Friday, April 8, 2016

Game of Thrones Inspired Messenger Style Bag

I love the costumes from Game of Thrones, embellished elaborately with detailed hand embroidery, 3D embroidery and bead work. Michelle Carragher is a true artist. I have arthritis, so I do most of my embroidery by machine these days. The good news is that you don't always need an embroidery machine for this. You can do a lot with the basic and embroidery stitches on regular sewing machines, as I have here. I made my version of Cersei Lannister's red dress a while back. This time I decided to try something different. I love this dress worn by Sansa Stark, especially the neckline.  I thought something similar might look good on a bag.

I started by creating embroidered fabric, using the straight and leaf stitches on my Bernina and several different thread colors.  This took several hours, as the fabric is thick and dense, and some of the stitches just sank in to the nap. I embellished the pieces for the sides and the flap in this manner.

 The bag construction was fairly easy. I added a zippered pocket and an open, divided pocket to the lining as well as a cellphone pocket and magnetic snap under the flap.

 Once I had constructed the bag and inserted the lining, I added rolled roses, rosebuds, and leaves to the flap.

 I learned to make rolled roses years ago from the works of  Elly Sienkiewicz, who has written many books on Baltimore Album Quilts and dimensional applique. My roses were made using two different fabrics, both to reduce bulk(the bag fabric is very heavy) and to create depth. 

I made raw edged leaves by sewing two velvety leaf pieces together, right sides facing outwards. Stitched leaf veins add texture.

I am pleased with the finished bag. It is big enough to hold my stuff and my iPad if necessary, and small enough for a person (like me) who prefers small purses.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Baby Crazy Quilt

I used to do a lot of quilting. It kept me sane when my kids were young and I was constantly changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking, etc. At a time when almost all the work I did was temporal, I loved quilting because I was creating something that lasted. As the kids grew up, I started doing alterations and custom wedding gowns. I also worked as a Costumer for nearly 15 years. I sewed all the time, and the quilt fabrics got pushed to the back of the stash. 

Things have finally slowed down a little. Close friends were expecting a child in December. The urge to make a baby quilt was strong- and I had time! I have always loved crazy quilts and their rich variety of colors, textures, and design elements. Our friends have a life that is a lot like a crazy quilt- highly variable, and full of the unexpected. I decided to make them an all cotton crazy quilt of predominantly antique colors.

I started by going through my embroidery designs, choosing those that fit them or us or both. 

Once I had stitched out a dozen or so, I cut four 20" square blocks out of tightly woven cotton sheeting. Each piece would eventually be a large crazy quilt block. I dug out fabrics and lace from the back of the stash and purchased a couple special pieces. The first block was the hardest to make. It is more difficult to create scraps out of whole cloth than you might think. Once I got into the swing of it the process became easier.

I quickly learned that I needed a lot more embroidered pieces. I made them all on my embroidery machine.

After arranging the pieces and pinning them in place, I used the buttonhole and feather stitches on my Bernina to hold everything together decoratively.

After sewing the four blocks together, I added a few three dimensional elements.

The quilt is filled with cotton batting and tied. The backing fabric was folded over to the front for simple self binding. 

I enjoyed making it, looking at it, and gifting it.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Steampunk Gunslinger- Key to my Heart

I really enjoyed designing and making this costume. I am not sure why I find the whole leather and lace, metal and fabric thing so compelling, but I do. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of femininity and strength on display. At any rate, this was both complicated and fun to make.

I challenged myself to work primarily from my stash. In the case of the skirt, this meant creating the fabric I needed for the middle of the three layers. I knew what I wanted and was willing to violate my "work from the stash" rule for this but could not find what I wanted anywhere- a tan with black satin stripe, like you used to see in jacket linings. But once again, necessity was the mother of invention! I started with some pale yellow taffeta from the stash and a partial package of tan dye. After doing a couple test samples I got just the right color. I used my embroidery machine to add the Kraken and tentacles designs by Urban Threads. I made the stripes with a tiny black zig zag stitch. In the end I was glad I did not find the right fabric, because I like what happened so much more.

I made a cross hatched pattern of pintucks in black thread for the front side panels. I used a tape measure and iron to mark guide lines. The lace edged underskirt was part of a thrifted skirt in my stash.

Here is the finished product. Lots of labor, but it was worth it!

The outer skirt is made of black cotton twill embellished with rivet trim, brass buttons, and embroidery on the back.

The corset is made of a very sturdy upholstery fabric, boned with rigilene, and lined with black satin. It has heavy duty grommets down the back, a modesty panel, and a halter strap. The overlay on the front is made of high end pleather. I embroidered a gold keyhole, cut out the center, and backed it with a shimmery red fabric. The functional black and silver zipper is surrounded by metal brads.

I upcycled a pair of leather gloves I bought for $2 at the thrift store. After removing the wool lining, I cut off the fingers and made tucks on the back of the hand and inner wrist to shape them. Then I added an assortment of embellishments, most of them from my collection. The only ones I bought for this costume were the spikes on the knuckles.

The hat was inspired by one worn by Lady Rosalind in an episode of Downton Abbey.

It is made out of craft foam and satin taffeta. 

I have never used craft foam as a hat base before, but it seemed like it might work, and I am nothing if not experimental. It actually worked out really well. I embroidered the taffeta before covering the hat. There is embroidery on both the front of the hat and the underside of the (turned up) brim. The face veil added the final touch. To help keep the hat on the head, I added bobby pin loops to the underside. 

The gun belt is a mix of leather and buckles from my stash and a thrift store belt. I made a paper pattern for the holster by draping it over the gun. I added an all seeing eye embroidery design to the holster, and sewed a tiny diamond button in the center of the eye.

The gun is a nerf gun painted with craft paint.

The finishing touches- choker, earrings, and rose in the hair- all begin with freestanding lace made on the embroidery machine. I added chains, metal rounds, and a key to the choker and metal feathers to the earrings. The rose was sewn to a hair clip.

The outfit can be worn with or without the shrug, which I had previously made from high end cream colored pleather and stretch lace. The back features an openwork embroidered circle. The sleeves are trimmed with lace and brass buttons, and the front is decorated with a Victorian style pin.