Tag Archives: suit

Update: OMG IT’S (sort of but not really) DONE!/The Peggy Carter Project

It’s been a while since I updated you on what’s going on with #thepeggycarterproject. So here goes:

I just finished sewing the test skirt in muslin!!!!!!!

Okay, so maybe I didn’t *exactly* finish – I did something funny along the way and the waistband extension didn’t come out long enough – but I’ve now gone through the process and can put the skirt together. I’ll have to be a little more careful with the zipper, and the button hole will likely be a challenge, but at this point I’m pretty confident that I can make a skirt, and that it will fit.

It was harder than I’d anticipated, mostly because sewing takes a lot of patience and as each step advanced I got a little more nervous about moving on to the next one. (The next step now is actually cutting up my beautiful fabric, so hopefully I’ll be able to screw up the nerve soon.)

wpid-wp-1430574952317.jpegAt last update, I was in the process of cutting the fabric out. Now, it was time to stitch things together. With the exception of one seam, which I sewed the wrong way round (didn’t bother to go back and take it out because this isn’t the actual skirt, the sewing went pretty well – aside from a major tension issue that popped up midway through. (And no, I don’t mean the part where I cried.)

0420152125 0420152125aWhen I took my sewing machine home to show my mom, we decided that the best thing was really to buy a new sewing machine (because why wouldn’t that be the best thing, right?). It was more than I wanted to spend (this project is fast becoming a money pit in its own right) but it made a huge difference in sewing the last few seams. When it arrived, I sewed a few lines and sent her a photo; she approved. The old machine, she said, wasn’t punching the thread through the fabric on both the top and bottom, and given the price and time involved in getting the machine a professional tune-up, the newer machine just made more sense. Here are the photos I sent her; they’re much tighter and more uniformed than what I was getting from the older machine. The new machine also controls the speed of the needle more precisely, which was nice because sometimes you don’t want to go super fast or super slow but somewhere nice and comfortable, in the middle.

I won’t post close-ups of the zipper because the zipper is a travesty and something I will be practicing a few more times before I do it on the actual skirt, but here’s what it started to look like:

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You may notice – or you may not – that while this looks skirt-sized, it is also a bit smaller than you might expect, given the size of my waist. Well, kids, this is where I learned something important about sewing: read the directions. Like, always. Like, four times. Then read everything actually written on the pattern. Like, always. Like, four times. Because sometimes it turns out that just because you only cut two of one pattern piece, it doesn’t mean you don’t cut four of another pattern piece. Who’d’ve thought, right? You need two side panels on EACH side of the skirt, not just two side panels in all.

wpid-0419151229.jpgThat realization came to me, unfortunately, AFTER I had bought a roll of permanent pattern paper because I thought that I was going to have to size the entire pattern up significantly. It was while doing the math required to figure that out that I went back and looked at the pattern again. And realized my mistake. The things writers will do to avoid doing math, you know? But it worked, in the end:

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Next, it was time for the fusible interfacing. After doing a lot of math (this math was unavoidable), I had figured out that it made more sense just to buy a bolt of the stuff (about eight bucks from Joanne Fabrics, though the prices I saw varied WILDLY depending on where I was sourcing from). Interfacing is used to make sure parts of the suit keep their form – so it gets used on bits like the waistband and eventually the suit lapels (eep!). You don’t need loads of it for the project, but if I keep this hobby up it’ll be nice to have on hand.

0420152149For the skirt, the interfacing is fused to the waist band, then the waist band is folded over onto itself and then sewn to the bottom panels of the skirt. The process was a little tricky. The first step was cutting and fusing the interfacing. By this point in the project I had moved on to a “let’s just get it done” mentality, so I wasn’t super careful about cutting it out to match – all that caution is going towards the final product. I placed the fabric on a towel (I don’t have an ironing board, judge not) then laid the interfacing down on top of it. Then you put another towel on top so you don’t get the interfacing glue stuck on your iron, and gently press the interfacing down with the hot iron. Eventually, you pick the iron up and put it down on the next bit of fabric.

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0420152157aNext, you have to press up the seam of the waist band so that you can eventually sew that to the skirt band. This was kind of annoying because you have to make sure the seam is going to be even, and it was sort of confusing to read the directions and figure out what was supposed to be getting pinned facing what. But I soldiered through it and got it done!

Finally, the nightmare of sewing the waist band to the skirt. I didn’t even take pictures of that process, it was so miserable, but once I did that and ran it through the sewing machine, look what happened!
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It might be a little bit messy, but it’s served its purpose, and you know what that means…the next time you hear from me on this project, it will involve real fabric, having to work methodically and carefully, and maybe even a finished skirt!

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Gotta stay inspired, you know?

For more on this project:

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Update: Cutting Out Fabric #ThePeggyCarterProject

wpid-0316152218.jpgJust a quick update re: my progress on The Peggy Carter Project. After one unsuccessful attempt at cutting out my design in cotton muslin, the second attempt went much more smoothly. This time, I knew to cut out the little notches, and properly cut along the fold – so that my earlier panic about the fabric not encircling my ample waist proved to be a result of my learning curve, and not of the pattern being screwy.

wpid-0321151431.jpgThe next step is stay-stitching the tops and bottoms of each panel. Which will require finding the instruction book for my sewing machine, since in the couple weeks since I did my mini-project I’ve forgotten how to make the needle go backwards.

I’m also waiting for the lightweight interfacing to arrive, since my local sewing shop doesn’t appear to stock the right weight.

I also ordered some ribbon for my hat.

And started a Pinterest board for this project.

Mini Sewing Project #1: Draft Blocker

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While it’d be awesome to be able to sew this flawlessly and right out of the gate, I’m trying to be realistic.

 

In my quest to create an Agent Carter costume, I knew I’d have to undertake a few smaller projects along the way.

I just finished my first one: a draft blocker for my front door!

Skills acquired:
– Pinning fabric along a seam
– Sewing in a straight line
– Re-threading the needle
– Using a seam-ripper
– Changing a broken needle (yup! Broke one on my first trip out!)

Lessons learned:
– Oh my god this is going to take so much patience.
– No, really. SO MUCH PATIENCE.

wpid-0301151455.jpgSince I didn’t start off thinking I was going to make anything useful, I kind of just folded over one of the fabric remnants I’d bought last weekend and started sewing. It fast became obvious that I had to actually pin the edges of the fabric together if I wanted to have something that didn’t taper into a point at the far end.

Enter the seamripper. It took a little googling to figure out the most effective way of using it, but once I had that down, easy-peasy.

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Next, the tedious part: pinning along the entire outside of the folded fabric so it wouldn’t slip and become uneven as I sewed. That took about ten minutes. I played videos on Hulu while I worked on that.

wpid-0301151526.jpgOnce that was finished, it only took a couple of minutes to sew the seam, then flip what now looked like a sock flag inside out – so the hem would be on the inside. Not bad!

wpid-0301151534.jpgFinally, I stuffed it full of actual socks, those with holes and some that I’d lost the mate to, until it was long enough to fit (almost) all the way across my door. Since I didn’t feel like getting back up to grab a needle and thread and finish sewing by hand, I just tied off the very end, which I think is kind of cute anyways. And – ta-da!

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My suit fabric is meant to arrive tomorrow, so I’m hoping to share a few photos of my supplies later this week. I also have a second length of fabric and one more door that could use a draft blocker, so I might try and do that later this week-  though I’ve used up all my dead socks, so we’ll see how it goes.

For now, I’m feeling pretty accomplished. So accomplished, in fact, that I’m going to go eat a bagel pizza. Nom!

The Peggy Carter Project Continues

So. I wrote this morning (though this blog is scheduled to go up on Saturday) about preparing a costume for Halloween-slash-maybe-ComicCon-slash-maybe-other-cons as Agent Peggy Carter, SSR. Thus far, I’ve ordered a hat, a pattern and some dynamite shoes.

Now for the more ephemeral steps: hair, makeup and…learning how to sew.

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Hair: According to the interwebs, pin curls seem the way to go, and while my hair is currently a bit shorter than it would need to be (no more cuts till October, other than teeny trims!) I’ve decided it’s better to get a jump on things and just give it a lot of practice. This tutorial was the first that came up, and while I remember trying to do pin curls for a night out in Edinburgh seven or eight years ago, I also remember that being a disaster. I’m pretty sure this will also be a disaster, but it’s my first night. Cut me some slack.

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“You’re wearing my brand.”

 

Makeup: As I looked for makeup tutorials, I learned that the actual lipstick used on the show is available from a boutique in LA. Since I have a friend in LA who’s willing to stop by and pick the lipstick up for me and ship it out here, that seems sorted. Eye makeup will come along in time.

The sewing machine of Doom.

The sewing machine of Doom.

Sewing: OK, fine, I admit it. I’m actually typing this just so I can avoid going to try and figure out how to use the sewing machine a friend so generously gifted me earlier this year. My new mantra being, “What would Peggy do?”, however, I know I have to dive in and get the job done. So far, I’ve watched a tutorial about what kinds of supplies I’ll need to buy – I actually have some of them, but it seems like a trip to Joanne Fabrics is probably in order to pick up the rest. And I feel like I should have some idea of how the sewing machine will work before I head to Joanne’s, just in case it turns out that I need to get a dumbed-down version of a sewing machine for myself.

The Suit: I got a lovely email from the eBay seller I bought my suit pattern off of earlier today, saying she’d put it in the mail and I should get it early next week. Meanwhile, the same friend who bequeathed me her sewing machine has some ideas about what kinds of fabric might work.

Still no ideas for the blouse.

Well, there’s no more putting it off. Time to go read the sewing machine instructions and have a play around with some scraps of fabric around the house.

As soon as I top off my beer and start playing Captain America.

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Somehow, I think Agent Carter would approve.

Edit: The pin curls were not a disaster! My hair is definitely too short, and I need to figure out how to make them curl properly on one side of my head so I don’t get a great spronging curl sticking out at a 90-degree angle to my scalp on the right, and the part definitely needs work…but the left side actually looked pretty good! So I’ll just keep practicing and at some point may even wear them out in public! I used bobby pins instead of the duck clips the tutorial I linked to recommended, because I’m not going to go out and spend MORE money just yet, but as I get better at it if it turns out that it’s something I want to do more of, I may go out and spring for the duck clips after all. Also, I used a really nice argan oil/shea butter soft hair “moisturizer,” and it worked well, so hopefully that kept my hair a bit healthier than the grocery store gel they were recommending in the tutorial. Though a friend whose mom grew up in the 40s said they used to use beer to set the curls, too. May have to give that a shot just to see what the difference is like.

Other edit: The sewing machine is not as scary as it looked; I couldn’t find the box of transparent bobbins my friend gave me, so today I have to go out in the cold and search the car to see if I left them out there.

Agent Carter & Aspirations of Craftiness

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Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Agent of Awesome.

Are you watching Marvel’s Agent Carter? If yes, awesome, we can still be friends.

If no…well, okay, we can still be friends, but I highly, HIGHLY recommend you get yourself over to your online video purveyor of choice (it’s on HuluPlus and Amazon Prime, go now, this blog will still be here when you get back) and start watching this show about a woman who’s kicking ass, taking names, and saving the world one dude at a time.

Because Agent Carter (the show) – and Agent Carter (the character) – are both awesome.

The show has an 8-episode run this spring, with the finale airing this coming Tuesday (like I said, get on it), and while watching the penultimate episode, I made a decision.

I’m going to make myself an Agent Carter costume for Halloween.

For those of you who haven’t done Halloween with me in the past, here’s the thing – for about 18 years straight, I was either a witch or a vampire or a witchy vampire or something similar to one or both of those. Only in the last couple years have I started doing “costumes,” and they’re generally the kind where it’s October 25th and I suddenly realize I have plans, and run to the closet and start rooting around for something I can wear.

“Rachel,” I hear you saying, “Calm down. It’s only February.”

Well, perfection takes time, and the sheer awesomeness that is Agent Peggy Carter deserves NOTHING LESS THAN PERFECTION. I am not going to half-ass this costume. I am going to whole-ass it. And I have a fair amount of ass with which to do so.

First up: Iconic Peggy Carter red fedora. 

Fucking. Iconic.

Fucking. Iconic.

First step was locating the red fedora. Because red fucking fedora. I posted a link to Amazon on my Facebook page, and (in a thread that’s currently 80 comments deep and still growing) asked for advice as to which of the many available choices most closely matched Agent Peggy Carter’s. I was thrilled when one of my friends – apparently he takes his costuming pretty seriously – was able to find a hat that was as near as anything we could find to something that a) ought to fit my gigantic head (HOLD THE COMMENTS ON THAT ONE, PEANUT GALLERY!) and b) was the right kind of fedora. Apparently there are multiple kinds of fedoras and this was the one that had the most-matching of brims:

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Pretty goddamn fucking iconic.

Hat. May need some doctoring vis a vis the band to get the colors right, but otherwise, check. It’s an XXL, so it may fit my giant head. Also? It was the last one the seller had in stock. 

Click. Buy. Done.

Now, panic set in, because step two is a little tougher.

Step two: The perfect 1940s skirtsuit.

Two issues, here.

Issue one:
I get really, irrationally T’d off when I read those “looks like” fashion/decor pieces that say, “Hey, this $50 Ikea lamp is *just like* this $600 Restoration Hardware lamp!” and you look and it’s like, no, the Ikea lamp is an Ikea lamp and the Restoration Hardware lamp has visibly better construction, higher quality materials, and the details of craftsmanship that make it cost an extra five hundred and fifty bucks. (Is it worth the extra cost? Probably not, from all points of view that make fiscally responsible sense. From a design standpoint? You are not getting the same thing.)

Given this, I do not want some knock-off cheap “vintage” suit that is sort-of-but-not-really-the-same as the awesomeness that is Peggy Carter’s blue skirt suit. (You saw the awesomeness of that skirt suit in the above pic, right? Because go back and look. It’s freaking awesome.) I want a suit that is as close as I can possibly freaking get to that awesome suit without spending a fortune.

After a bit of reading, I learned that the best option was, therefore, an actual vintage skirt suit from the 1940s, preferably sourced from some kind of thrift or vintage store. Which brings us to…

Issue #2:
As mentioned above, I have got a fair amount of ass with which to whole-ass the execution of this costume. And while I fully intend on continuing my healthy eating streak, so may have slightly less ass by the time we get to the end of October, I know damn well I’m not going to be fitting into any 1940s-era clothing any time soon. Modcloth and other vintagey stores just weren’t cutting it – the lapels weren’t right, the material didn’t look right…

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That’s right. Ebay, baby.

…and then I hit on ebay. Now. Compare this silhouette to the suit in the first photo.

Per-fect.

(Okay. As near to perfect as I’m going to find. And the pattern itself is for plus sizes. SCORE.)

There’s just one hitch.

This is going to require sewing. The last time I did an honest-to-goodness sewing project, I was about ten years old, and it was a puppet or something. You know: cut out the felt, sew around the edges, presto, done.

Luckily, while wandering the internet in an insomnia-induced haze earlier this morning (what, you think I have time to write blogs like this on a regular day?) I found this site, which says it shows you how to sew in step-by-step videos that start off with like, 20 videos about how to get the right equipment and how to cut a thing before you even get to the point of oh hey here’s some fabric and a thing you can make.

I keep telling myself, I have eight months. That’s like, one or two videos a day, with time for practice projects. I have eight months. I can learn how to sew a thing in eight months. Eight whole months!

If I repeat this enough times, I may actually start to believe it.

Added bonus: my mom just emailed me in reply to a note I sent her last night and said she will help me, so if I run into real problems, help is only a 2-hour drive away.

So. Suit. Sort-of sorted. I’ll have to figure out how to pick a fabric, but um, I’m going to bask in the achievement of having found the suit pattern for a day or two first. And please don’t ask me about my blouse plans yet, ‘cuz I haven’t got any. (If you have ideas, though, feel free to share…)

All of which brings us to…

Part, the Third: Heels In Which To Kick Ass.

Now we have a real issue. Thanks to last year’s back injury, I will not be wearing any stunning 2-3″ heels any time in the near future, including eight months from now. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.

BUT.

A month or so ago, when I was having a really rotten day, a friend of mine (bless her ever-loving heart) sent me a gift certificate for Zappo’s. And in an hour-long trawl across the interwebs this morning at 4am, I discovered…

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Close-e-bloody-nuff.

…these absolute stunners.

They’re not as high or as strappy as Peggy’s fantastic pumps, but you know what? Contrary to my earlier rant on delusional “this is actually that” cost-saving measures, I will compromise on aesthetics if it means not setting myself back into screaming (literally screaming) agony by re-aggravating my back injury. And these really, really aren’t that far off.

So there you have it. Obviously, this is going to be a hell of a trick to pull off. Obviously, I am nervous as f*ck about whether I’ll be able to do it at all. But I keep reminding myself: I have eight months till Halloween, I have a mother who made all her own clothes when she was younger, and even if this ends up being a complete disaster, well…

Fucking. Iconic.

Gratuitous iconic hat pic.

…I’ll still have the shoes and the hat.

 

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