Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Arts in the Afternoon

I'm currently much more comfortable with clothes patterns than before, so I had no trouble resizing a simple Barbie pattern to fit a Living Dead Doll. The outfit is "Arts in the Afternoon" from Mari DeWitt's book "Vintage Clothing for the Fashion Doll."

First, here is the outfit as shown in the book. I have made this for Barbie, and as it is a fairly simple design, I wanted to try it in a different size.

Here is the original pattern in the book and the reduced pattern for the Living Dead Doll.

Here are the pieces about halfway through the process. I'm not going through the process here, because of copyright issues, but you can see for yourself how this is done.

And here is the other side of the same piece. The lining is attached to the outer part, which makes sewing a lot easier. Of course you could just as well make this without a lining, which is what I usually do just to keep the seams thinner.

After this, you just sew the side seams and attach a closing mechanism, in this case pieces of velcro, and the top is finished. I made the skirt out of a rectangular piece of fabric, which I put around the doll to see where and how many darts were needed. The skirt is also lined using the same fabric as in the picture above.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The bunny bag

I finished the bag I mentioned in the previous post. It's made of slightly stretchy peach colored fabric with cotton and padding for the lining and the bunny picture on the flap. The picture below shows all the pieces. The structure is mostly the same as in the bag with geometrical patterns I made earlier.

This bag has a lining, and it is made in the same way as in the makeup bag, except the top is open. I first stitched the cotton and padding together close to the edges and then sewed the pieces together, leaving 1 cm seam allowances. The inside pocket was made before stitching the cotton and padding together.

I used velcro for closing as I had no buckles left. The front of the bag has vertical pieces of velcro for adjustment, while the underside of the flap has a long horizontal piece. The order of making the flap is as follows: sew the velcro into the underside piece of the flap, stitch all layers together near the edges, sew bias binding to the side and bottom edges of the flap, and finally sew the flap to the back piece of the bag.

The next step was to sew the front, back and side pieces together to form the outside of the bag. Once that is done, turn the bag right side out and insert the lining.

This is the finished bag. You can either turn the upper edges of the lining outside and stitch the edge or use bias binding for the edge. I had some issues with measurements, and it was easiest to cut the upper edge of the lining along the upper edge of the outside and use bias binding.

The shoulder strap was a bit tricky to sew in place, because of the number of layers of fabric, but my sewing machine was just able to manage it. Any more layers would have been impossible. Like with the first bag, I did not make an adjustable strap, because I haven't been adjusting the strap of the bag I originally used as the model, so that length is just right. Note also that I sewed the strap in place last. Normally it should have been sewn before attaching the lining, but as the outside fabric was stretchy, I wanted to attach the strap also to the non-stretchy lining to help the bag keep its shape.

Here is the outside of the finished bag. There are some errors that are due to the peach fabric being stretchy, but I decided to ignore them. This was basically a prototype, just for testing what the result would be like. And the most important lesson I learned is that using stretchy fabrics for something like this isn't a good idea.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Last couple of weeks

The only finished item for the last couple of weeks is a skirt. It took ages and I was starting to feel quite desperate with all the alterations that had to be made to make it fit the customer (another student for whom I was making it). However, I managed to finish it and it looks nice, although I can't stop thinking of all the things that went wrong with it and had to be fixed.

I think the best thing I learned with this was how to sew a zipper that's totally hidden when it's closed. It took a couple of tries, but the result looks nice.

We also learned another way to sew a zipper for a skirt. This one was done on a piece of fabric as it was just an exercise. I used the skirt fabric as I was doing this before starting to sew the skirt and wanted to practice a bit with the fabric as the teachers said it wouldn't be the easiest fabric to sew. They were right, it was slippery and difficult to keep in check in addition to being really resistant to ironing (just couldn't get it flat no matter how hard I tried).

The next project will be a vest, which I'll be making for myself based on one I've had for 10 years or so. However, next week is the spring break and on week 10 we won't be going to school because of the new restrictions laid out this week. There haven't been any cases in our school in several weeks, so I think the measures we've had in place would have been enough, but obviously people in charge think otherwise.

So, after the break it'll be some theory on textile materials, plus sewing some pockets for the vest. And of course I've got my private projects, the current one being one in which I'm using the bunny picture from the previous post. I'll be posting about that once it's ready.

On a final note, Lidl again had one of the sewing thread sets I really like. The thread isn't the best quality, but it works for doll clothes at least. The reason I like it so much is that you get a good selection of colors, and every color also comes in spools, so you don't need to do that yourself. I think it's a good deal for 6.99€.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Got inspired by shadow quilting

I read about shadow quilting, and one of the teachers showed some of her work in the similar vein, so I wanted to try something like that. For the first attempt, I took a picture from a coloring book and recreated it using scraps of fabric. I used textile glue to attach the pieces from one or two places to stop them from getting misplaced before the stitching.

After finishing the picture, I covered it with tulle and stitched on top of it to get everything to stay in place and flat. Here you can see also the original picture. When it comes to copyrights, this is fine as long as I'm keeping the resulting picture myself.

This is how the reverse side looks after stitching. Here the whiskers are also in place (they're not in the picture above).

And here is the final picture, whiskers and all.

This was fun to make, and I have already started another one, which will also be a copy of an existing picture. After that, I think I'll start trying to create my own pictures and maybe also try using different kinds of fabrics. It would be nice to get some 3D effect in the pictures as well, so thicker fabrics in some places could be worth experimenting with.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Using the rest of the bag fabric

After making a basket out of the bag fabric, there was still some of it left. It was enough for making the smaller makeup bag, so that's what I decided to use it for.

The first photo shows the parts needed for it. There's one set for the outside and another for the lining.

First, I assembled the lining. There's some padding attached to the parts of the lining, but it's thinner than in the previous versions I've made.

The next stage was assembling the outside. The zipper goes to this one. I also did some additional stitching here that I didn't do in the previous ones. The fabric was so thick and stiff that it was best to stitch the seam allowances flat.

When both parts were ready, the last stage was to put the lining inside and stitch beside the zipper to attach the outside, zipper and lining to each other.

Here is a photo of the bag with the zipper closed. I'm planning to use this with the bag for all the small stuff I usually carry with me (meds, tissues, band-aids, etc.).

And there was still some fabric left. It took me a while to figure out what to do with it, but the pocket I made for the big tote bag gave me an idea. I used the rest of the fabric for making a cover for my small diary that I keep with me at school.

First I cut the pieces using the diary to get the measurements right. Then I sewed bias biding to the edges of the inside pieces and stitched the inside pieces in place (it's easier to do the bias binding when the pieces stay together).

Then I sewed bias binding all around the edges. I'm starting to love bias binding. You get so neat edges with it.

Here is the inside, with the diary in place. It's a really close fit. If the remaining piece of fabric had been even slightly smaller, the cover would have been too small.

This cover is so much nicer than the orange color in the diary covers. I bought it from a sale at half price and there were only orange ones left.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

More baskets

I have this shelf for which I've been looking for storage boxes of suitable size, but with no luck. After making those little baskets at school, I decided to modify the measurements of the pattern to suit the shelf and make some more of them. This is the result:

The red one is lower than the others, because of the measurements of the piece of fabric I had. I wanted the bottom of the basket to have the same size as in the others, so the sides had to be lower. It still works fine for the purpose.

The one with elephants is made of white fabric and only the front has pictures as I wanted to save most of that fabric for later use. The basket will be in the shelf most of the time, so the other sides won't show anyway.

The one with patterns was tricky, because there was no way to align the patterns. The fabric is from an old jacket and it was impossible to get pieces that could be aligned, so I decided to be content with aligning the types of stripes.

I've got another similar shelf in the living room, so I may end up making more of these later. These are so easy to make to fit the given space exactly. I wouldn't make these any bigger, though, or it would need to be from very stiff fabric. Even these are a bit floppy, but once you fill them with stuff (in this case, mostly fabrics), they will keep their shape quite nicely.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Summary of week 5

Yesterday we collected everything we had made during the past couple of weeks on the big table at the back of the classroom. It was nice to see what others had been doing. Of course you see glimpses of other people's projects all the time, but as you're mostly concentrating on what you're doing yourself, you can't pay too much attention to them.

Here's my part of what was on display. I've already posted about the other things, but the little baskets on the back are new. 

The first basket wasn't exactly a success. The fabrics fit nicely together, but the lining fabric was really slippery. The seams of the outside and the lining aren't aligned correctly, and the edge of the lining isn't straight. Still, it's not a total catastrophe, and after making it, I knew what I should be paying attention to.

The second one looks much better, although the lining looks a bit creased on the inside. It was probably too big, although I tried to cut the pieces accurately. The pattern for the basket is a cross formed of five squares. However, I had to make this from five separate pieces to get the pattern upright on all sides. There's still some of that bag fabric left even after this, so there will be at least one more item made of it at some point.

The last one is made of the felt I used for making felt boots for dolls (the projects for writing the latest book). I wanted to use the felt for something in which the surface of the felt would be left visible, and this was good item for experimenting. This basket is made of three pieces: one long strip and two squares. I didn't want to cut the cross shape out of the felt as the remaining felt would have had an awkward shape. It was left in a more usable shape after cutting it this way.

I used a big needle and thick red thread for the stitching as I wanted it to be as visible as possible. I also increased the stitch length quite a bit, because longer stitches look nice in something like this. 

The main problem was that the bottom was convex after sewing the corners. That was solved by stitching the bottom edge as shown on the right in the photo above. The optimum way of making the basket using material like this would be to cut the material in cross shape and stitch all of the bottom edges in this way.

The photo below shows this basket in progress. It wasn't too hard sewing it, but you need to make sure that the edges are even and that you don't go too close to the edge, although you shouldn't go too far either.

The best thing of the week came around 4 PM on Friday. I got email from the study advisor. There are some theory courses that are common to all students, regardless of what vocation they're studying for. When you've got previous degrees and work experience, you can get some courses credited. I get to skip all courses in Finnish, English and Swedish as I've studied all of them quite extensively in the university and also worked as an English-Finnish translator for 25 years. I also got credit for the computer course I took in the open university. 

There are a few courses for which I need to go and talk with the teacher and may get them credited, if they think I know enough about the subject. That leaves some courses the advisor said I have to attend, mainly mathematics, physics and chemistry. No surprises there, the last time I had anything to do with those was 30 years ago. I mean, not considering what you need in everyday life, such as calculating discounted prices, making a budget for yourself, knowing that the only thing you should add to chlorine is water, etc.