Sunday, November 24, 2013

Oh, the joys of basting...

Good evening, my dear readers! This update comes late Sunday night because I spent this weekend with some of the precious people in my life (and drove four hours one way to see them). One of those people was my beloved sewing goddess. I had a lovely weekend with my beloved friends, but I did not forget my wonderful readers, and thus you have an update! Just a small note though - I will not be updating Farm Work and Cosplay Thanksgiving weekend, for I will be spending the time with my friends and family. Updates will resume as usual following that weekend. If you all are very lucky, I might post a few pictures I have not shared with you yet. That is, however, quite up in the air, and I cannot make any promises.

Now for a tip on basting!

Many patterns and projects require you to baste two pieces of fabric together, loosely stitching them so that they stay for a neater, tighter stitching job. Now, in basting, you have a few options. First, you can just pin the two pieces of fabric together and forego all the sewing. The problems with this are that the fabric can slip and - the usual problem with pins - you have to be mindful of pulling them out as you go rather than running over them and risking breaking a pin or your needle. Your next option for basting is machine basting, which is often the preferred method. For this, you crank your machine to the longest stitch length and let 'er go. This is often extremely quick and easy (though for this and hand-basting you'll need to pin anyway), and tends to be a preferred method. The third method is hand-basting, in which you take a hand-sewing needle and your thread and you make big swooping stitches just meant to tack the two pieces together. All these methods are made for easy removal later, because these basting stitches won't be in the finished project.

Now, here's where my tip comes in. Machine basting is tempting and handy in a pinch, but MAKE SURE THE FABRIC FORGIVES NEEDLE MARKS BEFORE YOU MACHINE BASTE.

Did I get your attention? Okay, here's the deal. When you sew on a piece of fabric, you leave needle marks wherever the needle pushed through. You're probably not going to notice these marks very much when they're part of a seam in a garment, and you'll just see the thread. The trick comes when you rip out the stitches, as you almost always do with basting. As soon as the stitches are removed, the holes are revealed. In some fabrics, these holes don't show up much. They're practically invisible, as though you never stitched in that spot. These fabrics are forgiving. Other fabrics hold nasty, nasty grudges. As soon as you rip the stitches, you see these holes that almost seem gaping, and no matter how gently you take the stitches out, they're still there. The soft, simple cotton I used for Belle's bodice is not very forgiving, as I discovered after machine basting the inner and outer shells together and then ripping the stitches to find noticeable marks in the fabric. Thankfully, in that case, a wash made them far less visible (and you can't really find them now), but I still freaked out when I first saw the marks.

If you want to test how forgiving the fabric is, take a scrap of it - doesn't need to be big - and run a stitch down it the way you normally do. Then, take it out the same way you normally would and see if there's any damage. If the marks are too visible for your preferences or you see any other problems, just hand-baste or pin it all together. Trust me, that's better than freaking out over holes in your fabric.

This has been a tip on basting from your friendly neighborhood cosplayer! Have a lovely Thanksgiving, dear readers, and I'll see you again the week following! Remember, I will be taking Thanksgiving weekend off to spend time with friends and family (and possibly have a photoshoot). I send to you all my love and best wishes! Goodnight, and safe travels!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A few bodice tips

Hello, dear readers! So, at present, I'm working on a bodice for a friend. Yes, Jae-ha is on the back burner at the moment, but I promise he'll get done, and he'll be worked on soon. Mostly I was waiting for my first paycheck from the new job so that I have more funds to buy nice fabrics and materials so I can make him as pretty as his vain self deserves to be, and I already have the materials for the bodice. In the spirit of my current task, I offer you some tips and tutorials on bodices!

The pattern I'm using at present isn't really a pattern, per se, but rather a set of instructions for making a custom bodice. This is the same set of instructions I used when making Belle's bodice, and it can be modified for use with any bodice or corset shape. Plus, it's not as hard as it sounds! This post on Confessions of a Seamstress details how to make Belle's bodice, skirt, and blouse. The bodice is described in the most detail, and if you plan to make any sort of bodice or corset, I do recommend at least reading this tutorial. It helps a lot, and there are photos of almost every step in the process. For the skirt, though, my sewing goddess found this fantastic tutorial on full, gathered skirts which even includes links to tutorials on invisible zippers. I do recommend the above link, as I found it pretty easy to follow and it turned out the lovely skirt you see in my Belle cosplay. I intend to use the same tutorial for making a skirt for the same friend, but I'm going to be a wretch and make her do part of the sewing on that. She said she wanted to learn how to sew, after all....

Anyway, a few tips I've gleaned! First, use this tutorial to make a custom pattern for your bodice. Make sure you have a full roll of duct tape, two if you think one won't be enough, and a ratty old shirt. Also, I recommend wearing the bra you plan to wear under the costume so the fit is just right. Be mindful when cutting the pattern off because you can slice your own bra by accident. This did happen to me, but my sewing goddess repaired it. You WILL need a friend if you want to use this on yourself.

Second tip! For the inner layer of lining and interfacing, it doesn't matter so much how visible your marks are on the lining. Make the lines very visible on the interfacing, and as long as you have enough lining fabric, you should be able to line things up just fine. Use those crisp, clear marks on the interfacing (chances are they'll look better than the marks on the lining no matter how you do it) to pin correctly. Pin with the marked side out so you can easier sew along it when you're putting pieces together.

Next, boning! I used plastic boning, the kind you can machine-sew over. Make sure your boning curls in towards your body, or you could risk wearing a hole through the outside layer of the bodice. It also can look a little tacky if it's always curving out. Also, before you put the boning in, I recommend soaking it in hot water and then flattening it overnight under heavy books. This will help some with the curling and make it easier to work with. And MAKE SURE you leave room for your eyelets between the boning and the bias tape on the front of your bodice. You don't want strangely spaced eyelets that look too far in on the garment. I also personally would err on the side of more boning than I needed, just because it helps with the structure of the garment.

Lastly for now, if you're gonna put in eyelets, don't use that little kit that comes with some boxes of eyelets. Splurge a little and get an eyelet punch. Trust me, they're worth it. I've used mine for plenty more things than just adding eyelets to garments, and it's definitely paid for itself many times over. Eyelets punches are wonderful.

That's all I've got for you at the moment, but I have a little project in the works. Hopefully that will come to light soon and I can start sharing it with you all! (And since the first paycheck has officially come in, methinks a trip to the fabric store is in order soon.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Singleness [and moving updates to the weekends]

Good evening, dear readers! I'm sorry for the late update. I'm officially moving updates to the weekend for the time being, as they're hard for me to keep up with during the week. Until I get myself acclimated to my new schedule, weekends are much easier for me to manage. Thus, you should look for updates on Sundays! I won't guarantee I'll get them up any earlier than that, so just check in on Sundays (or whenever you see the tumblr or facebook mention of a new post). I plan to try to return to a middle-of-the-week update schedule later, once I'm more settled in my new job, but until then, I'm going to do what it takes for me to keep things going.

All that housekeeping aside, this week I hope you'll indulge me as I talk about something that's been on my mind lately: Singleness.

So as many of you know, I recently started a new job! This is a wonderful step in my life since I'm now an editor officially. The schedule is taking some acclimating, but I'm adjusting gradually and learning to better budget and manage my time. At any rate, in this job, I find myself surrounded by young women in the same age bracket as I. Many of these women, in their early to mid twenties, are already married. This, along with a comment made by a single young woman in conversation with me, got me thinking. The young woman said she didn't like the film "Brave" because Merida did not have an actual love interest; the movie had no "Disney Prince" to sweep in and create a romance. She made it clear that this was the sole reason she didn't like the movie.

The strong, independent female was the POINT of "Brave". Merida didn't need a man to make her interesting. She had her journey to travel and character development to undergo, and she didn't need a man for any of it. She stood on her own, and that was the point. To throw in a prince as her love interest would have undermined her agency as a character. She wanted to choose her own fate rather than have it chosen for her by a marriage she did not desire.

We as women are told so often through the media, through other people, women included, and through the overall attitude of society that we need a mate to be validated. We're told that yeah, it's okay to be single, as long as you're aiming towards getting a significant other eventually. It's okay to be single...for now. But you're eyeing up every guy as a potential romance, right? You're assessing whether or not he could be your Special Someone, right? This eliminates the idea that any guy can be your friend. Never mind that an excellent foundation for a relationship is friendship. Every guy has to be a potential relationship.

This idea that a woman is less valuable when she doesn't have a man is extremely prevalent in Christian circles, and since I'm a Christian I kind of tend to run in those circles. The local Christian college, where I now work, was known in my old school and in the community at large as a place girls went to get an "MRS" degree. It was a college you went to in order to get a boyfriend, and eventually a husband, not an education. This whole attitude, this whole mentality, frustrates me to no end. Bettering yourself should not be the means to the end of gaining a husband. Educate yourself. Learn, grow, experience the world, and don't do it just so you can be a better girlfriend or possibly meet this great guy. Do it for you, because you're worth it. If you happen to meet someone and fall head over heels, great!

Ladies, you're valuable with or without a mate. It's okay to be single. It's okay if you never find someone you want to settle down with. It's okay if you never want to settle down. It's okay if you find the idea of taking on a romantic relationship nauseating or unappealing. Make friends with guys and girls. Form meaningful, long-term relationships of the platonic variety. Forge friendships that will last a lifetime. You matter for you, not for your potential as a wife or mother. By the same token, if you find the person you want to be with in high school, great! If you find that person in college, fantastic! If you find them walking down the street one day outside the local Gamestop, excellent! You're valuable whether or not you're in a relationship. For the Christian young women out there, don't ever let anyone tell you that you have to be married to have value. In the Old Testament, we remember Deborah the prophetess for her prophecies and for accompanying a warrior into battle. Her husband is mentioned once, and only once. In I Corinthians 7, Paul encourages men and women to remain single, not to pursue marriage. Read it for yourselves if you have any doubt!

In conclusion.... Please, my dear readers, don't take your value from your relationship status. Don't look down on someone because they're single, or because they're not single. When you enter a relationship, you're not joining with your other half. You're an individual, complete and whole as you are, choosing to be with another individual. And if you never enter a relationship, you're not missing half of yourself. You're whole the way you are. Your significant other can improve you, yes - I'm not disputing that - but they are not the source of your value. Dear readers, please remember that whatever state you're in, you matter. Work on yourself. Don't rely on someone else to shape you or magically transform you into a better person. The power is in your hands, not someone else's.