Thursday, May 28, 2015

Italian Finds: "Princess" Tablecloth!

Here's another of my "Italian Finds", what I call my "Princess" tablecloth because of particular aspects of the embroidery design. I believe this piece is entirely machine embroidered, but I could be wrong. 

This is what the center embroidery design looks like unfolded... 

...and this is one of the edges on the center embroidery. Note the eyelets on the corners and the coloring, both quite beautiful! 

This is the reason why I call it my "Princess" tablecloth. It kind of looks like Cinderella's pumpkin-y carriage, if you look at it the right sort of way. 

Last but not least, the edge corner design. So sweet! 

If anyone has any information whatsoever about the techniques or design on this piece, please do comment! I would love to learn more about my little "Italian Finds!"

Monday, May 25, 2015

Take a Break From Sewing! Tutorial Round Up

Sometimes you just keep sewing and sewing and you need a break from it all... I know I get this way. This is where Pinterest (mostly) comes in handy- that is, if I don't get stuck drooling over all the lovelies and never taking action on any of the projects I find there. In any chase, since most of the tutorials on there are just a picture long, I took pains to find some fun full-length tutorials on my favorite blogs. Here are my five wanna-do tutorials for breaking from sewing! 

I've actually done this tutorial- it took me all of ten minutes to gather supplies and do it. I even did a variant in a different color! Warning: this is a VERY addicting tutorial, because you're going to want a chubby little teapot in every color! Affix the charm to a necklace, make two small ones and turn them into earrings, or just pop it on a keychain. The possibilities are endless! 

Here's a pretty quick tutorial. I like the idea of photocopying the page before cutting it apart... may or may not have destroyed a book in order to make earrings of my own. *sheepish grin* In any case, this is applicable for other settings, like cameo settings or what have you. Hobby Lobby has it all, I'm convinced. 

I'm always going to be a sucker for anything remotely fairy-tale-esque, so this definitely hits the spot. One could even craft the pea out of polymer clay... there's lots you can do with this tutorial! 

The geek in me sings when I see nerdy tutorials like this floating around. One of my college mates has a pair of these and she rocks them like anything. They look like they're really easy to make, too! 

Last but not least is this wonderful tea party hat tutorial, one which I fully intend on realizing. My college hosts an annual tea party on the main campus lawn, one which I look forward to with great anticipation. I'm hoping to refashion a straw hat that's been sitting around the house for a while, and pull together some newly purchased and stash fabrics to make a tea dress from one of Mrs. Chancey's beautiful patterns. Don't worry. You'll be getting full documentation of it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Italian Finds: Applique Tablecloth!

So, this past semester, I was blessed and most fortunate to be able to go and study in Rome! It was a hectic three months, as can be expected, but I had a glorious time. Much walking, good food, wonderful sights, amazing Churches, and great company were had. Anyways, the reason I bring this wonderful semester of mine into question is this: I found a bunch of embroidered linens and lace at a Roman street market and I wanted to share my "Italian Finds" with you all! 

The first on the list is a beautiful little linen tablecloth with hand embroidery, applique work, and inset lace! 

Here is a detail picture on one of the corner designs. You can see the edging lace and the color choices... isn't it just beautiful? 

Here's a close-up of the applique- notice that the little yellow flower is actually raised, as it's filled with something to give the pattern texture! 

I heard one of my Rome professors say that the Roman women flock to this particular street market to purchase these linens, as they know such things can't be purchased anywhere else. He said they are aware of the quality and beauty of these linens... and the cheapness. Most of these linens only cost me one euro, which is about a dollar nowadays. Can't beat that! 

If anyone has any information whatsoever about the techniques or design on this piece, please do comment! I would love to learn more about my little "Italian Finds!"

Monday, May 18, 2015

McCall's Pattern Rant

I've been doing more thinking about pattern covers since my sleepwear rant a few weeks ago. You know, of all the pattern companies, McCall's has got to have the worst photo shoots for their patterns. You'd think that they'd want to make their patterns exhibit how great their patterns are, and make you want to sew with them?


Wrong. I have never been less inclined to sew a vest before. Not only that, but this isn't an out of print pattern, folks- no, this is still being manufactured. Apparently, this look is still "in". 

Now, before I go any further, let me say that McCall's prints a good deal of patterns that I happen to like and I do like them on the whole, I just... well, I have difficulty understanding this: 

I think it's supposed to be a pattern to appeal to cosplayers, for it appears that the designer was going for a Frozen/Sailor Moon crossover. But, but... the makeup. The fabric choices. The whole idea. Oh, and for your information, I checked. The leggings are a part of the pattern. 

So maybe the other costume patterns are better? Maybe? 

I don't deny that the concept of being able to sew fun superhero costumes is great, but... is the "dad" wearing makeup...? Also, is the "m" on his chest symbolic of "McCalls"...? 

Okay, turning from costume patterns (because it kind of seems hopeless), let's see about clothing patterns. 

Nah. My hopes have been dashed yet again. How did the photographers/coordinators introduce the idea of this shot to the models? "Oh yes, in the next one, you're going to hug. But not a normal hug. We want this to be edgy, just like the fabric on his sweater thing." 

Speaking of edgy, pretty sure that's what they were going for in this shot: 

I suppose they didn't think of shortening the skirt in the back, because otherwise it's going to get stuck in the chain of that bike if she should decide to mount it and ride to prom. Or not prom. It's a prom dress, judging from the fabric, but she's a bit old for prom, right...? 

Okay, okay. So the photoshoots are a bit weird and they try their best to make them different. What if you just wanted a simple pattern for scrubs? How weird could that get? 

The pattern is actually pretty good, as far as scrubs go. But apparently they're conveying the idea that hand sanitizer is all nurses care about. It must be a metaphor. Like, there's a moral in this picture, if you look at it long enough. This nurse is wearing good scrubs, which means she cares a lot not only about her physical appearance, but also about your overall happiness. She doesn't want a visit to the doctor's ruined because of a bad set of scrubs. But she also cares about your overall health. Use that sanitizer, because deep down, she cares.  

Thank you, McCalls- you make great patterns, but maybe you need to rethink your pattern covers. All the same, they provide much amusement for yours truly. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer 2015 Stash Challenge

My mother and I have come to the logical conclusion that our fabric stash is getting to be a bit much. It's a good problem to have, to be honest, but we have limited space in our sewing room. So, the pressure's on. I've decided to try and sew up as much of the fabric as possible this summer, in an effort to clear up much-needed square footage. I already have a couple of projects in mind for some of the pieces, so we'll see what I can come up with. Expect some "Stash Challenge" posts around here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Cuppa Tea: Titanic Era Costuming from the "Big Three"

A few years ago, in order to sew a decent Titanic-Era or Downton Abbey costume, one had to go to indie-pattern companies like Sense and Sensibility or Hint of History for patterns. Don't get me wrong, I love those companies a ton and a good portion of my pattern cabinet is devoted to their patterns. However, for the sewist who doesn't frequent such websites and only shops for mainstream patterns from the "Big Three" (Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick), there weren't many pickings at all. For the past couple of years, pretty much the only thing on the market was this reprinted Simplicity pattern:

Which isn't terrible, if you wanted to do some alterations to make it look better than the pictured dresses. But for the more avid costumier, it wasn't enough and people gave up on the idea of the "Big Three" ever coming out with a good costume pattern for the Titanic Era. 

Finally, however, Simplicity and Butterick came around (McCalls, well, I have no hope for them coming out with any good costume patterns whatsoever). Let's take a look. 

Simplicity seems to have made attempts to ameliorate its previous folly by introducing another costume pattern that looks like it's meant to be from Downton Abbey. The materials chosen for the cover dresses are quite costume-y and don't look very authentic at all. It says that there's a "corset" pattern- I'm assuming that's what's peeking out from the neckline? I'd be interested to see what the pattern pieces look like for that. In any case, it's a much nicer option than the cookie-cutter Titanic costume pattern above, and with a few adjustments and the proper fabric choice, it could look very nice. 

Burda Patterns, which is affiliated with Simplicity, has one very nice pattern that is worth mentioning. 

It has a lovely asymmetrical look, which was enormously popular at the time. This is a bit more advanced and would require a more patient sewist to sew. Burda patterns are a little harder to find in stores, but JoAnn's usually keeps at least one of each pattern number in stock, so you should be able to find it without having to order online. 

Butterick seems to be putting out a lot of lovely reprints and Nancy-Ferris Thee patterns that are far nicer than either of the two Simplicity patterns. The first of these is B6190, which has three different views: 

Again, the fabric color choices may not be the best (I'm thinking of the lace), but it really is a lovely pattern. Especially the gold dress. I hope to secure this pattern shortly. The multi-layered skirt options, the empire-waisted, foldover bodice, and the train are all wonderful options to have.

Next up is is B6093:

Not so wild about the lace on the second option, but the lines of the pattern are really great. It's more of a everyday pattern, as opposed to the last three patterns, so if you wanted something less frilly and not for a tea party, this is the pattern I'd recommend. The single or double overlay skirt, plus the different collars and sleeve options, make this a good pattern to have in your library. 

Finally, B6108, another "everyday" pattern: 

This one's a suit, which is really nice for people aiming for the Titanic-Era "street fashion". I like the idea of plaid and wool, one could make it quite nice. Not too wild about the idea of a bib instead of an actual shirtwaist, but that's probably just due to the designer wanting to focus on the blazer and skirt set. 

I'm very much looking forward to acquiring some of these patterns and using them for costumes of my own. It would be interesting to see if they release any other patterns suitable for the Titanic-Era. 

Did you have a favorite? Comment! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

May the Fourth...

A sneak preview of my next big project! 

One of my exciting custom order projects over the summer involves this lovely. 

Excited for Star Wars VII? I know I am.