Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Adventures in Apron Dresses

So as a Valentines day/tax return present, I ordered a new pair of apron brooches from Raymond's Quiet Press. I have been eying them for a long while, and now the precious shall be mine. Of course this translates into my brain as a reason to make a new dress.
I just so happened to have this lovely black wool.

 And so we begin our tale of my new apron dress with this lovely piece of wool that I picked up from St. Vinnie's. I cannot remember the exact price, but I am sure it was about $8. I had estimated that there was 3 1/2 yards on the bolt, but when I finally got around to measuring it I realized that they had doubled it over before wrapping it on the bolt. I got 7 2/3 yards! Woo Hoo!

I always use the thread pull method to straighten the ends of my fabric before starting any cutting.

I wash all my fabric with few exceptions. There was some shrinkage, but nothing I was really worried about.

  Fuzzier texture, but I am cool with that.
All set! Let's start cutting!
Hedby Style Layout
This is actually where the problems began. I have been wanting to try the Hedby style layout for some time now, and so I thought that I would use the less brain bending version found here. I don't know where I went wrong, but somehow it was too short. I did not figure that out until after I had cut. Note to self do your own math.

So now the question is how do I fix this? I didn't want to chop the remaining wool into bits, and I didn't want to use my old Tried & True pattern because I wanted this to be a three panel dress. My intent with the three panel dress was to use a gusset at the center back seam, because I have and hourglass figure with full hips, and a large bust. Without a little definition at the waist I start looking pretty boxy. So I had to do some reconfiguring on my old pattern.

Tried & True Pattern

Reconfigured Three Panel Apron Dress

I cut the body panels to a 1/3 my underbust + ease and seam allowance. I didn't account for the stretch of my wool. . . but we'll get to that in a moment.

Choppy chop time!
Lots of leftovers for future projects, yay!
Center front panel with the two full gores attached to either side

I press each seam open before attatching it to the next body panel.

In true CADD (Costume Attention Deficit Disorder) fashion I decided to . . .

Yeah. I am a messy costumer.
Oh my there is a floor under all that crap.

Where is all this stuff going to go?

Almost there!

Oh my goodness look at all the organized little boxes!

Oh the joy of having space for all the machines to sit out at the same time.

Let me introduce you to my my new friend, this is Lapis LaSteamy. This is my first brand new iron, and my first Rowenta. I loves her. 

Oh yeah, this is a project with a deadline. Did I mention that I need to have this done by this weekend?

One of the things I do to make my gores pretty is to sew the seams in three passes. Pass one, sew gore to panel keeping the tip of the gore free.

Pass two, sew the other side of the gore again keeping the tip of the gore free. 

Pass three, sew the top of the body panel down to the gore. Did I mention that you do not want the top of the gore to get caught up in any of the seams.

Press the seam allowances open

Pin if you need to. With some machines you Do Not want to run over pins, you can pin horizontally to avoid needle breakage and sorrow.
Be sure to keep it far enough away from your presser foot :)

Beware of small demon children they are cute and will demand that you take their picture.

Well that's all for now. More sewing tonight. . . weaving first.

Wait did I say weaving?

Edit 4/29/13

I thought my camera ate these pictures, but I just found them so here is the new Apron dress. Now I just need to hem the under tunic. . .

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Needle Felting Tutorial

Needle Felting is not a period craft. It makes me sad to say, because I really like making my clothes with natural fibers, hand sewn finishes,and rectangular construction methods. So why after going through all the trouble to do it right am I showing you all my dirty little secret. . . I cheat. Well I have to confess that I do it because it is a way for me to embellish wool that gives me beautiful results without the pain that embroidery causes me. Don't get me wrong I love hand sewing, but doing it for long periods of time hurts.
So for those of you that would like some tips on how to decorate using this tecnique here you go.

Supplies you will need:
Needle Holder
Foam Pad
I have all my tools assembled and I am ready to start.

This is the needle out of its holder. The needles are wicked sharp, and have multiple barbs to snag the roving. Use good safety practices, don't stab yourself, don't leave it where the kids can get into it, etc. 

On to marking your pattern. Wool is notorious for being hard to mark. The fibers like to poke out all over the place, and the piece I am working with is left over from making a pair of hose, and is heavily fulled. The first step of marking is laying out the design.
Here is the design laid out on the banner.

I initially used a water soluble marking pen, using the tip of the pen to pierce through the paper, but the marks were not dark enough for me.
I decided to switch to my awl to make more pronounced hole, I also moved the fabric over the foam pad so the awl pierced the paper easier. Follow the outline of, and make the holes 1/4" to 3/8" apart.

I went back to the marking pen and tried to make the marks darker, but . . . 
Still not dark enough

Here I have used a graphite pencil with a soft lead to darken the mark. In this situation, I am using black roving and the mark will be felted over, so I am not worried about the graphite not being removed.
 At this point I had a nicely perforated pattern,
 I grabbed the my chalk pouncer and viola!
 Now I have the entire design clearly marked, but chalk lines fade really fast on wool, so I went back to the graphite pencil and outlined each shape.

Trust me it is a lot darker in person, I took ten pictures, and still couldn't make this look good.

Here is a very quick video of needle felting in action

On the right side of the fabric it looks completely covered, but if you turn it over,

It looks a little bare. For most applications this is fine, I would toss it in the wash and let the fibers lock into place. However this is going to be an unlined banner, and I decided to felt from the back of the fabric to make the piece reversable.

Felting from the back to the front gives a furry texture to the front. You can see on the claws I have felted the loose threads back down. So while it wasn't intended we liked the fuzzy-ness, and kept it.

Here is the backside of the banner. 

No matter how I tried, I just couldn't get a good picture of the fuzzy paw.

Almost done!

So there you have it the felting took about 3 hours. I was only able to work on the loops of the banner for about 1 1/2 hours before I had to stop and give my hand a break, so it took about a week to finish all the hand sewing. The recipient is very happy, and I cannot wait to see it in use at March Coronet.

Here are a few other projects I have done using needle felting the options are endless, and I hope you have fun!
Heraldic Display