This category contains 13 posts

Projects-Guerilla Stitching,Last Minute Oberon

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!)


Katsura (Geisha wig) project-finally Done! Sugoi!

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:

Antique katsura looks sad and tired, let’s fix!

…and after :

ready to stroll the streets of London ;-)

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

-Bintsuke wax

-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.)

Project- Old, from Jubilee

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 : dreamsewing@gmail.com if interested, or would like a similar set in other fabric.)

Project catch up-Fall

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.

Tsumami Kanzashi- How I got started

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 ;-) !


Projects- Flutterby Corset

Ah, the joys of matching brocade patterns on curved pieces. *tears out hair* I know of only one person who is able to do this perfectly, and it sure isn’t moi!

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).

Spiral steels alternated with flat steels and busk from Vena Cava Corsetry suppliers.

(to find the Mistress of Corset perfection, look up https://www.facebook.com/MoruaDesigns )

Project Catch-up- Kindle Cover

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.

Project Catch-up- Glow in the dark snowboard jackets

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.

Project catch-up- Kanzashi (Japanese hair ornaments)

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.

Catch-up#2- 2 hours project 1920’s/’30’s bias gown- Blue (stretch) Velvet

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.

I *hate* when dresses drop off my rather rounded shoulders, so a scrap of lace trim on the back of the neck made a nice “hold-up” without ruining the mood of the dress.

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.

I wanted a little shoulder detail and the corner of the back drape came up naturally into a nice triangle, a detail I had seen on a vintage gown at some point.

Project Catch-Up- Whitby Jacket -1 day project

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 ;)

1880’s Project for TVW; Jacket,skirt, bustled overskirt

After a long time coming, completed commission for 1880’s Jacket, skirt and self- bustled overskirt.

Materials used were black dupioni grain hemp-silk blend on bias for main jacket body & overskirt. Jacket is lined in heavy coutil cotton, and as the client preferred to not wear a corset, jacket is fully boned with spring steel & rigilene.

Heavy chinese silk brocade in a gold/black fan pattern in red for frontspiece and skirt w/pocket hidden. Integral bustle in cotton dupioni grain, with Rigilene boning. Buttons from The Haberdashery Cart UK.  http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Haberdashery-Cart

Very happy with how it came out, fabric choices make it feel to me like a real garment on not overly “costume-y”. She gave me these photos for reference:



and my finished version:

So now that’s done, time for a bit of break; off to Tokyo Japan, ah Okadaya & Yuzawaya fabric craft stores here I come!

Scary sewing points

This is more a test post to see how well/easy posting from phone works on wordpress

Every one has those stages in sewing one dreads; setting sleeves, zippers etc. For me, it’s button holes. One of those points that if I make a mistake means taking garment apart, recutting new panel, remaking area and trying again. Always have flashbacks to making a doublet for Shakespeare production, for some reason er couldn’t use a chisel blade so had to use a raw scapel blade. I manged to overcut , necessitating remaking garment, plus sliced a chunk out of work table and my own thumb.
Ever since, I always approach button holing with dread. And a good olfa mat…and a steel ruler to stop blade at end of cut.
I have yet to meet a stitcher who hasn’t bled for learning their craft ;)

(2 days later, no slashed fabric or fingers, and commission finished , huzzah!!!  Now I have to de-thread the entire house, silk brocade makes more shed than a persian cat ;)

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Miss Miko

July 2018
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