Newbie Spot

by Tracie Fullerton

Finally! I have things to write about.

I’m going to kick off with the loads of learning experiences from my Christmas Steampunk jacket.

So, what I had decided on was red and green velvet, with white fur trim and something resembling the Stewart dress plaid for lining (it’s only right as it’s my Scottish clan). I planned on using the Simplicity 2172 pattern. While I know it’s the current favorite, I love the jacket and it’s fairly easy to make. What I plotted to be a nice walk in the park, turned out to be…an adventure? Sure…we’ll call it that.

First off, I used Panne Crushed Velvet and learned it’s a B***kitty to work with! I love the look, but what a pest (should I mention I want to work with brocade next…I either like challenges, or I’m bloody nuts!).

But before I even got to cutting the fabric, there were a series of unfortunate events. The culprit?

…my cat…

She in her spare time (when not begging for food, eating food and being apathetic that is) chewed apart most of my pattern pieces. After a few words, I’m not allowed to say around my students or mother, I learned a fast lesson in pattern drafting. Newspaper is my new best friend ever.

So, I get my patterns figured out and get to work. Yeah, the velvet was nice and stretchy and oh so deceptive (really, it felt like an abusive relationship), but eventually, we got along. Yeah, anyone new to this world of costuming, should definitely do a few trial runs with it. I may even make a couple pieces smaller due to the stretch factor because it was a bit big on me.

Also, this was my first time doing a lining and admittedly I cheated a bit because I got fed up with it and had a couple projects I had to finish for others. So for the lining I wound up “hemming into” the shell, in other words, I hemmed around the lining. It was easier for me but someday I’ll do it the right way. This definitely worked for me in a pinch though.

Speaking of pinches; the biggest lesson I learned in all this was sewing through your finger HURTS! Yep, I did it. As I was threading the needle and trying to get my bobbin thread through (it was a really fine silver thread I used for the fur fabric), my foot accidentally hit the foot pedal and sent the needle straight through the nail all the way through the finger. I would say, if this happens, I suggest calmly back it out, but really, there’s no way to calmly do that! I’m sure my neighbors think I’m psychotic as I was screaming while Spongebob played in the background (Spongebob…makes me productive…don’t ask). The downside; my sewing machine has had a taste for blood ever since and hasn’t been behaving the same. I’m a bit worried. That or it’s just old and being crotchety with me.

Anyway, I wound up instead of using buttons for the front, I used small leather straps and buckles to hold it together. This was done on a whim, and after working on various projects, found objects are the best way to craft in my opinion. I had this leather cuff sitting around that I never wore and cut the straps and buckles off, glued them onto the jacket and ta-da! Steampunk-y fabulousness. I will be re-enforcing them this week and hand sewing them as well as re-gluing. The front placket pattern piece mysteriously went missing and was one I had to re-draft….and I drafted it slightly too wide. I intend to re-size it this week before the Sherlock event. I also plan to cut the arm hole for my brass arm a bit bigger and I need to remember to always size any garments I wear with it to the arm. So that was my little adventure with new fabrics, linings and sewing machines on a quest for world domination. More next month!


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