Sunday, 28 October 2012


It's been a frustrating week.

The purple satin corset continues to find new ways to annoy me. Despite carefully marking the positions of the eyelets, somehow a few of them ended up distinctly out of line. One of the eyelets didn't set properly, but nor could it be removed, so more hammering was needed to at least smooth it down a bit. Oh, and inserting eyelets can now be added to the (very long) list of Things Which Make Satin Ripple.

Wonky eyelets

I bought my own copy of the Laughing Moon pattern so that I could check where the boning should go, and this confirmed that there should be bones both on the seams and partway across the panels. Meanwhile someone who had been on the same course a day later than me lent me her completed corset to inspect, which proved that the tutor only intended us to bone the seams. I've ordered some more spiral steels from Vena Cava Design, but discovered that not all of the boning channels on the seams were sewn wide enough to get the bones down, so will have to be redone. Again.

Where the bones SHOULD go

While I wait for the bones to arrive, I thought I'd tackle another challenge. Stretch fabric is a bit of a mystery to me. I've used it to cover bras for dance costumes, and to make simple things like belts and arm pieces, but I've never tried anything more structured. A calamity with a dress over the summer (I'll post about it sometime, when I've recovered from the trauma) convinced me that I need to start from basics. Kwik Sew pattern 2632 (now out of print) includes a wrap top, and as I fancied a change from the black top I wear for class and rehearsals, I thought I'd begin with that.

Pattern for a wrap top

Constructing the top went reasonably well, apart from a slight ripple in one sleeve. Unfortunately finishing off the raw edges was another matter. I used a wide zig-zag stitch, but despite using a suitable needle for stretch fabrics it skipped a lot of stitches, so I had to go over some parts again. The result looks fairly messy, so clearly I need to experiment a bit more to get this right.

The finished top (don't look at the edges)

The third piece of frustration came from my stash. We always have a Ya Raqs end-of-year girls' night out, and this year we are going to a 'Vegas Night'. Of course, for this I need a suitable dress. My plan was to use Vogue 1302, and I had the perfect fabric; a brightly printed satin with a dark background.

My dream fabric

When I took got it out however I discovered that it has quite a stiff hand, almost like a taffeta. As the dress requires something soft like charmeuse or shantung, the fabric almost certainly won't work. I need either a different pattern, or a different fabric.

After all of this, finally some good news. Along with several of the other Ya Raqs girls, I recently went to JoY, a middle-eastern dance weekend. In the souk and in workshops we noticed a new type of hip belt; made from two long pieces of stretch fabric sewn together either side of the hip, with the ends hanging loose. I decided to tackle stretch fabrics again, and have a go at making one.

I bought a remnant of a fine knit fabric, and drafted basic pattern pieces for the part which fits around your hips, making the back piece deeper than the front.

Belt pattern, front and back

Then I pinned these to the middle of the fabric, cut roughly towards them from each side, and then cut out along the top and bottom of the pattern pieces. I used woolly nylon thread to overlock a rolled hem on all of the raw edges apart from the top edge of the pattern piece, stretching the fabric as it went through the overlocker to give a 'lettuce leaf' effect. Finally I made a loop of elastic to fit around my hips above my skirt (I still prefer a circle skirt to trousers, very old-fashioned!), and attached the pieces to it.

Colour co-ordinated belt, wrap top and circle skirt

If I make another one (and I probably will), I'll make both pieces a bit longer. Finally though, a success!

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