this project for about a year.  It was purchased way back when Artfibers had a store in the city (SF) and one could get lost in there playing with sample yarn and knitting swatches.  I had come across the pattern and thought " i totally need a lacy fitted tank top!" was cute, but also going to be tons of work with the full square skirt, elastic thread, and a lacy front.  The lacy front kept me coming back, it's super cute.  Also i haven't explored the lace much so this project has been itching to get started for a while.

What it should like like when finished...

What it looks like now, post 2.5 days of a knitting weekend...
Hunter Green Lace Top | Beginnings