Wear This When You’re Hot


I designed this camisole top to suit the heat waves of summer.  Lightweight cotton (a very sweat-friendly fabric) covers enough of you to avoid sunburning delicate areas, but leaves enough skin exposed to catch the breeze.


I also designed this top to be easy to sew, because I will be teaching a group to make them in my next series of sewing classes at Rock Paper Scissors.  Here’s a variation in a fun print.


Just by moving the straps a little farther apart in front, we let the neckline dip down a little bit: the beginning of a cowl drape.  I look forward to showing my class how much variety you can create through the simplest pattern alterations.



Gankutsuou Cosplay

For the recent Fanime convention, I assisted this gentleman with his cosplay of the Count of Monte Cristo.


This particular anime is famous for having elaborate patterns on the characters’ costumes, that do not move when the characters do; and these patterns change from scene to scene to aid the mood.


I patterned and sewed the collar and cravat.  The coat I bought at a thrift store, then made the cuffs to put on it.  Here is an in-progress photo showing how I placed the stencil, which I made to ensure the swirls would be the right proportion when I painted them on.


I chose not to paint flames running up his sleeves, partly because it would have been very labor-intensive, but mostly so he can re-use the coat later by removing the cuffs.


Besides my contributions, he wore his own top hat, vintage trousers, and cloak; and another friend did his makeup. Making the Count come to life was a team effort. At the convention he found Haydee, another major character from the same story…. and another person for the team.


18th Century Shirts

I sometimes work as a stitcher for theatrical productions. In those cases someone else designs the costumes and drafts the patterns, and I just do the sewing.  Recently I was assigned to stitch a batch of eighteenth century shirts in white linen.


I have patterned and constructed this era of shirt before, but running the ruffle up the arm placket was new to me.  Previously I had made the cuffs like this:


I made 9 of them, and they all had square armhole gussets, common in period costumes.


Putting in the gussets requires good control of the sewing machine, because the line of stitching coming down one side of the square has to end exactly where the other line did. If this is off more than 1/16″ your gusset will not lay flat in the shirt.


This shirt is from the end of the century, without ruffles.


Making a Pincushion


As I was packing for sewing class, I recognized the need for a low-profile pincushion that would fit in my toolbox.  It was easier to make one than shop for one.


I gathered scraps of (from left to right): cotton quilt batting, cork, wool roving, fabric, and wood.  All natural, good stuff.


You could use one fabric, but I pieced together fabric scraps so the cushion can have one side for short needles, the other side for long.


The layers are stacked by density. The needles and/or pins slide easily through the roving and the batting, but are slowed down by the cork before they hit the wood.


I used a rubber band to hold the fabric over the stack of insides, as I evened out the tension and folded the corners.


Lastly I felled the top fabric onto a smaller scrap that covered the bottom.  It did not come out even, as you can see; I had merely guessed at the right size of fabric scrap, rather than actually making a pattern.  Oops.  Next time.

1930s Bias Dress, Petite


One of my current sewing commissions is for a 1930s style dress cut on the bias. So for reference I brought in this dress I made years ago, in a royal blue silk satin.


This was made for a woman singing in a swing band, who wanted something sweet and fun, so I modeled it after 1930s prom dresses more than torch singers.


It is cut on the bias, which means diagonally across the fabric. So the diagonal lines you see on this dress, as you do on many dresses from back then, are actually on the grain of the fabric. Not only is it easier to sew the edges together that way, but it takes full advantage of the stretch of the bias.  This dress did not need a zipper or other closures; it stretched enough to go over her head.


The bottom hem is almost two circles’ worth of flare, to give lots of movement and interest when the wearer is walking.