Saturday, January 30, 2021

I Made a Wedding Veil. A year ago.

 As you may have gathered from my last post I'M EMGAGED!!!!! And yes, this does indeed mean I now get to make my WEDDING DRESS!!!!! In what world would I not make my own wedding dress??? And, because I'm crazy, I'm probably going to be sewing more than just my wedding dress before that all-important date. 

That said, no. I won't be sharing about my gown, or probably any wedding sewing, until after the wedding. I *think* I'm going to try to write about the different stages of making the dress as they're happening, and then just publish them sometime this summer, once I'm married to this guy I'm clearly quite attached to. Best intentions, we'll see how it goes. 

Meanwhile, I do have a few non-wedding related sewing projects happening currently, and I also have a bit of a back log of projects that need to be blogged. Since I'm currently in the early, glorious, days of being engaged and excited about almost all things wedding, I thought this would be a good time to finally share about something I made for my sister-in-law for her wedding, about a year and a half ago.

Her veil. When we went wedding dress shopping my sister-in-law got a pretty good idea of what sort of veil she want. Something simple in cut, just plain tulle, no lace, but very fluffy and attached to a pretty comb.

Nothing at the bridal shops were quite as fluffy as she had in mind. Besides, have you seen the prices of veils?? I quickly volunteered to make her veil as part of her wedding gift from me. This way she could have the exact veil she wanted, and not spend a fortune on it. Wedding veils are one of those things that you can certainly make way cheaper than you can buy.

This decided, the following week we went to Hobby Lobby and picked out a pretty comb to attach the veil to. Then, I went to Joann's and bought the nice tulle to make the veil from. I chose to use the expensive bridal tulle (about $4 per yard rather than $1 per yard) because it had a nicer hand and felt stronger than your every day cheap costume tulle. I don't regret this one bit!

Supplies acquired, I sat down one morning and made the veil in about an hour. I figured out how long my sister-in-law wanted the veil and cut out a large oval, about twice as long as that, from the 2 yards of tulle I'd bought. I folded the oval in half a little off center so that one layer of the veil would be a bit longer than the other.

I gathered the folded edge of the vail with large whip stitches.

Then I sewed it to the comb.

And the veil was done!

Simple yet fluffy. The perfect finishing touch on my sister-in-law's wedding day!

This past fall, my sister-in-law's sister got married, and the veil came out again for her "something borrowed".

My sister-in-law made the bride's flower crown for that wedding, and once that was done, she just had to try it on with her veil to see how they paired together. Beautifully, that was the verdict. 

Once again, the veil made the perfect finishing touch for a bride on her wedding day!

Since getting engaged, I've briefly considered asking my sister-in-law if I could borrow this veil too, because I still love how it turned out. However, I want a different style of veil, so I'm going to make myself a new one. Something all my own. What do I want? Well, you'll have to wait until this summer to see!

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Fantastic Purple Top Hat

Never ever did the thought of making a purple top hat, or any sort of top hat, cross my mind. Why would I make such a thing? Well, let me tell ya; This guy. . .

Yes, I made a purple top hat for my boyfriend, (wait, he recently got an upgrade) my fiancé, for Christmas. It might just be my favorite Christmas gift I made this year, It's just so cool, and fun, and fantastic!

Back in August, when my boyfriend and I were quarantined together with Coronavirus, he told me all about this character he had once designed that had a purple top hat. He mentioned a tall purple top hat would be a cool thing to have, and I filed this information away in the back of my mind. A purple top hat huh? 

Christmas rolled around and I was trying to decide what to make this guy. Our first Christmas together, I wanted it to be something memorable. Suddenly I remembered the purple top hat. Maybe, just perhaps, I would be able to make such a thing.

Only having a vague idea of how to make a top hat, I decided starting with a pattern would be a good thing. Thankfully, Simplicity patterns were on sale at Hobby Lobby the week I decided to do this thing, so I snagged Simplicity 8713 just as fast as I could! Now I just had to figure out this guy's head circumference so I could pick the right size.
As it's hard to get someone's measurements without their knowledge, I straight up told him I needed to measure him. 
"You're making me something for Christmas huh? I can't wait to see it!" 
(I have found a guy that really appreciates and supports my sewing habit, which is just what I needed!)
"Uhh, yes. Don't ask questions. Now hold still."
I got the standard chest, waist, hip, and back length measurements, then playfully wrapped the measuring tape around his head. He thought I was just joking around with that last measurement, little did he know it was the only measurement I actually needed for his Christmas gift.

Head circumference figured out, the following week I cut out the pattern, then traced it onto fusible felt interfacing. I watched Angela Clayton's Edwardian Hat tutorial to see how she constructed her hats, as they always seem to turn out well, and completely ignored the instructions that came with the pattern. 

After I traced the pattern pieces onto the fusible felt, I took a measuring tape and removed the seam allowance from all the pieces, I wouldn't need that on my interfacing layer! The outer fabric and lining meanwhile did get cut out straight from the pattern, seam allowance included.

With the pieces all cut out, I went ahead and made the crown by butting the edges of the felt up against each other and zig-zag stitching them together.

And with that, I had a crown, ready to be covered in fabric. Somewhere around this point of the hat making process, in Angela Clayton's video, she added wire to all of her felt pieces. I do have millenary wire in my stash, but decided for this particular hat it was unnecessary. The Pellon brand felt interfacing (stiffer than plain craft felt) had plenty of body to keep the tall crown upright, and the brim was relatively narrow so I didn't think it needed the support of the wire either. 

Like I said, once the crown interfacing was assembled, it was onto covering the different parts of the hat with the pretty fabric! I decided to use a lovely, heavy dark purple cotton sateen for the fashion fabric. It was originally purchased at Joann's from the "bottom weights" section, used for a project, and the scraps have been hanging out in my stash ever since. Honestly, with the exception of the pattern, everything I used for this hat, including the fusible felt, came from my stash, left over from previous projects. For the lining I used a lighter weight gray cotton sateen, also unearthed in my stash, probably also originally purchased at Joann's once upon a time.

I started with the top of the hat, centering the felt in the middle of the purple sateen, and pressing in the seam allowance all the way around. 

Next, I ran a row of stitches 5/8" in all the way around the edge of the lining piece, and used this as a guide to press the seam allowance in. 

Finally, I laid the lining over the "wrong side" of the top, centered it, and fused the three layers together. You could definitely make this hat with non-fusible felt weight interfacing, but the double sided fusible stuff definitely made this process easier!

I slip-stitched the lining and fashion fabric together all around the edge, then repeated the process with the crown and brim pieces: fold seam allowance of outer fabric around interfacing, iron in edges of lining, lay over interfacing and folded in edge of outer fabric, fuse together, and slip stitch in place. This was a bit tricky with the 3 dimensional crown, but it wasn't too bad, I just sewed up the center back seams in my fabric first.

Since the inside of the brim would be visible when the hat was worn, I lined it with the purple sateen, rather than the gray I used for the rest of the hat. The inner edge of the brim is folded in and slip stitched like everything else, but the outer edge is bound in matching purple sateen bias tape for a nice clean finish.

Once all the pieces were thus prepared, hat assembly could begin. I started by laying the top of the hat on top of the crown.

Despite having removed the seam allowance from the top like I was supposed to, it was considerably too big to fit smoothly onto the crown.

Like, almost an inch too big all the way around, on all sides. What I should have done here is cut down the top to the correct size.

What I did instead was match up the quarter points of the top and the crown, tack them together, then ease the top into the crown as I whipstitched the two together.

This worked, I suppose, but did not give a nice neat finished product. It was really a bad idea.

The top of the hat now either sticks up out of the crown, or gets pushed down into the crown, rather than sitting neatly on top.

If I ever use this pattern again, I'll be making adjustments to the top pattern. With this hat, if I ever get around to it, I could remove the top and replace it with one the right size. We'll see if I make time for that or not. (Maybe once we're married and living in the same house so I have easy access to the hat?!?!?)

Once the top was not-so-satisfactorily in place, it was time to attach the brim. This was also a touch larger than the circumference of the crown, but not as dramatically, so I decided to try the matching quarter points and easing method again.

This time, it yielded acceptable results once the crown was completely whipstitched to the brim.

Brim on, the hat was, for all intents and purposes, done!

I tried it on and was thrilled! The youngest kid I nanny also tried on the hat, and marched around the house singing that he was Willy Wonka. It was absolutely fantastic. 

The hat seemed to be missing something however, so I wrapped some petershem ribbon (the same stuff I used to bind my recent stays) around the base of the hat. Yes! A hat band would finish this thing off nicely.

On went the hat band. The brim got a final press, and this thig was ready for Christmas!

The youngest kid I nanny had enjoyed watching this hat come into existence, so I let him help me wrap it up. He enjoyed taping, tying the ribbon, and picking a fun gift tag.  I promised him I would show him a picture of my fiancé in the hat after Christmas. 

The gift was opened on Christmas and my fiancé was surprised and thrilled!

Even with all the glaring mistakes I see, he loved the thing and couldn't believe I'd made it!

Ever since Christmas, he's been showing it off. His mom, his neighbor, a few of my extended family members, they've all seen it. I'm sure it'll get shown off to more people once the pandemic is over. He's pretty darned pleased and proud of my first attempt at making a top hat.

He's even suggested wearing this hat for our wedding. I'll have to consider that idea. Meanwhile, I'm thinking I need to make him a Victorian suit to wear with it, so we can attend historical costuming events together once those start happening again!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Plaid, Velvet-Trimmed, First Christmas Dress

 As I've already admitted, I did not get around to making Christmas Dresses for my sister and I this year. I ran out of time. However, I still managed to make one Christmas dress this year. This one was a priority. One there was no way I would skip making. This one I finished weeks in advance, before the majority of my Christmas gifts were done. 

My niece's first Christmas dress. When my brother and sister-in-law first announced they were expecting, I declared, boy or girl, I would make this child a Christmas outfit. Baby girl was born, December rolled around, and it was time for me to act on my declaration. First, I just had to decide on a dress style. What would this first Christmas Dress look like?

I looked through my fabric stash and picked a couple of different options, then I went to my stash of baby clothes patterns. As this is the first baby I've had the privilege of sewing for, I have considerably fewer baby clothes patterns than I do other patterns. After looking at and considering the options I did have, I decided on McCall's 4864, a pretty basic dress and bloomer pattern, which I believe came to me from my mom who picked it up when my sister was a baby. I would just need to make a few little changes to get the perfect first Christmas dress.

To get just what I had in mind, I decided to make view A, with the attached bloomers of view D, add long sleeves from another pattern, and hack it to have a side front button opening.

Looking at the weights and measurements on the back of the pattern envelope, I traced out the "new born" size, even though my niece was over 2 months old at Christmas, and wearing 3 month size clothing. The pattern sizes bear no resemblance to store bought sizes for baby clothes.
While tracing the pattern I went ahead and added the side front closure I was wanting.

I picked a green and red plaid from my stash and decided to trim the dress with some incredibly beautiful and soft red velvet ribbon I found at an estate sale last fall.

Last minute, I decided to add a bias-cut waistband between the straight-cut skirt and bodice to add a bit more visual interest.

I added more velvet ribbon to the waistband, and made a little bow to go on it as well. 

I looked through my trim stash again and found a red and green trim I liked for around the neckline, then I searched through my button stash for 3 red buttons to match the ribbons and trim. I have a lot of red buttons and it was surprisingly hard to pick just the right ones!

Finally, finally, I made a decision, sewed the buttons on, and my niece's first Christmas dress was done!

All red, and green, and Christmassy!

I made her a big plaid bow to match, because I know her mama likes big bows, then anxiously awaited Christmas to find out if the dress actually fit like it was supposed to!

It did!

Little Miss wore her Christmas dress for the duration of our family Christmas celebration.

She was spoiled, passed around, and given a lot of gifts.

The whole proceeding wore her out!

She fell asleep in Daddy's arms while Mommy finished opening her gifts.

Next year she might be more excited about her presents, or at least the boxes and paper they come in!

As a memento, since she'll have the Christmas dress outgrown before we can blink, last minute, after all the other gifts were done, I used the dress scraps and some felt to make her a dress Christmas ornament.

I love how adorable this turned out, and my sister-in-law was thrilled when she unwrapped it!

Just look at this cutie! It was well worth making her Christmas dress a priority during a busy Christmas season! Now perhaps I should start planning her Easter dress. . .

Typically the Easter Season is less crazy busy on the sewing front that Christmas is, but this year, I don't think that's gonna be the case! Why? You'll have to wait and see. . .