Liberty nights

I’m publicising my nightwear again. Completely decently I promise. Fine lawn is cool to wear and folds up small and light for travel. Add a busy print and it’s more decent in the opacity sense. Liberty Tana is of course perfect. I made a kimono style robe for summer traveling some years ago from a beautiful orange tulip Tana. I’ve been wanting a gown to go with it. I decided to use some of the left overs from the lattice patchwork, including the tulip print.

While working on the lattice, I found this second hand purple dress. It didn’t fit, but I rather thought the fabric might be Liberty Tana. It was home made, so no label to identify it. I now think it probably isn’t, but it’s very close in quality.

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I used a little of it in the lattice. I deliberately kept the skirt whole, figuring it would be good for something needing acreage. Then I realised I could build a patchwork bodice, and use the skirt for this gown. I got a few squares out of the purple, enough to tie the bodice in visually. Measure the pattern. Work out a good size for the squares and how many are needed. Start laying them out:

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Assemble the rough shape. This is for the front.

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Then cut the pattern out of it, cursing when you realise you need to put darts in it.

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Assemble the bodice, all with flat felled seams to keep it single layer and minimum weight, maximum cool. Adjust the skirt so it can be attached flat to the bodice. To maximise fullness neatly, I put an inverted pleat at centre back. The hem is the original with a bit of tweaking where I redid the seams.

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A quick pic of it on. It’s baggy deliberately but the colours, though strange, work for me. No smile, I had a grump on.

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The neck and armholes are finished with teeny straight grain facings, a trick I’ve adopted from my medieval costume work. It uses little fabric, is fairly quick to do and strengthens the edge.

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Here it is with the robe over. I’m pretty happy with it.

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and a gratuitous label shot. In this case the label is recycled from a now too small shirt.

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Reworked Hair Sticks

About six months ago, I nearly jabbed a friend in the eye with my hair stick when turning my head for a hug. I decided that my over long and too pointy hair sticks had to go or be altered. I’ve put aside some of the metal and plastic dpns* I was using and have had fun converting a couple of wooden ones and paint brush handles into appealing and somewhat safer hair sticks.

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The only one that went as planned was the white pearl stick. That was a worn out paintbrush with the ferrule pulled off. Sanded back, coated with white gouache paint, said paint rubbed off as much as possible with a damp cloth, let to dry, then varnished. I’m really pleased with the effect.

The wooden dpns were much more troublesome. That wood turned out to be very brittle, so I couldn’t achieve plan A. The shorter one splintered several times during both sawing and drilling before I gave up on plan B and came up with plan C. I’m amused by the piercing effect. Hoping that one is in fact long enough to function properly (edit: Woot, it does)

This is a better shot of the first two I made:

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A demonstration of one in use:

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The smaller paint brush one was previously my favourite hair stick in it’s paint brush form. I didn’t want to clean it up too much so I didn’t at all. I just pulled the ferrule off, glued a wooden bead on the end and gave it rough coats of black, then gold acrylic paint. I love the finished piece despite the grungy handle.

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*dpn=double pointed (knitting) needle.

A Remodeled Wisp

I was wanting another evening dress. I hadn’t been able to settle on a plan for any of the new lengths of fabric from stash. I was however suddenly struck with an idea for remodeling a frock that has been languishing in the wardrobe for a few years. In one day I had the inspiration, cut it up and remade the outer dress.

This is the bodice, firstly after I hacked the skirt off. Silly me forgot to take a proper before photo. Then with the vintage lace separated out for reclamation. That waist section was a little too tight when I first made it and is now even more so. Drat the effects of advancing years.

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The fabric is so lovely, it’s worth reworking it so I can wear it.

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I found enough left over fabric to cut a new bodice. Short waisted, cross over. Based on the T bodice pattern I’ve used for several dresses. Not sure if I’ve posted any of them here? I’ll look later and maybe update. Anyway. I sewed that up the same morning. Then I regathered and attached the skirt, with a facing behind to form a drawstring channel.

It’s crinkle silk chiffon again. Working with this stuff is sort of like sewing air. The sewing itself tends to go fairly smoothly I find. It’s the handling and fabric placement that takes extra time. I do recommend using silk sewing thread. It blends with the fabric, doesn’t fight it.

Here is the resulting wisp of a frock

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Obviously I can’t wear it like that alone. The original frock was fully lined. So I reclaimed the lace trimmed skirt from that and made a new slip on bodice from a coordinating rayon lining fabric with the reclaimed lace strips for the neckline.

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Silly me sewed the back of the slip bodice on inside out. I decided it wasn’t important enough to be worth unpicking. So if I haven’t got my hair down, the label will be visible through the floaty frock. Oh well.

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And here they are together. Floaty, comfortable, sleeved and less formal than the original, if a bit less flattering perhaps. One wearable dress from an unusable one.

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Pink!

Some months ago, my niece pointed at a picture in a book and said “I want that one”. I didn’t see the picture, but I’m told it was a bag made from a pair of pink jeans. I needed to organise a present for her and this is something well within my capabilities. She may not even remember the picture, or the wanting, but I hope she likes it anyway.

An opshop provided a pair of size 8 ladies jeans in brilliant pink. I chopped them below the fly, inserted a rectangular base and handles, cut from the legs.

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I then put a coordinating lining in.

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I left the button and fly functional for fun. Then I realised that gave access to the space between bag and lining for the putting of things, and a five year old would. So to prevent the inevitable struggle of having to get them out again, I sewed through to catch the placket closed. Pity I didn’t think of this until the lining was in, so that stitching shows on the inside. Oh well. If I ever make another I shall try to remember.

And the backside:

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I reckon it came out quite well. It occurs to me that my old jeans would make good grocery bags made up like this with a squarer base. I wonder if I’ve kept any?

Serious Warm, Serious Remodel

Wanting to capture this project on the blog, I’m converting a bunch of small FB posts to one simplified blog entry.

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I love the garment on the right*, pictured above. In the cold evenings at a recent event, I decided that a version of it in seriously warm cloth would have enhanced my life. The garment on the left is seriously warm cloth (heavy wool coating with a strong nap) but I hated it. It was ill conceived and I didn’t wear it. So I chopped up the garment on the left  into rough pattern pieces and split it into two halves, meaning to dyeing each pile a different colour.  Two colours because:
1. The gear I have won’t allow me to dye the whole thing in one go, and if I don’t, the two halves won’t match.
2. Particoloured is a perfectly authentic option
3. If I can’t have stripes or some other interesting cloth, bright particolour is about as fun as it gets.

If the whole transformation were not to work, at least the huge pale coat will still be out of the wardrobe. If it does work, I’ll have the toasty warm particoloured gown that I want without having to buy the fabric.

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I really love dyeing stuff. It’s so transformative. The seriously warm fabric took up dye really easily too, so even though I did two dye baths for each half, I still got it all done in a little over 3 hours. The simple red and green I started with came out too bright and candy like. So I softened them with additions of yellow and black.

The first try was using 2 bottles red, 1.5 bottles green, both Queen brand food dye (all I had). I wasn’t surprised that these came out too stark for what I wanted.

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To soften these I added half a bottle of yellow and a small slosh of black to the red. The last of my McCormick blue and two sloshes of black to the green. Much better.

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I’m fairly pleased with these colours. The green is less even than the red, due to rapid uptake of the red parts of the black dye. My choice of colours was influenced by what I thought I could achieve with these dyes in large volumes, plus what I want to wear and what might be plausibly medieval.

Then I had to cut out the proper pattern pieces. Sadly I didn’t manage to be as clever as I would have liked. Cutting a particoloured garment from fabric with a very definite right side has pitfalls. I anticipated some correctly, so the fronts and backs make a proper set. However, I switcheroonied the side panels front to back and the sleeves left to right. Wrong side out was completely unacceptable. Random colour placement was not welcome either.

I managed to fix my idiocy by swapping the back and front pieces. This was made possible because I had enough offcuts to recut new upper back pieces to give the needed width and higher neckline. Just a few extra seams needed.

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Here is the new gown all assembled. Not finished. Lots of hand sewing still needed. Ideally, I’ll get rid of the overlocking and whip all the seams down. Eventually. I dared not forgo overlocking against all the handling needed for the dyeing. I thought I’d be able to lose it in the cutting out, but fitting the pieces into available fabric was tighter than I’d thought it would be.

Bit of a transformation eh? Once I decided it had to go, that pale coat was just raw material. I have a silly fancy that the finished shape of the serious warm is rather Dr Seuss.

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and here it is on so you can see the fit. My take on these gowns is that they need to fit well in the upper body and arms to capture both the proper look and maximum elegance. Not full 14thC presentation, the stretch skivvy is fully anachronistic.

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*an early 14th C overgown based on several from the Taymouth Hours.

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Custom yarn from scrap

I decided to let my next sock recipient nominate her preferred colours. “Reds and Blues” she said. The sock wool stash had no red, but there was a variagated pink/orange. I had dark navy and some pale blues, but no nice bright blues.

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Woo hoo, an excuse to do some dyeing! the pinks are now red, which my camera is refusing to capture properly. The blues are now deeper, brighter and much more fun. I plan to use the navy for the toes, and maybe cuffs? I’ll use the newly dyed yarn in broad stripes with spiral joins I think. I reckon I’ll enjoy knitting these.

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Rescue to fill a need

It’s winter here, and I decided it was time to bring out my hand pieced silk cushion covers. However, I was missing one for the set of cushions I like to have in the living room. I didn’t want to take time to make another from scratch while I still have the lattice quilt in progress. Hmm. Then I remembered I had these little hexagonal ones I had fallen out with. The purple colours don’t work in the room. The right hand one has good colouring but made me thing instantly of a car company rather than the trefoil-esque motif that it was intended to be.

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After some thought, I decided that if I chopped that right hand one down the middle, split the two halves and did some sort of infill, it would serve the desired purpose with a relatively modest amount of effort.

This was the result:

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I’m moderately pleased with it. It does at least stop one’s brain going straight to the car company. I’d rather have used colours for the infill rather than black and brown, but I felt that heavy silk would perform better and these were the only two pieces I had.  It was still quite a bit of work, maybe a day’s effort all up? I make the fronts of these covers as tiny quilts. The batting evens out the texture and the quilting supports the fragile silk. They have proved more robust in use than I originally feared.

Anyway. It gives me the cover I wanted to work in with the other three and the original cushion gets to see some service. The red and turquoise one second right is not my work but that of a friend, made for me many years ago.

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“Nothing” to wear

I had an appointment coming up in corporate land. Having gone to this office a few times now, I’m finally aware that it’s heated so much that I will overheat in anything more than shirt sleeves. I quite seriously had nothing in the wardrobe in which I was willing to be seen, in shirt sleeves, in corporate land. This was made to fill that gap.

It’s the same pullover pattern as the last few dresses, but with a deeper neckline and made out of very fine wool suiting. So a corporate friendly pinafore dress. I think I’ve cut it just high enough to wear as a dress alone, but it’s on the roomy side so I can wear a variety of shirts and/or jumpers under it.

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I’ve put a tab and buttons on each side to make it follow the figure a little more.  This basically replaces an underbust dart. If the fabric were any heavier, this closure would be too bulky I think.

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This picture shows the fabric better. It’s a pleasing teeny tiny woven check in chocolate brown and black. I’ve stab stitched the neckline to preserve the nice soft edge. Machine top stitching would have squashed the character out of the fabric.  The lining is top quality Bemberg rayon cut from a too small petticoat I made years ago. It’s wonderful stuff to wear but the slitheriest fabric I’ve ever sewn.

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Here it is, with my serious face on. Only sometimes do I remember to smile for these pics.  It’s lovely to wear. Really comfortable and nicely swishy with it’s full circle skirt. After the meeting, still in town, I collected a welcome compliment on the ensemble, from a lady who turned out to be a fellow dressmaker. Sweet.

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Resurrection

Isn’t it nice when a plan works? My thoughts on how to best resurrect that well worn coat were enacted pretty much exactly. First I removed the lining. It was cut away from the sleeve slits and cuffs. Only the front and neck facings were unpicked. My take on unpicking these days is very much to minimise it. If one can get away with cutting the unwanted parts away, then do. Life is too short and my arm’s work capacity is limited.

Then the wool outer was washed, gently.  Then I dyed some of the fine but strong and hard wearing beige wool suiting in stash to a nice green. It didn’t go quite as dark as the forest green would have liked but the hue is really good.

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Then I cut a deep facing for all the edges (except the hem)from the newly dyed cloth and applied it by machine except for the hem finishing. This will be fine for it’s intended use and the whole refurbishment still took me about a day of labour spread across three. Oh and I top stitched down all the seams because they are no longer protected by a lining. Plus I added straight grain reinforcing for some seams, such as the shoulders. It won’t last for forever but should do another couple of years.

From this:

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To this rather more respectable version:

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The owner is pleased. As he should be.

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Cold Shoulder Cardigan

I’ve worn this cardigan for several winters. It’s wonderfully soft and warm, but I’ve been finding the colour really boring.

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It was bought as a man’s cardigan from a factory outlet in NZ. After a few wears, I cut a bunch of fullness out of the shoulders to reshape it for me. This is the excised portion, shoulder seam at the top, sleeve seam at right.

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Now I’ve added some colour for fun using my food dyeing tricks. In the process, I discovered just how much water can be drawn through wool overnight. Capillary action I’m told. I’m so glad I put the red end in a bowl!

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Here it is dyed and dried. I’m pretty pleased, though I think it’s felted a little in the dyed sections. Still fits though, thankfully.

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For extra fun, I overdyed some grey yarn to match with the intention of making a hat to go with it.

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