29 November 2012

The Ikea Cotehardie, Revisited

It's been over a year since I made my grey linen cotehardie (Ikea's linen, which, sadly, my local Ikea no longer carries, the bastards).  

at Coronation, October 2011

I've worn it 3-4 times, and loaned it to a couple of other women for events when they had nothing to wear.  I've gained weight and lost it since then; and in the last few months I've been toning up and building muscle like crazy (I hula hoop a lot).  

The dress no longer fit properly.  I could wear it, but the arms were too tight across my new biceps so I couldn't really bend my arms much, and the bust wasn't the same shape any more.  Also, I was pretty much done with having a light grey cotehardie.

Last week, I tore it apart.

First, the sleeves came off, and I opened up the side seams so that I could add a gusset at/under the bust on the sides.

I still love this lining, hehe.  It's just a cotton print that looks like eyelet.  Not period, but nobody sees it but me. :)

The long gusset I put in.  It's 2" across at the top, and down the top 3"; then tapers sharply to 1" and stays that way all the way down the side, in sort of an elongated Y-shape.  (For a tiny bit more space in the ribcage, but a lot more space in the bust).

Oh, that's waaaaay better.  It's actually comfy now.

Honestly, looking at these sleeves, no WONDER they were too tight across the top. They're practically straight!  This was one of my first cotehardies, and I hadn't quite gotten sleeves figured out yet.

I removed the top half of the lightweight upholstery fabric lining the sleeves, and kept only the part lining the bottom half where they unbutton.  The lining had NO stretch to it, and was part of the problem.

The second problem with the sleeves is that they cut into my armpits, so I deepened the curve here and on the dress itself.

The third problem was the shoulders, which didn't really move all that well, especially the more developed my upper arms and shoulders become.  In this case, though it's hard to see in this small picture (click on it for a larger image), I added a wide gusset to the back sleeve seam, making it similar to the gore you'd find in a grande-assiette style sleeve; but without some of the other components, and without being set into the back of the garment.  This is basically just a regular sleeve with a big gore in it, hehe.

The dress works!

And I'll stop here, because there are two more MAJOR steps in making over this dress (hint: notice the sleeves aren't buttoned in this picture), but that'll be a blog entry of it's own.

Assuming I don't screw it up!  (^_^)


27 November 2012

Recipe for Organiztion

Organized Sewing Patterns (serves 1)

1 file cabinet with broken wheels and lock, free from friend
1 package legal-size hanging file folders
1 package letter-size hanging file folders
1 box of sewing patterns, already organized into manila folders
1 box homemade costume patterns, on various bits of paper and fabric
leftover adhesive-backed door insulation strip

1.   Remove wheels and lock from cabinet.  Use insulation stripping to pad the bottom of the file cabinet edges so it won't scratch the floor. 

2.  Carefully fold and sort SCA and costume patterns into folders in top drawer. 

3.  Adjust lower drawer file rack to fit letter-sized folders sideways, and insert mundane patterns already in manila folders. 

4.  Recycle empty cardboard boxes, and enjoy your new organized pattern cabinet AND the extra space in the craft room closet! 

And because someone is always curious about this, here's what I do with my store-bought patterns: 

Slice open the pattern jacket, and glue the front to the outside of a folder, and the back to the inside. Label the folder tab, unfold the pattern pieces to fit inside the folder. Done.  Much easier to store and locate them, I feel.  



20 November 2012


BAM was awesome!   And what'd I do?  I posted hint-pictures of the new outfit I made for myself for court, and promised real pics, and then didn't manage to come home with a single shot of me IN the dress (because I was a dipshit and left my camera sitting at home on the charger instead of taking it to the event. ARGH).  

The only pic of me that happened over the weekend, was this one, as far as I know: 

me in my Caerleon uniform

I finally located the circlet I thought I'd lost and started wearing it this weekend.  New hair, too, not that there's a picture of it, though, because I suck.  I was extremely pleased with my hair at the event, for once.  

Soon as I can get a pic of that new court outfit I'll post it.  :/  


15 November 2012

Another Embroidered Pouch

No, I'm not finished with the first one yet.  Almost.

I just got in a mood.  The same friend from whom I got the navy velveteen I wrote about yesterday sent me home from her de-stash party with a big, blue, Ikea bag FULL of fabric.  In it was a couple of small pieces of royal-blue, uncut/wale-less corduroy (I know, I know, me and my blue "velvet").  I decided to embroider another pouch.

I started it yesterday; here are a few pics of the first stages:

sketching out the design with a watercolor pencil

blocking out the placement of the various elements.
Honest, I didn't lay the erasers and pins all facing outward intentionally,
LOL, that just happened to be the way they landed. 

I started with green - all the leaves.  The finished pouch will be covered
with flowers and stars, with my heraldic pomegranate in the very center. 

More news as the situation develops...


14 November 2012

Hey, Guess What

Monday I finished the last round of sewing-my-ass-off for other people in preparation for the event this weekend, which will be the last one of the season for me, and one of the biggest Ansteorran events of the year, and...

 ...which starts, um...tomorrow...

...I did something completely insane.  Can you guess what it is?

I'll give you a hint: 

I got home from work at 6:00, and ate dinner. 
At 6:30 I started cutting. 
At 1:00AM this morning I had a finished gown.   

All except for the buttons, that is.  Those are a bit of an issue.  I don't have any I can use, and my favorite online button store shut down without warning a couple of months ago.  I can't get buttons for less than full price anymore, and those suckers are expensive, especially when you need anywhere from 14-40 of them per gown!  Payday's tomorrow.  Either I find some that are affordable, I harvest buttons from another dress, or I make cloth buttons and hope they hold.  

Meantime, aside from the possibility that I'll have to buy buttons I can't afford, the rest of the dress was entirely free.  The fabric, a midnight-blue, hi-pile, velvety, brushed denim twill, came from a friend's de-stash party last month.  The gold brocade trim was given to me by another friend who made waaaaay too much for a dress she made for herself.  The red linen and gold jeans thread you can see in some of the pics were from my own stash.  

I have to say, this dress was an exciting adventure in getting to know my new sewing machine better.  There are four different embroidery stitches in this dress, two different seam-edge treatments, and I got to bust out the buttonholer for the first time.  I've never used one; every machine I've ever had has had a buttonhole stitch on it, but not an actual attachment. This one has the giant gizmo that you put the button into.  I have to say, it works fabulously.  It didn't work on this dress, though, because of the trim on the front opening edge, which was in the way - I ended up making the buttonholes freehand, with a tiny, tight zig-zag stitch.  But the test buttonholes blew me away.  In general, this machine routinely blows my mind with how easy it's making my sewing life.  Thank you, new sewing machine! 

And as for the finished dress?  You'll have to see it next week when I bring you pics from the event.  :) 


08 November 2012

Four-Hundredth Verse: Same As the First

Well, I spent the middle of the week sick.  Again.  Food poisoning this time.  Did I break a mirror and forget or something?  Not throw spilled salt over my left shoulder?  SHEESH.  This year can die in a fire.

No, wait - no fires.  *knocks wood*

And now you all think I'm superstitious, lol.

I DO actually have another project-in-progress to show you, not that I have pictures yet.  But soon.

In the meantime, let me share with you some of the fuzzier aspects of my morning routine:

This is how I wake up every morning.   Daisy's very polite, quiet, and gentle;
and she waits for the alarm to go off first.  (Her brother, on the other hand,
has, at this point, been jumping up and down and panting as loud as he can
for like half an hour.  I ignore him).  

Evie (our smartest cat, I say with great sarcasm), gets stuck in the sheers...
again...while trying to get from the windowsill to the nightstand to walk on
my hair, first thing in the morning...

...and then gives up and sits down, to wait for me to help her.  She's an awfully
sweet cat.  Not too bright, though. 


02 November 2012

The Dragonfly Process

Because the first question people ask me when they've seen the new Japanese outfit I made for Takuan (you remember Takuan) is "did you make these?  wait - how did you do that??"  I figured I'd make a blog entry about it, since I've spent all week working on these.

In place of the six lions down the lapels of his jin-baori, as with the yellow and gold Caerleon outfit linked above, I did six mon, the circular embroidered designs (patches, in this case) running down the front of the garment, which bear a form of his SCA device.

All of these images can be enlarged by clicking on them.

I started with a red silk fabric with gold-colored dragonflies already woven into it.  This circle was cut so that it had one fly already in it, to save myself a bit of work.  I ironed a scrap of lightweight interfacing onto the back, and satin-stitched around the design to make it look appliquéd on the way the others will be.

All six of them are done, here.

you can see I've also run a loose zigzag around the edge of the circle, to keep it from unraveling.  This is some seriously unravely fabric.

Sometimes my camera is really badass.

The rest of the flies - all twelve of them - had to be cut from the fabric and ironed onto an interfacing backing...

...  and then cut free of the surrounding fabric, leaving a small border of red around each fly to carry the satin-stitching yet to come...

...which is what's happening here.

I have to say, at this point, that this new sewing machine is CRAZY AWESOME.  It's fast, it's quiet, it's smooth - seriously, these things went together in about twenty minutes apiece, once all the prep was out of the way (interfacing, making the circles, etc.).  On my old machine they took an hour EACH.

Also, I didn't notice until I saw this picture that I'd forgotten to put on the special foot I'm supposed to use when I'm satin-stitching. Oops!

Finally!   Obviously the circle isn't really straight, but I can't trim it just yet.

First I had to clip all the loose threads.  Next was to iron a circle of heavier interfacing onto the back, since, as you can see, the fabric is kinda wibbly.

Before I did that, I should have gone over the front and clipped off all the little hairy fabric bits that stuck out of the satin-stitching, but I can still go back and do that when I straighten out the circles before I put them on the garment.

And what are these going onto?

Well, this, for one thing.  Or rather, something like it.

The set of patches featured here are actually the second set - the ones for this black and red outfit were the first.  the second set went a lot more smoothly, since the first set was the proverbial $4M ashtray (West Wing reference; r&d and experimentation are the hard part.  Now I know what I'm doing).

The black and red outfit was done in August of this year.  It was a bit of a surprise, so I hadn't posted about it yet.  But here you go.  It's basically the same thing as the Caerleon samurai outfit (linked at the beginning of this post), but with sleeves...and...obviously...a different color.  The helmet, armor, and weaponry were all made by Takuan himself.