Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Make Jedi Robes from Curtains - Part 2

Time to sew the Jedi Robes together! (Haven't cut yours out yet? Learn how over at Part 1)

(I made Jedi Robes because my family is super into Star Wars, but you could also use this pattern to make basic wizard robes.)

Reminder - This tutorial is aimed towards making robes for a child, but you could definitely apply the method for a teen or adult as well, you'd just need bigger curtains (or a sheet or bedspread). You could also just start with plain fabric, but then you would need to add hems and it would take longer. The beauty of this layout is NO HEMMING! Yay!

In Part 2, I will show you how to start sewing the pieces together.

First sewing step is stitching the sleeve seam. The bottom of your sleeves should already be hemmed, so you are going to match the hemmed edges up (right sides together), and stitch all the way to the beginning of the armhole curve (as shown below).

If you have a serger, you can finish off this edge as I did, otherwise you can use a pinking sheers (fabric zig-zag scissors) to pink the raw edges.

Flip the sleeve right side out and iron down the seam. Complete the second sleeve the same way.

Next, you need to add a gathering stitch to the curved armhole, so that it can be gathered slightly into the main body piece. This stich is accomplished by setting your machine to the longest straight stitch, and sewing two seams along the edge of your sleeve curved edge (single layer of fabric, you aren't stitching it to anything). Leave long tails at the end of each seam!

Next, you are going to sew the hood pieces together. Line up the pieces right sides together, and pin down the curved edge. Make sure the hemmed edges meet up nicely! Then, sew a seam with a 3/4 inch seam allowance along the curved edge. Leave the two straight, hemmed edges open.

Next, you are going to go along the curved edge and trim one of the raw edges as close to the seam as possible. Leave the other edge alone.

Then, you are going to sew a second time down this curved edge. Fold the longer edge over the shorter edge, and zigzag it in place. This creates a nice, finished, no-fray edge for the inside of the hood (which is visible when not worn up).

You can finish all the interior seams in the robe this way if you'd like, but it isn't necessary.

At this point, this is what your hood should look like!

Stay tuned for Part 3 to learn how to attach the hood and sleeves to the body and finish your robes!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to Make Jedi Robes from Curtains - Part 1

Ever so slowly, I am working my way toward populating this blog with posts again. A lot of the sewing I've done this year has been small projects, to accommodate my limited health. However I am gradually increasing into more interesting projects, so there should be exciting new stuff to watch for in the coming months.

Today, I am going to talk about how I made Jedi robes for my little nephew in just two hours! Honestly, I could have done them in an hour if I wasn't taking photos and planning this blog post at the same time! But I did, because I just had to share this super easy project with you all!

(I made Jedi Robes because my family is super into Star Wars, but you could also use this pattern to make basic wizard robes.)

This tutorial is aimed towards making robes for a child, but you could definitely apply the method for a teen or adult as well, you'd just need bigger curtains (or a sheet or bedspread). You could also just start with plain fabric, but then you would need to add hems and it would take longer. The beauty of this layout is NO HEMMING! Yay!

Jedi robes are not very fitted, and this project is made to be unlined, but not unravel, so this is an ideal project for someone with basic sewing skills.

In Part 1, I will show you how to select which curtains to use, and how to cut them out.

These robes are unlined, so I recommend picking out a curtain with a bit of weight and body to it. You can pick any material you want. I used polyester because it is what I had on hand, but a rough, natural looking weave would be more accurate to the costumes worn in the movies.

Bonus tip - most thrift stores have sale days, or have categories or tag colors on sale on different days of the week. Call ahead and find out when you're most likely to find curtains on sale, in order to get the best possible deal!

To get the dimensions of your curtain, take your model's floor-to-shoulder height + arm length. This is how long your curtain needs to be. The width is more flexible - it should be 2-4 times the circumference of your model's chest (depending on how flowing you want the robes to be). If you are working with very narrow curtains, you can get two and sew them together down the long end, to create a center back seam. The hemmed edges will create a nice finished seam on the interior.

The first step is to fold the curtains in half, lengthwise, right sides together. THEN, take each edge and fold it back over, so that you have four layers, with the front, finished edges lining up with the center seam, as shown above.

Take your model's floor-to-shoulder measurement, and measure that amount from the bottom of your curtain. Cut it in half at this point. Set the upper half aside. Keep the portion that corresponds to the FTS number. This will form the body of your robe. The hemmed edge will be the bottom, and the cut edge will become the shoulders. Keep in folded in the 4 layer configuration!

On the shoulder edge, you now need to cut the arm and neck holes. If possible, grab a t-shirt from your model's wardrobe and use it as a guide, cutting your armholes slightly bigger (the robe will need to fit over the model's clothes, remember). The arm holes are cut on the folded side, while the neck hole is cut on the side with the center back and hemmed edges. I took this picture so you can get an idea of the measurements for a kindergartener.

Now, pick up the discarded upper half of the curtain. Unfold the four layer configuration, and refold it, wrong sides together. Locate the corner with both edges hemmed. This corner will form the bottom and front of your hood. You will need to cut a curve from the top to the back of the hood, as shown above. Again, I've laid down my grid to give you a guide for the numbers for a kid. If in doubt, measure the neckhole you just cut out of the body. The bottom edge of the hood should be about the same size as that hole, but just a tad bigger. So take that measurement, divide it, and add a couple extra inches.

(measurement example - neckhole is 16 inches, divided into 8. Add 2 inches. Each edge should be 10 inches.)

This is how high and how deep the front and bottom seams should be (right edge and bottom edge as shown above). Cut your curve very square, you want as much fabric as possible in this hood!

You now have one uncut piece of fabric left. From the bottom hem to the cut top edge, it should be about the length of your model's arm. If it is longer, cut down to size. (add an extra inch of length if you can, to add for seam allowances.) Fold the piece over, as shown above, so that there are four layers. Fold once, then fold again.

Now it is time to turn that tube into a sleeve. The side that is only folds will become the top of the piece shown here. The side that is one fold and two raw edges will be cut again, as shown at the bottom here (note the slight slope rising up from the right, so that the sleeve narrows as it reaches the armhole). The hemmed edge will become the sleeve hem, as shown on the left. The raw edge will be cut in a curve, to form the armhole. The arm curve is measured just as you did for the hood edges. You can use the same t-shirt you did previously to get an idea of how to make the armhole curve.

(measurement example - armhole is 12 inches, divided out to 6 inches, add just one extra inch this time, making a final measurement of 7 inches for the curve. Use a flexible measuring tape to measure out 7 inches from the tip of the uncut edge top to about five inches down on the uncut side.)

Go on to Part 2 to learn how to sew the sleeves and hood!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Draft Stoppers

It's 2017 and BRRR it's cold! For Nathan and I, it is our first winter as home owners, and our first time dealing with a heating bill. Overall, it's not too bad, but we're looking to save any way we can, and so I got to work making some draft stoppers.

Prior to starting, I did research and crowd sourcing to figure out the best fill for the stoppers. Being a professional seamstress, I have scraps galore, but I knew I'd need something heavy as well, to keep the fabric log firmly on the floor. Since I needed to make four total, I didn't want to buy the amount of rice necessary, and I also wanted something that would be potentially washable, if necessary.

In the end, my husband got a couple bags of white rocks from the dollar store. I found that about a third a bag was plenty to add the heft necessary.

The first draft stopper I made was sewn as a tube and then stuffed. I found this really time-consuming. For the second draft stopper, I left the long end open instead of the short end, and rolled the stuffing inside a length of felt.

Scraps from my serger made GREAT stuffing!

Rolling it up...

Once rolled, I tucked the felt log into the cute upholstery cover.

The log was a little short, so I added some more stuffing to the ends.

I then folded the edges in and pinned them.

Finally, I sewed the seam shut with a zig-zag stitch. 4 layers of heavy upholstery fabric was a little too much for my machine. Next time I think I'd like to insert a zipper, to make the cover removeable for washing.

But all in all it makes for a pretty cute draft stopper at our back door!

Here is the stopper I made for our living room. My original plan was to slide it under the door, hence the long seam down the middle. However, it didn't fit.

Since my original plan for this doorstopper didn't work, I needed to figure out another way to keep this draft stopper in place despite it being the most heavily used entrance in our home. Velcro did the trick beautifully! (Ideally I would have sewn the Velcro on before stitching the tube together, but I didn't think of it. So there will just be a lot of tacky glue holding it on!)

Since I already had the majority of the materials, I spent a whopping $0.33 per stopper for the rocks. If you don't have fabric in your stash, I recommend checking out the remnants bin at your local fabric store. Each remnant will be at least 44 inches long (selvage to selvage), so you only need to make sure you have a remnant of at least 1/4th a yard for the width.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Behind the Thread: How I Embroider the Towels

One of the most common questions I hear these days is whether I make my towels by hand or machine, and how much work they are. To answer that, I thought I would write up a detailed blog post, with a combo of photos and videos.

First of all, I start with the design. My machine is a Brother SE400, which means I can only use designs available in a PES format, 4x4 inches or smaller. My absolutely favorite website to get my designs is UrbanThreads.Com which offers some really lovely designs, and often has sales (I pay between $1.29 and $3.00 per design, depending on sales).

This month, Urban Threads released a Dala Horse design and I could not purchase it fast enough! I am of Swedish descent, so this is an iconic and special design that I am very excited to offer in my Etsy Shop. I thought it would be a fun design to use as an example. At 8 thread changes, it is one of the more involved designs (most designs I do use between 2 and 5 thread changes), but doesn't require too much thread snipping so it evens out.

The first thing I do is figure out what threads I am going to use. Sometimes I follow the suggested colors closely, but other times I like to mix it up. Here, I decided to try doing a green horse. I'd already tested out a red and blue horse, so I was able to see how the shades variated over the design, and try to approximate shades and tints of green here.

Each towel gets hooped to keep the fabric nice and taut.

On the underside of each towel is a piece of water-soluable stabilizer. The actual piece is tucked into the hoop here - I am holding a second piece so you can see how thin it is.

On my white towels, all of the bobbin thread is white. In order to avoid stopping and winding bobbins all the time, I have a separate bobbin winder, that can run at the same time as my machine.


Video #1 - illustrates the threading process I go through for each color change.


Video #2 - my machine comes with an automatic needle threader which is SO helpful.


Video #3 - Selecting the design (my machine can only store 12 designs at a time, so I have to frequently upload and switch out new designs from my computer via a USB cable)


Video #4 - here's what happens if I forget to lower the presser foot!


Video #5 - starting the second thread change

I'm sparing you a video of each thread change, but I did want to show you photos of what the design looks like after each new color is added.


Video #6 - one last video, showing the white detailing stitches

After the design is finished stitching, I snip off all of the threads left between non-connected designs of the same color thread.

I then take the towel out of the hoop and  tear off the excess stabilizer. The stabilizer in the design will wash out with the first washing.

I then give that corner a quick iron, fold up the towel, and (if applicable) photograph it and upload it to my etsy shop.

I am so addicted to machine embroidery, especially since my fibromyalgia prevents me from hand embroidering these days. I'm delighted to have had enough interested in my etsy shop to be able to continue making flour sack towels (which I personally love to use in my own kitchen).

Find this design and more at  Whimsical Kitchen!

Want to get a design embroidered on something other than a towel? Shoot me a line at elenatintil[at]gmail[dot]com

Friday, November 11, 2016

Steampunk Pirate Evolution

CONvergence, 2014
When Nathan and I started work on our Steampunk Pirate costumes, we knew that they were going to be long term projects. Well-done steampunk requires so many layers and details, that to some extent, it can always be improved. This isn't a bad thing, because it means we can keep wearing them over and over again without getting bored, since each incarnation is slightly different.

2nd Wedding Reception, Late Summer, 2016

Halloween, 2014
That said, between 2014 and 2016, although we wore the costumes several times, we didn't change much about them. Part of this was due to my looming health problems, which made sewing nearly impossible for a long time.

This summer and fall I have ventured back (cautiously) into a few costuming projects. One goal of mine was to add a few new things to our Steampunk Pirate costumes, so that we could have a 'fresh' look for Halloween. I decided to start with making myself a proper petticoat.

I didn't have enough of any one cream fabric to make the entire petticoat of the same material, so I decided to make each tier a different texture. Thankfully, this is very much a part of the Steampunk aesthetic, so it worked well.

I made a deep, semi-fitted waistband...

...with a bit of elastic in front for comfort and stretch on those inevitable 'bloated' days most women deal with.

Then it was time to add the tiers!

This tier is of cream satin. I had several squares and rectangles left over from making my wedding centerpieces, so I stitched them together for one of the middle tiers.

Of course, all of those seams didn't look very pretty, but I'd already decided to add as much lace as possible to the petticoat, so I just sewed a strip down over each seam!

I also sewed various lace and ribbon over the gathers of each tier. I've been saving up cream lace for a LONG time!

The final tier is some lace I ordered from Greece awhile back. Although the petticoat overall isn't historically accurate, the bottom tier can work as a peeping out layer on a more historical project.

I also really wanted to add something new to Nathan's outfit, so I utilized all my years of making vests and pulled together the fastest vest I could manage! To my surprise, I had enough energy and knowledge to  finish a vest in three hours - and it turned out better than I expected!

Part of what helped was having all of the materials on hand already, AND having Nathan nearby for frequent fittings. But vests are also just plain forgiving, especially if you have lacing in the back, as I did! (I didn't bother to put gromments in. I just folded over the edge of a piece of leather to stabilize it, and then punched out holes for the lacing. Easiest method ever! Might not last the longest, but it'll do the trick for the infrequent wearings this piece will have).

I added a few new pieces to my own costume as well. I'd picked up the hat at a thrift store in 2015, and then I added some scarves and jewelry from my extensive collections.

It was just warm enough for my mother-in-law to snap some photos...and we took some selfies too.

It was super fun to get dressed up. I'd gone into cosplay withdrawal!

Here I am holding Nathan's compass, which is one of the very first Christmas gifts I ever gave him.

One of my favorite parts about the vest is the high collar! I used buckram and interfacing to get it as stiff as possible. We've been watching a LOT of "Once Upon a Time" and after seeing so many of the awesome collars on that show, I really wanted to try making one myself!

The bodice I'm wearing here is a temporary piece. I couldn't locate my waist corset that I wore originally, alas! But I have plans to sew something awesome eventually...just determining the exact design! There are SO many options.

Here you can see Nathan's loooooong hair. Normally he wears it in a ponytail or manbun, but we thought it looked best down for this cosplay!

Ironically, after all that, we didn't get a single trick or treater! But we had fun dressing up and watching "Once Upon a Time" with Nathan's mom. (And candy. I ate candy. I haven't had much over the past year, so that was awesome.)

Want more Steampunk Pirate? Check out this commission I made for a client before I got sick!