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Studying Theatrical Costume and other adventures in London - sewing, fabrics and events.

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Homework 32: Dying the shoes

The wedding shoes I bought off ebay arrived today. I had looked for something with a shaped heel, pointed toe and a tongue. The heal wasn’t as chunky as I would have liked, but it was hard to find something in my £5 (including postage) budget.

Second hand £5 wedding shoes off ebay

Second hand £5 wedding shoes off ebay

I knew they would not be a good colour, so I had also ordered a 12 colour sample pack of transfer dye from ColourCraft (don’t bother trying to order online, the site crashes and you have to call them to give your payment details anyway – good customer service over the phone though). I haven’t used transfer paint before, but Anne had used them on her shoes and it came out really well.

First I would need to get those lovely bows off which turn out to be held on with tough bits of wire.

Using pliers to get the bows off the shoe

Using pliers to get the bows off the shoe

Whatever decoration I used would have to cover up the glue and wire hole marks.

One bow removed, another to go

One bow removed, another to go

Transfer dye

Anne said that she ended up painting diluted dye straight on to her shoes and it seemed to work quite well. When I tried it, the fabric did seem to suck up the colour and distribute it fairly evenly. There were areas where it did not take so well, I think this was where they were slightly dirty or had glue, but it wasn’t too noticeable.  I used a swatch from the petticoat fabric to try and get the same hue.

Painting transfer dye on to the shoes

Painting transfer dye on to the shoes

The heels seemed to be a slightly different colour, so I had to put more dye on to make them look blue rather than greenish. This meant that they were quite a bit darker than the rest of the shoe. I was careful that the darker blue didn’t seep on to the main part of the shoe. I tried to make the the same colour as the dark blue petersham I will be using for the rosette decoration (you can see a sample in the picture below).

Dyed shoes with darker heels

Dyed shoes with darker heels

Now I have to wait for them to dry. I was thinking that I might use a really hot hairdryer to try and stabilize the colour. Normally you would paint the transfer dye on to paper and then use an iron to press the design on to fabric.

I painted a test piece of fabric to see if water would affect the dye on the shoes after it had dried. The colour didn’t shift when I sprayed it with water, so I didn’t bother heating the shoes with the hair dryer. I figured it would be wet at the Wallace Collection anyway.

Homework 30: Period bodice – piping

Making folded piping

First I had to cut out the bias strips and make the piping. Claire had suggested for fabrics that were not too thick, we should make the bias double width and fold in half to make the piping. Using the folded edge on the inside looks better.

12cm bias strips joined and folded ready to make in to piping

12cm wide bias strips joined and folded ready to make in to piping with a 3cm wide edge.

I then marked where I wanted the cord to sit, and pinned the bias round the cord. I made sure the folded side was slightly longer than the open edge so the open edge would not been seen later.

Placing and pinning the cord in to the bias

Placing and pinning the cord in to the bias

Once it had all been pinned in place, it was quite quick to sew in to piping. I was careful to make sure I didn’t catch the piping as we need it to be able to slip so it can be pulled tight.

Using a zipper foot to sew close to the cord

Using a zipper foot to sew close to the cord

Placing the bones

It is really important to put in the bodice bones in before sewing the piping as the piping will close the channels. I had measured the bone channels and ordered pre-finished lengths from Vena Cava earlier in the week. Unfortunately, I had forgotten one pair, so I had to cut two from a left over continuous length I had from a previous project.

 2 steel bones. The top is cut from a continuous length and finished with zinc tape. The bottom is precut and finished.

2 steel bones. The top is cut from a continuous length and finished with zinc tape. The bottom is precut and finished.

Be careful when cutting the steels as they tend to be very tough and unless you have some serious metal cutters, it will take a fair amount of effort. I need both hands to cut, and the loose piece tends to spring off at some rate, so make sure no one is  in the firing path.

To finish the ends so they would not be sharp or cut through the materials, I used zinc tape,  like a roll of fabric plaster,  you can get from the chemists. Zinc tape helps to stop the steel from rusting and is fairly sticky, but make sure it is securely stuck so that it does not come out in the channel when you are placing the bone.

Smoothing the stomacher line

I decided that the stomacher point stuck down too low, so I decided to smooth the line from the side front to the stomacher. I will follow the grey line when applying the piping.

Smoothing out the stomacher line

Smoothing front lines - side panel

Smoothing front lines - Stomacher

Smoothing front lines - stomacher

Applying the piping

On to the piping on the bottom edge. I pinned the piping place and used a zipper foot to machine stitch as close to the piping edge as possible. I took the pins out as I went along with the machine.

Using the zipper foot to sew the piping on to the bottom of the bodice

Using the zipper foot to sew the piping on to the bottom of the bodice

The tricky part was the point at centre back as the fabric was quite taught and it was hard to get the foot to follow the line. Claire had said that if you had a lot of trouble with it you could snip in to the bias seam allowance, but you shouldn’t really. I didn’t have to in the end.

Centre back point. Bias pinned in place ready to be sewn.

Centre back point. Bias pinned in place ready to be sewn.

In some places, I had not gone close enough to the edge, so I had to sew again. I didn’t have to unpick, as the second line would cover the first.

Where the stitch line was not close enough to edge

Where the stitchline was not close enough to edge

Once I was happy with the stitching, I cut back all the excess seam allowances so that I could turn the folded bias edge back.

Seam allowances cut back

Seam allowances cut back to reduce bulk

Seams graded (cut back) at the centre back

Seams graded (cut back) at the centre back

After doing the bottom, the top edge was much easier and quicker.  I now had to finish the front opening edges before I could slip stitch the bias on the inside.  I knew Claire had said we should leave long cords, but I couldn’t quite remember how we were meant to finish the piping at the centre front, so I did the best I could and would ask on Monday.

Top and bottom piping applied, but not yet slip stitched.

Top and bottom piping applied, but not yet slip stitched.

Front opening and fastenings

The front opening hem was done in a similar way to the vertical seams with the under layers cut back and the top fabric seam allowance folded under and slip stitched. This should have been pretty straight forward, except I ended up snipping the top fabric a bit before I had realised it had been caught. It was too much of a problem and I just hand stitched it closed.

Opps! Repairing an accidental snip

Opps! Repairing an accidental snip

After neatening the front opening, I slip stitched the piping in place on the inside of the bodice.

Next I worked out how many hooks I would need if they were to be spaced 20-25mm apart with the top one and the bottom hooks placed next to the piping. I ended up using 11 with 22mm spacing. I used pins to mark where the centre of each hook should be placed.  Hooks should go on the left side, eyes on the right.

First hook in place, and pins used to mark where the others should be placed.

First hook in place, and pins used to mark where the others should be placed.

Although I was fairly sure that these would be in the right place, I only sewed 5 stitches around each loop and the hook neck in case they would have to be moved. Doing 11 sets of the hooks and the eyes still took about 5 hours of hand stitching.

On the eye side, I made sure the pin was correctly positioned for the corresponding hook when attaching each eye. The eyes should be set back slightly so that when the fabric gives when fastend they do not show.

Eyes set slightly back. Pins marking the eye spacing

Eyes set slightly back. Pins marking the eye spacing

I didn’t have a chance to stab stitch, but thought I would do that after the next class when I would know for sure that the hooks and eyeswere in the right place.

Homework 29: Cockade experiment

Petersham from Ribbons2U on ebay

Petersham from Ribbons2U on ebay

One of the requirements for our costume is that it has red, white and blue. So far I am doing quite well with this as my corset is red and white, and my top fabrics is blue and white. However, ever since seeing rosettes and cockades I really wanted to use them to decorate my costume.

I was even more inspired when I saw these sites:

So I thought I would start to make one myself.  Using petersham or grossgrain seemed to be good to use and so I ordered a 25mm  mixed colour selection and 5 meters of red, white and blue from Ribbons2U on ebay (good service, arrived quickly).

Looking at the sites above, especially the American Duchess, I thought about using the pin method, but in the end I decided to just start pleating in a straight line, stab stitching through in a similar colour thread. I made sure there was enough fabric in the fold so that I would be able to curve around the centre when I had made enough pleats.

First attempt at making an outer tier of a cockade

First attempt at making an outer tier of a cockade - front

Close up of the pleats on the first tier of cockade

Close up of the pleats on the first tier of cockade

Back of tier showing the stitching

Back of tier showing the stitching

As it was my first attempt, I thought I would use a colour I was less likely to use, but the tier didn’t turn out too bad.  I didn’t measure the the intervals for the pleats, I think if I did it would make it look more regular. I would have to add another one or 2 tiers and maybe a button in the centre. Quite happy as a first effort.

Shopping: Ikea fabrics

Finally got some top fabric for the corset.

Fabric from Ikea - Berta rand red/white

Last week I told a friend at work that I had been looking at Ikea fabrics online, but hadn’t had a chance to go my local shop in Wembley as they don’t sell the fabrics online. They have quite a few 100% cotton or linen mixes to be used for bedding, draping, and light upolstery, and they seemed to have stripes which I would really like to use.

Luckily a few days ago my friend went to the Ikea in Edmonton as he needed a few things for his new flat. He got me a meter long remnant of the Berta rand red/white 100% cotton for 99p (normally £5.99 per meter). It is fairly heavy and has 5 mm thin woven yarn-dyed red and white stripes.

Shopping: Fabric shops on Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s bush, London

I went to Goldhawk road to see if I could find some inspiring fabric for my design. I think I went to every fabric shop on Goldhawk Road and had a good look at the ones in Shepherd’s Bush Market too.

I got swatches from these (I will try and get round to taking photos soon):

Classic Textiles

www.classic-textiles.com

  1. cotton stripe.
  2. plain silk £13
  3. silk stipe £5

Orya Textiles

  1. green and gold stripe £7.50
  2. Red Stripe £7.50

Fabric World

  1. Red Gold stripe silk £10 (45″)
  2. Orange/red/gold stripe £15 (60″)

(Fabric world tried to charge me for very small cut offs of fabric)

The main problem was that they stripes are all quite narrow. The orange/red/gold stripe was lovely, but too expensive for the project.

I was trying to keep an open mind, but there was a lot of polyester fabrics and not really any traditional prints. Not surprising really as they mostly cater for modern dressmaking. Maybe I am just not looking hard enough.

I am still on the hunt (mostly on ebay).

Shopping: MacCulloch & Wallis Ltd

25-26 Dering Street, London W1S 1AT (google map)
020 7629 0311
macculloch-wallis.co.uk

Based off New Bond Street, this well established shop has been there for over 100 years. Although it is not known for it’s bargains, it is know for it’s range of fine fabrics and trimmings, and it’s haberdashery.

It is always worth a visit if you are in the area and in need of a bit of inspiration. It is also close to John Lewis on Oxford street and in close walking distance of Kleins Haberdashery, or the silk and other fabric shops on Berwick Street.

I went there after visiting John Lewis which was out of Petersham and India tape. MacCulloch & Wallis didn’t fail me.

Cotton and pertersham tapes

Two cotton tapes with Petersham tape in between

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