Thursday, September 14, 2017

Making a Ghawazee for the Renaissance Faire

Every September, our local Renaissance Faires open their doors for a several weekends. Looking through my wardrobe, I decided that it was time to make myself a new outfit. It had been several years since I made one. The Ghawazee is probably one of the easier ones to make. 

This pattern from AlterYears is one I had made previously, so it was an easy enough pattern to "whip" up as I didn't have to make a mockup. However, I did make the muslin lining first, just case I had to make any modifications to it. My sister-in-law had scored some striped fabric from a garage sale, and she was kind enough to give me about 3 yards, which was more than enough to make this pattern. She'll probably be making one for herself, so we'll end up matching at one point. :-)

The pattern is easy and straightforward in its instruction. There are only about 5 pattern pieces, which all involve straight seams. The "hardest" part is adding grommets and hemming.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take some before shots, but these are the finished shots on my dress mannequin.

What's nice about this outfit is that I can wear it with a skirt, harem pants, and any sort of ren faire blouse I might have. The look of the outfit changes with whatever color I choose for the skirt, pants, or blouse. So I can still use this with my existing skirts without a fuss.

It's also very light weight and a lot more comfortable to wear in heat, as there are some weekends during the faire season, which are unbearably hot.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Re-organizing our Sewing Closet

Every now and then, I have to re-organize our sewing stuff because it's gotten too disorganized as things are shuffled around, put into the wrong place, or we start piling things instead of putting them away.

I was looking for something in particular that I knew I had, but couldn't not find, so I started on a massive re-organization binge. Of course, I didn't take BEFORE photos, but I'll just amaze with the AFTER photos.

This is our sewing closet -- otherwise known as a linen closet for any normal household. It contains a lot of the supplies and tools that we use on a fairly regular basis in our costuming efforts, such as the ironing board, ironing hams, stabilizers, bias tape, etc.

Along the side of the closet, I hung up all our large yard sticks and other large measuring sticks.

The top shelf has all our embroidery accessories.

The second shelf has other much used supplies, such as zippers, bias tape, boning, elastic, buckles, and other findings. It also stores our various hams and pressing clappers. My Viking got these plastic shelves on clearance at Target.

The last shelf contains bigger boxes, like our button boxes, ribbon crafting supplies, etc. (I'l be able to also put my serger back onto this shelf!

The last part of the closet contains some other shelving (also from target). It includes my hoop boning, all the grosgrain ribbon, various forms of stabilizer (tear-away, wash-away, etc), spools of serger thread, and other supplies that are too big to store elsewhere.

I'm really happy with the re-organization, even if it took me some time to re-organize. It meant that I got rid of things that we didn't need or couldn't use anymore. It feels a lot more cleaner and organized, as well as looking the part! Hopefully, we can keep it as organized as we start new projects!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Making Cockade Ribbons

This past weekend we had a killer heatwave come through the Bay Area that broke record temperatures.  Our normally mild climate town was seeing temperatures of 106, and we don't have air conditioning in this house.

It was so hot, I didn't want to sew or knit, but I wanted to be crafty, so I thought to pull out some grosgrain ribbon and do some ribbon crafting.

A few years ago, my Viking took a cockade making class with Candace King who wrote a wonderful book called, The Artful Ribbon. I've used her book to make flowered ribbons as trim for various costumes, but I'd never really tried my hand at making ribbon cockades. It was a good a time as any to learn.

My VIking gave me a few basics. I grabbed a compass and rule to draw out a sectioned circle, started folding ribbon to the lines, pinning them into place, and eventually sewing all of it down onto a piece of buckrum. My first attempt looked pretty and I was emboldened by my success.


However, my second and third attempts didn't end so well. I had a bit of a problem getting the folds to look correct and it fell apart as I was trying to sew it together.

Eventually, I managed to make one that looked half-way decent.

I layered these two pieces together onto the buckrum (the black backing fabric) and took a random pendant I had in my beading box to finish off the project. I'm probably going to turn this piece into a hair fastener.  

I felt pretty good about this piece, so I decided to try my hand at a different type of cockade. Unfortunately, I couldn't find much instruction on how to make this particular one, so I spent some time playing origami with ribbon until I "un-invented" the technique.

This particular cockade looks pretty good in either direction. It reminded me of a sea star or anenome.

I had this really cute button that matched the ribbon color and was marine-life themed, so I decided to turn this into a wearable pin.

I really enjoyed making them.  It was a bit of effort to fold and pin them in place, but the process was satisfying in general. I have a lot of grosgrain ribbon from knitting, and will most likely be making more in the near future for a variety of purposes.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kilt Making

My Viking and I were going to be attending the Pleasanton Scottish Highland Games in our area. It's a pretty big event, so I decided to make myself a nice woman's kilt to wear.

I have several women's kilts, but they are made out of wool, and traditionally, this event is warm (around 80 deg F), so I wanted something lighter.

I took my nice Scottish kilt, measured every inch of it, and took copious notes about sizing, the type of pleats (one box pleat and the rest were knife pleats), the size of the pleats, etc.
What's nice about this type of skirt is that it's a big swath of fabric that's pleated into a simple skirt shape. There's not a lot of sewing pieces together, except for 4 small darts on either end to help give it shape, adding a waistband, and the final closures.

However, there is a lot of pleating to be done. I found some cotton/poly fabric (2.1 yards = ~75" wide) that I liked and started pleating. I couldn't find my "perfect pleater" so I had to pleat by hand, which isn't that hard, especially when the plaid acts as a nice repeating pattern to create said pleats. It took quite a bit of time to complete all of the pleating.

For my particular skirt, my pleats weren't perfectly straight, with my original skirt, the pleats curved slightly up towards the top of the skirt forming pleated "darts" that help shaped the skirt for my waist. It's hard to see in the photo.

Once I had all the pleats in place, I used a combination of a water/vinegar solution (1 cup vinegar/2 cups of water) in a spray bottle to help permanently set the pleats during pressing. I spray the solution over the pleats and carefully press the pleats down.

The vinegar solution helps to chemically set the pleats permanently.

It's hard to see the pleats in a photograph, so I stuck a ruler in between said pleats.

Once the pleats were set, I carefully sewed down the pleats from the waist to the top of my hips. (This was done in the original skirt as well.)

I added the waistband to the skirt and the final closures. Because this skirt was so light, I opted to use a hook & eye skirt closures that I picked up at Joann's.

While I was making the skirt, I added quite a bit more notes for future use...just in case I want to make more kilted skirts.

Overall, it took me about 3-4 hours to make the skirt -- and most of that time was spent pleating and re-pleating when I wasn't happy with the pleats. If I can find my perfect pleater, I'm sure it would have taken far less time.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to wear this kilt at the Highland Games. We had a record-breaking heat of 104-114 deg F at the Games all weekend, and it was much too hot to wear that much fabric, so I opted to simply wear a sarong instead!

However, once the weather cools down, I now have a new skirt to wear for work, so I definitely call it a win!