17 September 2014

Sewing Like a Nun For Cleopatra: 3 Big, Bad, Beaded Projects

My most recent gig was a production of Antony and Cleopatra (designed by Paul Tazewell), with lots of overtime hours put in. Normally this would be wonderful, but I was given a lot of what we in the industry call "nun sewing". You know, the tiny, precise projects in difficult fabrics that call for lots of handsewing. The ultimate is when you're sewing black on black, because of the potential to go blind. I didn't have black on black, but I had a whole lot of beading.

This is my favorite piece I worked on, a beaded suspender belt, but also the cause of my three weeks-and-running neckache, from hunching over it late at night with a desk lamp. Now, I didn't individually bead all this, thank goodness, it was mostly pre-beaded trims that I was hand sewing. To give credit where it is due, I did the beading and lining, the draper actually patterned and built the base.

The front side was a different story. It looks sad here because it had already been worn a few times so there are beads missing. It also doesn't fit the mannequin well, which means the beads don't butt together correctly. The real fun is that a lot of those beads in the middle section had to be hand done because they were space fillers. My eyeballs hurt just looking at it.

 This was Cleopatra's drape. I did all the hemming (they changed the length three times!) as well as tacking down the final draping and attaching the shoulder jewelry. I learned how to machine hem sheers, which is great to have in my arsenal of skills. Using a very small needle, like a 9, you baste a line 1/4" from the edge, fold over at the line of stitching and then do a 2x3 or 3x3 zig over the folded edge, which pulls it all in nicely. Then you trim the excess away with applique scissors.

This "armored" dress was also a project I assisted on. Again, all hand sewing! I did some of the gold overlay fabric, beaded two large tabs that act as a sort of loin cloth look and also overlaid that sequined fabric to the side panels. That was the worst part. It had to be pinned on to the corset base on the bias and then stretched as you worked so as she moved it wouldn't strain. On the other hand, you couldn't have excess fabric while it was relaxed so it was a delicate balance. To sew it down, I had to remove all the beading from the seam allowance. Each row was individually beaded. If I had half a row in the SA, I had to unpick the half that needed to go and secure the other half. One way to save time with this is to break the beads and snap the sequins with pliers. However, these sequins were flexible and just bent and the beads were glass so when you crushed them it made itchy glass dust. That's not acceptable in a costume so it was only unpicking for me.

Normally I enjoy hand sewing, but I am glad these are done! I've not really returned to my personal sewing yet since leaning over the machine just causes my neckache to persist but I did bust out a t-shirt and my knitting is going full speed. Maybe I need one of those lavender neck warmers?

10 September 2014

Manly Guest Post: James' Negroni

AHA!!!  It is I, Alyssa's semi-evil, more male, less into sewing and more into carpentry, beer loving other half.  I've finally infiltrated this blog in order to discuss with you my views on clothes, nakedness, and exactly how lucky I am to have someone to fix my abused textiles.  I know that like most guys in this country, it's so very easy to go into any store and pick a shirt off the rack and have it fit SO perfectly, NO problem.  We can then stop shopping and leave the store or mall immediately to find beer, a lawn game, or both!  But this shirt was different.  I wasn't embarrassed by large armholes, gaping neck, and it hugged me unlike the other "size small" shirts that hung on me like a king size sheet over a shaker chair.
I now know the joys of a proper fitting shirt.

This next photo illustrates how just the right amounts of beer, whiskey, cutting and stacking firewood, and riding proper motorcycles can give a guy (what I'm told is) a nice amount of chest hair.  It also illustrates the pearl snaps.  Do you know why cowboys preferred this type of shirt fastener?  Well if ya git hooked by a steer, it's best if yer shirt done comes right off rather than goin' fer a wild ride, pardner!  That's why I prefer to rope cattle topless... with a nice hat... and lots of sunscreen... and maybe only the little cows... and maybe at night...when they're asleep... and maybe then I don't need the sunscreen.

Now you can tell a proper plaid shirt by the pockets.  Does the fabric turn 45ยบ to the shirt?  If the answer is no, then it ain't worth spit.  While living in southwest Utah I may have picked up some unique wisdom, a love of dutch oven cooking, and Paisley the dog.  But all that's behind me these days.

Except for the dog.  I kept the dog. 

I used to care little about my appearence.  I'm a pragmatitst, to be sure.  But with the gift of this shirt (and other apparel wisdom) I've become more conscious of how I look and how that makes me feel.  Proper fitting clothes just give you a sense of confidence that I never knew existed.  Like my father I dress in a manner that suits the work I'm doing; moving rocks, welding, cutting wood, etc...  But when it's time for a nice glass of beer on the river, I'll choose my perfect shirt (but maybe not those pants and sandals, yikes! Just focus on my upper half please.)

No dogs allowed at this particular establishment so the sooner I get back to dinner, the sooner I can bring leftovers to the spoiled furry brat.  If you'll pardon me, I think it's time I left you in the capable hands of the talented Alyssa.  I'll never buy a shirt off the rack again... and Alyssa will have no more time for blog posts cuz she'll be making all my shirts.
Pattern: Colette Negroni
Size: Small (34/36" - 28/30")
Rating: 4/5
Fabric, etc.: 100% cotton shirting from Chic Fabrics, 2 yards ($5/yd), thread from stash, #18 snaps from Snap Source
Needle Size: #14 and #12
Cost: $10 for the fabric and $28.55 for the Snap Source tools and bulk snap bags (so I have lots left over!)
Time: 7 months
Notes: I can't express how pleased I am with how this shirt came out. James fits a more European size profile so in the past it has been hard to find shirts that fit his trim frame and broad carpenter's shoulders. The best part is that this pattern needed no fit adjustments!
  • I put this off for so long because I wanted to do pearl snaps but only had that junky Dritz setter. In my inexperienced state, I had originally bought size 20 snaps for which I still have yet to find a setter. After lots of missed connections with Suzanne and her spare die, I ended up taking Sonja's advice and getting a setter from Snap Source along with several bags of snaps. They're not 100% perfect but for the price they are amazing for a home sewer. My first issue was that the setter leaves a large indent mark in the fabric that looks like you pressed a very tiny hot iron tip to it. You can sort of spot this in the bottom of the close-up photo second from the top. To the left of the lowest snap there is a shiny spot. They're more visible in person. 
  • My second issue may have to do more with where the pattern placed the snaps - right on the edge of the seam allowance from the CF seam. So half the snap is dealing with several more layers of fabric than the other half. This meant that no matter how hard I hammered away, one side of the snaps is a little less secure.
  • I altered the pattern to have more snaps based on a shirt James already had.
  • Some of the construction methods were different from those I usually find in men's shirt patterns. Most notably the back yoke, which was done in the "Burrito Method". Peter describes it well here, with photos. It turned out fine, but next time I'll use my usual way which is much less of a hassle.
  • I used Casey Maura's tip for making a pocket ironing template from cardboard, which I can't seem to find anymore, so here's a different one.
  • I didn't bother with flat felling.

08 September 2014

TOKland Mini Summer Swap and Project Bags

Have any of you ever participated in a swap before? I hadn't until June, when I decided to take the plunge with the Tiny Owl Knits Mini Summer Swap through Ravelry. I'm selfish with my time, you might say, so I don't usually make things for anyone other than my family and best friends. It just stresses me out to put too much on my plate so that's my rule of thumb.I figured the mini swap would be a perfect trial because it didn't require making anything large or spending a lot of money - just a postcard, small edible item, mini-skein and something you'd made for your spoilee, totaling under $10. I got mine done pretty quickly because I left for Europe halfway before the due date. Once it was off, I anxiously awaited my own package, praying it would arrive before I left for almost a month. Every time I passed by the front door I would press my eye to the peep hole with great anticipation.
Only a few days before I left, it came! Can you tell how excited I was?
My spoiler spoiled me rotten! She is a lovely gal from Montana who also loves the outdoors and dogs and "peacock colors", so we've already struck up a snail mail correspondence (seriously, how LUCKY did I get?!) She sent me three locally made teas, a "Unicorn Tail" of madelinetosh, my first ever madelinetosh to start my own Bee Keeper's Quilt and she made me arm warmers from madtosh as well in my favorite colors! OH HOW I LOVE THEM. She picked the pattern, Purl Soho's Colorblock Handwarmers, from my favorites. I love the colorblocking but didn't want to knit endless stockinette so I never planned on making them myself. If I get to camp out for Rhinebeck this year, you can bet I'll be wearing these!

I'm much too slow a knitter to have knitted a gift for my spoilee, so I made her a large size project bag with little foxes all over.

It just so happened that I also needed some thank-you gifts for the two awesome ladies from my Stitch n' Bitch group that kept my garden alive while I was away in Maine, so I made two more project bags for them.
Pattern: This free tutorial from Owl Print Panda

Rating: 4/5

Fabric, etc.: Quilter's cottons from JoAnn's, 3/4 yd. apiece and various ribbon from my stash

Needle: 12

Cost: $4-7 per bag

Time: Once I got the process down, I made the last one in 20 minutes 
Notes: These bags are okay for a quick gift. I didn't follow the tutorial exactly - it is supposed to have a drawstring coming out either end of the top, but she didn't have you finish the hole you cut for one of them. The bag is made by folding your fabric in half, so there is one finished drawstring hole on the sewn side, but not the other. I just had one drawstring to avoid any problems. You could also just opt to cut your fabric in half and have two seams with two finished openings. These would also make good lingerie bags.

06 September 2014

FESA 2014: The Plan

Like Sarah, I've learned to make a plan for my seasonal sewing. I know I'll be busier than usual so here I've probably listed more than I'll be able to make. In fact, several of these projects were from last year's list!

Don't forget to join the FESA 2014 Flickr group!

1. Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather
Vogue 8836 is a pattern I purchased last spring after a particularly harsh winter helped me to define the holes in my cold weather wardrobe. A winter version is planned in a large scale herringbone wool, but I might try a lighter version in a drapey olive wool for fall to see if I really like them.

 2. Chic Chemises for Cool Climates
I'm already in the middle of tackling the Whisper Cardigan by Hannah Fettig. In fact, I started it in July, but had to re-start it several times because the large needles combined with fingering weight yarn made for tricky tension and I eventually even changed the size I wanted to knit. I really wanted to wear a sweater for my first Rhinebeck Wool Festival but I'm not sure this will get done in time since I'm not even close to halfway done.

Simplicity 2852 has been on my to-make list for so many years I can't even remember when I bought it! Originally I couldn't find good knits, but since I've moved to the NYC area and nice knits have become more available online, there are no excuses. Even if I make nothing else, this will get done, by golly.

3. Fabulous Frocks
 Victory Patterns' Lola is a pattern I need to re-make. My polar fleece version is just too warm and sweaty. Besides one for myself, I need to whip up two for my sisters for Christmas and one for a friend's birthday. Since they only take about 4 hours to make one, this is a reasonable goal minus the expense - good sweatshirting fabric is hard to find and pricey.

Butterick 4395, in plaid flannel, of course! I'm not sure I'll get to this because I've maxed out my fabric budget thus far, but I would like a dress for fall that isn't jersey or a cocktail dress.

4. Underneath It All - 5. Tender Tootsies - 6. Those Cozy Nights
I have nothing planned for these categories...I think I can squeak another year out of my 1940s flannel pajamas, even though they have a hole forming dangerously near my backside. Hey, make do and mend, right? Maybe next year I can go pajama crazy and do both silk AND flannel vintage style pajamas. As for underbits and bobs, the only thing I might get done is my unfinished bra from bra-making class. No time for sock knitting this fall!

7.  Baby It's Cold Outside    
 Oak Grove Mitts by Alana Dakos are my current back up project for Rhinebeck. Aren't they gorgeous?! I even bought the suggested yarn used for the sample, which I normally never do.

McCall's 6446is back on the list from last year. I've had the fabric and notions forever, I've just always held back because I don't know how much I would actually wear it. To make it even more complicated, the fabric is thicker than suggested, plaid, and also might be a little shy of the suggested yardage.

Not the longest list, but plans always change it seems. I can't wait to see what everyone else will make.

01 September 2014

Fall Essentials Sew Along 2014 Kick Off

 Hello dear, faithful readers. Over the course of three weeks, I missed WWNDW? so much that I realized I had to come back. I posted only a few times but still felt uninspired at The 70s Sew. Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance, but now I think all I really needed was a break from blogging in general. I'm back, brimming with ideas and excitement!

Now, on to more important news...the FALL ESSENTIALS SEW ALONG!!!!  
I am so thrilled to be co-hosting with Sarah of Rhinestones and Telephones, it has been a secret dream of mine to co-host ever since she started it. This post will provide you with all the information you need to know about the Sew Along.

 The sew along will run from 1 September to 30 November 2014. To quote Sarah:

"Fall is often a very busy season for many of us, filled with activities that often have us running hither and yon. Making your items should be a form of relaxation; a time to slow down and enjoy the creative process. The goal? Stock your wardrobe with quality pieces that you will wear again and again. FESA is open to all crafty types: sassy sewists, knifty knitters, and clever crocheters!  For those of you in the southern hemisphere, please feel free to sew your spring essentials.  You can make as many or as few items as you like.  Some participants create from each category and others from only one or two."

So what can you make for the sew along? Well, there are seven categories that your projects can fall into and you can cater them to whatever style you prefer. I tried to find some great 1940s pattern images for my inspiration here. Note: All images from the Vintage Pattern Wiki unless otherwise noted.

1. Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather
This isn't just skirts here, folks, this counts for anything covering up your pins, it can be pants, leggings, skirts or even skirts disguised as pants! For your viewing pleasure I've even managed to find a pattern for "knee-high leggings" from the 1940s.

2. Chic Chemises for Cool Climates 
Now that we've covered our bottoms, we can't forget our top half! Sweaters, cardigans, flannel shirts, long sleeve tees, vests, letterman sweaters rah rah rah!
3. Fabulous Frocks
Ladies, it is time to put away those sundresses and pull out the old familiar favorites of fall. Be they maxi, midi, mini or a jumper, a cool weather dress will be your best friend.

4. Underneath It All 
Let us not forget what goes under all these delightful garments, since often that is what keeps us the warmest.


5. Tender Tootsies
Knit some socks, crochet some house slippers, craft some felt slippers, just keep that frostbite away!

6. Those Cozy Nights
Frilly, flannel, silky and soft, everyone loves a warm set of jim jams come autumn.

7.  Baby It's Cold Outside    
Perhaps the most important items are our outerwear and accessories. You know it is truly Fall when you're donning a jacket, scarf and mittens.


Here are this years lovely logos, and a Pinterest group will be created shortly to allow us to share our creations!

Small Logo: 200 pixels wide
<a href="http://rhinestonesandtelephones.blogspot.ca/"><img  src="http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j159/marvellous_mouse/FESA2014Logo-200px_zps3724ed25.jpg"  /></a>

Large Logo: 300 pixels wide
<a href="http://rhinestonesandtelephones.blogspot.ca/"><img  src="http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j159/marvellous_mouse/FESA2014Logo-300px_zps5dd1ef46.jpg"  /></a>

Folks Serv