Self indulgence through sewing.

Archive for October, 2013

Steamcon 2013 Harem Pants, Completed!

Hurray! I wasn’t sure I’d have time to make a second set of harem pants after the first set turned out wimpy and ill-fitting and incredibly satin. BUT I DID!

And here they are:

Harem Pants, Version 2

Harem Pants, Version 2

They’re still based off the pants in the Simplicity 5359 pattern set, but I increased the width of each leg to a full 60″ of fabric (the original pattern only called for about 40″ for each leg) and increased the pattern length by 1″ to 43″ long. I would have increased it more, but I knew I’d be losing the encased elastic channels at the ankles in favor of gathering with my sewing machines pleating foot and binding the raw edge with  left over bias tape from my jacket. I hate the feel of elasticed ankles.

I also discovered (through my first satin pair of harem pants) that these pants fit better backwards than they did frontwards. Very strange, but since I was planning to move the zipper from the back to the front ANYWAY, that meant one less pattern change to hold in my head. Huzzah!

I was a little worried about wrangling the bulk of all this fabric into the waistband and ankle bands, but a quick run through with my trusty pleating foot too the fabric down to a manageable level. Then I ironed and ran two lines of basting stitches over the pleats and gathered it all into the waistband.

All pleated up and ready to be assembled.

All pleated up and ready to be assembled.

So yippie, my costume is pretty much done with one day left to spare.  🙂  Well, maybe not done done since I still have to add some hooks and eyes and decide how I’m going to finish the teal dress’s hem (I’m leaning towards fraying it out and having fun with some fabric distressing) but that shouldn’t be too hard tomorrow.  🙂

I’m really looking forward to Steamcon this year!  😀  If you see me there give a hollar!  Sometimes I think I might have Bitchy Resting Face, but be assured I really do love talking to and meeting new people.  🙂


Steamcon 2013 Make-up test

For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to work on the second set of harem pants today.

Call it costume burnout perhaps. Or maybe I’m just expanding my project to fit the amount of time I have left. Like a hermit crab growing to the size of it’s shell.

I DID go buy the fabric today and it’s sitting for me on my cutting board. Maybe I’ll cut it out before I go to bed.

OR MAYBE I’LL JUST PLAY WITH MAKE-UP!  😀

Steamcon Make-up Test

My face only has one expression, BLUE STEEL.

I’m on the fence about the little white dots?

On the one hand, I love them, and I may never have an excuse to do them if I don’t do them with this costume. On the other hand, they’re totally unjustifiable in a historical context. Moari? Yes. [EDIT: Nope! I was totally wrong! My bad, thanks Ista for letting me know. Maori tattoos are FANTASTIC but nothing like what I’ve got going here. Oops.  🙂 ] African? Sure. China? Russia? Persia? India? ……………ehhhhhmmmmaaaaybeeeee??? ………….Maybe I just wont care because they’re awesome and this is Steampunk? Your thoughts?

This is also the heaviest smokiest cat eye I’ve ever applied. I maybe don’t hate it? Though I think if I’m gonna do it for-reals I need to get myself some cream eyeliner and an angle brush. I used an eyeliner pencil this time around and it’s a little blobby looking.  Is the point at my tear duct too much?

Also, you can just barely see it but I’m wearing the awesome braid extension Jean made me. I love this frickin’ thing.  😀 I want to just wear it around everywhere I go, like I would with various costumes my mom made me when I was 3. But if I did that then it would turn into a terrible ratty braid. So I wont. I’ll leave it alone. For now.


Steamcon 2013 Work In Progress

I meant to update sooner, but I was so scared of my deadline (less than two weeks from idea to convention) that I just got started working right away and haven’t had time to write up any posts.

But now that I’m a few days away from the convention, I feel like I’ve made enough progress to take some time to step back and breath a bit and show off my progress.  🙂

This year’s Steamcon theme is “Around The World” Their website proclaims:  “This year Steamcon takes you on a journey to exotic locales! Meet Peshawar lancers, and Japanese automaton geishas, ride mechanical elephants and hot air balloons, see what steampunk is like on the other side of the globe!” How cool is that?  🙂  I was getting a little bored with European Victoriana anyway this year, so an excuse for a change of pace was really refreshing.  🙂

In my last post, all I had was an awesome hat and some fabric samples from stores around Seattle. So, starting from there, I shamelessly traced over a Simplicity pattern to plan out my ideas, and came up with this concept for my costume:

My planned costume for Steamcon 2013

Not bad, eh?  Well, I hope not anyway since what I’ve made by now is pretty close to my original drawing.  😉

I wanted to go with a Pan-Asian look and feel to match my lovely hat of un-traceable and questionable-authenticity. (Seriously, does anybody know where or what this hat might be? I’ll be the first to admit that before I started this project I was not very well versed in anything other than European historical costume, but I’ve been keeping my eyes open for 2+ years and the closest I’ve found are some fabric Chinese Bridal Crowns/Phoenix Crown… but saying they were “close” is a massive overstatement…There MUST be something closer.)

I was also under a very tight deadline, so I had to make due with altering pre-existing patterns. No fancy-pants drafting or muslin alterations for me this time around!

I figure if anyone asks for the origin of my costume I’ll just say my hot air balloon lands where it lands, and I have no idea which countries I’ve traveled to.  😉  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

The jacket would be based off of Simplicity’s 2159 “Misses’ Belly Dancer ghawazee coats and belts costume sewing pattern.”

At the time I drew up my concept, I thought this pattern included some sort of top/bra/bodice like what was shown in the sleeve art, but SURPRISE! that was a separate pattern (Simplicity 2158 for those interested.) And in the end I really didn’t want to pay for a third pattern (did you know Joann wont apply any coupons to their patterns? I did not realize until this project. Hrmph.) So, I ended up cobbling together my own bodice pattern for this costume. So much for not wanting to draft anything myself this time around, pfft!

Simplicity 2159

The pants and skirt would come from Simplicity 5359:

Simplicity 5359

A little note to myself in the future if I ever re-use this plan: 8 yards of fabric is WAY more fabric than this skirt requires, especially if it’s all done in one fabric rather than two as the pattern specifies. I probably could have managed with 4 or 5 yards with fabric to spare. Now I have a ton of teal fabric I don’t know what to do with.

At first I worried I might have to make this pattern’s little corset/waist cincher too, but I realized I had an elastic belt in my closet that matched my plan perfectly, so I drew that in instead.

I’ve had a lot of accessory luck with this costume so far.  🙂  I have a pair of black and gold Jutti I bought at the same time as my hat that I’m trying to break in before Steamcon, and I’ve got some brassy jewelry that will go well with this costume, too.

My (almost) final fabric selections:

Fabric Selections

From left to right, the patterned teal is my existing hat fabric I was trying to match. The brown “Copper Shimmer Satin” would be for the jacket bias binding, the jacket lining, and the harem pants (though I would later regret this decision.) The teal satin (“Shimmer Satin” again) would make up the bodice and skirt, and the silver fake dupioni would make up the main body of the jacket.  The pompoms were my first pass idea for the trim, the brown rougher woven fabric was a runner up for the harem pants, and the beautiful copper silk chiffon would make up the sleeves.

At first I was so excited to find that blue and brown pompom trim, but after drawing up my concept I realized that everywhere I wanted to use the trim it would be backed with either teal or brown fabric, making it practically invisible. Not good. I ended up going back to Pacific Fabrics a few days later to find a different trim that would have a higher contrast against my fabrics.

Picking out a trim

My choices were:

A) White/gray. I thought this would be the winner as it was the closest to the white pompoms in my original concept, but in person they just looked SO bright and artificial. They were also the “messiest” in terms of tassel drape.

B) Golden. Mmmm beautiful trim, lovely smooth tassels, ornate woven banding, and the most expensive option out of all three. When you’re buying 110″ of trim, costs start to add up.  😦

C) White/brown. I really liked this one in the store as I thought it got me the white of my original drawing while not being so artificial looking as Option A. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough left on the bolt for my purposes (there was only about 40″ left) so if I were to use it I’d have to remove about half of the trim I was planning on using. And that was after I’d already edited out the trim around the ankles. Bummer.

So, what to do when you don’t know what to do?  Go home and think it over. That night when I looked back over the photos I’d taken, I realized that Option B was my favorite, both in terms of how it looked in real life and how it photographed, but I still couldn’t get over the price. And then I checked my email and saw that Pacific Fabrics was having a 40% off Columbus Day sale the next day. Hurray! That trim was coming home with me, me me ME! I think this costume is charmed, I’m usually never this lucky. 🙂  Maybe the sale helps to make up for all the extra fabric I ended up accidentally over-buying for this project.

Pattern pieces on the floor

The best part about sewing in a construction zone?  Lots of room to lay out pattern pieces.

After the first 3 or 4 days, I had the teal under dress and harem pants (made of the copper shimmer satin) about 90% done. It was at this point I realized I looked like a giant satin monster, and so there are no photos. I was making good time though, and I resolved to move on and work on the jacket with the plan that if I had a day or two left by the time the jacket was completed, I would return to the satin harem pants and re-make them in the rougher material at the end of the project.

On to the jacket! I really wanted to incorporate some of the swirl motifs from the hat into the jacket, so I decided it was time to bust out the Heat’n’Bond and do some appliqué.

Jacket Applique using Heat'n'Bond

Lookin’ good so far. To get to this point, I drew out my pattern in Photoshop, printed it out at the size I wanted, cut out the shape from my printed copy, ironed my fabric onto the heat and bond, traced the pattern onto the heat’n’bond paper backing, and then cut out the pattern on the fabric. I could then remove the paper backing from the fabric, and iron the design onto my jacket pieces. The heat of the iron activates the glue.  🙂

Then it’s just a matter of topstitching over the pattern with decorative thread, and you’re done!

Rrrtttttt!! *sound of record scratching*

Um. Well. Sorta. That’s how it was SUPPOSED to go anyway. In reality, after I followed all of those steps I got a great big pucker-fest.

Puckered Fabric

Needless to say, I was not pleased. The puckers wouldn’t iron out. Good thing I did the back piece first. No time to re-do, so hopefully nobody will notice. And if they do notice, I’ll already be walking away. Ha!

So EVEN THOUGH Heat’n’Bond says that it’s it’s own stabilizer and nothing additional should be needed, I went out to Joann’s the next day and got some heavy-duty tear-away stabilizer for the front panels. (So heavy duty I couldn’t actually tear it all away, I had to just cut pretty-close. Sigh. I’m not good at finding middle grounds it seems.)

No more fabric puckers!

Ta daaaaa!

Mmmmmm so smoooooth.

You can also see the gold thread stitching detail I used to hold down the applique in this photo. It reminds me of a Mandelbrot Set.

At some point during the last week (my memory is getting a bit fuzzy) my buddy Jean came over to help me make yards and yards of bias tape and a big ole’ fluffy braid hair extension to hide the fact that my hair doesn’t touch my shoulders. She was a very welcome guest, and I think she contributed mightily to me not burning out halfway through last week. Of course, this distraction also means I completely forgot to take any photos, and then also haven’t documented any additional progress up until now.

So, with the magic of the internet, let’s just fast forward to last night’s progress!

Steamcon 2013 Costume Progress!

The teal Franken-dress is done! (well, besides for taking up and finishing the hem. I call it the Franken-dress based on how many pieces I had to cut up and modify to get the bodice fitting me passably correctly… guh. My dress form is made to fit my corsetted form, not my natural form, so every alteration had to be made by myself while I was wearing the damned thing. At least it’s all hidden under the jacket so no one can see my shame. (Except for you dear reader, reading this now. You now know my shame.)

And the jacket is done! (Er, well, I need to add some hooks and eyes… but that’s like, practically nothing in the grand scheme of things!)

And YES! ALL THAT TRIM IS ATTACHED! (I had to sew it all on by hand… and it was THICK stuff to get through, lemme tell you.)

And the slippery expensive chiffon is attached to the sleeves and hemmed! (THANK YOU narrow rolled hem function on my serger!)

And I still have 3 days until Steamcon! Which means I can re-make my harem pants in the rougher textured fabric, and maybe even take a trip down to Sephora to get some new eyeliner and make-up tips.  🙂

I hope I’m not jinxing myself (since technically I still want to make that second pair of harem pants and you never know what could happen between then and now,) but I think this may be the first convention I’ve made a costume for where I haven’t been sewing right up until the morning of.

Amazing!


Hey! I’m not dead yet!

You may have noticed it’s been awhile since my last costume posts. Long story short, my husband and I bought a house and I’ve been without a sewing room for almost a year! I’ve been trying to hold back from sewing for as long as possible, but with Steamcon fast approaching in 2 weeks, I couldn’t stop feeling like I needed to make something. Like, staying awake 5 hours past when I go to bed obsessively photoshopping my plans need.

You see, I’ve had this awesome hat for a few years now:

Mysterious Hat

I picked it up two or three years ago at a thrift store in LA that specializes in used movie and theater props (why oh why does LA have to be so far awaaaay?)

I have no clue where this hat came from or what it was used for, but it’s been calling to me to make a costume for it. AND this year’s Steamcon theme is Around The World which means it’s a perfect year to go a little less traditional English Victorian with my costuming, AND Professor Elemental is coming all the way from England and I love Professor Elemental so it simply would not do to not at least put in an effort.

So. With two weeks until Steamcon, I’ve decided to turn our mid-renovation living and dining rooms into a temporary sewing room.

Setting up the "sewing room"

Setting up the “sewing room.” Why yes, that is a table built onto the top of a futon. Small apartments called for creative solutions!

This also means you should start seeing more posts from me over the next two weeks.  🙂  Hurray! Content!