Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY Duct Tape Dress Form - Part 1

 I've been wanting to make a dress form since my sewing friend, Crystal, showed me hers.  I chose to make a duct tape mannequin because 1- I don't have an extra $250 lying around to spend on one of these:


2- Even if I did buy a dress form, I am fairly certain I could not get it to match my measurements, exactly (thanks to my pear-shapness, small bust and narrow shoulders).  
3- The duct tape look is SO in right now.  
And finally, 4- Who doesn't like to be confined in duct tape for 90 minutes?

To make a dress form, this is what you'll need:
a good pair of scissors
2+ rolls of duct tape, 45 yds each
2 large trash bags
some smaller trash bags
A trusted friend or spouse 

Begin by cutting strips of duct tape in all different lengths, from 8" to 24". Trust me, do this in advance.  You're not going to want to stand there in duct tape while your friend/spouse delicately cuts more strips of tape.  Here's what my apartment looked like with 2 rolls of tape all hung up:

 ....And that's probably only half of what I cut.

If your scissors get sticky *correction* when your scissors get sticky, wipe them with a rag and some Goo-Gone.  Seriously, this stuff is awesome!

Before you are ready to get taped up, visit the restroom and get your hair up out of the way.  I put on a tank top and some swim bottoms.  I know some people who wear a bra for this but I didn't, because I belong to Las Hermanas Flanas Club.  I like the versatility of adding a padded bra to the mannequin, when needed, or going without when I'm constructing swimwear.

Cut a hole for your head in the bottom of the trash bag, and slits for the arms.  Start taping around the torso.  Make an X across your bust to separate the girls.  Diagonal pieces are also great for thighs and hips.  Carefully tape the rest of the bust.  I found it helpful to tape at different angles using smaller pieces of tape.

Yeah, looking good!  Tape under and over the arms.  I feel like a Spartan warrior.  Mr. A. used extra pieces of trash bags to go between my under arms and the tape.  He missed some spots = a free pit waxing! was not pleasant.

He added a second trash bag below the waist and cut between my legs to form the lower half of the dress form. 

It was so hard to not feel attractive at this moment.

Mr. A stuffed more plastic around my neck and taped that up.  At this point I have been all duct taped up for over an hour and a half.  I was begging him to finish quickly while simultaneously being as wiggly as a 5 year old at recess and dancing to every song on TV.  

The form needs enough layers that it will hold its shape when you remove it.  I was covered in at least 2 layers.  I should have done more, but I couldn't stay still any longer.

Before you remove the form, have your helper draw a line with a Sharpie down center back and center front, bust and waist lines.  Use the center back line as a cutting guide.

This is the beginning of freedom!  He was really good not to cut my clothes.

Cut to the middle of the butt or until you can free yourself.

Mr. A did such a good job of taping my hips that my thighs wouldn't come free while I was standing.  He said that if the muscles were relaxed (not supporting the body) he could free me.  He had me lay on the couch while he pulled the rest of it off.

And here is my completed body double!  I still have some reinforcing to do on the curved parts and I am going to fill the entire form with insulation foam next week.  I don't like looking at it - ew.  She needs a bra and is that a Five Guys food baby?  I don't think the tape around the belly was tight enough, but a girl in duct tape has to be able to breathe.  The self consciousness doesn't end.

I padded a hanger with some fabric and hung her up in our bedroom.  The butt has become more squished over the last day or so.  I'll run to the store tomorrow and get some foam so we can preserve the shape.  This is, perhaps, the weirdest thing I have ever done in the name of a good-fitting garment.  And I cannot believe I am posting all of these pictures.  I hope I have provided you with a good tutorial.

For more helpful info. on making dress forms, visit these blogs:

I'll be posting about the filling process later in the week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vogue 8766 WIP and Tips for Sewing with Lace

Last week, I decided it was time to pull out the sewing machine to make a holiday dress with the lace I bought in D.C.  Originally, I had planned on using Simplicity 2648, but didn't like the princess seams going down the skirt front.  (It would make it really hard to match the scalloped lace hem edge.)  Instead, I reached for Vogue 8667, which I've had in my stash for a year.

I chose the simple sheath dress version with no cowl and sleeves.

The black lace on my left was used:

Along with a deep blue crepe back satin (poly) as the underlining.  (The camera didn't do it justice.)

I cut out my crepe back satin pieces and used Gertie's method for attaching the lace.  It's really important, especially for the skirt pieces, that the lace placement is just so.  I basted the lace to the stain and then blind hemmed only the satin, leaving 1" of the scalloped lace edge showing.

If you look closely, you can see the basting around the edge.  I also basted around the waist darts.

Hemming is usually the last step in the construction of a garment, but since the lace edge will not be hemmed, this had to be done first.

I did make a few changes to the pattern.  I raised the neckline and removed 1/2" from the center front.  I lengthened the bodice torso by 1/4".  (I have a short waist, so those of you who have long or normal trunks, beware!)  I took 1 1/2" out of the skirt front and back.  I hemmed the satin 1" shorter than the lace edge.

Since I did a muslin first, the fitting was really easy and I had the sheath constructed in no time.  The picture below shows a partial lining:

I chose not to fully line it.  Lazy!  Well, mostly I felt that the bodice lining is functional, to cover all of the princess seams.  A skirt lining it is just preference.  My fabric is thick enough that I don't really need a slip, anyway.

I used the lining to finish the neckline.  Before I sewed this seam, I attached stay tape at 5/8" on the top of the lace/satin layer around the neckline.  Gertie explains how to do this here.  I had never done this before, but I thought it really enhanced the look of the neckline.  That, combined with the under stitching made the neckline behave and the lining is not even tempted to poke out to the right side.  Score!

All that is left to do is insert a zipper and the sleeves.  I've decided to use an invisible zipper, not a centered zipper.  I'm going to insert short sleeves with a longer lace sleeve overlay. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm Lovin' Bloglovin'

I was a Blogger girl, until one of my followers @ So I Sewed This told me I had more followers than I thought, on Bloglovin'.  I had no idea what Bloglovin' was, so I did some research.  I was not completely happy viewing blogs in the Blogger interface, so I thought I'd give this a try.

1. Bloglovin' makes it easy to follow and unfollow blogs.  I simply type in the name of a blog in the search field and choose a blog below.  Even if you follow a lot of blogs, it takes only a few minutes to add all of them to Bloglovin'.

 If I decide to unfollow a blog, it is REALLY gone.  I've had problems with Blogger letting me unfollow a blog, but then it still shows up on my interface like an unwelcome ghost.  Annoying, right?

2. Another one of my frustrations with the Blogger interface is the inability to filter posts that I had already read.

Once I read a post, Bloglovin' automatically marks it as read.  If I don't want to read the post, I can mark it as 'read'.  I can also 'mark all as read' at the top.  I can also organize my blogs into groups so I can read whatever I'm in the mood for.  Yay!

3. When I'm viewing a blog in Bloglovin', I have the option to click to a newer or older post without going back to the interface.  Shazaam!  

If you're not completely satisfied with your interface, try Bloglovin' and let me know what you think.

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pleated Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial

Last year I shared my Pleated Tree Skirt Tutorial with readers @ Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night blog.  There aren't a lot of tree skirt tutorials on the web, so here's a re-post that I hope you will enjoy.  My husband and I trekked up to the mountains on Sunday and cut ourselves a real live Christmas tree.  Then, with great satisfaction, I pulled out my ornaments and this tree skirt (and other decor) and decked the halls!  I hope you are enjoying the start of the Christmas season!


My husband and I are newlyweds and we don't have a lot of Christmas decor.  I wanted my tree skirt to be inexpensive, stylish and fun, but still give the main emphasis to the tree.

You will need:
3 7/8 yards muslin fabric
1/6 yard red fabric or 2- 2"x20" strips
4 yards red trim
1 yard red 1/2" double fold bias tape

To draft the pattern you will need:
tracing paper
long ruler

This finished tree skirt radius is 23".  If you want your skirt to be bigger or smaller, you will need to adjust your pattern accordingly. 

To make the tree skirt piece, take your tracing paper and draw a right angle 21.5" tall and 21.5" long.  Now, connect the far edges of the two lines together with a curve.  Each part of the curve needs to be 21.5" distance from the corner.  I did this by lining up my ruler at the corner at 0" and move it at different angles, marking the distance at 21.5" on the paper.

Now, mark another curve, this time 2.5" away from the right angle.  Cut out your pattern.  Discard the 'donut hole'.  Essentially, this is 1/4 of the circle tree skirt. 

To cut out your pattern, first lay out the muslin, folded.  Place your pattern on the fold so the donut hole is facing the fold.  Cut out the outer and inner curved lines but DO NOT cut out the straight line that is perpendicular to the fold line.  Instead, flip the pattern over like a mirror-image and cut on the curved lines again.  Now, holding only the top layer of fabric, cut on the straight line.  

When you unfold your tree skirt, you should have an entire circle with a donut hole, and a slit on one side.  Cut a second tree skirt piece the same way.

Next, cut out your fabric strips.  They will become your pleats.  Place the muslin on the cutting mat and cut strips 5" tall from selvage to selvage (on the crosswise grain).  You will need 6 and 1/2 strips for 42" wide fabric.

Sew the strips, right sides together, into a long chain and press open with iron.
Fold the strip in half, lengthwise, with wrong sides together.  Press.

Mark every 2" along the folded strip. Pinch the fabric at the second line from the right and match it up with the first line. Pin. Continue down the line to the end.

Iron the pleats in place.

Baste the pleat strip together  3/8" inch from raw edge. 

Pin your tree skirt pieces right sides together at the inner circle.  Stitch 1/2" from edge, then clip up to seam allowance around the curve.

Place your pleats between the outer curved edge of the two layers of the tree skirt (which are still right sides together) so that all of the raw edges match up.  As you can see, the pleats are pointing inward.  Stitch all the way around the edge 1/2" from the edge.

Turn your tree skirt right sides out and iron the inner curve flat.  Topstitch the inner curve 1/8" from the edge.  At the outer curve, pull the pleats away from the seam as you iron.
Sew the trim.

Using your rotary cutter, cut 2- 2"x20" strips of red fabric.  I used red twill, leftover from a skirt project.  Using the iron, press the strips in half, lengthwise.  Open them up and fold the edges in 3/8".  This is your binding.

Fit your binding to each of the tree skirt slit edges.  Make sure you fold the edges of the binding in at each edge.  Sew in a 'U', as shown below, to finish all the edges of the binding.

Cut your red bias tape in half.  Fold one edge of each piece inside, about 1/2". 

Stitch near the folded edge, then turn the corner and stitch all the way down to the end.  
Secure the unfinished end to the top of the tree skirt opening: place the unfinished bias tape edge to the top of the bottom side of the tree skirt and sew a square on top.

Place your finished tree skirt around the tree and secure with ties at the base.  Stand back and admire your hard work!

Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy!

P.S. - The horticulturist in me cannot resist giving this last tip.  If you end up cutting your own tree in the mountains like we did, try not to pick a pokey one.  The Colorado Spruce, with its pretty form, may call to you but you will end up with scratches, red bumps and regrets.  You may also wish you hadn't let your Mister pick the tree.  Instead, pick a softer, friendlier fir or spruce and your decorating will be filled with cheer!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Reindeer Felt Stocking

I did it! I finished Mr. P.S.'s stocking. If you remember, I took the pattern from the book Scandinavian Needlecraft.

I didn't have much success gluing the reindeer to the stocking.  Fuzzy wool and adhesive don't mix!   I had to restitch a couple of areas to include the reindeer layer and the stocking layer so hopefully it will hold.  I finished the top edge with a bias tape-esque woven trim from Hancock's.  I made a little hook and attached it on the right top seam, but it was so bulky that it made the stocking hang funny.  I moved it slightly to the inside back of the stocking.

Now on to my stocking!  I would also like to make some stocking hangers for our mantel.  I like the ones below:

 I've had hardly any time for sewing because Mr. P.S. had surgery on his hand so I've been doing all of the house stuff and driving him around.  Busy busy!