DragonCon, and what I wore!

Well, I’m back.

The trip to my very first fan convention was a ton of fun, despite the lines and sleep deprivation. I got to hang out with a friend who I’d previously only met in the real world once (hi, Faith!), I met several actors from favorite tv shows and movies, and got a couple of books signed by one of my favorite living authors. Oh, yeah, and it was basically one giant 4-day costume party, so of course I was all over that!

Several of the things I wore were me-mades that I just ran out of time to blog, so I’m sharing them now. (This will probably be a fairly picture-heavy post, so consider yourself warned.)

IMG_2517For Thursday, we decided to do a Despicable Me theme– Cassie went as Gru, and Faith and I as her minions! We even found bananas to carry! I went the cheap/lame way out for my goggles and just wore my glasses, partially because I ran out of time to make more accessories, and partially because I had to get up at 3:30 AM to make it to the airport. My me-made for this one was the yellow hoodie. I’d originally planned to take this opportunity to try out the Disparate Disciplines Avocado Hoodie. But due to time/thrift shop constraints, I decided to keep it simple and short-sleeved.  The result is a Renfrew with an Avocado hood. The “hair” on top is just basted-on scraps of black leftover from my recent dress, so I can remove that anytime.I’m actually really happy with how this quasi-hack turned out, and could definitely see more hooded Renfrews in my future! But I’d still like to try the Avocado for real at some point.

IMG_2521As for the overalls, they’re just horrendous shorts I found at the thrift store. I should be nice, since some other sewist took the time to resize the legs and turn them into shorts. (The inside seams are basically raw and obviously home-sewn, while the hem was hand-stitched.) But it ended up fitting me really oddly–almost too-tight around the thighs, with the torso and straps being too long and baggy. The original overalls were XL, which probably explains it. And if I ever do this costume again, I’d definitely try for different overalls, but  they were literally the only ones I could find that weren’t made for toddlers! I added a hand-painted patch with the Gru logo on it. You can see it a little better in this photo. And look, we found a monster minion!

IMG_2552I started Friday off with a Firefly t-shirt, but changed into my old Eowyn costume partway through the day, because one of our main activities that we all wanted to do in the evening was the Tolkien track’s “Evening in Bree” party. (Which was SO fun.) I don’t have much to say about this costume, since I’ve mentioned it here and there on the blog before–the only new addition was the blonde wig. Which did get a little snarly in the back by the end of the party, so I need to figure out how to untangle it without ripping all of that fake plastic hair out. The only other thing I’ll say is that the costumes in the contest were amazing, and I felt very out of my league. But I did have a kid come up to me at the end of the party and hand me a sketch that she’d made of my costume, which I thought was really sweet.

IMG_1565Saturday was Belle day for me, and easily the crowd favorite! I’ve talked about the blue dress and the top here recently. Since then, I added an apron made from an old bedsheet in my muslin pile, and a bow made from scraps of the blue dress. (Just a tube, stuffed with some leftover tulle from my wedding dress to keep it perky, sewn around a hair elastic with another scrap of knit.) I also carried around a basket, which I swapped with Faith, who was doing Red from Once Upon A Time that day because all she needed was a stuffed wolf, and my book didn’t fit in mine. I got lots of compliments from passers-by on how “cute” my Belle was, and several people asked to take my picture. But the two best moments were when I was getting a couple books signed by Jim Butcher, who saw me coming up and sang a line from her intro song in Beauty and the Beast (“Look there she goes, that girl is so peculiar…”), and the little girl I passed in the skybridge between hotels whose face lit up as she squealed, “Belle!” Making a kid happy made me feel rather good about my life that day.

I did have a couple people ask me where the Beast was. I told them that he was back at home, taking care of the library. (Sorry, Doug.)

IMG_2606Sadly, I didn’t make it to any Doctor Who-related activities, but Cassie, Faith and I did go around dressed as companions on Sunday. I don’t have any pictures at the moment of Cassie as Oswin/Clara, since that’s on another girl’s phone, but we ran into a couple of Weeping Angels (yikes!), so this is Faith as River Song and me as Amy Pond. This costume was super-easy– just the zipper-leg jeans from earlier in the spring, (because after all of that time sewing the skinny jeans, I saw a picture where the cropped jeans she was wearing in my chosen outfit had that detail!) and a thrifted and slightly modified plaid shirt. Also, tally marks on my arms with liquid eyeliner, because as one person I met put it, “Amy without the hashmarks is just a girl in a plaid shirt”.

This was an easy recon overall, though I guess “regeneration” would be a more appropriate term here! I shortened it to get rid of a tear, took in the sides and sleeves a bit, and cropped the sleeves to more of a 3/4″ length before sewing the cuffs back on. And since one of my costuming goals was clothes I can wear in the real world, I can quite confidently say that I will be wearing this one over the fall.

I saw so many amazing, creative costumes, and it really makes me want to step up my costuming game! Sadly, not all of my pictures are the clearest– they looked fine on my camera, but the ones from the first day or so, while I was still trying to adjust my settings, ended up slightly blurred. But I did go ahead and make a Flickr album of ones that I wasn’t just passing in the hallways and therefore couldn’t stop, and thought were funny, creative, or just plain amazing, along with the pictures I’ve already shared here. (I’ll admit there’s a disproportionate amount of Lord of the Rings-related costumes, and Disney costumes. But I have an excuse for the Disney, since I’m co-hosting the Sewcialists’ sewalong in November!) I’d definitely love to go back again sometime if circumstances/money allows, especially if I have time to do some real costuming beforehand!

another wedding shower gift

The shower was over the weekend, so I can finally show the related sewing projects!

As I said before, these were for my friend Nicole–she’s the one real life friend I have who occasionally sews, so I knew she’d appreciate it! Though we probably won’t be sewing together again, since she moved to Boston to be closer to her fiance and will be staying there after her wedding. I’ll miss her, but I am happy for her!

IMG_0710I like to run with a small theme for wedding gifts, even when I’m buying straight off the registry, and this one was no exception. She’d asked for Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the cover was so pretty, I couldn’t resist! And I already knew I wanted to make her an apron, since one of our last fun sewing adventures together was making Anthropologie-inspired aprons. The apron she made for that was actually a wedding gift for one of her friends, and I thought she should have one herself. So I went with the same apron inspiration she’d chosen, the Tea & Crumpets apron. (Since this one’s on sale, I doubt I saved any money–but I’ve always felt that white is very impractical for an apron that one wears while actually cooking, unless you’re a professional chef who isn’t as sloppy with the tomato sauce! Plus I was guessing at what colors she might actually have in her kitchen, based on her registry and Pinterest boards.) This cute bee fabric jumped out at me immediately, but it was really hard to find something that matches it! I’m really grateful that my quilter mom went along to help me out.

IMG_0711I drafted most of the pattern myself, based on an apron that I’d been given at my own shower. But I did borrow the pocket from the Cake Pavlova skirt, because it looked like a perfect match!  And since I have one or two of these skirts in mind for some stashbusting, it was good to have a chance to practice the pattern a bit.

IMG_0713The other thing I made was this set of placemats. To continue the French theme, we found this fabric with French lettering on it. But the one I really fell in love with was the bicycle fabric, because it just seemed so perfect for her. And it really did end up being perfect, because her grand entrance to her shower, which we held outside, was riding in on her bicycle! I will admit that my mom did help me finish these up, since I was running out of time and needed to do one side of the binding by hand. I will also admit that the corners are not nearly as nice as the ones that my mom usually makes, because I completely forgot her instructions for them. I guess I’ll have to consult with her on that later, because I’m sure I’ll be making some more placemats at some point, if only so we have another set. (Mom made me some for my own bridal shower.)

She was really excited about it, as were most of the people at the shower–I got a lot of compliments on my sewing skills! (Especially once someone asked me if I’d made the dress I was wearing, too.) I’m not quite done sewing for her yet, as this week’s project is altering her wedding dress! Which, thankfully, will be a relatively easy job. The dress fits her perfectly in the bodice, so all I have to do is hem it. Of course, it’s also 3 layers, the inner lining is silk charmeuse, and the outer layer is silk chiffon! My plan is to just do a narrow machine hem on the charmeuse and the outer lining. I may hand-stitch the chiffon, though, since it’s a little crinkly and I don’t want it to go all lettuce-y on me.

I’m also pretty close to finishing my Sewcial Bee dress. I’d like to reinforce the midriff, since the serged stitches were pulling a bit when I put it on Donna to let the hem hang. I also need to figure out exactly how I want to hem it–I don’t want to just leave it raw, because it’s a pretty thin jersey and I suspect it might develop some runs if I do that. But if all goes well, I’ll have both of these dresses done in time for Pantsapalooza!

So, so close….

My goal for yesterday was to finish the raincoat. And I almost made it. But then disaster struck, in the form of eyelets…

All those raggedy sharp edges…. apparently all of that trouble I was having with the belt for the Licorice dress wasn’t a fluke. The eyelet setting went even worse this time. I even asked my tool-savvy dad for help, and he couldn’t get them to go in right either. So we concluded that the eyelet setting tool is a piece of crap, and that I’ll need to get a new one. He thinks he can get the eyelets out without messing up the belt itself, which is hopefully going to be the case. So I’ll have to talk to him about that soon… I can salvage the buckle either way, but worst case scenario, I found just enough fabric to make a new belt if needed. I just need to remember to keep an eye on the A Fashionable Stitch shop for when the eyelets come back in stock so I can get those, the hammer-in tool instead of the awful pliers tool, and some new belt backing if necessary. Sunni’s customer service is great– I emailed her last night to ask if she carried those aside from the entire belt kit, and got a response back within half an hour! So I would definitely highly recommend her shop. (As an aside, Sunni, if you manage to find jeans rivets to stock, I will love you forever!)

On a happier note, I think the coat itself turned out pretty good!

Not quite the same look as what was in the magazine– let’s just do this properly and I’ll do a pattern review, shall we?

Pattern: Burda Magazine 3/2009, #119

Pattern Description: Double-breasted trenchcoat with gun flaps on both sides, knee length, inverted box pleat in the back.

Pattern Sizing: 34-44. I made the 40.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Close, but not quite…I just realized now, while looking at the line drawing vs. my photo, that I should have pulled it closed more in the front when I was figuring out button placement and that’s why the double row of buttons would have just looked silly. Oops. Oh well, it’s probably more functional this way, anyway! I also left off a few of the extra details, like the mini-belts around the wrists and the epaulettes. And the belt, obviously, but that will come.

Were the instructions easy to follow? They’re Burda magazine instructions. ‘Nuff said. Truth be told, I didn’t follow them too closely, because I had to rework half of the order to accommodate the waterproofing, and my desire for a full lining. But hey, look how nice it looks! Inverted box pleat and everything! Um, don’t look too closely at the internal hem, ok? That was a bit of a wrestling match, but hopefully it won’t show too badly.)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the styling of it, and would have quite happily incorporated those extra details if they wouldn’t have added extra holes in unnecessary places that I would have had to waterproof. There wasn’t really anything I seriously disliked about the pattern itself, more my construction process. But that’s not the pattern’s fault.

Fabric Used: A waterproof taffeta from Gorgeous Fabrics for the outside, and some polyester stuff I was given for free years ago for the lining. The lining is also fully underlined with flannel for warmth. (I also used the flannel for interfacing where needed.)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
As already mentioned, I fully lined the coat, rather than the yoke/sleeve only lining that the pattern called for. And the accidental design change in the front with the buttons. I did a lot more topstitching than it called for, since the taffeta was very prone to fraying and I needed to finish all of those seams accordingly (lots and lots of flat-felled seams. Great practice for those jeans I still plan to make.) I also used a belt-making kit from A Fashionable Stitch, rather than the directions that the pattern called for. I made no sizing alterations, since I wanted to allow extra room for bulky winter clothes, other than maybe making the sleeves a bit longer.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I think it makes for a nice, classic trench-coat look. I might sew it again whenever my lightweight spring jacket wears out–wouldn’t this be fun in a bright, cheery twill print or something? 

Conclusion: This has nothing to do with the pattern itself, but I am SO glad to be done with this thing. And I really hope this raincoat holds up for a long, long time, because I don’t want to waterproof anything again for a long, long time!

In other sewing news:
1. In one of the recent interims of letting waterproofing stuff dry before I could continue, I made these:

 Yes, I have another bridal shower to go to! This time, for a cousin getting married in March (the wedding I’m knitting that black shrug for.) So I whipped up yet another of my go-to apron pattern, along with the potholders I tried out back in the fall for a last-minute addition to a friend’s shower gift. These seem to be along the lines of the colors she wants in her kitchen, so hopefully my cousin will like them! I can probably make the apron in my sleep by this point. The potholders still need a bit of work, as I still haven’t quite figured out the best system for getting the bias tape around the top, (Probably because I keep insisting I can do better than the pattern, and making the loop out of the bias tape instead of a ribbon like the pattern calls for.)

Speaking of that black shrug, I’ll do a knitting update soon…. in about 3 rows, it will make a better picture than what I can take now. But there has been progress. Honest.

2. My next project is mostly cut out and ready to go. And it’s….(drumroll)….another brown coat! More specifically, the brown corduroy one that was #1 on the list. Hey, I’ve been meaning to make that thing for 2 years now. So I have the outside all cut out and interfaced where needed, with some extra-large seam allowances. My plan is to baste it together, tweak the fit where needed, mark that on the pattern, and then cut out the lining. Corduroy’s tough. It can take being a muslin and a finished jacket. Now if only I could find what’s left of my old fabric notebook so I can remember how many yards I can take off my stash list…

3. I also need to sit down soon and figure out what I need for the next several projects I’m going to tackle. Especially since the button packs are buy one get one free next weekend! (And maybe check out the Simplicity patterns, since they’re 5 for $5…)

4. I got an early birthday present today…I’m signed up for one of the sewing classes at Craftsy. I got an email this morning saying that the pants-fitting one is currently half-price, and since I have both jeans and trousers coming up in the queue, I figured this would help immensely. I do have two pairs of jeans that I love the fit on (one boot-cut and, surprisingly, my one pair of skinny jeans, both purchased from Goodwill), and a pair or two of pants that I also think fits pretty well. Actually, I was thinking just yesterday that I wish I could replicate this one brown pair I have, because the fit at the top is great but I’ve washed and worn them so often that there’s starting to be some obvious wear-and-tear on places like the back welt pockets. Plus they’re just too short to look really good with my boots. So since the whole idea is reverse-engineering the fit without destroying the original jeans or pants, this could be just the thing! I’ve liked the Pattern Review classes I’ve taken in the past, but I’m excited to try the Craftsy ones since they have video and no set dates, so I can just do it as I can without stressing about falling behind. (Plus they’re less expensive. Always a plus.) I’m thinking for the jeans, I can use this to make whatever last tweaks are needed to the muslin I already made for the last jeans class, and use the pattern I already have from there. So then I can finally cross that off the list, since I’ve been saying for, oh, only the last 3 or 4 years in a row that this is going to be the year I successfully make jeans!

Layla, revisited

It seems to be becoming my standard thing for wedding showers to make an apron for the bride-to-be. Once again, I used the BurdaStyle Layla pattern, but with a few additional modifications from the last two versions. This one is for my friend Kristy, who is one of my oldest friends (we’ve known each other since, oh, kindergarten) and is getting married in October to a mutual college friend that she reconnected with last year. Since she’s been living on her own for awhile, unlike the last two brides I made aprons for, there wasn’t really a whole lot of stuff on her registry to pick from. So I made the apron to supplement something for the kitchen that I picked off of her registry.

This time, instead of hemming all of the edges, I wrapped them in bias binding. (In retrospect, I probably should have trimmed the seam allowances first to make this a bit smaller, since she is also more petite than I am. But hey, it’ll definitely protect her clothes!) I also made two ties for the neck instead of one, so she could adjust it to her liking.

The third change I made was to make two pockets instead of the one central pocket. Also edged in bias binding.  I think it suits the print nicely! (Which I couldn’t resist, because she has a cherry theme in her current kitchen. And since the colors she and her fiance were picking for the kitchen stuff are still kind of along those lines, I figured that this would go. And if she changes up the curtains and stuff, she still gets to keep a bit of her old kitchen theme.)

I still have a little less than a yard left of the cherry fabric, so if I have time this week, I’d like to make her some matching potholders or something. The shower’s on Saturday, so I’m on a bit of a time crunch. We’ll see how it goes.

I also got some knitting done over the weekend– went back to my aunt’s beach house for a night to hang out with my brother and sis-in-law for her birthday, and I brought my knitting with me. So I’ve got about 50 rows of mindless knit 2 purl 2 left before the back is done. I’m hoping I can knock that out pretty quickly! Especially since I already have my next big project lined up– I’m joining in the Newbie and the Knitter knitalong that’s starting up in September. I mean, what better way to figure out that sweater knitting thing than with other people, right? The planned project is the Cadence pullover from Knitty.com. I’m personally planning on lengthening the sleeves to full-length if I can, because I get cold so easily that 3/4 sleeved sweaters are kind of pointless for me. And I guess I got excited, because I ended up getting my yarn for it yesterday while I was at Joann’s to get a better matching thread for the apron (and that Vogue pattern I wanted!)

It’s a super-soft acrylic/alpaca blend in this “persimmon” color. I used to have a rather strong dislike for orange, mainly due to this nasty carpet from the 70s that was on my bedroom floor for the first several years of my life. It’s grown on me in the last couple of years, though. And it’s not quite as pumpkiny as it looks in this picture–it’s a cooler orange, if that makes sense. Once I get to mid-January or February or so, I always start craving color in my wardrobe to offset the super-blah weather. And since I tend to go for sweaters more than anything when I’m cold, this seemed to be just the thing! Hopefully I’ve got enough yarn…. I bought out the entire pile that Joann’s had, and if my estimate is right, I have more than the pattern calls for. But then, you see how well that went for my current knit!

Apron crafting!

My friend Nicole had the idea a little while ago that we should make some Anthropologie-inspired aprons. We finally got together this weekend to do so, and spent quite a few hours last night and this afternoon putting them together. With her permission for posting the photo, here’s what we ended up with!
We ended up pretty much winging them completely, with no patterns. Which meant we had to make some tweaks as we went along, but it was great to have her there so we could bounce our ideas for how to make things work off of each other!

 She used their “Tea and Crumpets” apron as her inspiration….

…and I used the “Gray Gardens” one–with the boldness of the print in the fabric I ended up choosing, it seemed like the best match!

We’re hoping to get together before too long for another sewing day–she made this one to give to a friend who recently got married, and wants to make a second one for herself. (I’m being selfish and keeping mine.) I hope it doesn’t take too long, anyway–sewing with other people is kind of a rare treat for me! (And most often happens with my mom, though it seems we don’t really have the time to sew at the same time much these days.)

Also, I kind of feel like I should cook something soon, now that I have a cheery apron to keep myself from splattering bits of food all over my clothes!

"Layla" in Red

And since I mentioned in my last post (of about 30 seconds ago) that I was sewing on Sunday, figured I should show what I made! This is revisiting the Layla apron from BurdaStyle, as a gift for a cousin’s fiancee. Her bridal shower is on Saturday, and my sister-in-law and I are teaming up for her gift. (I figured she’s not even my Facebook friend yet, so there’s no chance she’ll find this and I can talk about it.) So we got her a bunch of the smaller kitchen doodads that she asked for on her registry, and I made the apron to add a more personal touch to it– the main color of her kitchen stuff is red. And this French-inspired print was kind of screaming at me for her, after spending a little time with her down at the family beach time back in August.

Oddly, I could NOT make heads or tails of the actual directions on the apron, despite having made it before. So I basically just used the pattern to cut it out and then did it my own way. And it seems to have worked out well. I may have done it that “winging it” way last time too….can’t remember.

I do have to say, though, that I couldn’t be happier with my print-matching job for the pocket.

See? It’s practically invisible! So pardon me while I pat myself on the back.

So, anyway, there it is, and I hope she likes it. And now I’d best get going….gotta get through work so I can get to some reconstructing!

Laaaaaaayla, got me on my knees….

Ok, not really, because I’m done with it. But the song lyric was too fun a title to pass up!

Anyway, this is J’s wedding gift (complete with the utensils in the pocket), which I (partially) made using BurdaStyle’s Layla pattern. I have no qualms about posting it here, because she’s not crafty at all and doesn’t even know I have this blog, not to mention she doesn’t spend much time online and is slightly preoccupied with her wedding, so there is no way she’ll see this beforehand! I would have done the potholders with their oven mitt as well, but I had issues with the DIY quilted fabric.
See how retarded and stubby the thumb looks? I used some scraps of heat-resistant batting that my mom had–two layers of it, because I wanted to make sure they were sturdy and wouldn’t cause her to get burned. That may have been a mistake, because even with trimming down and clipping the seams a ridiculous amount, I just could not get it so that the thumb could comfortably fit inside. So I had this bad oven mitt, and the cut-out one that I hadn’t sewn together yet….
…and this was the result of my improvisation. The pocket at the top is to slip your hand in, and then it would wrap around the bottom of the pan. They do tend to slip off if you open and close your hand a lot, but I figure she won’t be doing that while holding hot pans and such. I just hope she can figure out what they are…
And this is a close-up of the fabric. She loves rabbits (she has a pet one that was practically her baby before her fiance came along), and the kitchen stuff she registered for is this darker blue color, so this was perfect.
I also got this done over the weekend– oonaballoona, you’ll be happy to know that C and T seconded and thirded your thought on making the larger bag. It turned out to be a good choice, since this pattern only uses two pieces and no zipper. I do still have to cut out interfacing since I didn’t bring that with me, but it should be fairly simple to sew together (and hopefully I can start that tonight.) The plain silver side is the outside, the green side is where I hand-basted the underlining to it (cotton batiste, since I had that and I have no silk organza lying on-hand), and the print is for the lining.