Friday, August 24, 2007

Calling All Seamstresses

And seamstr...ers? Tailors? Whatever.

So, as any anime fans in the audience know, the convention season is upon us. As any school types could tell you, Spirit Week (and its assorted opportunities for dressing up) is on the horizon as well. And, obviously, Halloween is right around the corner. Which means it's costuming time!

I couldn't explain why--I sure don't know--but lately I've been extremely into sewing. And I've gotten fairly good at it. Good enough to feel confident in helping out friends of mine with their costumes.

But there are some things I just don't know how to do yet. Like ruffles. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but one of my friends has decided to dress up as Rose from the show Fullmetal Alchemist for Character Day at our school. I love this idea, because I'm going to be Dante and that's one of the creepiest character dynamics in the show, so it'll be a blast...but the only costumes of Rose's that are in dress code are this one and this one. Ruffles galore.

Does anyone here have any tips for sewing ruffles, poofy sleeves and skirts, that sort of thing? Any good sources for such? Websites, book titles? I'd really love to pull this off for my friend (not to mention, my costume has some minor ruffling as well).

Anything you have would be appreciated!

Now I just have to finish my Ty Lee costume for Dragon*Con...

(Am I procrastinating on writing? Yes. Yes I am.)


Katie Alender said...

Hey! Robin sent me over.

From what I understand, ruffles are achieved in one of a few ways... here's one method, and what I can tell you about this is that it works IF you use strong thread that won't just pop at the slightest pressure. Keep your stitches long and your tension loose when you sew the gathering seams. Or to Mickey Mouse it, you could sew two seams with a shoelace or string inside them and father the fabric the way you can gather a curtain on a curtain rod.

Then there's shirring, which involves using elastic thread in your bobbin. Apparently it's a little tricky to get started but once you figure it out, I don't see how it can be that hard (except winding a bobbin by hand).

Or you can take a piece of elastic, like 1/4" width, shorter than your fabric. You stretch the elastic and tack either end of it to the ends of your fabric, then you hold it taut to sew, and you'll get some gathering. This is useful for all sorts of things.

I think plain old gathering with the rows of thread is the best way, though. And that's the method that gives you enough control to gather in just one spot, like at the top of a sleeve or just under the bust.

Good luck! I hope this isn't too confusing! I always love meeting other writers who sew as a procrastinatory method.

Katie Alender said...

When I say "father" the fabric, I mean "gather" the fabric, of course!

Miri said...

Thanks so much! I'll give the plain gathering a go, I think.

Yaaaaaaay, procrastination.

Anonymous said...

It really isn't very hard, and I like the suggestion in that link from katie to capture the real seam between the rows of gathering -- makes the stray threads soooo much easier to remove and helps avoid funny wrinkles getting sewn in. Also, since the gathering stitches are very long and loose, in a pinch you can do them by hand -- it depends on how precise an effect you're going for. Math is your friend, and before you know it, you'll be improvising pleats without thinking twice!

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