Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Cleaning and a New Look

With great excitement I can say that finals are almost over! Just a few more days and we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming!

This weekend I was able to actually get ahead of my homework and earned a few free hours. The mending pile in my sewing area needs attention, but my parents have been spring cleaning and redecorating so naturally my sewing area is hidden behind boxes, chairs, etc.

One of our recent projects has been recovering our kitchen chairs. The chairs and table were given to us by my aunt when she moved, so the raffia seats had a bit of wear that only increased with time.

The Fabric Warehouse was our usual haunt last year when we bought the material--a divine upholstery fabric for only $6 a yard. The foam and batting was bought at Joann's, and the wood and tools were sourced by my dad.

The chairs came out so nice that we were terrified of spilling something on them! We bought a clear, vinyl tablecloth and stapled it around the seat to protect against spills. The vinyl slipped and tore upon contact with the staples, so I was able to put my fabric scraps to good use: we used strips of the thick lining of my Bronzino gown to add grip for the staples, and it came out great!

This weekend I also took the time to redesign my blog. It's been so simple for so long, and I felt that I've really evolved as a blogger since I last made major changes. I used picmonkey, a free online photo editor, for the first time, and it was super easy! I used this tutorial from 21 Rosemary Lane, and I'm a picmonkey convert now!

I found this detail of a painting on Tumblr, sadly without any information on the painting, but I fell in love! I wanted to try a blog with cool, clean colors. Let me know what you think about the new design!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Medieval Times

When my University was offering discounted Medieval Times tickets, me and two friends, Ruti and Haijia, were quick to grab some up! The first time I was at Medieval Times it was for my 8th birthday, and I was utterly enchanted but hadn't gone since.

Ruti (a fellow sewist and crocheter) was eager to dress up with me. Luckily we are very similar in size! I loved being able to give my costumes a new opportunity to come out of the closet; after all, isn't that why we sew?

Ruti wore my pseudo-Medieval angel dress that I reworked for the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2013 Challenge # 18. She looked beautiful in it, and her hair perfectly complemented the dress!

Ruti and Haijia
I was very excited to wear my Bronzino Gown again. This time, I abandoned the strapless soft cup bra, and the bodice was overall more comfortable and had fewer wrinkles.

I also wore my hair differently. Since it's a bit longer now, I made two braids behind my ears and brought them up onto my head. My hair is thin, so it's hard to see the braids, but many 16th century Italian paintings show a similar hairstyle.

Portrait of Antea "La Bella" by Parmigianino

Portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi by Bronzino

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Toiling Away

Because of my schoolwork, my sewing progress during the academic year is pretty glacial. Each step seems to take at least two weeks, and self-established deadlines must be pushed back several times to accommodate term papers and exams.

My plans for Butterick 5605 have been developing at an irritatingly gradual pace. Since winning the pattern in November, I prewashed the fabric, traced the pattern and made a toile.

Sometimes the time I take to finish a project like this is beneficial--in the months since receiving the pattern, I decided that the superb black cotton I bought at a yard sale would be a shame to use as a lining. A thick cotton lining a wool dress might be both too bulky and too warm. Instead, I will purchase a black poly satin to line the dress.

This is the first garment on which I'm actually making a toile (normally I use the lining as the toile). This represents another step toward my development as a sewist (seamstress? sew-er?).

I'm glad I made a toile because this bodice was HUGE on me! Even the sleeves, which look tight-fitting on the pattern illustration, were cavernous on my wimpy arms. I was able to take out at least an inch of material from the front seam alone!

The toile might go through a few more changes, namely, redistributing the amount I took out from the front seam to the side seams so that the princess seam isn't so oriented to the middle. I also drew out a new neckline--a high neckline in wool just won't work for me.

Back of the bodice toile