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Craft Rage

...Making a mess of things since 1973


Test Dress #2

As I suspected, it took me longer to baste the lace to the fabric than it took me to put the dress together.  I basted over the weekend, and finished assembly this morning. Here it is, in all it's glory. Okay, glory is a really big exaggeration. But here it is, at any rate;

The cream lace over the blue fabric is NOT the look I'm going for - my actual dress fabric (unless I change my mind) is this silvery green, tone-on-tone bridal satin and lace;

The lace and fabric I used on this test dress were truly the crappiest fabrics I've worked with so far - both are from the $1.47 bin at Wal-Mart, and I'm pretty sure green fabric is some kind of super-cheap lining stuff that frays if you give it a hard glance.

Just as a reminder, here's the redrafted bodice, in the original pink version.  The last time I showed this, it was held together with binder clips, and not actually attached to the skirt of the dress in any way.  I've now basted everything together, just to double-check the fit, and doing so has taken care of some of the gaping that was happening - apparently, binder clips are simply not up to the task of carrying "the girls" around.

It's a huge improvement from the monoboob, but it's really... Well, it sort of magnifies everything with it's shininess. Plus - does that look right to you?  For some reason, that crossover in the front looks strange to me, like there's too much fabric.  But then when I look at similar pictures on the internet, I see the same effect.  Maybe I'm just being hypercritical.  Anyway, here's a close-up of the new dress, with the lace overlay.

I'm still torn between leaving the bodice in just the satin - the silver green satin isn't nearly as shiny, so it won't look so dramatic, but I really love scalloped edges of the lace on this version.

One thing that troubles me, though, is that if I use the scalloped edges on the bodice, it does funny things to the orientation of the flowers; is this something only people who sew will notice, or is it just glaringly obvious to all and sundry? Oh yes, and that reminds me - I am aware of the fact that I have had a small accident with the way I've positioned the flowers over my bust.  Don't worry, it's just the test dress. In the real dress, this won't happen. Probably.

The wider skirt is a HUGE plus - the original pink dress had a more close-fitting skirt, with no flow to it, which was pretty unflattering. I was going to use the original pattern, but really, it was just cut on the fold, and was basically a rectangle, so the top seam that runs under the bust was just a straight seam. You can really see that from the pattern on the picture;

I ended up not using the pattern at all for the skirt - I cut the back skirt as a very rough rectangle, with a narrower top than bottom, and I originally cut the front skirt as a rectangle, then folded it in half and took a big, curved scoop out of the top so that I'd get that sort of bias-cut, flowy look.  That also eliminated the need for the darts at the front, although the back still needs them.

In reality, I only used one piece of the original pattern to make this dress - the single piece of the back bodice - the rest is so drastically different that if I compare the pattern pieces to the pieces of the dress, they're nowhere near a match. And since neither of the sewn versions actually require me to use a zipper to put the dress on and take it off, I'll likely just cut the back bodice of the third version out on the fold, instead of cutting two separate pieces and joining them with a zipper.

I still have to cut about 1/4" off the armhole at the back of the arm - the fabric kind of binds up there, and I'll likely draft a couple of tiny darts at the neck, because there's a little bit of extra fabric across the top of the piece, but all in all, I think I'm on the right track.



One Down

I finished hand-tacking the Pink Abomination together last night and tried it on.

It fits, it's fine, it's over.

Since it was the first test dress for the wedding dress I plan to make, originally, I had thought to finish the whole dress, including embellishment and whatnot. What a dumb idea - why spend hours on beading I'll never wear? What was I thinking?

Anyway, further work on that dress is unnecessary - it's pink and I'll never wear it in public. Gee, do I sound like I'm still trying to convince myself? Anyway, I started the second test dress last night, in slightly less intimidating fabric. Since it's still a lace overlaying something moderately slippery, though, it means that, once again, I find myself hand basting the lace to the fabric on all of the pattern pieces. Is this what interlining is? Where you take two pieces of fabric and use them as though they were one?

Well, in any case, the new dress has the new bodice front, as well as a much wider skirt. It's such a simple dress to put together; just six pieces; the front skirt and back skirt, the right and left back bodices, and the right and left front redrafted pieces.

I'm not kidding when I say it's going to take me longer to tack the lace and the fabric together than it's going to take for me to assemble the dress to a wearable state - the actual assembly is about five minutes to install the invisible zip, and fifteen to pin and machine tack the rest together.

With luck, I'll have pictures later today!

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In the city about a half hour north of the small town I live in, only losers wait until the weekend to start their sales. Literally 90% of the garage sales start on Thursday, with a few starting on Wednesday afternoon - by Saturday morning, you might as well stay home, because all that's left is old Barney videos, broken toys, and cheap glassware. Of course, by Saturday morning, it's pretty much all free, 'cause everyone's sick of sitting on their lawn with all their worldly goods around them, but crap is still crap, even if it's free. That's a lesson that took me nearly 30 years to learn. If I've actually learned it, that is.

Anyway, yesterday, on the way home from a meeting, I stopped at a garage sale that was just being set up, and I bought a bag of vintage patterns, sight unseen - the bag was stapled shut and just said "Old sewing patterns". I decided it was worth a chance, and the price we negotiated was certainly fair.

Boy, did I score BIG!

They're all really great vintage patterns, from the '40's to the '70's or so, I think. This in itself is great news, but the best part, the very BEST part, is that they're nearly all larger sized patterns. The smallest one is a size 16, with a 34 bust.


And how about these?

That last one? B3615? Yeah, it's uncut & factory folded! EEEEE!!!!

There are about 10 other patterns here; Honestly, I'm not sure why I'm so excited about these, since I've barely had time to sew anything for the last couple of weeks. Still, I find myself very inspired, and am, this very second, going to go off and work on the last of the adjustments to the Pink Abomination. My goal is to finish it, and get started on the next version - Abomination 2.0, as it were, with a more flared skirt and the new front bodice.

Oh, and by the by, I've also started a new, non-sewing blog, at www.notverycool.com. That way, I can spare you endless stories about my cats and poor driving habits, and my lack of ability to control the sounds that come out of my mouth. Unless you actually want to read about those things, in which case, you can see that stuff over there. Lucky you!

P.S. And for those of you who are fans of Jenny at Chronically Uncool (as I am), please note that I checked with her before starting notverycool, because, well, they're kind of similar names. Thanks Jenny!

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Gone Postal

I had a near miss fender bender today - the guy in the turning lane next to me got a little ambitious, and tried to force himself into the space my car was already occupying. I straightened him out with a honk and a one finger salute glare. I personally do not give people the bird, so when such a thing happens, I blame it on CrazyRachelle.

See, there's Rachelle (that's me), and then there's CrazyRachelle.

I, Rachelle, am mild mannered, easygoing, and largely unconcerned with what's going on around me unless it directly affects me. When people are bitchy or rude, I normally barely notice, (which is probably bitchy and rude of me - oopsie.)

CrazyRachelle, on the other hand, is a traffic-fuelled rage-monkey. She only comes out when I get behind the wheel, but this chick is NUTS, yo!

Tailgaters beware; if she's in the slow lane and you're so close to her that all she can see in her rearview mirror is the hood of your car, she WILL take her foot off the gas and coast along however fast the car takes her, until you finally pull around her. And if you're in a really expensive car, talking on your cellphone while you're tailgating her with an empty fast lane beside you both, she might consider slamming on the brakes briefly, just to watch you drop your phone and scream.

That big empty lane beside you? The fast lane? They call it the fast lane for a reason, you jackass. Move over into it - there's no traffic over there, and if there is, THEY want to go as fast as you or faster.

And speaking of the fast lane - CrazyRachelle wants to make absolutely sure you are aware that they call it the fast lane for a reason. CrazyRachelle doesn't care that you're behind the wheel, watching a Disney movie on the drop-down widescreen, in-vehicle theatre in your giant, gas-sucking, minivan, and that you and the kids are singing "Bare Necessities". CrazyRachelle loves that song, too, and wishes she could hear it.

But there are two problems with what you're doing, and CrazyRachelle isn't even going to BOTHER talking about the fact that you're hurtling down the road in a two thousand pound vehicle which currently contains the fruit of your loins, and you're not watching the road.

She worries about your children, and hopes they make it through the trip, but frankly, what really pisses her off is that you're doing this IN THE FAST LANE. At 10KM below the speed limit.

She has two pieces of advice for you - one, GET OUT OF THE FAST LANE, DUMBASS, and two, before a long road-trip with the kiddies, take them to the library and let them pick out some books on CD. CrazyRachelle reccommends the unabridged versions of Charlotte's Web or Harry Potter (CrazyRachelle knows, you have the movies in your minivan, but trust her, there's stuff missing in there, including YOUR SAFETY!)


Nothing illustrates the difference between Rachelle and CrazyRachelle like the incident that happened to us last summer.

So there we were, turning left. CrazyRachelle waited our turn and got about halfway through the intersection when a Canada Post van came careening around the corner, across two lanes of traffic, and slid into her.

CrazyRachelle pulled over to the side of the road, and got out to survey the damage. She was so angry she was shaking, and when the mailman got out of his truck, she proceeded to ream him out, very rudely. She screamed said things like, "Where did you get your driver's license, Wal-Mart?" and "Maybe if you were tall enough to see over the dash AND reach the pedals, this wouldn't have happened!"

The mailman made a half-hearted attempt to blame the accident on CrazyRachelle, but the skidmarks on the road made it pretty obvious that it was his fault.

Fortunately, other than the fact that we were I was a little shaken up, there was really no damage to the vehicle, just a small flattened area and a smear of paint transfer from his white truck to my purple car, which rubbed off without a problem. By the time the mailman brought out his insurance information, CrazyRachelle went away, and I resurfaced. Unfortunately, for the unsuspecting mailman, that wasn't about to improve his situation.

The poor guy walked over to me, looking lumpish and mortified, clutching his insurance card. I gave him a toothy grin and said "You know, there's not much damage - I'm probably not going to claim anything, so if you want, we can just skip the whole insurance exchange thing." He brightened visibly, and said thank you, then started to turn to go back to his van, but I was suddenly wracked with guilt for all the mean things CrazyRachelle said.

So what do I do? Well, rather than just letting the guy go away with his dignity intact, I blurted out "Wanna hug it out?" then didn't bother to wait for a response - I grabbed the poor guy and awkwardly hugged it out, including some side-to-side rocking, and some enthusiastic back-patting.


Rachelle? Nice, but kind of creepy. CrazyRachelle? Not nice. And kind of judgmental.

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Success! (Of a sort)

So, I'm pretty freaking proud of myself! Not because it worked perfectly (as you'll see) but that it sort of worked.

As I said, I decided to try draping a new bodice, because I was having some problems doing an FBA on the pattern piece I was working with.

I ripped out the old bodice front (and may I just say, I've learned a VERY important lesson about stitch width on a test piece - it took me the better part of an hour, and I said curses in many languages, many made up just for the occasion) and pinned the dress on Clarice, then went about draping a new bodice.

It's far from perfect - but it did actually work. I couldn't figure out how to translate the pinned gathers into useful information, so I used a pencil to mark up the test fabric, then unpinned it, trimmed it, and cut out two pieces of pink fabric. This is what I ended up with;

Note that it's only sewn on the shoulders and sides, not the bottom, and it's held together with binder clips, which explains the weird ripple on the one side. Plus, I did a pretty bad job of tacking the shoulder seams together, but all in all, I'm pretty confident that I'm heading in the right direction, at least.

I'm going to cut out the lace, and see if I can't figure out a way to include the lace in this thing, because otherwise, the shiny fabric makes my boobs look scary, and the fabric for my real dress, while slightly less shiny, will still probably have the same effect. It's worth a try, at least.



Pink Abomination / Deep Fried Moths

I think I had a breakthrough.

The Pink Abomination, (AKA giant transvestite skating costume) is kicking my ass, and I finally figured out why. They say the definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Hey, I never claimed to be sane. I've tried editing the pattern for the bust area in a number of ways, and none of them work properly, so maybe I need to stop trying.

The last time you saw the top of the dress, it looked like this;

I had converted the bust gathers to bust darts, then realized that this, in addition to the repetitive floral pattern over the bust, REALLY make things look bad. And there's no getting around this - there is NOTHING I can do with those flowers so that they aren't either directly over my lady-lumps, or else just sitting between them.

Here are all the things I've tried so far;

Following the pattern exactly
Massive monoboob (where two become one because there isn't enough fabric), along with wicked underarm gaposis

Adding 2" of length along the bottom seam to give more chest room
Baggy gathers that sit right under the breast line and make me look like gravity has been particularly cruel.

Doing an FBA on a pattern without darts (which I made up as I went along, because I couldn't find a tutorial on the 'net)
Strange curved seam at the sides, moderately...lumpy appearance of excess fabric.

Redoing bodice #2 and changing gathers to darts
Monoboob again, plus gaposis under the arm, which only went away when I made a really awful-looking seam from the underarm to the bust point. That's the picture that's shown above.

The Bottom Line
I like everything about this dress except for the front of the bodice. It's high-backed, which I like, and the length of the skirt is pretty good. I'd like the skirt to flare out a little more, which I think I have the skills to do just by cutting the skirt a bit wider. The only problem is the bust area.

I think I might try draping a bodice for myself - I have a dress dummy and all the right materials, so what I think I might do is remove the front of the bodice, pin the whole hot mess to Clarice (too much Silence of the Lambs), and then see if I can drape a simple halter. I'll probably try it with the lace, just to see if folds make the flowers less boobcentric, but I'm starting to think that leaving the lace on the skirt and doing the whole top of the bodice in just the satin would be perfectly fine.

Once again, I'm REALLY glad I went out and bought pink fabric for this test dress. If I'd have experienced failure on this level with the silvery green fabric I intend to actually use, I'd probably have given up and bought a dress by now. It's kind of an expensive muslin, since it's the same fabric as my actual dress fabric, just in a yucky color, but honestly, it's still cheaper than giving up.

Deep Fried Moths
In my last post, I mentioned that I'd just returned from the lake. Every year, we try to get out with the Hotness' family - his older brother and wife (I'll call them Fred and Wilma) and his younger brother and wife (I'll call them George and Judy). This year, Judy is very pregnant with the Hotness' new niece or nephew, so it was just the Hotness and I, Fred and Wilma and their two boys, and Wilma's parents.

I come from a hardcore camping family, as does the Hotness, so I'm used to a certain level of discomfort while camping. On past camping trips, we've mostly tented, and as much as I enjoy actually camping, I LOATHE setting up and taking down, particularly since taking down always seems to happen in the rain.

This trip, however, was our first trip with our new (to us) 29 foot travel trailer. We bought it late last year as insurance salvage - it was written off due to "hail damage" which in this case, equates to five, dime-sized dents across the top and a small crack in a fiberglass panel at the front of the trailer, invisible to the naked eye.

We paid less than $2000.00, and the thing has an awning, a working fridge, stove, and oven, a full bathroom including a little tub, a king sized bed and AIR CONDITIONING. Yes, AIR CONDITIONING, all caps, and maybe even some exclamation points!!! Gaylen and Marjie, you mentioned that you aren't really into roughing it, but I think you'd both enjoy doing it this way!

On Friday, it hit 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit) before 12:30 in the afternoon, so we cooked brunch outside, then went inside and sat in the air-conditioned shade and had a leisurely meal. That night, it was still pretty warm, but over the course of two days, the Hotness had caught enough fish to feed six adults and two children (his limit plus reeling in mine - I'm an indifferent fisher; I love to sit in the boat and fish, but I could not care any less about actually catching a fish).

My future sister in law Wilma has magical fish fry powers - I'm not sure how she does it, but she's like the Macgyver of fish batter - she can take a few seemingly unrelated ingredients and turn them into deep fried heaven. Of course, if you deep fry bear turds, I'd probably eat them with gusto, which in part explains my large rear end, but I digress.

Each of us fired up the camp stoves and started cooking - she did the fish, I did the chips. Halfway through the process, the Hotness decided we couldn't live without a lantern on the cooking table. Wilma and I eyed one another doubtfully, but the Hotness couldn't be talked out of it. Until ten minutes later, when Wilma and I were living a scene from a horror movie in which moths descend on you and...uh...flap their wings at you. Okay, so it wasn't really all that scary. Until the moths started landing in the hot oil. They really crisp up nicely, but I doubt they taste very good.

It wasn't quite as horrific as Camilla's spider (thanks, by the way - I've been dreaming of giant spiders for two nights, now), but it WAS pretty gross.

Anyway, I'm off to try to figure out how to drape a bodice. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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The Return

Ahhh, camping.  Spiders, fish-guts, and deep-fried moths.  This is the stuff dreams are made of!

Regular posting will resume later today or tomorrow morning!