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The Ramblings of a Seamstress, Gardener, Chicken Keeper, and Housewife

Proof of My Adventures (and Misadventures!)

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Pre-Vacation Sewing Musings

I've been quiet on here and facebook for the past couple weeks.  The reason for that is because I was either rush sewing some things to take on vacation, or actually on vacation!  Sadly I don't have any pics ready to share here yet, but I thought I'd just ramble on a bit about it all to decompress.

So I say vacation, but it was really a combination visit family and friends back home/Gen Con Indy trip.  Last year we flew up just for the con, and it was a total blast thanks to the great group of friends who also came and tagged along.  This year we were totally stoked to do it up right again!

You might have read one of my previous (crazy long) posts about my sewing to-do list.  Several projects on that list were for this trip.  As usually happens, I made some changes along the way...but I managed to sew an entire 18th century outfit from the skin out for my friend Chris in about a week and a half.  I'm calling that a victory!!!  There's still a small section of her stays that need to be bound because I lost a strip of bias binding somewhere on my trip, and a few other minor hand-sewing nit picky things I want to do but it was totally wearable, and absolutely adorable!  She's planning on coming to the picnic in November so you'll all see it then.  We both had fun styling wigs for ourselves (gotta love living so close to what seems to be an ethnic hair mecca) and hers turned out really cute and perfectly suited to her spunky personality.  Mine was not as successful as I wanted, but the beauty of wigs is that you can keep trying until you get it right!

Ben got less and less enthused about dressing up with us because he wasn't really into the theme.  He didn't see how he could be piratey while we dressed like ladies.  I think he also felt left-out and kind of like an afterthought since Chris's outfit took so long, and it made me feel absolutely horrible that he got that impression.  That's when I got the crazy idea that I'd just surprise him with some costume options...with only 30 hours or so before we needed to leave.  Thus began my first real, true marathon sewing session.

Ben clearly didn't share my vision of how cool we'd look together as a pirate and his two gentlewoman captives.  OK, no problem.  Maybe I could entice him with something more gentlemanly!  So I dug around in my half completed projects and found the pieces for a gentleman's vest I'd never got around to sewing.  Knowing what I know now about men's fashions of the era, I would never choose this fabric for the project.  It's a very strange highly-textured antique metallic gold that probably can't be pressed and certainly needs to be flatlined with something non-stretchy to help the pieces keep their shape.  I have no idea the fabric content because I bought it so long ago.  I kinda suspect it came from Wal-Mart's $1 table, and a lot of that is unknown content anyway.  So all that being said, I still kinda love it!  I lucked into a black venise lace on ebay a few months ago, and I thought it could mimic some pretty bold embroidery along the fronts.  Not that many con-goers would know much about 18th c. men's fashions anyway, but the thought that Ben might someday want to come to a guild event with me made me want to use it anyway.

Before all that though, he needed a white shirt.  I managed to grab two similar white cottons from the stash and barely eek that out.  The sleeves are from the slightly heavier, wrinklier cotton but no one has to know that since his coat sleeves cover that.  I left off the sleeve ruffles because I had an idea on how to make them detachable in case he deemed them too foppish.  Well, as it got later I decided the engineering of that was beyond me so I abandoned them for some future time.  On to the vest!  I wanted to add pockets, since fake pocket flaps are just really misleading and sad.  Also, that's the one thing Ben really disliked about stuff I've made for him in the past...lack of pockets.  Adding them was easy after all the practice I had with his Victorian vest and coat.  Then it was time to add the pocket flaps, and I kinda froze.  The venise lace is too wide for the flaps as they're cut.  What to do???  Well, apparently the thing to do is set the project aside and move on to another idea altogether.

Yeah.  Typing this now I'm totally giving myself the 'Wtf, are you insane?' treatment.  I'd blame sleep deprivation since it was in the wee hours by then, or possibly the stress of the day since it was hour 16ish of sewing.  They both factored in I'm sure.  Really though, you probably know enough about my sewing habits to realize that there's truly sometimes an element of crazy there.  LOL

Onward to an Asha'man coat and Aes Sedai dress!  I'd already kicked around the idea of making these in addition to our 18th c. stuff, but when Chris's dress took longer than expected I figured it wouldn't happen.  You might remember me asking about black dyes?  Yep, that was for this.  I originally planned to dye the fabric, but I got antsy about the weight and thickness and decided it'd be better to dye a mostly finished project that was not as heavy.  I chose a coat pattern I've made many times before and that I know fits pretty well.  As a time-saving technique, I serged all of it that I could.  Sometime near the end, I noticed the seams weren't holding as tightly as I wanted them - my thread tensions were all wonky, and had been all along!  At that point I had a choice...go over everything again with my regular machine, or hope and pray it would hold while dyeing and move on to my dress.  Time was ticking, and I tossed in in the washer for a quick wet-down.

That gave me time to start cutting the pieces for my dress, which was also a simple pattern, Simplicity 9929 view B.  I used silk dupioni for the gown body, a poly chiffon for the sleeves, and a textured upholstery velvet for the vest - all in shades of gray.  Not my preferred green, but when you're pulling from the stash you accept your limitations.  About that time, I checked the coat and found some of the seams splitting from the short spin in the wash.  The constant agitation of the dye bath would have killed it, so I ran it (damp, eek!) through my machine and then tossed it in the dye bath.  The gown has lots of long straight seams, so it went quick and allowed me to keep an eye on the washer as needed.  The chiffon sleves gave me some trouble in the gathering stages which really ate up time.  Finally it was done, and so was the dyeing.  The coat was a little more frayed at a couple seams, the hem, and one corner of the collar...but nothing that couldn't be fixed or worked around.  Best of all, it came out a really great shade of black!  Success!!!  I left that to drip dry and started on my vest.  I think that's about the time Ben got up for the morning and asked me if I was still sewing from the night before.

Well, the vest turned out too short.  I tend to have that problem with a lot of bodices.  Apparently my bust is just situated lower than the average lady's, or maybe it's a tall person thing.  I had done a quick tissue fit before cutting any of the pieces out, but sewing in the darts did something unexpected and I had to recut nearly everything for it.  I realized that I should check the fit of Ben's coat too, since maybe I wasn't at my best and I'd hate to put even more effort into something that would ultimately not work for such a simple reason.  While not perfect, the coat worked well enough and I was ready to blaze on to the finish.

Ben was very adamant that I not sew stuff for him while I still needed to finish things for Chris's or my outfits.  He protested enough that I started to wonder if he didn't actually want to dress up at all, and just didn't want to say that since I'd already invested some time in new stuff for him.  I showed him my plans for the other option and told him I couldn't stand the thought of him feeling like an afterthought, and that I could be done with one or both options given just a little more time to work on them, or I could stop now and not waste more time on something he wasn't really that into.  I think he felt terrible that I'd stayed up working on stuff for him and lost so much sleep, and I felt even worse that I'd made him feel more terrible.  He'd already decided there was no way I'd have time to make him anything, so he'd made plans to roam the con with Chris's boyfriend that day.  You know what?  I was OK with that, as long as he got to do the fun stuff he wanted to do at the con.  I hung everything up and walked away from the sewing machine for a much-needed nap.

So, total hours spent continuously sewing: 26.  I did stop for short breaks to eat, let the dogs out, stretch, etc.  That is definitely my new personal record, though.  My sewing room is in utter chaos, and I haven't set foot in there yet to start the cleanup effort.  I think I'll do that tomorrow since it's supposed to be such mild weather.  I'm still sleepy from the long drive, and all my animals are still clustered all around me like they weren't sure I was coming back home.  I think I was missed!

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OMG! I think I need a vacation now just from reading about your sewing adventures! LOL!

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