Liebster Award

Kindly, Nessa nominated me for a Liebster Award. I’ll admit, I barely know what blog memes are, (oops!) but since I’ve been a bit bad about posting lately (oh day-job, you take so much creative energy I have none left after work!) I thought the idea was very well-timed!


Thank you Nessa @ Sewing Empire – for the nomination… and the timing!

Q & A

First, Nessa has some questions for me to answer, so let’s start on that… Continue reading

Musical Convention – no go

I was organizing the top menu bar a little bit for the blog, and along with some of the other topics, I was reminded about the “musical convention” I had been planning to go to – and some of my costume-inspiration for costumes for the event.  Just in case anyone clicks the “Musical Convention” topic… I just wanted to post that I ended up not going to the event – and luckily the time-frame that I found out meant that although I did some of the planning… I never did end up making any of the costumes.

Maybe another time I’ll have the chance to make a KISS inspired costume… ;)

Crafting foam props

It’s entirely possible that I’ll never, ever use this… but I found a series of great videos and I thought I’d share them on here (as well as sort of ‘bookmark’ them for myself…)

This video shows techniques for crafting a helmet from foam; foam floor mats, thick craft foam, and thin craft foam.

This video below goes into even more detail about getting great seams with the thick floor mat foam pieces, even on curved seams.

Helmets, hats, swords, armor… I could see it all coming together this way for a costume.

Blue Linen Apron Dress

Top of the blue apron dress with my festoon and broaches

Top of the blue apron dress with my festoon and broaches

I’m blogging a bit backwards when it comes to some of my Viking garb posts – I started off with a purple-pink apron dress (which has a few problems, mostly because of my impatience) and from there made this blue linen dress, and then the dark blue pillowcase-turned-apron dress – but I blogged about the dark blue one first, now this one, and haven’t even taken photos yet of the purple-pink dress… Still…

I started out with this dress wanting to make it quite fitted through the bust and waist, but when I put it on it was just TOO fitted – the back waist area pulled in an unattractive way to my eyes, and putting it on over top of an underdress was challenging – and again, not attractive. I ended up opening up the side seams (which I had thankfully done with wide seam allowances instead of serging them closed) and put in additional panels which gave just a little extra room at the bust and waist… and then since I was already in there, gave a bit more width to the hips and hem (although they didn’t need it).

Yes… I made it all by machine.. which I know isn’t period, but I’m going for the “look”, not historical accuracy. Plus serging linen is a lot faster and easier than hand-finishing unseen edges!

Trim on the blue apron dres

Trim on the blue apron dress

Once I had the circumference of the dress accurate – I found it actually fit really nicely. It pulls on over my head, but still falls well on me – with or without a linen underdress. (Although I don’t plan to wear it without an underdress, it’s at least nice to know that I can….)

close up of the purchased trim

close up of the purchased trim

I chose to do a reverse facing on the top edge with some very plain (not shiny) even-weave silk I had left over from another project. I ‘auditioned’ this red, a darker red, a blue and a purple silk with the dress and my selected trim, and really liked this red best.

The blue and white trim was in a grab-bag from the Grandmother’s Fabric Sale this year. It’s acrylic as far as I’m going to guess, but I thought it at least LOOKED good  – simple stitches over a blue band of cloth. It doesn’t look like tablet-weaving, but rather like an embroidered band of fabric used as trim.

After reverse-facing the top of the dress with silk, then stitching the lower edge of the facing down creating the band of red silk at the neckline, I sewed the blue and white trim down on top of the red silk. Of course, adding in the facing I also sewed in the loops for the straps – long loops in the back, short loops at the front.

I actually made my longer back loops a bit TOO long. I found that I could loop them through the front loops and secure them with a very short pin. Since my “turtle broaches” so far aren’t really broaches.. hopefully this means I can thread them on to the straps, and then secure the straps with safety pins… creating the right look, even if the function isn’t accurate.  I also found that I could cross the straps in the back, and then could use a longer pin to attach the front and back loops… once I get proper pins that is!

Blue linen Apron Dress

Blue linen Apron Dress

After finishing the top of the dress, I hung it overnight, checked the side seams to ensure any slight bias hadn’t stretched and made the hem uneven, then serged and hemmed the dress.

The linen is a hand-dyed lightweight linen (I bought it undyed from Fabricland, not Fabric-store, so I don’t know the actual weight… but I’m guessing it’s probably equivalent to 3.5 oz lightweight linen) I can’t even remember the original colour – I think it was a light blue and then I overdyed it with blue and black dye to get the grey-blue colour I’m much happier with.

In the future I might still add some embellishment (hand stitching) to the seams or hem… I’m not 100% sure on that yet, and I figure it might be better to wait until I have more research on that before I invest the time. I also really like the apron dress the way it is – and if I were to embellish it further I might like it less… so… we’ll see.

I’ve shown it here with my festoon (which has some problems.. but I’m happy with it for the time being until I can correct them) and a tied belt – which actually is a very long belt with a buckle on the end – I’ll end up swapping that out for something different when worn.

What do you think?

If you do Viking reenactment – what do you think of my Apron Dress (aka Smokkr, Hangerock) ? What other suggestions would you have for future improvements? Let me know in the comment section below!

McCalls 6085 sundress

Back of the sundress with the added yoke

Back of the sundress with the added yoke

When I was at the fabric store (ages ago!) they had a great pattern sale, and as I wanted to put together a few cute, super-simple summer sundresses, I grabbed one – McCalls 6085, a plus-size pattern that includes a simple t-shirt kind of top (or dress) a simple sundress (or top) and a pair of pants (or shorts). I also grabbed some fabric from the discount bin to mock the pattern up with – something inexpensive, but also cute enough that I’d wear it if the pattern worked out well with minimal alterations.

The fabric is a white base with a black abstract flower and a grey-purple abstract flower – it’s  from R.E.D. International Textiles (#C68-30-708 if you’re curious) and is listed in the selvage as an “Original designs exclusive to Fabricland/Fabricville”, and is 100% cotton. I think the pattern was $0.99, and the fabric was probably $1.99-2.99/metre. Overall, a pretty inexpensive dress…


Of course, even a simple dress can be altered like mad… so here’s some of the alterations I made to the original pattern…

New cotton (with linen yoke) sundress for the summer!

New cotton (with linen yoke) sundress for the summer!

  • I did a much wider seam allowance on the bodice, because I was concerned about the length of the top – it turned out to be fine, and I actually ended up taking it in further at the side seams.
  • I didn’t line the bodice at all, instead I added a folded trim to finish the edge (along with serged seams). The fabric is white, but not terribly see-through, so for a simple sundress I’m ok with it.. I like the reduced bulk for sure, plus it allowed me to use a bit of the contrast colour I used for the yoke… (more on that in a moment)
  • I opted not to have the bottom ruffle on the dress (I thought it would make it look too nightdress-like) and instead just extended the length of the dress to the finished length if the ruffle had been added. This also saved me a bit of fabric, plus a bit of time ruffling up the fabric…
  • I didn’t add a side seam zipper. This was honestly a total oversight on my point – as I was making it, I thought to myself “hmm there isn’t a closure for this? Guess not…” Only when I actually went to read the instructions (you know.. around the time I was finishing the hem…) did I see that there was instructions for putting in a zip. Oh well. It’s fine, since the only fitted part of the dress is the bodice.
I just drew the shape of the yoke on the fabric with chalk... and hoped for the best!

I just drew the shape of the yoke on the fabric with chalk… and hoped for the best!

R.E.D. International Textiles flowered fabric matches really well with my hand-dyed linen

R.E.D. International Textiles flowered fabric matches really well with my hand-dyed linen

Once I made up most of the dress and put it on to test the bodice fit, I HATED how low the back was. I don’t mind seeing bra straps on the shoulders… but I don’t like seeing a back bra strap… and with this, the WHOLE THING was visible. I ended up eyeballing a contrast back yoke, and cutting it out with fingers crossed – turned out perfectly! It’s fully-faced with the dress fabric, because I had a lot more leftover dress fabric than the yoke fabric – the facing was a lot easier than binding the curved edges.  I also installed the back ends of the straps with the facing.

The yoke fabric is actually a scrap of hand-dyed linen leftover from one of my Viking Apron Dresses, which just happens to be nearly the PERFECT colour to match the grey-purple in one of the flowers! There was about a 12×12″ square with about a 6″ tail leftover from my previous projects… just barely enough!

So… now that I have the pattern…

I can make up a few more of these super-casual summer sundresses!

I’m thinking medium grey linen with white trim… maybe a bold bright floral… a shorter version with a lace hem…?
How do you think this would look nice? Let me know in the comments below!


Quick and simple gathering methods

Ruffled fabric attached to skirt.

Ruffled fabric attached to skirt.

In my previous post I showed off a skirt made from ‘recycled’ t-shirts. (Upcycled is probably a better term for it actually….) The skirt involved a LOT of gathering, and I took a few photos to show how I did the gathering; two different methods that are both a LOT faster and more consistent than doing a zig-zag stitch and pulling a thread, or stitching over dental floss and pulling that to gather…

The ruffler

Using a ruffler foot attachment for your sewing machine

Using a ruffler foot attachment for your sewing machine

This is a special foot for your sewing machine that ruffles and pleats (knife pleats – no box pleats I’m afraid) fabric consistently for you. You can even ruffle a top fabric and sew a flat fabric to it at the same time (though I haven’t done that). For the skirt’s ruffled hem, I set the ruffler to “1″ (1 tuck for every stitch) and set my stitch length to “4″, using a straight stitch. I’d be sewing this to my skirt later, so I didn’t worry about the longer stitch length for this. The result is a super-dense, but totally consistent pleat that is really fine.  The result looks more like a gather than a pleat from the other side, though on close inspection you can see all those tiny knife pleats.

t-shirt fabric gathered using a ruffler (before attaching to skirt fabric)

t-shirt fabric gathered using a ruffler (before attaching to skirt fabric)

Tips and tricks

A few things I’ve found helpful:

  • Install the ruffler without a needle – it’s easier to get the ruffler in place with no needle, and reasonably easy to add the needle back in again once the ruffler is in place.
  • Test out the settings on a scrap fabric first.
  • Start an inch in – it’s easier to slide a fabric into the ruffler when you can grab the back end. Feeding it into the ruffler head on is challenging (doable though – just use a pin to help guide it… still starting an inch in makes it super-simple.
  • … and the most important thing I’ve discovered that I didn’t read about anywhere else… keep checking your needle screw is tight! Because the ruffler uses the screw to help advance your fabric, it’s constantly moving against it, and the needle can loosen up and fall out – huge disaster!
Using a ruffler? Make sure to keep tightening/checking the needle screw!

Using a ruffler? Make sure to keep tightening/checking the needle screw!

Clear elastic

When I know how big I want my finished result to be, but don’t want to sit there dividing up the fabric forever, I use clear elastic. I used this to gather the waist area of the main skirt piece to the size of the waistband. This is as easy as dividing up the skirt waist into four equal sections (or not equal if you wanted more gathering in one area than another!) and then doing the same with the elastic that is the same length/circumference as the finished result. The clear elastic adds next to no bulk, and can even just be serged off when finishing the seam.