Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Sequin Free Sewing Post!

Don’t we just love old jeans! All that fading and distressing; it seems such a waste to turf them out just because they’ve worn through on the knees or thighs. This tutorial shows you how to make a gorgeous summer skirt using the bit that never seems to fall apart – the “body”. (You could make this for a child too, you just need a lot less fabric and narrower tiers).
I own a few of these skirts but this one is far too teeny for me.

To make this skirt I used:
  • an old pair of jeans
  • three summer cotton fabrics, 2.3m in total (0.4m for the top, 0.7m for the second and 1.2 for the bottom)
  • ric-rac trim and buttons
  • thread
I cut the legs right off the jeans (saving the useable bits for patching other projects), making sure you don’t cut the front pocket bags! If possible save the back pockets. If not, just cut the bottom of them off like I did. (you’ll have to take my word for that!)
Now fold your jeans sideways so the fly is at one end and the centre back at the other. Line up the two layers of waist band and pin evenly.
jeans pair 1 
Work out how deep you want the denim basque of your new skirt to be – I made ours 22cm deep. Measure from the waist band to that line and pin every 5cm or so. Then you can cut off any excess carefully along the pinned line through both layers, making sure you don’t cut the front pocket bags again! I did this with pinking shears.
When that’s all done, unpick the curved seam at the front below the fly.  jeans pair 2 
Lap the original outside over the other side flat, then top stitch through all the layers over the original stitching lines.
Work out what order you want your fabrics to go in – I liked the yellow Amy Butler print breaking up the more blue based other ones. I cut my tiers: 2 widths x 18cm for the top, 3 widths x 23cm for the middle and 4 widths x 28cm for the bottom one. Increasing the tiers towards the bottom like this makes the skirt balance better visually.
Now the trick to sewing the three tiers together is to not “over-gather” the fabric or the skirt grows enormous! To get around this, and to avoid the unspeakable horror of the whole gathering stitches, pulling up and pinning, this is what I do:
Join the strips for each layer together, pressing the seams open, so each is a continuous flat strip. Don’t sew the ends of this strip together. The top tier doesn’t want to be two whole widths around, so cut about 55cm off the end for a size 10-16, less for larger sizes.
Starting with the top and middle tiers, I put them right sides together both at the beginning of the strips with the middle (yellow) tier on the top, and I pleat it straight in under the machine foot. In the photo above I pinned the next pleat to show you how deep I make them but in reality I just form the pleat with my fingers and feed it under the foot. Not too deep and not too close together, that’s the trick. Remember you’re just pleating the fabric on top, not the one underneath.
Just keep pleating until you get to the end of the underneath strip. As you can see in the photo, I ran out of top tier just after a seam in the middle tier, but it doesn’t matter, no one notices. Just trim the middle tier so it is “flush” with the top tier.

Here’s a pic of the right side showing these two tiers sewn together
 Use the same process to join the last tier to the middle tier. Remember not to pleat too close together or too deeply. Cut any overhang at the end of the final tier.
To make the skirt,  bring the two edges of the skirt together, right sides together, line up the tier seams, pin and sew straight through.
 Press the seam open. You may notice that I haven’t neatened any of my raw edges with an overlocker or zig zag. That’s because these kinds of cottons really don’t fray much so there’s no real need to, unless you wish to. To each their own!

I then joined the skirt to the denim basque. In this case, I did use two rows of gathering, and eased it in a little so it just fit, with the one seam down the centre back. Instead of sewing right sides together, I lapped the raw edge of the top of the skirt under the bottom of the basque and sewed them through in two rows. This leaves the raw pinked denim edge on the top layer, which will fluff up with washing like the bottom of cut off jeans.

Cost of project: jeans $5 from an op shop, fabrics $36.80 from the shop's $16m range. Ric-rac was $2m and I used 1m. Buttons were $5, total: $44.80. Not bad!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Building a Christmas Tree Dress

I saw a few of these online and had to make one for the shop. Like Dior made Christmas his own!
So, last Sunday MrC and I purchased a 210cm tall artificial tree, some new lights and baubles, and on Thursday I got stuck in. The mannequin is a new one that is technically for sale in the shop and I felt its black and cream dramatic patterning lent itself to the concept.
I am really uncomfortable with heights even little ones, and working on the 3 foot high display dais was pretty freaky for me. Because taking pics meant getting down and up off it, I didn't capture every stage in the process but here's how I did.
 The mannequin before.
 I tied the small, fluffy branches around the leg to create a petticoat. Tied on with cotton tape.
 The next stage involved gun stapling another layer of longer branches to the underside of the mannequin. Then a layer of the longest branches hooked through a cotton tape around the waist. 
At this stage the weight of the branches caused the base of the mannequin to bust. So, we took the three little feet off and just propped it on a angle into the corner! The skirt is only around the front so it needed an angle to stop it toppling forward.
 Lights! Pink organza around the waist to hide the workings.
 I changed the organza sash to be deeper with no bow, made a necklace out of baubles and hung the baubles, of course.
 The almost completed display  - fake presents and Mel's clever Wall tree made from decreasing rolled up strips of wrapping paper.
A close up of the adorable dress ornaments I bought in Greytown. The six of them cost more than all the baubles but they had to be bought, right? 

I am in love with this display, no other way to put it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Spring Wedding Show

A few months ago I had a sudden urge to do a wedding show, as you do. We sell and hire lots of the kinds of stuff used at weddings - cake tins and stands, bunting, ribbons, cake decorating stuff - and hessian, or burlap as it is known in N.A. Plenty of couples want to D.I.Y. some aspects of their wedding and so often when they do come in they remark that if only they had known we had all the stuff that we have, they would have come to us for it. So why not get out there and show them.
The show was on Sunday 18th October, at Macs Function Centre which is a converted dockside warehouse and quite funky.
 Cupcakes - wrapped in hessian ribbon, lace or both. Fruit leather daisies make a lovely topper for a rustic look.
 Of course I had to show off my butterflies too. The cupcakes are there to show off the tiered stand that we have for hire, and also to promote private workshops in decorating them.
 Cake toppers - I was chuffed to find one with two guys. None with two women seem to be available...
 more stuff
 The whole muddle.
I HAD to get these wicker hampers - they are so great for displaying stuff. Back at the shop it is filled with rolls of Christmas wrap. Here, it is showing off all the things out of which you can make table runners.

It was a pretty quiet show really, but we had some lovely chats with lovely people, and got to know some of the venue people and hire people etc so we can all help point people to each other. 
At some level I find it odd that people would pay $18 to get into a show like this and then act like the people with stalls are trying to ensnare them. Most of the attendees were relaxed, happy types interested to find out what we had to show them, but about 1 in 5 groups didn't even bother to come over and see what we were about. So stupid - how do they think they can tell what it is we are offering by a quick glance at our stand. And us. It's these types that really put me off getting in too deep with wedding related stuff. To me it is such a sacred act, so much more important than the colour of the serviettes, and I find all this superficial nonsense really disheartening.
Oh well. That's what happens when you go to the people instead of waiting for them to find you, I guess.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Flaming Nora's Cavalcade of Tomfoolery

It's a thing! It happens in Wellington to celebrate Spring arriving in the Capital of Dressing Up! A costume parade and competition that happens along the vibrant waterfront of our city.
We sponsored the Most Joyful category of the competition. And sure enough, after a week of the most rubbish weather you can imagine, the day was stunning!! The World of Wearable Arts aka WOW is on for the next two weeks but it is a coincidence that this fun event has happened at the same time as the Council made them move it from the original date which was not. It's a happy coincidence though.

 Some gorgeoous goldfish, Thing 1 and Thing 2.
 Some of Capital Steampunk, with Mrs Hudson (The Younger) in her wonderfully patriotic gown.
Two gorgeous "ladies" (not really ladies!) visiting the Colonies.
 Wally, or Waldo, who spent the whole parade hiding behind people. She was so sweet!
 A couple of fab costumes originally made as WOW entries
 A  Steampunker in a Blueprint jacket. So clever!
 I loved this entry - Mum, Dad and their son playing Nemo. The anenomes are just throw rugs safety pinned on and a bunch of skinny ballons around their necks. SO CLEVER!! And so lovely to see a family together.
 Another shot of Nemo as he is so gorgeous!
 Me presenting a prize to these two clever sculptures.
 Cavalcading along the waterfront!
Cavalcading. My gosh it was one beautiful day!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Christmas Plans already!

I have plans, Readers! Lots of USOs (un-started objects!) and in some ways that is worse than UFOs - because UFOs are a bit like those really active molecules hunting for atoms to bond with and make lovely new things, so have a certain energy that makes them attractive. But USOs are just piles of fabric that require cutting out. Erk, I dislike cutting out, and the idea of having to do it puts me right off sewing sometimes.
HOWEVER, I have made some progress. Constance is Emceeing several Christmas shows and I felt that it was time to make a special Christmas costume.
Remember, all costumes must be seen from space, so I was thrilled to haul a length of red sequinned fabric out of my stash (I don't remember buying it!). It is gorgeous - the sequins are sewn on not stuck on, at one point only so they can all move and shimmer deliciously. The fabric has a little stretch too.
Of course, a Christmas costume requires white fur trim. But we are having cream feather boa instead. Because Constance.
I riffled through my patterns looking for an off the shoulder number but to no avail. Then I thought oh good grief, that is why you penuried yourself to get a dressmaker's dummy! So I draped it using pattern cloth, and when I was happy, I cut it out of the sequin yummy stuff, checked it on me, tweaked it and tada! This is where we are at!
 Rolled up hand towels are an essential addition, replacing my arms ;-)
 And with the feathers pinned in place

I really like the drapey thing across the front. I used to look at such things with a sense of sadness that I could never wear them (where? why?) but now I have the perfect excuse.
Now, this dummy is very rigid in ways that I am not. I am soft, squishy and bumpy. BUT, under this costume I will be wearing a corset so I will be rigid at the time. Not super tight or anything, just firm and smoothing. Not for every day use however!

So, there we are. I imagine it will stay like this until three days before I need it, as usual. Right now, as in today, I need to complete and then learn a new song for next Saturday. And another one for the following Saturday, as well as a bit of costuming. And my six day a week job.

Oh one last thing, colouring in is a big trend right now I believe. So I gave it a go. We sell Doodle Art pads and one is on the counter with thee fab twist up crayons so anyone can have a wee go while they are being served or waiting etc.
I did the big butterfly to get the ball rolling :)

See you all soon!

Friday, September 4, 2015

In life as in Shakespeare

Shakespeare's plays often feature someone running onto the stage and telling everyone about the exciting thing happening where they just came from. Some of my posts are a bit like that!

So in the past three weeks, this happened:

 Sauron strikes again! Nerdlesque, at The Fringe Bar 22 August 2015
 The "Eye" just needed new batteries after being in storage since December last year. 

And then on the 29th, this happened:
Yes that is Constance and Me staring adoringly at the FABULOUS Pollyfilla. In her Helen Reddy Tribute costume. Polly was over from Melbourne and OMG, he (Colin) did his makeup at my house and showed me all the secrets!!!!! It takes three hours. One of the most generous and warm people I've met, both in and out of drag. The gorgeous young blonde with us is Martin, who is also lovely. But at 20 something, he had no idea who this Helen Reddy person is. He was given homework ;-)
People we walked out my front door at 11.15pm and I got home around 3am. This is how drag shows operate. I was quite proud of my tenacity actually. Not so proud of my makeup job. But then, it wasn't about me :)
On the 23rd, I had another photo shoot and I love the photos but I wish I had had Polly's makeup tutorial beforehand because I think the makeup is a little flat. Ah well!

We had fun and it's nice to have some promo shots with updated costumes!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mary Poppins, but not as you know her!

Video from our Demented Disney show came through, and here is my interpretation of Mary Poppins, introduced by the effervescent Sadie von Scrumptious, with guest appearance by K.T.
Costumewise, it was the easiest to date by FAR. The usual skirt, a modified jacket and a new hat.
The jacket was a black one I used to wear in my corporate days. I trimmed the collar with blue satin bias, turned the fronts back and under and trimmed the new line. I subbed out the buttons with daisy ones and that was it!
The hat I made using the same method as my hat tutorial here- it's just black calico. I found the three yellow gerberas at a discount store, and just glued them on. Easy peasy.
She needed a more Edwardian hair do than Constance normally has, so instead of the huge ratt on top, I used a bunch of curled hair extensions wound into balls as padding to build my hair up and out. It was just right, and the hat only needed one hat pin through the top layer and then all tha extra hair to stay put.

In case you are wondering, the baggies contain lemon sherbet. We made it ourselves, and here is the recipe:

 Mary Poppin's "Special Sugar"

1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon each of tartaric acid, citric acid and baking soda
1 packet of lemon Raro or Tang powder (sugar no artificial sweetened)
Just stir it all up and that's it!

It really is quite delicious, and quite the pick me up!