Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sewing actually happened today.

For the first time in at least three months. I'm pretty delighted.

Photos coming when my camera card decides to play nicely with my laptop.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Design your own Tudor England dresses

DollDivine.com is one of the coolest sites out there. It has several really nice dollmakers with some truly fantastic options. As a designer I've had more fun on that site than any interactive game could ever give me. 

Last night I logged on and discovered that they'd added a new doll maker. "The Tudors Scene Maker." Little story here. It was my love of Tudor England that got me into costuming ten years ago. Out of all of history, Tudor clothing still remains my favorite. 

Does this dollmaker do it justice? Heck yeah! It's gorgeous, versatile, has the most options of any dollmaker I've seen, and best of all is historically accurate. 

Below are just a few of the dresses I designed last night: 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Ideas

Heads up, costumers! It's that time of the year when our skills are in heavy demand! But what do you do when you don't have time to make costumes for all the kids, yourself, significant other, and nine of your friends?

Use the ideas from this site! http://takebackhalloween.org/

They've got some really great historical suggestions, and many of their ideas can translate into other genres as well. Plus they link you to every article they suggest for their ensembles, so it's invaluable! And their suggestions are quite historically accurate too, so check it out!

(Thanks to Bowman for sending the link my way!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Original Sewing Machine Design

It's hard to imagine a world without sewing machines. Can you imagine if we had to hand sew everything we wore? I honestly don't know how our ancestors did it.

Thankfully 150 years ago Elias Howe developed a design for the sewing machine -- a device which went on to revolutionize how and what we wear.

A few weeks ago I got a link in my comments directing me to a picture of the original sewing machine designs. I've been meaning to share it with all of you, but real life craziness kept getting in the way.

Anyhow, for those of you who are sewing nerds, check this out: http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/index.html?dod-date=910#2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pan Am Costume Article

Remember how I was raving about the costumes on Pan Am? Well now you can read about the show's costuming process in this interview with the designer!

I don't know about you, but those stockings sound like a nightmare! And I'm so thankful we don't have to wear all of that intense underwear anymore.

If you haven't checked the show out yet, I highly recommended. It's well written, fairly clean, engaging, intriguing, and (of course) beautifully costumed. It airs on Sunday night, but if you don't catch it then, you can always watch it later in the week on Hulu.com

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I've been silent...

Oh my poor neglected blog! I'm so sorry. I've been working myself up to post some pretty difficult news.

Despite all of our hard work, my health has continued to be debilitating. It finally became clear that there was no way I was going to be able to make school work, so I made the decision to withdraw from college.

It was a hard decision, but I've had a lot of peace and calm about it. Just as I knew I was meant to go to NDSU, I also know that withdrawing was what had to happen. All the whys and hows aren't clear, but I'm able to believe that God has a plan (something that I definitely struggled with for awhile).

And surprisingly enough, things have been going pretty well despite being very sick. My family has been absolutely incredible. They all deserve medals for being so supportive. My friends have been pretty amazing too. And God has brought some other kind of lovely things into my life as well.

Anyhow, it's been a really insane and totally unexpected turn of events and I appreciate all of you being patient as my attention was drawn away by all of this.

Also, I promise that I will still maintain this blog! I still am a seamstress and will always be a student of fashion, style and costume with plenty of new things to share.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Costuming a visit to the past

Part of being a costumer is nitpicking costumes on tv shows and movies. For example, don't even get me started on Braveheart.

This week we saw the premiere of two shows with unique costuming challenges -- period drama Pan Am, and the science fiction adventure Terra Nova.

Pan Am is right on the money and the costumes are just one piece of creating a beautiful picture in every frame.

Terra Nova has me curious, though. The prehistoric colony definitely does not have any sort of clothing production line, much less a fashion industry. So why do all of the characters wear fairly fashionable stuff? Is it all imported from the future? Each new group brings bales of clothes with them?

The show canon seems to indicate that the colony has been around for at least a decade. So they have to have some system for getting clothes and it seems that function would be a greater issue than style.

I really want to know what the costumer of the show is thinking and whether we'll get any answers to this in the future.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Geeking out about Fibers

I am such a nerd.

I don't mean computer/sci-fiction nerd (although I'm that too). I mean a fabric/costume/fiber nerd.

For instance. Some people might think that a class called 'Textiles' would be boring beyond belief.

But me? I sit there soaking in happily everything about fibers and filaments and natural vs. manufactured and am overjoyed when we actually get to touch fibers and fabrics.

On Wednesday we learned all about cotton. We got to see pictures of it through the beginning of the process, including some from a cotton factory in Ecuador. We learned all about it's attributes, what it is good for, etc. We also discussed different kinds of cotton and what they are each good for. I asked why Egyptian Cotton was called Egyptian -- was it really from Egypt? I wondered. My Professor wasn't sure enough to answer then, but today she came back with a whole website on the subject. Sure enough, Egyptian Cotton is grown in Egypt and something about being grown by the Nile makes the fibers especially long and fine.

Today was flax and a brief discussion of other plant fibers. Did you know you can get fibers from the leaves of pineapple and banana trees? Or that hemp is in the same family as marijuana?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Of Sewing Baskets

Nowadays you don't see sewing baskets much anymore. I mean, everything sits in there in a pile and you have to dig around to find things. Who wouldn't prefer one of those nifty boxes with trays and pretty patterned fabric coverings?


I find the boxes rather clunky and difficult to carry, and things tend to fall out too easily. When I was in Virginia last year I had my sewing supplies, but nothing to keep them in, which was pretty frustrating. Then I got a really perfect basket for Easter and decided to turn it into my sewing basket.

It worked pretty well, but I started to accumulate too much stuff and... yeah, things got lost at the bottom. So this weekend I cleaned it out and decided to put in a lining with pockets.

The only suitable piece I had was white satin, but I figured I could spare a bit of it and it would actually be the ideal fabric.
Cut out a circle for the bottom and a long rectangle for the sides. And yes... I decided to hand sew it!
Laid out all of the things I wanted to make pockets for...
And cut appropriately sized pieces.
I did a sort of rolled hem.
Tada! Doesn't it look beautiful and organized???

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What is that lovely smell?

It's a warm evening in Alexandria, Egypt. The year is roughly 1000 BC, give or take a century or two. You're dressed up in your finest linen tunic, perhaps you're even wealthy enough to wear two layers, or a beaded net dress over a simple sheath. You certainly have plenty of jewelry to accent your white robes. You probably are also wearing an elaborate wig. After all, a wig is much easier to clean, care for and style than your real hair, and then you can keep your head nicely shaved and cool at night.

You're going to a party at your cousin's estate and are excited for a chance to see your best friends and hear some beautiful music from the visiting musicians. Of course it is rather warm and there will be a lot of body odor, but everyone will be wearing their wax cones so you don't have to worry about the stink.

Uh... wait... wax cones? What wax cones?

We've been studying ancient dress in my history of fashion class and I have to say, the Egyptian practice of placing scented wax cones on their heads at night for parties and stuff is probably the weirdest custom I've come across so far. It makes some sense, of course. Wax melts at a very low temperature, so all you'd need to do is have a hot evening and... trickle trickle. As it dripped down into the wig it would release a pleasant scent. Sort of an early form of deodorant, I guess.

Don't believe me? Search 'Egyptian Wax Cones' and check out all the pictures and blogs that come up. No joke.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where does Silk come from?

Silk. We think of it as the most luxurious of fabrics. Smooth, supple, with a slight bit of shine... and higher priced than most other fibers on the market.

Have you ever wondered where silk comes from? Well, let me take that back. Most of us know that silk is produced by silkworms. However what most people don't know is exactly how that works.

Well, silkworms spin themselves little cocoons, like butterflies. And those cocoons look like this:
That white stuff that forms the cocoon? That's silk.

We got to actually handle them in class today. They were older, so they were very hard and stiff, and we could feel the little dead worm rattling around in there. Gross, yeah? But totally cool!

We also got to see unprocessed and processed flax and bison wool.

And this was just in my History of Fashion class! We'll get to visit it all again and in much more depth in Textiles.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"About Me" Page is up!

Have you ever wondered exactly who is the seamstress making all these enlightening confessions? Well wonder no more! I have finally gotten around to writing up me "About Me" page which I think you will find quite interesting to check out!

Find it here, or click the "About Me" link under the header.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elizabethan Gothic

Part of being a seamstress is of course designing projects. With my start as an official fashion student looming all the nearer (two more days!) I've been inspired to sketch some clothing pieces. This bit turned out rather well and I thought I'd share it...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Countdown to beginning -- 6 days

Getting so close to starting classes! I met one of my professors on tuesday, and I'm due to meet the others today. Apparently in Textiles lab we get to burn fibers. That sounds kind of awesome.
Also I got the rest of my books on Monday. For textiles we have a huge stack of little fabric swatches. There's a big note that says "DO NOT OPEN" so that we don't get them out of order before class starts. Seriously? I can't look through and play with all the pretty fabric NOW? This is depressing. Oh well... 6 more days!!!!!!
The other tragic news is that, although my mending/to do pile is growing at a frightening rate, my sewing machine is still not unpacked. I think this has something to do with the fact that my table is currently the resting place for anything that doesn't have a home yet and I've been putting off organizing it. It's so much more fun to unpack scarves and books than sort out little odds and ends... right?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thimble Love

Years ago my grandmother got me started on a thimble collection. Since then I've bought a thimble from nearly every place I've been to -- and my friends have brought me back some from their travels as well. I'm always delighted to add another little beauty to my collection!

The newest arrival is the blue and gold traveler from Venice, which was purchased by my sister in her travels. Thank you sweetie! :)
Other members of the collection...

Friday, August 12, 2011

What would Lizzy Bennet wear today?

Textbook has the answer!

Seriously. I think I may have found my new best friend. And I'm kicking myself for not coming up with this idea first!

Anyhow, Textbook is a blog that basically takes famous people from history and literature and pairs them up with modern outfits. The commentary on the characters and chosen outfits is pretty hilarious.

So whether you're interested in Jane Eyre, Bellatrix Lestrange or Anne Boleyn, if you like fashion and books, this is the site for you!

(It DEFINITELY was the site for me!)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I am a Seamstress

It's been over a week since I sewed anything... so weird! And it'll be even longer before I can really do anything because I'll be visiting home this week to welcome my sister back from Europe.

However, I'm still a seamstress, even if I don't sew, and I'm constantly reminded of the fact.

I remember it every time someone asks me my major. "Apparel and Textile Design" is the long answer, but usually I just say "Clothing design" or "Fashion design."

I remember it when I pass an ad in a store window listing an alterations job. I had to seriously hold myself in check and tell myself firmly "You swore you wouldn't get a job your first semester... it'd be too much on your plate... you have 16 credits... you'll be cooking all your own food... NO JOB THIS SEMESTER..." *sigh* But it was for a really cool looking store.

I remember it when I'm looking over clearance T-Shirts in the Christian Bookstore and see that they only have the design I want in larger sizes. Well, what sort of a barrier is that for me? I can alter them!

I remember it when I go to the library and stumble across the sewing section... I stand in awe for several long moments, jaw dropped, just staring at the glorious wealth of information.

I remember it when I write out my schedule and see words like "textiles, fashion history, fashion dynamics."

I remember it when I walk through Walmart and stumble across the fabric section. I finger some white satin for a long moment before convincing myself to wait and retrieve a similar piece from my collection at my parents house. It's hard.

I am a seamstress. It's in my blood.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Apartment Decorating and Organizing

I'm not just returning to college, I'm also starting the adventure of owning my own apartment! As such there is plenty I am enjoying and learning about decorating!

Below is an accent lamp and corner decoration on top of one bookcase.
The gorgeous pattern on my new duvet cover
Tons of embroider pillows -- happiness!
A look at this corner's arrangement (the only one that is currently in shape for a photo op!)
The spice shelf!
It took me almost an hour to sort out the spices.
Bathroom! It was pretty bland, so I jazzed it up with some removable wall decals from Target. They rock! What else rocks? 3M removable hooks... they come in silver now!
A shower curtain adds so much to a bathroom.
We have no idea why there were no hooks or a mirror on the back of this door... but we decided to remedy the problem!
My laundry hamper has three sections - perfection! Ikea for the win
It even comes with sleeves to label the different sections
This may be my favorite piece... another wall decal with attachable rhinestones. It actually looks like a real chandelier!

You can find more pictures and details about the move at my personal blog. More sewing projects will be coming soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back to School Shopping for $50

What do you do when you're short on cash, but need to purchase some new clothes for school? Hit consignment stores like Plato's closet (which is like a thrift store for name brand, trendy clothes) and don't go into a regular store unless they're having sales.

I went shopping last week after finally getting through most of my wardrobe, gutting and altering as necessary. I had sworn that I would not buy any new clothes until I'd cleaned out my old ones and this saved me a LOT of money as I went about half a year without buying a single item.

First off is a pair of earrings... I've got extremely sensitive ears, but I love the way I look with earrings so I thought I'd give this brand a try. My ears ARE handling it better than they do ordinary earrings, but they're still infected. *sigh*
Now the clothes! I love Plato's Closet because t-shirts rarely cost more than $6, and everything else ranges from $8 - $12. And this is for really nice pieces that would ordinarily cost at least $20, if not $40 or more!

The following is a really lovely knit... dress! Yes, it doesn't look it when laid flat on the ground, but the knit actually hangs lower. Even on my very long thighs it comes down a respectable distance, although I probably wouldn't go out in it without leggings underneath.
Isn't this t-shirt cute? The blue is actually a sort of fuzzy pseudo velvet, and best of all it's from Express! (I love finding Express items at Plato's closet, as they're about the highest end you can get there!)
I adore long shrugs/wraps like the one below. This one was a tad small for me, but since it was only $4 I figured I'd play around with it. You can get away with more size variation in a wrap like this than with a t-shirt or such.
I'm a sucker for tie-dyed anything. Especially if it's in colors that I like. This t-shirt was a must have!
I really like graphic t-shirts. It can be hard to find ones that have appropriate designs or words though, so I was pretty happy to find this one. It's a small, however, so it's more of something I'd wear in the winter with a jacket than something I'd wear on its own in the summer.
I tried on a lot of brown pieces but this was the only one that actually fit. There's some lovely lacework in the back and I just love the distressed hippie design. Plus it's LONG.
After finishing up at Plato's Closet, we headed over to Payless Shoes. They had a pretty intense sale going on of all of their socks and such, so I stocked up! Everything you see below was just $2 each!

I'm not a huge stripe person, but the blue ones were too "Ravenclaw" for me to ignore!
I desperately needed a pair of cheap flipflops. And I dare you to find a cheaper pair than this.
Tights and knee-highs! I love argyle patterns, and apparently opaque colors are in for tights this year. So fun stuff!
And in case you've forgotten... I managed to aquire all of this for just $50! WIN!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Plaid Skirt Redesign

Several years ago, when I worked in the alterations department at JCPenneys, they had these really nice long plaid skirts. Long skirts for reasonable prices can be hard to come by, and I loved the plaid design so I picked up two -- one red, one blue.

However, I've found that nowadays the skirts don't get much wearing. While they're a good staple to have around, I don't need two. So I started thinking about how I could redesign the red one into something I'd wear a bit more...

I decided I'd go with a shorter, pleated skirt. First step was cutting the yoke, which was determined by where the zipper ended.
I then cut the lower portion into two equal halves. This included both the plaid fabric and the black lining.
The yoke was a little loose for the skirt design I wanted to do, so I took it in about an inch and a half on the non-zippered side.
Next I took the two lower panels and sewed them together at the side seams to make one long strip... this would become the pleats. (Pleats take a LOT of fabric!)
Next I had to figure out how big I could make the pleats with the fabric I had. This involved a complicated mathematical algorithim that WORKED but I couldn't possibly hope to explain. Needless to say, there is a reason why fashion design majors need higher level math classes than English Majors.
I worked in 1 and 1/4 inch segments. I quickly figured that I could mark off the spaces on the pleat fabric and fold it in the pleated pattern according to the marks. It went smoothly and speedily this way.
Pleats sewn, and pleated fabric hemmed. I sewed the pleats in place before attaching it to the yoke to make sure nothing shifted.
Then, to help it all lie a bit flatter and to make a very formal skirt look a little more casual, I added topstitching along the bottom yoke/top pleated edges.
Next I had to add a bottom panel to the lining.
And of course iron down the pleats.
The result? A very classy, cute and well made skirt that even my guy friends were awed by!