Too Good to be True?
It's the holy grail of every person who makes and (tries to) fit garments to their own measurements - a pattern pre-generated to your own shape. So, when I stumbled upon the Bootstrap Fashions website, I knew I had to give it a try. That, and the pattern prices were very reasonable.
I decided on two blouse designs to give it a try; a sleeveless yoke-front blouse, and a sleeveless blouse with asymmetrical ruffle.
When you set up an account with Bootstrap fashions, you can take your body measurements, and save them to apply to any pattern you are buying. In addition, you can choose to apply some common fit adjustments like fuller bust or longer legs. If you're feeling really confident about your ability to take specific measurements for fit, you can choose a "Pro-fit" option that will allow you to manipulate the less common fitting-points of a pattern, like armhole height and bust width. You can also choose to include seam allowance for an extra 50 cents.
Bootstrap fashions includes pretty detailed step-by-step construction steps, but no pictures. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend this to a beginning sewer. For example, this blouse has a button-closure front, and so the instructions (and pattern) includes a button stand. If you've never made a shirt with this kind of button closure, it can be difficult to understand from words alone.
Ta Da! All done! I didn't know really what to expect, but I think it turned out really nicely. I didn't have to worry about the bust or waist length - which are usually a nightmare to fit on my shape, especially on a button front blouse.
The only problem I had with the fit of this blouse is in the shoulder/armseye. I chose the wider-shoulder fit option, and it turns out I really didn't need to. If I make this pattern again, I will shorten the length of the shoulder, and make the armseye a little bigger.
And, spoiler, this was the main fit issue on the other pattern I tried. For this shirt, I used a soft denim chambray with a palm-tree print and beautiful drape:
And the shirt all done! Like I mentioned above - I still want to go back and adjust the fit of the arms/shoulders, but the fit everywhere else was pretty good. The shirt is a little movement-restrictive along the upper bust, where the yoke seam is, but I think that's down to style, not sizing.
After these two shirts - I've not been scared off from trying more! I plan to make adjustments in how I take (and enter) measurements.
What is really really tempting is that Bootstrap Fashions has a custom dress-dummy pattern generator, specifically for plus size ladies. I'm sure it will take more than one go (on my part), but the thought of having a custom dummy for my other costume and apparel projects...mouthwatering!
Blue Bee Final
We're so close to being done (or as done as these things ever are) with the Blue Bee dresses!
We've also come to the thing that I have been dreading the most - hats. In the past, hats have been Rachel's thing, so it was kinda my turn now. We looked at so many pictures of hats, but mostly took our inspiration from hats like these:
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to start with a proper buckram frame from a milinry supply store. In the past, we've managed to make head pieces with what we already had, but for the crisp lines of the kinds of hats we'd been looking at, I knew the expense of a buckram hat frame would be worth it.
From there, making the pattern to cover the frame is not unlike making an upholstery pattern, just in miniature. I turned the hat upside down and carefully traced around the top edge, then went back and added seam allowance. For the sides, I found the dress trim to be almost perfect in width. I trimmed off the gold edges of the trim, then cut lining pieces for the top and sides out of the cream dupioni silk lining of the coat.
With the outer pieces sewn together, I whip stitched/basted the edges down, just covering the metal hat band in the bottom of the buckram frame and hiding most of my stitches in the edges of the gold trim on the outside. I didn't have to worry about it being too pretty inside, as it would be covered by the lining.
Being a Renaissance hat, I added a large grey ostrich feather from Rachel. I had been making the coif and hat at the same time, so you can see it here on Ms. Foame with the plain coif. I ended up covering the end of the feather with a large button made of blue linen and a tree-of-life charm, but alas I didn't get a good picture of it here.
One more thing was definitely needed to secure the hats - a hat pin. I searched online to see if there were ones I could purchase - and there were. Except they were art pieces, or set with precious gems, or antiques. So, kind of at the last minute, I ordered supplies to make my own. Plus - hey another place to have a bee! I used glass beads in blue and yellow, a bee charm, and bits and pieces left over from other jewelry projects, all secured with E6000 glue. I also added a little chain swag to the side of the hat, just for that little bit of extra oomph.
The pin up close. I think it turned out great!
Full disclosure - I put this on Ms. Foame after the faire to take a picture to add to the bottom of this post. The day of the faire, the court asked us to bling out our garb as much as possible, so Rachel and I threw on our tiaras from our green German dresses. And although I wouldn't have come up with it on my own, I do think it's just the right amount of theatricality. I can't wait for you to see the whole show that is the Blue Bee Dress all together in the next post!
Born into the Geekery
I've posted a couple times before, but we have a baby in our lives now! He has no escape. He will be exposed to all things geeky and creative. I was itching to expose him, and at two months old we scheduled his first costumed appearance at the Great Plains Renaissance Festival.
My parents were watching him for the weekend anyway while we volunteered in costume. It made sense to present him at court. I wanted to be as historically accurate as possible, but primary sources for the dressing of infants under about 18 months is scarce.
The information I could find indicated infants were pretty much swaddled 24/7 until they were ready to learn to walk. Easier to keep an eye on them that way, I suppose. After that their dress resembled miniature versions of their parents' clothing.
I decided on a compromise. I would make a shirt/bag and a little vest. I made it about a month before the event, and based the sizing off some of the baby clothes I thought would be the right size.
The shirt is muslin. The vest is embroidered silk with a cotton lining.
They turned out soooo cute! And my baby was eating sooooooo much!
I ended up putting 2 inch side panels from arm to hem in the shirt and stretchy knit side panels in the vest. Crisis averted!
And now to introduce Xander! This is his first fitting for the outfit, right after I made it. I realized it was too small in this picture. He wasn't sure about this whole endeavor, but I love his expression of long-suffering here. I'm sure I'll see this expression much more in the coming years.
Xander's introduction at court went great. The Queen herself is expecting - and their son will be just a few months younger than Xander. I'm sure they'll get to know each other over the years.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!