Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tangled Sun Banner DIY

Another DIY Sunday post, except today I actually made something! I know someone who's really crazy about the Disney movie Tangled, and who one day hopes to get the Tangled sun motif as a tattoo.

image via Google
To make my own recreation of the above, I drew a template based off of screenshots from the film. For the yellow fabric, I snipped up an old pillowcase, and for the purple material, I used the same purple satin from my Hermione's Beaded Purse DIY.

I appliqued the sun pieces with a discreet stitch so that minimal thread would show on the back side of the satin. I Fray-Checked the edges of the satin so it wouldn't unravel over time, as well as all the edges of the yellow pieces.

Just a few knots in the back, not too bad!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Won the Sew Well Pearl Necklace Giveaway!

I know I should've told you all this a while ago, but I was the winner of Sew Well's Pearl Necklace Giveaway!! I'm so excited to have won this beautiful necklace, it really is quite a dream--I think I'll have to buy some tickets to the opera just to wear it right!

The packaging of the necklace showed a lot of thought and care, which I really appreciated!

Beautiful design on the shipping address.

And a fleur-de-lis covered box! How cute!

Even though this was such an impromptu photoshoot, you can still admire how lovely the necklace is.
And here's a fun shot with an old lace scarf and the necklace twined in my hair--the best I could do at an Edwardian hairstyle.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

18th Century Embroidered Pockets

If you remember, back when I made my Chemise a la Reine, I also made the correct undergarments to wear with it. These undergarments included a set of 18th century pockets. However, unlike extant examples, I never got a chance to embroider mine.

From the Museum of Bath, England, mid 18th century
That is, until now! I picked up my pockets the other day and bought a package of embroidery needles and a few colors of thread: a soft, mossy green; a deep blue; a cornflower blue; a powder blue; a magenta; and a dusty rose. I used a satin stitch technique I found in a book from my local library, and I love how plush and full this stitch is.

This project doesn't really have a deadline, it's more of like a pick-up-put-down project, like I'll work on it in the car or when I'm waiting around without anything else to do. I've found that embroidering is CRAZY good at relieving stress, I did the bulk of this in school and on vacation, and in school it really helped me to block out all the stress and noise for a little while.

My embroidery design is loosely based on this image:

So, how about some in progress pics?

I really do love the color scheme, the muted raspberry and golds against the strong azure.

Some more work still to be done on the left side...

All that's left on this side is to fill in the stems and vines with green thread!

I started filling in the stem here, but don't like the color green I chose. Going to tear it out and try using the same green as the lighter green of the leaves and berry stems. But look at that crazy gold flower!

The other pocket--not nearly as much done, but you can see the faint outline of the design.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Female Link Cosplay Commission

Sorry I  don't have a DIY Inspiration post for you all today, things have been a little hectic up here in the East Coast! Thankfully my family and I weren't battered too badly by Hurricane Sandy, but there are places so close to us that felt the awful effects of such a powerful storm. That was followed up by a bit of snow right before my 19th birthday, which was not too bad at all (:

Anywho, since I haven't posted about sewing in a while, I figured I might show my readers one of my recent sewing commissions: a feminine Link costume!

My client wanted to cosplay Link for Comic Con (jeez, I know, I should've made this post about a month ago!), but wanted a dress she could wear for other occasions--in other words, not something so obviously costume-y.

I designed and drafted a pattern for a princess-seamed dress, with a high-low hem, a soft v-neck, and short sleeves which would retain the iconic characteristics of Link (the particular shade of green, the v-neck) with wearable modern touches (the high-low hem). My dress had gores between the seams from the hip to the hem, adding nice swishiness to the dress. The dress was completely lined in a complementing shade of green polyester satin stuff (seriously, the fabric one buys at Walmart, sometimes doesn't even FEEL like fabric...) and the zipper (brown, to pick up on the brown tones of the character's belt and boots) was completely hand sewn in, nested between the lining and outer fabric on the center back seam, and definitely my best zipper to date. I also made Link's cap, literally two triangles sewn to a band which was then turned under and slip-stitched.

And might I add she makes a great Link! 
A view of the whole dress--the princess seams fit perfectly!
Close-up of the princess seam

Monday, October 22, 2012

18th Century Petticoat Revisited

The brown petticoat I made from a sheet from my 18th century undergarments post, sadly, ripped. I wore my Chemise a la Reine outfitted as The Ghost of Christmas Past to school on the day before Winter break--merely by swapping out the pink sash with a red and gold cashmere one, and adding a festive crown of garland. At the end of the day, I noticed that the left hand side of the back panel of my petticoat had several large horizontal rips--perhaps someone or myself stepped on it with too much force.

Being that during summer break I had a lot of time to flex my sewing muscles, I picked apart the petticoat, leaving two panels (a front and a terribly ripped back) and their respective waistbands (set aside for now). I cut off the ripped half of the back panel, and sewed in a new panel. However, I figured since I already had the skirt's seams undone, I might as well make it wider--my original petticoat didn't have as much "fluff" and "bootylishisness" as I desired. So, I doubled the petticoat in width, adding a huge panel the same width as the original width of the petticoat. I sewed it all up, repleated it, and made a new waistband--slightly wider in case one of my friends needed to wear it or something, or to accommodate a future false rump.

A nice shot of my butt. Yup, professional photographer, yours truly...

Sorry these photos are so blurry and the petticoat is so wrinkly!!

On the other hand, look how tan my back is!! These shots were taken right at the end of the summer.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

McCall's 6557 - Black Polka Dot Chiffon Dress

Since my mom:
1. Tolerates my sewing and how every time I sew the carpet gets covered in little bits of thread
2. Buys most of my sewing material
3. Helps me fit garments and offers constructive criticism
4. Loves me

I decided to return the favor and sew a dress for her. I let her pick out the pattern and the fabric, but I took some creative liberty with the pattern instructions to give the dress a really nice look. The pattern she picked was McCall's 6557 .

My mom chose a shortened version of View C, which the model is wearing. I used the skirt length from view A, the shortest length, since my mom's on the petite side.

She was inspired by the pattern envelope and picked out a sheer, lightweight black chiffon with delicate, small white polka dots. We decided not to do the contrasting waistband, but instead go for a mature, vintage-y look.

I loved the full circle skirt, and thought it very flattering on my mom. The dress involved a fair bit of hand sewing, as I hand sewed the zipper in and blind hemmed the skirt (so that the fabric could maintain it's swishy-ness!). The pattern instructions said to stitch across the front wrap part of the bodice, but because of aesthetics and the fabric, I stitched through the lining to catch all the layers of the bodice fabric. It did look nice!

In my grandparents' house

The pearl necklace she's wearing is the one she wore on her wedding day!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Italian Tarantella Dancing Costumes

Now, for the ultimate in blogger procrastination--this was something I meant to post last year, when I first started my blog! Posting this project was actually my inspiration for starting this blog in the first place...

Well then, a year late, the Italian Tarantella Dancing Costume Project!

Now, how did this project come to be? Well in my junior year of high school my Italian teacher decided that for our school's annual International Festival in June, a performance of the Italian Tarantella Napoletana should be included. He was able to find music, and a group of students willing to dance (myself included), but still the largest challenge remained: what would the dancers wear?

At this point, around February 2011, I piped up "I can sew them!" (fastforward to the future: facepalm). The Italian club had a lot of money from recent bake sales, so the finances weren't an issue. I did some research and presented my designs to the Italian Club so they could all vote on a design.

On to the research process! My task was to make dancing costumes for 5 girls and 5 guys (although in the end the performance was suitable for only 4 pairs of dancers). All images via

I see a trend of white blouses, dirndl-like vests, white aprons, and colorful skirts with ribbon or lace trim near the hem. The Tarantella is a traditional dance of southern Italy.

With a game plan in mind, I set out to buy a pattern and fabric. I determined the skirts would just be panels 2 yards wide, gathered to a waistband, with a 1" elastic sewn in. The apron would be a hemmed rectangle, with a drawstring made from the selvages of the mysterious fabric of the blouses. The pattern I chose to make the bodices and the blouses was Butterick 6196.

Really da fuq is the girl on the right wearing?
Out of the $140 I was allotted for this project, I only spent $40 on fabric--crazy right? The rest was spent on notions and trims. I bought an endless expanse of mysterious sheer pink crepe, a nice black suiting, a green polyester damask for the skirts, a nice beige woven for the aprons (it had great texture!), and some plain red cotton for sashes for the boys. My fave fabric purchase of this whole project was the lining for the bodices: a cheery yellow, with a pattern of little white flowers that each had ditzy little red or green centers. Italian colors! And a cheeky vintage style print! The bodices are fully lined and boned, with olive green binding around the edges.

The boys' costumes were very simple: white button down shirts, black dress pants, and red sashes tied to their belt loops. They weren't too keen on a full costume. This year, however, I made larger, better sashes for the boys, and black cotton vests to complete the look.

All photos courtesy Justin Torraco
I love the drape of the sleeves and the curve of the bodices!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

DIY Sheer Button Down Shirt

I've been seeing sheer button down shirts cropping up everywhere from the runways to American Apparel. But, as a teen of limited means and a sewing machine, I knew what I had to do.

Make one of my own!

I dug out my pile of this synthetic pale pink crepe stuff, which I bought 10 yards of for $6 (unheard of, right? $1 a yard, plus 40% off!). I've been trying to use up this temperamental sheer fabric, and I felt this project would use up a good amount of it. I used a vintage McCall's from the '80's, so the pattern, although for a size extra small, was terrifyingly large once I cut it out. I took out 3 inches from each side seam and 2 inches from each sleeve, and the shirt still retains some bagginess to it. The buttons were a perfect match, 25 cents at Wal-Mart, but not enough to sew beneath the collar and on the cuffs. Oh well, they'll restock eventually, right?

Totally 80's...look at those perms!
Shirt in 3 lengths...I made it in the smallest length.

I liked the pleated shoulder detail of the shirt very much, as well as the little pleats of the sleeve into the cuff.

Of course it only made sense to wear a shiny sheer pink button up shirt with raspberry red corduroys and a studded belt...

See the little shoulder pleats? Aren't they darling? And I must say my collar is very crisp...

Blech that sheen just kills me...but the shirt is very versatile, neutral while a pop of color, formal while casual, and would be fun to layer under sweaters!

What's also very interesting about this strange synthetic fabric, besides that it frays beyond recognition, is that even after I washed the shirt, it held its pleats--and wrinkles--like it was its job! Seriously, how does that happen? The pleats were as crisp out of the wash as if they had just come from underneath my iron! Weird...

The purse is a vintage clutch of my Grandmother's, who "saved it for special occasions". Uhm, no. This purse is just too much my style to pack away at the bottom of my closet! It's one of those metal-link-thingy purses, and the gold and white detail on the flap is an elegant contrast.

I don't think it's as cute and versatile as mine!
 This is what I mean by metal-link-thingy, via

Friday, March 23, 2012

Filippo Lippi and the Great Tunic; Or, How I Cheated Historical Accuracy

      For a few weeks, my Italian 4 teacher debated whether to assign us an Italian Renaissance Art project or not. We're going on a trip to the met next week, and because I kept nagging him, he decided to assign the project.

      My artist was from the 15th century, Fra Filippo Lippi. I'll post later about all of his exciting debaucheries...Anywho, since I only had a week for the project, and I was hell-bent on making a costume of sorts, I had to resort to making something simple.

      My parents weren't able to take me to the fabric store in the beginning of the week, so I focused on the presentation and research aspect of the project. By Wednesday, I realized that time was running out (I had to present on Friday!) so I rummaged though the cluttered storage room in our basement and found an old sheet to use: it was the bottommost sheet that had shrunk and could no longer fit over my parents' bed. The fabric was probably better than any I'd ever find in a fabric store: it was very wide, and the white cotton was printed with a sort of cream damask pattern, which gave it some nice dimension.

These were my inspiration portraits. Look for the angel/ servant/ Saint wearing a long dress with fitted sleeves and a waist pouf (correct terminology?):

I started by measuring out a rectangle of 65 by 58 inches (65 height, 58 width). I drafted sleeves, and made them purposely long. The waist "pouf" is achieved by a small belt of elastic. Fancy, right? The neckline is box-pleated, bound in bias tape, with a drawstring (mainly for decoration). I actually REALLY liked how this turned out. It felt more flattering than my Chemise a la Reine.

That Friday, I just walked into school dressed like this, even though we have a uniform. My Italian teacher wrote me a pass, but even though all these teachers gave me weird looks, no one asked for a pass. I guess I was so unusual that no one questioned it? Anywho, I heard these really funny things in the hallway that day:

"Hurry up Princess Leia!"
"Did you see the girl dressed as Jesus?"

It's hard to tell but I did my hair up in the double Swiss braids. I strung some pearl beads onto bobby pins with wire, and then stuck them into the braids for some hair action.