Saturday, 11 March 2017

Concert Sewing 2016: Part Two

There were not too many other costumes I needed to make for this concert as many were able to be re-used from previous years.

I did need to make some Chinese type costumes but the fabric chosen by Miss Lisa had more of a space look so that's what they became! Space dancers!

Once again I delved into my stash of patterns. A crossover type top was needed, and loose fitting pants. These two dancers were also part of Goldilocks and the Three Elves.

I used the pattern for the purple crossover top as a base, then lengthened it, changed the angle a bit and generally figured out what I needed to do.

For the pants I used View B, they needed to be loose but not have too much flare!

The two dancers are different sizes so I needed to grade up from the largest size I had. This was mainly because I had cut the pattern years ago. Also it was for knit fabric and the fabric chosen was non-stretch.

Lengthened and widened.

There's a bit of a glare there! The outer fabric was a metallic nylon taffeta and the easiest way I found to mark it was with a fabric marker pen. Since the fabric is pretty see through I lined it with some silver satiny fabric that had been gifted to Miss Lisa. Together the two layers were stronger and the taffeta didn't shred.

The edges of the jackets, sleeve hems and pant hems had a trim of the fabric left after cutting out Mama Elf's skirt.

Not the best picture but these are the finished Space suits. The three black dresses at the left of the photo are part of a set of 6 I made for last years concert - minus the red ruffle. That was added to give the dresses a Spanish look for this ballet!

There was a wee tutu required for a Sugar Plum. Small, pink and made of Lycra.


Once again I used this Jalie pattern that I've used many times before. The young dancer I was making the tutu for has the measurements of a size 4/girth 5 . . . although her actual age is quite a few years older! The great thing is that back in 2011 I made a whole lot in different sizes and kept all the patterns. They are of a heavyweight paper so I just needed to trace round the pattern pieces and add the right amount to get the right length.

This is just to show how I keep the lines for the net layers from going wonky straight  😛 The panty is two layers to give it strength. The two different coloured zig zag stitched lines help prevent the panty overstretching and I can follow them more easily.

Photo credit Carol Baker

There are only 5 layers of net on this tutu, just a simple wee tutu with a little bit of trim. I was really pleased when I fitted this tutu on Miss S to find that it was a perfect fit  😁

Photo credit Jordan Rivers

Miss S in flight 😊

The only other costume I made was for Brains . . . last of all as usual! He was dancing a solo from Le Corsaireonly about a minute long but pretty fast paced! The costume was intriguing.

Photo credit Jordan Rivers

This was Brains last show with the dance studio. He auditioned and was accepted into the Contemporary dance programme at Unitec so has now moved on in his dance training 😍

Photo credit Jordan Rivers

I mentioned costumes being re-used. These yellow ducklings were also made in 2011 so it is quite neat to see them being used again.

Concert Sewing 2016: Part One

Last year one of the items for the dance concert was Goldilocks and the Three Elves. Some of the Elf costumes were able to be re-used from a previous concert but a few pieces needed to be made.

Most of the costume for Mama Elf was needed. A blouse, skirt and overshoes. I had a few patterns in mind so delved into my pattern stash. I have a few photos, but as usual I tend to be pressed for time and not many photos get taken.  😲

I based the blouse on the loose fitting B style as although it was to be tucked into the skirt Miss Lisa wanted it loose and over the hips under the skirt so it wouldn't ride up out of the skirt partway through the dance!

Laying out the pattern.

Marking the hemline on the pattern tissue. I then carefully folded the tissue up and marked it with tailor's chalk.

I didn't want to cut the pattern tissue . . . never know when you might need it again! So I traced the armhole edge I wanted off the pattern and used this piece to mark the armhole on the fabric.

Cutting the trim for the neckline of the blouse. I cut all the angles one way then went back and cut the other side of the triangles!

Attaching the self-fabric bias binding I made, which I later inserted elastic into.

The trim for the sleeves.

The skirt was a simple one. Two rectangles gathered onto the waistband at the front and straight stitched to the back waistband which then had elastic inserted into it. Here I'm stitching the back waistband down.

Baby Elf had a top but I needed to add a ruffle to it to make it longer.

Baby Elf also needed pantaloon type pants so I used the above pattern for those. They needed to be a bit baggy, have a ruffle and be elasticated to keep them up above Baby Elf's knees.

Stitching the lace to the edge of the pants. Just above is the casing for the elastic, which will run through binding stitched on the inside of the main fabric.

Baby Elf also needed an elvish type bonnet so I had a look online and chose this pattern as it is designed for an older child who has a larger head. It was a great pattern to make up. I slightly elongated the back seam to give a longer peak.There are many patterns on the web but the majority are for toddlers or younger children.

There needed to be a trim around the outside of the bonnet. To make it sturdy enough and for depth of colour I used a double layer of the sequin fabric. I made a small template and stitched around it until I had enough pieces. The triangle is taller than its base hence my "edge ↑ " to make sure they were all the same!  I then cut them out close to the stitching.

The trim stitched to the edge before I lined the bonnet, then added binding of the same fabric as Mama Bear's skirt.

Photo credit Jordan Rivers

Above are Mama Bear's boots on Goldilocks. These were made out of a snakeskin look vinyl type fabric. Easier to sew than I thought they would be. I had fun figuring out the pattern for these. They needed to be put on quickly so the laces are actually gold elastic, hat elastic thickness, so that there is some stretch for the opening.

Photo Credit Carol Baker

Mama Bear and Baby Bear backstage with Goldilocks. I was able to find a co-ordinating red fabric for the frill on Baby Elf's top to go with the original fabric.

Photo credit Jordan Rivers

The only thing I had to make for Papa Elf were the boots! Here are Mama, Baby and Papa Elf rocking their stuff on stage. They had a lot of fun with this ballet.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sewing for exams

October 2016

Each year the students at the studio sit Royal Academy of Dance ballet exams. Dancers come in all shapes & sizes and occasionally they are of a larger build and find it hard to fit a standard size leotard. I was asked to make a leotard for one pupil plus a chiffon skirt & character skirt for another.

I took a few photos although as it turns out my small camera was on its last legs so the photos are not great.

Cutting out the lining. I used Power mesh as the lining to give a bit more support than the usual lycra lining I use. Years ago I was given a whole lot of out-of-date survey maps on stock card paper and they have been great for patterns I use over and over again. All ready to be cut out.

The leotard from the front. Once again I used Jalie 2915 joining the pantie to the bodice part and continuing the front seams down to the leg line. These shots are a bit fuzzy 😟

Straps added to the front . . .

Pinned at the back ready for a fitting on Miss A to get the length right. 

Photo credit to Locket
Miss A ready for her exam with classmate Master B. Miss A was very happy with her bespoke leotard. It is a tad long in the body so will hopefully do her for a few years as she gains height. 

I got a couple of photos of the chiffon skirt I made for Miss R. I have a post here from a couple of years ago with more on the making of these skirts. Miss R is another lass who is fit and flexible with a more solid build.

This is what it looks like with the bias ribbon pinned . . . lots of pins!

I generally place the pins close together as it gives me better control when I am stitching the binding down.

Photo credit to Locket

Miss Z, Miss R and Miss T all ready for their exam. Miss R requested her skirt be a little longer than chiffon skirts generally are.

All of the students who sat exams passed them  😃  Thanks for reading!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Am I still sewing and creating?

First things first . . . it's a new year! So

To answer the question above, yes, I am still sewing and creating. However as far as sewing, crafting and creating went I had a quieter year last year. This was partly through choice, sort of like a sabbatical except not paid! As it turned out family life became busier than ever, which left little time or energy for anything other than getting through the days. There is a little about it on my other blog if you'd like to read about it. I didn't do many posts on that blog either!

I am hoping things will be quieter this year . . .  we shall see. So far this year it is looking promising. I have a few projects to be going on with. I'll also be posting about some makes from my ongoing list. Not all however because unfortunately my laptop couldn't find itself it's operating system! So it is with a techie friend to see if it can be revived or if it's a goner. I do back things up . . . but I hadn't for a few weeks so may have lost some photos. I'd taken them off the camera SD card too as it was full  ☹  So between son's tablet & the old desktop PC that sounds like a 747 taking off I'll do my best to post.

The last day of 2016 brought me an unexpected wonderful gift. I'd gone to meet up with a friend who was over from Aussie. We met at her family home. Her parents are in the process of sorting through things as they are moving into a retirement village in a few months. There on the coffee table was a small machine. After expressing interest and excitement I was gifted the machine!  😀😀 My friend was going to take it and they were trying to work out how to get it back to Aussie. When she knew I wanted it and would use it she said to take it as she would just put it on a shelf. Mrs B was very glad to pass it on to someone who would love it and use it.

So I am now the very happy new owner of a Willcox & Gibbs chainstitch handcrank machine! Isn't she a beautiful wee thing.

She's a bit dusty as she has been sitting on a shelf. This is one side . . .

. . . and the other. As far as I can make out from the serial number she was made circa 1907! Mrs B brought her out from England in the 1960s I think.

Mrs B even had the box she got with the machine! 

Treasure! Methinks some research is in order to find out what the gizmos are. One is a hemmer as it says so on it.

And look . . . the packet even has needles in it and as far as I can work out on quick inspection they're not even rusty!

So will it work? Mrs B said it used to but she hadn't used it in many a year. I was having a good look at it when Boar arrived home. And he couldn't resist! I got to watch . . . and advise of course, after all it is my toy  ☺  I had spied a small bottle of machine oil on a shelf so Boar put a bit in each hole. He also fixed the belt as it snapped, the leather was very brittle. Then I figured out how to thread it with the help of some images online. A bit tricky but after a few goes I got there. The green thread in the top pictures just snapped. So I went for a bright orange.

And after a bit of trial and error . . . she worked! Amazing! There is just the single thread, no bobbin.

This was my first few attempts at stitching, on a plain piece of calico. This is a single layer but I also folded the opposite edge and sewed a seam to see how strong it was. A seam would hold together no problem I think. 

There are quite a few things I still need to figure out. She needs a good clean as she is a bit rusty, but that's just cosmetic stuff. I also need to get her a new belt as I think the old one is too brittle to last for long, and I've sourced a place I can get one. I had a fun afternoon doing a bit of quick research and look forward to doing more.

Oh, and her name? Milly, after two wonderful ladies. My Pa's mum, my Granny, was Mildred (Milly), she was a seamstress, and one of Pa's sisters, Aunty J, had the middle name Mildred, she also was a seamstress. I wrote a post about her work here. Aunty passed away late last year and I am so glad and grateful to have some of her beautiful work to remember her by ♡  

So for me it was a great beginning to the new year. How was yours? 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Awesome bed of fabric

18 April 2015

In April last year I had a call from my children's dance teacher's mother, Mrs L. One of Mrs L's nearly lifelong friends had passed away recently. When clearing out her home her daughter's had not known what to do with the stash of fabric. They knew that Mrs L used to do a lot of sewing so asked her if she would be able to sort it out for them.

Mrs L called me to ask if I would like to take a look and to take what I wanted! Did I say, "Oh, no thanks, I have enough fabric already . . . " Nope! I was over there pretty quickly! When she said a lot Mrs L really did mean A LOT!

 Piles . . .

 And piles . . .

All colours of the rainbow, and Mrs L had sorted them all!

 Still more . . . so much that it was a visual feast!

Plains, plaids, patterns, paisleys . . . 

Mrs L was a bit despairing of just how she was going to dispose of it all. Did any of my friends sew or did I know of any people who would like it?

Did I? For sure I did! Why the lovely ladies from WSBN would be delighted to help out I was sure!
As I was looking through the fabric I saw pieces that I was sure would be loved by others.
I got in contact and posted some photos - and yes a fair proportion of the fabric was lovingly taken.
This was given to us. Mrs L just wanted it to go to people who would appreciate it.
The rest was donated by Mrs L to the local Mary Potter Hospice shop in Newlands.

And me? Well, I thought I showed pretty good restraint as what you see above was what I restricted myself to! At the moment it is still waiting to be used. But that is the wonderful thing about fabric and stashes isn't it? They just wait ever so patiently till the day you exclaim, "That is just the piece of fabric I need!"


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Super Hero Capes

I'm moving back in time to April 2015 - the beginning of the catch-up posts from last year!

Every so often I get asked to make something for the church I attend. This time it was capes for the holiday programme in April. The brief was :- simple, no need for them to be flash. The fabric and ribbon for the ties was delivered. I can't remember how many there were, quite a few anyway.

First though some tidying up was in order! When I'm busy working on something I have a tendency to create piles and strew stuff all over - such as in the photo below.

My cutting table is large - a full sheet of customwood (MDF) so roughly 2.4m long and 1.2m wide and as you can see "stuff" is creeping like a stealthy thing and is covering half the table! This was partly because I'd been on a short time frame for the previous Bluebird project and I get into not-enough-time-to-tidy-now-will-do-later mode. When it does get like this I get antsy and can't work as well. So the "stuff" all found homes.

Much better  :) Although I still need to organise and find a place to keep all the things I like close at hand which are currently on the end of the table. Mainly because then I would have the full length of the table - and I could lay out a 2m length of fabric no problem.

So the tidying up done I then had to do some serious maths - see how much fabric there was and work out how best to cut it. I quickly worked out I couldn't just cut down the length. Trickier than that!

I think I folded the calico fabric selvedges together cut the length needed then cut them to the width - but I can't quite remember. Which is why one should not have such gaps between creating the item and blogging about it. I did take a few photos though.

Marking the length

The capes were around 42cm wide

I was able to get three capes out of each length I cut by folding the fabric in half, getting 2 from the main width then the 3rd from the folded bit that was over! I cut the first one with scissors . . .

Then used my rotary ruler for the rest. Quick and easy  :)

Ribbon ties all pre-cut and ready to attach.

I overlocked the 4 edges of the cape then zig zag stitched the ribbon ties on, folding the edges under so they wouldn't fray.

The pile of capes all ready for the holiday programme.

My great-niece, Miss Z, was at the programme and this was what she painted on her cape - a pink sword  :)

It took me several sessions over a few days to make them. They were a quick and easy make though which was lovely.