Saturday, March 31, 2007


What is it about dress rehearsals that brings out my snappy, growly side?

I don't like that about myself; this has happened before and it still surprises me.

Most of the folks are wonderful to work with and will do anything, understanding that the resources are limited. Others will *say* they understand that the resources are limited, then use the word 'but'. And what comes after 'but' kind of negates their stated understanding of the limited resources....

All in all, the costume issues were much fewer and less severe than they have been in past dress rehearsals, so that's something to be relieved over. And I don't think we'll *ever* have a dress rehearsal that doesn't bring some, um, issues to's unrealistic to expect otherwise.

But I think I was a little short at a couple of odd moments...and that bothers me.

Well, I'm going to eat and catch a quick nap; maybe that will improve my disposition a bit. Then I'll tackle a couple of the issues that came up this morning...

Friday, March 30, 2007

We made it.

All the soldier tunics/shorts were finished yesterday; a couple of the HMC guys are working on the 'armor' tabbards and additional pieces for wrists and shins (we figured they need 40 eyelets per costume for all the pieces; I expect to clean just about everyone in town out of 1/4" eyelets today. I need to get them 17 more packages)

So, today I am sewing tassels on our priestly garments,cleaning off racks and moving them downstairs from the church attic, labeling the costumes for use and generally organizing things to get ready for tomorrow's dress rehearsal.

I did post a little photo tutorial on Yahoo [edited 11/8/09 because the links broke AGAIN...and I put the commentary back in] about how to wear the head drapes. I deliberately did it without looking in a mirror, so you can see that it isn't hard. Sure, it would look *better* if I'd've had a mirror handy, but it would be wearable even as it was, in a pinch (and we will be pinched...we'll be doing regular worship, in regular clothes, for both Palm Sunday and Easter before changing into the costumes during announcements and offering). Anyway, if you're interested, here's the link:
Head drape how-to

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I Spy the Finish Line

Miss A came by yesterday and picked up the last two ladies' robes; the costumes are now beginning to trickle back in, finished to the snap; I got a robe made and, um, corrected a slight boo-boo on one that came back, and put the linings in five pairs of shorts yesterday...Miss LCubed got the rest of the shorts done to the drawstring (all but one, anyway; I didn't give her quite enough elastic), our second Miss M (the diaper bag lady) got all the soldier tunics finished to the snap....

I do believe we'll get done or very close to done today, which is good. I need to spend tomorrow moving the Dickens costumes off the rolling racks we can use the rolling racks to hold these costumes ready for us.

I haven't mentioned what's going on; we'll be doing a short costumed bit before the sermon this Sunday, but the main event will be Easter. Our church really has outgrown our facility (we expect to go from two services to three this fall), and we simply would not be able to accommodate the expected Easter crowd in our current building/parking lot, so...we're having church in the South Hall of the Von Braun Center (The Rocket City's Civic center complex), which seats about 3200, on Easter Sunday. Which means we'll have to take all the costumes over; the current plan is for us to have a regular worship time, with the choir in regular attire (um, lavender and black are the colors for April). Then, while announcements are made and the offering is collected, we'll all change into the Bible costumes for the extended version of the presentation. So we'll have to take drapes to curtain off a changing area, and the racks with the costumes on it. I'm guessing we'll have 10 - 15 minutes to change: that ain't much time.

And I'm planning my Easter attire around 1)the designated colors and 2)what I can switch easily for Bible Attire...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gifts of Grace

There have been five new ladies who have joined us to make this set of costumes; one doesn't even sew, but she spent an hour or so hammering jeans buttons on the shoulders of the soldier costumes so the capes can be attached. A couple of others haven't sewn in a long time and are getting their skills refreshed; the other two are experienced makes a large portion of her wardrobe, another has a business in which she makes and sells diaper bag sets, so she's used to assembly-line sewing. Together, they made a huge difference and today I got up believing that we will actually finish on time...close, but on time ;)

But, we had to pack up all the stuff yesterday, since our sewing room is needed for a classroom. So I'm sewing at home(and, hopefully, pushing laundry through the washer and dryer) today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Still working....

I'll be heading back into church shortly; Miss M and I worked until almost 10 last night, but I've only got until about 2 today, as the room we're sewing in will be used both this evening and tomorrow evening for kids classes. So we have to have it cleaned out before we leave today.

I canceled my Bible study for tomorrow; I hated to do that but we can easily just shift our syllabus back one week; I don't think I would've had a good lesson prepared anyway. I will be teaching the girl's class tomorrow night; the lead teacher is out of town, so I'm it. The topic is maintaining purity in our thoughts...I think I can teach from first-hand knowledge about the struggle to maintain a positive attitude when under pressure... ;)

I'll be sewing at home tonight, for as long as I can keep my eyes open.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Taking 5

Just ran home to pick up a couple of notions I forgot and eat a quick bite for supper, then it's back to church to work till ?? . The lined shorts are going to work pretty well; I made a prototype of them today, then showed Miss LCubed how to do it and she's been working away on them all day. I've started the tunics. Miss T brought in all the head drapes, finished, and all the sashes and headband tubes ready to turn (yes, the tube turners are one of the notions I need to grab...).

But I am picking up a couple of more volunteers along the way...which is good. We certainly need 'em!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Building Bible Costumes -- Part Three: The Extras

Once the robe is done, you've got the foundation for a ladies' Bible costume, but without the extras it really doesn't look quite all there. We use two 1.5 yard head drapes...45" fabric is best, but 60 can work...if it's too heavy or cumbersome, just trim it down to 45"-54" wide. These work best if they are complimentary to the robe...not matching. A simple serged edge in matching or blending thread is sufficient to finish the edges of those for the stage.

A waist sash isn't really necessary, but it does make the costume a little more flexible; a costume that is a little too long can be tied at the waist and then bloused a bit above the tie to pull the hem up enough so that the character is not in danger of tripping. I have used both 7 1/2" and 8 1/2" strips...they yield a 3" and a 4" sash, respectively. Which you use is your preference. For simplicity, I cut two strips from the remnants (if there are any) of the robe fabric; we really don't want the sash to be a focal point; it's a fitting tool. Usually I will trim one piece down, then seam the two pieces along the short end, right sides together, to make one long piece 72" - 90" long (depends on the, um, girth of the person ;) ). Note: if you use the cut end as one of the ends in that seam, it will leave selvedges for the ends of the ties seam finish necessary ;). Anyway, seam the long edges, right sides together, with a 1/4" seam allowance and turn the tube right side out. Sash done.

The head band...the thing we use on top of the a little more involved. I cut 3 strips that are 3 1/2" wide. Which fabrics I use just sort of depends on what's left and how much body it's got...the head band needs something that is just a little stiffish (something drapey, like rayon crepe, just collapses and doesn't work well). Sometimes I will even underline a drapey fabric with a stiffer one to get the body needed. So...that's a per-case judgement...three strips of the robe fabric, one strip of each of the three fabrics...or a mixture of the robe and drape fabrics or, sometimes, I'll pull a fourth coordinating fabric from the remnant pile to make the headband. It just depends on what works. Fortunately, the fabric I used for the grey robe was workable, so I used it for the headband for this costume.

Anyway, take the three strips, sew them into three tubes,wrong sides together with a 1/4" seam allowance, and turn the tubes right side out. Then take one end of each tube and stack them slightly offset from each other and zig-zag them together.

Flip the strip on the bottom of the stack around to the top side to cover the seam, then begin braiding the three careful not to pull them too tight.

When you have a braid long enough to wrap around your head and a thumb with about 1" overlap, zig-zag the braid and trim off the excess strips (save one of those'll need it later)

(the rest of this is hand stitching...I know, bummer, but this is the only hand sewing on the whole costume). Wrap the band around the head, with a thumb underneath (it will be going on over the drapes), and hand sew both the outside and inside edges to the band. This stitching doesn't have to be's going to be covered...but it should be secure.

Then take the reserved end and stitch it to the inside of the band at the overlap. Wrap it around the band a couple of times, covering the stitched-down ends of the band. Finish with the wrap on the inside of the band, tuck the end of the wrap inside that tube and hand stitch it down.

Warning... Once we started doing these, no one was content with a simple tied headband... ;)

If you're wondering what to do with the wraps, I've got a little Head drape how-to on how to actually put these things on...there's a photo set for the squarish drapes, and one for a long oblong drape ;).

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Eight hours down...

We sewed from 10 - 6 today, pretty much non-stop; I need to fix supper but right now I'm just kind of dazed. The soldier capes are done, thanks to Miss J.; Miss Lcubed has been plugging away on the shorts; I've got the linings ready for all but one pair of shorts...I'd brought one home earlier, just in case I had time to sew it before I took the machines to church. I didn't, and then I forgot to take the shorts with me this morning. So that will be the first thing I do Monday. We still have to put the linings in the shorts and add the elastic; then it's four ladies' robes, one priestly garment, and 12 tunics to crank out. But it all has to be done by a week from today, so, one way or another, I'll be able to catch my breath in 8 days. ;) But I'm dead beat right now, and I made way more than a reasonable number of stupid mistakes today, so I'm taking tomorrow off...

On another subject...I learned a valuable Blogger fact last night. If you delete a draft, unless you specifically check the little thumbnail boxes at the bottom of the query screen, you will delete all the pictures uploaded onto that draft. I had saved a draft of the Bible Robe Part One, then after I published it, I went back and deleted the draft. Didn't see the fine print that said 'The following media will also be deleted.' I couldn't figure out why the photos disappeared...until I deleted the draft for the Part Two, when the fine print caught my eye. So I had to reload all the pictures for Part One last night...I'll never make that mistake again!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Building Bible Costumes -- Part 2

This is a further continuation of a tutorial began in The Inseam Pocket Tutorial and continued in Building a Bible Costume -- Part 1

After finishing the neckline, sleeves are next. My preference is to go ahead and finish the sleeves and press the hem up before sewing them in...much less fabric to wrestle around on the ironing board, and the hems are easier to press if you do them flat. (TIP: cut strips of a manila folder in useful widths...1", 1 1/4", 1 1/2", whatever you use frequently, label them, and use them as pressing templates. Makes a job like pressing up the hem on these sleeves a quickie!)

Next, sew the sleeves to the garment with a conventional machine, matching notches and shoulder seam/dot. Serge the seams together, or zig-zag them and trim...but only between the dots! (see photo...dots are clip marked). Press the seam towards the sleeve.

Starting at the sleeve edge, sew the underarm/side seam in one continuous seam, being careful not to catch the finished edge of the pocket (if you put a pocket in per the earlier post). Make sure to 1) have the ends of the seam joining the sleeve to the garment stacked on top of each other and 2) stitch on top of that when you round that curve. Serge the edge, trimming the seam to a scant 3/8" wide, and press seam towards the back. (If you're zig-zagging, trim the curve under the arm to 3/8" and zig-zag those seam allowances together, then clip the ends so that you can open the rest of the seam flat; zig-zag those seam allowances singly and press them open.)

Finish the raw edge at the bottom while the garment is're almost done!

Starting at the clip mark that's about 7" down from the top, sew the back seam all the way to the bottom with a conventional machine (it should be cut on the selvedge). Press that seam open.

Continue pressing the seam allowance to the wrong side above the stitching. If you have some, a little fusible web slipped under the seam allowance and pressed well will anchor it securely. Topstitch from the finished neck edge, down to the top of the sewn seam, across to the other side, and back up...about 3/8" from the fold.

For the closure, after much trial and error, we have found that the quickest, easiest, least distracting closure is to simply sew a bias tape tab at the neckline and use a snap closure to secure it. Start with a piece of single-fold bias about 2 1/2" long, folded in half. Zig-zag it securely to the wrong side of either side of the back (do you really want to debate 'his/hers' on this? Just pick one) at the top of the opening; edge stitch around the edges and along the garment edge to make it very secure.

I have a snap-setting tool to use...just a few taps with a hammer and the snaps are on! But, if you prefer, you can hand sew a snap in place (note to my sewing ladies...if you bring the garment in at this point, I'll be happy to hammer on the snap! ;) )

Here's what the snap looks like finished. Press the hems on the bottom and sleeves (the sleeves should just need a touch-up press at the seam) and topstitch in place.

And here's the finished, Biblical-style robe... ;). I'll post some info about the extra pieces (drapes, sash, headband) over the weekend.

Hauling the Machines

Well, I would've finished cutting yesterday, but I misfigured the yardage needed for the soldier's capes and had to get more fabric (not a problem...Hancock's had plenty, still 50% off). So I still have three capes to cut out.

But they'll be quick; I think after that we'll start on the soldier costumes. I have one lady who's planning to bring her sewing machine in today; I'm already planning the sewing order to take advantage of my serger and her conventional machine.

And I (hopefully) will have three or four helpers tomorrow.

I found out last night that dress rehearsal will be a week from tomorrow....

Anyway, I'm hauling in the machines and other construction equipment today!

I've finished taking photos of the costume-in-progress (i.e., that's one down!) and I'll try to get part two of the Bible costume tutorial up this evening.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Building Bible Costumes ...Part One

(note: the pattern we most often use for Bible Costumes is McCall's 2339

Once the pockets are done (see The Inseam Pocket Tutorial for how to do the pockets), the next time-consuming part is the neckline. I actually prefer to finish the neckline with bias tape, but, since we're making a bundle of these, all from different colors, it's easier to just cut facings than to try and match bias tape to each one. If you've got bias tape, and you'd rather use that, be my guest. :)

First, stay stitch the neckline edges (1/2" from the raw edge) of the garment front and back, and the front and back facings.

Then, stitch the garment front to back at the shoulders and the facings front to back at the shoulders. Finish the edges; serge them together or, if you don't have a serger, zig-zag the seam allowances individually.

Finish the outside edge of the facing.

If you serged the seam allowances together, press the facing shoulder seams to the front and the garment shoulder seams to the back (this will reduce bulk in the neckline seam). If you zig-zagged the edges, just press the seams open.

Press the back seam allowance (5/8", not counting any fringe...most of these were cut with the back edge on the selvedge, so no finish is necessary on the back seam) to the front, then pin the facing over it (the back edge of the facing should end up even with the fold...but these were cut rather in a hurry, so don't worry if you've got to fudge it a bit), right sides together, and sew it with a 5/8" seam.

Trim the facing seams to 1/4" and clip as necessary.

Turn the facing to the wrong side of the garment and press...the back neckline corner is finished, too!

Topstitch the facing down at 3/8"" from the edge. TIP: You'll get fewer bias wrinkles if you follow the curve of the neckline as you're topstitching, rather than pulling the seam out straight in front of your presser foot.

Doesn't that look nice? The last thing we do is put the closure on...that'll come later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Encouragement of Minor Miracles

I think I mentioned a couple of days ago that I wanted to line the shorts for the Soldier costumes...they're a cream poly-rayon linen look fabric and, um, just a bit on the transparent side. So, I stopped at Wal-mart and found only one bolt of the athletic mesh I was looking for that would do...a light grey. Well, if it makes the shorts look a little dingy or grungy, that's ok, and it was the only thing that was even close. It was 62" wide, and there were about 14 yards on the bolt...I got all of it.

I spent the whole day today cutting those shorts...and I folded and refolded to get as much use of the fabric as I could.

When I cut the lining for the last pair, I had 8.5" left.


All I have left to cut now are the tunics and capes. This is taking a lot longer than I thought, but, once it's cut, it should be pretty quick to sew.

Somehow, squeezing all the linings out of that piece of fabric has encouraged me that I'm on the right track, and we WILL make it... ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Inseam Pocket Tutorial

Ok, this is not exactly a generic pocket; I'm writing this up for ladies who are helping me sew Bible costumes; we're adding inseam pockets so that in the event that any of these folks might need a wireless mike at some point in the future, they'll have a pocket to stick the transmitter in... ;)

However, once you realize the placement marks on these pockets can be adapted for whatever other thing the pocket should be added to, then it will apply.

I blatantly copied a Kwik-Sew inseam pocket, which had a mark for the waist. The sideseam notch on the Bible Costume (McCall's 2339) appears to be at about waist level...close enough for costuming, anyway. So, I put a clip at the waistline mark on the pocket to match to the sideseam notch on the garment. There are three clips on the garment...the armsceye notch, the dot where the dropped shoulder seam turns into the side seam, and the side seam notch. The three notches on the pocket are the waistline notch, and the two notches that mark the pocket opening.

On the wrong side of the pocket, draw a line 7/8" from the raw edge between the pocket opening notches. Match the waistline notch on the pocket to the side seam notch on the garment front, then stitch from the raw edge at one opening mark, over to the line you just drew, pivot and stitch down to the level of the second opening mark, pivot again and go straight off the fabric. Go back and, using very small stitches, reinforce the corners by stitching immediately over them for 1/4" or so on either side. Clip into the corners.

Turn the pocket to the inside, pulling the corners out and press it well. Edgestitch it.

Now, lay the second pocket piece over the first, right sides together, and, moving the garment out of the way, stitch around the outer edge of the pocket. If you don't have a serger, straight stitch it first, then go back and zig-zag the edges. Baste the pocket to the garment front within the side seam allowance.
Now you can treat the whole front/pocket assembly as a regular front; you don't have to stop and start at the pocket opening, and there's no danger of the pocket sewn to the front not matching the pocket sewn to the back. (That photo looks like the pocket opening is really isn't; I think the telephoto distorted it some).

You just have to be careful not to catch the topstitched edge of the pocket opening in the sideseam when you sew the sideseam...but it looks very nice! :)

This can be used on any pattern that uses an inseam pocket. However, unless your fabric is very firm, for a real life wardrobe, fuse lightweight interfacing to the pocket opening area of both the pocket facing and the garment...that helps it keep its shape.

Tutes Coming

Sigh. There's nothing like waking up to the sound of a child sick in the bathroom, is there?

DD was up just before 5. She appears to be a bit perkier now, but there goes the plan to cut soldier costumes today. I'll run into church for a couple of hours around lunch (leaving her almost-14 big brother strict instructions and my cell phone number) to see what I can do and pick up a couple of the ladies robes to sew at home.

I'm also going to post some 'how to' tutes and photos...I updated my Bible costume review at Pattern Review, so it had a new 'last updated' date on it to try and circumvent the fact that only subscribers can view pattern reviews over six months old. Alas, my belief that the date checked was the 'last updated' date turns out to have been optimistic; it checks the original date and my sewing ladies can't see it. So I may have an extra post or two over the next couple of days while I photograph and describe the process.

ETA: I stand corrected. Mamafitz pointed out that the old reviews are available to anyone who is a registered Pattern Review member, not just the Friends of Pattern Review (subscribers). In the beginning, the six-month limit was there, but I forgot that it had been removed. I just looked at the list of benefits for FoPR, and the six month limit is not mentioned. But, I don't know if the ladies will want to sign up for the free membership or not...I'll still plan on posting the pictures.

At least the costume I have at home to sew is a light grey...that ought to be easy to photograph... ;)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Off to cut

I'm hoping to get the other 5 ladies costumes cut out, and all the sizes for the soldier tunics shorts traced off, since I only had one size that we just kind of fudged up last year. This year I'll definitely need at least 4 sizes, so I'm going to use the pull-on pants pattern that's in the envelope with the African Caftan that we've used for the baptismal robes. I'll just make them about knee length.

That's my 'by-3-PM today' goal.

And I'm debating adding a mesh lining to the shorts...since I've been told we don't want the guys feeling like they're in their underwear, a lining for that not-completely-opaque cream poly/rayon linen-look stuff might not be a bad idea.

I think I'll stop at Wal-mart on my way home and see if there's anything suitable on the dollar table.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Attitude Adjustment

Mylon LeFevre was our guest speaker at church this morning. DH and I had the honor of being escorts/assistants for Mylon and his wife, so we were in both services. Many folks may remember Mylon and Broken Heart from the early years of Christian rock...I didn't (Petra, yes...). But he has been to church before about a year and a half ago and so I knew we were in for a treat this morning.

Can you believe his topic was reducing stress? I got my 'I've got too much work to do!!!' whining dealt with twice...once in first service; once in second.

Bottom line: this is ministry. Not a business. Either I trust God or I don't. If I trust Him, He's not going to pile more on me than I can take. If it's a load that makes me pout and whine, it has a purpose. Hey, if by sewing for a couple of weeks I can facilitate something that touches someones' life and makes them aware of their hope and them a glimpse of who God is...isn't that worth it?

So, my perspective has shifted back around so that it's not on me (as if it was about me in the first place) and on the project. Which is where it needs to be...'cause I still gotta receive a whole lotta grace to pull this one off. ;)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cutting the pile down

I meant to take the camera today and take a picture of the 'to be cut' pile, but I forgot...

My helpers didn't make it in today, and I cut by myself. So I didn't make nearly as much progress as I'd hoped to make. And, one of the ladies had purchased some brown rib knit from the dollar table at Wal-Mart that 1) had shrunk considerably and 2)was sliced off grain. That is, it was knit in a tube, then split along one side to make it flat. The only trouble is, they did not cut it straight. Consequently, the cut edge literally spirals around the tube. I've run into this problem before and should have specified 'no knits, please' so as to avoid that issue but, well, I didn't. So I had to fold the fabric down one rib while one cut edge sloped towards the fold and the other sloped away (it had a rise vs. run slope of 1/2" to 10 1/2"...I was curious and I checked it). I cut one long piece, then had to refold the thing along a new rib to move the cut edges closer together again...anyway, I didn't have a even a pinch of fabric left after cutting the two lengths for the gown and had to go get another yard and a half for the sleeves.

Fortunately, she'd gotten it at the dollar table at the Wal-mart just down the street from church and it was on my way home. So I stopped and the clerk there remembered cutting it and helped me unearth the remnants of that bolt. I'd mentioned on the email I'd sent round to the sopranos and altos that the best place to find the fabric was that particular Wal-mart, and she'd had several come in there. In fact, one lady had brought in a print out of the email with her, then forgotten it. The clerk wrote 'We should probably keep this' on the print out and set it up where they could see it.

She said it was a great help when folks came in...she knew to tell them they needed 'Four, two and two'...yards of three fabrics.

That was a much needed smile after a long slow day... ;)

Friday, March 16, 2007

She's a Sewing Maniac

I think I'm going to be able to delegate a lot of the soldier costuming; the HMC student who was the man with the vision for the soldiers is going to be in charge of finishing out all the 'armor' (black vinyl tabbards)...we only have to put together the four new ones; they'll take those and all the old ones and work 'em over. And, I've got a couple of new ladies who have volunteered to help...I think we're going to be able to do this.

I think I'm changing the costume paradigm...from 'the costumes belong to church' to 'the costumes belong to the performers'. At least for people in the choir, who are in these productions every time we do one.

So many have disappeared that I figured I was going to be about 10 costumes short for the ladies (there's a costume black hole somewhere in our church...). I e-mailed the soprano and alto sections asking for 10 ladies to volunteer to go buy their own fabric. Since I had to make more anyway, I figured I might as well make them for them as for the church. Last night, 12 ladies brought me fabric! So I think we'll have enough.

Plus, our kid's classes for next week have been canceled (spring break), which means no one is going to use Classroom 1 (the one closest to the door) until a week from Tuesday. So I can carry the machines and such in Monday and just sew like crazy.

Someone at church asked me last night 'Are you a sewing maniac?'

I replied, 'I am for the next two weeks!'

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring 07 Costuming

It Has Begun.

Last Tuesday (as in, the night before I left town to go to the Atlanta Expo), at the first general rehearsal for our Easter (well, month of April) drama/skit/production/sermon illustrations/whatever you want to call it, I was handed the costumer's folder. I really had no idea what was inside, but I sure wasn't expecting specs for new Roman Soldier costumes (modifications to the current black vinyl 'armor' tabbards, four additional complete costumes for a total of 12, capes for all, wrist and shin guards for all and new tunics/shorts in a different color and style for all). I'll be honest...I lost ten minutes right there; didn't hear a word anyone said, trying to get over the punched in the gut sensation I had as I looked at the specs and did some quick math regarding fabric and time required (48 yards and 60 hours, respectively). Fortunately Miss A and I *were* headed for Atlanta, home of multiple JoAnn's and Hancock's, so we were able to accumulate about 50 yards of rayon/poly linen look in a creamy white (cleaned out one JoAnn's and one Hancock's of it completely...the other JoAnn's had a larger supply and so we only got 2/3 of theirs). That wasn't exactly the fabric requested for the tunics and shorts...'lightweight canvas-type cotton' I believe is what the sketch was labeled...but it's as close as we're gonna get. Tonight I will be trying to ascertain just exactly is requested; I'm getting conflicting messages. The spec sheet wants tighter fitting stuff that looks lean and mean; but in my discussions with real people it sounds like last year's costumes felt skimpy on the guys that wore them and they want something that feels, um, less like underwear. So we'll talk.

And we're about 10 costumes short of having enough for the ladies, but I knew that and had a plan for working on it...which has now been *slightly* modified.

I've been in email contact with my sewing lady friends at church and I think I have enough help to pull it off, but it will take another sewing frenzy.

But, there HAVE been some discussions with the folks who passed this along to me, and hopefully in the future I'll be in on any planning meetings so I won't get blindsided by something like this again. If the difficulties we are encountering finally force us all to develop some good planning procedures, then it will be worth the effort.

At least it's Bible Costumes and not Dickens dresses! ;)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Expo 07 Report: Classes

Ok, this is the, um, reason we all go to Expos, right? To be instructed by great and inspiring sewing educators? It's really not buying stuff....

Yeah, that's why this is post number 3 instead of post number 1. Oh, I was saving the best for last. Yeah, that's it :)

Anyway, I started off at 9 on Thursday with Cynthia Guffey in two back-to-back classes; the first was 'Backs Fitting First' and the second was 'Off grain, On target'. Those of you who have had classes with Cynthia will imagine my shock when she came in dressed in blue jeans! And the cutest little princess shell top made of underlined lace (which I am SO going to knock off at the first available moment!). The backs fitting involves two measurements: shoulder slope and upper back curve. I'd seen Cynthia demonstrate this concept last year in the muslin fitting class, but the review absolutely didn't hurt. Miss A and I decided to measure each other's back curve and shoulder slope on our next 'cut for church' day (which is tomorrow...Big Project between now and the first of April; I'll get around to explaining it someday soon). Actually, we were wondering why it didn't occur to us to bring measuring tools and do it while we were there.... The second class was a discussion of fitting curves of the body...most notably, the bust curve. Cynthia's model was a cute gal in her early twenties who, as Cynthia put it, has got curves. Cynthia talked about dart placement, rotating darts, converting a darted style into a princess, converting an armsceye princess into a shoulder princess...I gave up drawing and decided to get the book in which she describes these things ;). But it will make more sense textually after seeing it visually.

The only other class I had on Thursday was Diane Ericson's Fashion Illustration class. It really was a lot of fun, and while I still don't consider myself a great artist, the drawing that I ended up with (beginning with a tracing from a fashion catalog) surprised me. Anyway,for whatever it's worth, here it is,along with the photo I used for inspiration (I would credit the source on it, but I really have no idea where it came from)Um, should I point out that we had no erasers? :D

On Friday, I had Peggy Sager's Jeans fitting class and Louise Cutting's travel wardrobes class. Peggy did a quick little visualization of the difference between Crotch Length (distance from waist to waist through the legs) and Crotch Depth (distance from waist to crotch) that I have never seen before that really illustrated very well that properly adjusting Length does not affect Depth...suddenly, I saw it as cup shaping applied to the rump...that was a real Lightbulb Moment.

Louise's class was chock full of great tips on traveling and personal safety...not something you'd expect at a sewing expo! But, from someone who travels as much as Louise does, it certainly was good advice. She also showed us her 'paper dolls' -- she's done a package of the front views (technical drawings) of all her patterns, one per sheet of paper, all drawn to the same scale. So, using a scanner and a copier, you can create little samples of her clothes in your fabric, or a reasonable facsimile of your fabric (she said to purchase scrapbook paper for a wide variety of colors for solid fabrics) For a solid, run the scrapbook paper through the copier and copy the garment you want to make from that color...then cut it out. For the print, scan the print, then print it on regular paper, then run it through the copier. That really looked like a lot of fun, and I could see that it was an invaluable tool for wardrobe capsule planning (aka SWAP - Sewing With A Plan). But, I didn't have any money for toys this year, and I had to pass it up. But I did get the booklet that went along with the class, and it also has the outlines...although those outlines are in the back on a smaller scale; I may play with those all the same. ;)

On Saturday, I had Cynthia again for two classes, with Tammy O'Connell in between teaching about sewing with leather. I did learn some things in Tammy's class, but I had a hard time staying focused. It was the next-to-last class, on the last day, I'd had a big lunch, the air conditioning was running and humming...and Tammy has a very soft voice, which wasn't helped much by the PA system, which had about a quarter second delay, so there was always a hint of an echo. But, I'll remember her tip about handling small glued bits w/tweezers...that will be a good thing to remember when DD does her science project poster, too ;)

I'd be surprised if anyone had a hard time staying alert in one of Cynthia's classes...even on the afternoon of the last day. Her buttonhole class was on making good buttonholes on a sewing machine("We're not going to make bound buttonholes; if you came in here to do bound buttonholes you're going to be disappointed"). Her sewing machine makes buttonholes backwards like mine does, and she gave some excellent advice on keeping buttonholes straight on such a set up (I smacked my was so obvious...). The final class was Pants Tweaking; I wore my modified Daphne pants and Cynthia tweaked them. I wondered why I had a diagonal fold behind my knees...turns out the crotch depth was about 1/2" too long and, um, I have a flat butt (That was news to me; I used to always add length...). She pinned out the extra and the class oohed and ahhed behind me, so I'm guessing it was a great improvement. She said the diagonal folds went away; there were no mirrors, so I'll take her word for it. Miss A measured the adjustments for me before I took the pins out, so I have some real adjustments to make to an actual pattern...and it should fit Really Well once that's done. Oh, she also recommended that I stay away from tapered pants (and I had taken some of the taper out of those)... So anyway, between Peggy's jeans class and Cynthia's Pants class, I feel like my knowledge of pants fitting increased exponentially and I can't wait to pull out that Daphne pattern and see what happens... ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Expo 07 Report: Patterns, Books and Notions

Going to the Expo not only gives access to fabric that I can't find anywhere around, it also has patterns, notions, gadgets, books, videos, DVD's, machines, buttons, laces...if it has to do with sewing (or knitting) you can probably find it somewhere.

I got three books (Or booklets; the binding and printing and artwork is pretty self-published-looking):

Louise Cutting's Cutting Across the Country In Style, which has tips on everything from choosing garments for a travel wardrobe to going through airport security to how to stand in a photo so that you look thinner (she also demonstrated that in class; I'm going to see who starts standing that way for review photos...incidentally, in one of my other classes, the instructor had some slides of RTW garments for inspiration...and one of the size 00 models was actually standing as Louise recommended! I'm sure everyone else in the class wondered why I snickered at that photo...)

I also picked up Cynthia Guffey's Simple Guide to Master Tailoring Volume 1: Jacket and Precision Measuring and Pattern Alterations I have so many notes from her classes w/hurriedly sketched pattern pieces that are, well, almost indecipherable later. This way, I have nice clean drawings and explanations to supplement my notes.

That leads to Notions:
At last year's Expo, Cynthia came into class with a pair of Kai Shears and actually stopped her lesson for a couple of minutes to sing the praises of them. The kicker was that she doesn't sell them...but she told us that Emma Seabrooke does. Of course, by the time I got down to that booth, the only ones left were for lefties. So those shears went on this year's list, and Emma's booth was my first purchase...those printed slinkies and a pair of Kai shears. Cynthia recommended another pair of scissors this year...micro tips from 'The Scissor Guy'. He was sold out by that class, so they're on the list for next year. She passed them around: needle-tipped snipping scissors that I declare could cut a single thread. I've never seen anything like them, but Cynthia said they were much, much better for cutting buttonholes than the chisel-and-block. I guess that's next year's first stop... ;)

I also got some fusible tape; I was looking for Steam-A-Seam, but that was one thing I didn't find. I got some of the soft double-sided fusible (it has paper on both sides) to try instead, and both black and white fusible bias. Since I do a lot of turn-and-stitch necklines, I thought that would be a good investment to use for stabilizing them.

And of course I bought a new package of blades for my ergonomic rotary cutter.

And patterns! I came home with...9.

Four were from Silhouettes: Me Too! One-Piece Skirt and Yoga Pant to see if DD will be interested in some more sewing experience, and Lana's Jean and Sonya's Blouse for me.

From Louise Cutting, I got AnythingBUTOrdinary, even though I had thought it wouldn't suit me. When I saw it in person, I decided I wanted it after all... ;)

I also got Diane Ericson's Skyelines pattern. I *know* her patterns are designed for tall women, but the lines on this one have appealed to me for a long time and, since I did take a class from her, I decided this would be my purchase. I'll just have to account for the difference between my body type and what she's designing for when I prepare the pattern. It does have such nice strong vertical lines... ;)

Finally, Miss A and I did make a trip to JoAnn's (actually, we visited a couple of JoAnn's and a Hancock's, searing for fabric for Easter costumes. We did find what we needed; I'll tell that story later in the week), and I got two Burda patterns, 7932, which strikes me as being very similar to Vogue 7281, only with more 'opportunities for fit'. The other Burda is 8960. And, I decided to be conservative and I only got one pattern off of my Simplicity list...3877.

Ah, so much sewing to little time in which to do it...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Expo 07 Report: Fabric

Here's the stash addition! L to R:
The first two are printed slinkies from SewKeysE (Emma Seabrooke). The first one is a cool geometric abstract in cream, black and dark royal blue w/gold accents; the second is a fushcia/black/hot pink floral w/gold accents. Not sure what knit tops I will make out of these right off the bat; I need to make up my mind about the floral one quickly; I could wear that in choir this month! I will need to be Very Careful about print placement on them, though!

The third piece is a rayon challis herringbone twill...the colors are just fabulous! It's going to be a swishy skirt; I'm thinking Loes Hinse Gore skirt w/godets...we'll see if I change my mind. I might make a 'banana' skirt (the style w/the banana-shaped gores). I've got lots of tops that will go with that.

The piece on the end is a jacket-weight cotton twill (to be worn when the choir color is orange). A topper-length coat...maybe one of Louise Cutting's what that's slated to be.

Finally, laid out in the front is 1/2 of a washable pigskin suede hide. Originally, I got it thinking I'd see if I could get a LaRue bag from it...but, heck, it's WASHABLE, so now I'm thinking I might use it for trim in a garment...or maybe even a vest front. I haven't sewn with suede before; it's 'learn new skills' time.

So, that's about 9 1/2 yards (hard to define the suede) for less than $9/yd average; I did pretty good... ;)

I'll post about patterns, notions and classes later in the week.

PS Gaylen is ISO some suggestions for a newbie sewing friend; if you've got any recommendations for beginner sewing books/patterns, go over and leave her a comment w/your suggestion and it will be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Back from Expo '07

Boy, it was a late night last night when we finally got home! Miss A and I hit 4 fabric stores on our way out of Atlanta (there was a very good reason...more on that tomorrow). I exercised Great Restraint, purchasing only about 9.5 yards of fabric at an average of about $8.60/yd. That's not counting books, notions and patterns, but all in all I came home feeling fairly good about what I got. But next year...I'm buying silk! If I have to save every sewing penny from now till then! ;)

Here's a glimpse of what I got...details later...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Off to Atlanta!

I've embellished my name tag just a bit... ;)

See you tomorrow!

Look for the report late Saturday. Meantime, for your reading pleasure, if you haven't checked out How to Buy Fabric, make sure you read it (and all the comments!) I guarantee you'll be giggling coffee through your nose if you're not careful...

And I'm really wondering if that was a truly edifying thing to read just before heading into the den of fabric temptation that is the vendor floor at the Expo... !

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Expo 07 Wear

Well, I'll be wearing the teal In the Trenches on Thursday...but here's my planned wardrobe for Friday and Saturday (unless I change my mind, which is possible but not likely... ;) ).

Say 'Hi!' if you're there!

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Considered Purchase

I was just a little bummed that my fabric shopping at the Expo was going to be focused around what I would need for choir...I didn't feel like I could just look for fabric that spoke to me. But, an email from Fashion Fabrics club announced that they are running a deal on shipping...1.95 flat rate for any purchase of $40 or more. So I did a little scouting and found two knits and some black cotton/lycra twill that will do nicely for 'necessary choir clothes'...for a total of 8 yards at just a fuzz over $5/yd, including shipping. I don't think I could've found it for cheaper at the Expo, and now I'm free to look for fabric that I love.

I can't buy much...after the 8 yards arrives, I'll be just a little over 12 yards ahead of parity...that'd be about 4 pieces of fabric. And (I'm telling myself this, anyway) I'm going to be picky. It's got to *speak* to me.

We'll see how strong my willpower is...or maybe, how vocal the fabric is this year!

Maybe I'd better wear earplugs. :P

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Frenzy Finished

In addition to these, I finished out a sleeveless shell from the remnant of the black and white stripe, and the black Jalie tank top that's been in the queue since January (well, I *did* have black thread in the serger...). I probably don't look wonderfully fresh in the photos, but this was after two church services and serving and helping clean up after our bi-monthly visitors luncheon.

We had amazing worship this morning with the Masters' Commission kids added to the choir; we had to jury-rig a riser system that would hold everyone. It was kinda funny; there were only two ladies in black and white and my DD. And no, we didn't plan it! I ended up standing next to DS on the risers...he doesn't consider himself a singer, but all of HMC is kinda drafted into their choir, so he had to join us too. I thought it was nifty, anyway.

I will probably not get the reviews written/updated until tomorrow sometime; right now, I'm tired enough that I don't know that I could be even close to coherent....

Anyway, if you're going to the Atlanta Expo...I'll be in the In The Trenches outfit on Thursday.

Yay! Only two years after I got the pattern and fabric.... :rolleyes:

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sewing Frenzy

I *did* cut the Cadeau top out yesterday morning (and a sleeveless, cowl-less, Cowl Top from the remnants), then I went to work on the ITT set.

That shirt is fiddly. REALLY fiddly. There's a huge amount of topstitching, and, due to the nature of it, a lot of tying off and burying the threads. It makes a neater finish, but, oh, man, does it take a while. But I did get the whole set nearly finished. I still have to sew the buttons on the blouse and apply the elastic to the waistband of the skirt, but that will be a quick finish. I had a scary moment when I tried the blouse on and it was too tight in the bust. I let the seam allowances out in that spot as much as I could and it still felt tight...then I realized that I still had the pleat in the back shield basted closed, which made the back smaller than it will be once the basting is removed and the pleat can open. Whew. I won't take the basting out till the shirt is done and pressed but I think I'm ok.

Once the elastic is on the skirt I can change the thread and start on the Cadeau. I'm a little concerned about it; I had trouble w/the stripes matching as I wanted them to (I see why Hot Patterns recommended cutting the sleeves on the bias; avoids the whole issue) We'll just have to see what happens when I put it together.

And, just to make me feel like I'm earning my keep, I really ought to run some laundry through the washer whilst I'm sewing. ;)

Hopefully I'll have pictures by Monday.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Black-and-White Sunday

News flash! Trinity Broadcast Network camera crews will be taping both our services this coming Sunday, the best of which will be aired nation wide at a later, unspecified date (if I ever hear what it is, I'll be sure and pass it along).

This is providing the necessary push to do something our pastor has wanted to do for a while...add the Master's Commission Student Choir to the Adult Choir for worship. However, we can't ask the penny-stretching HMC students to run out and purchase pink shirts. So, Sunday's choir attire will be basic black and white.

Black-and-white is actually in the rotation...for July. I have a lovely black and white stripe rayon/lycra knit that has been awaiting my final tweaks to the Cadeau T pattern, so I can have my own version of the shirt on the pattern illustration. The tweaks were done in January, so now it's just waaayyy down on the sewing queue.

At this point the right brain kicks in: You could do that top in the next two days and wear it Sunday morning! The logical left brain replies, well, I'm trying to finish the outfit for the Expo and besides, I'd have to (shudder) change the thread...

Oh, RB responds, the Expo outfit is going well! Another 3 hours and it's done! Besides, it doesn't have to be finished until Tuesday night...the Cadeau could be done by tonight!

Left Brain is tempted. Left Brain is very tempted. The stripe knit is already laid out on the cutting table...perhaps I will cut it out this morning, then see how much progress I make on the ITT outfit in the rest of the day and, if it continues to go well, change the thread in the morning for a line-jumping knit top.

Stay tuned. ;)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Threads Tip Implimentation

Every once in a while, a real lightbulb goes off when I'm reading the Readers' Tips section of Threads and -- this is the unusual part -- I actually remember it later. Such was the case with these nifty little bobbin wraps. This tip was in issue #129, and I asked my DH to pick up some 1/2" tubing (we figured that would work for size 15 bobbins) next time he visited Home Depot. He had to get 10 feet of it, but since it was something like 40 cents a foot it still wasn't a major investment.

When I was looking for the teal thread to match the ITT fabric the other day, I hit the !!!!! stage in dealing with the tangle of bobbin threads erupting from the boxes I kept them in and I remembered that the tubing was now in the house. By trial and error, I found that a width of about 5/16 of an inch works best; I worked with 6" - 8" lengths of the tubing, which I slit first, squished sort of flat, and cut with my old Dritz rotary cutter (the one I use to cut wallpaper, cardboard...etc).

Wow. What a difference. No more more tears... :p