rhienelleth: (Default)
 I haven't mentioned it here at all, but I'm in the process of...not a diet, more a lifestyle change. I'm not eating empty carbs or sugar as much as possible, and trying to exercise more. So far, I've lost nine pounds, and about an inch and a half on my waist. So...anyway, that has put me in an awkward wardrobe position as we head into spring/summer. If I continue to lose weight and inches, anything I buy now will be useless come August. The capris I bought a month ago are too big for me now, but they have a drawstring at the waist, so I'm making do.

Which gave me an idea. I'm not going to buy my spring/summer wardrobe, I'm going to make it! I have, like most sewers, an embarrassingly large fabric stash. I'm going to make myself two or three fun summer skirts with a drawstring waist, a couple more tops that will be adjustable to some degree, and that will form tha base for my spring/summer wardrobe. Cheap, adjustable, and hopefully fun!
rhienelleth: (Default)
 Of late, I have had the opportunity to try some things that have made me want to post LJ entries about them. But then I never get to them. So now I'm just going to post them all!

~ First up, I ended up with a Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card for $10, and a 20% off coupon. So i purchased one of those Yoshi ceramic knives they have the infomercials for. I already have a great set of stainless steel kitchen knives (I need to sharpen them more, but they are still great knives). So while I've been curious about the oft-touted ceramic knives, I haven't wanted to spend any money on them. I figured, what the hey, for $5, I'll try this probably middle-of-the-road version.

Well, first I cut potatoes with it. Not bad, but it didn't exactly make me go "ooh, ahhh, best knife ever!" Still, it was a good, solid performer. Then I made a salad with it, a process that usually requires me to use multiple knives - a chef's knife to cut the lettuces and onion, and a serrated knife for the tomato. Only at their very sharpest do my stainless steel flat bladed knives cut tomatoes well, and even then they can squish instead of cut if I get a particularly tough skin. This ceramic knife cut through them like butter, never catching once. That was a pleasant surprise. So, while I'm not sure I would run out a pay a bunch of money for a ceramic knife, it's a nice addition to my knife collection.

~ Next, is a birthday gift I received, a Le Creuset Square Grill Pan. Anyone serious about cooking knows the name Le Creuset. French cookware, pretty enamel colors over cast iron, and Rachel Ray always used them on 30 Minute Meals. This is the first Le Creuset I've owned. As many of you know, my Mom is a chef. (Yes, really.) I have a beautiful set of Try-ply stainless steel cookware she gave me, the Cuisinart Multi-clad Pro. It is All-Clad without the extra price for the name. In fact, in comparing them to my single All-Clad piece, I prefer the shape and slight lip the Cuisinart pans have. Other than that, they are identical, and I love my cookware with the fiery passion of a thousand stars going supernova. I had no need, to my mind, of any heavy Le Creuset cookware, however pretty or fantastically functional it might be. But when you live in a family of cordon bleu trained chef's (my sister as well), you get fancy kitchen things as gifts, fairly frequently. (The funny thing is, my Mom has yet to replace all of her own cookware. She buys my sister and I this awesome stuff, and then puts off spending the money for herself. IDK. The problem is, she tries this pan from this company, or this pan from that company, and they're awesome, but the cookware she already has is also from some top company and works really well, so she sees no point in spending the money to replace it with this new pan she likes better.)

Anyway, the grill pan. This is a very specific piece. Let me start by saying, I will not be running out a replacing my cookware with Le Creuset. I still love what I have, and honestly, I like it better than I think I would the very heavy cast iron. HOWEVER, this grill pan replaces a kitchen piece I have long hated - the broiler pan. Hard to clean, messy, a pain in the butt, and food tastes nowhere near as good as it does from the grill outside. But if you live in Oregon, you don't get the luxury of outdoor grilling year round. Hence, the broiler pan gets used a lot in our house, despite my loathing for it. It gets used so much, the cheap thing was actually starting to warp. Enter this square grill pan. Heat if on the stove top over medium heat, apply liberal amounts of extra virgin olive oil, and sear your protein of choice. I have cooked both steak and chicken on it twice, and so far, I am very, very pleased. The food sears wonderfully, flip it a couple of times and wait until it's cooked to your liking, and serve. My husband loves his steaks with this thing, and my chicken is very flavorful. I think my next step is going to be searing on the stovetop, followed by putting it under the broiler in the oven to finish. We'll see what that does, but so far, I vastly prefer this method of cooking to the terrible broiler that must be covered in foil to use. Cleaning is easy - simply wait to cool slightly, then submerge in soapy warm water and let soak. I've let it soak overnight both times, but you could probably check it after an hour or so. Wipe softened goo out with paper towel, toss, then wash by hand has normal and pan is clean! Directions say dishwasher safe, but I'd rather not treat the enamel coating with harsh detergent.

~ Dupioni silk. Some of you may remember last year, I made myself a cute little summer shirt from washed dupioni silk. Having worn it for almost a year now, I can safely say it's one of my favorite shirts. Lightweight, breathable, doesn't stain easily, washing is a breeze, and the fabric is still beautiful with that light silky sheen. For Easter this year, I needed a white shirt but didn't want to go to the store and search for just the right one, so I pulled out some scraps I had of some white dupioni (never throw out scraps, especially silk scraps!), and made myself a really cute little dress shirt. It has a great criss-cross pleated bodice, cute pleated sleeves, and the silk makes it very dressy, but again, easy to care for.  I washed the silk first, so it won't shrink, and silk dries in the snap of some fingers and a five minute application of a dry iron set to "silk", so if I need to wear it to dinner, I can have it washed and ready to go in twenty minutes. Here are some poorly taken pictures. Also, the top is not ironed here.

Bad pics )
rhienelleth: (Default)
 I might not feel up to dealing with the intricacies of sewing a bodice right now, or messing around with the embroidery machine, or doing homework (sigh - glad my big paper got written before the surgery!), or writing, but I am also tired of just sleeping and reading.  

Months ago, I bought some dupioni silk, with the intention of washing it, and making myself some cute summer tops from it.  Washed, the silk is lightweight, but still has a very pretty sheen and a less stiff feel than unwashed.  Me being me, more complicated projects *cough* quickly took front seat to my simple summer shirts.  Well, yesterday I whipped out a pattern and some of that silk, and for the past two days when I've had the energy, I've been working on one.  It helped me feel like I was doing something, without taxing either brain power or much of my physical energy.

I finished it today, and I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I used McCall's M5050, a simple 'peasant blouse' pattern.  

Me being me, I had to alter it slightly - I used the short sleeve version, but added ruffles to the sleeve cuffs.  I used a color of silk dupioni called 'watermelon' - kind of that in between orange and pink color.  I loooove how it turned out.  Super comfortable, cute, and I adore the pretty fabric.  The pictures don't quite capture the sheen of the silk, unfortunately.

Clicky for pics! )

rhienelleth: (Default)
 This is what I spent a good portion of my day doing:

The mock up for the bodice. Sorry for the crappy lighting.  It's dark out, and that's the low light my living room lamps offer.  (A mock up, by the by, is just what it sounds like. A "mock" of the actual intended garment, cut and sewn out of some cheap fabric, usually muslin - hence sometimes mock ups are referred to in sewing circles as "muslins" - so that one can test fit and sizing without cutting into, and possibly ruining, one's expensive fabric.  It's also an excellent way to test various ways of putting th pattern together, so that when it comes time to do so for the real thing, less mistakes are made.)

I'd already traced my pattern pieces and added the seam allowance, so today I cut my muslin and sewed it up.  I still need to grommet it, because without lacing it's really hard to get an accurate fit.  And the photo is blurry, but you get the idea of the shape, I think.  Imagine it with sleeves, and with a much more fitted bodice (there's no boning in the mock up yet) and that's the finished shape of the gown.  I haven't messed around with the sizing at all yet.  This is literally the pattern as it came out of the book, which was developed, as I understand it, from actual museum pieces.  

Hours so far into this thing:

16 collectively for the skirts
6 so far for the bodice, but that's because I've had to photocopy, size up, trace pattern pieces, add seam allowance, then cut and sew.  All in all, this is actually quite a quick bodice to go together, once I get the shape and sizing as I want it.  
rhienelleth: (beauty)
 I finished hand sewing all the rings to the inside of the overskirt, so I've taken some pictures of it bustled in various ways from various angles.

The ribbons were sewn to the inside of the waistband, and then you hand sew plastic rings at various spacings inside the skirt, allowing you to tie them up with the ribbons to bustle however much or little you might like.  

More pics behind the cut. )
rhienelleth: (Default)
 I've been working on the overskirt to the pirate steampunk gown.  While fairly simple, there are still a lot of steps to it.  Measuring and cutting the fabric, serging it together, ironing it, cutting the train, sewing the lining to the main fabric, serging the top edge, and pleating it.  All that's left is adding the waistband and the bustling ribbons and rings to the inside.  Luckily, my new dress form allows me to pin the skirt in place and take some in-construction photos before doing those last steps. :)

All in all, I have about six hours into the overskirt right now, and another one or two to go.  

Here it is, over the underskirt, which is also over a crinoline, you know, those things brides wear under their full skirted wedding gowns to give them poof.  A crinoline or hoop can really make or break the look of a historical outfit!  I wasn't wearing one in the original underskirt pics, so you can look at them and see the difference here.

More behind the cut )
rhienelleth: (Default)

I cut and ironed ten yards of fabric - 5 of the embroidered taffeta, and five of silk.  Then I sewed my panels of silk together for the lining, serged all my edges, and attached the lining to the taffeta.  This took approximately three hours in all.  Then I started the complicated stuff, sewing my skirt together and attaching the placket, to which I added buttons and button holes.  

More details and photos behind the cut. )
rhienelleth: (Captain Jack - araestel)
The third (fourth?) draft of Nemesis is in full swing.  I missed my personal June deadline. I don't actually love the sound they make as they go whooshing by.  I don't like missing deadlines.  I doubt I'll be done by July 31st, but maybe.  I'm 16,000 words in right now, so....it could go that fast.  In any case, I'm working on pirates every single day, which means listening to, among other scores: Firefly, Pirates of the Caribbean, Revenge of the Sith, and Timeline.  So, in the midst of this, I've been contemplating Pirates, and am reminded that I've always wanted to make an Elizabeth Swann inspired dress.  Especially since Your Wardrobe Unlock'd posted an awesome tutorial a couple of years back that gave me some good ideas (it's quite similar to my original Ren dress, actually, but does some different cool things with the bodice and sleeves inspired by Elizabeth's plum gown in the first movie.)  I need to make myself a new gown, but I want to experiment with some new techniques first, and I don't need two gowns, so...I'm going to make one to sell.  Probably on ebay, but we'll see when the time comes.

I have mountains of fabric, and being unemployed, I could definitely use some money coming in.  I went through my stash, realized for someone who never wears brown, I have an inordinate amount of earth toned fabrics.  (Because they were pretty!  And I know other people who wear earth tones!)  

But this got me to thinking.  With the recent popularity of Steampunk, an earth toned gown might be well received.  And something both sumptuous and pirate inspired, well, how could one go wrong?  It will be a gown loosely based on this dress from the first PotC:

Looking at it here, you can see it's a plum dupioni silk overdress with a black underskirt, cream chemise, and cream and black lace accents.  I will be doing something similar, however, the underskirt will be this fabulous cream/gold embroidered taffeta I have (I got it on clearance for $4/yard!).  Not period, but it's too beautiful not to use.  (And so long as there are no zippers, velcro, elastic, or sequins, I'm usually not a period Nazi.)  The overdress will be a gorgeous deep brown dupioni silk, lined with an antique gold dupioni silk that is just to die for.  I've had it forever, because I got it on this insane clearance sale.  It retails for $18/yard, and I got it for something like $6/yard.  Yeah, I know.  Since this dress will take yards and yards of it, that's good. :D

Here they are, the fabrics I'll be going with:

First with flash, so you can see the gorgeous sheen to the fabric:

And then without flash:

Tell me that would not make a gorgeous steampunk pirate gown!  *rubs hands together*

I plan to journal the project as I go.  (Yes, this is another attempt to make sure I'm posting regularly.)  I'll be posting pictures of the construction process, and keeping track of the hours I put into it, so I know about how much I'd like the gown to sell for.  Although with ebay, you just never know.  And with this economy, you never know.  On the other hand, I'll be able to work out some design kinks, and I'll put a reserve on it that at minimum covers the cost of materials (including things like boning.  Yes, this bodice will have real spring steel boning, just like one of my corsets. Meaning it will hold a nice shape and give the wearer a nice shape.)

I'll use a drawstring at the skirt waist, and I'll add a modesty panel to the front of the bodice, to accommodate as large a range of sizes as possible.  I'll probably cut it quite long, and then hem it to length for whoever buys it, as length is one of those things that really needs to be customizable.  The sleeves will be detachable (all my sleeves are.  I LOATHE attached sleeves.)  The overdress will be long enough to have either a train or a bustled look (which is more steampunk).  At the moment, I'm estimating materials to be around $150.  I'll have to actually do the math to be sure, but I bet I'm really close.  

This is going to be a custom gown made from real dupioni silk, embroidered taffeta, and real boning.  At full price, materials for that would be well over $300, but luckily i'm a bargain shopper, and I have a hard time passing up an impossibly good deal, even when it's not in my colors. :D

So, what do you all think?  Sound like a cool project over the next month?  Portland Pirate Festival is in September.  Someone could wear this gown to it.  A bunch of other Ren Faires and Pirate Festivals are all over the place over the next few months.  Or, as beautiful as i think this is going to be, it could be someone's wedding gown.  Tomorrow should see progress on the underskirt, so expect pictures and an initial post!


Apr. 6th, 2010 05:21 pm
rhienelleth: (costuming)
 So, there was a whole lot of really scary weather this past weekend.  Rain, wind, tires rolling across the freeway and narrowly missing us.

But let's get down to the important bits, shall we?  Like the costumes I've sewed my hands bloody making.  (No really - you don't want to know how many times I drew blood with pins over the course of this; my fingers are still sore!)

Without further ado, since pictures from Norwescon are posting all over the flickr account already.  Just to be clear, I did not take these photos; as usual, we were too busy actually being in costume to get any good photos.  But M's friend G grabbed a couple with her cell, while about fifty million other people at the con got tons of us, many of the more talented among them posting to the flickr group, linked above.

[livejournal.com profile] kistha 's friend M decided to come, and she wore a pretty gown and played Aurora for us, so we got to run all over the con on Saturday night trying to curse her evil with us.  (Because Maleficent took over all of fairy, you know, and joining her was the only way to survive.  Although Merryweather seemed a little too happy about this turn of events.  I, as Fauna, wasn't so sure...but how does that saying go?  If you can't beat 'em....)  

People kept calling us witches, but no, we were fairy godmothers. EVIL fairy godmothers. )
rhienelleth: (Default)
 If I am not posting lately, it isn't because I'm being lazy about my LJ.  I'm sewing like a madwoman to get everything done before Norwescon next weekend.  

Proof! )
rhienelleth: (christmas_searchtheskies)
Can you believe it's already week 2 of December?? Me, either.

Thank you, thank you, everyone who sent me virtual snowflake cookies! Yummy. :D

So, I may have mentioned I'll be attending Norwescon this year. Well, the friends that visited us this past weekend are a couple Mark and I met at a writing convention, ironically, who have since become very good friends. He (the writer of the pair) is one of my crit partners, while his wife is one of my beta readers, a fellow costumer, and just really one of my BFFs. There are circumstances of irony around how and why we all met that I won't go into, but the point of this is to say that they are also going to Norweson, and a couple of weeks ago, we found out our third writer/crit partner is also going to come with her spouse, even though they have to travel a much, much greater distance!

Also, the partner-in-crime who got me into costuming in the first place is going to go, so she can experience all of the costuming-related things the con has to offer. This past weekend was largely about costume planning/strategy, because OMG April is so close! And we have between us six major costumes to complete! *freaks out a little*

But it will be okay. No problem. Definitely time to buckle down, though.

L, [livejournal.com profile] kistha and I are costuming as a set. So, two sets of three. The first set all have to match pretty much exactly, except for color. Same fabric, etc. To that end, we decided to go with dupioni silk. It's lightweight, breathable, and looks fantastic. I ordered it from a wholesaler in two separate orders, the first of which is already here. I just got the notification of the second shipment shipping to me (yes, with those swatches we wanted included, [livejournal.com profile] kistha), so I will shortly be swimming in approximately 42 yards of silk! Mmmmmm. Silk.

Our second set of costumes are going to be a little more challenging. While definitely a "set" that needs to be similar in style, they don't have to match exactly, and we've decided to go with Victorian bustle gowns. Not steampunk. I know that's all the rage right now, and that fact made us stop and consider if we want to go this route, largely because our costumes are not steampunk, and we don't want to create confusion. But with the gorgeous masks [livejournal.com profile] kistha will be making for us, there shouldn't be any doubt of what we actually are. The first set of costumes, while fabulous, are the more "fun" group. This second set are supposed to be the "OMG SO AWESOME!" ones. We'll see how that goes as things come together. I am very excited at the prospect of bustle making, however. :D I may post construction pics as we go.

Costuming aside, I am very much looking forward to attending a big con like this for the first time (I have attended smaller writing cons, but nothing on the scale of Norwes). I'm looking forward to meeting crit partner #3 in person, and to being able to spend some time talking with both her and [livejournal.com profile] dthon. Not to mention attending panels, meeting new people, etc. I'm not sure I'll be sleeping at all while there, but I'm told that's pretty normal.

My goal for December: finish the under/overskirts for costume set #1. Buy chiffon for the cloaks, and figure out how to give them a suitable shredded look.

But now, time to write!
rhienelleth: (Default)
I adore Christmas shopping. Especially now that I can do most of it online, and avoid the insane crowds. (I worked Xmas retail for years; I like to avoid the insanity when I can.)

Rhien!Sis's b-day is late November, so this year, I combined her Xmas and b-day gift, in order to get something I know she'll love, that I also know she would never buy for herself. A serger! Since getting mine a year ago, it has totally changed how I sew. I was able to whip out a chemise in one night, for instance, because it literally went together in a couple of hours, from cutting to inserting the drawstrings.

She's a little intimidated by them, but I made her use mine when she was down for her b-day this past week.

As with anything, you get what you pay for with sewing machines and sergers. Buying that cheap wal-mart or joann's "special price" model might seem like a good idea at the time, but I have found that the models carried by Sew & Vac dealers are far superior (and usually far more expensive.)

However, for some reason, online sources often have slightly older models of sergers those Sew & Vac stores no longer stock, for HUGE discounts over whatever the latest model that's almost exactly the same is. That's how I got my Janome 634D last year. The Sew & Vac store carries the latest version, 644D, 7-something? Not sure, but anyway, the very best deal they were able to offer at the time was still $500. I got mine for $300, and was very happy with that, especially considering it originally retailed for almost $1000!

Now, I knew a couple of things going into getting one of these for my sister:

a) as much as I love her, I don't have the $$ to spend the now price of $369 to get her one exactly like mine. Last year, I found one place going out of business that offered it for $70 cheaper. No such luck this year.

b) despite spending less money, I want to get her as comparable a machine as possible.

I originally looked at the Janome 204D - still slightly more than I wanted to spend at $249, but affordable, and only a rung lower than mine on the ladder of competence, meaning it lacks a couple of features, and the tension dials are not the same (which I didn't really like.)

Janome is a solid brand - I know this from personal experience and online reviews, which is why I was kind of sticking with it. I was all set to go ahead and take the plunge on the 204D, when I notcied that Sew Vac Direct had a factory serviced (aka factory reconditioned) Janome 9102D for $199. Now, this machine not factory serviced is as much or more than mine, so I took a closer look - it looks almost exactly the same, in fact!

So I call them. Tom answers the phone - a real person - and asks how he can help me today. I tell him my situation, the serger I have ("A great little mahcine," says Tom, and I agree 200%), and the fact that I want to get my sister something similar for Xmas, without spending the prohibitive $369 mine costs.

Before I can continue to ask about it, he immediately suggests the factory serviced 9102D.

"I saw that," I said. "What's the difference between it and my machine."

"Very little," he told me. "In fact, the only difference is the rolled hem. Instead of switching a button, she'll have to adjust her lower looper tension." (Which, for the uninitiated, is the turn of a dial.)

"So," I say, "it threads the same, the knife moves the same, it feeds the same, the tension adjusts the same, it sews the same - it just requires a single manual tension setting in order to do a rolled hem, vs. my slide of a button?"

"Yep. Exactly. If you sat down at her machine to use it, you'd thread it EXACTLY like you do yours."

(Excellent! This means I can help her if she gets stuck.)

All this, for $170 less than my machine cost. He only had two left in stock, so I ordered one on the spot.

He still has one left, if anyone out there has been heming and hawing about buying a serger, or knows a sewer who could really use one, trust me when I say this deal is WORTH IT, and so much more. The hours upon hours of time a serger saves over doing it all with a sewing machine are truly boggling. The ease of a finished seam or rolled hem. Words cannot express. I don't know how quilters function without one, honestly.

In any case. I would have spent anywhere from $60-100 on my sister for her b-day, and the same for X-mas any other year, so this thing with free shipping just slides in under my budget for her. And she will be so surprised, and (I hope) pleased. I can't wait for X-mas! :D

ETA: Just a note to say, the other serger for the price is GONE, snapped up by a reader of this journal. A few more of the exact model for the price can be found on ebay, but just remember, it's ebay. You're always taking your chances a bit there, and the seller does not have 100% feedback, although it is high at 99.7%
rhienelleth: (beading)
Happy Thanksgiving late! Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and stuffed themselves silly. Mine was pretty low key, with excellent food.

The Dickens dress is pretty much finished. All but the corset for it. I had to wear my black underbust corset, instead, as I just didn't want to kill myself getting the other one done. I'll have it finished before we go caroling (and oh, god, that is so going to suck! Our group does not sound, um, good. That's what happens when you don't practice!!) Anyway, they did wear underbust corsets over their skirts in the 1860's. They called them corselets, so it's still "period", just not as cool looking as the corset I have half finished.

Pics behind the cut! )

As a last note before I run off, don't forget, today and tomorrow are the last days of my 30% off sale for my Etsy store's entire stock! I already have seven names in the hat for the drawing to win a custom piece made by me. Those are pretty good odds!
rhienelleth: (Default)
I went a little crazy making ruffles last night, but I decided to deck out my jacket with them, both because it really makes it cute, and because ruffles were very period for the time.

My jacket is done except for one sleeve, and a bit of trim I'm going to add around the front. It is so adorable!

Here's another crappy cell phone pic, of the back:

Pic! )

I promise, better pics when the entire costume is done. I finished my skirt last night, and now it's down to the jacket sleeve, my corset, and a white shirt if I have time. By Friday night. No problem! I'll be working on the corset tonight, while watching NCIS and NCIS: LA.

Update on the Etsy sale: So far, there are only two entries to win the custom pendant or ring by me - one from a sale, and one from a blog mention. That's 50/50 odds for those entrants at the moment!


Nov. 23rd, 2009 10:34 am
rhienelleth: (christmas_searchtheskies)
I haven't talked about it at all, but I'm making an 1860's gown to go caroling in.

I haven't sung since high school. *tries not to panic*

Anyway. We're going to be in a Christmas parade the day after Thanksgiving, and then go caroling on December 12th. Charles Dickens era costume, about half done right now.

Same basic era as civil war, btw, just different fabric choices, for the most part.

So, big bell skirt, fitted jacket top, corset, etc.

My jacket is done except for trim. My skirt is three quarters done, and I have to make my corset yet. Yikes!

However, I finally figured out how to make quick and easy ruffles with my serger! Super fast, compared to gathering by hand. Especially when one is talking about over 30 yards of ruffle!

Pic )
rhienelleth: (Captain Jack - araestel)
Well, my dupioni silk skirt is finished. It took me 5-6 hours, from cutting the pattern to finishing the hem. 90% sewn on my serger. No idea how long it would take with just a sewing machine. I used this pattern, McCalls 5056:

I'm actually wearing it today, with a cute ruffled black top. Sure, I made it to be my pirate skirt, but it's a versatile style and look. Dress it up to go out, dress it down (as I did today) for office wear, or wear it with boots and a bodice for pirate fest! :D Forgive the crappy cell phone pics:

The skirt actually looks better when you're moving, as the black and red move and flow with you, and change how much of either color shows. Overall, I love it. The silk is super lightweight, but the look and drape of the fabric makes it seem heavier to the eye. I guess you could line it if you really wanted to, but why? To me, that would take away from the way the skirt lays, and how light it is on. This stuff would bustle great for a period dress, and it convinces me more than ever to use it for my next Ren gown.

A pretty simple pattern, I'd recommend it. Although sewing the godets (the triangles of red) was kind of a pain, I think I have the hang of it after doing eight of them. This skirt has about four and a half yards of fabric in it, but it's slim at the waist, and flares out as the godets are added. A drawstring waist makes for a simple closure. (I added a waistband, because I hate the "fold over" method of doing a drawstring.)

I think this would be really, really pretty in a soft, flowy fabric, with maybe some flowered panels for the godets, and a solid color for the rest.

As a last note, this skirt cost me approximately $65 in materials to make, including the pattern and thread. I can only imagine that in a store, it would be around $200 at regular price. 100% silk still commands a high price. See? Sometimes sewing can still be cheaper!
rhienelleth: (beauty)
...in the "avoid temptation" sense.

I love silk. In sewing, there is nothing quite so beautiful as a length of silk fabric in some vibrant color. That's 'juicy plum', very like the color they used for the famous "plum dress" Elizabeth Swann wore for most of the first Pirates. (One of the actual dresses used.)

Silk dupioni has characteristic "slubs", those little imperfections you see in the fabric - well, those imperfections IMO give it a great texture. The way this stuff shines, the texture just adds a great dimension to it.

The Silk Baron has the best prices for wholesale silk dupioni, in 54" width (Joann's carries the less useful 45", for a lot more $$ per yard). He has over 200 colors (Joann's carries black, white, and ivory or gold, with another color popping up every great once in awhile.)

I ordered two yards of the black cherry to make my pirate skirt with (paired with plain black, so the skirt will be two colors.) It is so beautiful, I'm sort of afraid to cut it.

When I make my next Ren gown, it's going to be from dupioni, though that won't be for awhile, sadly. Partly because I'm going to Pirate Fest again this year, and in an example of someone's poor planning, Portland's Pirate Festival is on the exact same weekend as Oregon's Ren Faire. Usually, they avoid that sort of conflict, since the same people tend to go to these things.

If I sell my old Ren gown, I'll get the silk sooner, but if not, it'll take me awhile to get that many yards, even at his fantastic prices.

A caveat - your computer monitor is never a reliable color matching device. ALWAYS order a swatch before committing to many yards of fabric. A friend and I split the cost of a complete dupioni swatch collection from him, so we will always be able to match whatever we're making before we order. I can hardly wait to get it, purely for the drooling and wishful thinking!

He also carries silk taffeta, and silk velvet, among lots of other silk products. But right now I'm just rolling-around-in-love with the dupioni. :D

Tea dyeing

Jun. 29th, 2009 01:49 pm
rhienelleth: (Default)
I'm making myself new pirate garb, and to that end I spent part of my weekend tea dying dyeing some fabric.

See, I got this wonderful bamboo fabric on clearance awhile back. Yep, bamboo. All of the "green" people want to get behind it because it's supposedly much "greener" than cotton, as an easily accessible, all natural renewable resource.

Except it's not. As with nearly all fabric, the actual process of making fabric from bamboo requires the use of some pretty harsh chemicals. So, not as "green" as you think.

However, certainly no worse than cotton! Bamboo poplin (at least this stuff) looks like a high quality cotton, but feels much softer, and I got a bit over 3 yards of it for $2/yard (it started life as $13/yard fabric). Not bad!

Bamboo also has some really interesting qualities that I like quite a bit:

~ It is naturally very absorbent, and so wicks water away from the skin about five times better than cotton, which will be really handy on those hot festival days!

~ Natural, lightweight, and breathable!

~ machine washable, just like cotton.

~ seems to be more durable than cotton, but not quite as strong as silk, so an in-between fabric choice.

~ has anti-bacterial properties, so it will naturally not pick up body odors as easily as other fabrics.

~ is super soft - it has a naturally round fiber, so no roughness to catch at your skin.

~ naturally insulating, so your cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Sounds like pretty much the PERFECT shirt or chemise fabric to me! And I have just enough to make myself one. Except it's white, and me and white don't get along so well. I was pretty disappointed at having to either resign myself to white, or not use the fabric for my new pirate shirt.

And then I hit upon a brilliant plan. Tea! I would dye the poplin with tea, and this have a just-darker-than-white pirate shirt! Appropriately antiqued! Awesome. :) I've never dyed fabric with tea before, but it was really easy. Having a utility sink next to the washer and dryer was very helpful!

Here are the before and after pics:

Before, very white against my white washing machine.

And after, slightly no longer white against the white washing machine - perfect!

And as an added bonus, tea dyeing is a long standing practice that makes this more period than, say, a commercial dye. :)
rhienelleth: (costuming)
I cleaned out my closet this weekend, and I'm going to be clearing out some of my costuming stuff at below cost of materials prices. I only have so much room, and I've got waaaaay too much fabric stashed away not to be making myself some new things.

So. These are "used" in the sense that I've worn them at least twice for Ren Faires, or parades. They're also things I made early on in my sewing career, so while I was attempting things like corsetry at the time, I didn't have my serger yet, and I didn't know all the little things I do now. I'll write a little blurb about each outfit, so you know what the flaws as I see them are. :)

First is the very first Ren dress I made myself. It's made from embroidered and solid taffeta, with an overlay of embroidered chiffon. With an included modesty panel for the front lacing, it should fit from a sz 10-14. I'm a 10-12, and I was a 12 at the time of the pictures. It has an underskirt, and overskirt with attached fully boned bodice (with flat and spring steel bones). I made this like you would a real corset, so it really does pull in and support.

Pics )
It features detachable sleeves, and with the modesty panel, does not require an undershirt. I'm wearing a crinoline with it, like the kind often worn with wedding gowns, which is NOT included. But you can find one for a good deal on ebay, and it isn't required to wear the gown, although proper underthings really add a lot to any costume.

flaws: I didn't know what a placket was for on skirts yet, and I didn't use one when I may the underskirt. As a result, the back slit isn't quite as neat as I would like, but no one sees that anyway with the overdress on. I ran out of the bias tape I was using to finish the sleeve and shoulder edges at the last minute, and had to switch to a slightly shinier black ribbon for one of the sleeves in order to finish the dress, but no one has ever commented - if you don't tell anyone it's there, they won't notice. Seriously, the overall affect of this dress on, is gasps over how beautiful it is.

Although I didn't yet own a serger, all the edges are ziggzagged with my sewing machine, which finishes them and keeps them from unraveling. The boning is flat and spring steel, not plastic ridgeline from the fabric store. There are over 8 yards of taffeta in this dress, and another yard of the chiffon. That's about $65 of fabric, with an additional $25 or so in trim. When you include the boning, grommets, thread, and other notions, the materials for this dress cost easily over $100 - I'm offering it for $80, with free shipping.

At any Ren Faire, this would a noblewoman's gown, and if you've gone to Faire and priced garb, you know how expensive buying an outfit like this would be (probably in the $300 range - materials plus the seamstress's skill and time.) $80 MIGHT get you a basic peasant's costume - chemise, skirts, bodice - but even that would be a lucky find. So if you know anyone who wants a new Ren dress in the sz 10-14 range, point them this way!

Next is my regency day dress. I made this more recently, so all of the edges are serged. Approximately seven yards of cotton/cotton sateen. It laces up the back with grommets, and should fit a size 10-14 or so.

Pics )
This one was only worn once. It features a gathered bodice, and a fun and flirty ruffle on the hem. Materials into it, around $60 - I'm offering it for $35 shipped. For Jane Austen fans, there are lots and lots of regency events out there, hosted by groups like the Jane Austen Society and local Regency societies. Picnics, teas, and many other things. This would be the perfect daydress for joining in. :-)
rhienelleth: (Default)
It goes well so far! I should finish the corset tonight, barring any unforeseen disasters.

Here it is so far: click! )


rhienelleth: (Default)

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