Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Post

I am so proud of myself. I  sewed an ensemble, a complete outfit.  It included a statement jacket with trim details like this Givenchy jacket currently available at Pert-A-Porter,  a top with

the gathers and  ruffles that are so on trend, and a pair of loose fitting cropped pants.  Unfortunate it is not for me, but for a client that want to look like this for an event.

Yes, my client wanted a Captain Morgan costume.  Captain Morgan being a brand of rum that features a rather dandified “pirate” on the label. But I did find similar coats on historic figures of the early 18th century
Wardrobe of Peter I Russia
Admiral Edward Russell (1652–1727),
I used Simplicity pattern  4923 , a still available, still very popular pattern for costumes and historical garments.

The jacket is knee length with gores inserted at side and center back.  The sleeves are shaped, and have gigantic cuffs.

Captain Morgan Jacket

Captain Morgan Jacket side

Captain Morgan Jacket trim detail
The fabric I used was poly cotton (JoAnn’s).  The  pattern called for 6 yards of 45" wide fabric. I used  5 yards with the only compromise being that  pocket flap and cuff linings were cut  on the lengthwise grain.  The trim is gold, medium weight linen/rayon strips with finished width = 1”.   For trim used on front button area, the fabric was cut on straight of grain.  The trim for all edges where there was curvature,  hem, neckline and hat brim, was bias cut.  I used the bias maker for the straight grain strips too, in order to speed up turning under the  seam allowances. Needless to say, my 1 inch bias maker and edge stitch foot got a workout on this project. 22 large buttons were needed for the version of the  coat I made. Big buttons are expensive and any store in my area only has a couple cards of the same style. My solution: I found a large bag of cheap white plastic buttons. There were 25 buttons of the same size, but not the same face design. Disregarding that, I strung them all on a  piece of cotton twine between two deck chairs,  spray painted them all gold, let them dry and sewed them on. 

Spray Painted Buttons

The shirt was very loose fitting with gathers everywhere, neck edge,  and on the sleeves at both shoulder and cuffs.  The fabric for shirt was a 100% cotton twin size sheet.  I purchase white cotton sheets, when they are on sale,  for muslin, costumes and curtain linings.   My client could not tie the collar closed on his 16” neck so he wore the shirt open. However the front slit is 14” deep which revealed a bit too much hairy man chest, so I tacked the slit closed for bottom 6”. The client could still pull shirt on over his head.

Shirt Simplicity 4923

The pants or breeches are calf length with authentic bagginess in the front and back crotch area, and buttons on lower side seams.  The front closure is a flap that buttons to front waist band.  Fabric used was a navy medium weight rayon/linen.

Captain Morgan also has a hat. Not a plain black pirate  No, his is red with gold trim. A bit to matchy, matchy for my taste, but my client wanted it.  Researching "make your own  pirate hat" on the internet, I found  the easiest ones  started with  a woman's brimmed  hat. You cover them with felt or leather look material, and turn up and tacking the brim to the crown in three equal sections.  I found the hat below in the sale bin at JoAnn's.

I attempted to spray paint the hat red, starting with the upper brim and crown. It looked like a spray-painted straw hat. Time was running out, so in the end we settled for a black brim with gold trim.

Captain Morgan Pirate Hat

Boot covers were planned, but  there was no time for them either so Captain Morgan wore tall leather work boots. My client was very happy. He got lots of compliments and requests for photo's.

Captain Morgan and swashbuckling sidekick

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Flamboyance of Flamingos

While waiting for the weather to cool and inspire me to sew some of  the patterned boiled wool  that jumped into my stash recently, I sewed a blouse.    I chose a pattern with a asymmetrical front band.

 I have always wanted to make this Burda pattern from June 2007, style 111 and why not in a bright pink cotton fabric printed with white flamingos.  Are there white flamingos I wondered? Yes.  The feather color of flamingos is dependent on pigments from the algae and crustaceans they eat. And the lack of pigmented food during feather-growth results in white or very pale feathers.  Flamingos  lose color in captivity if they were not fed Flamen Oil or some other dietary beta-carotene color additive. Hmm. I  guess you could say the  flamingos on my fabric are "in captivity".

Burda 6 2007 111

The asymmetrical  bands are easy to apply. They are sewn to the wrong side of the fabric and turned  to the front.  A couple thing to watch out for on the bands. You will need to make a separate pattern piece for each both the left and right band from the front pattern pieces. The bands are asymmetrical and shaped differently at the neckline. Yes, I tried the shortcut method it and it doesn’t work.   Watch the grain line of the band. I didn’t, putting the long straight side of the bands on the straight of grain. This was probably a benefit when sewing the bands to the bias cut edge of the left and right fronts but it means the flamingos on the front band lean a bit .  Only a close sewing friend would notice this.

I have been pursuing other creative  endeavors lately.   A 6 week Natural Dyeing of Yarn and Clothing class at the local art cooperative  has been especially fun.   For the  dye, I have been collecting plant materials from my yard and other nearby sources. Color is extracted by simmering the plant material in water for an hour, removing the material from the liquid   and using the liquid to  dye wool and silk fabrics. Black walnut husks from my own back yard created a rich brown. Mushrooms collected in the heavily mulched beds under the trees at work  yielded golden and dark browns. A coworker asked me if I was gathering my dinner.  Golden Rod flowers collected under the right of way of the power lines dyed the fabric a beautiful golden yellow.

 Tobacco leaves yielded a pale olive green color and Harlequin Glory Bower vine flowers (a houseplant that became invasive when planted in the yard) a great verdigris green.  I treated my son and his girlfriend to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant that makes table side guacamole, so I could ask for all the trashed avocados seeds (dyes fabric pink). All of these dyes work especially well on protein fibers like wool and silk, not as well on cotton.  Other class members had to scour the 2nd hand shops or order online for their wools and silk.  The local JoAnn's certainly didn't have any.  I wandered down to my stash cave and pulled out yards and yards of off white wools and silks. I knew there was a good reason I bought them long ago. Stash to the Rescue!

Hopefully I will have enough dyed  fabric to create a garment of some kind by the time class is finished.  What can I do with this new  knowledge? Well, perhaps I can dye and sew authentic historical reenactment garments when I retire. DH and I are currently doing some financial and lifestyle planning for our upcoming retirement. I will probably  become "that crazy old lady" who does odd stuff! You have been warned!