Sewing and lifestyle blog of a wannabe "full-time vixen"

An Epic Rainbow Pleated Skirt

Hello! Alright, bear with me while I get back on this old horse (i.e. my blog which I haven’t updated in more than a year). It’s a matter of getting into my administrator’s dashboard and figuring out exactly how I used to format all these posts…I apologize for my long absence but I’ve still been sewing! I actually finished a year of costuming school at the end of April! I guess that’s a huge update although for those readers of this blog that I actually know in real life — well you guys already know what I’ve been doing with my life this past year.

I’ve got so many blog post ideas which I just need to make a reality. I plan on doing a costume school mini-series because I know my friends and family are very curious about the things I’ve been making or doing at school.

Without further ado though, the reason I am posting today is because I wanted to show you one of the projects I made this summer. I’m quite proud of it as I consider it my first real commission. My friend Lily Le (also known as Pretty Pork Chops, her website here: http://prettyporkchops.com/) asked me if it was possible to make a pleated skirt in which each of the pleats was a different colour of the rainbow. She wanted to wear something like that for the Pride Parade float she would be participating in but was having no luck finding anything like it online. Well here it is!

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IMG_7873I feel that this is truly one of my best projects out of the ones that I’ve made completely from scratch; where I’ve had to create the pattern or figure out how to sew it completely on my own using my accumulated years of knowledge and technique.

Lily and I had a quick consultation meeting on July 17th at Dressew, which gave me roughly three weeks to shop for materials and also complete the project. The Pride Parade was on August 3rd. The skirt is made of twill fabric in the six colours found in the iconic Pride rainbow. We bought the red and purple fabric at Dressew the same day of the consultation but I had to find the others at Fabricland. Thank god Fabricland has a section dedicated entirely to Galaxy Twill! Definitely my future source of generic cotton/poly twill.

Lily gave me a pleated skirt that she owned which was to be my template for the rainbow skirt. Overall, once I wrapped my head around the details of the skirt, it wasn’t really very difficult to complete the skirt. I spent 9 hours actually cutting and stitching the skirt. Although my serger was giving me a headache towards the end of this project so maybe a wee bit of that 9 hours was spent on troubleshooting my serger. I tried to keep it out of my time estimate for the project but arrrrgh, why did it have to crap out on me when I had a few more seams to serge? I might have to take in for maintenance.

Anyways, each pleat is basically a strip of fabric identical in width and height. I had to measure the example skirt and calculate the dimensions of each fabric strip. Then I hemmed all the strips as I didn’t want to hem the skirt after stitching the pieces together; I felt it would be too bulky at each seam. I stitched all the strips together. Now as I wanted to minimize swapping the thread out on my sewing machine and serger, I stitched each colour one by one, making sure I followed the colour order that I plotted out. Yes, you heard me, I swapped out the threads on my machines multiple times. It was a bit of a pain in the butt but it was worth it!

Then I pressed the pleats into the skirt with my iron and stitched it down from the top for 4 inches. The ingenuity of the skirt is that the seams are hidden beneath the fold of the pleat. Everything looks clean on the outside! Here are some close-up photos.

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IMG_7875The waistband is just a simple straight one and I inserted a blue invisible zipper at the back where the blue and purple sections meet. All it needed was one cute red button and a buttonhole to finish off the waistband. Voila!

I finished it on the Friday before the Pride Parade and handed it off to Lily. Some of her housemates were present and one of them gave me the idea of making a skirt like this in pastels…

Want to see the skirt in action? Here’s Lily looked fantastically adorable on the Rent Cheque/Babe Bang float!

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11847304_10153213427282982_1929004292_oAnyways, here’s to me getting back into blogging (again)! I hope to make another post before I have to go back to school and then I will begin working on my costume school series of posts. Thanks for reading pals!

Winter is Coming…To Your Sewing Room!

I don’t always make posts that are not about showcasing a recent completed project but once in a while I have ideas for content that I think might be interesting, if not at least amusing. So I receive email updates from the Big 4 Sewing Pattern companies on a regular basis. The pattern lines are McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, and Simplicity for those not in the know. The first three are from the same conglomerate company though!

I like to peruse the latest sewing patterns and add whatever catches my eye to my ever expansive wishlist. I already have way too many sewing patterns and not nearly enough time to sew them all up but I derive a lot of pleasure from hoarding collecting sewing patterns. These days I’m much more selective though and I’ve been favouring indie sewing pattern companies. But the Big 4 still put out a few interesting designs in each collection that are worth putting on a wishlist. I get a happy little rush every time I see a new collection has been put out and eagerly click the link in the email notification I receive.

So a long while ago, probably in February, I was scrolling through the McCall’s spring collection when my jaw dropped a little. I had to stop scrolling and squint my eyes at the screen. “What the…” This is what I saw:

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This was hilarious! McCall’s actually put out two Game of Thrones sewing patterns in anticipation for the premiere of the next season on April 6 (today!). So for those of you who noticed this a couple of months ago, you could have made your very own costume, perhaps to wear to a season premiere party?

Check out the two patterns — the first is M6940 which is very clearly supposed to be a Cersei Lannister costume.

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The sewing pattern illustration is even more of a dead give-away with the lions and her facial features!

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So maybe House Lannister isn’t your thing? How about dressing yourself like The Mother of Dragons with M6941?

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daenerys sewing pattern art

Simplicity patterns had actually put out a dual Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark pattern, I think a bit earlier than McCall’s. Judging by the pattern number, it was probably a part of the early spring or winter collection. Here it is, it’s Simplicity 1487:

simplicity game of thrones pattern

The Big 4 usually put out costume related patterns as a way to get in on the Halloween market. But I’ve been noticing in the past few years how they’ve really been putting in an effort to stay on top of the trends. McCall’s releasing these two patterns just a couple of months before the Game of Thrones season premiere is an excellent example of this. I’ve also noticed that they’ve been releasing Steampunk inspired patterns too.

Anyways, I hope everyone has a happy time watching the Game of Thrones premiere. I’m one of those weirdos who tends to wait till everything has been released and then binge watches them over a few days. This year I might wait for 3 or 4 episodes and binge them in small batches. Till next time friends!

Chevron Striped Skirt – Ginger Pattern

My latest project is the Ginger Skirt from Colette Patterns. I chose a navy and cream striped cotton twill fabric and sewed version three which involved lining up the stripes along the centre front and centre back seams to form a beautiful chevron!

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It’s a bit tricky trying to photograph narrow striped fabric on my camera so I took some more close-ups below of the front and back.

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This was my first time ever sewing a garment with a chevron effect like this. I’m quite proud of how well I lined up the stripes on the front and back centre seams.

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This is also the first time I’ve sewn the Ginger pattern and it was a very simple pattern, designed at a beginner level. If I hadn’t gone for the chevron effect and added a lining this project would have taken a lot less time. I was even thinking of adding side seam pockets but I decided I didn’t want to further increase the time needed to complete the project. I’m trying to pump out two to three projects a month these days! I think this is a fairly modest and realistic goal for me but it does mean that the difficulty level of the projects factors into how much I can accomplish each month.

The Ginger pattern is lovely though. It’s well designed and I love that there’s a fullness to the pattern, which is quite apparent in the back, so it’s not just a regular ol’ A-line skirt. I’m looking forward to making more of these with the other waistband variations — pointed and shaped curve — in various other fabrics! It’s workhorse pattern for sure and would work well for any sewist’s wardrobe. I may be a bit late to the Ginger bandwagon as the pattern was released a while ago but I’m glad I finally sewed it up!

A chevron striped A-line skirt has been on my to-do list of “dream sewing projects” for a while now. One down, maybe about a million more to go! You’ve just got to take it one day at a time and one project at a time…

Candied Melon Blouse – Belcarra Pattern

I had to keep this project a secret for a while. This is because I was chosen as a pattern tester for Sewaholic Patterns’ next pattern design! Tasia already announced it on her blog although it’s not been released for purchase yet until April. She gave me the go-ahead to blog about it so here is my version!

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I made this from a light-weight polyester crepe fabric I found at Fabricland. The contrasting pink cuffs are from a cotton poplin I purchased at Dressew. I really love this blouse! I sewed the variation that has pleats on the front of the raglan sleeves. I wasn’t sure if the wide neckline would work for me but I’m really happy with how this turned out.

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The way this blouse turned out wasn’t exactly like my original plan though. I had made my own bias tape for this project and at first I had sewn it to the neckline with the intention of having the bias trim sit on the right side of the blouse. However, the neckline was not lying correctly so I folded it to the inside and sewed it down. Now you can only see a hint of it peeping out. This ended up working really well! People have complimented me a lot on this detail. I have so much gratitude for the happy little sewing accidents that sometimes occur.

One of my coworkers remarked to me that she loved the colours I had chosen for the blouse — this dark watermelon green contrasting with the candy pink colour. I was inspired by 1940s clothing in which I had seen this colour combination before. It’s a striking colour duo that I really like and am somewhat obsessed with. In my fashion illustrations and fashion design classes, I inadvertently and subconsciously designed with this colour combination a few times! I didn’t even realize what I’d done until I looked through my portfolio long after the classes were finished.

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I would totally recommend this pattern to someone, especially a beginner sewist. It’s so easy to sew and didn’t take me very long. You could easily sew this in one evening for a nice quick, easy, but satisfying project. I have sewn many Sewaholic Patterns and continue to be a fan. Tasia is a great designer and drafter and her instructions are very thorough. I think her patterns keep getting better and more refined as her business grows larger and more successful.

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I have literally been waiting for a sunny morning in order to take photos for my blog. It’s been pouring rain and soggy in Vancouver lately. I didn’t get a sunny morning but I got a non-rainy morning at least. I’m still learning a lot from self-teaching myself how to take decent photographs of my projects — lighting, fiddling with camera settings like the exposure, and using a simple photo editor on my computer. I don’t have a fancy camera; in fact, I just have a simple Canon Powershot point and shoot camera! For my needs, my current set-up seems to work well enough.

There have also been some slight changes to the blog! I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress recently and purchased web hosting and a domain name. I also purchased a customizable theme which I’m still fiddling around with. So throughout the next few months, I’ll be tweaking things when I have a spare moment. I hope to be able to get a banner designed for me in the near future as well.

Hopefully there will continue to be lots of exciting things happening to me in the future in terms of sewing related things. I was recently notified that I was the winner of the Plaintain Challenge hosted by Deer&Doe! I wanted to thank my friends and family for their support and also to anybody who happens to read this blog or come across it. 2014 is off to great start!

The French Vanilla Top – Plantain Variation #2

So here is my second variation on the Plantain pattern for the Deer&Doe sewing contest. I created a yoke with scalloped edges and changed the neckline to a bateau or boat neckline.

The scallops are kind of appliqued to the striped portion of the top by using a zig-zag stitch around the edge. I used a grey and cream striped fabric which is a bamboo rayon blend — oh so luxurious! It feels amazing and drapes beautifully. The cream fabric for the yoke and short sleeves is just a simple cotton interlock. Both fabrics were purchased at Dressew.

This was an interesting project for me to sew. Trying to figure out how to sew the scallops onto the striped fabric gave me a bit of a headache but I persevered. The knit fabric made it a lot more trickier than if it had been a stable woven fabric.

Anyways, I certainly had a lot of fun participating in the contest. I don’t know if I’ll try to participate in any more in the near future. What I really have to do is take stock of my wardrobe and figure out where my sewing focus should be this year; try to fill in the gaps and focus on what my personal style is.

I read this blog post on the Colette Patterns blog which is a part of their new Wardrobe Architect series. It really got me thinking and wondering about what my core style is. It’s definitely girly and whimsical with a touch of vintage, a touch of goth/rocker edge, and a touch of clean contemporary lines. It seems like such a strange mix but it works for me, for the most part.

It’d be nice to go through my whole wardrobe and figure out what the heck I’m actually doing with my personal style!

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