Tilly & the Buttons Arielle Skirt

I’ve had this pattern and the fabric in my stash since February and I finally managed to push myself into making it – with the promised reward of Pokemon cards at the end, whoops! I wanted to make a short version that was lined – way to start hard – and decided I’d like a nice grey denim skirt. I got this Cotton Chambray Denim from Minerva Crafts and decided to line it in some of the leftover satin I had from my Midnight Mauve dress, since I live the combination of grey and purple together. The buttons I stole from an old jacket I have. They kept falling off so I stopped sewing them back on, which meant they were hanging around in my button tin, waiting for the perfect project to come by. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t hugely convinced buttons would be enough to hold it together, but I was pleasantly surprised and they certainly look nice.

I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% happy with it, mainly the lining. However, that is entirely my own fault as I sort of skipped over some of the steps when attaching the lining to the facings. I guess I wasn’t in the mood to be precise and I can be a lazy sewer quite often! Still, I keep telling myself that’s on the inside and no one will notice, so perhaps in time I’ll forget it even happened. Also, satin was perhaps not the best choice of lining. The skirt has ended up slightly big on my waist – though I have yet to wash it, so we’ll see if that improves – but the slipperiness of the lining also means it has a habit of riding up. After a day of wearing, it’s not as bad as I feared, but I do still have to tug it down periodically during the day just in case!

Construction was pretty easy aside from the lining, whipped it up in a couple of hours. Despite the laziness with my lining, I did bother to press my seams open! The hem isn’t perfect either, but let’s stop poking holes. This is definitely a wearable skirt, although I’m not sure if I’d make it again to be honest. Maybe I’ll give the longer one a go, to stop my paranoia about it riding up.


Being Organised Part 1

I’m afraid to say that as a display, my sewing space is never particularly tidy, especially in the lead up to a convention. But considering my last con was over 3 months ago, I hardly have an excuse for why, up until last week, it was still a mess!
I’m not going to embarrass myself by showing you before and after photos, in fact, I won’t even show you the after photos because it’s not quite there yet (never fear, a tour of my small sewing space will be coming in the next few months, assuming I can keep it tidy!). What I will show you however is the main organisation of this space.

I bought these draws from Argos last year, and okay, they’re not that exciting to look at. They’re a wooden frame with a fabric covering and fabric draws – though the draws do have a cardboard base, small victories – so they’re admittedly not the most sturdy piece of furniture. Nonetheless, the serve the purpose here as they hold most of my stuff, and most importantly, fit in the limited space I have!
Previously, the draws were a bit of a mess. Things shoved in after I’d finished with them and pulled out hastily again, messing up any sense of order there may have been. I even had a large plastic box and all manner of smaller boxes and bags, filled with things that wouldn’t fit in. Through the power of actually bothering to be organised, I now don’t have stuff littering the floor and everything fits into the draws instead!

The organisation goes like this.

Top draw has all of my current projects in, as in theory they are the bits I want to get to most often. I’m trying to make enough of the WIP bags to store all the in progress cosplays I have so they’re quick and easy to pull out and nothing goes missing =)

The second draw down basically has all manner of sewing related things, whilst the third draw has more general crafting based things. So whilst the second draw has buttons, zips, ribbons and a few fat quarters in, the third has tapes of all kinds, paper, other helpful bits and pieces, as well as any small non-cosplay projects. For example, there’s some cross stitch and crocheting for me to tackle one day!

The last draw is undoubtedly the heaviest, and yet for some reason used to build the top draw. I don’t know why I ever thought there was any logic in that. This houses most of tools. Scissors, dremmel, hot glue gun, pieces for my overlooked and other things of that ilk. It’s the draw I go to less often, so sadly for it, deserve it’s spot on the bottom.

And that is how I now organise the vast majority of my sewing supplies! Fabric and paints are kept elsewhere, purely because of a lack of space. I’m hoping that now there’s an order to it all, I be more inclined to keep it that way forever =)

How do you store your supplies? Is there any planning behind it or do things just live wherever they live? (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there ;))

Getting back into the sewing of things

Bad pun? Perhaps.

Anyway. Between Expo and Christmas, I’d been on a bit of a sewing dry spell. In part because I was having a break, but also because I was seemingly rather busy with other things (including playing FFXIV, which isn’t really an excuse). So I made a few little things that I’ve been meaning to make for ages. They’re not cosplay, that started after Christmas.

I started off by making what’s supposed to be a ‘thread catcher’, but I was making it with the intention of having somewhere to store my wonder clips, rather than have them in a plastic bag! It looks rather cute I have to say.

It was made using some random purple check cotton I picked up (in part to make the thing I’m going to talk about next) and the lining is leftover fabric from my Midnight Mauve cosplay. It’s quite nice having the satin lining actually, and I’m a big fan of purple at the moment.
I had a bit of a faff cutting the pieces, if only because my table was bit cramped, and I accidentally cut the rectangles a bit smaller than they were supposed to be. But actually, it’s turned out the perfect size for the clips, so it’s no problem. This probably took me 20 minutes to make, 10 to cut, 10 to sew which makes it a great evening project. I plan to make several more of different sizes, just need to find the right fabric first!

The second thing I made has been on my list for at least 6 months, if not more. In fact, I even started making it many months ago, I believe I even blogged about it, and it’s a work-in-progress bag.

First things first, I can’t say I’m particularly proud of this piece of sewing. It’ll be very useful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a bit of a mess. Mostly because I didn’t square off my pvc very well so the binding is somewhat wobbly, but there’s always a next time. I don’t remember how long the zip insertion took, I can’t imagine long. The binding can’t have taken me more than half an hour though!
I tend to keep my WIP cosplays in a bag, usually whatever bag I got when I bought the fabric, but it’s not an ideal solution. My plan is to make enough large WIP bags to store the current cosplays I’m making (at most 5 at once, usually no more than 3). I’d also like to make some smaller ones to carry bits around in.

It’s really nice to do some simple sewing for a change, especially when I get results almost immediately. And I know ultimately, these things should help my cosplay making stay just that little bit more organised =)

Sometimes It’s Good to Give In

Stay with me here whilst I explain.

I always intended to make my bridesmaid dresses. I didn’t like the idea of spending £50-£100 per dress (and I have 4 bridesmaids), plus since I can sew, it just made sense to use that skill. Somewhat of a no-brainer.

However, when it came to work with the fabric I’d chosen, I really started to regret it. It was the most difficult fabric I’ve ever had the misfortune of working with. It was so fine and so slippery. Cutting it out was a nightmare. Sewing it wasn’t great either.

I had hoped to finish them in a day – not altogether an unreasonable aim for 2 seamstresses. After one day we’d cut out the bodice pieces and start to sew a few of them together. After a couple of hours on the 2nd day (2 weeks later), we realised it just wasn’t going to work.

I didn’t want to stop.

We spent some time looking for alternative dresses online. I couldn’t bring myself to stop sewing unless I knew I had an alternative. Luckily, after about an hour and a half of searching, we managed to find a dress in the right colour and for a good price – in fact, it was about 1/3 of the price I was expecting to pay!

Comparison of the fabric (right) and the bought dress (left) – colours are slightly off

It was a hard choice. I want our wedding to be everything we want it to be. I don’t want to have failed in one area. I’m someone who likes doing things myself. But at the end of the day, I have 3 months. And in that time I’m expecting to go to 3 conventions. Obviously, the wedding is far more important, but I also have a million and one other things to think about for it. Making the bridesmaids dresses with this fabric, would probably have been the most stressful thing. I wouldn’t have found it fun. There’s a good chance they wouldn’t have looked great in the end.

It feels wrong. Some part of me feels that I’ve let down anyone that I told I was going to make them. It’s stupid really, because no one else was telling me that I had to make them, that was just the voice in my own head. It’s hard to know if I’ve done the right thing. Come the wedding day however, the 4 bridesmaids will look stunning because they’re gorgeous girls, not because of the dress they’re wearing.

True colour of the original fabric chosen for the dresses

It’s not giving up. It’s giving in. I think there’s an important difference there. I’ve chosen not to make them now, because I know it makes more sense. And because I know making them would cause a fair bit of stress that I could do without. I’m giving in to the easier option, not giving up something that was too hard.

Wining a Giveaway

At the end of last week, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway hosted by the lovely Freya at The Dressmaking Diaries for a £10 voucher for Minerva Crafts! Thought I’d write a little quick post about what I decided to get.

I had said I would get some quilting fat quarters as I’ve love to start making quilts. When I started having a better look at the site, with the actual intention of buying something I realise 2 things.
1, I very recently bought some things from these people on ebay, I hadn’t made the connection before! But I think it was just some stabiliser for embroidery, so nothing fancy.
2, I suddenly remembered that some friends of mine got me a crochet book for my birthday last year. I’ll be honest, I have never crocheted in my life. But if I’ve got the book, I’d love to have a go and learn yet another new skill.

Turns out crochet hooks aren’t all that expensive, so I was able to choose a few fat quarters as well!

So currently sat in my basket are

It may strike you that I would be unable to get all the above for just £10, and you’d be right. I decided I wasn’t far from getting free postage, so added on the single fat quarters (because space). I then still had 45p to go, so bought the remnant scraps. Go figure that I’d choose something at the end that cost £5. Oh well, I’m very happy with my choices. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to make yet, aside from the ninja of course. I’m excited to find out though! Unfortunately, it may have to wait until after the wedding, we shall see.

I’ll be sure to post up progress as and when I use these things =)

Tainted Gloves: Part 1

I think we first need to establish one thing about making gloves; they’re the spawn of the devil. I don’t think I’ve ever come across someone who’s enjoyed or found it easy to make them. You have to work with very small seam allowances which makes them hard to sew, but the smallest deviation from them can easily make the fingers not fit or give you gaping holes.

If you can, I’d suggest buying gloves. However, if you’re entering a big competition, you might not want to have a bought element to your cosplay. And sometimes, you need to match some fabric you already have. In the latter case, you might be able to commission someone to make them for you, but if you’re unlucky like me, and need gloves that both match your fabric and are for a competition, you have basically no choice but to make them yourself. Thankfully, there is one way to avoid most of your troubles, and that’s by using stretch fabric.

Seriously. It’s somewhat impossible to make gloves without using a stretch fabric (and if you’ve managed to make them, then you’re a better sewer than I). Whether it’s 2-way or 4-way, even a small amount of stretch can forgive a multitude of sins when sewing. If using 2-way, you need to be careful to have the stretch going the right way – across your hand side to side, not up and down fingers to wrist. There are essentially 3 ways to make gloves.

Using 4-way stretch
If you can use a 4-way stretch fabric, things are actually pretty easy for you. You just need to lay your fabric flat, 2 right sides together, draw around your hand and sew round that line. It’s that simple really. This also works pretty well if you are making fingerless gloves, though you do have the difficulty there of somehow hemming the tops of the fingers as getting such small curves into a sewing machine can be a nightmare. Tab of Kaos Kostumes has a great tutorial about making gloves from lycra here, if you want some pictures and a bit more detail.

If you want to make a pair of gloves with proper gussets, it’s possible to make your own pattern. You need a latex glove of some description and then you wrap some strong tape all around your hand. You’ll then need to draw the lines on (down the side seam, between your fingers for the gussets and round your thumb), cut it on those lines and you have a pattern that should perfectly fit your hand! I’ll be honest, I tried this once, and it was the worst glove I ever made. The pattern pieces were slightly off and it ended up making the whole glove a bit wonky. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make it work. I don’t have a specific tutorial to suggest, but a quick Google search should bring plenty up.

Commercial/Printed pattern
Turns out, this is my preferred way to make gloves (if I ever get it right). Until I wrote this post, I’d never actually seen a commercial pattern but I’ve now seen a Vogue pattern for gloves. What I like to use though, is this tutorial, with a printed template for gloves. Now if we assume I actually managed to get my stretch going the right way round, this is pretty easy to follow and gives a nice shape to the gloves.

There are of course probably a multitude of other ways to make gloves, knitting for example. You’ll probably have to try out a few methods to see what works the best for what you want to do. Next week, I’ll give you some detail on how I’ve actually managed to make my gloves and some of the problems I’ve had, so you can hopefully avoid them yourself. =)

Have you ever made gloves before? Do you think you ever will?

Sewing Projects

My attitude towards cosplay and sewing has changed within the last year or so. I’m much more pro ‘doing things properly’ than I used to be, you know, taking the time to finish off your seams, that kind of thing. And I think it’s proved – at least for me – by winning a judge’s award last year, for my Midnight Mauve dress which was the first cosplay I really took to heart ‘doing it right’. And just before I go on any further I would like to say, of course there is no real right or wrong way to do cosplay! But I think putting that extra care and attention in really makes all the difference.

Even more recently, I’ve found myself following various sewing or crafting blogs and is giving me loads of ideas of things to make. I’ve still got some cosplay things to do for Kitacon, but I’m going to try to weave in some other non-cosplay sewing. It might be that I don’t have time to do any of these until after the wedding, but a girl can dream! Here’s a few of the ideas I’ve seen lately that I’m planning to make for myself.

Flora dress – By Hand London
This is one of the first things I came across on my sewing blog venture. I love both the lace and the asymmetrical hem so I’ll probably make it much like you see in the photo!

Carolyn pyjamas – Closet Case Files
Because who doesn’t love a comfy pair of pyjamas? Plus, I like the idea of doing something a little different. I’d never need to make pyjamas for cosplay.

Vogue pattern V8766
I really want to introduce more dresses into my wardrobe, and frankly, the lace spoke to me again.

Vogue pattern V8877
Surprise surprise, more lace. I have a thing for lace clearly. I just like the contrast of it against the solid fabric.

Messenger Bag
I saw this after having though about getting a new bag, so why not make it myself? I’m very tempted to make this out of some leatherette I have lying around, but if not, I love the combination of grey and yellow here.

Work in Progress Bags
Something I’ve actually made a start on! I love finding new ways to store my cosplay, and I will eventually find a way that sticks. But I love the idea of being able to hold all the bits and pieces for one specific cosplay together. I have a WIP one of these at the moment which I’ll finish soon. Eventually, I’d like to have enough bags to hold all my work in progress cosplays (so that’s probably about 5 at any given time) and then some smaller ones for smaller projects or travelling.

Hopefully I’ll get some of these done in the next few months, and I’ll of course post up my progress.

Apologies for the lateness of this post as well. To make up for it I’ll do an extra one next week, how about that? =)