27 January 2016

Cheating FTW

I have to share a nifty thing with you guys.

My shiny new sewing machine is down for repairs, so I've been using my old 1994 Singer 2517.  It's a hoss, but definitely leaves something to be desired in the buttonhole department.  It's almost completely a manual process - each of the four sides of a buttonhole are stitched individually, and the wheel has to be turned to the next setting for each side. Stitch, turn, stitch, turn, start, stop, start, stop, wash, rinse, repeat.  It's got a clear foot that allows you to see markings on the fabric to guide your buttonholes, but it's actually really hard to see any detail through, and doesn't let the fabric slip under it smoothly at all, so I end up using my regular steel one - and no matter which foot I use, the feed dogs walk the fabric ALL OVER THE PLACE when the buttonhole settings are in use, so it requires a LOT of pressure and fidgeting to get the things to come out relatively straight.

So on my latest project (which I'll show you in a few days once it's finished), I tried something new:

That's Washi tape.  Washi tape is a craft masking tape that is re-usable and doesn't leave a sticky residue on surfaces.  My roommate uses a lot of it in her paper crafts; she got this measuring tape Washi in a sampler pack she ordered (Etsy? I think?), and passed it along to me. It only goes to 16" and and then repeats; but the measurements are accurate, and so I've been finding lots of ways to use it in my sewing room - there's a yard-long strip on my table in front of my machine, and a 6" strip on the machine it self for a quick guide. 

On my most recent project, I also used it to help me make a nice set of buttonholes.  I wrapped one piece of tape around the edge of my garment, to line up all the buttonholes correctly near the edge of the fabric, measured my buttons, and then placed a second piece of tape on the outside - all I had to do was go from one piece of tape to the other, and I used the measurements on the tape to space the buttonholes out evenly.  I still had to put a lot of pressure on the fabric to keep the buttonholes straight, but that was the ONLY thing I had to worry about. And when I was finished, the tape lifted right off the fabric, didn't pull the fibers at all, and didn't leave anything behind. 

It worked GREAT!  I had 42 buttonholes to do on this proejct, and the tape was a HUGE time-saver. In the 22 years I've been using this machine, I've never had it go as smoothly as it did with the Washi tape!  I will definitely be doing this again! 

Until I get my new machine repaired, that is.  

18 January 2016

Blue Velvet Redux

new dress, for Candlemas 2016
In 2012, for my second Candlemas, I made a midnight blue velveteen gown that was more or less cotehardie-ish, with a shimmery leaf-green lining in the sleeves, embroidered with gold thread and tiny faux pearls. It had seen some wear, and was far too small for me, the last time I tried it on (six months ago), so I decided to adjust the sizing a bit, and to change the look of the whole dress.

In an awesome turn of events, when I tried the dress on a couple of weeks ago, before starting this project, it fit me perfectly!  Yay!  No re-sizing necessary!

Here's What Changed: 

1.      I removed all of the gold metallic embroidery and beading, steamed out the impressions left by the decoration and brushed up the fabric's nap with a soft brush to smooth it back out. 
2.      The original front lacing placket was removed and replaced with buttons. 
3.      I unstitched the neckline edges and flattened them out, then re-shaped the neckline at the bust. 
4.     The neckline was a wee bit deeper in the front than I wanted before, so I added a 1/2" edge binding in a linen the same color as the velveteen. 
5.      A twisted, blue, cotton, embroidery floss was couched in along the join between he body fabric and the edge binding. 
6.      I removed the green sleeve linings were removed and replaced with a blue washed-silk fabric from stash.
7.    Finally, I put smaller buttons onto the sleeves.  The size and design don't match the front buttons, but the metallic tones of both styles look great together, and I like having smaller buttons on the sleeves, anyway - less banging my arms on feast tables. 

The dress in 2012, made from a pair of
cotton velveteen curtains purchased at Ikea

Buttons and edge binding on new dress

One Last Thing

I tried out an embossing technique that I'd seen online - there are many tutorials on YouTube and on various blogs out there, this is one.  Basically, you wet the fabric with a spray bottle, place a rubber or foam stamp underneath it, and use a hot iron (without steam) to dry the fabric against the pattern of the stamp.  I thought it would be nifty to have a band across the lower hem, and one at the hips -  similar to the decorative bands in this image from Les Belle Heures du Duc du Berry.  At first, it looked fantastic: 


After a day or two, though, the embossed design simply disappeared from the fabric.  I tried it a few different ways (wetting the fabric on the inside, the outside, different iron settings, using starch, not using starch), but no matter what I did, the pressed pattern simply would not stay where i put it - after hanging for a couple of days, it just vanished. Oh, well.  It was a neat idea.  

Okay, Two Last Things

I thought I might "reupholster" my old red ear cauls for this outfit, as well, before I remembered that one had gotten badly crushed at war last year, and I'd thrown the pair out and resolved to make a new set when I needed one.  

Instead, since I felt like trying out something new, and didn't want to spend the time on making a new set of cauls, I decided to try my hand at making a bourrelet, or padded roll headpiece, instead - which, of course, ended up taking more time than a new set of cauls would have.  Whatever. :) 

Cotton/poly damask scraps from stash, over-embroidered along the fabric's design, with (plastic?) silver trim, plastic pearl beads, and a glass "ruby" and plastic pearl drop in the front.  There's a wire inside from an old Halloween witch's hat, and it's stuffed with the contents of an old bed pillow that had gone flat.  I love recycling old stuff!   

I may or may not end up doing some more embroidery on it.  The more I look at it, the less finished it actually looks.  Then again, 90% of it will be under a veil.  I'm not sure yet. 

I'll have pics of the finished outfit, with jewelry, veils, and other accessories, after Candlemas. 


04 January 2016


Happy [Mundane] New Year, everyone!

2015 Was Kinda Weird  

For the first six months I was unemployed, and I got a LOT of commission work done. The next six I spent working two jobs and having precious little time to work on SCA stuff, but I managed to at least complete my remaining commissions and get some personal work done in my spare time.  I spent several months working on expanding and updating my 10-11thC Viking wardrobe.  I embroidered all the things, and became a better embroiderer. 

I think by far the most important thing I managed to do in 2015 was not go completely banana-balls insane with stress.  Which, okay, I totally did that.  By October I was so stressed and depressed that I could barely function; but I managed to work my way through it and make some changes to the way I was dealing with my stress and my time management issues, and things got a lot more comfortable.  It took a lot of hard work, and a lot of difficult discussions with myself, but I did it, and I'm proud of the fact that I was able to take a step back and re-evaluate, re-prioritize, and keep my most of my cheese from sliding off my mental crackers.

These will not protect you.

So What's Next?  

The job thing will continue to be a thing until further notice.  Honestly, I'm not sure when.  In November I made it to my financial goals with flying colors, only to have the football pulled away from me just before the kick, Peanuts-style, so it'll be several more months yet before I'm "back on my feet" enough (again!) to cut my spare job loose and enjoy something like a "normal" schedule again.

That said, Candlemas and Kingdom A&S are coming up VERY soon.  Alas, I don't have anything fantabulously wondermus planned, because I don't have time to pull off something really spectacular; but I am currently in the middle of re-fashioning an old gown that I can't wait to wear again; and have embarked on another slow wardrobe makeover, this time with all of my fourteenth century clothing.

So. Some things will get finished.  Some things will not get finished, and that's okay.  I am not accepting new commission work: no ifs, ands, or buts (or butts).  I'm going to try not to post here about what I'm working on until it's done and I have something to show you.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but, I do have two goals for the first half of 2016:
  1. Do not go crazy.
  2. Make it to Gulf Wars in March. 
I'll let you know how it goes.