Tuesday, 23 August 2016

My last post

Yip, this is my last post on this blog, but let me first do some show and tell:

Well...since my last post, I have gone down the rabbit hole of burlesque costume making...Oh dear...My tiny sewing room has expanded through the door and into my living room. We now only have one couch to sit on. There are lost sequins scattered across the house. I have to prevent my cats from attacking the expensive feather trims... I am exhausted, because I am building this new tower while still working my current job,  but I am feeling happier and more alive.

This is a corset I am currently working on. 

I made this dress! I didn't know what I was getting myself into when my friend, Lana, requested me to make this for her. I made it on a tight deadline over a weekend and I don't really know how I did it, BUT I felt so proud of myself when I finished it.

A Vogue Bridal pattern - what was I thinking?! I have learnt that one has to work with precision on these patterns or else the pattern will simply not work. This meant a lot of patience and a lot of hand sewing to keep all the slippery satin in place. 

Uhm...part of any burlesque costume is a gorgeous, sparkly set of pasties(covers for the nipples).
A huge part of what I do now, is the making of pasties in all shapes and sizes. Of course, these kinky little items are not just for burlesque performers. I have had one or two of my salon clients order pasties for themselves!

Here is the deal: 
I admire bloggers who regularly manage to make something, get dolled up, take photo's and then write about it. As for me: I prefer taking snap shots with my phone and posting them on Instagram with a quick description of what I am getting up to. It just fits my lifestyle better.
My sewing has also taken me into a new direction. Sewing Spree was all about learning how to sew, discovering new sewing patterns and talking about how great it is to finally be able to sew clothes that fit my curvy body. I used to get excited about everyday clothes, but now I am all about hot fix crystals and making myself a rockabilly dress (and a mermaid costume). Right now, I need to go with the magic.

So...if you are interested in this new direction of mine, you are welcome to find me on Instagram
at "Ametrine Creations". If this is not quite your cup of tea, I sincerely want to thank you for having joined me on this first part of my sewing journey. xxx

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Corset crazy!

 It is truly weird and wonderful how one thing can sometimes lead to another. A while back, I created steampunk biker costumes for my fiance and myself when we got invited to an offbeat steampunk biker wedding. There, we met and became friends with Lana, a fabulous lady who happens to be a burlesque performer. Those outfits I made impressed her her enough to ask me for help her with her costume sewing. I know that I said a while back that I'm not keen on sewing for others, but when it comes to corsets,  satin skirts, diamante, feathers and bustles - my eyes start sparkling like a little five year old girl watching Frozen. Go Google burlesque costumes - some of those outfits are gorgeous!
Lana gave me a corset pattern. I just had to play with this new weird and wonderful new toy and see how it works and how it goes together. I began working on this garment without any prior corset making research, so if you are an experienced corset maker you will probably be rolling your eyes a lot while reading about my process.
 I had some pleather left from my previous steampunk costumes, so the logical route was to make a steampunk themed corset. I accidentally cut one of the panels identical instead of mirrored, so had to go and buy some more of the black pleather. This was fine because I bought enough for my next corset as well(hehehe).
 I top stitched the seams flat but my top stitching went hideously skew over the cups, so I decided to stitch satin bias binding over the seams. (I think they call it decorative fake boning channels) I like the combination of satin and leather.
OK, so here I began wondering where I have to put the boning channels, and how I was going to add boning channels without changing the look of the pleather shell, so my best idea was to make an inner lining consisting of two layers of fabric and then somehow attaching it to the pleather shell...
At this point I began consulting the free beginner articles at Foundations Revealed. This site is amazing, I highly recommend it if you are, like me, seriously interested in making corsets.
I used this canvass-type fabric from my stash for the inner lining because I was trying to be thrifty in case this projects flops. So far, I have joined the outer shell and lining around the top edge and along the back panels where the eyelets go. I will be finishing all my edges with satin bias binding.
Dear readers, if you are going to buy tools for corset making, please consult this article. Do not make my mistake and buy just any old hole cutter and eyelet punch at the hardware store. This hole cutter is absolute shite and even though the single eyelets will be fine for now, I don't think they will hold in the long run with the wear and tear a corset takes when wearing it. I have wasted my money on these crappy tools and my wrists became so sore my fiance' had to finish punching the holes and inserting the eyelets for me. I do have little problem, and that is that I cannot seem to source the correct tools locally and will most likely have to spend the money and order my tools from overseas. I have two more local shops I need to scout for tools so I am holding thumbs. If you live in South Africa and know of a place that can help me, please point me in the right direction! I also had to use plastic boning because spiral steel boning is nowhere to be found locally. It will just have to do for now...
 Yes! Please take note that my corset is not yet finished in these pictures. I had to try it on to mark where I am going to stitch the lining to the outer shell around the bottom edge. I can see that with future corsets, it will be best to somehow stitch the outer shell down onto the lining. Even though my body fills the corset nicely, I can see that the corset still doesn't quite act like one unit over the boobs. 

I can also see that some extra boning is needed on the back panels.
Yip, the centre back area needs some boning as well...
Isabella has owned corsets before, so she is an experienced hand at lacing up a corset. I had to hold on to a doorpost as she laced me up. In these photos I had to take very shallow breaths...

While not perfect, I am having loads of fun and learning as I go along. In my next post I will post photos of the finished corset. I am thinking of doing a bit of a steampunk dress-up!

I wish you all a good week ahead!

Monday, 30 May 2016

Clare Coat Part 3: Finished!

Finished! Yay!

I have been busy making my own Clare Coat by Closet Case Patterns
If you missed the first two installments, here is Part 1 and here is Part 2.

I love this coat. It's the first coat I have had in years that I can actually close in front, and which isn't too tight across my shoulders. It's like slipping into a snugly sleeping bag, and I get to wear it out of the house.

I made a few mistakes with this coat. I didn't lengthen the collar enough to accommodate the added ease at the shoulders and the sleeves, so I had to  shorten the amount that the front coat panels overlap in the front. I wasn't planning on wearing the coat buttoned right up to the collar in any case, so it wasn't, too big of a train smash. I also didn't lengthen the the facings enough, so I had to shorten the outer shell of the coat. I made notes of everything I need to adjust for my next coat.

When bagging the coat lining, my mind was blown by that method where you attach the sleeves of the outer shell to the sleeves of the lining and when you turn it right way around: Ta-DA!

 I couldn't top stitch the edges right on the edge, because my sewing machine refused to sew through it. (I broke my first needle on this sewing machine.) I eventually top stitched the coat more inward from the edges like a quilt to help the outer shell and facings act like one unit.

Don't forget the pockets! These pockets are my favourite because the satin lining feels divine when I slip my hands into them! 

I enjoyed making this coat. The process took long, but it was satisfying. I definitely want to make this coat again: a longer version and in a colour like emerald green or petrol blue. I just need to find someone who stocks a decent selection of coating fabrics in Cape Town...

I hope you enjoyed this journey with me!
Take care!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Clare Coat Part 2: Muslins, adjustments and an unfortunate discovery.

Welcome to Part 2 of my adventures in making the Clare Coat by Closet Case Patterns!
Here is Part 1, in case you missed it. I am busy making view B.

I have made two muslins, and had some adjustments to make.

Lets start at the beginning:
I fall slightly outside the largest size(20) so I knew I was going to be working with this size.
I was aware that I might have to do a wide shoulder adjustment and a FBA. Heather Lou recommends a FBA if you are larger than a C-cup, but it looked like I might get away with no alterations according to the finished garment measurements, so I made my first muslin straight from the pattern.
Left: muslin 1  Right: muslin 2 
I tried my muslin on over what I would typically wear underneath a coat: jeans, my everyday bra and a long sleeved T-shirt. It was tight across the shoulders, my shoulders are slightly more square and I could immediately see that a FBA was necessary.  I also want to be able to wear a knitted sweater underneath this coat - I found that there would not be enough ease to do so. I found the sleeves too snug, too short and I wanted the coat slightly longer because I am tall.
Left: muslin 1  Right: muslin 2
Here are all the adjustments I made:
Made the sleeves longer by 3cm.
Made the raglan sleeves slightly more square over the shoulders and added 1cm to the the front and back sleeve pieces from the shoulder area all the way down to the cuff: This would add an extra 2cm ease on each sleeve.
I did a wide shoulder adjustment. (I also had to adjust my collar and neck facing  pieces accordingly)
Lengthened the whole coat by 5cm.
Left: muslin 1  Right: muslin 2
Lowered the bust dart by 6cm
3cm FBA: I cut a vertical slit over the apex of my muslin and tried it on again and measured the width of the gape created when I eased out the pull lines created by my bust. I measured it at 3cm. I was worried that my A-line coat would become a bit tent-like in front, due to the extra fullness that would be created by such a large FBA, so I consulted the Curvy Sewing Collective and found a handy tutorial on how to do a FBA on a one-dart bodice.
Muslin 2
On top of these adjustments I had to make the same changes to the lining pattern pieces as well...phew...My front coat piece now looks like something drafted by Frankenstein. I did not make any changes to my interfacing pieces because I want to block-fuse all my outer pattern pieces to give my fabric more structure. I am very happy with the second muslin and the adjustments I made.
The unfortunate discovery:
I decided to cut my pieces out of the interfacing. I would then be able to lay my interfacing pieces out flat on my coating fabric, pin them down, cut the fabric loosely around each piece, press and cut my fabric using the fused interfacing as my guide.
My plan was running smoothly until I got to one of my front panels and discovered a fault in the fabric. Right in the centre of the piece is a ripped hole 3cm long... I am so pissed off about this. This was the last of the fabric on the roll. Chances are slim to zero to find more of this fabric from the same batch...
I think I will take a sample of the fabric to few shops and see if I get lucky, otherwise I will have to buy new fabric. Has this happened to anyone?  In the meantime, my pet project is going to take a nap in the spare bedroom until I can get to the shops again. I will be keeping myself busy with a few quick makes until then...sigh...

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Clare Coat Part 1: Getting started

Hello! Today is just a quick post to let you know that I have made the decision to make my first winter coat. I am terrified - I think that is exactly why I should do it, besides the fact that winter is around the corner and I seriously need a decent coat.

I have chosen the Clare Coat pattern by Closet Case Patterns. I have enjoyed all the Clare Coat reviews, and I have noted how everyone mentions how thorough the instructions are, and how great this pattern is for first time coat-makers. I will be making view B, because I simply LOVE large collars!
Oh seems that in South Africa they only pack out the coating fabrics once it is winter - kinda stupid if you ask me because one wants to have the coat done by then...Despite the limited choices, I managed to find a fabric which excites me. It looks like boucle, but it's not made from wool. I did a burn test out of curiosity and my findings point to mercerised cotton. This is the burn test chart, which I referred to, and when I was wondering what "mercerised" meant, this wikipedia article helped me out.
The rebel in me chose spring green satin for the lining.
Spring green satin and cotton boucle in action.
So that is it for today. My next post will most likely be to show the muslin. Now, I have to get back to pasting together and cutting out 30 pattern pieces...
Enjoy the rest of your week!


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Steampunk Biker Costumes

What the heck do you wear to a steampunk-biker-themed wedding? That is the question I asked ten days ago when we recieved a last minute invite. The bridal couple are die hard bikers, so you could go in your biker gear or dress up in steampunk/biker garb. The wedding was to be held at a biker clubhouse - it sounded like something from Rock 'n Roll Bride! Yeah!

I immediately consulted my dear friend, Google, and narrowed the inspiration down to key elements such as leather, gadgets, corsets, goggles, antique keys and clock gears. I went through my stash and was overjoyed to find pleather and metal findings I had orignally bought to make a handbag but never got around to it.

Measurements and planning
I decided I would make myself a cuff and some kind of underbust corset. I began taking my basic measurements and played around until I came up with a drafted pattern for both items. Once I started cutting into the pleather, I was completely prepared that this project might not work out as I saw it in my mind...
I made the cuff first. I was so scared to sew the pleather at first, afraid that I might hurt my sewing machine, but it sewed surprizingly well. As you can see, the sides I simply folded over and stitched down, and the ends I finised off with satin bias binding. I thought the satin bias binding would look good with the black ribbon I intended using to lace the cuff around my forearm. The two cuffs on the left above are the first cuff I made(purple stitching), but I finished and used the second cuff I made(red stitching).
I ended up using a denim needle. It was what the lady at the fabric store advised me when I bought the pleather. I have a leather needle in my stash, and I did try it, but the denim needle worked best for me. Sara from Sew Sweetness wrote an informative article on sewing with faux leather. She uses universal needles for the job. I will definately refer back to this article when I sew handbangs one day.
This is the basic corset I achieved. I decided to cut the corset in half and insert elastic panels in the back, because I do not do well with restrictive clothing. I also had to slice off wedges by the hip area so that the corset would flow over my hips rather than pinch them.
Elastic panels on the inside and how it looks on the back outside view of the corset.
I enjoyed sewing with pleather. It doesn't unravel, and it is super stable. I liked how I could scribble and draw alterations on the back with a pencil. My sewing machine handled it really well, except when I tried to sew too many layers together. According to what I read you aren't supposed to backstitch to secure your stitching, but I was in a hurry to make these so I went and did it anyway. I'm sure it would look fantastic if you did not backstitch and simply tied the loose ends on the back. As you can see I also did not bother with how it looks on the inside, because it's just a costume.
Attached D-links and fitting the corset. 

Here is how I added some finer details with panels and top stitching.
I used some of my old jewellery making skills to add the final touches. I filled the little bottles with Jack Daniels, and no, I did not get around to drinking it at the wedding.
Ta-da! Steam punk biker chick! I wore my Black Moneta Dress from my previous post. The tights are RTW.
Shame...its always like I don't have any time to sew something for my significant other. Fortunately Isabella didn't want anything too complicated. I made her a pleather apron with customised pockets for the gadgets she wanted to add. I traced off a old apron of my mother's for a pattern.
As you can see, she wanted a pocket for her steam punk pocket watch, and compartments for her two spanners and paint brush. Apparently those specific size spanners are the ones you use when working on your bike.
As part of our party pack, we got awesome steam punk goggles! Isabella looked just adorable with hers, it went really well with her steam punk/biker/mad scientist look.
Speaking of mad: Here is the mad scientist strangling the poor seamstress...
All in all, our outfits were a hit. The wedding was great - there was nothing traditional about it. The bride was ridden into the clubhouse on a Harley and she wore black- It was refreshing!
Now time to get back to some traditional sewing - hahaha! Hope you are having a great week so far!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Black lace insert Moneta

Hello there!

I made another Colette Patterns Moneta dress. I scooped out the back neckline and inserted a lace panel to add some interest. I like the insert so much I think I rather should have placed it in the front! Oh well, next time...
This is the third time I made the Moneta dress, you can view my two previous versions here.
Again, I used size 2XL. I left out the sleeves and didn't line the bodice like you are supposed to - I was super lazy when I made this dress. I re-drafted the back neckline freehand, keeping in mind the width of the strip of lace I wanted to use. I used a stretchy lace which I thought would be compatible with the stretch fabric. I sewed the lace in by hand because I didn't know how I was going to sew it with my machine and keep everything from pulling and puckering. 
I tried out the bodice as is, because I wanted to see how it looks. With my other two versions, I lengthened the bodice by 5cm due to my large bust. I think I prefer the lengthened bodice - with the shorter bodice I only see boobs in front! I will still wear this dress, I just need a minimising bra!
A weird thing did happen though - when I finished the dress there was a lot of gaping under my arms, which I had to take in afterwards. Maybe the fabric stretched out on the clothing hanger? Maybe it's because the armholes normally have sleeves? I don't know, I was just glad I could rescue the situation.

Currently on my sewing table is my first ever quilt which I finished last night. It is a gift so I first want to give it to the person before showing it. (hehe) It was an interesting experience but I am glad that I can now return to sewing clothes, which I think is more my thing...

Hope you are having a great week!