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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween 2009 – Marie Antoinette Queen of the Zombies’


Working on the Zombie Antoinette costume this weekend has revealed that a prominent feature of all future sewing will be the avoidance of zips.  They are complete little bloody &*^£$&*^%”%£^£*£&*£&*”£^&(%!%!!!!!

I don’t know whether it was my not-so-epic sewing machine skills or the slippery fabric or a combination of the two, but after four attempts I finally managed to get the little bugger in and it was still quite a wobbly mess.  So no close up photos of the zip, but you do get a picture of the dress so far.

Perhaps hand-sewing the zip would have been less painful.  If ever I go near zips again, I’ll try that.  That’s a big ‘if’ though.

I’m also going to have to adjust the front as it sits really oddly, which servs me right for not basting the princess seams before sewing them (Me: ‘it’ll be fine with pins’; Dress: ‘Ha!  That’s what she thinks!’).  I’ve tried it on and pinned that adjustment, so it just requires a little stitching, which is going to uber-messy inside, so I’ll do it by hand to try and minimise that.

Ah, poor Zombie Antoinette, once so full of promise!

I say that, but I have learned a lot from this project:

1. Take your time with pinning – though basting is sometimes preferable.

2. Don’t sew when you’re tired and/or fed up with the project, you’ll only screw it up.  (I was exhausted when I was working on the zip and got a bit careless, which is a big part of why it took so many attempts.)

3. Things are only worth sewing if you Love them (and I mean Love with a capital L.), otherwise you’ll get fed up with the project (see above).

4. Think about seam and hem finishes before you start the project, not half-way through.

5. Check in books and on teh interwebz for tips and techniques, such as princess seams.

6. If you really insist on using that horrible polyester satin (as I have done!), then you’re probably better off cutting the pattern with a rotary cutter.  (I think this would have helped immensely with that problem on the front and the fit/seams in general – I’ve had to work with a rather small seam allowance because the fabric shifted and stretched as I tried to cut and draw the pattern pieces.)

And in the spirit of Lesson 2, I’m going to be sewing tomorrow evening.  If I’m still fed up of my cadaver queen, I’m going to get going on a project I’m uber-excited about – the staaaaaays!

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We’re taking a little step back in time today … and not to the 18th Century for a change.  Slightly less far…

Ah, last year, you seem so far away now!  Perhaps you will recall my Halloween project that never was, scuppered by staying in for the first Halloween in more years than I care to remember:

You see, the problem with Halloween costumes when you don’t go out for Halloween is that you kinda lose your momentum – you’ve got a whole year to make it (if you don’t change your mind by the following Halloween, that is) and a year is a killer deadline.

So poor little Zombie Antoinette’s dress has been languishing in the store room with a few half-hearted stitches here and there, while I’ve been dreaming of stays.  The problem being that I promised myself that I wouldn’t start on the stays until I’d finished the dress.  I’ll admit, I’m fairly bad for leaving projects half finished – mostly because I get excited and distracted by newness far too easily – so I am determined not to do that with a sewing project when I’ve spent money on the pattern, fabric and notions.

While I may not love her fabrics (mmm … polyester satin … seeeexy …), our Queen of the Zombies has arisen from the grave.  Last night the boys were out at work, so I cracked out the sewing machine and got a good few hours’ of work in on my sorely neglected Zombie Queen.

The dress part is basically done, I just need to sew in the zip (it’s pinned at the moment), do the sleeves and attach the trims/lace, which I’m going to do by hand so I don’t flatten the ruffles, (you may recall from an old post about this project, I’m changing the trim quite a bit from the original pattern), then do the underskirt.  I’ll take photos of the dress once I’ve done the zip, which should be tomorrow.

I have learned, though, that it’s hard to motivate yourself about a project that you don’t love.  This costume for me is just to practice and learn from, I know it’s not going to create a beautiful finished product, so it’s hard to get enthusiastic about it and look forward to having the finished thing.  (And I’m not very hopeful about the final fit – what with the  mysterious shrinking of clothing over Yule and the troubles I had cutting the horrid fabric in the first place.)

But I will finish it and have fun when I do eventually get around to wearing it, because that’s what silly Halloween costumes are about!

And after that I get to make this little pretty in grey tulle with some Clare modifications (yes, it’s another free pattern!) to kick-start my wardrobe revamp and the stays.  Yaaaay!

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Dear Sir,

Please don’t tell me off for not posting about sewing lately – I’ve been terribly busy and stressed out with the move and looking for work!

Thank you.

Yours & c.,

Clare

OK, so, I don’t actually have to hand in a sick note like at school, but I have been feeling bad about not having done any sewing lately.  I have been wanting to, but all that I can think about at the moment is getting all these things sorted out – the same thing has made it really hard for me to write anything.  I’m hoping that now I’m actually up here in Nottingham and we’ve put a holding deposit down on an apartment (more about that in a sec) I’ve got a little less to worry about and a bit more ‘head-space’ for writing and sewing.

Having said that, I did do a little bit of work on the Zombie Antoinette dress last night, but my wrists started hurting really quickly (I think because I’d been lumping around heavy boxes earlier in the evening), so I only did a little bit.  My camera is still dead, so no photos – plus it’s just the lining, which is rather dull!

While I remember – my MA mark has been 100% confirmed by the examiners now.  Yay!

And now a little bit about our apartment!  Well, the thing that perhaps excites me the most … (insert drum-roll here) … it’s 18th century!!!!!  WEEEE!!!  Yes, I am excessively excited about this fact.  There aren’t really any period features left, unfortunately, but it has lovely high ceilings and the large windows (I can’t recall, but The Boy thinks they’re still sash windows rather than modern PVC ones.  Huzzah!).  The outside still looks very period if you look above the restaurants that are on the ground floor, and the entrance is pretty, too.

Other exciting non-historical things about the apartment: large lounge/diner/kitchen; en suite for myself and The Boy (I’m excited at the prospect of having somewhere to do my hair/make-up and being able to get little storage boxes and shelves.  Sad, but true!); large hallway (for bookshelves!) and, my favourite thing… there’s a cupboard off the hallway that’s actually pretty big and has lighting in it – it’s an L-shape and is probably around 1.5m x 2m.

So what?

Well, it’s big enough to fit a small desk and a chair as well as the hoover and other necessary bits.  Guess who’s going to have a little office to shut herself up in to write!  I am far, far too excited at this prospect!!  (Yes, sorry about all the exclamation marks in this post!  Oops.)

When we were originally talking about moving, we were considering living further out from the city centre and could have got a three-bed place in our price range in those locations, leaving a study space/spare room.  We decided to stick to the city centre a long time ago since we don’t drive, so I’ve been happy with the thought of not having an office.  This feels like such a great bonus, now.

A room of one’s own… or, at least, a room of my own that I get to share with the hoover, but I’m OK with that.  Having a door I can close on noise and distraction is the important thing and I am so lucky to be getting that.

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So I am now living in Nottingham, which feels odd, but good.  We just sorted out the internet this evening, so I’ll endeavour to start something like normal service by next week, but I don’t want to make any more promises and then disappoint!

Still on my to-do list:

  • Find a flat.
  • Get a job.
  • Get back to writing A Thief & A Gentlewoman.
  • Finish my Zombie Marie Antoinette costume.

Speaking of which… It looks like my Halloween plans have been scuppered!  Fingers crossed The Boy has some part-time bar work to tide him over and his first shift will be on Saturday night… sooo it doesn’t look like I’m going to be going out for Halloween.  Meh!  I am way behind on sewing the dress, thanks to current stress and the like anyway, but at least if it had to be done for Saturday, I’d have a deadline to get my arse in gear.

Nevermind, I’ll still finish the dress as it can be used for various fancy dress.  At least this way I can get on with the stuff that is (allegedly) more important (ie, the first two things on that list!).  Damn practicality!

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More progress on the Halloween costume last night – the front half of the bodice is together and the darts are in the back.  So I thought I’d pin the front and back together and try it on:

Bodice Fitting

D’oh.  It’s sitting really strangely over the bust, but I have pinned it in slightly and will be altering that today, and I’m hoping that it’s sitting strangely because the whole bodice is sitting quite high at the moment.  I think this will be fixed when the skirt of the dress is attached as that will weigh it down somewhat.  I also think it’s sitting high because it’s a bit small at the waist at the moment, but I’m hoping to sort this by letting the darts at the back out a bit and by decreasing the seam allowance at the sides and back when I come to sew that.

I kinda thought it might all come out too small as although the toile was perfect with a nice amount of ease, I noticed when I put those pieces against the cut out dress pieces that the dress pieces had come out a bit smaller and more uneven.  Yep, bugger.  This fabric isn’t stretchy as such, but it does pull out of shape diagonally, which made it a pain to cut – even trying to draw on it would make the fabric stretch out so you couldn’t even draw a straight line.  Maybe there is some trick for this that I don’t know about because I’m a newb!

On the plus side, I’m sure that it’s down to that type of fabric and not me being rubbish at cutting patterns, as I didn’t have any such problems when I was cutting the lawn.  I think I might get one of those rotary cutters to use in future as just the scissors lifting and pulling at the fabric to cut it was pulling it out of shape and the cutter would remove that part of the problem.  Plus, I could get a scalloped blade for it and I am on a hunt for scallops.  (And this looks like the best I can do since I don’t seem to be able to get hold of the Fiskar’s scalloped-edge fabric shears.  Sigh!)

And another plus – I’m quite pleased with the bows.  I originally cut them a lot longer, but with the three above each other, it was too much and they all drowned each other with massive bows and long ‘tails’ trailing off them, so I made them several inches shorter and tied smaller bows with shorter ‘tails’, which means you can actually see the bows better.  I know I wouldn’t have been happy with bows stuck on the front as the pattern shows, so I’m really glad I’ve done them this way.  It did make sewing that seam more fiddly, so bear that in mind if you plan on doing something similar.

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I was so so proud of my lovely, little, straight stitches on the side of the bodice… then I realised I had forgotten to put the ties that will form the bows in the seams. So I though “bah, I’ll attach them in another way, the stitches are so pretty, I’m not undoing them. And they’re so small, I’m no unpicking them in a hurry!”

Then I looked at the instructions and realised I’d done it wrong anyway – this bit was meant to be based after I’d attached another bit properly and was only to be sewn properly later…

The unpicking took a long time.

*SIGH!*

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That’s probably the best description of how I work… See for yourself:

Workspace/Bed

This is my workspace/bed.  You’re looking at: all my Zombie Queen pattern pieces cut up (spent hours during today ironing and cutting and marking and ironing on interfacing), pattern instructions, cutting mat (which I place on my lap for a flat surface when I work on my bed), sewing gauge, other bits of  fabric, a fan and my duvet!

Just out of shot is my laptop – a vital piece of equipment!  Today I’ve been watching numerous bits and pieces while sewing, including Kirstie’s Homemade Home.  She can be a bit silly and extravagant with her spending and she has a little go at making things before leaving the experts to take over, but I do appreciate her goal – to show everyone that homes don’t have to be all flat-pack, super-sleek modernity, just like the one next door (where they have the same Ikea/Argos/whatever sofa as you!).  I really appreciate her second-hand and antique shopping (though I suspect she gets good deals because she’s on TV, but, hey, if you can manage it, why not?) and her mission to encourage people to use artisans and craftspeople and to have a go at modifying and creating things themselves.  Plus, she visits some pretty WOW places.

But back to the sewing… I mentioned iron-on interfacing, which backs all of the bodice pieces of the pattern, which is fine, but it just doesn’t seem to be sticking properly for me.  I had a similar problem before with hemming stuff which I used to attach the two colours of fabric on the silk cuff, but I figured that was because it was very cheap stuff and the temperature was quite low because of the silk.  But I’m having the same problem again.  I turned the iron up a bit, but didn’t want to take it too high as it is polyester satin (mmm… classy!  And so static-y!  And possibly melty if I’m not careful!).  I put a damp cloth over the top and even counted out the twelve seconds it gave on the instructions… and still bits of it aren’t properly sticking (and it’s coming off as I’m handling – luckily I’m sewing it at this point, so it’s attached).  I even went back over it without the cloth and tried ironing for a bit longer.  But nothing seemed to make any difference… Any tips for getting this stuff to work?!

And another thing I mentioned earlier, but more positively… I’ve decided the sewing gauge is a top buy.  It was only £1.20 and it’s so useful – my sewing has suddenly become infinitely more straight and neat than it was and considering I’m probably going to be sewing this costume completely by hand, that’s important!  I love it.  Absolutely invaluable.

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