Steampunk Love

I don’t know what it is about the whole steampunk look that I find so alluring. I’m not a science fiction or fantasy fan but the steampunk look has become so popular in the crafting world that I can’t help but fall in to it. To be honest, I didn’t immediately love it, and actually I was kind of repulsed by the whole human + victorian/wild west machinery hybrid, but now I’m finding I can’t get enough.  I’m really inspired by the  aesthetic of the 1960’s movie “The Great Race” starring Natalie Wood (her clothing wardrobe is pure eye candy throughout the film).

Image courtesy of http://www.operagloves.com

Wouldn’t these outfits look so elegant if they were displayed on mannequins in a couture dressmaker’s shop?! But not  just any mannequin would do…which brings me to my first serious embroidery project (a gorgeous steampunk inspired pattern that Urban Threads offered for free a little while ago) that I finished recently as part of my sister’s birthday present:

Photography isn’t my strong point and I couldn’t take a single picture that would be true to the actual colors of the threads I used (which were nothing fancy), so I *tried* to correct it. Meh.

Anyways I saw this pattern and I got started right away. It’s so inspiring (like so many of the patterns at Urban Threads). It really spoke to me, I imagined that the message was that possibilities with sewing are endless. There are (some) days where I’m stitching away and I feel like my heart is just flying with contentment as my fabric feeds under the presser foot, butterfly wings are such a pretty way to express that feeling. Here’s a closeup of the wings:

All images property of Beautifully Sewn

So that’s that, my first serious piece of embroidery. It wasn’t easy and there are plenty of mistakes that are evident to someone more experienced, but I still love the way it turned out!

Also, I learned the hard way that if you keep your fabric in the hoop when you aren’t working on your embroidery, it will be a real pain to try and take out the marks afterwards. Always, ALWAYS take it out of the hoop when you aren’t working on it. Lesson learned!

This song has been stuck in my head ever since I watched The Great Race, now it’s going to be stuck in yours, enjoy (either version)!

Happy Holidays!

Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to Sew by Yuka Koshizen – Review

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Yuka Koshizen’s sewing book “Carry Me: 20 Boutique Bags to Sew” and I immediately  fell in love with the bag (titled the “Left Bank Granny Bag” in the book) and had to make it right away.

Image courtesy of Amazon

I put all my other sewing projects on hold (impulsive stitching, I know, I know) and got started. This was my first time sewing from a Japanese craft book and while I’ve been admiring Japanese craft books for some time now, I’ve been intimidated by the instructions for no good reason. They’re so easy to follow! Yes they do require you to check out the precise measurements before you cut your fabric, and yes, you do have to draft the pattern  yourself based on instructions provided but after this book I realized that I love this process so much more than tracing and cutting out paper patterns.

I often have mixed feelings about accessory craft and sewing books because while I like one or two projects, I feel the rest are fillers and not challenging enough. But this book took my breath away, each and every single project is so tastefully designed and doesn’t give off the Vera Bradley vibe (which I do like, but not for every single bag I make). You can even make your own suitcase!

Anyways, after two days of obsessive stitching…voila!

All images property of Beautifully Sewn, 2011

All images property of Beautifully Sewn, 2011

As you can see, the stitching is not as beautiful as I would have liked but  my only defense for that is that my old machine (from the 1980’s) was acting up. I added a zippered pocket on the inside, and used a heavyweight non-woven fusible interfacing on the bag lining. The instructions call for interfacing on the outside bag and the lining but my outside fabric was pretty sturdy (a corduroy home decor remnant that I bought years ago when I worked in a fabric shop) so I skipped that. I used a mystery rayon fashion fabric for the lining and it was kind of finicky because it was slippery. The fabrics kept unraveling so I used a zigzag stitch for most of the construction to limit fraying. I hand stitched blue bias tape along the top bands for a decorative finish.

I love that the instructions for pleating are all up to the individual stitcher, that way you can personalize the design details to suit your taste. There are no closures but it should be easy enough to include them as you like. Be warned that this bag is incredibly roomy (my mom used it as a weekender bag) and if you’re looking for something smaller you can scale it down.

Not all the projects are this time-efficient and while I would love to make my own suitcase, it just seems like a project I’d start and never finish because of all the details. Some of the other projects that caught my eye in this book were a laptop bag, beachbag, and cute circle shaped cross-body bag. All in all, I absolutely love this book and would actually like to make every single project in it if I didn’t get so distracted by other projects (hehe). I highly recommend it to an intermediate sewer (if sewing bags is your thing), only because an absolute beginner might have some trouble figuring out the pattern diagrams, but that being said, if you love it as much as I do just dive in and make it  regardless of where you are with sewing because the projects are practical and extremely well constructed and you’ll build on your skills.

I wish I had taken pictures of the inside of the book and time to make more of the projects  in it but I borrowed the book from the library and didn’t get around to it before it was due back. Ah well, I’ll probably end up buying it anyways!

First blog post and two completed dresses!

I’m so excited to be posting my first entry! To celebrate I thought I’d share two projects I recently completed for a client of mine who is also the model for my pictures. She has a total hourglass figure and sewing for her was such a pleasure as the finished dresses drape so beautifully on her! As always, I followed the steps in sewing patterns and they were easy as pie. This was also my first time sewing with polyester knit fabric, I’ve always been wary of knits because I don’t have a serger yet but I’m not afraid anymore! Hemming was kind of tricky because polyester knit’s aren’t easy to press and they keep rolling around under the presser foot, so I used fusible hem tape  before finishing the hems and I highly recommend it to others.

The first one is McCalls M6070. I made this for her to wear to her niece’s baptism. I made minor changes by using a single piece of  2 inch elastic in the midriff waistband casing instead of two 1/4 inch pieces at the top and bottom of the band like the pattern called for.

Don’t you just love the way the design details on her shoes match perfectly with the print? It really complements her dress!

And the second one was for the same client, I used New Look 6936 and a polyster knit print (so easy to sew!) You can’t see it but I added a satin ribbon casing on the inside of the waistband for added comfort.

All images property of Beautifully Sewn, 2011

Her pose reminds me of a 1950’s model, so classic!

And there you have it, my first foray into beautiful sewing with knit polyester fabric!

Stay tuned for more projects, tips, and tutorials (there is one currently underway). I know its a bit bare at the moment but I’ll add some more stuff in the coming days. Thanks for stopping by!

Please don’t distribute my images without acknowledging me and my blog. I don’t mind if you like my work and want to show others but  just credit me and link back to the original post, please and thank you.