Monday, February 28, 2011

Finding the perfect fabric on the sale rack

You are browsing the fabric store looking for something for your new project. Just for kicks you decide to check out the sale rack, and there it is staring right at you. The perfect fabric and it's 50% off.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Cutting for the first time with newly sharpened shears

Admit it, you got used to fighting with dulled fabric shears. We all do it but when we finally take them to get sharpened, our eyes are once more opened to how easy life can be in our sewing room. That first cut with newly sharpened shears and the ease with which we render fabric helpless to our whims is a bliss unknown to non-sewers. We vow then and there, as we enjoy the ease of cutting, to never let our shears get so dull again.

But we do; and the joy of the first cut with newly sharpened shears lives on as the cycle continues.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Finding a tool you thought lost

Be it as small an item as tailors chalk or a seam ripper all the way to that pair of pinking shears you hadn't seen since 2001; finding something helpful you thought lost is always a good feeling.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Inspiring quotes

I love quotes. I collect them and ponder them. I use them to break in a new journal so I know the first page isn't weird or wasted. Most of all I love sharing them. So here are a few that I love and find inspirational.

“You don’t have to burn books to destory a culture, Just get people to stop reading them.”
-Ray Bradbury

“A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it or offer your own version in return.”
-Salman Rushdie

"Man is least himself when he speaks in his own person. Give him a a mask and he'll tell you the truth."-O. Wilde

"I think that's what's wrong with the world; no one says what they feel, they always hold it inside. They're sad, but they don't cry. They're happy, but they don't sing or dance. They're angry, but they don't scream. 'Cause if they do, they feel ashamed. And that's the worst feeling in the world. So everyone walks with their heads down and no one sees how beautiful the sky really is."

-Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him."
-Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, The Little Prince

"You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."
-Paul Sweeney


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An open letter to...

Dear Steampunks and Convention Costumers,

Corset ca. 1864 via The Victoria & Albert Museum
I know we all love the corset. It's fun to wear sporadically, give your body a lovely shape, and can even enhances a costume. I also get that modern corsets come in very lovely colours, patterns and fabrics; historical corsets also came in fun colours with lovely trims. I get all that as I myself love corsets but here is where I have a problem with you.

You never take into account the "character" you are dressing as or being. Steampunks love to create a character complete with backstory. I have one for my steampunk character as well but I have also done what any costumer should; I have taken into consideration what my character does (hunter), the historical fashions of the time period I am based out of (Victorian) and the implications behind it all.

So for this arguments sake, we are going to deal with Steampunk based very heavily in the Victorian time period and for a woman.

The first thing you need to know is that every woman wore a corset. Yes, every woman and all the time. This caused many physical problems (like rearranging your organs) and health issues, especially concerning childbirth. Yes, corsets are the cause of so many miscarriages and deaths during childbirth.

Langdon, Batcheller & Company, c. 1887.   
The second is that the corset is considered an undergarment which would only be seen by the lady wearing it, her female family members, her ladies made or her husband. No proper society lady would ever, EVER show her corset to society or, for the love of a bearded man in the sky, wear it on the outside of her clothing!

The third is that the corset is made to mold and shape your body to fit the styles and clothes of the time. The busk (aka the metal closure on the front) was curved, the boning was made out of whale bones and the lacing in the back pulled it all tight. A corset should not be tied by yourself or by someone who does not know what he or she is doing. A corset can bruise or break ribs if you are not careful. Also, you should never try to tight lace on the first wearing of a corset. You should tighten to where you are still comfortable, able to breath easily and can sit and stand without difficulty. After about an hour or two you can then go in and tighten a bit more. Alway stop tightening when you get uncomfortable or it's painful!!! DO NOT PUSH YOUR BODY INTO A TIGHT CORSET WHEN IT IS NOT READY FOR IT! YOU WILL HURT YOURSELF! Ideally the process to be able to tight lace (which I absolutely never recommend to do) should take weeks or months to do but this requires wearing a corset daily, which is a horrible plan.

Now that you know a bit about the corset lets talk about wearing one. As I mentioned before, when designing and creating a costume that requires a corset, try as hard as you can to not fall into the typical fashion trends of the people who are costuming in the same area you are. For Steampunk, this means that you need to make a conscious choice about how you wear your corset and don't just go right for the corset on the outside of your clothing because that's the trend.

Original hand-coloured antique engravings
Published for Bureaux du Journal Paris, 1872 - 1883 
Let's pretend you want to be a high society Steampunk lady, complete with rich colours, expensive fabrics, bustle, ruffles that could swallow the world and plumed hat. You know what you would never do for this outfit? Wear your corset where others can see it and I don't give a damn how pretty your corset is either. A high society woman would NEVER EVER show her corset. I don't give a flying fig if it's Steampunk or post Apocalyptic or whatever other excuse you want to give me about your corset fashion choice. If you are setting your character in Victorian times (which if you're Steampunk you most likely are), your high society character would never do that no matter the setting. It was a fact ingrained into the culture which would not change after a big bomb, or whatever you have decided caused the apocalypse, destroyed life as they knew it. In all honesty, it would probably be something they cling to in order to preserve some sense of normality in a strange and ever changing landscape. Moral: think it through the next time!

Woman with camera - albumen print cabinet card
 - A.J. Davison - c. 1880
I think I've made my point when it comes to society ladies but I understand that there are many other occupations people pick for their characters. There are hunters, trackers, spies, seamstresses, bakers, officers, clerks and the list keeps going. I hold all these positions to the same standards as the high society ladies. More so really as they are working positions and the people who they interact with would judge harshly upon a woman who showed her corset in a professional environment. A working woman wants to make the best impression she can and making sure her corset is safely tucked away under her garments, like it should be, is a top priority. However, here is where I will also make an exception to the "all women wear corsets" fact. If your character is a working character, she might not even need a corset. If she is a hunter or tracker or spy, then she is probably crawling around and trying to fit through small spaces. She would not want to be bound and immobile at any part of her body. She would not wear a corset. She also would most likely wear pants and other practical garments, which can still be pretty and fun and very much not boring. Moral: think outside the box and look at the practical end of your costume!

Not Victorian but I wonderful show of
what I mean.
Now let's take look at a position I would a) love to see someone costume/cosplay and b) would actually wear a corset for the world to see. That position would be a prostitute or whore or lady of the night or whatever you want to call it. But let's face it, she would be in search of business and her goods are what she would need to display. In that case she would want her corset, chimess and stockings seen. The corset puts your goods on display and, as I said before, shapes your body into a very pleasing shape. So if you are costuming as a courtesan, go hog wild! Wear that corset for all to see like it's nobodies prerogative but your own! Own it! Dress it up! Hell, make it gold and red with matching short bloomers and 4 inch heeled boots! You have my infinite blessing, especially if you are doing this at a convention as you never know what pervy boys will be there. Moral: if you're "selling your goods" then wear your corset for the world/"customers" to see.

So, in the end, there are some factors you really need to look at when it comes to designing your costume.

1. If you are basing it out of a time period, do some research into that time period. read articles, look at pictures, search for patterns. There is so much information out there and at your fingertips, use it.

2. Try and avoid the conventions of costume design that are out there and strong. If you turn the convention on it's head or utilize it in a different way then everyone else, you stand out more and people remember your costume.

3. Think through what your character does and what she needs in a garment. Does she need a corset? Would she show it off? (Most likely the answer is always no) Would she wear pants instead of a skirt? Is she formal? Is she rich/poor/middle class? Is she Steampunk or post Apocalyptic or historical or cyber punk...etc...? Does she care about societies rules? Is she proper?

Really, just take some time and use your brain. Don't be like everybody else and blend into a crowd.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Fun Buttons

You're wondering through the fabric/hobby store, shuffling down the aisle of a thrift store/antique store, trolling the internet or at a garage sale and you see them. They're cute, fun and make you smile. They're buttons.

They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. You can buy them new or used and they never go out of style. Eventually, you might even find the perfect thing to put them on but until that day, they'll sit in your craft room putting a smile on your face.


Friday, February 4, 2011

M6246 finished

I finished my cousin's jacket. She sent me the pattern, fabric and buttons like a month or so ago and I just now go to it. Just in time too as I will be seeing her in about a week. It turned out really well and I got to make thread chains, which I haven't done since UWG.

The pattern was McCall's 6246. The outer fabric was a wonderful suiting and the lining was red flannel. 

All finished

Close up on buttons and sash

Thread chain
There is a thread chain on each side of the jacket so that the sash stays attached to the coat. Thread chains are so much fun to make and are very simple to do.

The inside

The shoulders which are pleated.
I am not sure if i like pleated shoulders or not. I enjoy not having to deal with gathering fabric but pleated shoulders always make me feel like I have linebacker shoulders without the shoulder pads. Maybe I'm just too self conscious about my shoulders.

What do you think? Do you like pleated shoulders?


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dear Internet,

I think you have a problem. No, I know you have a problem and that problem is the definition of the word vintage.

The term vintage seems to have been derailed and now made to mean "from a thrift store". Sadly Internet, you are mistaken. Everything in a thrift store is NOT vintage. Most of it is just used or from the 80s. It's a hard and sad fact but true.

Now I admit, I am allowed to be wrong, but last I checked the 80s were not vintage. They were just a bad trip to shoulder pad land that really does not need to be repeated. I feel that 30 years is not long enough to deem something vintage. At least give it 50 years before slapping on the term.

The only time I see your point in the use of the word is when I go to dictionary[dot]com and look up the definition. Mostly all I got was talk of wine but here are the three definitions for Vintage when being used as an adjective:

  1. representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars;vintage movies.
  2. old-fashioned or obsolete: vintage jokes.
  3. being the best of its kind: They praised the play as vintage O'Neill.

This still doesn't mean everything you find at the thrift store is vintage. Take a minute to understand what  you're buying and please label it accordingly. Or go to an estate sale; just about everything there is vintage.

Sincerely and with love,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Sponsored Blog

I'm sponsoring a fantastic blog this month! The Art of Staying Up All Night is an adorable collection of photos, thoughts, and links. It's definitely a favorite in my Google Reader.

Check it out! You won't regret it.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Having the perfect size zipper on hand when you didn't realize you even needed one for a project.

We've all be there. You get to the finishing stage of a garment or costume and you realize you need a zipper. Out of morbid curiosity you go digging through your box of notions. Lo and behold! There it is! The exact zipper you needed!



Friday, January 28, 2011

List of projects

I feel like I have tons to get to but no time. It's a lie but doesn't stop the feeling. I have plenty of time I just have been a bit of a slack lately. Anyways, here is my ever growing list of projects I have to get to.

  1. Finish a purse I have started.
  2. Make my cousin's coat (this should have been done I while ago. *headdesk*).
  3. Make my other cousin a coat. This requires finding my Vogue coat pattern. I think it's at the theatre.
  4. Make my half sister a dress.
  5. Make my Vogue dress.
  6. Work on a new tutorial (try two).
  7. Make two Hogwarts robes, one Slytherin and one Ravenclaw.

The good news is I have the fabric for almost all of that. I still need outer fabric for one of my cousin's coats and all fabric plus pattern for the robes. Good thing I just got paid.

You should, hopefully, be seeing the fruits of my labor/things from this list very soon.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Star Command Uniform Update

So we're getting towards the end of this chunk up filming for Star Command and I have to say, I'm really excited for the stuff we have yet to film. It's going to involve hillbillies and the boys dress uniform coats.

Said coats are all finished minus Ben and Brian's decorative cord.

Ben looking very excited while modeling his coat

Ben's coat minus cord.

My very mathematical and accurate epaulette creation.
 Besides those bad ass coats, I got to clothe and be a pirate. I play the saucy vixen Red Mary, captain's daughter. Best part about being Red Mary, I don't have to worry about the costume not fitting. Plus I get to wear my red wig and keep a flint lock in my corset top.

Red Mary minus flint lock pistol.
We start filming scenes with the hillbillies this weekend and I can't wait to get pictures of some of the outfits. They're going to be hilarious. Especially once everyone gets painted (aka in make up).

I have 4 more characters left to costume for Star Command. That includes making one more coat for them. But I'm going into that with lots of budget still behind me.

...Maybe the boys will pay me with the remainder of my budget. Probably not but one can dream.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Souvenir Swap!

I'm excited to say that I am taking part in a Tacky Souvenir Swap hosted by Andrea of The Art of Staying Up All Night.

You should all go over there and sign up as well. Who knows what you'll end up with! I've got my fingers crossed for some kind of wearable item. :P


A seemingly rare opinion

So I have had blog posts pop into my head but I had refrained from writing them up on here since they were not sewing/crafting/costuming related. The one that popped into my head today was so strong it caused me to seek an opinion from others on twitter. I did not get burried under responses but I got a few that were encouraging so I'm now going to let Free Radish Designs branch out.

To start that branch out right, I'm going to be talking about books. More importantly, about my favorite book from the author John Green.

I have been a fan of John Greens for a couple years now. I found the Vlogbrothers (Hank and John Green's colab channel) on youtube before I started reading John's books. After watching their videos for a while I knew I had to pick up John's books. He has a way of talking that is both succinct/to the point and overwhelmingly nerdy. I had to see if his books were the same. For the record, they are.

John has written four books to date; Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherine's, Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Let me start by saying they are all amazing books. Let me also say that, as with any writer or author, the writing gets better over time.

Subjectively, the writing in Looking for Alaska is not as good as the writing in Will Grayson, Will Grayson which is his most recent book. That does not mean the story is worse then the new ones. It just means the writing behind it is stronger and more refined.

There are many people out there who love John green's writing just as much, maybe even more, then I do. One of the things that makes me a rare opinion in the John Green fan world is that An Abundance of Katherine's is my favorite of his books. For most people this is their least favorite. I don't see why. It could be the high portion of math in this book, even though John Green himself is no high level mathematician.

An Abundance of Katherine's to me is whimsical in all the right ways, never so heavy you want to stop reading and has one of the best "safe words" I have ever heard (dingleberries) . It also has the kind of road trip I would love to take but am almost a bit too scared to take. In the end the book just sings to me.

I love the others too but I have to say, Looking for Alaska is my least favorite of the lot. It just doesn't resinate with me the way the others do. It's just a tad too awkward and depressing for me. I much prefer Paper Towns which, in my opinion, is a more mature and grown up Looking for Alaska. Plus, who wouldn't want to sneak into Sea World at night like Margo and Quentin do.

So, while I won't be sneaking into Sea World any time soon, I will remain a rare opinion in the sea of John Green fans. Now I'm off to reread An Abundance of Katherine's. Just kidding.

Or am I?


Monday, January 24, 2011

New Weekly Feature

This is going to be a weekly feature that take a minute to appreciate the little things in sewing and crafting that make me happy. There are so many little things that can make you smile and they deserve to be noticed.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cover up that window quick!

While I was in Florida, my dad requested for me to make him some curtains. He has a window above his sink in the kitchen that he wanted to put curtains on but hadn't found any he liked.

The solution was simple. A trip to JoAnn's.

So we piled into the car and headed over. I took him through all the cottons they had and we found a wonderful piece in a light yellowy/tan with pears and apples on it. It even had a bit of sparkle in it. We bought it and took it on home.

Then my favorite part came; the sewing. I ironed, measured, pin, tucked and stitched. The end result was absolutely lovely, if I do say so myself.

Finished curtains all hung up.
Close up on the fabric
What do you think? Are you a curtains person? I'm not but I can see the appeal of them especially with the right fabric.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Something to wrap up in

So I have been in Florida for 10 days now and right before I left I did a quick project. I was going through my bins of fabric while cleaning up and came across a bunch of t-shirts I love but haven't worn in years or will never wear. I didn't want to give them to Good Will so I decided to give them new life in the form of a quilt.

I cute them up into squares, all the same height but I was kinda lax about the width. I was lucky that they all fit together in a way that kept each role the same width.

The t-shirts read to be sewn together
I lay all the shirts on my floor so I could figure out what I wanted where. Then I stitched them all together one row at a time.

The t-shirts after they have been sew together
I decided I wanted a blanket that would work in all seasons so I went with a thinner fleece for the backing. I attached it, turned it right side out and then top stitched it.

The finished blanket with fleece backing and top stitching

Finished blanket folded up
I brought my new blanket down to Florida with me and it has been amazing to snuggle up with. It makes me want to save up some more shirts and make another one.

If you have a bunch of t-shirts you don't wear but don't want to get ride of, this is a great way to keep them but in a much more helpful way then letting them just keep taking up closet space.