Sewing is my friend!

Ooopsie – two weeks since an update! Must be getting slack again… Actually, it’s more that last weekend was nowhere near as interesting as the previous one, so I didn’t feel inspired to tell everyone about it.

This week, however, I can boast that I finally finished the never-ending skirt! This skirt is made from some slightly openwork cheesecloth-type material I just *had* to buy when visiting my parents last. It consists of 11 tiers of fabric gathered on to a yoke/waistband, and the final tier is about 18 feet long, at a rough guess. That’s a lot of gathering! I think that, on average, it took over an hour to attach each tier to the one above. And it took a day to do all the cutting out… In terms of the pattern, you can get away with 1cm seam allowances on the tiers (this saves you quite a bit of fabric; I got away with almost half a metre less than the pattern thought necessary!). It goes together really well, though to be honest, it should; it’s mostly rectangles… I would say that the size that should be appropriate to me is almost too large, threatening to slip off my hips, and it is amply long enough – it just brushes the floor on me (and I’m 6 ft tall…). This is a good thing.

The only real downside is that the fabric is just sliiightly too translucent for modesty/decency. I got away with it last night by wearing a scarf round my hips, which disguised the panty line just fine, but I still had to be careful not to get backlit. The alternative is to wear it with an underskirt in the future. Overall, I’m very pleased with it, though I’m not sure it merits the amount of time it took.

I’m currently feeling pretty inspired vis-a-vis sewing and stuff at the moment. I have a longer than average list of projects that I’m itching to start, and the usual number of projects waiting to be finished. On the list of projects waiting to start are:

  1. A Civil War era corset. Just…because. I already have the pattern, and I know where to get the supplies from, too. Simplicity have a surprisingly good selection of period costume patterns actually – worth a look.
  2. An Elizabethan Effigy corset. Ummm, because. These corsets aren’t nearly so waist-shaping as the ones we automatically tend to think of. This one is interesting because it is front-closing, and can be stiffened with hemp (or similar) twine. The hemp ‘boning’ is not 100% documentably period, but it seems to give the right effect, and similar techniques were used for other garments in period. More on this one if/when I get round to it; if this is your bag, there are a whole pile of costuming sites out there that know a lot more about this stuff than I do. I recommend The Sempstress’s site, The Elizabethan Lady and Jen’s Festive Attyre Page, in addition to the aforementioned Elizabethan Costuming Page.
  3. A skirt. A couple of months ago, I bought a very funky skirt from Marks and Spencer, of all people. It’s made of a ‘rustly’ cotton, with four rectangular panels and four triangular gores. It also has a pretty straight underskirt. The shape of the skirt is fantastic, and it moves beautifully. Since it’s a pretty simple pattern, I thought I’d nick it. Well, on Thursday last, I bought some silk organza from Robert Sayle’s (a.k.a. the Cambridge branch of John Lewis). It’s a dusty purple sort of colour, with gold metallic blobs and border woven in. It’s much stiffer than fabric that I’d normally buy, but it was half price and I do love the colours. It’s also see-through, but I figure a couple of underskirts will fix that… Anyway, I was originally planning to make a straight skirt with two side splits out of this stuff, but I don’t think it will ‘flow’ well enough. Last night, it occurred to me that the Marks and Spencer pattern might be just the thing, not least because I’ll be able to put the border along the whole edge of the skirt very nicely. You never know, though; I might change my mind again
  4. LOTR costumes!! J wants a Strider outfit. OK, here we go… I’m planning to work ‘from the ground up’, so the first step is a shirt made of beat-up black linen. I’ve ordered a sample of this stuff, and I think it’ll work rather well
  5. Whilst I’m ordering linen, I think I need a couple of underskirt/petticoat type things. See above comments about the never-ending skirt.
  6. I also want to learn how to make fishtail skirts; for dancing, for gothing up, or just for fun.
  7. There’s also a couple of tops I want to make.
    • One (or three) out of some fantastic partly-shirred white jersy stuff that I bought at the same time as the fabric for the never ending skirt. It’s my guess that this stuff will dye OK, apart from where the shirring is, which will probably take less dye. This could be a rather funky stripe effect…
    • A wrap top with circular lower sleeves, probably in crushed velvet. Intended for dancing in, might also have a beaded lower edge, depending on if it’s a ‘real’ wrap or not. Amongst other things.
    • A peasanty-style linen-y crop top with gathered sleeves and bodice. Again dance inspired, but more tribal-ish. I know what I mean; I sketched it already, but it’s hard to explain. I’ll either have to scan the sketch, or you canjust wait to see the finished article. Eventually.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. At least I’ve got a list of projects all in one place. Next installment: the List of Unfinished Projects! Or not.

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ADDENDUM 24/07/07:  over four years later, I have achieved exactly one of these nine items…