I’m bringing back the WIP posts this year! I tapered off towards the end of last year since I didn’t have as many projects to share. This year, I’m also going to add my commissions to these posts, since I don’t want to clutter your feed with just skirts and capes and bodysuits. What’s funny about this post is I actually took 2 weeks off of sewing this month thanks to the flu. I didn’t realize I made so much! First up:
Captain Marvel: 90% complete
Gah, I’m so excited for this! I nearly finished Captain Marvel at the end of December for a charity event, then I wound up getting the flu and couldn’t go :( This has definitely been the most intense bodysuit I’ve made to date. The bodysuit alone took close to 20 hours with all the seam matching, flat piping, and satin stitching.
I have a couple of different “looks” planned for Carol depending on weather and what cons I attend. For a more casual look, I altered an old bomber jacket and bought a lacefront alternative wig that matches Carol’s current hairstyle during Epic Cosplay‘s Black Friday sale. I was hoping to style this wig into a faux hawk, but Epic wigs don’t hold intense styling very well.
All that’s left on this costume is finishing the flames, picking up my hip ornament and helmet, styling the wig, and adding buttons to the gloves. If you follow my social media, you already know that my new puppy got into my craft room and destroyed my original gloves. That dog is lucky he’s cute. Fortunately, he’s okay and didn’t do much damage otherwise. I can’t wait to share the final results with you guys!
Belle: 5% complete
My friend Calliopunk over at Gone Catawampus convinced me to tackle Belle’s yellow ballgown. After some thought, I decided to switch up my lineup and tackle her for All-Con in March. Fortunately, I have a bit of a break on commissions this month, so I’m clearing out my calendar and focusing on Belle for the next several weeks.
Taking this project on does mean that my coat project is going on hold, but that actually works out for the best since it’s been in the 60s-70s here for the past few weeks. My fabric will still be there in the fall!
I decided to go with the animated film version with some fabric tweaks to give it more visual interest. Keep an eye out on my Instagram for lots of updates!
Captain Cold and Squirrel Girl bodysuits
These were made for the lovely Taffeta Darling. The grey one is for Squirrel Girl and is made using Kwik Sew 3052 and matte gunmetal moleskin.
The blue and white one is for Captain Cold. It’s made from turquoise milliskin (sadly, no moleskin in the right color) and white stretch vinyl. To make the side panels, I made a mock-up of Kwik Sew 3052 and marked out the sections while my client was wearing it. Then, I just transferred those markings to my paper pattern. I’m pretty pleased with this one, and it was great practice for an upcoming Stephanie Brown Batgirl commission!
This was a quickie day project. Basically, it’s a black and yellow cape for Chaks Productions made of broadcloth. It attaches to his suit with velcro. Yay capes! This photo is pilfered from his page.
Steampunk Alice Bustle Skirt
Ah, the lovely Simplicity 1819. I definitely griped about this skirt a lot in my last post, but it wasn’t too bad of a project!
A few weeks ago, Calliopunk over at Gone Catawampus asked if I could help her friend with a bustle skirt for steampunk Alice in Wonderland. The pattern she had in mind was Simplicity 1819, which was a happy coincidence for me, since I’m thinking about using this pattern for NoFlutter’s Sailor Jupiter.
Did it look like the pattern illustration?: Pretty much, though I think I should have gathered the bustle more.
Make it again?: Probably. I’m still leaning toward the bustle piece this pattern with a few alterations if I make NoFlutter Jupiter.
Other Notes: Okay, so there were a couple of tricky spots on this project which prompted this post. Starting from the beginning of the pattern instructions. Yes, you do have to hem the apron front piece prior to attaching it to anything. The instructions call for a slipstitch, but I’m a lazy mofo and would recommend a blind hem on your machine instead. I’m still not great at this, but it’s much faster than doing it by hand. Plus, with the way the apron drapes, you’re not really going to see the hem anyway.
Next up: the side cascades. I ignored the fold lines here. I initially tried to follow them, but it just didn’t work for me. I was able to eyeball them pretty well without the lines. Also, you might consider hand tacking the edges of the drapes if you want them to retain their shape. Mine wanted to flop around a bit, but the bustle covered the wost of it.
One of the biggest issues I had with this project was the overall thickness. There are a TON of layers, and my machine HATED sewing through all the pleats on the apron. I ultimately wound up using a leather needle, but I still had to hand crank through those damn pleats.
A note about the zipper: It’s covered by the bustle, so I have no clue why they insist on a lapped zipper. You could easily do this with an invisible zipper or even with velcro or snaps.
I had zero desire to repeat the pleat fiasco, so when it came time to attach the bustle, I created a separate piece. I created another waistband piece just for the bustle and added velcro to the back so the two pieces would still line up.
Speaking of the bustle, the instructions are terrible when it comes to draping the skirt. The basic idea is to draw the bustle casing up to the loops with ribbon, much like Roman blinds. The instructions say to leave the ends of the casing free, but to stitch the rest of it down. Dafuq? How is that supposed to work, Simplicity? I ignored that instruction and stitched the edges of the twill tape, but left free gaps to thread my ribbon through.
Final verdict: I would definitely label this pattern intermediate. There’s a lot of tricky bits in it, so I’d hesitate to take it on without at least a few projects under your belt. Still, if you can power through it, the result is gorgeous! I can’t wait to see this client in her full costume.
Have you tried making this pattern? What were your thoughts?
Wow, I totally dropped the ball on blogging this week. The first week of the semester started at my 9-5, and life got a little crazier than expected. I’ll get back to normal posts next week.
Today, I’m sharing a more lighthearted post that’s been on the back burner for a while. While I love sewing, there are definitely things I kinda hate about it. Here are the top 5:
1. Cutting fabric and pattern pieces: UGH, UGH, UGH. Especially anything that has tiny pieces. Switching from cutting fabric with scissors to a rotary cutter makes life much easier, but it still sucks hardcore. I take a ridiculous amount of time to cut, so I normally set aside a whole day to cut as many projects as possible. I swear, if I could pay someone to cut fabric for me, I totally would.
2. Pre-treating fabric: I don’t know about you guys, but the second I get a piece of fabric, I want to take it to my machine and start sewing. With costumes, I can typically get away with not pre-treating most fabrics, especially satin and spandex, since they only get spot cleaned (Febreeze is the best, seriously). But for my normal clothes, I have to wait for that nonsense to wash and dry. Boooo…
3. Threading my serger: Dear lord, I hate threading my serger. After a year of constant use, it takes me closer to 5 minutes to thread it compared to 30 when I first started serging. And if I have to change colors in the middle of a project? Massive suck fest. I use the cheater’s method of changing serger thread as often as I can. And if a thread or needle breaks in the middle of a seam? Flip all the tables.
4. Hand stitching: It’s taken me a long time to appreciate hand stitching. I actually don’t mind it if I’m not in a rush and can chill out with some tea and Netflix for a few hours. Still, I’m not great at it and I always feel like my hand stitches look like a big ol’ bowl of first project home economics crap (looking at you, Captain Marvel gloves). So anytime instructions tell me to hand stitch something, you can bet I’m going to try to make it work with a machine first.
5. Setting sleeves: I swear, I can never get sleeves even. At least, not without a ridiculous amount of easing and seam ripping. Learning about the flat construction method used in RTW clothing blew my mind. I try to incorporate it everywhere I can. Because you suck, round sleeve setting.
Even with the suck of these things, I still love sewing! I’m actually in the middle of a couple of projects right now, so I’ll have more finished projects to share soon!
What are some of the things you love/hate about crafting?
Happy Friday! Con season officially kicks off for me next month with Fan Days, so I thought I’d join today’s Fandom Friday topic and share some of the conventions I’d love to attend. (Also, I promise more sewing posts starting next week!)
1. San Diego Comic Con: I feel like SDCC is nerd mecca. You’ve got to make the pilgrimage at least once. SDCC has been on my con wishlist since I was a teen, and well before I had even heard of cosplay. I visited San Diego many years ago when my brother graduated from boot camp, and loved the location and the weather. While I do prefer slightly smaller cons, I’d love to attend just once to get the experience and hear all the big news in person. And play I spy the celebrity.
2. New York Comic Con: Another con that I feel like most nerds need to visit just once. I’ve heard that it’s a smaller scale version of SDCC, though it seems like that’s not really the case anymore. Again, I’d love to see some of the big name guests and hear all the big news in an amazing locale.
3. Colassalcon: Comic con at a water park. SOLD! I saw so many incredible water themed costume photo shoots from Colassalcon. It looked like so much fun! Plus, there’s a zoo with baby tigers. Yes, please.
4. Anime Expo: Anime Expo is the biggest anime and manga convention in North America and the second longest running anime convention in the country. Anime is a big part of why I got into cosplay, so I’d love to make the trip out there for this amazing convention! There’s always so many amazing costumes. Plus, I’d love to visit Los Angeles!
5. PAX: I’ve never attended a primarily gaming convention before, and this seems like the con to attend! I was hoping to make it to PAX South next weekend, but getting a new puppy put a damper on that plan. The puppy is adorable, though, so it’s totally worth waiting for another one to roll around. Maybe in Seattle :)
Dragon Con: I went back in 2012, and it was AMAZING. So many incredible costumes and lots of fun programming. Plus, all the nerdy parties and gatherings! I’d love to go back, especially if I ever get out of the education field. Labor Day weekend is a difficult weekend for me to take a vacation since the fall semester starts that week. Still, I will make it back one day!
I’m in the process of clearing out my closet and revamping my wardrobe, so I thought today I’d share my winter mood board! I was really excited when ModCloth invited me to be a part of their winter layering challenge.
If you’ve been following for a while, you know how much I love layering. Even during the summer, I tend to wear at least 2-3 layers (though that’s partly because the temperature in office is insane), so cardigans are basically a way of life for me. I think I have somewhere around 20 in my closet at the moment. ModCloth’s clothes really fit with my quasi-vintage aesthetic, and now that I’m done with my Ready-to-Wear Fast, I’m looking forward to picking up a couple of staples from them!
When it comes to my wardrobe, I like a mostly monochromatic palate with a splash of vibrant color, so I played off that with the bright red tights and cardigan. Cowls are one of my obsessions right now, and I love the idea of layering with a bit of lace underneath for a super girly look.
Of course, one of the difficulties with layering is losing waist definition. I love the way this ModCloth cardigan is fitted and gathered under the bust and at the hips. I’d pair it with a flared, semi-circular skirt to accentuate the waist. Flared skirts are definitely helping me hide the extra Christmas cookies I ate in December! I’d love to make Sewaholic’s Hollyburn skirt in polka dot to go with this outfit.
Of course, there are a few pieces I’d add to this ensemble to really make it mine. This adorable sterling silver Wonder Woman necklace seems like a good fit with the red, and a fun way to incorporate some geek chic into this outfit. I’m finally working on a grey knee-length Butterick coat which would go well with ankle boots and bright tights (of course, by the time I finish the coat, it’ll probably be back to face-meltingly hot since Texas doesn’t really have seasons).
Happy Friday! I decided to start up another new series this year. Something I noticed last year was that I tend to censor myself a lot. Anything too personal (or with too much of my very odd sense of humor) gets cut. I’m trying to include more of these things, because hey, I do have some interests outside of sewing that I’d love to share. Since I’m basically obsessed with Instagram, I thought it’d be a good way to share my work and more of my life! Plus, short(ish) post. Boom.
1. I put up a book display at work on the 1950s. Our theatre department had some beautiful 1950s garments on loan and let us borrow one for the display! I absolutely adore this dress and totally wish it was in my size!
2. I absolutely love this moogle hoodie. I made it intending to take it to PAX South. I’m not going anymore, but it’s still a fun hoodie that I enjoy wearing around the house!
3. My client sent me photos of his Stanley Tweedle costume! I was kind of nervous about this costume since we didn’t have a chance to do an in-person fitting, but it worked out okay!
4. I read a lot of comics and comic related books this month. Image comics were my go-to this month, and I finally read Alex + Ada. If you liked the movie Her, you’ll definitely enjoy this comic.
5. My boyfriend and I had family over for Christmas this year, so we put up a small tree with the help of his sister! I went with a purple and silver theme, in honor of my alma mater :)
6. I made lots of progress on Captain Marvel! I intended to wear her to a charity even on January 1, but was plagued with the flu :( On the plus side, she’s nearly ready to go for my first con of 2015!
7. The BF’s sister is a fantastic cook and made us so much delicious food while she stayed with us. Eggs Benedict galore.
8. We adopted a new puppy shortly after Christmas! His name is Thor and he’s a 6 month old labrador mix. When he came home with us, he had kennel cough. After many expensive vet visits, we found out he also had pneumonia. After a couple days at the vet hospital, he’s feeling great and loves giving out puppy kisses.
Welcome to my new ongoing series: Back to Basics! Something I’ve noticed in home-taught sewists and novice cosplayers alike is that we all have gaps in our training. Most of us learn to sew through some combination of book learning, online tutorials, and trial and error, and as a result, we might go years without learning the fundamentals we might have learned in formal classes. This series is dedicated to filling in those gaps.
Today’s topic is one that’s come up quite a bit in the last few months for me: reading patterns. I’m constantly floored when cosplayers say they’ve never used a pattern. To me drafting is so much harder! I was very fortunate when I first started sewing that my stepmom showed me a few basic ins and outs of reading patterns and supplemented my knowledge with the fantastic patterns from Colette and Sewaholic. So today, I thought I’d share a few basic things you should pay attention to when looking at a pattern envelope. I’ll share more information on reading patterns in future posts!
What’s on a Pattern Envelope?
Before I dive into the nitty gritty, I want to point out common things you will find on a pattern envelope. On the front of a pattern, you’ll typically find:
Pattern number, which you’ll need to retrieve a pattern from the drawers in a fabric store. In this case, M6713.
Sizes included in the pattern
On the back, you’ll find:
Sizing information (typically on the back flap)
Finished Garment Measurements
If you’ve never used a sewing pattern before, sizing will seem alien and much likely a much larger size than you wear in RTW clothing. It’s perfectly normal. I wear a 12-14 in RTW clothing, but my sewing pattern size is closer to a 20-22, depending on the brand. Make sure you pick the pattern packet with the right size!
To choose the correct pattern for your body, you’ll need to know your bust, waist, and hip measurements. This can be a little odd. If you’re making a dress or top, go by your bust measurement. For pants and skirts, you can obviously ignore the bust measurement.
Most large pattern companies make their patterns assuming that the wearer has a B cup. If you have a larger or smaller cup size, choose your pattern based off of your high bust measurement. From there, you’ll likely need to make a full or small bust adjustment.
Suggested fabrics for the garment you’re making can be found on the back of the pattern envelope. You’ve often got some flexibility here. The suggested fabrics are just that: suggested. However, some designs work best with certain types of fabrics. For example, if you’re trying to make a flowing, ethereal dress, a stiff fabric like drill just won’t cut it.
Also be mindful of whether or not your pattern is designed for knits (stretchy fabrics) or wovens (non-stretchy fabrics). Many pattern companies will mention this on the front of the envelope. Patterns designed for knits are smaller than wovens since the pattern takes the stretch of the fabric into consideration. If the pattern is designed for a knit, there will also be a stretch indicator on the back of the envelope. The basic idea is that 4″ or so of your fabric should stretch to the indicated line. If it doesn’t, then back away from the fabric, no matter how pretty it is.
(Actually, that’s a little bit of a fib. You can make some knit patterns work for wovens, but you’ll have to make a larger size. This works best for patterns without lots of pieces. Make a muslin first to check!)
Patterns will include how much yardage you need, often in 45″ and 60″ bolt measurements. I always make sure to bring both measurements with me when I’m shopping, since you never know what fabric width you might find while shopping. If you’re working with a print such as stripes or a fabric with nap, you’ll want to get a bit of extra fabric to match your pieces.
Fabric with nap basically will look different from various angles. A good example is velvet. If you just go by regular fabric requirements, you might end up with upside down pieces! Your pattern should mention if you need extra fabric in these cases, but it’s always good to be aware. Thanks to Kara for bringing this up!
Notions are all the little extras you’ll need to make your garment. For dresses, you’ll most likely see things like zippers, buttons, and interfacing for waistbands and facings. Most fabric stores will have an entire wall or aisle dedicated to all these things. I like to pick up my notions when I choose my fabric so I can knock a project out without having to make a trek back to the fabric store.
Finished Garment Measurements/Ease
This is the main reason I decided to start this series with this topic. I’ve had multiple cosplay friends contact me in recent months concerned about why their garments don’t fit the way they should. The culprit in almost all of these situations has been ease.
Ease is the extra bit of fabric built into a garment so that you can do things like sit, eat, and, oh yeah, breathe.You can figure out the ease by subtracting the finished garment measurements from your body measurements. Most pattern envelopes will include the finished measurements of the garment (or at least part of it) somewhere on the envelope or on the pattern pieces. A snug garment (such as a fitted bodice) may only have 1-2″ of ease, while a billowy blouse might have a huge amount of ease.
Some garments may also have negative ease, which means that the final garment is actually smaller than your body’s measurements. This is most often true with spandex pieces which are designed with lots of stretch in mind and things like corsets, which should have a 2″ gap in the back for lacing.
That brings us to the end of this week’s post! I hope this helps. If you have any suggestions for future posts, please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail!
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable holiday.
If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen a few of my 2015 hopeful makes. I like to make my cosplay list pretty far in advance, since I also have to take my full-time job, commissions, and funds into account. After some fiddling and scheduling, I’ve pretty much decided on my 2015 lineup:
Captain Marvel: I fell really hard for Carol Danvers this year. It started with my stashbusting make of Ms. Marvel. I didn’t know much about her prior to making that costume, so I barrelled through several trades of her solo title and various Avengers runs, which then lead me to Captain Marvel. I basically devoured the 2012 run by Deconnick and have (mostly) kept up with the 2014 run. I adore Carol’s new attire and knew I had to make it. I’m currently at about 70% completion on this costume. I still need to alter the gloves, make a more accurate sash, make some flames, and style the wig. I’m also super excited to work with Chaks Productions and Kevin Dale to make a CM’s hip ornament and helmet, respectively. This costume should be ready for Fan Days in February :)
Vanessa: I adore the Little Mermaid. It was one of my favorite Disney cartoons as a kid. I’ve wanted to make a corset for quite a while, and thought Vanessa (Ursula in human form) would be the perfect project. Also, I already have a wig, so… win :) I’m hoping to have this one complete for All-Con in March.
Zatanna: This is one of those situations where I just really want to do a cool cosplay with friends. I’m not a die hard Zatanna fan, but my friends over at Gone Catawampus are putting together a Gotham Girls group and Zatanna was the best choice for me given the time frame (seriously, I have every weekend in May booked ALREADY. Lame). Still, I’m looking forward to an awesome group with some great friends! This costume will be for Dallas Fan Expo in May.
Margaret from Persona: I started playing Persona 4 this year and LOVED it. It combines some of my favorite elements from JRPGS and it’s basically a dating sim. I debated on which character I wanted to cosplay (Chie is basically my spirit animal), but then one of my friends asked if I’d do Margaret to complete a Velvet Room sibling group. I’m pretty excited to get started on this costume! Now to find quilted blue fabric… :P This will be for A-Kon in June.
Lulu from Final Fantasy X: I’ve put this one off long enough. I feel like I’m finally ready to tackle it. I’m purposefully putting this costume later in the year so that I can work on it between my other projects. And raid all the thrift stores for all the belts. Expect to see several updates throughout the year! I’m hoping to have her complete for Anime Fest in September.
NoFlutter Sailor Jupiter: I adore NoFlutter’s beautiful artwork of the Sailor Senshi. Kind of steampunk, kind of fetish, all over gorgeous. I jumped at the opportunity to cosplay Jupiter since I can use several pieces of my old costumes to cut down on costs. I even have leftover satin for the bustle skirt! This one will be for Anime Fest in September.
Wonder Woman or She-Hulk: I haven’t decided on which of these costumes I want to complete. It depends mostly on time and funds. If I go Wonder Woman, I’m planning to make Hanie Mohd‘s gorgeous version. It’s super cute and combines a lot of my favorite costume elements (corsets, giant poofy skirts, Wonder Woman). She-Hulk is a recent addition to my favorite female comic characters, and I’d love the opportunity to play with body paint. One (or maybe both?) of these costumes will be for the October Dallas Comic Con event.
Obviously, these costumes aren’t set in stone, but they’re pretty likely to happen. I’m pretty pleased with the mix of materials and skills I’ll have to learn. I have a few other costumes on my hopeful list for charity events (I’d love to finally get an application together for the 501st!), but again, we’ll have to see how time and funds play out.
Happy Monday! Now that we’re past Christmas, I can talk about a DIY gift I made for my boyfriend. My guy’s been slightly obsessed with his facial hair recently, so all of his gifts this year were themed around mustaches and beards. He broke his iPad case earlier this year and never got around to replacing it, so I thought this would be a good mix of fun and practical.
There are a ton of iPad sewing patterns available on the Internet, but surprisingly few that actually double as viewing stands. Most are sleeves, more or less. The BF also has an older generation iPad, so I had to take that into consideration as well. I probably could have made alterations to an existing one or drafted one myself, but laziness. After some searching, I ultimately went with this one from Katie’s Modern Nest.
Overall, it was a pretty easy pattern to follow. There are ample instructions and diagrams. The pieces are mostly rectangles and squares, so as long as you can sew a straight line, you can make this pattern. All in all, it took me about 3 hours from cutting to finish. Or 4ish episodes of Once Upon a Time.
I also got the supplies kit from Katie’s store, since I wasn’t sure where to purchase masonite, which is used to give the case structure. Turns out, you can get it from a hardware store, which is good to know next time I need a case.
Pattern: The Nesting Case for iPad 2
Fabric: Fat quarter mustache fabric, fat quarter black cotton (stash)
Alterations: None. I intended to remove the outside pocket, but the flap piece for the pocket is necessary to keep the tablet in viewing position.
Make it again?: Definitely if I need another iPad case. To be honest, I really want another one for myself.
Favorite parts: I love this fabric and how sturdy the case is. We’ve used it quite a bit since Christmas and it looks like the case will hold up quite well.
Other thoughts: This is the first iPad pattern that actually has all of the elements I look for in an iPad case. If I were to remake this, I’d probably take off the interior pockets, since I don’t think the BF will use them. Still, they still make for a very attractive case.
Happy Friday! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/etc. Today is a join Top 5/Fandom Friday post. We’re barreling towards the end of the year (and my birthdaaaaaay huhuhu), so today I’m talking about my 2015 goals for the Geeky Seamstress. The older I get, the more I dislike the term “resolution.” It feels so finite. I always start off with with the best intentions (“I’m going to get to the gym six days a week!”, “I’m going to read 50 books this year!”), but then I inevitably stumble and it feels like the year is a waste. How silly is that? Instead, I’m focusing more on establishing habits that will lead to my larger goals.
So, here are a few goals for this blog and The Geeky Seamstress as a whole:
Establish myself as a business entity and open an online store: I’ve spent the last few months researching the ins and outs of owning and operating a one-woman business, and I feel like I’m finally ready to take the plunge. I’ve been working on building inventory for the last few weeks and I hope to share the final results with you soon.
Create more on-going tutorial content: You guys really liked my Spandex 101 series, so I’m looking into creating similar content. I’ve been working on another series which will be ongoing. The first post will be up on January 5th!
Improve my photography skills: I feel like photography has been a bit of an Achilles heel for me. I’d like to learn more about photography for product photos and so that I can bring a bit more interest to my cosplay and me-made photos.
Explore advertisement opportunities: I’ve been putting this one off for a while. For a long time, I thought my blog wasn’t “big enough” to warrant blog ads. And yeah, my overall reach isn’t Earth-shattering, but the more I look into it, the more an ad service like Passionfruit makes sense. It’s a great opportunity to increase exposure and have more flexibility to create content. Obviously, I care about what you guys see on this site, so I’m focusing on ads that I think you would care about.
Focus on quality over quantity: This is applicable to both my posts and my sewing projects. It’s easy in our information saturated culture to feel the need to post CONSTANTLY. Next year, my big goal is to step back and focus more on quality.
Bonus: Keep an open mind to new opportunities. I’ve been approached by a couple of outlets recently to write content. I was hesitant at first, but I’m going to try out these opportunities and see how they work out. I’ll keep you posted!
Also, I’d really appreciate it if you would take just a few minutes to fill out this quick reader survey. I’d love your input on this blog and things you’d like to see more (or less) of. If you can’t see the survey below, you can fill it out here.