Thursday, 4 February 2016

Being a costume mistress

For the last few weeks I have been moonlighting as a costume mistress -for my old school and their production of midsummer night's dream. It's been a bit  stressful at times but really fun also. My mum makes costumes for her school plays so it feels very familiar.

Now I'm not finished yet but I thought I'd share some thoughts on my findings so far..

1) I'm not as detail orientated as my mum.  She always finishes everything beautifully and robustly -talking very wisely about costumes for young people needing to be finished properly. Mine aren't.  It's hard work enough making everything on the correct time line! Luckily as older kids they are less likely to do something completely daft like climb a tree in them but you never know!

2) Costumes are messy. I'm not going to share current pictures of my flat - because it's embarrassing. Every surface is covered in bits, some important -some waste, and the bit in the middle of the floor I can continue to craft in gets smaller and smaller as the debris closes in! (I long since lost the table!) there seems little point tidying until I'm done as I've lost track of which bits are important! It's very lucky I no longer have flatmates as I would have lost them under the piles or been stabbed by one of the many pairs of scissors I have buried!
My table at a much earlier stage - long since lost!

3) Costuming is a passion,  not a job. Now obviously some people are lucky enough to actually do this as a job, but I'm finding treating it as one a challenge. I keep planning to do things in an ordered way and get up early, with schedules. This orderly dream keeps being utterly scuppered by my inability to make costumes when I'm not inspired and my obsession with continuing when I am! I spent 4 hours procrastinating last night and then suddenly got into it at 11.30 so didn't stop until 3ish... hmm. Still, now I have most of a donkey head!

4) It's kind of an honour, in that the kids (and other hardworking drama staff! ) REALLY appreciate you. This is frankly a bizarre novelty after being a normal teacher!  It's like being a teacher in a film! The vast majority of the characters that I am costuming are thrilled to have a costume mistress  (they get super excited that I own a measuring tape!) and that they are getting their own costume made. It's really fun!

5) Most people are really impressed by basic sewing. Although a lot of my creations have been forged in the cave of a thousand bits (aka the flat) for the last week we've had long rehearsals so I've been taking my bags of half made stuff and sewing machine in to do it there (so much easier when you have access to the people wearing them). This has led to some significant improvement in some kids' respect for me -they love watching the flat material become a 3D outfit! I draped a dress directly onto a girl (it was forgiving fake velvet and a straightforward dress) and she and friend were fascinated as I sewed it up in 10 minutes  (I pinned it on her inside out and then sewed it straight up, it's a drapey style and didn't require hemming or seam finishing ). School sewing tends to be more cushions and baby blankets  (as I remember from my school days ) and it was great to show them you could do something more exciting and borderline easier! (I was saying to a fellow teacher that I think most sewing is easier than proper cushion covers -they are far too obvious if you are a little bit off!). It's also been a great opportunity to reduce my negative self thinking about my creations -I could see all the flaws in the dress (after all it was a 10 min creation!) but they loved it - one said she would happily wear it to a wedding, and when she said that I realised that I would too. She also told people I'd showed her how to make a dress - maybe we've got a future sewer there!

Well I best get back to it - that donkey head isn't going to assemble and decorate itself!

Monday, 4 January 2016


Well I guess it's that time of year... I don't really make resolutions usually but I'm in the midst of a lot of changes and I feel more transitional than usual! These aren't all sewing but ... oh well!

1) sew more. I'm making costumes for a school play but I also want to make some new stuff for myself and others.  It's been too long! Plus the stash is ridiculous. 
Target for Jan - 3 items and 3 alterations.  This may sound a lot but I'm currently not in work so have more time.

2) get on top of flat tidyness. My flat is not ideal despite having loads of space. I'm going to have a cull and move stuff about so that everything actually has a place. This includes the sewing room which is not currently very functional!

Target for Jan -  Tidy everything.  Cull all storage areas. 

3) be healthier. Not very original but my job got very busy last year and both cooking and exercise took a serious hit.

Target for Jan -try to cook each meal from scratch (ish -I'm going to buy bread and stuff). Don't buy oven pizza or oven chips. Go swimming and climbing each week. 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Peacock feather dress

About a billion years ago I mentioned that I was channeling the lovely Oona by buying brightly coloured patterned fabric. I ended up making a basic fitted dress out of the peacock fabric which actually is remarkably muted as a whole item - sorry Oona!

I wore it to several things and obviously didn't manage to get any decent pictures at all!

Still - here we go..

Here are some of me wearing it to my brother's wedding (rubbish weather, lovely day!)

And here I am wearing it at my graduation.

I'm back! Amelia jacket

I'm back! (and probably talking to no-one! But Hi anyway!

As I deleted half my blog, I actually cant remember what I had blogged about! but I certainly haven't blogged about anything in years. Hand sup confession - I haven't sewn that much either -been going through a bit of a hectic busy/fallow phase - despite now having a sewing room! Most of the things I have sewn has been very boring or dismal failures!  I have had a few successes but have got rather out of the habit of taking decent photos of them!

Still  - let's recap a successful project - I will try and take photos of others and upload them at some point.

Even in a low sewing phase I am always loving the costumes. Last year (We are drawing a veil over the general knackered/hissy fit that was this halloween!) I went as dead Amelia Earhart. This obviously required a flying jacket and goggles. The goggles were a triumph - I basically cut out about 20 layers of corrugated card into goggle shapes and then stuck them together, bending them round my head layer by layer so they formed a 3D shape. I love them and would like to wear them all the time!

The jacket was more of a voyage into the unknown - I have never made a proper jacket before and so collars were a bit of an adventure! I will be honest - it looks rubbish but I at least now understand it for next time! Obviously its just a costume and in any case I covered it up with the furry piece (actually cotton wadding scraps from my bombshell dress bodice making!)

Here is the only decent picture of me wearing it - I will try to take some better ones in daylight!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Uncovering the UFOs - Roswell Week Challenge

Now as you may have gathered lovely people, I am both terrible at keeping on top of things in long challenges (Spring Palette was a dismal fail..) and good at working to a super strict self-imposed deadline (hence all my stuff I start on a whim just before I have to wear it!). I have also just been stunned into silence (ish!) by the astounding and lovely Mena at the Sew Weekly’s amazing self challenge – the 7 in7 challenge in which in 1 WEEK (yes-that’s 7 days) she shall make 7 dresses from the Colette Patterns range (that’s not 1 week a dress-that’s 1 week for all of them). And this is potentially on top of her making another outfit for the standard sew weekly challenge! (She just did a Crepe for the challenge but I’m not sure if that’s included… or if next week’s is.. I guess we will find out!)  This is probably the most mental challenge I have ever seen, as most of those dresses are quite complicated! She is also allowing the followers to have a say in the fabric of the dresses (as if it wasn’t complicate enough!) so if you want to input into 7 of the quickest made dresses ever-head on over!

Now this has shamed me, as I am always starting things with grand plans and then not finishing anything. Therefore, I have assigned myself my own super swift 7 day challenge – UFO finishing! (for those that don’t know -  a UFO is an UnFinished Object, of which I have many)

Roswell week (which starts today!) will include me trying to get as many UFOs finished or abandoned entirely as possible, ideally all of them. Conditions - I have to do something sewingy everyday if reasonably sensible (ie going to the pub counts as an excuse but watching friends repeats on tv does not). I shall post every day about my (hopeful) progress -this is to stop me chickening out! I shall not sew or plan anything else (unless drastic repairs are needed urgently). I can decide to just chuck projects but I have to really mean it (otherwise they will still just lurk in my mind!). For the purposes of the challenge the week starts when I get home from work tonight.

Now obviously this is only a challenge I have just made up on the spot, but I made a badge anyway (picture-not jazzy html), so if anyone else fancies trying it and uncovering the horrible truth about their UFOs feel free!

My UFO list (bearing in mind I am not currently near my sewing stuff so there are probably more I have forgotten about!) currently includes things in a number of different levels of unfinished. 

Glee Dress for Charlotte – technically I finished this, and she wore it, but the back zip and waist seam are a complete mess and I have been promising to fix it for ages, plus the inside seams are all over the place. Also I never took any pictures of it.
Christmas dress (yes I hang my head in shame) –I never finished the seams on the inside so I can put it through the washer! – only been about 6 months on that one…
Silky cami top - it just doesn’t fit right, so it has been sat at the fit tweaking stage for about as long as the Christmas dress.
Jersey skirt for Spring Palette challenge – So long Sarong. I couldn’t get the gathers to sit right (I hate knits!) so I just left it. I will have to take the waistband off and try again.
Shifting skies skirt – I am about 2/3 of the way through the underskirt, with the over skirt not started. Hmm, this one might prove a bit of a challenge (but I will try!)
Pendrell homage.  Again, stuck on the fitting. I got so sick of tweaking this that I lost interest, but I need to try again! It might be too much for the week but I shall give it a shot!
Green dress refashion. About 6 months ago I bought a shapeless green patterned smock form Shelter and decided to refashion it, I pulled the neckline off and pinned out the darts, then abandoned it (I don’t even remember why). Should be pretty easy to finish.
Flowery dress refashion. In the same Shelter trip, I got a misshapen babydoll tunic that was about 3 miles wide with a stretched neck you could drive a car through. I actually finished turning it into a dress, but it is still a bit shapeless and I have been meaning to go back in for a more thorough job.
Napkins. When I made my brother a picnic rug for Christmas, I only had chance to finish 2 of the napkins, and promised to finish the other two immediately. I haven’t.
Black skirt repair. A month ago I bent down in my favourite pencil skirt and ripped it down the back seam. It has been awaiting repair ever since.
Agnetha. Ok so this one is only here because she doesn’t yet have a stand. If I get a chance I might pop to the scrap yard and see what I can find.

Oh dear. Making that list was rather depressing! I think I may have just given myself an intervention! It worries me how many of these I have already slightly blogged about and then just abandoned! BRING ON THE CHALLENGE! BRING ON ROSWELL WEEK!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

just about ticked off the list..

I promised Lindsey a short orange pencil skirt for her birthday many (many) moons ago, and then it has sat waiting fro me to finish off for aaaages. I had loads of tweaks to make, and then I forgot what I was going to do, and so it sat.

But now it is done (I think), Lindsey still has to try it on, and there may be issues yet, but I at least fixed the zip which was the major thing holding me back.)

I still need to properly iron it, so its a bit crumpled looking, but its pretty much there. I used Jessie's pencil skirt drafting tutorial to make it, and it went together really easily (barring my own laziness!). I also added a kick pleat. I found it surprisingly hard to find orange fabric that didn't resemble safety wear, and this cotton from Mandors was a little thin, so I underlined the whole thing. The only bit I am not super happy with is the hem, which was my first real attempt (that worked at all) at a machine blind hem. It actually worked pretty well, and it looks quite nice, certainly better than a normal top-stitched one.The stitches are however a little big, and I think I didn't get the tension quite right as there are some places here it doesn't quite iron perfectly flat. there is progress in my skills yet to be made I think. Looking back though this is one of my first projects designed for normal wear (ie not a costume) that uses a block colour, and those are meant to be more difficult to look perfect.

Overall I think it is really fun, and I am pleased with it. I think I am going to use the same tutorial to make myself some pencil skirts.

These skirts will hopefully be worn with some tops made from this pattern (mainly versions of view C). I had a slight set back yesterday though when I couldn't find the back piece, I'm sure it used to have one.. I shall have to search through my random pattern pieces pile!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Channelling Oona

Over the last few weeks I have been very busy with uni and more uni stuff, and sewing has taken a back seat, with the second half of Roswell Week postponed. To cheer myself up slightly, and completely disregarding my pledge to sew from my stash, I popped into Edinburgh Fabrics and bought the jazziest fabrics I could see.. Oops!!

These magnificent fabric choices make feel a little bit closer to the awesomeness of the lovely Oona, and her love of pattern and colour.

First we have a peacock feather cotton, probably to become a simple dress..

And then this fabulous flamingo print cotton, DESTINED to be a hawaiian stylee 50s shirt dress.

Now I just need some time to sew.....