Friday, 22 April 2011

First Project

As promised, today I started my first project for this blog. I will be making uniform shirts for the staff at Myth Games. Cory was going to order shirts the conventional way, but they did not come in the colour he wanted: purple. So I found a plain blowing shirt type pattern for men and a more fitted, similar shirt for women. He has one male and one female employee that I need to make shirts for plus Cory. It will be a total of about 7 or 8 shirts. They will take me some time, but not a lot as they are very simple patterns.

My cutting space: A cardboard mat spread out on the spare bed in the basement.

The patterns and material:

My workspace: also in the basement.

It’s the only area I have enough space to spread out; and since we keep the basement door closed, the kitties can’t get at it. My desk has history: it was my grandmother’s sewing desk. My grandfather made it for her; it has a yard stick embedded in the surface on the front edge. It’s been used a lot over the years and could really use a refinishing. Note that these are the grandparents from my father’s side. I never met my grandmother as she passed long before I was born and was three when my grandfather passed. They were much older than my mother’s parents, so this desk is much older than you would think.

Back to the project: these are the two sheets of pattern pieces. For those of you unfamiliar with patterns, the pieces come printed on sheets of very thin tissue paper that have to be cut out with paper scissors. Using fabric scissors dulls them in a hurry. It’s been a really long time since I’ve done a project with only two sheets.

And these are the prices liberated from the sheets. It’s also best to iron the pieces without steam to remove the creases and make them much easier to work with. The only challenge is getting them refolded to fit back into the envelope when I’m done with them.

Tomorrow is game day for the club that I am a part of: The Pirates of the Plains so I can’t promise there will be a post. We are also getting some extra games in to prepare for an upcoming marathon weekend, so I can’t promise anything for Sunday either, but I will try.

Have a great Easter weekend!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Christmas Pajamas

These were also requested by my friends for whom I made the costumes. Actually, he requested them. His Mom and Dad were flying in from Newfoundland to spend Christmas with the family, so he wanted something special. All moms love grandkids, and this mom was no exception. They don’t have any kids but his brother and his wife have two girls. He wanted three sets of matching pajamas, one set for his mom and each niece, made in Newfoundland tartan. My friend and I spent several sessions in the fabric store flipping though pajama patterns until we found three that would work. I was mostly guessing at the sizing as I had only met his mom once at their wedding a few years earlier and had only seen the nieces a few times. We got extra material just to be sure there was enough; I still have enough to make at least one more set, probably more.

Lots of phone calls were made to get as much information as I could before any cutting to try to guess the sizes. I started sewing in November and in December it became my full time job. I’m sure they were a little worried that I wasn’t going to have them done on time. I was worried they wouldn’t fit. But pajamas are easy things to make, lots of straight seams and loose fitting material. On the 15 of December, all three pajamas were handed over in some of the Christmas bags we had made the year before. I even had time to make two matching heart-shaped pillows that came with the pattern for the youngest. I did not make the matching dog jacket that came with the adult pajamas. I was surprised just how many adult pajama patterns came with matching dog jackets. Slippers, housecoats, blankets, pillows, sure, but dog jackets? I’m sure that make someone excited, it’s just not me.

In the end everything was ready on time, and I was assured that they loved the pajamas and everything fit.

My friend was able to get permission for me to post the picture she took of the ladies in their new pajamas on Christmas. So a big thank-you! The faces have been removed to protect the children.

Here on is where my blog is going to get really exciting. I begin my first project tomorrow and you will get to follow me every step of the way!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Saga Part Three

Two years ago, at the urging of my friends and my wonderful man, Cory, I got back into sewing. That year we had been invited to a Halloween party. For Cory I made a simplified version of the pirate costume, as we were pressed for time. I learned that I have a lot to learn about pattern alteration; the vest wasn’t quite big enough. I made myself a purple fairy costume in literally six hours. I found a pair of purple fairy wings and some glittery make up and we were set. I left glitter all over everything. Call me weird but for some reason I like being glittery. The photo is a little blurry, but it was the best of the bunch. I’ll get a better one when I have the chance.

That Christmas my friend had a great idea of making reusable cloth gift bags. They always have the best themed material at Christmas and Halloween, so we got bunch; a meter of this, two of that, and I sewed like crazy. I also broke my little sewing machine. It’s just a simple hobby machine and couldn’t take all the work I was putting it through. So that was that for a while, until I could afford to get it fixed.

That brings me up to my most recent sewing projects last fall. As I’ve already mentioned, we were invited to a themed wedding reception. What I didn’t mention was that it was a masquerade. My friend, who was a much closer friend to the bride, wanted to go all out to give the bride what she wanted and get costumes made rather than renting. I’ve never rented a costume, but I understand it can cost just as much as we spent on making them, and they’re not usually very good quality, and you have to give them back! She already knew that I could sew, and I agreed to make costumes for the four of us. After getting my machine fixed, $100 later, we picked patterns and got the material. As you’ve probably already guessed, her costume was my favorite. It was easy, she already had the hard part! We bought material to match the navy corset with silver dragons she had picked up at a local trade show a few months earlier. All I had to make was a navy straight line dress with sheer navy sleeves and a soft fuzzy silver over-skirt. It was work getting her into the corset over the dress, then getting everything into place, but it was all worth it.

Her husband requested a kilt in Newfoundland tartan, as that is where he is from. We were lucky and not only did we find a pattern, and the right tartan, it was also on sale. Making that one I learned that pleats are a heck of a lot easier than I thought they would be. I didn’t hold back either, the pattern had matching spats and a hat and I found the biggest feather I could for it. Maybe I’ll be able to talk them into letting me share their picture in a post.

For Cory, he chose a king’s costume with a cape. When I asked what colour he wanted, his imagination must have been on vacation. He said red, the photo on the pattern was in red. What can you do? So I made it in red with gold trim. Again that was a lesson in pattern alteration. The first try was six inches too short; the second fit. Now I have more experience. It was also a jacket so he was able to take it off when he got too warm, not that he did. I think he felt sorry for our friend stuck in her corset who could only sit straight up on the edge of her seat all night; and taking that off was NOT an option.

Last but not least was my costume. As I mentioned in my first post, I had been unemployed for some time by this point and didn’t have money to get the material to make one for me. My friend was fantastic and bought the material I needed as a thank-you for all the hard work I did for their costumes. If you are reading this, thank-you again! The pattern I chose for myself was the most complicated. I learned to read all the instructions before estimating how long it will take to make something. The sleeves took longer than I thought; the skirt took longer than I thought; the lining took longer than I thought. Midnight the night before the wedding and I was still working on my costume. When 2 am rolled around, my wonderful man came to see if he could help. It was very brave of him. As it turned out, I did have something he could do: eyelets! When I gave him the hammer he seemed relieved; until I handed him the tiny eyelets and showed him what I needed. Thank God for his help, he did every one, and that got me to bed about two hours earlier than if I had done it alone. The costume still isn’t completely done, it should have gold trim on the bodice and sleeves, but there just wasn’t time. Here is the finished product:

One more project to talk about: the Christmas pajamas.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Saga Part Two

2004 was the last costume I made for myself for a few years. I didn’t go trick-or-treating with my cousins that year as they no longer needed a chaperone; so I don’t have a photo from that year. The one shown I took today. As you may have guessed, my peach costume was not very warm. 2004 Halloween was supposed to be cold. I made another dress from the same pattern as the previous year, but wanted to make it much warmer. I found this beautiful sheer navy material with lighter blues mixed in with silver glitter. I lined it with fleece. It was warm all right. I made a back cloak to go with it, also lined with fleece; it was over-kill. I made this one it a bit bigger so ensure it would fit. It still does, but it’s too warm to wear to most parties. The neck line was the most complicated part of the costume as it had the strangest pieces I had ever seen in order to make it turn up. I didn’t see it and decided to just trust the pattern. I am glad I did, as the finished product looked just like the picture. Eventually I would like to try it again, but with a much lighter material. Maybe something like the silvery-blue from the last cloak…

The following Halloween I made my first male costume. “Pirates of the Caribbean” was a recent hit so it was really easy to find patterns for pirate costumes. The pants were authentic style with the button flap in the front instead of a more modern zipper. He complained he felt like he was wearing a diaper. It didn’t come with a hat though, so it was the first time (and only, so far) I made a hat. No pattern, just a measuring tape and my imagination. It turned out pretty well, but since I never did get a picture of that costume, I can’t prove it. It’s a shame really. The coat I made was by far the most time consuming single item I have ever made. Between the jacket and vest there were over 50 buttons! Took me a week just to hand sew them all on! But it was worth it. The pants may not have been the best, but the jacket was fantastic. I hope he kept it; but if he doesn’t want it, send it back to me!

Since then, I sort of slipped away from sewing. I spent several years on my own, just trying to figure out what I wanted and what to do with myself. Ended up deciding nothing and didn’t have much to show for it all. Then my brother decided to get married. As their wedding gift, I offered to make the dress. It was all on short notice so every spare moment I had was spent working on the dress. I was rooming with him again at the time so it was really easy to get her to try on the dress. It was the first really important piece I was making so I wanted it to be perfect. It turned out beautifully and fit her like a glove. I got tones of compliments on it, and so did she. It’s not in the pictures but I also made a little matching purse with a skinny strap for her too. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for them. I wonder what she did with the dress… Maybe it’s best not to know.

The story continues tomorrow…

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Saga Continues

I had intended this post to go from high school to the present, but that’s a lot of time. So I’ve split it into three parts which I will post over the next few days.

After high school my sewing got much more ambitious. I wanted to make a new costume for every Halloween, and for a few years, I did. I also went Trick-or-Treating with my cousins, so there were pictures of most of them. My first really complicated costume was the most challenging piece I had made so far. It took a long time and a lot of frustration and mistakes before I got it right. It was multi-layered both top and bottom and had a separate belt and head band. I learned a lot of patience on this project. I also learned how expensive making a really nice costume could be. I was staying with my grandparents at the time, my first foray into the adult world, and literally took over part of their family room with my sewing machine, ironing board and material everywhere. There were no kids or pets, so I didn’t have to worry about leaving things out. After about two months of working every spare moment I had, late into the night and early in the morning; I was rewarded with a beautiful costume that fit nearly perfect. Did I mention the material I used for the skirt needed a ton of ironing and doesn’t fit anymore? I was quite a bit thinner eleven years ago.

For 2001, I wanted to do something different, but I was just starting university by this point, so I could only afford to make a new top. This was almost as much work as the entire last costume! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Boning, trim, rivets, eyelets, laces, lining, ribbon, elastic in the sleeves and cuffs, material that frayed like crazy! It was the first time I needed hardware to complete my sewing project. I was living with my brother by then, he had a cat so I couldn’t leave a thing out. I still remember him asking me what the heck I was doing with a hammer on the kitchen floor. We were in a basement suite and the kitchen floor seemed like the best place to hammer in the eyelets. I still have this one too, but it needs some repairs; I made a few of the holes too big and some of the eyelets have since fallen out.

I hadn’t had the time or money to make a costume the previous year, and despite being a starving student, I was really wanted to make one in 2003. I had seen the first “Lord of the Rings” movie and had fallen in love with the beautiful elves. It wasn’t hard to find costume patterns either as it was such a huge movie. I actually picked up a few costumes that year. It was the beginning of my collecting. I decided on a much simpler costume this time as I didn’t have nearly as much time to work on it. I also learned that patterns lie about sizing. I made this one to my exact sizing, even beginning my first minor pattern alteration, and it still turned out small. Not too small, but it was tight. Ironically, my best friend from high school picked the same patter for her wedding dress a few years later. I warned her that it fits small so her mom who was making it for her could take that into account. It turned out too big; but with some strategic pinning it worked out.

It was also the first year I made a matching cloak. I love this pattern and have used it many times since. It is quick and easy to make, fits pretty much anyone and is super simple to alter. Best of all, no two cloaks are ever the same. But they are expensive. They use a LOT of material, twice as much if you want it lined; and as the quality of fabric goes up, so does the cost. My younger sister had a black one with red lining. In addition to the white one in the photo, I also have a black one with removable navy fleece lining that a made a few years later. I love the fleece, it is super warm for our often super cold Canadian Halloweens. The most recent was for the themed wedding reception I mentioned before. It was for my friend’s costume and matched a beautiful corset she had purchased earlier. It is shiny navy blue on the outside with a silvery blue lining, silver tassel on the hood and a silver frog clasp on the front. The only thing we didn’t account for was the lift of the corset. It really could have done with some snaps or another frog clasp, but it still turned out beautiful.

Check back tomorrow for part two…

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Any good adventure has a beginning, so I thought I’d share mine. I was introduced to sewing in the obvious way – my mom had a sewing machine. Mostly it collected dust; but she did make a few things for me and my siblings over the years.  The only one I really remember working out was a couple of blue poodle skirts she made for me and my sister. They didn’t fit for very long, but we loved them; especially the spinning in circles to make them fly out as far as we could, then falling over because we had made ourselves so dizzy. After that my sister and I tried to make all sorts of things (doll clothes, mostly) that never worked out.

In sixth grade, Home Ec. started. I got my first real lesson in sewing; and discovered I had been doing all sorts of things wrong. In hind sight I really should have realized this earlier as nothing we tried to make worked out. The class made pencil cases, which was pretty ambitious for a bunch of eleven year olds as they had zippers. We also got to draw on them with fabric paint. Mine was supposed to be a cat sitting on a tree stump. It looked like a cat on a stump post-apocalypse. I don’t have it anymore.

In high school I made a pair of boxer shorts and a straight black dress. I didn’t get to do anything in grade 12 as not enough people had signed up for the class (short by two), so they cancelled it. I was really disappointed. By then though, I had started making my own Halloween costumes.

Mom made me a cat-woman costume for me for ninth grade I think; she had a lot of help. In defense of my mom, she may not be that great at sewing, but she is very good with a pair of knitting needles. She tried to teach me once, but I just didn’t have the patience for it. My older sister had made a few costumes for myself and my younger sister. I was a pumpkin one year and she was an oreo cookie. The cookie costume actually won a contest!

Tenth grade was a really awful Super girl costume. I didn’t have enough material so it was too small. I did get up on stage at the school’s annual costume contest because at the time I was really proud of my work. I also have really bad stage fright to this day, and the moment I looked out and saw the ENTIRE SCHOOL STARING AT ME, I froze. I remember some guy who was supposed to be the MC gave me a bag of candy because he had to for all the participants, made some comment about my costume that made me turn the same colour as my cape and shoved me off the stage. I never participated again.

Eleventh grade was much better. My older sister was getting into historical costumes. Together we made her a really nice dress. We made me a belly dancing costume. It was tan with bright blue sleeves and a veil with stretchy silver sequined band, which was also on my waist band. I was very comfortable, but I was really self-conscious that people were tiring to look up my sleeves, so I changed at lunch. I don’t know if they were or not, but my 15 year-old self is still insisting that they were.

Grade 12 I was really obsessed with Sailor Moon; so that was the costume I wanted. But not the regular costume from the first season. I had seen pictures by then of the later seasons that had not yet been translated and made “kid-friendly”. I wanted the one where she had wings. They even had patterns for the costume by then. I was a least six years too old for the pattern, but I was determined to make it work. I did, for the most part. The sewing machine was broken that year, so I had to do it all by hand. It took forever. Ironically, the only part I couldn’t do was the wings. I even tried to do a wig but the hot glue melted the synthetic hair on the long wig I had bought, so I had to settle for putting my own hair in pig-tails. That year they really were trying to look up my skirt; even going so far as to lay on the floor as I walked by. It was a body suit with the skirts on over it, so I didn’t care. I wore that one all day. I had the costume for years; somewhere in my many moves it got lost. I’m a little disappointed I don’t have it anymore.

Since high school I have made many more costumes and with every experience I am getting much better. But that will be the subject of my next post.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Most Recent Costume

Here is my costume that I made for the themed wedding reception as mentioned in my previous post. Should also mention that I did not make the mask or the broach, I bought them.

Also uploaded a picture of me in my profile on right. It's not a great quality picture, but I'm really happy in it. That's how I want to feel as often as possible. This will help me get there.

What the heck is this?

This, my friends - and people who have no idea who I am - is my very first blog post! Yay me! Why did I decide to do something as odd as this? Simply put, I love sewing. I love to make clothes. I especially love to make costumes for myself and others. Those of you who know me already know that I love to sew; well I'm just figuring it out.

Last fall, I was asked to do a few projects for some very good friends, and as I was itching to sew, (do anything really; I had been unemployed and bored for a few months), I agreed. By the end of the year, I had made four custom costumes for a themed wedding reception and three pairs of matching pajamas for Christmas gifts. I worked myself like a crazy lady and loved every minute of it.

Inadvertently, I had also created a following on my Facebook page. During my breaks from being hunched over the sewing machine, I would go to my laptop which I had set up to watch movies (not a good idea) and listen to music (very good idea), check my games and post what I was working on, or what I had just screwed up. I never posted any pictures. That's something I want to do here.

I have big plans for my blog, and of course my sewing, so this is my invitation to you to follow me on my new adventure doing something I love.