Friday, August 29, 2014

Winged Flight at Work

So the other day at Pigtails my boss breezed through the room(she's a Woman of Energy) and said, I want you to make a sugar plum fairy, and six pairs of hooves, and an Elmo head, and Maleficent wings. And I smiled and nodded and thought, Wow, this is what real theater seamstresses do: Impossible things!

But maybe it's just because sometimes I take things too literally. Because when she said "Maleficent's wings" I thought:

BAM. Whhhhaaaaat you want me to make that?

In the reality of my little back room on my oh-so-minimalist salary, enormous feathered wings are not going to happen. The Woman of Energy wanted me to use crocodile-skin plastic vinyl as the wing base. I backed that with brown felt.

I hashed out a shape using the crocodile plastic width and length.

I just sewed right side to right side, leaving the bottom of the center back open, and then I flipped it. I fed wire in around the edges, and started to hand-tack a casing on the other side of the wire. I stuffed some foam in the back area for wearable comfort; the elastic is just sewn into the seam. The crocodile plastic is fairy heavy for something like this, and it keeps rippling and pulling, so I'm hoping once I get the casing done it will be confined enough to keep a good shape. That and the Woman of Energy mentioned something about adding feathers, and if I have to glue fabric feathers all over that thing I'm not going to worry about rippling.

And that's what I accomplished at work this week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Code names are the only fun part of a new Job

How about another post about my super complicated work life?

Less than two weeks ago I still didn't have a job. I had been workless since the end of June and had filled out a dozen applications, and the world was ending. Now, today, I have two and a half jobs(the half job is the hoodie sewing: I've only gotten two orders this month) and more hours than I can handle, and the world is still ending.

 John Adams: Linen, cotton and wool all with a 25% employee discount.

I got interviewed at a fabric store, code name John Adams, on Monday and started work the next Monday. Training consisted of jumping in with both feet, and arms, and basically just doing it all from the get-go. I hate learning new computer systems! This week I was ringing someone up at the Register, forgot to add the decimal, and her order came up as $8000. I thought it was hilarious.

Pigtails: Unconventional, creative workplace with lots of hours available.

Job number two came when I responded to a seamstress wanted/10 hours a week ad at a costume rental place, code name Pigtails, and got hired, and they right away asked me to run the children's section as many hours as possible up to Halloween(code name Reformation Day). The owner said to me, you don't have any tattoos, you look safe, can you run the children's store for us? And I didn't think to say no. Pigtails is overwhelming because the whole big room that is the sewing/children's section hasn't been cleaned since last fall, and all those piles of random stuff need sorting. I am enjoying it, though, because I've been given a lot of freedom to be creative.

And all this is going to look good on my resume, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Green Regency Dress

Regency is not my favorite era to reenact. It's a style that looks better on tall, full figured ladies, or cute little girls. But since the reenacting opportunities available to me are from that era, I have to sew and wear Regency. I reenact in a rustic atmosphere which renders fancy dress completely impractical, and besides that, both my persona and my real-life situation do not translate into wealth. The only formal costumed dances held locally are my own, so while I suppose I should make some effort to dress up, it's certainly not required! All in all, I can't wear fancy dress and I prefer plain anyway. So my Regency dresses are always pretty plain. This new dress of mine is forest green linen from, and the buttons are Celtic knot buttons from

How I'm going to Customize my Regency Dress

  • I always raise the back and front neckline of Simplicity 4055. I also lengthen the waist. I know the waist is supposed to be tiny and sit high, but it needs to hit a certain point above and below the bust to be comfortable and practical, not to mention modest.
  • I'll add a waistband. If you're small, this helps the dress to sit correctly.
  • I'll make half-length sleeves. I just despise wearing those teeny little puffed sleeves; they're so impractical. Even in the warmer weather I prefer longer sleeves, if only to keep the bugs off. And when you do use the puffed sleeve pattern, adding underarm gussets can make movement so much easier.
  • Apron-front. I don't have a servant, and I'm getting tired of dislocating my arm every time I have to button my Regency dress up the back. It's seriously hard! An apron-front may be seem more complicated, but I think it's worth the extra brain power.
  • I'm lazy, so I usually don't care enough about the inside of my garments to finish every seam. But linen ravels and I want the dress to last, so I'll be finishing the seams on this one. 
    Keira Knightley's dark green linen drawstring dress from the 2005 P&P.

    Front-closing Regency Gowns

    Regency dresses are massively popular in the costuming world, so there are lots of great tutorials and photos all over the web. The links below are of drop-front dresses that close with ties, which are more adjustable and practical if you expect your body size to change, or if you ever loan out your dresses to friends of a different size.

    A Frolic through Time
    Tea in a Teacup

    My Apron Front

     I decided to go a different route since those two criteria don't apply to me. I chose a center-front dog-leg closure underneath my apron front, and mostly worked off the pictures from the Sense and Sensibility version. I haven't done enough research to vouch for dog-leg closures on Regency dresses at historically accurate; they seem to be much more popular in the Civil War era. From what I've seen Regency apron dresses tend to tie closed. I used hooks-and-eyes instead.

     My feeble attempt at detail on the sleeves.

    And what is a dog-leg closure? It's an L-shaped closure that goes down the front of a garment and then along the waistband. Here's a tutorial from Historical Sewing: 18 Simple Steps for a dog-leg closure. I confess 18 steps were too many for me.

    It needs a hem and then it's done!

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Quilting through People

    The Fan Quilt: A baby-sized Wholecloth Quilt

    The upstairs rooms now have sheetrock walls, just in time for guests this weekend and again next weekend. We hosted a Pastor and his family from Ohio. A very lovely family with eight children, and all of them very loud, except for the fat adorable baby who didn't want to be held. Goodness, I could never marry an Italian/Greek/loud person. Living History was also this weekend, so I am totally and completely peopled out.

    Remnants of cotton muslin and blue linen/cotton

    I've been working to finish small sewing projects this week, mostly alterations that tend to get put aside. I did make two hoodies and finally started sewing a new Regency dress for myself. That's been on the to-do list for a long time, and you can be sure I'll post about that soon. On the job front, I had three applications turned down last week and one call back about an interview.

    I'm on the homestretch for my little fan quilt, and that means I'm quilting obsessively right now. I really need to learn to use a thimble, because my fingers are constantly getting painful holes and rough callouses on the tips. But I do love hand quilting and can't imagine doing it any other way. People are always amazed that I would spend hours and hours making even a small quilt by hand- but that's what makes it look so neat! Every stitch was done individually by a real person, and it gives a character and look to the piece that machine quilts just don't have. Plus, it fits into my historical era, and I can take it with me wherever I go.