These last pieces went in fast.
But ... alas (see below) ... and this was a brand NEW puzzle ... oh well ...
Fun's over back to work.
What other uses is a large well lit table good for?
For the traditional holiday jig saw puzzle!
You all know the drill ... flip the pieces right side up and find the border.
We love to do puzzles of famous artworks. It's a great way to get to know a painting better. This one seemed like it would be fun with all the different people on it, plus we saw the actual thing this summer. But, I wasn't counting on the tons and tons of exactly the same looking windows and how all the vaulting and architectural elements between each picture look exactly the same.
There were 4 of us. Pieces of similar colors had to be isolated and worked on separately. I have to admit I didn't think we could finish it by the time I needed my table back for work.
But, as my Grandmother used to say ... many hands make the harvest. I started to become hopeful.
We got down to the point where my son said the pieces should all be organized by shape, a section with 3 inward loops and one outward loop, a section with 2 opposing inward loops and 2 opposing outward loops (nick name "dog bones"), etc.
These last pieces went in fast.
Triumph and relief!
The Sistine Chapel ceiling built on my cutting table.
But ... alas (see below) ... and this was a brand NEW puzzle ... oh well ...
Fun's over back to work.
The famous Mimi G sewed up my tulle skirt pattern and LIKED IT!
Plus she certainly wears it with style.
The few tutorials I wrote for this pattern have been my most read blogs posts, so lots of people are sewing this.
Here are links to the tulle skirt blog posts.
Inside Yoke Explained
And here is what Mimi had to say.
Pattern Description: Simplicity #1427 Misses Tulle Skirts Various Lengths
Pattern Sizing: I cut the 6
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes the instructions were clear and easy to follow.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I always love tulle skirts so when I saw Simplicity release this pattern earlier this year I knew I would be making it.
Fabric Used: Tulle (HERE)
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The only thing I did different was use less tulle. I used about 1 yard less because I didn’t want it as full as the pattern.
Would you sew it again? I already made it in black (shown HERE) so probably not. I do however recommend this pattern.
Go to her website for more photos and read all the other terrific content she has there. She is such an inspiration for everyone who sews.
Click here for Mimi's site.
I've talked before about the differences between factory, couture and theatrical sewing.
This is the best video I've ever seen that shows how a fine professional costume is built.
Look for the patterns pieces made of heavy craft paper with no seam allowances.
The stitching lines are drawn onto the inner most layer of the bodice, then the layers are hand basted together before assembly. There are probably 3 layers, the outer layer, a layer for padding so bones won't show through and the inner layer that has the bone tape with the bones sewn on. We used to lay the layers over a large cylinder when pinning them together so each piece would conform to the shape of the torso to prevent bubbling. Costumes like this are usually worn without a separate corset, unless the actor has to get undress on stage and it is necessary to see the period correct under garments.
When they are dressing the actress you can see the built in corset. It laces in the back, but then the lacing is covered by a back panel. And there are adjustable shoulder straps in the front under bodice that won't show when the dress is worn, but you can see them as the dress is being put on.
Also, notice the side seams of the bodice are serged and total exposed on the inside. This is to make the dress easy to alter.
I do believe this is the dress in the video. It was hard to find a still photo. But I think this is a production of Taming of the Shrew. It is produced by the Stratford Festival in Toronto and the costume was built in their shop.
See the way the pleating of the skirt is done on the dress form over all the petticoats. I used to do that when working in the professional shops. Or ... actually ... since I was an assistant draper at that time, the draper I worked for would pleat one side and then tell me to make the second side exactly the same ... which was REALLY hard some times. Those skirts have so much fabric in them. Watch how the skirt moves when the actress wears the dress at the end of the video.
OH, I loved seeing this. Theater costumes are amazing to me. The people who make them are SO skilled!!!
I confess that while I'm working on a project, my photo taking is a little random and sporadic. I'm always working towards a deadline and sometimes just don't want to stop to pick up my camera.
Just saying this to explain why I only have these 2 sewing things to talk about, but I hope these are interesting and/or helpful.
First I want to show you how I got the very pointy points on the brown split skirt.
The fabric I used was thick and loosely woven so I couldn't just fold it for hemming. I did't want to line the whole thing (too thick to wear with leggings as well), so I decided to use purchased wide single fold bias tape.
One fold of the bias needs to be opened and the fold be lined up with the 5/8" seam allowance stitching line.
At the point clip the bias binding from the cut edge to the fold which opens up the 1/4" seam allowance of the bias for a more accurate point.
Stitch the bias tape down in the fold of the bias tape.
Then press to the back along the stitching line.
Because the point is more than 90% when it is folded to the back it will show from the front side like this.
Simply fold back that bit that extends out and ...
Slip stitch in place. This extra bias tape will make the point firmer.
To give a good look like this!
The other thing I took photos of was the arm wrap.
My original plan was to make something that LOOKED like a wrapped arm thing, but not really wrap. But, this was a stupid idea. Because a real arm wrap is WAY easier and looks correct.
This photo shows how I joined the lengths of bias cut fabric. All edges stay raw for this.
I wanted this to be something that a person could dress themselves in without help. So, I made the starting point at the wrist be secured with Velcro.
So to wear this, first secure around the wrist with the Velcro tabs. Note the color is different because this was my mock up version.
Then wrap up the arm ...
And tuck in at the top. A small safety pin can be used to make it more secure.
I hope everyone is making amazing costumes with this pattern.
I would love to see some. Send pics to email@example.com
Today I want to address the challenge of sewing with pleather or fake leather or vinyl.
Costume sewing often requires using fabrics that we may not normally deal with only sewing fashion, such as fur and spandex and ... leather - real and fake.
There are so many nice options. Back in the day we often had to wrestle with upholstery vinyl which is REALLY hard to sew. Now aways, I prefer a thinner fabric and fuse interfacing on for the stiffness needed.
OF COURSE do a test with a scrap of fabric and interfacing to see how hot you can get your iron. Pleather and other vinyls will melt. But, you would be surprised how often a very hot iron can be used ... no problem ... but test first!
Trying to stitch and turn a long strap or belt can be nearly impossible. The pleather sticks to itself making the turning process super, super frustrating. And if you manage to do it, all the struggling makes the straps look all crinkled and bad.
So, for this pattern I recommend folding and pressing the edges of the straps and belts, then
topstitching along the sides. I find a few pins are needed to keep the piece from getting twisted. But you don't want to pin very much. Use the finest pins you can find and only pin near the edge.
Notice I am using a foot made with silicone. It is a miracle!!! The sticky pleather just slides under it, no problem. If you don't have one of these feet, like I didn't for most of my life, cut strips off the edges of the tissue pattern sheets and put that under your sewing machine foot and stitch right through it. Then tear the tissue paper away after you are finished sewing.
The finished straps are then machine basted to the back pieces.
It is best to use a longer stitch when sewing any kind of leather or vinyl. I remember one time when I was still working in the professional shops in New York, the shop head reminded someone who was about to sew some leather to use a long stitch. She said to him ... "remember ... tear on the dotted line!"
Leather and vinyl are more likely to tear if small stitches are used.
After the second layer of the back piece is attached, turn and press it leaving one whole side open.
I prefer not to turn this piece through tiny opening for the same reason I made the straps with one turning. Vinyl sticks to itself so can be difficult to turn and can look really beat up if too much effort has been used while turning.
Then, again pinning with few, very fine pins along the edge.
So the entire piece can be edge stitched all around the perimeter. And then the belt loops topstitched in place.
The armband is made in a similar fashion.
Now this top is made from something called Fused Leather and is available at Fabric.com. Follow this link.
It is made with a very, very thin layer of actual leather on a slightly stretchy backing. So you can make this top fit pretty tightly.
So, this fabric like any other leather or vinyl should be sewn with the following guidelines.
#1 - try to only pin in the seam allowances or near the edge when sewing, cutting or fitting.
#2 - use very fine pins, unless it is a heavy fabric and needs stronger pins
#3 - stitch with a LONG machine stitch
#4 - use a silicone foot or pattern paper tissue under the presser foot if fabric is sticking.
Thought I would share my sketches for this new pattern.
As always, the challenge is how to get two or three or four different costumes into one pattern pack.
This was how I proposed accomplishing this for these three outfits. Notice in my first sketch I was recommending using purchased pants ...
But, this is what I got back from Simplicity. Actually not that many corrections, but they wanted a legging pattern included. Hmmm, I was trying to keep the piece count down. But, if they want leggings, they get leggings!
And here are the photos I took for my record before packing things up to send to New York. Note that the top does not fit as tightly on my form as it does on the model. It looks much better fitting tight, plus the fabric I used stretches so it can fit that tightly. BUT, I have NO idea what kind of fabric everyone else will be using, so I allow some wearing ease for fabrics that don't stretch. It is much easier to take something in a bit that let it out.
BUT, remember for the best success with fit, measure the tissue pattern pieces (minus the seam allowance) and compare them to your measurements before cutting.
Also note that the back of the harness thing is different in my finished costume than my sketch. I did more research while I was working on the patterns and through trial and error I figured out what I thought worked best.
The dress has no darts, but I did work in shaping for the bust by some subtle easing into the bands at the neck and arm.
You can see the belt is separate from the over the shoulder harness. It goes through belt loops to hold the harness in place.
The wrap pieces on this view are so long and are simply rectangles, so I just gave measurements. I actually think for such a large piece cutting by measurement is easier than wrestling with a huge piece of tissue paper anyway!
At first, I was going to make some cleaver pattern for the arm wrap so it would looked like it was wrapped, but actually be a thing that could just be slipped on. But, nothing I tried looked good and then was too complicated, so ... I devised an easy method for wrapping the arm that can be done by the person wearing the costume. I always like it better when I don't need help getting into a costume or any garment for that matter.
Some sewing tips next time.
I am told this pattern is coming out on Tuesday the 8th! Now, we all know it can come out in the stores before being available on line or visa versa. But you should be able to buy it very, very soon.
Which means I will be writing about it all next week.
The fabric I used for the copper top is really interesting. It is actually a really, really thin (paper thin) layer of real leather (they say) on top of a knit backing. Nice stuff. A little weird. I hope it is still available. I will try to track it down. I made these about 5 or 6 months ago.
Anyway ... more later.
I believe there are really 3 styles of sewing ...
Industrial or factory style - no pinning, small seam allowances and generally faster
Couture style - lots of hand sewing, all stitching lines marked, seams basted ... slow but beautiful
Theatrical style - employs some couture techniques and some industrial, but mostly built for strength with beauty.
And then there is home sewing, which gets a bad name sometimes. When I was working in the professional costume shops one of the worst things someone could say about a costume was that is looked like "loving hands at home"!!
But, we can all learn from the pros by reading books and blogs AND if you are lucky working along side them.
In a professional shop, depending on where it is, the jobs can be rigidly defined. My very first job in a professional shop looked like this. I was a finishing lady and all I did was sit at a table with all the other finishing ladies and hand sew and pin pieces together for the sewing machine operators. Over time I got to use the sewing machines, cut out the fabric and help drape!!
A while ago I wrote a blog about sewing myths, mostly for couture and industrial style sewing aimed at the home sewer. Click here to read that blog.
Today I have a neat link to share. This is an article written by a theatrical costumer about what she thinks are misconceptions people have about sewing for the theater. She talks about the sewing and the life style. Click here fore that article.
I haven't worked in a professional shop for years, but every time I visit one I am amazed by the work they do. Just look at the inside of this ballet costume. It is built to last for hundreds of performances.
I am a commercial pattern maker who is now "sewing over 50"!
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