Saturday, February 27, 2010

Beledi m'Lady?

I am excited this week, as next weekend my dance teacher Kashmir (with me below) and a band of other teachers from around NZ are coming to town to do workshops. That's my weekend sorted! In honour of this event which I hope will re kick start my passion for beledi (that's belly dancing to the prols) I thought I'd post a couple of shots of costumes in action.
Kashmir and I in our thobes doing shoulder shimmies.
A dramatic moment in "Even the Tears"
Being a woman of substance makes costuming for belly dancing challenging. To be of moderate substance is a bonus, but my kind of substance, tricky! This outfit comprises a tie top heavily beaded and sequinned, and a skirt made of silver and black lace lined with purple. The lace I chose because its patterniness and weight is more flattering than the chiffony stuff others use. It was also useful to decorate the top - I cut out motifs , appliqued them and sequinned them heavily. I wear this outfit with a black body shaper for folk pieces like this one was as a dress is the acceptable outfit, and with a skin coloured one for cabaret. No way am I wearing it without coverup!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tom Jones still has it!!!

I saw Tom Jones in concert tonight, man he is still fine!!! And that voice, it's almost as good as it was 40 years ago. AND he is still writing and recording great new material. He's a real musician, not just a showman. It was awesome.
Here's a bit of fun in honour of Tom Jones, and the utterly gorgeous Yvegeny Pluschenko, who can park his skates in my rink ANY time he wants! ;-) (I don't know how to make the youtube video come to my blog, so you'll have to go to it!)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Progress on the Laurel Gown

Click on the photo and it will expand
Two sash ends complete, laurels sewn on. One laurel motif for front of sash also complete. I had to remake the larger of the sash ends as on my first attempt the leaves were too big and it looked all wrong. But I am reusing these on the bodice so all is not lost.
You know that feeling; when you've made something and you want to convince yourself that it is OK rather than unpick it or redo it, but you also know that if you go ahead with it, the finished product will always bug you? *sigh* If you don't, I pray you never get it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ta DA! A kitchen fit for a Queen!

Isn't it beautiful! I've even bought a whole pile of orange, red and white teatowels to celebrate! :) The bench in the foreground is the top of a bookshelf for all my cooking books and cards. It's amazing just having them there at hand. And room to expand the collection too.Soo nice to have the fridge back in the kitchen again. My long, tall pantry is great - each shelf has two baskets on it with pantry things in them, so I can just take out the basket with the thing I need and not have to move lots of stuff. One day when we are feeling richer I may get those slide out shelves, but they were another 4 figure cost on top. This one has a hook inside its door for my aprons.

My favourite cupboard is the glazed one for mugs. The lovely orange gerbera was a secret admirer gift from work.
I am so happy with it all, I just had to celebrate with matching cosies!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Laurel Dress sash and Cording tutorial Part 1.

Today I've got my head down to get started on the laurel dress embellishments, since The Dreamstress has been a-visiting with black velvet for the sash. Two things I know about velvet - 1. It don't like irons and 2. It don't like sewing machines much either. Because of this I've decided to make the motifs and hand sew them on afterwards.
This is how I have done it:
I sketched a pattern for the two sash ends, which are different sizes. Today I've worked on the smaller one.
I traced the leaf motif onto the paper side of the visoflex in a row - saves materials that way. Then I cut the centre out of each one, and pressed it onto the net, which you can just about see in the photo. After that, I cut out each leaf and peeled off the paper.
You can see the shine of the glue around the edge of the cut out leaf. It's not much but it keeps those babies in place!
I'm using a gold organza as a base fabric for the sash motifs as they are the only ones on the dress that are going onto opaque black, and it will help them to show up better. So, pattern at the bottom, then organza, then I arranged the leaves, and made a light pencil marking to show where the stems were to go.
Using silicon baking paper to protect the fabrics and my iron, I pressed and pressed and pressed. I found out that I'd put a couple of leaves up the wrong way, so I peeled them off and tried again. We got there eventually. Iron was set to Wool.
Using my No. 6 Bernina cording foot, I threaded the embroidery thread through the hole, set the machine to a long, narrow zigzag in a matching thread, and started. The idea is to go around the edge of each shape and to the next one, then back down again to give the stem some width.
I tried taking progress shots but they came out too blurry so here it is at half way.
Here it is with both sides done. The original was more symmetrical but I prefer one side to come up a bit more, it's more "art nouveauish"
Sightly blurry pic of me trimming the excess fabric away carefully, leaving a mm or so for strength.
And here it is so far, on its destination velvet. I'll be hand sewing it on and possibly adding some beads, not sure but if I do I promise to share!
PS Now the discerning among you are probably wondering why I didn't just cord the pattern onto two layers instead of all that fiddling about cutting leaves. It would have been much quicker. But I did it this way because I wanted to see how the visoflex around the edge thing would work out when it comes to doing the skirt overlay. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Laurel Gown

Well if you've been to visit the Dreamstress you will know that she and I are making beautiful sewing music together! :) My job is to do the tiddly bits on the Laurel Dress.
I suggested that the laurel patterning could be done in a realistic timeframe if I appliquéd and machine corded them, and made a sample last year:
At that point I'd only looked at the drawings and not read the description, and I didn't realise the over skirt was black, hence the light colours. I've left the ends of the threads on the samples but on a garment I would hand back stitch them all.
I've done this by attaching the raw cut shapes with visofix (?) and then corded with my special foot using 6 strand embroidery yarn. It makes the best cording and couching of anything I've tried.
After our shopping spree, I did a sample using the actual intended fabrics:

The appliqué is the gold net. I've placed the piece on more gold net. I don't much like the border pattern and will work on making it look more dainty. Also the metallic thread is such a good match, it sort of disappears, so I've found another one with a higher contrast. I also found that the visofix dulls the net, so I'm going to trim out the middle of the shapes so it only adheres around the edges.
The other problm I had is with the black net. It didn't feel at all like nylon and we thought it may have been mislabelled but it sure as heck irons like nylon,. Even the coolest iron turns it to seer sucker, and without heat I can't attach the other fabric. Without the iron on sticky stuff I can't do this in time. Luckily, the Dreamstess also has found it unhelpful to work with and we are subbing it out.
The original dress was decorated using tiny metallic sequins. It must be incredible. But the idea of sequinning that much linear embellishment makes me want to have a cup of tea and a lie down! This technique, combined with some hand beading to emphasise the pattern, I think will look authentic and, well, just gosh darn fab.
My first job is the ends of the velvet sash, and at the same time I will work on the bodice embellishments. These I'll probably do separately and hand stitch onto the bodice rather than try to do in situ, given that it is ruched. It's going to be blast, woohoo! :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We could have danced all night...

Anyone who follows the Dreamstress will know about the Art Nouveau Mardi Gras ball. I decided that as I have always loved Mucha's art, and I already had a dress with a Beardsley-like print in it, that I would actually go. (I generally prefer to costume others but not myself.)

Here is an excellently useful shot of MrC and I before, also showing the new window into our kitchen, from the hallway side!

Our beloved Dreamstress did an amazing job of putting together music for our traditional dances (although "gallope"ing is for horses, dear!) and I particularly enjoyed the reels - it was a VERY hot night so getting to stand and clap every now and then was a welcome reprise! ;-)

The ladies present, in all our finery, both historically accurate, historically inspired, hysterical, and modern but lovely :) Thank you dearest Dreamstress, for a wonderful night! And thank you to Mother the Embroidernator and florist for my fab hair flowers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Earlier sewing projects

To keep the attention of the wonderful sewing geekettes out there (I use the term endearingly and identify with it) I thought I would show a few pics of other things I've made. This is me in my 'thobe', which is a loose fitting kaftan-like garment worn in the arab gulf. It is made from a sari, but the front panel showing up all swirly is a piece of embroidered silk organza. It is bugle beaded around the neckline, which is also trimmed with a heavily beaded trim. It was so heavy I had to notch it to make it curve then glue it!
This my Mum the Embroidenator in her wedding suit - the jacket is a quilted silk organza and the skirt is silk chiffon. I only had one chance to fit it during construction as we lived in different cities at the time, but it just goes to show that knowing someone makes sewing for them easier.
This is a close up of one of my favourite wedding dresses I ever made. Sam wanted something essentially beachy, but in burgundy, so all the usual 'paua' colours were out. I discovered though that when you look at real paua, it is often burgundy and grey/green and pink, so we picked up on that palette. The embroidery and applique represents the eddying of water, but as Sam is also a wordsmith, the comma and apostrophe shapes in the pattern have that little extra significance :) As well as silk and cording work, the bodice is beaded with a range of glass beads, and hung with paua drops. The dress had a full skirt with random hitches up the back.
Little sis' on her wedding day. She got married way before me, and our dresses are 'sisters' also, as different and similar as we are(see mine in this post). I still love this dress. It is hand painted on front panel and train, with soft sculptured flowers, leaves, berries and buds around the shoulders.
I have heaps more but I am going to be mean and eke them out over several posts. :)

Why has it gone all quiet?

I know, it was all on with a hiss and a roar in the kitchen then nothin'. That's how these things work. All it needs now is a cupboard door and vinyl on the floor. The vinyl man is coming next week and then I PROMISE I will take full frontal shots.
I have been playing with tile patterns for the bathrooms. These smaller tiling projects I'm doing myself as I love tiling. I did a course in stained glass about 6 years ago and I discovered I have a knack for cutting glass, and tiles are the same, use the same tools even.
Anyway while waiting for this next stage to be complete, I will digress into other subjects. :)