Chronic Craft Block

September 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm (Uncategorized)

So I know I haven’t posted anything for a long while and that’s definitely my fault. I’ve put all of my projects on hold due to personal reasons so I didn’t think I would bother updating my blog about things that were completely un-related. I hope you understand.

Really, I hope you do. I just saved you several weeks worth of angsty rants.

But the whole reason this started was a lack of room and a sewing machine that decided to not cooperate and then break. I’ve tried my hand at sewing things by hand but having a machine for awhile has spoiled me. Don’t get me wrong, I will hand-sew if I need to or want to. 

I’ve been wanting to sew for a serious amount of time and every time I turned around there was another project I wanted to create. But I didn’t have the machine to properly itch that scratch. So a few days ago I bought a Brother LX3125 off of Ebay for $40/free shipping [Daily Deal]. It was too good to pass up.

I got it a couple of days ago and opened it yesterday. I cleared off the dining room table the same night and designated it as my sewing area; no one eats there anyway. It’s already cluttered a little bit but that’s only because I haven’t figured out what to make just yet. I have all these ideas but none that I really want to start with.

I could start on the kimono but I really want to work on the cage liners. At the same time I don’t want to work on the cage liners until I get a good camera and tripod. But then again I should at least try to make a cage liner to see if my theory really works. Ah, but there’s a swimming top I’ve been scheming to make. Then again it’s September and 60 degrees outside, I’m not going to the beach any time soon. I could would work on my super secret couture project but I’ve lost the supplies somewhere in the oblivion that is the living room. Maybe I could just make a petticoat and make a pretty skirt to match? I could make that in a weekend but I don’t have any tulle except the stuff I had reserved for my mudkip costume. I should get on that…

See where I’m stuck?

I’ve got Craft block. How about you?


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A quick stop and I’m back to sewing!

July 27, 2011 at 12:07 am (Uncategorized)

It has been decided that whoever has taken my basic sewing and drafting supplies has a personal vendetta they are too cowardly to talk  with me about. I brought home a confiscated ruler from work yesterday, covered in in green sharpie, and left it over night. This morning it was still there but by the time I got home – after a battle with my old car that left me shaking – it was gone. The usual suspect, a certain six year old, was ruled out since she and our dad had been out all day. I have a strong feeling about who it is and it makes me angry that they would stoop to such a low level just to get back at me.

Such is life, right?

But after work today I went to joanns and made a basic tool sweep. The best part was that everything on the notions wall was 50% off the original price. Happy as clam, I bought one of those curved rulers [for hip, armhole, and waist pattern adjustment] and an 18 inch quilting/sewing/crafting ruler. I bought two packs of needles – both for a dollar – and a pink [ugh] seamtress tape, also a dollar. 

Yippee! Now I can get sewing again!

Well by hand at least.


[I know I keep saying this but tutorials are due to be posted soon! They just a bit more editing.]

[[Also, I’m thinking about doing a video on sewing kit basics! So stay tuned!]]

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Official Euro Kimono Update #3? [#2?]

July 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm (Dress Diaries, Updates) (, , , , , , , )

Sorry it’s been such a hot minute since I last posted anything. I was working on a post on the side but to date it’s looking about 4 pages long. Talk about long-winded. But luckily for you I won’t be posting it. Basically I finished reinforcing the first set of pattern pieces. Why I wasted precious construction paper I don’t really know. I say waste because the pieces are double the size they’re supposed to be. For example the corset in the book is made of 2″ ribbon, the pattern pieces I drafted are approximately 4″ in width.

I reduced the patterns over the weekend after some trial and error that ate up nearly all of my gift wrap. I now have to go back and reinforce those. Thankfully they aren’t as big as the other pieces so no more shameless wasting of construction paper will occur.

I also did a dye test on the solid white cotton lawn using 1 exhausted tea bag. The main fabric’s background is a really creamy, eggshell colour. Granted it’s still white but the cotton lawn would have stood out noticeably. Lucky for me, the colour came out right on the first go! Now I just have to get more cotton lawn and try to achieve the same colour.

Left to Right; undyed cotton lawn, main fabric, tea dyed cotton lawn

My sewing machine is broken so I’ve been day dreaming for the most part about a new one and sewing up the long sweeping sleeves. So for the most part I’ve been handsewing, which is relaxing and very theraputic in it’s own right. I ended up sewing up several channels  on plain white muslin and trying out my hand at cording. I used this rather expensive hemp I got at joanns in a big ball. It worked out fine as you can see but it darkens the muslin obviously. In person anyway. It’s really sturdy and has a good weight to it. However I’m not too good at covering up my awl holes. They’re a bit…sparse. So when I do cord the ‘ribbon’ I’ll know to poke the holes on the underside so the right side is much nicer looking.

I went to go see if a cotton yarn would make any difference but I couldn’t find my needle or even my brand new pack of needles. I still can’t find it so I’ve been twiddling my thumbs for awhile thinking of all the things I could be doing. It’s killing me. No needles, no sewing machine. I also can’t find my rulers. I have several of them and they have all gone incognito. So that means I can’t even draft a pattern. I also can’t get measurements to draft my mudkip dress pattern because my tapes [yes, two seamstress tapes] have also gone missing. I’m either losing my mind or someone is trying their best to provoke me.


On another note! Before I lost my needles I beaded a sampler on my first attempt at a fabric window. I used white muslin, pink polyester chiffon something or other [it was a remnant at joanns], 6.0 seed beads [opaque white] and 8.0 seed beads [clear rainbowish ones]. The beads are Darice beads so basically they’re crappy knock off czech beads.

8.0 seed beads left; 6.0 seed beads right

I think I like the 8.0 seed beads better. They aren’t as chunky as the 6.0’s which give it a more ‘rustic’ appearance. This look is a bit more refined. I plan on using miyuki’s for the sake of uniformity. TSummerlee says Czech beads are best for bead embroidery but I beg to differ!  We shall see….

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Why So Chipper Ol’ Chap?

July 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm (General costuming, Updates) (, , , , , , , )

Despite the dissapointing weekend, a hustle and bustle sort of Monday, and a relatively stressful breeze through the MVA, I am happy as a Pooh bear in honey.

Why might you ask?

Because when I finally got out of the car – most of my afternoon had been spent in it – I spotted a package on the front porch. I could describe the heat of the day, the way the sun’s rays bouncing off the shipping label nearly blinded me, and how I struggled to carry it and two large cheese pizzas but I think I’ll spare you. Long, story short my fabric was in it. I was very surprised by the quick shipping. Another reason why I’m so happy.

The fabric is just as I expected it plus  a little more seeing as though I had no idea what 5 of the 6 fabrics would feel like in terms of texture and weight. I am very pleased. My vision is becoming a reality. The only thing is I have nowhere to cut my 56″ roll of fabric. >.<” But I’m happy and that’s all that really matters!

As for my weekend, I spent most of it cutting, marking, and glueing paper. Why? Because I’m an overachiever. Because replicating the graph in Jill Salen’s book was absolutely critical. Because it just needed to happen. And why am I blogging in this manner? Because the whole weekend while I was cutting, glueing, and marking I was also watching back to back Poirot movies. No one makes mystery movies much like that anymore. And to think people believe that Monk is the original. Ah, I wish I knew French to finish off this sentence in an upscale way.

But anyway, I have managed to finish off the corset pattern from the book but I have yet to start building a mockup. Why? Because I have to figure it out first. It’s really not as straight forward as most corsets. In fact, it’s d*mn near confusing. I’m going to have to research this and hopefully I don’t get sucked into the dark side of the internet. Because it happens. Searching something innocent, like balloons for example, can lead to something odd…I trust your curiousity isn’t as strong as mine.

Anyways…this is just a quick post. I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to make ‘windows’ in fabric as well as uploading a tutorial on the ‘pick’ stitch to youtube very soon. So be on the look out!

Now onward to find the perfect colour bead to embellish this kimono that is so far staying a float.

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The Inspiration Post

July 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I reckon I should have done this a while ago but I didn’t realize that my inspiration repitoire was incomplete. It wasn’t until I heard the word ‘hero’ did I realize where my thoughts of romanticsm for this costume came from. But first is first:

The main bit that started this whole thing is Jenny LaFleur’s study of the Titanic kimono ensemble:

Then came the fabric that sparked a ‘revolution’:

Courtesy of

 Since I’m a corset junkie I checked out my book of corsets by Jill Salen and found I wasn’t too keen on any of the styles. Something to do about a bad experience with a ribbon corset? Anyways…all I knew is that I wanted to do something with elegance as well as a pattern that gave some wiggle room for me to practice my cording:

I wondered what pattern I would put on my sleeves and could only think of the crest toothpaste logo. I’m not sure what gave me the idea for Chinese luck clouds but that is what I ended up with.

At work I got the idea to look up ‘heirloom sewing’ on youtube for reasons I’m not sure. I came up with Sew Beautiful Magazine. This video specifically gave me the idea of ‘fabric windows’:

I then applied this idea to the sleeves and wondered how I would get the curly q’s inside of the clouds to show up. Of course my embroidery skills are not the best but my bead embroidery skills are pretty good. So beads it is.

And finally, the images my subconcious brought to my concious’ attention:

I love this movie for the way it was filmed and of course the costumes. The emotion in this movie is also great. A definite watch if you love Jet Li and/or have an affinity for Chinese action films. The way their garmets flutter in the wind, so sheer but yet wonderfully concealing. No pants for me though. I don’t think I’ll be flying and propelling myself off of trees in this costume. I mean I might. It’s a thought…

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Official Euro-Kimono Update #1

July 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm (Dress Diaries, Updates) (, , , , , , )

So yesterday definitly had to be the first day that things ran relatively smoothly and gave a sense that this project was destined to become a reality. The top of the pattern fit well but the muslin was refusing to drape at all but it’s probably because I cut everything on the straight. I’m going to probably experiment with cutting slightly on the bias to see if that makes any difference. I’ve never cut directly on the bias before but I have witnessed the sort of disaster it can turn into. So for now, the top of my kimono reminds me of a nurse’s scrub top.

The back with all the fruffy gathering didn’t end up as I had hoped. What I had planned was to sew down the back seam, finish the edge of the excess, gather it up and then flip the gathering over and stitch it to the straight edge. UnfortunatlyI forgot to add the clipped straight edge to my pattern and ended up with a small army of gathers pinched together and roughly handsewn onto the back of the top. It’s unsightly. More unsightly then the horrendous black thread bunched up along the seam. My sewing machine is on the fritz, not sure why. I think there is something wrong with the bobbin tension mechanism…

Also the gathering ended up being three inches too high. >.<” But that was a quick fix on the pattern.I’ll have to cut another mock up to test it out. I’m a fool when it comes to certain things. Sort of like how I wanted to have a petticoat but made all the pieces straight! No slanting  to even make room. Granted I think even with the straight lines the kimono will be so unfitted it will just have to make room. If that makes any sense…

But last night I bought my main fabric, all 10 yards of it, as well as several half yards of fabric canidates for the petticoat, cut outs, and neckband. I’m feeling really peeved that there aren’t any tutorials on fabric cut outs. The closest I’ve seen to what I want is a ‘lace window’ tutorial from Sew Beautiful Mag.  So maybe once I’ve done a few, learned from previous mistakes I’ll make my own video tutorial for those who are visual learners like I am. Maybe there’s a specific terminology that I’m missing…

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A Progressive Sunday

July 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm (Dress Diaries, Updates) (, , , )

Today has been a really positive journey so far. I’ve made plenty of progress on making my patterns. I had to revamp a few things and make final decisions on how I want it to look/drape. I always seem to make the mistake of thinking in excess. It’s the reason why I had to cut the front piece in half. The large bulk just didn’t look right and the shoulder to waist measurement was much larger than what I had intended. So I shrank everything down and decided that all I really needed was the top 26 and a half inches to see how well the pattern would fit. Granted there wouldn’t be the weight of the ‘skirt’ to make it drape like it normally would but this is just a test to see if my pattern making skills really do pwn Simplicity’s pattern-making software.

Later on today I’ll make a toile/mock up out of the muslin I purchased a bit ago at Joanns. The only thin I’m worried about is the shoulder seam and how far down my arm it goes. I’m afraid that it won’t go down far enough and I would have just made a vest for myself with a peplum back. Not that this will be a hard thing to fix. 

Anyways, here are a few pictures since my last few posts have been mainly text and wholly uninteresting because of it.

As you can see I could not get a clear shot of my pattern for the sheer fact that my cat thought that I had laid out a game made out of paper and nail polish bottles  for her. But you get the jyst right? The only reason why I used the nail polish bottles is because the pattern is made out of gift wrap that comes on a roll. It likes to curl up which creates shadows and doesn’t look to awesome on camera. They are my cheap alternative to fabric weights also.

Last night I was flipping through my fashion book by the Kyoto Costume Institute and came upon these pictures [p. 300 and 301]. I don’t really see a resemblence between this and my idea for the sleeves, do you?

Courtesy of the Kyoto Costume Institute; p. 301

courtesy of the Kyoto Costume Institute; p. 300

[Charles Frederick Worth evening dress c. 1894]

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July 3, 2011 at 12:24 am (Dress Diaries, General costuming, Updates) (, , , , , , )

Yes, I know. I -just- posted. And it was one hell of a post. Long, lengthy, confusing, a peek into my labrynth oriented mind. I hope you enjoyed. But the point of it all is that I had to post just one more time tonight since Dunkin’ Donuts 99 cent iced teas were getting my thinking juices going.

I’ve been sitting here pouting over my lack of fabric ideas. Or at least that I couldn’t use the patterns I had fallen in love with because they were too small. This entire time, since I thought of the kimono from the 1920s featured on Antiques Roadshow, I’ve been keeping myself to the guidlines of no small print, only something large and symbolic. Well in terms of how fabric these days go, it really slimmed my selection quite a bit. I found myself, no lie, twenty minutes ago sighing and thinking ‘I guess I’ll just get solid red’. Then it struck me.

I should do a google search.

The search ‘vintage kimonos’ reaffirmed what I thought. Then I tried ‘antique’ kimonos to see if changing the adjective would help. And boy did it. I landed myself on and had my whole world turned on it’s head. My project world anyway. So I’m happy to announce that I will be buying some gorgeous cotton lawn before Monday since the red, white, and blue sale ends that day.

However I’m not sure if I should get red to deepen the kimono or white to brighten it. I’m leaning towards white because I feel it would look more ‘ethereal’ which is what I’m all about these days. [Floaty fabric, a fascination with sheer fabric, clouds, come on!] But I think red would look very stately, very lady-like. I’m tempted to even put a small ruffle along the collar to make it fit more era than one. It already does by the way I’ve added a petticoat to fill it out. The only thing, and I swear this is a real issue, is the corset and the amount of chest support I’ll have.

That is another post for another day.

Anyways, that’s my break through. I am successful. I am victorious. Google is the most brilliant thing ever thought up. And I feel like I’ll get a yard or two of both red and white to see which one I like best. I have an idea that red will win. Just an inkling.

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Oh What A Saturday…

July 2, 2011 at 11:05 pm (Dress Diaries, General costuming, Updates) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

CAUTION: If you dislike long blog posts, I am so sorry. There’s a lot of rambling here that I can break up into smaller posts. It’s the essence of my flow of conciousness.

After a few situations this morning I find myself in my local Dunkin’ Donuts doing what I do best: wasting time in order to get away.

This have gone crazy, as usual, in that little prison I’m supposed to call home. But enough of this and more of what I came here to post.

I’ve been driving myself crazy with this kimono project. I feel that it is within my grasp to get some serious preliminary work done with it during this extended holiday weekend. Already, last night I drew up the pattern pieces and drafted the sleeve pattern to be longer than the Simplicity pattern 4080 intended. It’s longer than the pattern by three inches but that’s enough to make it drift only inches away from from the floor. The original had sleeves that flowed effortlessly all the way to the ground. Very sweet, very romantic and probably more practical than I figure it to be. Me and floor length sleeves equals a very ungraceful face plant. If I do make the sleeves that long I can only hope that I’m walking on plush grass or moss to cushion the blow.

I’m trying to figure out the train that I want to add along the bottom. Should be easy, I know. I’m just debating on how long the train should be. I’m not going for a train of Mariah-Carey’s-royalty-defying proportions. [Yes, I -still- think Mariah Carey is a b*tch for outdoing Princess Diana.]  Just something appropriate and not fiddly. Something long enough that it will show when I walk but pool nicely when I stand still.

Also I’ve come upon a colour of preference, as if that is going to help with my fabric dilema, which is red. The colour of joy, happiness, and good luck. 

Here is a link to Jenny LaFleur’s kimono that gave me the inspiration to do this:

As you can tell I’m not copying it in anyway but using it as an inspiration as well as using her dress diary as a cautionary tale. I do like her ideas of two darts going up along the back to make it more fitted. This is only because I will be wearing a corset underneath circa 1900-1910. In the book of corsets [can’t think of the exact title right now] by Jill Salen, there is a wonderful Eratz corset made out of WW2 paper fabric. It’s beautiful in it’s coarseness and ‘pauper’ qualities. The only set back is that in the book it is dated 1914, but what’s four years?

The more I look at these Edwardian corsets the more I like them. However I am not a fan of the ‘juno’ breast that they aim to acheive. While the clothing made to fit this sort of figure is beautiful it is a tried and true frustrating stance to maintain. My spine hurts just thinking about it. I was hoping to make an overbust version but I don’t have any available patterns for that. I’m rather frugal in my approach to patterns. Aka I won’t buy any commerically made unless Joanns has them for the awesome sale of 5 for $5 or maybe the rare 5 for $10. And alas there are no commerical patterns for this variety of corset. For a style that’s relatively ‘recent’ and madly popular at the time you would think someone besides Nora Waugh has a pattern for it. I’m tempted to splurge and spend the $40-$60 sticker price for her book from the 1950s. I’ve heard that the patterns are a pain to resize and fit but that’s an assumption made up off of one review on Amazon. Hehe, I’m so fickle….

Things Going Badly:

  • Finding/choosing a suitable fabric. [ugh]
  • Finding the room to do it

Things Running Smoothly:

  • Pattern development
  • Idea Refinement
  • Idea Finalization [sorta]

The colour of the neckband and the beads will match. And as a lover of pleats and gathers, there will be a small portion of gathering along the mid back to help shape it. I hope. I’m also hoping that small bit of gathering will help the train flow nicely and pool like I want it to. I also have to figure out how I’m going to make this petticoat. And if I make this underbust corset I won’t have anything to support my chest and for a pseudo period costume I don’t think I’m going to wear a modern bra nor am I going to go without. [shudder] So maybe I’ll make combination underwear? Attach the petticoat to half of a camisole slip or make the petticoat and camisole seperate? Oh I don’t know.


It only came to mind when I decided to watch a few videos on heirloom sewing. Not sure why but I did and I sort of want to try it. Especially since I’ve only worked once with pintucks and at that time I didn’t know they were even pin tucks. I called them ‘flaps’ in a written ‘skirt diary’. But that was when I was really,and I mean really, big into Gothic Lolita and making my own Lolita clothes because, as some of you might know, GL clothing is expensive and only comes in sizes that fit up to a US size 10. 12 if you happen to be really lucky.

Meh, maybe I’ll attempt a cute jumper dress one of these days since I’m not totally out of that ‘oh gosh look how cute that Lolita is!!’ phase. I still have a bunny purse I bought off of Elliseven [LSeven, LS7, Ellis, or the chick with an R2D2 gif for her Hairextension board icon, whatever you call her]. Tiny but perfect for cons.

Hm. Cons, Lolita, an unfinished Mudkip costume…I feel a spark of genius coming on.

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The Perfect Fabric

June 30, 2011 at 1:02 am (Dress Diaries, General, General costuming) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Okay, okay, I admit it.

It’s this whole ‘find the perfect fabric’ that’s got my costuming panties in a bunch. I thought I found it but the print was way too small to look good so I let it sit on my ‘search results’ page, only for me to glance at it and wish that they had a larger print version. I searched and searched and came up with another canidate but alas it’s damn near $13 per yard. This is supposed to be a cheap project to hold me over until I can get to the historical nitty gritty of my Duchess costume.

So my frustrating search continues to find the perfect printed cotton voile. It’s almost as if those making voile have collaborated to make their product in only three categories: solid coloured, funky outdated 80s prints, and florals best suited for a nightie. Or maybe four categories, the fourth one being outrageously expensive but exquisite prints.

This is really typical of me. And it’s borderline shameful how many ‘sit downs’ I have to have with myself over this. I might as well just get a solid colour and call it a day instead of spending more hours than I want to in front of my computer trying to find The Perfect Fabric.

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve been sitting on my ass for just about three hours now, simply contemplating if I should make this kimono or not because nothing is really ‘popping’ out at me. But I know I’m too in love with this romantic vision I have in my head. I know that I can make it a reality with the proper lighting and scenery. It’s just the question of will anyone ever have a printed cotton voile for under $6 that I will fall in love with and happily sew up? One with a big enough print in a colour that strikes me and screams ‘Rose would be jealous!!’?

I’ve been trying to avoid ebay for my fabric needs since it’s always pricey. That and I’ve been doing really well in managing my obsession with auctions. But I need to cover my all my bases. Maybe that’s where The Perfect Fabric is lurking.

Besides the fabric issue I’ve battling with a decision to either make an Edwardian corset from the early 1900s or just wear the modern underbust I have lurking in my attic somewhere…

Decisions. Decisions.

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