sewing improvement

Make Some Pocket Extenders for Your Pants

So I don’t know about you, but I’m often frustrated by the ridiculous smallness of girls’ pockets. At a bare minimum, I need to be able to shove my cellphone in there - come on, pants companies! So what I started doing was making myself pocket extenders. I’ve done this several times, for pants and shorts. It’s great.

I just got this pair of jeans, so I thought I’d show you how to do it. I kind of feel like it just hasn’t occurred to some of you that this is an option, so maybe now it will. All you need is your pants, some fabric (I just took a random piece from a scrap bin), a needle, and some thread (thread doesn’t even need to match the fabric since literally no one will see it).

See? Ridiculous. Like, half a cellphone, or only 2.5″. Useless.

 So turn those inside out to expose the pockets.

Figure out how big you want your pockets to actually be. I kinda go by whatever looks like might be right. I didn’t really measure them. Fold the fabric in half, so you have a pocket, and then fold it in half again so you can have two equal ones.

Try to get the edges to line up enough, pin it in place, then sew up the sides! Are your stitches crazy uneven and wonky looking? Doesn’t matter; nobody’s going to see it. These are in the inside of your pants. The only thing that matters is that it holds up. So I double-did the corners, since those tend to get the most stress.

Cut open the bottom of the existing pockets.

Pin it in place, then sew around, joining the new pocket to the old pocket. I did this by keeping my hand on the inside, so I wouldn’t accidentally sew through the other side. Again, I reinforced the corners, and didn’t worry about what it actually looks like. Then I turned it in side out to make sure the inside was all joined properly.

Yay all done! And the pockets are so much bigger now!

Whaaaat I can fit my entire phone and entire hand and probably something else now, are girls’ pockets even allowed to do that?! Heck yeah they are.


Someday I will stop talking about these two dresses. Today is not that day.

Grace Kelly’s wedding dress (designed by Helen Rose, two-time Oscar-winning costume designer) is a masterpiece. Rich materials, exquisitely tailored. Part of what makes this gown so appealing, though, is its proportions. The cummerbund extends from the waist to the underbust, which gives visual lift to the bust. The bodice is essentially three different sections—the cummerbund (solid), the bust (lace over solid), and the upper chest/shoulders (lace alone). Each section is roughly the same size, meaning the rule of thirds has been applied. Everything is well-balanced visually.

Another important thing to remember is that women in the 50s generally wore different undergarments than women today. Kelly was most likely wearing a girdle, which helped shape that slim waist, and the skirt had a significant crinoline and probably had hip padding as well to achieve that silhouette.

Kelly’s dress was produced by a team of 36 seamstresses in six weeks. Despite the close fit of the lace bodice, seams are virtually impossible to find. Hiding seams in lace is not an impossible task but it is time-consuming; it involves overlapping lace appliqué on the seams. The swan neck is also perfect, flowing without wrinkles over her collarbones and laying flat against her neck. No matter how she holds her arms, there is no strain on the bodice.

And then we get to JMo’s cosplay version. 

The proportions are off. The cummerbund doesn’t come up high enough. The result is the illusion of a low bust. There’s also no excuse for the bottom edge to be flipping up like that. She isn’t wearing a girdle (which, I can’t really blame her) and also has little or no hip padding, so the dress as a very flat silhouette. The skirt pleats are weirdly off-center, but the line of buttons is not (how is that even possible?). With her arms out on either side, the bodice is straining across the upper chest. The swan neck isn’t flush like it’s supposed to be and the lace edge isn’t even symmetrical. It’s closer to the buttons on one side than the other. An attempt was made to mirror the lace across the placket but the sides are off by enough to make it look weird.

And those seams are visible from space.

Sure, this is a recognizable copy, but in the same way that Yo-Yo Ma and your eleven-year-old nephew both play the cello. At this stage, I’m forced to assume that the costume department had two days and one fitting with JMo, or that they’re actively trolling everyone with this thing.

My first attempt and newest attempt at princess serenity from sailor moon. The one on the left is like 2009’s attempt. I loved that cosplay back then but after seeing pictures I ended up not liking it anymore and wouldn’t wear it again.Flash forward to 2013 for the right…If I ever get down on myself about not being super awesome at cosplay I look at these two and see how far my sewing has come and how much better  my new serenity looks verses 4 years ago.


Lately I’ve been busy with university. Lolita has been one of the only things that keep me alive and trying to do things. Yesterday I made a drawing of my new piece. It is a little complicated, but, oh well, what in life isn’t? So, I may take a few weeks sewing that. *Mystery*

This one I finished some months ago. Today, besides the rain, we had some sun in the afternoon, so I thought it worth documentating this one to this tumblr. My boyfriend choose this fabric, and I’m very proud of him and his knowledge with lolita.

The ribbons are velveteen, and I loved them. I wasn’t sure if they would match with the dress, but I wasn’t disappointed with the final result. My sewing skills are improving, and maybe this is the only thing I do I am proud of, because all the rest of time I think I’m trash in everything…

A lot of people don’t believe me when I say that I’ve only been sewing for a little over 3 years. Previous to that I had only really ever sewn plushies, pajama pants or pillows during Guide Guide workshops aka I could put fabric through a machine and sew in (sort of) straight lines but not much else. I had never used a clothing pattern before, I had never used anything other than a basic straight stitch, and I had never bought fabric. October 2012 was the first time I ever sewed any garments completely from scratch and those were my Fushimi from [K] vest and coat and now this October (2015) I will be competing at the Master’s level for cosplay craftsmanship. So I figured I’d give a short rundown of how I taught myself how to sew and how I improved.

1) I watched a lot of Project Runway (the earlier seasons… Annnndreeee, where is Annnndreee?). While this didn’t help much in actual sewing, it got me familiar with a whole lot of terminology and types of fabric and outfits. Plus it also showed me where people tended to take shortcuts and when those shortcuts tended to fail. 

2) I got a very basic sewing machine and I READ THE ENTIRE USER MANUAL. I started off on a Singer Simple which was a gift from my parents (who actually bought it 2 years earlier but never gave it to me thinking I’d never use it… HA!) and I went through every single English page of that user manual. I became familiar with all the parts of my machine, how to thread it, how to change bobbins, how to clean it, how to fix jams, all the different stitch types, and I practiced sewing a bunch of random stitches on scrap pieces of fabric just to see what they looked like and how they changed when I changed different tension settings.

3) I got a basic sewing book (from like 1965… it’d probably better to get an updated/current book) that acted as a glossary of sewing terms. I had no idea what 50% of the stitches I needed to use were called so this became very useful later when I bought my first pattern.

4) I bought my first patterns and chose something fairly simple to start off with which was a lined vest (followed by an immensely more difficult jacket). I went with Simiplicity patterns after doing a lot of googling for the most new-user-friendly patterns.

5) Then I FOLLOWED THE PATTERN INSTRUCTIONS. It seems like an obvious step but even now I sometimes skip a step and then later regret it. Everything the pattern said I needed, I bought. I bought the specific types of fabric, interfacing, thread, buttons, I did not deviate from their suggestions for the first trial run. Then I read through the pattern instructions, cut out all the corresponding pieces for my size and got to work. The key was to work slowly and re-read things as I went. I also used my sewing book and google to help better explain some of the instructions that were not 100% clear to me just starting out. I also looked up youtube video tutorials on how to iron seams, sew darts, properly clip curved edges, sew button holes, and finish inside seams. Research, research, research!

6) To re-iterate: TAKE YOUR TIME. Slow and steady wins the race. It took me probably a solid 4 days to sew a very simple vest that would probably take me maybe a couple hours now but damn it was one of the cleanest looking vests I had ever sewn. I made sure not to rush anything and gave myself lots of time.

7) I kept practicing. The more I sewed, the more familiar I became with how garments were put together and where I could change things to better fit my size or how to alter things to better fit the garment I was trying to create. I experimented whenever I could on scrap fabric to see what would and would not work for stitching and ironing.

3 years later and I can now draft my own patterns and sew dozens of different types of garments with dozens of fabric types. I would attribute 90% of my learning experience to taking it slow at first and researching as I went. I didn’t allow any guesswork on the first couple of projects I worked on because how would I ever learn if I didn’t look into how something was properly done? Google, youtube, tutorial blogs (wink wink), reference books, and pattern instructions are you friends, do not take them for granted. 

Pictured at the top on the left is the first Kirishiki vest I (rush) sewed in July 2012 without following instructions and trying to do it myself. The vest on the right is from December 2012 after I decided to take my time and follow instructions and actually learn while I was sewing. You can improve 100% just by taking your time, doing some research and following the instructions.

Bonus: What I bought for my sewing starter kit

  1. A green rotary/cutting mat. They can be really expensive but I have been using my large mat for 3 years straight and it works wonders at not only protecting the surface you are working on, but giving you a nice sturdy pinning and cutting surface that is self-healing and doesn’t get destroyed by pins and exacto knives.
  2. 1 large and 1 small pair of orange handled sewing scissors.
  3. A 6" x 24" clear sewing ruler.
  4. A pack of white/blue fabric pencils.
  5. A box of standard pins, plus a pin cushion.
  6. A pack of extra bobbins.
  7. A pack of standard sewing needles for hand-sewing.
  8. A pack of standard sewing needles for my machine.
  9. An iron and mini ironing board. 

Happy sewing!


Okay so I saw this post (and it’s a super cute blog, 10/10 would recommend if you like DA and weird modern aus) and it got me thinking

What if Cole got the Inquisition’s hand-me-downs?  Especially if you consider how frequently the Inquisitor hoards new, better equipment for their Inner Circle, there has got to be cast-asides, right?  And Cole just loves every single awful stitch of those hand-me-downs as he builds himself outfits out of bits and pieces of all his friends.

The Inquisitor gives him a sweater that proved to be too impractical for someone who’s leading the Inquisition and is routinely wading in and out of chaos.  Or a pair of knit, strangely patterned socks that their parents sent them but don’t quite match the “I am an intimidating world power, respect and fear me” look that their advisors are trying to encourage, and honestly mom there’s only so many knit socks one person can own.  Or just any of the various coats and belts and rings and boots that they pick up along the way and think yeah that’d be just about perfect…

He gets a pair of Bull’s ridiculous pants that are so big on him that he could just as easily use them as a tent, but he just cinches them tight with a belt and runs around with them billowing behind him.

He gets scarves from Varric when Varric catches him shivering one day, just wearing his threadbare, patched shirt.  (And if you want to go further: didn’t Anders mention that he wanted to take up knitting? Imagine a lumpy, weird-shaped scarf that Anders made him and that despite everything Varric has held onto it all these years.  But when he sees Cole, displaced spirit who’s still trying to get use to the real world and things like cold, he knows that Anders would want it to do good for someone who needs it)

Cassandra ruins a tunic training one day and instead of throwing it away she lets Cole have it and he lovingly stitches it back up.  (Blackwall teaches him how to improve his sewing, because a man who’s travelled alone for as long as Blackwall has he definitely knows a few tricks, and he gets Cole some different, brightly coloured thread to use)

Cole eagerly uses this thread to patch his clothes with bits and pieces from all sorts of hand-me-downs that are too battered to be scavenged.  Just imagine all the plaidweave.  Vivienne gives him some of her own ruined robes to cut to pieces and use as patches just so she won’t have to see anymore of that cursed excuse for fashion.

After Cole takes to doing this, whenever Josephine gets in swatches of sample fabrics from merchants she always passes them on to Cole when she’s done with them so that he can have these various patches of strange, exotic fabrics.

This is all well and good of course, but Cullen also puts in an effort to make sure that Cole at least has few pieces of real armour among all this, or at least protective runes that can be added to his clothes so that he’s prepared for all the people that tend to want to kill you when you travel with the Inquisitor.

Cole even ends up with some of Dorian’s old robes after he decides he simply cannot be seen in them anymore, and Cole loves wearing them on rainy days because the water slicks off the tough leather perfectly, though he never manages to figure out all the buckles.

This just becomes something that people do without thinking about it, because old clothes need to go somewhere and Cole always seems surprised and thrilled when he gets gifts.  Eventually he has enough that if you were to ever go to his little corner in the Herald’s Rest and investigate the crates you’d find a couple filled with all these hand-me-downs, lovingly folded and stored away for later.

By the end he looks like a positive rag doll but he loves it all with every bit of his soul because it’s proof that instead of forgetting about him, his friends think of him at random moments, see something and think that he would like it, and lets him hold little bits of them close to his heart.

When Luna Lovegood is twelve years old, she finds a box full of her mother’s clothes buried in a closet. None of the garments fit her, and almost all bear holes and scorch marks from her mother’s experiments, but Luna salvages what she can. She teaches herself to sew by hand, and pieces scraps together to fashion patchwork robes, as well as dresses and skirts.

Luna’s first attempts are messy and unpolished, with fraying edges and uneven stitches. She wears them with pride, despite her classmates’ teasing, because it’s like carrying a piece of her mother with her.

By fourth year, Luna’s sewing skills have improved enough for her to sew a quilt. After the battle at the Department of Mysteries, when Luna begins to have nightmares for the first time since she was a small child, she wraps it tightly around herself and tries to remember the feeling of being held in her mother’s arms.

Scraps of fabric in every color find their way into the rainbow of Luna’s wedding gown, and Pandora is there to walk her daughter down the aisle. When Luna’s sons are born, she takes apart her first clumsily-sewn garments, and sews the pieces, along with scraps of clothes she and Rolf wore as children, into two small blankets for them.

As she watches her children grow, Luna begins to find pieces of her mother in each of them, like picking out bits of cloth in a quilt of many colors. She sees her in Lorcan’s silver-blue eyes and endless curiosity, in Lysander’s easy smile and quiet compassion, and she remembers words spoken to her long ago: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”


It’s getting there. A few more details on the shirt and chest armor, then the costume for Chromie is done. Then I move on to props. Then I finish my bf’s and make my day 2 costume. I feel a bit better about my progress seeing these pieces all together. I also have the skirt and belt done. I know that even if I end up not having a prop for some reason I have a complete outfit that I’m very proud of. It took forever since it’s my very first cosplay and I had to learn to work with foam and try to improve my sewing skills. One month to go!


July 27th 1963: Garrett Morgan dies

On this day in 1963 the prominent African-American inventor Garrett Morgan died in Cleveland aged 86. Born in Kentucky in 1877 the seventh of eleven children and with only an elementary school education, Morgan went on to develop patents for several inventions. His patents included: a new sewing machine (his first job was as a sewing-machine mechanic); an improved traffic signal (he was the first black man in Cleveland to own a car); a hair-strengthening product; and a breathing device. His model of a breathing device, initially meant to help firefighters, went on to be used as the basis for gas masks in World War One. The hair-strengthening product he invented allowed him to start a business which sold these products to African-Americans - the G.A Morgan Hair Refining Company - which had great financial success. However, Morgan faced considerable racial prejudice throughout his career. Some refused to purchase his devices, which led Morgan to hire a white actor to pose as ‘the inventor’ when showcasing some of his inventions. After his heroism during the Cleveland Tunnel Explosion, when Morgan and his brother put on breathing devices and helped save some of the trapped workers, people realised he was African-American and sales of his products dropped. However after his patent of the traffic signal, which he sold to General Electric for $40,000 and provided the basis for the modern signal, he was honoured and respected by many in the business community. Garrett Morgan, who tirelessly supported the African-American community and whose inventions and personal heroism improved countless lives, died on July 27th 1963 in Cleveland.


I would like to announce that my winter coat that has been in the making for three months is FINALLY entirely, completely, totally FINISHED. *\o/*

The photos are crappy because at this time of the night I can’t be bothered to set up better lighting or fiddle with whatever comes out of the phone camera. The color is most (but not absolutely) accurate in the first picture. And of course it looks even better worn than on a hanger, so use your imagination for that bit.

The coat is based on a commercial pattern (which I sewed once before as-is) but all the details – that is, the piping, single-welt pockets (so much bigger on the inside!), epaulets, sleeve thingies (I really need to learn more clothes/sewing-specific English!), belt, coatloop – are my own idea and design. I also reconstructed the entire collar area.

I am awarding myself a medal for patience and persistence in the face of a gazillion things that didn’t go right the first time (and some not even the second or third time) and for never giving up (at least not for long) no matter how frustrating this project has been at times (MANY times).

Winter, I’m READY.


Today I started cleaning out my costume cabinet - and came across some super cringe worthy of projects. In my defense these were all made within my first six months of learning to sew - but still, ick! 

When I first got into sewing, I got bored really easily. I’d drape a pattern and be sick of the project the next day - or cut out a pattern, pin it together, do all my seams perfectly, and be so tired of it I didn’t care how the hem or zipper looked. 

I realized quickly the only way I would ever finish a project is if I made things I was interested in (not “easy” projects) and made them fast so I wouldn’t get bored. Unfortunately my skills weren’t advanced enough for the things I wanted to make, and paired with my attempts to make them quickly, the quality ended up being super shitty.

Looking back on it I don’t regret it at all. Because making high quality garments wasn’t a priority of mine back then - I just wanted to make things I liked. If I had tried to make everything perfect I never would have finished anything, and I wouldn’t have discovered how much I love sewing!

Now a year and a half later my priorities are really, really different - my last few garments have been completely lined and fully finished. I no longer hide crappy stitching beneath fancy trims, or carefully pick poses that will hide mismatched seams and frayed edges, because there isn’t anything to hide.

I’m proud to post detail shots of cuffs and hems, because I’m pleased with my craftsmanship. Which is something I never, ever thought would happen.

Anyway - I just wanted to say (and show), sewing poorly is better then not sewing at all. And the only way you can improve at sewing is by practicing. Just because your first few things may look a little crappy, or not up to your standards doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Keep at it! 

anonymous asked:

Felicity patching up a drugged Oliver ;)

Omfg Anon I love you. This was so fun!

She shouldn’t be laughing. The logical part of her brain was telling her that she should not be laughing at the man who had a bullet in his shoulder but the other (more convincing side) was remembering the time in the not so distant past that she had been a little too happy after being shot. 

That and she had never actually seen Oliver so relaxed. 

“I’m just saying that green is a much better color than red.” He insisted, gesturing with his good arm towards his green leather pants. An area Felicity was determined to ignore as she continued to wipe the blood off of his very bare shoulder. 

“Please tell me you like the color green better than red” he began, his eyes widening as she ignored his question. “Felicity…” he grabbed both her hands in his, meeting her gaze with his intense blue eyes. She stood frozen for a minute, holding her breath as she became painfully aware of how close they were to each other, standing between his legs, mere centimeters away from his bare chest. Had there conversation been about anything other than colors she might have fainted.

Scratch that, she most definitely would have fainted. 

She let out a sigh, shaking her head and breaking whatever moment had just passed between them. Taking her hands from his she set the cloth she had been using down, picking up the needle to close his wound. “I’m just saying I wouldn’t wear green lipstick on a daily basis.”

“You don’t wear red lipstick on a daily basis either!” he argued, throwing his good arm up in the air in frustration. She shot him a look, “Yeah because I’m sure you pay attention to the lipstick color I wear everyday” she mumbled mostly to herself. She didn’t even know what color lipstick she wore everyday, a pain in the ass when she went to the store to get a new one. 

“Yes” he said immediately, catching her off guard for a moment. 

“Yes what?” she said, looking at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes I know what color lipstick you wear” he repeated as if it was the most normal thing in the world. She stood frozen in her spot, wondering how OIiver Queen of all people had stared at her face enough to know what make-up she worse, much less something she wore on her lips. She shook her head, it was ridiculous really. Oliver just payed attention to things, he probably saw it in her purse one day and it just stuck in his mind. But looking into his eyes she (though she tried her damndest not to) thought it could have been the alternative. 

“I’m not saying anything, just that up until recently red was my favorite color.” She would be lying if she hadn’t been tempted to buy every single emerald green dress she had seen since she had joined their crusade. 

Oliver’s eyes lit up like a child’s at Christmas “And what is your favorite color now?” He said, practically bouncing with excitement which was seriously ridiculous. He was going to feel ridiculous tomorrow. If he remembered any of this conversation that is. 

“I think I could be persuaded into liking the color…” she paused for dramatic effect, trying to contain herself as he leaned in closer waiting for her response. 

“Blue.” It took him a moment to realize that wasn’t the color he was going for and a moment longer to react, reaching his arm out to poke her in the side, eliciting a squeal from the blonde. “Hey…” she put up a finger in warning, giving Oliver a stern look, “No tickling.” He pouted but back off nonetheless, allowing her to finish her patching without anymore interruption. 

“Well, it’s all patched up but it may leave a scar” she said. While her sewing skills had improved in the time she had been on team arrow, they weren’t as good as Diggle’s. Then again, he hadn’t asked Diggle to patch his shoulder up. 

Oliver shrugged, wincing slightly as he did, “It’ll match yours” he said, reaching out to touch the marred spot on her shoulder. She held her breath, grateful there was a layer of clothes between his hand and her shoulder. Oliver was a lot more touchy when he was drugged up and she was not sure she wanted it to stop. She smiled, backing away slowly to give him room to jump off the table, “I should go, have an interview tomorrow morning early. But if you need anything at all call me.” Before he could even say goodbye she was up the stairs and out the door. 

The only indication that he remembered anything from last night was a thank you for patching him up. But when she got to her computers in the foundry, she was surprised to see the brightly colored bag, a small note attached to it. 

For the days you have a hard time choosing.

She would be lying if she didn’t laugh at the contents, a tube of bright red lipstick and green eye shadow.