Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Monday, October 06, 2003

How Deep is Your Stash?

In preparation for attending a Ren Faire, I decided to make a costume to wear. I can not decide if I want to brag, or be embarrassed to say that I made the ENTIRE outfit with what was in my sewing stash. We are talking patterns, fabrics and trims! The only exception to this was the grommets on the bodice, I had something that might have worked, but it was much easier to just give the bodice garment to my daughter to put some in from her stash.

I thought I'd take the time to write about each piece of the outfit and just what I used to make it.

I started with the blouse first, because I figured if I got short on time (I was after all making these about three days before the Faire) I could make do with a long skirt and shawl. I chose a pattern that Butterick makes, not the elaborate court costume of the Ren Faires, more of the serving wench style. The blouse is a typical gathered wide at the neck so it can be pulled down on the shoulders, and gathered at the wrists. The first piece of fabric I pulled to used did not have enough, so finding another piece of very nice cream colored fabric in the pile, I pulled it out. Yep there was plenty for sure. I do not remember what project I bought this fabric for, but I remember buying it, because it was the uncommon double wide cotton that costs so much. And yes, I went ahead and used it. Still have alot left, but not as much as I did! The blouse sewed up very fast. I found out that using bias tape inside for the elastic on the neck, and then using wide elastic gave the neckline and the wrist gathering a smocked look. The gathering was in nice big pleats instead of tight, looking just like it was smocked. I was very pleased with that. I also spent a nice half hour going through my jumble of lace bits, and found nice tatted looking ecru lace for trim on the neckline and sleeves. I finished the blouse in about three hours of sewing, and cut out the skirt for the next days sewing.

The skirt was from the same pattern. I found a heavy dark green cotton 'bunch' of fabric and knew there would be enough for the skirt in that, even though the skirt seemed to use miles of fabric. I have no recollection of what the green was purchased for originally. But whatever it was, it was going to be a big project. I used about 4.5 yards of fabric for the skirt and had over 5 yards left. For some reason, Butterick seemed to think that zippers were in use in those 'goode olde days' I decided I'd rather not. That meant adapting the pattern though. I went ahead and sewed all the panels together, held it up to me and realized the skirt was for a lady 6 inches taller than myself. I cut 5 inches off the bottom of the skirt, ripped out one seam and then made the waistband from that. What that gave me was the waistband and then enough tie to go around me twice. I figured that would keep the skirt on for as long as I wanted. After about two hours another part of the costume was done, and I cut out the fabric for the bodice.

Yes, I was practicing speed sewing. It only had to pass the 5 foot test, after all.

I made the bodice from two heavy weight fabrics. It ends up being reverseable, a dark side and a light side. The light side was an upholstery fabric, that looks handwoven. The dark side is a brushed demin. This sewed up very fast, the only slightly complicated part was easing that seam that form fits the breast. Oh and turning the vest. See, you sew right sides of both parts together, leaving the shoulder seams open and a turning area at the bottom of the vest. It meant putting my hand in that open area, wiggling the shoulder down into my fingers and tugging it all out the hole. It was quite fascinating really, I had this very metaphysical image of a world turning itself inside out. Passed the time, while I groped for the little shoulder seams. After the vest was turned I had to do that fancy thing of tucking one shoulder into the other, making sure all the wild ends were caught, and top stitching. Looked great on the light colored side. When I turned it over though, I realized I was still using white bobbin thread. OPPS! I have not fixed it yet, but my fix will be to color over those stitches with a black magic marker.

And I was done. My daughter took the bodice to put in the grommets. I went on to take some alpaca fiber I had spun and knit a head covering (I won't grace it with the name of snood) but that's another post.

Meanwhile, I got the sewing bug again. In my stash diving, I have found fabric for a colonial outfit I will need later this month. And for a cape, that I have been wanting for a long time. Oh there are plenty of other projects. My wonderful computerized sewing machine is sitting there lobbying for something with fancy stitches, after all that straight stitch sewing.


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