Saturday, September 30, 2017

Better Late Than Never, September

Happy fall, y'all!

I'm sorry that I didn't post... at all... this month, but September was an unexpectedly rough month. However, I finally got photos taken of some of my latest projects, and so I can now share them with you! I made a few modern things this month, did some stash-busting, and received one of the best compliments I possibly could have. Here's (some) of my month, illustrated in sewing projects!

I'll start off with the two modern things I made this month: an elastic-waist skirt and a suspender skirt.

It's Paris! (and for some reason my computer wouldn't let me rotate this photo, sorry about that)
I had exactly one yard of this wonderful cotton print, showing a bunch of the famous sites in Paris, and I really wanted to put it to good use. So, I whipped up a cute skirt that I can wear with pretty much anything! The fabric was wide enough for me to cut it in half so that I could gather it quite a lot, giving me a very full skirt. I sewed the two yard-length pieces together, giving myself a tube with a circumference of two yards. I then wrapped a piece of elastic around my waist, marked it, and cut it to size. I turned over the upper edge of the skirt, forming a channel the same height as the elastic (mine was an inch - I think if I did this again I would use at least a two inch elastic for a bolder waistband), and then inserted the elastic into the channel, effectively gathering the waistband of the skirt. A good tip for things like this is to attach a safety pin to the end of whatever you're feeding through the channel, so that it's easier to move it through. Finally, I sewed the elastic together at the ends, and then hemmed the skirt.

I timed myself, and the entire project took exactly 20 minutes! I can't wait to wear this while traveling - I think I'll pair it with some warm tights for the autumn to start...

Next up is my new suspender skirt! I've wanted a skirt like this for years, but couldn't find one I liked that was also affordable. I got some new fabric for free, and so I decided to finally make myself a suspender skirt! I've been referring to this one as my Tim Burton/Corpse Bride skirt because of the pattern and colors, and also because I had "This is Halloween" stuck in my head the entire time I was sewing it (two. whole. hours.)

It's more purple in real-life, don't worry!

This skirt is also easy to make without a pattern. I started with a simple circle skirt, and then cut out two 2" strips of fabric for the waistband. I cut a slit down the back of the skirt for a zipper (a 9" zipper would work well), and then sewed one of the waistband strips to the skirt. I set the zipper, and tried the skirt on, measuring how long and where I wanted the suspender straps to be. I cut out two more strips of fabric to the desired length of my straps, each 4" wide. I sewed the strips into tubes, and attached them to the top of the waistband. To finish it off, I added the other waistband strip by sewing it to the top of the first one, and then whipped stitched it to the skirt on the bottom. Finally, I hemmed the skirt, and was ready to wear it!

You can cross the straps in the back or not, it's your choice! You can also sew the crossed section in place if you want to, although I didn't.
I'll pair it with a long-sleeved white shirt and black tights. Maybe I'll even add some light purple or orange as it gets closer to Halloween!

The final project I have photos of is my 18th century wool bed gown! In the 18th century, bed gowns were the equivalent of a modern sweatshirt. You wear them over your other clothes, and you can secure them with a straight pin and your apron to keep them out of the way while you're doing work.

The green neckerchief is also new, and I have a reddish-pink one to match... eventually I'll post something about the accessories I've been sewing recently!
I found the fabric at a local thrift store, and it was 3 yards for $3! It's almost pure wool, but luckily the small percentage that is synthetic isn't discernible by touch or by appearance. I'm usually a stickler about only using 100% accurate fiber content at this point in my sewing, but for something like this I was willing to make an exception.

The original, laid out on my new fabric.
Since bed gowns are pretty much a big 'T' with flared sides and gussets, this was easy enough to make, and it was even easier because I already had one that I could trace! However, if you don't have a bed gown to work off of, here are the simple measurements you need:
  • Across your shoulders, wrist to wrist. This, plus approximately 2" for hemming/finishing, is the top of your bed gown. If your arms are short enough, or your fabric is wide enough, you can make the top line up with the fold, like I did. (Ex. My fabric was 60" wide, and that is also my wingspan)
  • The base of your neck to mid-thigh/knees/where ever you want the bed gown to go down to. This is the finished length, and how far down from the top you need to measure.
  • Measure around your arm at the widest part (a) and from your wrist to your armpit (b). Add at least 2" to measurement 'a', and then divide that total by 2, giving you measurement (c). Measure 'c' inches down from the top of your fabric, and mark that at both edges of the fabric, as well as at a point 'b' inches in from each side. Connect those dots, and you have the sleeves!
  • Finally, draw a diagonal line from each armpit point to the bottom corner of your fabric. This will be the "wings" of the bed gown, so you can make these as wide or as thin as you want.
  • You'll also cut out two 4"x4" or 5"x5" squares for gussets, depending on how much movement you want in the arms.
If you look closely, you can see my markings on the fabric. (Sorry for the poor photo quality, I was sewing in the hallway of a friend's apartment when I took this.)
I sewed the sleeves and sides together first, and if you're not cutting on the top fold then you'll also sew the back together at this point. You'll also add the gussets when you sew up the sides. After putting the sides together, I cut a slit up the front as well as two inches on the either side of the center on the top fold so that the wool doesn't scratch my neck. Fold those extra two inches under diagonally, and then hem the front. You can also add a strip to reinforce the back neckline here - mine is extra big, because when you sew in front of the public they sometimes manipulate and rip your sewing on accident. After that, all that's left to do is hem the bottom edge, and you're all set to stay warm in the winter!

(This is also where those nice complements I mentioned come in - I had multiple people mistake my hand sewing for machine stitches! I was delighted, and I'm really proud of my work on this.)

My shirt says "I'm Sew Fancy", and I love it. I got it from JoAnn Fabric, and they have so many cute sewing/knitting/crafting themed shirts there! (I also have one that says "Sew Happy!")
Kirsten photographed me in my bed gown, and the photo shoot turned into a HomeSense ad haha - but look! It's so cozy!

When I showed my finished bed gown to my parents, I modeled it while wearing 21st century clothing, and my mom pointed out that it looks a lot like some of the modern sweaters that are pretty popular. So, I now have the most versatile garment that spans three centuries!

It was 81 degrees that day, but I still managed to be cold - I'm glad I had my new bed gown!

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