Jul. 20th, 2010

auroraceleste: (Default)
Essential information - I am right handed. Keep in mind that when I say I work right to left, you may want to reverse that if you handsew with your left hand. Also, keep in mind that stitch lengths are general, no one I know keeps a guage out to measure each one, but the lengths listed are lengths to strive for.

Basting Stitch:
A long stitch, usually with the stitches even (length of thread showing on top is same as space in between lengths). Stitches should be about 1/4" long. I usually work right to left.

Back Stitch:
A short, strong sewing stitch. Take a long stitch about 1/4" long. Then, instead of going forward, insert your needle close to where the thread goes into the fabric. Take another stitch about that comes out 1/4" from where the thread last shows. Insert your needle close to where the first stich ends, and continue on in that fashion. On the front there should be an even row of stitches; on the back there should be a single thread showing in some places and two overlapping threads showing in most places. I usually work right to left.

Slip Stitch:
A stitch that is used to join two pieces together without the stitches showing on the outside I use this a lot for items that have been lined, then turned, to finish of the hole that's been left open, or to finish the bottom edge of a corset that's not bound. Turn both seam allowances to the inside and press. Take your first stitch from the inside out, so that the knot is hidden inside. Then take a stitch on one side of the fabric, going through the fold of the fabric only so that no thread is viewable from the outside. Then take a stitch on the opposite fold, starting the stitch at the same place as where you came out of the opposite fold. Continue in this manner, pulling tight enough that no thread shows but not tight enough that the fabric puckers behind you. At the end try to tie the knot as close to the fold as possible, then cut the end and use the point of your needle to tuck the knot into the fold so it doesn't show. I usually work right to left.

Prick Stitch:
This seam is used when you have to sew to the outside of the fabric but don't want the seam to show. It is often used to insert zippers (often called a hand-picked zipper) or to hold facings and linings to the inside of the fabric. It is essentially a very short backstitch. Start your knot on the inside of the garment, but work on the outside. As the thread comes out on the front side take a tiny backstitch, leaving a stitch only a few threads long, then a long length is left on the back side of the fabric before coming out on the front again for another tiny stitch. I usually work right to left.

Vertical Hemming Stitch:
My favorite of the 50-million-different-hand-hemming techniques. I like it because all the thread is on the inside, so there's less places to catch a heel on and break, undoing all that work. Fold the hem and press. Start the knot on the inside of the hem flap, coming up about 1/8" from the top of the hem. Go straight up to the outside fabric and take a tiny forward stitch. I try to catch only a few threads. Then slide your needle between the outside fabric and the flap for about 1/4-1/2", coming up about 1/8" from the top of the hem. Repeat, pulling tight enough to keep the flap flat against the outside but not enough to pucker the fabric (yeah, this sounds easy, but it can be a real pain). Work right to left.

My Vertical Hemming Stitch:
I usually work this with a backstitch instead of the forward stitch, and I work left to right, or, even better, I hold the fabric so I can sew from bottom to top.

Catch Stitch:
A hemstitch I use on especially thick fabrics or in places where I might need to take it down and re-do it (like hemming corsets, where you would take down the hem to remove boning for washing, then re-insert and re-sew). Fold the hem and press. Start the knot on the inside of the hem flap, coming up about 1/4" from the top of the hem. Laying the thread at about a 45 degree angle, take a short backstitch in the outside fabric, catching only a few threads. Then, laying the thread again at a 45 degree angle, take a tiny backstitch on the flap fabric. The resulting seam looks kinda like a backstitched zig-zag, with the fold caught between the zigs and zags. This seam is a lot less awkward if you work it opposite from other seams you sew. I work left to right.

Blind Catch Stitch:
A cross between the Catch Stitch and the Vertical Hemming Stitch. Fold the hem and press. Start your knot on the inside, taking a tiny backstitch on the inside of the flap. Make the stitch only a few threads long. Go about 1/4", then take a tiny backstitch on the outside fabric where it is hidden under the fold. Repeat, doing all the stitches in the fold so that they are hidden on both sides. Best worked left to right.
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How to Run a Small Costume Contest
AKA: What's the Bare Minimum I Need?

So you want to run a small costume contest at your con. Maybe you don't have the space for a full Masquerade. Maybe you just want a contest for your track/fandom/interest group. But where to draw the line as to what's needed and what isn't? Hopefully this article will help you organize your thoughts some and help you organize the kick-ass contest you've been dreaming of.

First every contest needs rules. Yes, even yours. Rules allow everyone helping you out to determine what is and isn't allowed without bugging you about it every 10 seconds. Here are some rule categories you should consider covering:

How much will you allow? How much is too much? Yes, even if it is an NC-17 contest, if you're charging to get in (to the con OR to your little contest) you should check to see if you're covered by public entertainment laws on nudity and conform to them or risk getting yourself and your contestants arrested.

Which ones are covered by the contest? How much crossover is allowed? You'd be suprised at how a clueless Trekkie/Stormtrooper/Anime/Furry/Comic/Whathaveyou character will want to enter your Star Trek/Star Wars/Cosplay/Furry/Comic/Whathaveyou contest. Have a rule in place as to what you'll allow, or someone will sneak through and make the audience say WTF?

-Bought Costumes
Have a hard and fast ruling on bought costumes. Are they allowed? What if only part was bought? What if it was bought from a thrift store then changed by the entrant? Giving your staffers rulings ahead of time prevents drama.

-Costume Stuff
Will you allow any costume? How about the fairy that's throwing/shedding glitter everywhere? Who's going to vacuum afterward? How about the guy that's covered in peanut butter, glopping all over the floor (yeah, it's a famous story, google it). How about people throwing things into the audience? Set a limit or you'll be left cleaning up the mess.

Next you need to decide on prizes, both what you'll award and what you'll give to winners. First decide what kind of things you want to award. Is your contest for well made costumes, great skits, crowd favorites, or a combination of the above? Even if you want to say it'll be even, it never will, so decide now what's most important for the winners to have. This helps you pick the right judges and advertise to the right crowd. You also need to decide what you'll give the winners. JMO, ribbons with nothing printed on them or blank certificates where prizes can be filled in are better than dictating awards. Especially at a small contest you can try to give a 'Best Child' award, but if no children enter you're stuck with a ribbon you can't use. If you have access to a computer and printer consider making up a template and printing out awards as the judges decide. Also, decide if you'll be giving honorable mentions, and how many prizes total you will give out. It's rather obvious and disheartening when you give out 6 awards in a contest that had 8 entries, and the 2 that didn't get an award are going to be more heartbroken than if you only gave out one prize. I recommend not allowing more than half the contestants to get awards. Consider how much space and time you have and determine how many entries you can handle from that. Too many entries can wreck a contest even more than too few.

Next your contest needs judges. Your judges should really be tailored to your award emphasis. Try to get experienced costumers to judge a contest for well-made costumes, and great skit people or guest actors for skit-centric contests. If you want audience favorites, consider letting the audience decide. If at all possible don't rely on applause, though. If your audience and number of contestants are small enough you can give each audience member a token, colored toothpick, or other small item and have them put them in jars/tissueboxes/whathaveyou to vote for their favorites. It's also better if the jars/boxes/whatever are closed and opaque, or you might get hurt feelings from Joe's friends who tell him he only had two tokens in his box. Also, you can give prizes to first, second, and third using the counts, or you can use this to give an 'audience favorite' award in addition to awards given by judges. Final note on judges - odd numbers don't have ties.

Next determine your resources. Will you have a stage? How about a cd player or sound system? Do you have an MC or announcer? Is that person NOT you? It really shouldn't be, because you have too much to do, and leaving the big decisions during the event to your staff is cruel. Consider how much space and time you have and determine how many entries you can handle from that. Too many entries can wreck a contest even more than too few. Consider how much space you have. Contestants need somewhere to sit, minimum. Making them stand the entire time in a back hallway makes for unhappy contestants. They can sit in the audience, but then you have to rope off your best seats, or you'll delay the contest by the contestants coming from the back. How much time do you have? Skits take time. Presentation time, setup time, and judging time. If you don't have a lot of time consider not judging skits, just costume workmanship, and consider having the judges work without the audience (during a social hour or break in the schedule), then pull all the contestants on stage at one time for the audience to look over as you announce winners. Takes very little stage time, and contestants are happy they got to talk to judges personally. Also, provide your judges with some paper to write on. A judging form is nice if you expect more than 20 contest entries, but not necessary. While you're thinking of forms, make up an entry form, too.

Finally, figure out your staff requirements. You should have one door guard to the contestant area pre-contest. One person should be in the contestant room before and during the contest to answer contestant questions and line them up in order. If you have an announcer/MC they can go around ahead of the contest and collect names/announcements. Provide them with a stack of index cards and a bundle of pencils/pens. Have someone to keep track of the order people go onstage and help line up groups during the contest and escort them to stage. Have a judges' assistant if you have more than one to take their award and organize them for the MC. If you're doing an audience vote have a staffer to guard the jars/boxes/whatever. Above all, try for none of these people to be you so that you are free for the major emergencies. If there are none just help out where you are needed in a place where all your staff can find you.
auroraceleste: (Default)
Basic Machine Sewing Seams and Seam Finishes:

Straight Seam:
Usually sewn with the stitches at a length of 3 (or mid size, if your machine doesn't have lengths). Start the seam by sewing forward 1/2", sewing in reverse over the forward stitches to the starting point, then sewing forward the length of the seam. This is called "backstitching", and it prevents your stitches from coming loose. Backstitch again at the end of every seam.

A seam sewn with a length of 5. It is a very long, loose seam used to hold pieces together temporarily. All instructions tell you not to backstitch on any of the seams because that makes them harder to pull out later. I always do, because basting is usually used for trying stuff on, and I always pull the seams apart when I try something on if I don't backstitch. Just remember that you'll have to take out the stitches when you're backstitching - so don't do too many, or too tight.

Stay Stitching:
Usually sewn with the stitches at a length of 2 with no backstitching. These stitches are made to keep the fabric from stretching while it is sewn. Direction is very important when staystitching. That means you have to pay attention to what direction you're stitching, and make sure everything you sew is symmetrical. So don't sew down one side then up the other, because the staystitching will pull a little bit and your garment/costume will look lopsided. Also, remember when sewing hems and necklines to always sew from the outside to the middle, or inside out, not from one side to the other.

This is a technique that keeps linings and facings from showing on the outside of fabrics. After the seam is sewn it is pressed, then the seam allowances are pressed towards the lining/facing (instead of spread apart like ususal). The seam allowances are then sewn to the lining/facing about 1/4-1/2" from the seam. Press and fold the lining under, then press again. The bulk of the seam allowance will help keep the lining inside the garment and not show.

Flat-Felled Seam:
This is what a lot of people think of as the "jean seam" because you see it most on the legs of blue jeans. It is a very strong seam. First, seam the fabric with the right sides out (usually wrong sides are out when you sew a seam). Yes, this seam shows on the outside. Press the seam, then decide which side will be on top. Take the bottom seam allowance and trim it with scissors to 1/4". Carefully fold the longer seam allowance over the shorter one, then press to the side so the longer seam allowance is on top. Press down, then sew (topstitch) along the flap to hold it down.

French Seam:
Used often on sheer fabrics. Sew a seam with the right sides out and a 3/8" seam allowance. Press, then press open. Turn the fabric to wrong sides out, press the seam closed, then sew another seam 1/4" from the first seam. The allowances now add up to 5/8", a standard seam allowance, and all the raw edges are encased on the inside of the flap so they can't ravel.
auroraceleste: (Default)
A start on a bibliography

Note: this is only the opinion of one person: Aurora Celeste. Your useage may differ. I highly suggest that if you are on a limited budget you get a book on library loan before you pay money for it, just to check it out and make sure it’s what you’re looking for (that’s why I’ve provided a library location for a book, so you can know where to get it).

The Basics of Corset Building: a Handbook for Beginners by Linda Sparks
ISBN: unkn Library Loan: not yet (soon from University of Kansas)
Buy: Corsetmaking.com, Farthingales
Own: No

I don’t have this book, but I’m hoping to get a hold of the KU version soon. What I’ve heard of it is that is has great stuff on hardware and the process of making a corset.

Corsets and Crinolines by Nora Waugh
ISBN: 0878305262 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Corsetmaking.com, Amazon
Own: Yes

Every historical corsetiere should have this. It has a wealth of patterns taken from period pieces in museums and private collections. They are only one size, but if you have access to a projector or enlarging copier, it's pretty easy to make them full-size then alter them. The book also has quotes about corsets and corsetry from period sources like newspapers and magazines and period pictures; it also has a narrative of how corsets were made in each time period and how they changed from corsets before them. Great for anyone wanting a historical commentary on the corset.

Waisted Efforts: An Illustrated Guide to Corset Making by Robert Doyle
ISBN: 0968303900 Library Loan: unkn
Buy: Corsetmaking.com, Farthingales, Amazon
Own: Yes

I recommend this book only for advanced historical corsetieres or people who have a solid background in garment construction and access to an instructor. The advanced alteration methods can be confusing unless you know what you're doing or have someone to explain it to you. It also has a few patterns from a narrow historical range; mostly it uses patterns from Corsets and Crinolines and assumes you have access to that book as well. It has a very good historical narrative on how corsets were made and worn, but that information alone just isn't worth the price, IMO. If you're just out for that info see if you can read the book at a college library close by or on inter-library loan.

The Little Corset Book by Bonnie Holt Ambrose
ISBN: 0896761304 Library Loan: unkn
Buy: Corsetmaking.com, Farthingales, Amazon
Own: Yes

I really like this book for beginners to corsetry. It's small and cheap, and gives a great, simple way on how to make corsets. It's not necessarily the best way, and the patterns seem incorrect for the periods described, but it's a great place to start. It gives one person's methods on how to construct a corset, step-by-step, and you can build up 'your' method from there. I've never made the patterns so I don't know how easy they are to alter or how well they fit.

How To Build & Fit A Victorian Corset Laughing Moon Video/DVD
Buy: Corsetmaking.com, Farthingales
Own: Yes, Video

The woman on this video is about as exciting as a tree. She seems terrified of the camera the entire time, and she often reads (what I assume are) her cue cards in monotone. That said, if you can distill the info she has some great information, especially about the Laughing Moon pattern. If you're more of a visual learner and absolutely NEED to see things done, get this video instead of The Little Corset Book.

Fabric Savvy or More Fabric Savvy by Saundra Betzina
ISBN: 1561582670 (FSed.1), 1561585734 (FSed2), 1561586625 (MFS) Library Loan: unkn
Buy: Amazon
Own: Yes, both editions

I think everyone who sews should have one of these. The guides are wonderful, they categorize fabrics according to weave and fibers, then tell you how to pre-shrink them and which interfacings, presser feet, needles, threads, and seams to use. More Fabric Savvy has the same information as Fabric Savvy, as well as a few more fabrics and information on stains and burn tests for unknowns, so buy whichever you can get your hands on, not both.

The Costume Technician's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey
ISBN: 0435086103 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: No - KU Library

A great book with everything about costuming. Has some information about boning, but more about how to hide boning in outfits, and lots on other costume construction techniques. Should be a part of every costumer’s library! Beware, though, the authors also have another book, The Costume Designer's Handbook, which is more about drawing and designing costumes and much less about making them. It is interesting and contains great information, but not much of it is useful for hobbyist costumers.

Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing by Reader's Digest editors
ISBN: 0762104201 Library Loan: Most Local Libraries
Buy: Amazon
Own: Yes - 2 editions

Another book that should be in every sewer’s library. It’s not for a beginner, but once you know your way around a sewing machine this book is invaluable for diagramming how to do different seam types and construction techniques valuable to every sewer. There are older versions and newer versions, and most libraries (even the ones in the middle-of-nowhere Kansas with 100 books in them) have this book.

The Corset: A Cultural History by Valerie Steele
ISBN: 0300099533 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: Yes

This book doesn’t have much on construction, and what is has you have to dig for. What this book does have is huge amounts of information about corsets, how they were worn, why they were worn, when they were worn, and what people thought of them in the times they were worn. Great for dispelling (or proving!) all those corset myths about fainting, twelve inch waists, and tightlacing fetishes.

The Cut of Men's Clothes by Norah Waugh
ISBN: 0878300252 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: No - KU Library

The Cut of Women's Clothes by Norah Waugh
ISBN: 0878300260 Library Loan: University of Kansas
Buy: Amazon
Own: No - KU Library

Has some information on corsetry, and patterns for the clothes that go over them. Also has good information on how to make the clothes, and what was traditionally worn under and over the corset, as well as modern techniques that can be used. Some patterns can default to the theatrical rather than historically authentic, so if you're wanting accuracy you'll have to do some more research beyond this book.
auroraceleste: (Default)
Alley Cat Scratch’s Fabric Stores Links –

Costumer’s Guide Links –
((Fabric Stores at the bottom))

The Costumer’s Manifesto Fabric Links Page –
((This doesn’t include their extensive links on trims, notions, wigs, armor, accessories . . . you name it!))

Kingdom of Atlantia Historical Fabrics Links –

SCA Merchants Fiber Arts Links –

Elizabethan Costume’s Mailorder Costuming Supplies Links –

Stores that offer samples or sets

Denver Fabrics –
Sells samples of their fabrics, then issues a gift certificate for the amount of sale that can go towards fabric orders.

Fashion Fabrics Club –
Become a member and get monthly mailings of 1” square samples of 15-25 random fabrics.

Silk Connection –
Sells individual samples or a complete swatch set.

Dharma Trading Company –
Sells individual sets, sets by fiber, or a complete swatch set.
auroraceleste: (Default)
All About Wigs – http://allaboutwigs.onthetop.com/allaboutwigsresults.asp/topic_CARE+OF+SYNTHETIC+WIGS

Katie Blair’s Petting Zoo Wig Design –

Alley Cat Scratch’s Wig Page –

How to make a wig, beard, or moustache –

Weaving Wefts –

Sewing Wefts –
((for dolls, but the theory is the same for human-sized, just use longer hair and do more wefts))

Caulking Wefts –

Caulking Glue-in Wefts -

Making Extensions and hairpieces –

Men’s Hair Replacement Workshop page on wigs –

Extensions and Dreads Information –

Otaku Riot’s Wig Info Page –
((includes great info comparing wefting techniques and recipe for sharpie dye))

Cosplay dot Com’s Wig and Hair forum –

Doctored Lock’s Tutorials Page –
auroraceleste: (Default)
Butterick Patterns –

Simplicity Patterns –

McCalls Patterns –

Vogue Patterns –

Kwik Sew Patterns –

Great Pattern Review’s Links to 120 Pattern Companies –

Pattern Review Sites

Pattern Review dot Com –

Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild’s Great Pattern Review –

Raveness’ Renaissance Pattern Review –

Pattern Modification Tips

Alley Cat Scratch’s Pattern Modification Links and Tips –

Dawn’s Pattern Modification Tips –


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