Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dragon dress: Embellishment

Please zoom in, I didn't use 200+ hours on this
for people to look at a tiny photo.

After the official deadline for this project, I continued applying beads and such to the dress whenever I had a free moment. The last semester of school I wasn't very social. No life, only sewing.

I developed a burning hatred for pearls.
So pretty. But so fed up with them.

I started out sewing the bead appliques I made and the dragonscale smocking onto the dress, before applying beads all around them, working them into the fabric and such. Looking back, I think the beads I sewed directly onto the dress look more organic than the ones I sewed onto organza first, so there's something to remember if I ever decide to do anything like this again.

WIP: Started on the embroidery.
On the dresses worn by Daenerys Targaryen in GoT, the dragonscale smocking is worked into the fabric of the dress with an embroidery stitch called lock stitch. And since I was unwilling to shell out a whole lot of money for the pamphlet in which it is described, I looked to the interwebz to figure out how to do it. No such luck. In spite of having teachers who have sewn as long as I have lived, in addition to being blessed with a classmate who is a walking embroidery lexicon - we found nothing.

So I put off doing any embroidery for a long itme (in the meantime I just sewed more and more beads onto the dress). Until one day I realised I would just have to wing it and make it work with a buttonhole stitch or something - which I didn't want to do, I wanted to do it properly. So I googled it one final time, in despair I might add, and GUESS WHAT I FOUND. Not perfect, but a tutorial I could work from.

WIP: Back

It was finished in time, a week before our fashion show and exhibition. After graduation I wore it to Desucon. I don't know if you can tell, but while fire cannot kill a dragon, the sun scorched my collarbones quite a lot that day.

The design.

The result.
It's finished - for now. I think I'll redo the bodice seams, after working on it and worn it, there's some puckering. I also have a ton of beads left, so I could embellish the hips as well like planned on the design, but for the moment I don't want to see this thing again. So for now, it'll hang in my closet, hopefully reminding me to never do something like this ever again.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Dragon dress: Sewing

We had nine days to make the dress and the boards for the presentation. Nine days isn't a lot of time when you know every seam will be inspected and scrutinized - and it's not only sewing, things need to be ironed, cut, marked, overlocked and pressed, you have to sew zippers, hems, lining and handsew details, not to mention all the decoration this dress design called for.

During the last two weeks before finalization I always worked with this project. I made dragonscale smocking on the tube to and from school. When the school closed at nine in the evening, I sat at home and handstitched pearls a few hours before bed. Even when I slept, I dreamed about the dress.

I started handstitching pearls and pretties onto organza. By doing this, I don't have to wait with the embellishment until the dress is finished, and I can do a couple hours work each day. 

Dupion mounted on organza.

It was actually the first time I sewed anything in silk. (I thought the Victorian gown from last year was silk, but turns out it wasn't.) Silk dupion is a dream to work with, it presses so easily, but since I laid my pattern pieces so that the weft is diagonal, it frays like crazy. In addition I have to be super careful when I sew, otherwise the organza moves. I have taken up so many seams, and it irks me that I don't have time to hand baste everything together.

This was what it looked like after one day's work. There's a hidden zipper in the back, and the hip pieces are only pinned onto the doll. The colours proved to be hard to photograph, so please trust me, it looks okay.

Oh yes, low quality phone pics, but you can see what the dress looks like after I got the organza parts sewn onto it. On the bottom part of the prganza I have used a clear nail polish to seal it, and brushed on a gold metallic acrylic over. The colour of the organza and the dupion underneath, shifts wonderfully when walking in it.

Started sewing the embellishment on.

So. Much. Embellishment.
This is only the first layer of embellishment. The ultimate goal is to work it into the fabric, embroider around and make it look organic, like it's all one fabric.

And this is how far I got in nine days. There's still a lot left to do until it looks like I want it to, but for the moment it's presentable. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Even more natural dyeing

What I love most about rhubarb is definitely eating it, but the colour the leaves give is nice as well. I'm looking forward to using the whole plant when the time for rhubarb jam and cobbler comes next year. 

I've taken to calling this project "fifty shades of yellow". (Because I am a little bitter about it, I like neither the book series or yellows, at all.) But the strong colours that the turmeric dye gave, are nice enough that it's hard to completely hate them. 

I am planning to try carrot dye once more. This is the result of dyeing with the water used to boil five-six carrots. Next time I'm using a lot of carrot shavings, and I will let the dye sit on the heat for an hour, like I normally do. (But seeing as the yarn was snow white before I put it in the dye, it's not a total loss.) 

How do I explain this colour without sounding crazy? I boil my taters with some rosemary, because that turns into noms. One day I forgot about it and would have ended up with fried potatoes if I hadn't remembered in time. The taters were saved, but when I took them out of the water I noticed that the water was really brown. So I put in some alun and a small skein of yarn. For science. Of course it ended up... yellowish.

And some cheating.  I found another bottle of food dye. But not yellow, yay! 

I set up a rule, that I was not to use foodstuffs that could be consumed, for dye. And even so, I wanted to use coffee for dyeing. So this is coffee that's already been used, and collected over a few days in the freezer before being made into dye. Since the coffee bean is technically a berry, I set the colour with salt and not alun. 

I found some curry that should have been used before 2009 in the back of a cupboard, and instead of throwing it away I used it as dye. 

When I was younger, I used visit my grandparents a lot. We'd go up in the mountains and pick berries in fall. One of the things I'd insist on making was blueberry ... Since I was the only one who liked it, the bottles would just collect over the years, and we still have some left, so I took a bottle from 2005, and used it as dye. 

I've been told that blueberry dye isn't very colourfast, so I've hung up one of the skeins in a window to see if it fades. After a week it holds up quite well - but then again, we haven't had much sun either! (Oh, the joys of living above the polar circle.)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Edith Cushing (Crimson Peak)

Gothic horror. Late Victorian costumes. Billowing nightgowns. How is a girl to resist?

When I planned this year's Halloween costume in February, I was going as the Woman in Black, but after watching the trailer (and suffering a sleepless night because aaaaaugh!) I remembered I had eleven meters white fabric just lying around.

The nightgown is sewn in two layers. The overlayer is a see-through polyester something with slubs, over a modesty layer of plain ol' boring cotton. I made the pattern from a sloper, for practice,. I started in July, so I had plenty of time to torment myself over every tiny bit of the costume, from pattern to what kind of interfacing would be best to use.

I made far too many sleeve toiles, and even took the time to baste everything by hand. Usually I just pin and sew very carefully. The insides are neatly finished (as usual), the yoke is lined, and weirdly, overall I am pleased with it. When I finish anything, I usually have a list over things I would have done differently.

I live in the middle of nowhere, so in my experience, what I can get of sewing notions and such is rather limited. And yet, sometimes I go to the shop with the lowest expectations and find small treasures, like these pearl buttons.

The buttons are just for show. I dreaded sewing button holes since my machine would rather eat fabric than do as I want, so I evaded the whole thing and sewed some pushbuttons in underneath instead. The lower sleeves have functionable buttons at the wrist.

While lining the yoke I put the dress onto a mannequin. It made lining very much easier, but every time I left the room and came back in, I'd almost give myself a heart attack. Toughest viking in town.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Plant dyeing (and more)

Heather turned into a fantastic golden yellow on white yarn, and took on a greenish hue on undyed grey yarn. I was thrilled. My camera refuses to capture the colours in all their magnificence, but you get the gist. 

Dyed and undyed yarn for a side by side comparison.

Even though I'd ended up with a colour that wasn't yellow, I still felt like experimenting, and remembered I had some useless food colouring lying around. I used vinegar as a fixative.

The colours are a bit bolder in person.

And then over to plant dyes again - powdered paprica. The colour turned out a nice orange, but not as deep as I'd expected. 

And here's a picture of all the colours I've made so far. I love how the golden heather yarn pops forth here (left, under the blue).

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Stuff I've made and forgotten to post about

Between the larger projects at school, I did some smaller scale stuff for myself that I haven't gotten around to blog about. 

I planned to sell the peredhil gown, so I fixed it up a little before changing my mind. It's been on many an adventure and ended up looking a bit too shabby for me to send it off with a clear conscience. But there's lots of fabric in it, so it's waiting to be cut up and made into something else.

This cotton poplin was bought in Finland a few years ago. It laid around waiting for the perfect project, and I love how the skirt turned out. Lightweight, easy to sew and the skirt is perfect for spinning around in. Closes with a zip in the back.

I had an old leather suitcase that fell apart, so I made it into iron age shoes and three corset belts as pictured.

Most of the things I've made have been historically inspired, so I haven't worked a lot with more modern inventions such as fusible interlinings and batting. I tried out a few different interlinings with collars made from this pattern.

This underbust vest was a late Yule present for a friend. I made it in January, at school and my energetic go getter teacher was really impressed that I'd started making this year's presents a few weeks into the new year. I didn't have the heart to tell her.

Elsker gullsnirklene.

This vest is old, but it's one of the things I haven't posted about because the fabric is impossible to photograph.

The rag quilt I started on last December is finished, just in time, because autumn rolled around a few days ago and it got cold really quick.

My first smokkr was sewn with side gores, a cut that doesn't fit my body type, so it's off to a new owner in Denmark.