Hello folks, I just realised have been hardly posting here. Though I do need to get back to doing so, I am afraid I have fallen into the trap… That Facebook is much easier and faster to post to on the fly, or the stitch, of things. UNtil I get more time to dedicate over here, if you would like to see a bit more of what I am up to , you can like/follow me on FaceBook here: https://www.facebook.com/Dreamsewing
One of the things I have NOT liked on wordpress is the amount of Bots, and random totally unrelated by person or interests asking to link to their products. Not talking about feloow bloggers/crafters/film-theatres/media, but stuff like wholesale Chinese fabric merchants, or Get Rich Quick scheme type things. So FB has been nice for weeding these out.
I DO LIKE when fellow crafters/makers/related product makers ask me to try their things,link, or share their pages though, so feel free to do so on FB if you like :-) xM
Hello, been awhile, been off for nearly a year due to (chronic) illness. Slowly coming back and getting back into the Stitch of things. Here’s a wee post…
Been flummoxed today by health stuff, which counter-intuitively means I need to keep *gently* moving, if not enough focus to work. Decided ideal thing is to tidy work room after last 2 weeks sewing/crafty binge. Now every time I do this, I get frustrated by how much stuff ends up on ironing board. Tonight I had Blinding Flash of the Obvious; it’s all there because I use things all the time. So a few scraps of fabric later, and behold, the “Insta Ironing table Stuff I Need pouch”! Simply safety pinned to end of board so can take off if need to fold it up. (Also made me feel like I did something useful with my day :-)
Pin cushion made by cutting a foam hair roller in half. Giant paint brush I use for turning point in delicates, and brushing velvet/fluffy naps when ironing. Think I may add a wee flap of fabric to go over pins, so no risk of catching fabric when swooshing it onto board.
Cheap, cheerful, easily removable, and not sure why I haven’t done this by now!
Today is just a mini-tip, as juggling patterning & holiday gift making and paperwork.
I’ve a love/hate relationship with fusible. Love how it makes life easier, tames the tricksey fabrics, but hate what it does to irons/ironing board. Most of the time, I really can’t be bothered with cutting it exactly to match pieces as it wiggles out of shape. If you don’t though, then there’s risk of junking up ironing board/cover. Now in the shop we used nice bits of left over cotton, but I find that kind of wasteful, and if the fabric scrap is creased, that gets transferred to what I’m fusing.
So here’s a cheap & incredibly simple solution: greaseproof/parchment paper. Put underneath fabric and fusible, it’s flat, doesn’t burn, doesn’t stick like normal paper and re-useable. Fusible glued piece just peels off easy peasy, so you can just lay a big hank of fusible on top of the small fabric piece without having to have cut it exactly beforehand. So simple, so, why haven’t I done this before ;-)
So today’s trick is from an alteration job. Taking in a crocheted tunic with a big open weave pattern. As usual, this is just how I approached it, and I am sure there are other/better ways, but here’s how I did it. This works for chunky knits and big weave lace as well!
1. safety pin how/where it needs to be taken in. Straight pins will just fall out of fabric, so safety pins are the way to go. Then I marked with chalk on inside (wrong side). after you mark, take out safety pins. They’ll only catch on sewing machine and pull piece out of shape if you leave them in!
2. Next take a nice thin ribbon or cotton tape and cut off length of garment/piece with a couple inches to spare on either end.
3. wrap the excess ribbon over the start, and find a solid area if possible to stitch onto near your marking line (mine has a jog-in as was under the arm & client wanted excess taken out)
4. Stitch! On this one the weave is so open I had no problem matching up the pattern on both sides as I went.
5. *tip* to be sure that you are not pulling the garment out of shape, if you have the old seam and it is stable, put one finger of guiding hand on the old seam and maintain a light tension on it, this helps ensure am not stretching the pattern out.
6.When you reach the end/bottom of your garment/piece, again wrap the excess ribbon around and under. This provides nice strong stable base and top of piece. I then ran a second row of stitching 1/8 in (towards outer edge of garment) just to be sure, that way where you may have been stitching into open space, you may actually catch some lace, or if it *is* a truly empty space, you are reinforcing the ribbon anyways.
7. Now to our trusty overlocker machine. When you are lining it up, you want to be sure that a) you are *NOT* letting the blade cut into the ribbon you have sewn, which will weaken the ribbon. and b) the overlocker needle will be just catching/stitching *into* the ribbon.
8. and voila, your finished seam. Now turn your garment right side out and the ribbon should be hard to see nad no worries on the crochet unravelling. ( Sorry I forgot to take photo of it from the right side, client came to pick up top) It will probably look a bit wonky on the outer edge especially if it is a bulky crochet like this one was, but it’s all nice and tight in the overlocking and seam is reinforced by the ribbon.
That’s all the news from the wonderful world of alterations for this week. The weather has turned cold here in London, so now’s the season a lasses head begins to turn towards knitting. Which I am *pants* at, but I do it anyways. (but don’t expect any tips from me on knitting, beyond Use circular needles. Always. especially if you are like me and knit on the train/tube/metro and don’t want to whap people next to you as you knit ;-)
Quickie personal/for a friend project last week. “Guerilla Stitching’ refers to when you either decide rather foolishly/silly to whip up something for the same night on the day, or have Scary Deadline and stay up all night stitching and “prioritising” by cutting out finishing steps ;-) My co-workers & I used to Guerilla Stich/challenge each other to make things to wear out to clubs on a friday night as we cleared our work project baskets. My friend wanted fairy tale dress up for a burlesque show, and fell on idea of Oberon/King of the Fairies (given the events LGBT base, this was rather apropos ;-) Digging through the Stock cupboard of
doom Stuff’n’Shiny Fabric, managed to whip out a horned headdress and tunic which he then wore with the gold/red corset I made for the modern geisha pic which shows on my home page. So a few hours of paint, ripping of metallic organzas and much dismay as realised my house now looked liked a troop of drunken fairies wandered through and sicked Glitter/gold powder *everywhere* and had a decent last minute project result…
Materials used were left over voiles/organzas, Ben Nye gold power & glitter, cheap plastic leaves & flowers from Oriental market liberally glopped with paint (flowers were white) & make-up, a couple foam rolls from Pak’s beauty supply (normally for making hairdo’s) , wire from hardware store for frame and ribbon.
and so he *did* go to the ball and lived happily ever after… laughing as *I* hid my from the events organiser as she had a costume contest. My friend won first place, but the reward was perhaps not what one would expect, and rather entertaining for the rest of the audience. I *may* have been warned/instructed by the event organiser to make the posterior accessible for birthday spankings ;-) (Things/events like this make me wonder how on earth I survived years of wearing a suit and working in an office!)
A few years ago while on tour, I picked up a very, very sad antique Katsura wig for Geisha/Kabuki. Coated in ancient camilla oil & setting wax, tired and snarled I still wanted it to see the actual construction of Geisha/Maiko wig. After all this time, I have finally finished reconditioning, filling in and re-set it. Though not quite perfect, not having the training or skills in making Nihonmagi (Japanese hairstyles) wigs, I am pleased enough with the result. There are folks who may *tut-tut* as I have not styled it in a completely accurate manner and have waaaaay to many Kanzashi (hairpins) in it, but I am wearing it for a series of costume events & wanted to present the kanzashi I made. So it’s a bit cluttered ;-) This is a big photogallery of step by step through the process as I could when hands allow. (I really need a hands off/foot operated shutter control for my camera so I could better document projects when hands are busy) I’m ready to wander the Streets & Underground of London as a faux Geiko this weekend. Happy Halloween!
Here is the before:
…and after :
and all the steps in between (sorry for repeats, for some reason WP gallery reinserts copies from post into gallery again)…
– Antique Katsura base w/ assorted extensions included
-Tres Semme Cool Freeze 5 ultra hold hairspray
-Bingushi Tsuge- long stemmed comb made of boxwood soaked in camellia oil, which means you can use to pick, style & smooth without it sticking to hair wax or hairspray
-Mottoi waxed paper hair ties
– black mesh donut & bobby pins/slides from Paks (UK version of Sally Beauty Supplies) beauty shop
-Kanoko silk shibori tie w/tassels
– Kanzashi hair ornaments I made (falling flowers w/flutters, crane, red/black flower)
– Kanzashi ornaments bought in Japan ( the back pins; dragon & hanging blue ball and the top bun picks: wooden round one and the silver butterfly flutter)
-Aussi Take the Heat leave in spray for flatironing hair
-Dishwashing liquid to loosen wax & camellia oil for first wash
-cheap clear shampoo for following washes
– Aussi- 3 minute miracle to condition hair.
-Hair straightening iron
(One serious cultural side note; I specifically checked to make sure was a pre-WW2 wig. The reason being, I absolutely not want a wig made from the 40’s, as were potentially made from hair forcibly taken from Korean “Comfort Women”. These horrible 40’s wigs are the most common on eBay, as many American GI’s brought them home after the war for souvenirs.)
It’s been a month of big projects & I’ve been trying to turn back to old uncompleted small projects to wind down my brain/distract when too tired to work well. Which means all those unfinished embroidery/knitting bits. Either I have an invisible cat who has been frolicking in my thread bags, or I’ve been really cavalier about tossing threads back into it.lalalala. So instead of actually embroidering, I spent a few *hours* untangling floss.*sigh*. I Don’t like those plastic thread caddy/winders much as not really portable, plus don’t have the money really buy one.
So instead I thought, hmmm, binders full of
women, uhm, I mean threads. Wandered to local stationary store, bought a binder and instead of regular clear plastic sleeves, got the photo sleeves which have 4 pockets per page.
Et voilá, a compact way to store embroidery floss which also lets you clearly see the colours/organise by colour or project and easy to transport (just grab a blank set of pockets,put in only the threads you need,roll and rock!). Plus you can add regular sleeves to put in transfers/patterns into same book. That’s my cheap and cheerful storage solution for the day :)
This is a completely silly post, but hey, it’s my blog. Sometimes I want to actually kind of ,oh , look nice for a party/event. However wardrobe/stitcher hands (at least mine) are constantly ravaged by materials tearing off nails, hands dipped in chemicals, cleaning agents, etc. I never get to have nice nails. The other day I tore one down to painfully beyond the quick when tearing silk, more proof of the strength of silk ;) So I picked up some fake nails from SuperDrug both to protect nail and for party. Now usually it’s a bit of a faff, I have tiny hands, so have to cut even short nails down to practical for working, then the finding a good hours time to paint/let dry. I’ll wear them a day, then inevitably needle or pin nick them, or be washing fabric and the varnish is ruined.
I saw these new nails from Cosmopolitan which are solid colour. Usually solid colour ones look tacky/boring colours, but these caught my eye as they have gradiated tint, so looks like actual painted nails.
In applying I found it a bit tricky to tell the nail bed end from tip, till I felt how the nail bed end are wonderfully thin and soft ( a day later & no irritation on curticle area as so thin there). Cutting them down also revealed the colour goes all the way through the acrylic which led to the happy discovery after a full day in the workshop. After sewing, washing fabric in bleach and general dinging, hardly any marks on nails! The shine wore off a bit, but these babies will be able to stay on quite awhile with out having to worry about retouching paint! Win!
So this is my first silly endorsement of a beauty product; recommend it to any crafty/rough ladies or men who occasionally want femme hands ;-) Would also just generally recommend them to make-up artists, as the not needing to varnish would speed up fashion/film/stage shoots. Not a huge range of colours but nice ones.
The only caveat is to NOT use the pink gel glue included, pink gel takes a long time to dry & is also harder to take off. Get some regular or express nail glue instead.
Okay, I admit it, I have been accused of being a bit “anal” or “OCD” in the workroom. (though that can’t be applied to midway through a project when the enitre house becomes de facto “Miko’s workspace”. Apologies to my partner who has suffered through Toe-Catcher balls of thread in carpet, Tribbles made of machine fluff and zillions of tiny multi coloured triangles which point all over the house from dagging curves.)
Once upon a time when I was apprenticing/working in ballet I had a Costume shop manager who had many, many rules. At the time, I it drove me crazy, her always saying to Do or Not Do something, but as time rolls on, some of these she forced into habit have repeatedly saved my sanity and my projects. Most are old hat to most readers, and may seem Uptight, but they are great habits. So not to be preachy, but maybe to help, here are my top 10 Workshop Habits worth instilling in automatic…
1.Reset your work area. New project? Tidy area, helps cleaning but also can help make one think of all the tools/things will need on new project.
2. Machine sewing; when starting to sew, especially on home/non-industrial machines, crank needle down in place through fabric, always start sewing from needle down position. Keeps from fabric slipping, lets you check “bite”.
3. Machine sewing; again at start, always hold top/needle thread so you don’t have the “Aaaargh” of it pulling through and having to rethread. Plus maintains good tension on thread.
4.Trim dangley threads as you go. Yes, it’s kind of a pain, but less so than having to go and trim everything after piece is sewn. I know for myself when I am lazy and don’t do this, many is the time when a dangling thread got caught up somewhere else and either messed up stitching/pulled fabric off. Plus it’s good way to make sure haven’t accidentally caught up fabric in sewing.( though I will sometimes leave threads uncut on basting/ any areas I need to come back to, seeing them dangle is a reminder to finish something.)
5. Turning corners: before you lift presser foot to turn fabric on a corner, make sure again needle is down and play the crank a bit to be sure fabric isn’t pulled into feed dog.
6. On sewing table; keep all sharp things/scissors/pins/pens/markers on right side of machine and fabric/project on left. Because finding a scissors nipped your super expensive fabric or a pen leaked is so very *head-desk*. (This was probably the thing my boss used to Tsk me for the most, and the most saving grace habit to have learned.)On one table I use a cloth on right to toss things onto, so as not to have annoying clicks, plus peripherally gives me a “landing zone” to subliminally remind me. On another, I have my giant Ofla mat under machine which delinates the “No sharp/mark-y crap” zone.
7. Fussing with a piece? Snipping a bit of excess or pulling a pin out of fabric? Take your foot off the Gas! (peddle) ( used to have a demonic industrial that somehow seemed to store power and would run on a bit on it’s own even if I thought I wasn’t applying any pressure to peddle.*sigh*) (also saves from stitching ones own fingers. Yep, I’ve done that.)
8. Changing your bobbin? Take a few extra seconds and use machine brush or a nice stiff bristle paint brush to clear out bobbin case, bobbin seating in machine and feed dog every time. My, the lint builds up fast and can mire things up! ( I think my Pfaff was a cat in a prior life, she likes to hack up fluff balls of always the most opposite colour into stitching if I don’t brush her first ;-)
9. New Project= fresh needle. The number of times my stitching/thread problems have been resolved by getting a fresh needle (Usually after faffing about wasting a half hour on checking bobbin tension, rethreading etc.) is embarassing ;-/
10. Done for the day? Not coming back to the exact same point of stitching? Then reset your machine to “neutral” ( in my case, straight stitch at 2.5). So no zigzaggy surprises when blithely sitting down next time. Especially in shared machine workshops, not setting machine to neutral was a huge nono.
Anyhow, so that’s it so far. These wee snippets come to me sometimes when I catch myself trying to break them, and I always pay the price when I do ;-)
Oh, and the for fun project for us at the Gothic Valley WI (yes we started a Goth Women’s Institute chapter, putting the Black back in Blackberry jam! ;-) http://www.gothicvalleywi.org.uk/ A while back we participated in the Regents Barge parade at Battersea park for the Queen’s Jubilee, and I felt this overwhelming need to dress some hapless member of our group up in bunting ;-) So I made this quick ensemble; lace up bodice, skirt and sparkley net petticoat.
(shameless plug: although not finished to “street” finish, more like theatrical finish, this outfit *is* for sale for £80. Fits size 6 to small busted 10 as bodice laces up, and skirt & petticoat are hook/adjustable. Could also be altered for quick change for burlesque (zip on side of lacing/velcro). Contact me at email : firstname.lastname@example.org if interested, or would like a similar set in other fabric.)
Well it has been a rather busy month. Here’s another catch-up of some of what ate most of my time in September. This was working for the lovely Mistress G of http://www.moruadesigns.com/ on a wedding party. I worked on 4 skeleton suits; waistcoats, Jackets and individual chemise/shirts and a frock for a wee 3 year old girl. Right now both she & I are both saying we will *never* wish to work in top quality silk velvet again. It’s kerslippery, merfidgity, bungFluffs up sewing machines and lungs & is just a PiTA. (couldn’t even really interline/fuse it as the stuff just shows up every single touch/flattens out, needle marks too frakkin easily). All I can say is, this is one case where for a stitcher’s peace of mind, please choose synthetic or cotton velvet if you ever need to make a complex/tailored piece!!! The frock and shirts were fine German lawn & bastite, which was lovely to work with, comparatively ;-) Sorry pics are not good quality, they are all “late at night, mebbe I ought to document this” snaps and we have no finals from the event yet.
A friend was asking how I got started into making the Japanese hair ornaments as made famous by geisha. After dressing up a few times with a friend as faux-geisha in Kyoto & Tokyo, I wanted to buy *all* the hair ornaments, but they are terribly expensive. The reason why became apparent when I thought, “hey, I’ll just make them myself”. Some pootling around online for instructions was often disappointing (at the time there was not as much info/research available) and I disliked some of the “western” versions. Trying to use modern glues/hot glue gave so so results, and then I came across a link on youTube to series documenting disappearing crafts in Japan.
I’ll add the link below, it’s quite long, but a good overall introduction/step by step, despite no English subtitles. For such a small item, there is much work, and therefore the price. It makes me sad that we often just don’t have the time to make things in traditional manners, and that cheap versions make us veer to the “easier/cheaper” solutions. When I have the time, I try to do in traditional manner. And yes, apart from doing a big dye batch ( I just dye small portions as I am not making so many of them I need metres of silk at a time), I do go through all the steps shown, plus making the rice glue from scratch. Partner was *not* impressed with that step, as releases a gas that can make breathing difficult/odd odor. So for yur pleasure, here’s a how I do it video of a Master Craftsman. If anyone wants to be my patron and fund me going to Japan for 5 years to apprentice to him, let me know ;-) !
However, this is my attempt. Butterfly double weight silk brocade from Tai Pei,coutil, grosgrain and hemp silk. Straps are removable ( bra hook in front, tippet’ed lace through in back).
(to find the Mistress of Corset perfection, look up https://www.facebook.com/MoruaDesigns )
Afternoon quickie, my sweetie gave me a Kindle, and of course I could in no way justify *buying* a cover when I had some leather and fabric lying around… Super easy, put in some thin dense foam under kindle, and really liked the calfskin leather as it grips/no slippy well. Tassel closure on elastic.
So picked up an interesting commission for an advertisement/film for Gigi Rüff & some othersnowboarders, needing glow in the dark board jackets. These I made(with much grumbling from my beleaguered Pfaff machine) with Energlo fabric. The challenge was trying to keep it relatively water/snow proof and have channels in arms/hood for some extra battery powered light ropes. Sadly I have no pics of them with the lightrope in yet, shan’t get until post production of night film. (Yes, it looks silly/ a bit big on me) The Energlo fabric retained glow for a good 10 hours at a time! This pic was taken after being stored in cupboard overnight after only a couple hours “charging” in sunlight.
More catching-up/recording of projects this year. Here are a batch of Kanzashi hair ornaments and hat clips. Tsumami kanzashi is a traditional Japanese handcraft. Usually made from 1′ squares of habutai silk, though I used some organzas too, which folded like origami in one of 3 “accepted” folds to make petals. Then dipped in homemade rice glue, and set into place. I used hot glue for some as was in a hurry for a bring & buy sale, but the results are not as nice as the slow patient rice glue method.
This was a fun one, I had invited a co-worker to a Burlesque night in the beautiful Bush Hall, London. Folks generally dress up fabulous for these events, so Gigi & I felt we ought to make an effort. Only problem was we were working silly hours 6 days a week on a show, so I had to find something super quick to make, and warm as we were having a sub-zero winter in London. This took about 2 hours from drape to finish. I always loved ’20’s/30’s evening dresses, though I haven’t really the figure, but I thought, hey some cheap blue stretch velvet & a simple bias dress should do well enough. I’m thinking of doing a step by step for this one, as it is so adaptable (can do w/shallower cowl/boatneck, no sleeves, flutter sleeves etc.), needs no real pattern ( though a dress form is required) if anyone is interested.
Then I had a lace collar I found in local haberdashery shop which had a nice “v” shape so tacked it on under the cowl for a wee bit of Bum Bling, and to balance out the neck lace.
So just going through my photos and realised I would like to archive/share some past projects.
This is from my first time going to Whitby Gothic Weekend, when I had a moment of “Oh My, what will I wear?”, I had just come off of touring for 5 years, so had very few garments (I had lived out of 3 suitcases for my “world” for the entire time) that were not backstage blacks or covered in paint/tears from sewing.
Material is heavy silk, from my obscene haul wandering through Taipei fabric warehouse. There was a matching skirt, but it looked far too busy, so ended up just wearing a plain black petticoat and silk shawl “apron”. Not best work, but OK for a day before project. (Please ignore the black fuzzy stuff in bust, that’s just tulle I stuffed in to fill out the dress form a bit. The proportions look odd as I am extremely busty ;)
So everyone loves eBay/Amazon for ordering fabric cheap, but sometimes it has it’s perils beyond the obvious colour/material not being exactly what we wanted. One problem that has come up with a friends alteration order is that the lovely burnt velvet organza she ordered has a nasty flaw; there are slubs & puncture marks from the burning/stretching process all along both sides of the material. This is a common problem on voile/organza/burnt & lace fabrics. on harder fabrics (cottons etc.) these roller tack marks are usually very close to border (w/in 1cm) but on more delicate fabrics, they often have to use a wider barrel 2 row pronged roller to stabilise the fabric in production.
So a a good tip is to remember if you are ordering fabric w/out touching/seeing it in person, it is always best to take the width of the fabric and SUBTRACT 2″ (8cm) to be sure your pattern pieces fits.This should allow for the largest size stretcher roller marks. If you need 45″width and the fabric is exactly that, especially on a delicate fabric, odds are you will be at least 1-2″ short due to the selvedge edging/tack marks. In this case, there was enough fabric to account for this. Since is is an organza which unravels easily, I decided rather than a more traditional seam (stitch plus overlock which would have shown too much and added bulk) to do a french seam. French seams are wonderful, and recommend using it on all delicate fabrics which unravel or shred easily. It’s really not any more bother than than stitching +overlocking. For those who don’t know how to do so it’s easy!
First check what your seam allowance is, for example 5/8. Chalk/pencil or wax mark the 5/8 stitching line on WRONG side of fabric first, will save you fussing. Instead of sewing a seam with the right sides of fabric together at 5/8, flip the fabric so you have the WRONG sides of fabric together (i.e. you are seeing the “right/nice” side of fabric) and sew seam w/a small stitch (2-2.5) with needle at center and edges of fabric just at edge of sewing foot. Now carefully cut along you stitch line on the outside of your stitching line between stitchline and edge of fabric…Now press out the seam and fold so the RIGHT side of fabric are now together along your stitching line, what you see is the little short cut edges are now sandwiched between the main fabric. All you do to finish is sew along your 5/8 chalk/marked line and you have a lovely french seam with the raw edges neatly hidden and stitched up safe from unraveling :)
This worked really well as you can see the roller damaged part of fabric is now closed into the French seam.
I know some of the pro’s here will shake their heads at doing such a wide french seam, as normally we use it stitching *very* close to the inner cut edges, but I found this was a good way to deal with both the slubs/marks and also not have to worry about the organza unweaving itself. Wanted to show it’s not *just* for finiky fine seams ;)
My home work room is *very* small, and I was getting tired of the overlock & back up threads piled up in boxes or taking up table space. I looked at “proper” storage/sorters but found they were all a bit expensive and would take up too much space. Then I had an idea… I bought an overdoor shoe sorter! It works wonderfully, one large overlock spool per section and a bunch of regular spools fit each shoe cubbie. Best of all, if you have lots, you can stitch them to a clothes hanger and hang in cupboard/wardrobe in a nice, easy to see way, plus there is no thread tangle-dangle from mixing them up!
So that’s my simple storage tip for the day.
P.S.- This months UK Burda Style (04/12)magazine is probably the best this year for free patterns; lovely bias dress, blouses, pencil skirt and bolero/wrap tops. Was a good splurge!