Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sewing Archaeology

  I love vintage patterns and since I have been introduced to pattern systems like Lutterloh, Silver Scissors and The Golden Dressmaker I have have access to amazing authentic vintage patterns. Lutterloh is unique of those mentioned because it is still running and releasing patterns meaning that their equipment is still freely available (if somewhat overpriced). But the other 2 I mentioned aren't in business any more so a bit of archaeology has to happen to recreate the tools needed to use them. I have been asked a few times to so how I made the custom measuring tapes but never quite got around to it.
This time I am recreating the Silver Scissors measuring tape.  

 This measuring tape is a little different to the other systems in that you don't permanently attach the extra bit needed. I haven't been able to find much at all about the company that made this pattern book so I had to use the little bit of info in the book itself and combine it with the info I had gathered about other systems

 Luckily there is a brilliant illustration of the attachment in the book. I could see it was something that had a "Pocket" that the tape measure slid through I gathered what I thought I needed

 I used a 250gsm card to make my slider and originally had the intention of drawing up the markings by hand which, no matter how careful I was , was too inaccurate. My research into these pattern drafting systems has shown me that across the board the difference between the measurements is 3mm

To fit my tape measure and have enough room to slide easily I measured 2 1/4" on my cardstock
and  another line 3/4" from the edge

I ruled 3/4 of an inch as my folded tab. I cut my strip and folded it along the 3/4" line to test that my tape measure fit.

 Hand ruling several 3mm lines could not only take ages to do but has far to many opportunities for mistakes, so online I went and printed a 3mm graph sheet and trimmed it down to a 9mm strip (3 rows of squares)

which I glued to my non folded card edge, giving me perfect 3mm intervals to mark and pin the bust and hip measurements

I extended ever second line to make markings and reading easier than smooshing the numbers close to each other and matched them to the numbers I could see in the illustration

 As you see there is also a window in the attachment
 to help you resize the pattern. In the book the indicator point fell between 74 and 76 so I marked it on the attachment

 I then drew a randomly sized block around the point to create the window.......

..... and cut it out with an exacto knife ( I also made sure I wrote Silver Scissors on the attachment so I wouldn't forget what it was for)

I taped it onto my tape measure.....

And it was ready to go!

As far as I can tell it is a fairly close recreation.

So here is a scan of my finished attachment, You should be able to view image in its original size (but I take no responsibility for pattern stuff ups that may be caused by using it ) For those who asked I hope this helps ......

... For those who have no idea what I have been chatting about thank you for making this far through the post without getting bored and wondering off to some other interwebbyness. Allow me to take this opportunity to show all of you 2 of my newest dresses available for viewing, trying and buying at Miss Succulent or by appointment with yours truly

I hope you've had a Crafty Afternoon!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Lollybags dress (photo heavy)

 Wow! 3 Weeks..... oops, time flies when you are sewing.... well that's my excuse!
Anyway, I thought I would show you what goes into one of my dresses.
This is a dress for my sister, who has taken great pleasure in sifting through my vintage patterns and has picked 10 or 20 she would like to have made but decided on pattern 125 to start things off.

 Although technically underwear at the time this was published it well and truly passes as an acceptable dress these days.

I drafted the pattern and, having plenty of the fabric I was using to line the bodice with, I went about creating a test bodice to make sure everything lined up properly

Hooray for Wilma!
Once sewn together I can see several issues with the pattern. For one the bodice isn't long enough.

And the sides don't match up. Easy fixed!
I lengthened the bodice pattern pieces and added about 1.5" to the bottom of the bodice side piece.
I re-cut and and sewed the bodice again.

Much Better!! As you can see from the chalk marks its still not quite right.
I decided at this point that no matter how much help Wilma is it's just not quite the same as a proper fitting so I tackled my sister, who generally runs around like a headless chook, and got her to try it on...... too small..... Bugger! So I redrafted and did it all for a 3rd time to make sure the fit was perfect. 3rd times the charm as it fit her perfectly.

With pattern all sorted out it's time to move on to the dress fabric. Making the bodice in the fabric she chose identically to the lining

 Made the straps which are double turned 1/4", ironed and top stitched.

 And all sewn together. YAY! I love this point when you can see the end and everything looks the way it is supposed to

 Draft the skirt and cut out. As I made this is high quality cotton it is fairly thick won't be needing a lining and attached it to the bodice

 I hand finish everything, making sure everything sits as it should and the lining is hiding all the construction signs.

 I ended up adding a belt to break up the pattern a little, A zip in the back and this should be a very comfortable Summer/ Spring dress easily teamed with a cardigan. I will post some photos of my sister when I can get her to stand still long enough to take a non blurry photo

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Amigurumi me!

Oh my! Doesn't time fly!!

I have been rather busy lately and hadn't really noticed my neglect to my blog. Bad Lauren!

I have never been a knitter, I have had several people try to teach me and I just can't get the hang of it. The 2 needles get in the way of each other or I drop them and lose what few misshapen stitches I may have managed, by some freak coincidence, to create and could probably be reproduced by throwing a pair of needles at a ball of yarn and praying to the craft gods. It just doesn't work for me.

But! Crochet!! I can do that while standing on my head, in fact I am sure I did when I was a teenager and was laying upside down on the couch (something I heartily recommend you try, it gives you a whole different perspective. My Mum taught me how to crochet when I was about 12  and I took to it like a frog takes to the hula... I was awful!

 I'm sure I nearly drove her nuts as I continually asked her to fix my bad stitches and rub my hands better when they cramped up from holding the hook. I got so frustrated I threw the hook back at her and swore I would never get it right! But every time she was knitting and I was bored she would hand me the hook and some scrap and I would try again, usually with the same results.

As I grew up and moved out of home I would get bored and out would come the hook and some scrap yarn (its amazing that I always had some scrap yarn, didn't always know where it came from but I always had it) and started making Granny Squares. I don't know a single hooker/crocheter who didn't start with Granny Squares

This is from the wonderful Joyce, Brilliant blog, Wonderful person!
I never felt the need to make clothes or blankets, it was just something that I would pick up and just as easily put down again when I had enough or my hand cramped, which ever came first. Then about 3 months ago whilst looking at random blogs searching for softies I saw some super cute Amigurumi. These super Kawaii  little toys exist just to make the world a happier place, usually they are quite quick and easy to make, which suits me to a T, although they can be incredibly difficult and fiddly to make. Its almost a case of "you name it and there is Amigurumi of it" from the Tardis to Unicorns and even nyan cat.
 I have made a few little things, all as gifts. I have made an Ewok, an Adipose, some birds and most recently Super Mario Mushrooms

Oh my goodness! I out geeked myself!!
Front View
Top View

I made this one for my Moo who, as you can see, LOVED it! He has asked for the whole set but he will have to wait for the right coloured scrap yarn to teleport into my collection.Oddly enough I have offered to teach him how to crochet almost every time he complains he is bored but I always get the response "I'm not THAT bored" before he goes off to read a book. *SIGH*


So, Thank You Mum! I am glad I have a crafty way to procrastinate!
Feel better soon xo

I hope you all had a crafty day

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Meet Betty...

Betty Nuggs

Betty came to live with me about 2 years ago when Claire bought her for me for Christmas and has been a great help to me ever since. Betty is a Singer 151 Dress Form and I love her very much but being a plus size model she isn't much help when I am sewing for some of my slimmer friends.....ok for Sara who seems to get most of the adult clothing made by me.
I was talking to my friends over at Miss Succulent  who are marvellous at finding all kinds of wonderful things when they told me they had found a present for me, they weren't sure if it was any use to me but thought of me when they saw it and grabbed it for me....

 Ok, so this old Autoset Diana Dress Form has seen better days but I knew I could do something with it so home she came and I pondered for a few days before I set off for some jersey to recover her in today. I found some nice purple jersey on sale and I can never pass by purple anything without at least having a second look and at $3 a metre I bought it and came home to start the Herculean task ahead of me

 I removed all the screws and detached the old faded fabric which coughed out copious amounts of red dust, the remnants of the foam that originally covered the form and although dusty it was in pretty good nick. Removing the top from the bottom made life much easier and the cleaning began

  I used some bamboo batting from previous quilting projects to cover the form in place of foam and glued it on. I had originally tried a plastic glue but it wasn't working very well so I switched to my usual spray on glue which made things really easy and much less fiddly, Don't get me wrong it was still very fiddly but a spay covers more area than a little dab here and there  and made it much more secure. I held everything in place with bulldog clips until it dried

 When it was covered in the batting I then used the existing fabric to cut a pattern our of the new fabric and put it in place.
I glued the edges back and used the bulldog clips again to make sure everything stayed where it was supposed to and slowly recovered each panel 

 The main thing was to make sure the fabric stayed tight and hugged into all the places it was supposed to. I wouldn't want to try this with a thinner jersey as it would just warp and not do a very good job, the fabric I used was quite thick yet rather stretchy which served my purposes perfectly.
By this point my hands were covered in glue and bamboo batting but I was feeling pretty good about the progress being made.

As I couldn't wait for the bottom to be finished before I stared reassembling I (with the help of Tom) reattached the bust to the stand and moved on to the hips and bottom and every time I wanted to stop I would look up and it was enough to keep me going

I covered the bottom in exactly the same way, first covering it in bamboo batting then in fabric keeping everything tight and smooth.

 And I am VERY happy with the result. All up it took me nearly 6 hours to pull apart, clean, cover in bamboo, cover in fabric and finally to reassemble.... PHEW!
I now have a nice, seemingly new dress form for the cost of some jersey and thanks to some very considerate friends. Would I ever want to do this again? HELL NO!! But I am very glad to have done it  and I am sure she will be great friends with Betty..... Oh! Whats her name you ask? Why, Wilma of course!

Together at last

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 9

I have no 10x10x10 photos today, I'm sorry. I have had a bad day.

Last year I worked really hard on studying, something I haven't done in a very long time, and at the end of last year I applied for some courses at Uni. I was incredibly hopeful that I would get into my choices and when 1st round offers came out mid Jan I was incredibly saddened to not be offered a place. Today 2nd round offers came out and yet again I was not offered a place. "Oh well" said I, determined to keep going about my day, until my best friend called. I love Claire with all my heart and as soon as she asked how I was I couldn't maintain the "oh well" attitude. I had the great pleasure of talking to Claire for 2 hours, something we haven't done in a long time, and I feel better now though still a little disappointed.

I have decided that instead of 10 photos taken in 10 minutes I will put up 10 photos of people and things that are important to me and make me happy, they will be in no particular order but are all equally important.


Miss C: She is my baby, and always full of cuddles and has the best giggle

My Moo: Such a charmer and incredibly thoughtful

J: Growing up so fast and such a smart kid

 My Tom: Always there for me and soooo silly

My Sister: Bestest friend and my life wouldn't be the same without her

My Nephew: Raised so closely with my own kids I consider him one of my own kids, He proudly answers to "Pesky" just like my own kids do. He is rapidly becoming the king of bad jokes

My Niece: So much attitude and gumption. I love her fearlessness. Her logic is so twisted you can get dizzy trying to follow it

Claire: I am lucky enough to have 2 of the bestest friends. Claire has seen me through so much and sounds like Muttly when she really laughs. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her

My Friends: Simon will probably kill me for this photo but it makes me smile every time I see it, I think he is hissing at me.
I have some wonderful friends that, sadly , I don't have photos of everyone and even if I did this post would be waaaaaay to long. So if I don't have your photo up here its not because you aren't important to me, it's simply that I need to stop having so much fun with you and remember to pick up my camera

The Little things: Rainbows, butterflies, beautiful fabric, soft blankets on a cold day, drinks with friends, a good band, dancing 'til your feet hurt.
All the stuff that fills in the gaps of the really big things

So on a day when I feel as crappy as I do today I feel better for looking at the things that make my life special. Thank you for sharing these things with me and showing an interest in my life even if it doesn't take me where I thought it would I am glad to have walked this path with you