Category Archives: Thinking out loud…

Chapter Two- Let The Planning Begin!

The purpose of making the corset toiles was to get a decent base shape to work with, both on my own living body and for the paper tape form we finished tonight.

I’m happy to try my hand at a couple more corset toiles to get it perfect but I needed a good enough base to make a new dressmakers dummy. Part of the design will be draped on the form and my old one is much bigger than I am after weight loss- so a new one was an absolute requirement.

MrT is a kindred spirit, we both love “projects” and he’s usually happy to help me out. This is my third body clone with him as the paper tape draper and things went very speedy- from start to finish he had it done in just over an hour and a half.

I wore the white corset toile under an old long-line white singlet (which was sacrificed in the process) and we used brown gummed paper tape. It’s 48mm wide and there’s a heckuvalot on a roll. For the princely sum of $15- it’s an affordable experiment.

Let the wrapping begin!

Let the wrapping begin!

I followed some advice from The Sewing Forum about using something like a meter ruler to alleviate some of the belly-pooch-fitting-troubles but got creative and used some of the leftover cable ties instead. It worked a treat! Such a good suggestion- used in a slightly different manner- with excellent results. You can see the idea in action below.

Smoothing out the pooch!

Smoothing out the pooch!

Once the first layer was covered MrT went over the whole form twice more, paying attention to key areas like the shoulders, the hem and the waistline. We stopped with about 5m of tape left on the roll so we could cut me out of it. He marked the centre back, then some horizontal lines at 5cm intervals so I could match it back up. Once it was off I used gaffer tape to stick it back together- it has greater holding power at this stage! Then I covered the black tape with the last of the brown paper tape so it looks nicer. Here’s some of the final pics we snapped of the process.

Mark Cut and Stick it back together

Having the form done is a HUGE weight off my mind. It might not be perfect, I might still change my mind about an underbust/overbust corset- but the main points of waist, hips and pooch have all been taken into consideration with this form. If I decide I want to wear an underbust corset with a bra I can always stick a bra over the top of this form for boobs… or make another one for the cost of another roll of paper tape and a singlet *shrugs*.

It’s currently swinging on a coat hanger but I will be plopping it on top of an old TINY dressform once I fix the base.

I am relieved and exhausted at the moment. It’s a rewarding process and I will do it again but it takes a lot out of you- not being able to move!

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Chapter One- We’re Getting Married!

Mr Thrifty proposed in July- we’re finally getting hitched. We’ve settled on a date of July 5th, 2014 and we’re having our wedding and reception at The Circulating Library in South Australia (hence the Chapter One title, get it?!).

Institute Building SLSA

I’ll be posting a few of the things we’ll be DIY-ing for the wedding, the most notable of course will be my wedding dress! OMG! Huge undertaking! Scary! Exciting! Challenging!

I went fabric browsing with my mum last week just to see what’s out there for bridal laces, fell in love with one of them which solidified the design I had in my head. I spent the week tweaking the sketches, making sure I knew how much of the luscious (read: expensive) lace I’d need then went back and bought a length of it this week.

Beaded Tulle Lace

Beaded Tulle Lace- Large Motif

With the design somewhat decided (there’s always room for minor changes as it comes together) I figured I should start my own “Wedding Dress Saga” post for you all to follow along. We’re getting married on July 5th, so there’s about 6 months worth of work for me to share.

The design is for a fit-and-flare silhouette, featuring large lace appliqués and a few draped panels across both front and back. There is a bustled “pouf” around the knee which sits above an a-line tulle skirt. The straps or sleeves will be decided as it nears completion but I would like the back neckline to end in a V at the top of the zip/button closure.

Wedding Dress Sketch

So far I’ve been playing around with a corset pattern in order to get a good shape for the body of the dress. I’ve chosen the Freedom Corset from Bra Makers Supply. Some of the reasons for using this pattern is that it comes in my size, it’s quite full coverage and it has two variations- an overbust and and underbust corset in one package. I ordered it via etsy and it arrived in about two weeks (Canada to Australia).

The first one I made up was too big. I didn’t take my waist reduction into account so the lacing panels were touching and I had very little to show in the way of compression or support.

Corset Toile One FSB

The next version I made up as an underbust but lengthened below the hip to contain more of the belly pooch but I realised I do want an overbust. I don’t want to wear a bra and worry about my shoulder straps (no photos, it went in the bin).

The last version I’ve made from blockout curtain lining at $4AUD per meter (£2ish) and I am finally starting to get somewhere. It’s two sizes smaller than the first and long enough to contain the belly. I’ve drawn a few lines on the toile to show where I’d change the lengths but overall, for a toile, I am very happy with it. Oh, please excuse the serious slanting! The fabric was cheap, most likely very badly off grain, and you should never lace a corset as tight as I did on the first try, oops!

Corset Toile Two FBS
Anyways! With the corset portion somewhat sorted I will be roping MrT into helping me make another brown paper tape dummy over the top of the corset so that I have an accurate dummy to work with, my old one is now too fat (yay!). Fingers crossed we might get to that stage tomorrow, otherwise it has to wait another week!

Other than that I need to figure out my order for corsetry supplies and get that going so that it arrives with plenty of time to spare. As far as I can tell it will be cheaper for me to order from the UK and have it shipped- and I’ll be ordering extra boning and such for the wedding dress as well.

Phew- long first post! Hopefully the next few will be shorter. Ha!

BurdaStyle Francesca Toile #2

I’ve finished the second toile, this time with the sleeves. It’s a big improvement in how it feels when it’s on but I’m still going to change a few more things.

BurdaStyle Francesca Toile V2
The neckline was dropped but I think I can get away with being a bit more chop-happy for the final version. It’s still too high, I think, for the contrast bust panels to look nice.

The band under the bust has been levelled out, I’m happy enough with where it sits now. I think I’ll end up adding elastic between the two princess panels at the back and do away with the zip altogether.

I have wrinkly-pooling-foldiness happening at back waist. Can’t be bothered correcting that the “proper” way so I’m going to combine the back panels into one piece, add another 5-10cm and gather it where it attaches to the band.

The sleeves have a huge amount of ease! The difference between my armhole measurement and my sleeve head is 7cm- yikes. I think I might make a feature of the excess and keep the gathering theme going by making it a bit of a puff sleeve. The circumference at the sleeve hem is also a bit large, so I think I’ll add some elastic between where the ties finish, just to pull it in a bit.

Once it’s made out of a more drapey, floaty fabric I think this will be a winner. I’m quite pleased with how it’s coming along.

Sadly, no fabric shopping for me this weekend *wails!!*. With any luck I’ll get out to the fabric shop on pay-day though.

BurdaStyle Francesca Toile #1

First toile made and pattern modifications have been noted down so I can alter the pattern pieces today and cut a second toile.

Bustrastyle Francesca Toile 01

I need to let it out (more than I thought I’d have to) across the hem, I’ve split it open down the front and back to give me an idea of how much I need to add. I’ll add it evenly throughout the panels. I think a total of 16cm will be enough.

I need to add some length to the front bodice and remove some length on the back bodice- the band under the bust is tilted. Fingers crossed- removing some length on the back bodice and adding some width will be enough to remove, or at least minimize, the wrinkling you can see on the back skirt panels (I’m sure some of the wrinkles you can see is just from bad pinning).

might lower and widen the neckline a small amount. It’s a nice height now without the contrast detailing but if I’m adding more fabric with the contrasting bust panels I can do with enlarging the neckline.

I haven’t added the sleeves to this toile and I’ve left off the contrasting fabric too. I will add the sleeves to the next toile but I think I’ll skip the contrasting fabric again, it’s not needed for tweaking the fit.

I’m going to transfer all the alterations to the pattern pieces today and if I have time cut out the second toile. If all goes well I should be able to sew it up by tomorrow and then go fabric hunting this weekend for the final version. I’ve already seen some gorgeous printed cotton voile online and I’m hoping they have it in store.

As pointed out on The Sewing Forum, I do have wonky shoulders and I know I need to fit for that. Generally I just pin out the excess just before I insert the sleeves but someone made the suggestion of using a small shoulder pad. It’s something I’ll mill over while I make the next toile.

BurdaStyle Francesca Variation

Tsk, tsk, absent blogger, naughty girl not posting for a year. Let’s just pretend I never left and get on to the good stuff.

I saw a post on The Sewing Forum featuring BurdaStyle’s Francesca Variation top and I fell in love with it straight away. It looks to be a great blend of the bohemian spirit and a little bit romantic and sweet which is very much to my taste in fashion. What’s more, it’s available in extended plus sizes- meaning it goes up to a size 60 (euro sizing), rather than stopping at 52/54 like most of their downloads.

Oh- before we go any further- the real push over the fence was that it’s a FREE download. Sure, I still had to print it out and tape it all up, and annoyingly, it’s only available as US letter paper size (hello??!? the rest of the world uses A4!)… but I loved the look of it so much that I did just that.

I spent the evening having a look online for some fabric to make it out of and found a few very nice cotton prints at Lincraft online that look to be about the right scale of print compared to the made up, modelled version on BurdaStyle. I plan on dragging DH out fabric shopping at our local store after I’ve done the toile. Below is my mood board for inspiration, it helps to keep me focussed.

Francesca Mood Board

Speaking of the extended sizing for this pattern- I am pleased to say I can fit in to it! Yay! Going by the completed garment measurements I’ve traced off a 54 bust tapering through to 60 hips. Even if it’s a little bit snug at the start of summer I should get a seasons wear out of it without needing to cut a size smaller.

I’ve sewn up the bodice to check for fit. I will need to take it in along back back centre seam from neck to shoulder blades (rounded back alteration) but other than that it fit’s ok. I still need to attach the waistband, skirt panels and sleeves but I am omitting the bust and skirt insets (contrast fabric) because they’re not needed in the fitting stage. I’ll post pics of the toile once it’s finished. 🙂

A Curious Experiment

Today was Mr Thrifty’s birthday and in our typical style we indulged in what some may call “odd behaviour”. There was no fancy dinner out, we didn’t go and see a film- instead we bought a bucket and played with expanding foam.  We must have been the type of children that were cheap to entertain because we were both excited about this experiment for at least a couple of hours. 

You’re probably curious about why we wanted to play with expanding foam and a bucket. The short explanation is because I want to make another “custom” dressmakers model and we didn’t believe the manufactures claims about the expanding foam. Mr Thrifty helped me to make a bust form about 18 months ago and while it turned out very well it wasn’t a full dress form, it stopped just under my bust. When we made the first one we blindly chose a can of expanding foam (I think it was the cheapest) and stuck to it for the whole project. By the end of it we’d used five cans… just for my boobs!

For the next doppelgänger I’ve done far more research into expanding foam. For a long time I’ve contemplated two-part polyurethane foam (aka AB foam) but it’s not exactly cheap, nor is it readily available at the local hardware store. Yesterday, Mr Thrifty and I toddled off to our local Bunnings and took some photos of all the expanding foam they have on their shelves. When we came home I looked them all up online. It seems that not all foams are created equal! Most of them have a 2:1 or 3:1 expansion ratio- meaning one 500ml can expands to somewhere between 1-1.5L, some claim a 10:1 expansion ratio meaning one 500ml can expands to about 5L. None of them seemed to come anywhere near the two-part pouring foam expansion ratio of 25:1.  Continue reading

Tutorial: Dressmakers Pattern Weights

Cutting out patterns is one of those things that doesn’t need to be so tedious. Pinning out paper patterns is a pain! Have you ever considered weighing patterns down instead? You should!

Since college, I have hankered after a set of pattern weights or cloth weights for my own personal use. Unfortunately, like a lot of the cooler items I used during my course, metal pattern weights (like these, or these) are not available on the retail market in Australia and the cost of shipping them here from overseas is crazy.

You can buy home-use sets which are basically small metal washers with a nylon coating- or you can raid the pantry for tins of food. They’re all adequate substitutions- but to me, it felt like I was being “cheap”, not “thrifty”. Being thrifty is about doing a good job with limited resources. I wanted to look forward to laying out my patterns and perhaps feel a little extravagant when using them.

After some brainstorming with Mr Thrifty, we headed off to our local Bunnings hardware store for supplies. My first stop was metal washers. I’d seen retail versions of weights using washers as well as DIY tutorials for covering them, but I wasn’t overly impressed by the weight of them or the sizes available. I’m sure they work but they just weren’t doing it for me.

When I explained what I was thinking to Mr Thrifty, he showed me what he had found further down the aisle and I was overjoyed by what I saw! He had found some metal plates or brackets (or whatever the heck they’re called!) similar in size to the small Morplan cloth weights. I will admit, I got a little excited… The smallest Morplan weight is 20GBP, that’s close to 30AUD. My bargain hunting brain went in to overdrive as I scanned through what else they had in that section.

One shelf up and two places across I spotted a wider bracket. It was the same length but twice the width and half the thickness. I grabbed four of the large ones because I wanted to stack two of them together so they were double the weight of the small ones. And I grabbed six of the narrower plates because half a dozen sounded like a decent number to have in my stash.

Cost so far: $37.30 AUD

Technical note: both sizes of the brackets weigh just under 500 grams (1 lbs). The smaller plate is 20cm x 5cm (8in x 2 in) and the larger plate is 20cm x 10cm (8in x 4 in).

On our way home we stopped in at Spotlight (a necessary evil one has to face when needing fabric) and picked up half a metre of “fake quilt” fabric that was $12.95pm. I’m not a quilter and I’m sure a quilt fanatic would frown upon its use but it was lovely fabric and I’m glad I bought it. After Spotlight, we stopped off at one of those discount variety stores and I found a roll of cream coloured grip map for $2.50. Grip matting wasn’t a part of the original plan but it ended up being a nice addition to the finished weights. It cushions the fabric from the hard edges of the metal plates.

Cost so far: $46.25

You know what you need and where to find it, now all you need to know how to make them!

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