Saturday, July 30, 2016

Floral Chiffon Tunic Dress

I actually made this dress back in February, but hadn't gotten any pictures of me wearing it before last week.  I had this yard of dark blue floral chiffon in my stash for years, waiting for the right project.  I originally thought I would make a skirt out of it, but I never found the right pattern.

Then I bought this pattern during one of JoAnn Fabric's Simplicity pattern sales:  

And I thought the fabric would make a very cute tunic dress, based loosely on the sleeveless top.  The fabric is quite sheer:  

So clearly I would need to wear it over something.  I'll come back to that.  

With my very limited fabric, I needed to be conservative in my cutting.  Also, chiffon can be a bear to sew, so I resolved to do as little as possible.  With that in mind, I combined the four main pattern pieces needed to make the top:  

I very carefully taped them together, keeping the tape outside of the cutting lines so that I wouldn't compromise the integrity of the pattern pieces when I took them apart later.

Then I taped them to the window of my front door:

(This was back when my light box cord was still missing.  I have since replaced it.)  You can see that I overlapped the front and back pieces at the side seams so that the lines for size 12 were right on top of each other.  I am a size 14, so this eliminated the seam allowances but left a fair amount of wearing ease.  I taped newsprint to the window over my pattern:

And traced it as one.  I had overlapped the yoke pieces with the front and back to again eliminate the seam allowances, so I just extended the neck line of the front yoke to meet the center front line of the main body of the pattern:

Then I used my new pattern to cut out the tunic dress in one piece:

I had marked the original hem line of the top, in case I want to use it to make a top someday.

I also measured down from the bottom edge of my paper to a thread I had pulled to find the straight of grain across the width of my fabric:

And then I cut on that line to make the tunic dress as long as possible.  I used the extra strip at the bottom to cut bias pieces:

At least, close to bias:

And I used these to bind the arm and neck holes, pleating the fabric in at the neck to roughly match the original pattern's look.  The only seams in the dress are the center back seam (which I cut on the selvedge so I didn't have to finish the edges) and the shoulders, which I sewed with French seams.  I used seam tape at the hem, keeping it sheer yet sturdy.

And here's the dress:

My sister Elise was kind enough to take these pictures for me while I was visiting her last week.  And bonus - I also wore my new Ivory Hat!

The back neck buttons with a large navy blue button and a fabric loop.

You can see that I wore it over a navy blue sheath dress, which I made entirely out of lining fabric.  It's only one layer, since I only ever intend to wear it under other things.  I already have another dress that I wear it with - a sweater dress made from a very open-weave knit.  I'll blog about that one another time, when I have pictures of me wearing it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Blue Velveteen Jockey Cap

While I was composing my previous post, and searching through my blog archives for links to all of my Regency hats, I realized that I never blogged about this one!  I made it back in April 2014, and wore it to an RSV luncheon at Gadsby's Tavern, which I also never blogged about...

First, the hat.  I made it from scraps leftover from the Blue Velveteen Bodice, as had always been the plan.  Leave it to me to pick up a 15x44" remnant of fabric and think "I can totally get two projects out of this!"  :p

Let's see if I can remember how I made it.  Fortunately I took a few in-progress pictures to help me out.  I was inspired by Festive Attyre's Quickie Capote, but I started with a long rectangle instead of the large oval she describes.  I sewed it into a wide tube, and lined it with a matching tube of leftover royal blue lining fabric from the bodice.  I made the lining tube slightly longer, though:

I did this because I knew I wanted to draw up one side of the tube into a small circle to become the center of the crown, and I was certain that the thick velveteen would not cooperate for this.  So after I turned the lining to the inside of the velveteen tube, I matched up the raw edges and stitched the excess lining into a casing at the other end.  To this I added a drawstring, and cinched it up:

Even so, I was unable to get the circle to shrink in the center any smaller than this:

So I took a scrap of velveteen and covered a makeshift button mold (made from a broken shank button and a circle of cardboard large enough to cover the hole) and sewed it to the top, covering the hole and the casing.  Sadly I have no pictures of this, and the hat itself is still at home in Virginia while I am in Iowa, so I cannot show you what I mean just now.  I'll have to take some photos of it when I get home next month.

In the meantime, here are a few shots Brian the Engineer took of me the day of the RSV luncheon:

I have no photos of making the brim, but I remember I used some very thick interfacing that I think I got out of the tie-backs that came with the Curtain-Along curtains from forever ago.  (I never did finish trimming my cloak, now that I think about it.  Does anyone have any scraps of the Noir colorway I could buy?)  I played with the shape until I got something I liked, covered it with velveteen, and attached it to the cap.  I also sewed a sweatband of royal blue grosgrain ribbon around the gathered lower edge of the crown, turned it to the inside, and covered the edge with trim.

The trim was some pre-pleated satin ribbon I'd had in my stash for a few years.  I actually originally bought it with the idea of making a Felicity Christmas Gown, but I never found fabric that exactly matched the color.  It's still on my "someday" costume list, but I'll just have to find fabric first and then buy ribbon that matches and pleat it myself.  :p

I made the little brim decoration from the remaining scrap of trim, just kind of coiling it around itself into a somewhat flower-shaped thing, and tacking it in place.  Pretty simple.

Oddly, I've since worn this hat more times in my "everyday" life than I've worn it dressed up for Regency events.  It's really cute with a particular royal blue top that I have in my wardrobe.  I should get some pictures of that.  Hmm...

Edit:  Haha, just realized that the top I was referring to is the one I'm wearing in the first two photos of my previous post!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ivory Hat Refashion

Those of you who know me or have been following my blog for a while will probably have an idea of how much I love taking something ugly/old/tired apart and re-making it into something new and beautiful.  Lately I've been focusing this upcycling energy into hats.  I love hats!  My collection keeps growing, and I'm finding more and more confidence in actually wearing hats in my daily life.  After all, the best cure for a Bad Hair Day is a hat.  :p  However, most of my expanding collection comes in the form of decidedly old-fashioned-looking Regency bonnets, and for everyday wear I prefer slightly more updated styles.  So now I want more hats that I can wear on a regular basis.

So three weeks ago, before I came out to Iowa, I decided to tackle this little number:


It's been in my collection since my freshman year in college, when I bought it at a Costume Shop sale the Theatre department would hold every year around Halloween.  I bought four hats that year, all of which I still have, and most of which needed some TLC.  I think I wore this one once, but its floppy brim and lackluster trim really did nothing for me.

I wanted to turn it into a chic cloche, which is my favorite hat style, and also to make it a truly neutral accessory that could go with any outfit.  I started by removing all of the trim and the interior sweatband:

Then I washed it with some gentle detergent, attempting to remove some of the staining from around the base of the crown.  This was largely unsuccessful, so I resigned myself to simply covering the discolored portions with trim.  I rinsed it thoroughly and draped it over my Multi-Way Bell Hat Shaper:

I couldn't get the brim to lay completely smooth, though.  The original brim shape had clearly been more flared than this form allowed.  I solved this problem by flipping up the brim at what I had decided would be the front of the hat, and smoothing down the back portion:

After letting it dry thoroughly overnight, I tried it on.

I was not thrilled.
This confirmed my suspicion that the brim was too wide for what I had envisioned.  I was inspired by several of Lady Mary's hats from Downton Abbey, having just finished the series finally.


Clearly my brim was too wide.  I put the hat on my foam head (with a wig it happened to be wearing) to get an idea of proportions.

When I knew how much I wanted to trim away, I measured and made a small pencil mark just inside the crease made by the folded-back portion.

Then I cut in the crease up to this small mark:

And continued cutting away the edge of the brim all the way around, following the braid of the straw to maintain an even distance:

This gave me an overall shape that I liked much better!

Not being one to waste anything, I did not throw away the excess brim, but instead cut it in two at the crease on the other side:

To be used later:

I sewed in a new sweatband to replace the old one.  I just used some 1" wide grosgrain ribbon I had on hand.

For comparison, here is the old sweat band:

The above two photos were taken under different lighting conditions, which is why the top one looks darker in color than the bottom one.  I swear I did not darken the straw when I washed it!  

In order to keep the edge of the brim from unraveling, I bound it with ivory petersham ribbon.  

First I pressed a crease down the length of the ribbon, curving it slightly as I ironed it:  

This made it curve around the brim very easily!  I held the ribbon in place with clips while I was sewing it:

I had to repair one spot where the stitching from the original hatband had torn through the straw:

First I darned it:

Then I glued it from the inside, and covered it with ribbon!

I only had enough 1 1/2" wide ivory satin ribbon to cover 3/4 of the hat, which is fine because the turned-up brim covers the rest:

Remember those pieces of the brim that I had trimmed away?  I made them into flowers!

I stitched them on one at a time:

And tacked the brim edge to the front one to cover the raw edges at the base of the flower:

And there you have it!  New, cute hat:

So difficult to get decent mirror selfies.  :p

It looks slightly better on my styrofoam head, but I think that's because it's easier to photograph:

I wore it recently for a quick photoshoot with a dress that I made several months ago that I also need to blog about, so look for more photos soon!