Monday, June 25, 2018

Belly Dance Costumes

Warning! This post is photo heavy!

June began with our 3rd Annual Student Showcase. So much work to get it ready, and I ended up making three costumes. The ladies looked amazing. I looked haggard! LOL Here are the 3 together.

Breaking the costumes down, from left to right: Michelle, CJ, and Terri. Michelle's costume was easier than the other two because she used a purchased pair of pants and top as the base, and I created the oversleeve and overskirt and belt.

This is not a brilliant photo, but it's an action shot from the event taken on the night. I don't have many photos from the event, only video, so I'm very grateful to have this one.

Michelle has a broken elbow, so the sleeve was created to soften the effect of the crooked bend in her arm and hide the scars she will have from surgery. It is created from a crystal-beaded tulle. I used a microsuede to create the midriff line, sewed the tulle into the front fold so that there is only microsuede against her skin, and beaded the edging. I created an overskirt from the same fabric, and then beaded a belt to cover the elastic of the overskirt. The cuff is beaded, sequinned, and crystalled. Of course, I don't have a photo of that! ...rolls eyes...

Here is a photo I took while I was working out the design of the sleeve. The intention was that it fit directly below the strap of the top, whereas in effect, it hung down, as you can see from the photo above. In the future, I plan to correct this somehow. The problem I have is that the sleeve needs to be interchangeable with whichever outfit she's wearing, so adding clips or hooks or some such will not work. Now that the rush of the event is over, I have time to work on it.  

The fabric is blinged out to the max, but doesn't show in photos. This photo is the closest I could get to the uber shiny it has in real life!

Moving on to CJ's costume: she is wearing a bra and panties of her own. Everything else I made. The harem pants took only 4 hours to create - but an entire week to add the crystals. Every single butterfly on that fabric is decorated with crystals.

Unfortunately, they don't show up very well in the photos and the entire finished effect wasn't as blinged as the other ladies, so I had to add an overskirt for a bit of extra oomph!

Once again, the skirt is not showing up very well in the photos. It is glitter tulle and it is sparkly all over. And left a glitter trail I'm still cleaning up! The skirt is attached to a belt onto which I added more crystals and some flowers.

The top was created in a jersey knit from my stash and then adjusted to fit CJ's impressive real estate. I had to add 4" to that top! Then I sewed on satin flowers, sequinned butterflies, and glued on more crystals.

She looked great at the event and was very happy.

Lastly, Terri's outfit. Now hers looks the simplest, was the shiniest, and was the biggest headache of all! I started with a purchased bra, cut off the straps, covered it with fabric and added beaded edges that I carried over the shoulder into crossover straps. No... the beaded strip was not the strap. Hiding underneath that beaded trim is petersham ribbon in two colors, so that it is invisible beneath the beading. I may be crazy, but I ain't stupid! πŸ˜‰

The right hand side is knit crepe, which was so shiny, it needed no further embellishment. But the blue definitely needed dressing up! The addition of two rows of tassels  made it such fun, and an old earring provided the perfect centerpiece. Terri added chain drapes for the event.

Those pants though! A similar pattern to CJ's, although these have a side slit, should have only taken 4 hours to make. My mistake, however, was using vintage lamΓ© for the fabric. Turns out this "fabric" is genuine metal! And it shreds to nothing when it's punctured, like with a sewing needle. I found out afterwards that you don't sew this stuff - you glue it! It gave me the absolute heebie jeebies and, while it looked fabulous for the event, it ended up shredded so badly, it was a one-time-only affair. Now I have to make her a new pair of harem pants! Grrrr...

To end, here's an action shot of the entire troupe on the night. We had a wonderful time and all my bloodied fingers and frustrated hair pulls were totally worth it! πŸ˜ƒ

Monday, June 18, 2018

I Heart America Quilt

You know how you really wanna share your work when you've done something that you're proud of... and your cat is just determined to get in the way? 

As a friend put it perfectly: "Cats are such jerks!"

Even the fact that I'd put my background fabric in backwards (wrong side out) and that my quilting lines looked like the drunken meanderings of a beer-swilling camel couldn't dampen my delight in this little number. 

I could see that I was going to be pleased with this piece almost from halfway through, and was so excited to share it with y'all! Even the binding came together perfectly from the original planning!

But the Jerk in question was determined to be in on the action! I wouldn't let her sit on it while I was putting the binding on, but she made sure to climb on it while I was trying to SEW the binding on. 


Beloved Jerk, to be sure, but still a jerk! πŸ˜ƒ

This pattern is called "I Heart America" and is a free pattern on Craftsy by Pretty Little Quilts. For some reason, this is not the pattern I used! Somehow I managed to get a different pattern with the same name and the same basic look... only the one on Craftsy looks easier, to be honest. The one I have does not identify its origin, so I draw a blank as to where it came from. The primary differences appear to be that my pattern specifies red and white fabric for the stripes, where the Craftsy one uses prints; and my one uses snowballing for the corners and the Craftsy one uses Half Square Triangles.

This was a stashbuster for me. I had a red and white jelly roll, and scrabbled for scraps for the blue of the flag, the blue of the background, and the striped border. The star was pieced out of one of the jelly roll white strips. The original pattern has a white background, but I saw another, similar pattern somewhere else that had a blue background and preferred it, so went with that. As mentioned, I accidentally put my background on backwards. The blue is darker and patterned, but once it was on and ironed open, I quite liked the paler hue and the muted pattern. So it stayed. The striped fabric was a real headache. It wasn't a neat square or rectangle. Instead, it looked like it was auditioning for a spot as a Rorschach test and getting two straight sections from in turned into an exercise in geometry! Although I didn't get the candy-pole effect I was after, I still like how it ended up.

The back was also stash. I didn't have a section large enough, but I did have enough to piece it together in two halves, and the print is so busy the join is almost invisible. Another win! The finished quilt is about 13" square-ish. I quilted in the ditch for the stripes, which look pretty good where I managed to stay in the ditch! Himself didn't like the star, so I used a cookie cutter as a template to draw a new star inside it, and then quilted it out in a shadow effect.

Overall, I count this one as a major success. It's a gift, and is already packed up for the Post Office. Oh... wait... Quality Control is gone! Here you are ... Ta Da!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Self Drafted Wrap Skirt with Ruffle

Skirt prices of RTW (ready to wear) drive me batty. So much money for something that is relatively easy to create at home. All you really need to draft a skirt pattern is a ruler, pencil, and a piece of paper. A little knowledge is useful too, although more often dangerous. πŸ˜‰

For this reason, I created a class to teach folks how to sew skirts. It ran for two months with a maximum of 6 students, and I made 4 skirts for examples. This wrap skirt is a self-drafted design, modelled here for me by the gorgeous Jaslyn Ivy!

It has a full wrap going almost entirely from one hip, right around the body and across to the other hip. I hate wrap skirts that are so skimpy in fabric that any time the wind blows your unmentionables are mentionable!

The skirt portion is drafted as an A-line, rather than a circle skirt, so that it falls and drapes neatly around the body. This makes it more flattering on a wider range of body styles.

The tie is designed for a side knot, so you would need to choose which side you want it on. One tie is shorter than the other deliberately, reducing bulk.

The ruffle goes from the front side tie, down around the body, and across to the flat portion of the under-wrap. It doesn't climb up the under-wrapped side, which would add poofiness and bulk to that section of the skirt. Another reason why this skirt is one-sided! LOL

Overall, the design was successful, although I think the ruffle should have been a little deeper in this cotton. With a softer drape, a shorter ruffle would have been fine, but for fabrics with a stiffer hand, you definitely need a wider ruffle. Jaslyn looks terrific in it, though, so all good! My thanks to her for the fabulous photos.

What do you think of my design?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Catch Up Post - Thanksgiving Tablerunner

This will be my last catch up quilt post, my Thanksgiving tablerunner. Having created the Halloween runner from a precut kit on a dare from Himself, I breathed a sigh of relief that now I had some time until Christmas. Himself looked at me and asked "What about Thanksgiving?" Um... eep! 

So I wanted something easy and quick and found this panel that I cut up, repositioned, and then sewed back together. Very, very fast, very little creativity, not very happy with it. The only thing I liked was the crosshatch quilting. (Yup, quilted this one myself!)

I liked that it had sunflowers and pumpkins together. But once I got it home, I was a bit stumped. I've not worked with panels before and, frankly, don't get them.

I couldn't decide what color to border it with, so asked HImself for input and auditioned the two for him. As a beginner quilter, I had no idea the 7 levels of hell I was heading for when he replied "use both."

As far as I can tell, it was perfectly lined up. Yet I could not get those borders even, nor would they mitre correctly at the corners. 

It was not helped by Quality Control sitting in and inspecting the work in progress rather than the finished product!

The back was two border prints of fabric that I pieced together to make rows. This one is not going to stay around very long, it will be replaced as soon as I can find both a pattern that I like and the time to sew it up!

That's it for quilting posts. I've also been doing some sewing. Check back soon for my collection of skirts!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

50th Birthday Quilt Tools Quilt - or How I Spent My Birthday Money! :)

"What would you like for your birthday?" I was asked.
"Nothing," I replied. "I live in a tiny house and have everything I need."
"But it's your FIFTIETH!" they argued. "We have to give you something!"
"Send money!" I responded pragmatically.
"Scandalous!" they exclaimed. "It's so tacky to send money as a gift."
"Ok," I compromised. "I'll send you an email with a list of quilting tools I'd like. That's what I'd use the money on anyway. I've been 'making do' for so long now, it would be grand to have some proper quilting tools to work with."

They reviewed the email and sent me money. πŸ˜ƒ

I splurged on some top of the line tools that are essential items, no odd fads. Tools like real quilting rulers (rotary blades chew up plain plastic rulers) and cutting mats and ergonomic rotary cutters and, oh joy, quilt clips! I'm in heaven, I tell you!

For those who are wondering, quilting tools are horrendously expensive. The 36" ruler I bought, for example, was $46. Just the ruler! So I've been destroying plain old plastic rulers, my pattern drafting rulers, or my rotary blades on metal rulers, for the past five years. It's so much fun to have a measuring tool that I can cut with and blades that aren't dull after the first two rounds!

Now, allow me to show off with great pride and delight, my first* quilted item using my birthday money tools. I cannot express how much easier it was to create it with the proper tools - and was astounded myself with how much I was struggling before and didn't realize!

It's a table topper for my sister-in-law's birthday.

It was, as most days, a breezy day today. This was the best photo I could get out of TWO DOZEN! The wind was in a playful mood, and I was not. It was not a good recipe!  So you get only that ^ one, and one close up of the back, from the outdoors set.

It was quilted on a longarm with a pansies pattern, which is very pretty on the back. The front pattern is called a Disappearing Hourglass block.

You start with two 10" squares and sew them together. Then you cut them into four, rearrange, and sew those together into an hourglass block. See the hourglass?

Then you cut that into nine pieces, rearrange them, and sew them together.

Originally I was going to sew them in a straight line and make a table runner. Like this:

Then I discovered that my sister-in-law has an exceptionally long table and was concerned a too-short table runner would look... odd. Hmmm..... rearrange the squares....

I quite liked the way the floral fabric made a sort of flower shape in this format, but it's not for me, so I asked for input from my mother-in-law. She said this arrangement would hide "all the pretty colors" if a vase or bowl was placed in the center.


Just under 30" square (ish), with two borders, bound, and ready for its new home. We're going to drive down tomorrow to present it. I'm really very proud of my first attempt!

*To be honest, it isn't my first. What I started on first is a stag wall hanging for my mother, but it has turned out way more complicated and much more time consuming. When my sister-in-law's birthday loomed, I quietly put it aside and whipped up this table topper. Now that's it's done, I shall return to learning Klingon, so that I can swear quietly without anyone knowing that I'm cussing, as I continue with Project Enthusiasm-is-Higher-than-Skills.