Posts Tagged ‘pattern’

Taking shape

I must confess that I don’t always bother to press pattern pieces using an iron, since it is often possible to flatten them out to an acceptable standard by hand.  However, there are two situations in which I always do: if the pattern is particularly creased, or if the pieces are very small.  The pieces for Avon and Vila, naturally, are pretty small.  When I’d finished pressing them, they looked like this:

Pattern pieces for the Avon and Vila dolls

You can just see the fabric on the right, and it is a good representation of the colour (at least, it is on my monitor).  Remember that, if you wouldn’t mind, because I couldn’t get the colour to look right in the next photo.  The boys are really not going to be spectacularly pink.

I’ve just been away for a week, and I took the pieces and the fabric with me.  While I was away, I cut everything out and did as much making up as I could.  This wasn’t a great deal because the arms and legs have to be stuffed before I attach them to the bodies, and I didn’t bring the stuffing with me, but it still took me a couple of days.  The results, as they stand at the moment, look something like this:

Fabric pieces for Avon and Vila dolls

I hate tailor tacks, but I can’t really see a way round them here, except on the arm pieces.  The arms are supposed to have a couple of tailor tacks at the top.  I’ve only put them on one arm, because it’s obvious from the construction where they go; I just need the one arm marking as a reminder which way round they are (the green thread marks the larger circles, the purple thread the smaller ones, and there’s one of each).  I’ve also thread-traced the stitching lines, and will probably replace the thread with chalk just before I actually stitch them.

Now, just look at that first photo again if you don’t mind, the one with the pattern pieces.  The text on the back piece (bottom right) is a tad out of focus, but all the outlines are very clear, and the photo is taken from directly above the ironing board so there is no perspective distortion.  That was deliberate.  I now have a scalable pattern.  You may hear a bit more about this later.

Not the next post, though.  That’s going to be all about the waistcoat. 🙂


Two bad boys

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m in the process of setting up my new business.  One thing I really needed for this was a good logo, and if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you’ll know that my artistic skills are entirely a matter of squared paper and grinding patience.  This, however, doesn’t work if what you’re trying to produce is a simple logo with nice bold lines.

So a friend in NZ came to the rescue, and she drew me a really lovely logo which you can see on my business website.  I asked her what she would like in return, and after a little thought she said she would like a plush Vila.  This name may not mean anything to you if you’re below a certain age, so I will explain.  Vila was one of the characters in a SF series of the late 70s and early 80s called Blake’s 7.  Both of us were (and still are) huge fans of this series, so I got quite excited about the idea, and said I was very tempted to make a plush Avon to go with him.  Avon was Vila’s friend.  Sort of.  Insofar as he was ever friends with anyone.  He wasn’t exactly a nice chap.  Even so, when it comes to classic SF double acts, Avon and Vila were right up there alongside the likes of Spock and McCoy.  In fact, whisper it softly, but I think Avon and Vila had the edge.  They got better lines. 🙂

Avon (left) and Vila (right) in "Gambit"

Here they are – the boys themselves, in a very typical screencap.  Vila’s the one on the right, clutching the drink and looking worried.  Avon is doing his usual steely-eyed thing with just a hint of smugness.  After all, you’d be smug too if you knew you could look good in a tinfoil tunic.  This still is from the episode Gambit, which possibly counts as my favourite episode ever.  My friend particularly wanted Vila in that costume (and I like that one a lot too).

The matter didn’t take much deciding.  My friend really wanted an Avon too, so she said if I made one, she’d pay me for him.  “Done!” I replied happily.  Of course, I’m no good at faces (see artistic skills above), but that’s all right.  She’ll do those herself.  She thinks the sewing is the clever bit.  I don’t understand that.  Sewing is easy.  It’s the faces that are the clever bit!

I decided to put Avon in his Gambit outfit as well, since it’s easy to make and it’s very classic Avon.  Avon wore a lot of silver.  (Heck, if you can, go for it.)  The first thing to do was to find a doll pattern.  There are lots of free ones online, but none of them turned out to be quite right, so in the end I bought this one:

Doll pattern (Vogue 7418)

Yes, I realise the dolls shown are all female.  Sssh, don’t tell Avon and Vila. 😉  The dolls actually look female because of their clothes and hair; their bodies are pretty much unisex.  They won’t need any adaptation to make them a more masculine shape.

This morning I went shopping for fabric.  The lady with the fabric stall on the market is truly awesome, because, as you will see if you compare this photo with the one of Avon and Vila above, she had just about everything I needed:

Fabrics, threads, trim &c to make the dolls

And, yes, that brown fabric in the middle is actually suedette.  It really could not have gone any better.  There’s also a large bag of stuffing which is not in the photo.

All I need now is some yarn for their hair, one or two pieces of PVC for their footwear (Avon goes in for big boots, but Vila usually wears a more modest pair of shoes), something I can use for Vila’s belt, a couple of small buckles, and some black sequins or similar for Avon’s belt.

I’m going to have fun with this project. 🙂

A painted tale

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet lately.  I haven’t been well since I got back from the concert, so, although I’ve been able to do a little bit of work on the waistcoat, it hasn’t been as much as I would have liked.  Fortunately I am now on the mend and have a long-term diagnosis, so now I know why I keep getting these respiratory infections that floor me flat for ages.  Hopefully that means the next one shouldn’t, because the underlying problem can be addressed.  I believe it also qualifies me for a ‘flu vaccination, and that’s probably not a bad thing.

Anyway, you remember what the pattern looked like last time you saw it?  This is what it looked like when I’d finished all the pencilling.  Due to my complete lack of artistic talent, it’s basically a pixellated grid.

The finished pencilled design

The next job was to colour it in with acrylic paint, smoothing (and in some cases joining up) the curves in the process.  This is the result:

The finished design, coloured in

Here’s a close-up

Close-up of coloured design
When colouring the pattern, I tried to get a balance between the two separate inspirations.  The Victorian waistcoat pattern on which this is based is paisley, and I wanted to keep some elements of that, so I have emphasised the hook at the top of the original paisley motif (which you can see clearly at the top of each of the gold parts).  I’ll also be filling in the curve at the bottom of the original motif in a consistent way throughout the design – haven’t decided exactly how yet, but I have plenty of time to do that, as I need to lay down this basic ground before I add anything else to it.  17th-century embroidery is typically more flowing, with a lot of disparate motifs unified by a vine-like base, and that’s why I’ve got the purple lines connecting the motifs and running through them.  This is obviously just a base for the rest of the embroidery, but I am really happy with the way it turned out.

Now the exciting bit can start!  First of all I taped a sheet of tissue paper to the front pattern block and traced it.  This was the right front, so I marked where the buttons are going to go.  Then I untaped it,  laid it over the pattern sheet, matched up the grainline to the direction of the grid, and shuffled it about until I got all four of the button spots on unembroidered fabric, so I don’t have to re-jig the embroidery for the sake of the buttons.  (I will for the buttonholes – that’s unavoidable – but at least not having to do it for the buttons is something.)  I taped it in place and traced the embroidery pattern, and this is what I’ve ended up with:

Pattern piece for right waistcoat front

Somewhat unconventionally, the grainline is not on the pattern piece itself.  I put it in the armscye, like this:

Close-up of right front pattern piece

This will make it a lot easier to line up the piece with the grain of the fabric.  I’m thinking of stitching in a contrasting thread to mark the grain, just to ensure it’s absolutely spot on.

This pattern piece isn’t quite finished, because I’m going to go over the pencil lines in ink to make them easier to see (and transfer).  Then, of course, I have to make the left-hand piece, which will either be a mirror image of this one or match at the centre front so that the pattern continues smoothly across the garment.  I haven’t yet decided which.

The building blocks

Today my pattern arrived, and so did the free fabric samples.  Here they are, alongside the current state of progress with the embroidery pattern:

Pattern, fabric samples and current progress on embroidery chart

The samples of the fabrics that I’m going to be using are at the top right of the picture, and the other two are the ones I decided against.  Here’s a closer look at the fabrics I’ll be using, showing the colours more accurately:

Fabric samples

The rather natty gold stripe is polyester, and will be the lining.  The centre sample is a heavy linen which will form the front pieces.  Oddly, on the website the other linen – the one that looks bright blue in the first photo – looked a very similar colour, but as you can see they are very different in real life.  Finally, the third fabric is a good quality silk which will make up the back of the waistcoat.  It’s a very similar shade to the polka dot lining that I eventually rejected, but it eventually got chosen because it is just that little bit more blue rather than green, so it matches the linen better.  To be honest I prefer the polka dot fabric, but I had to go for the better match, and this one is about as good as it could possibly get.

While waiting for these to arrive, I have been slowly progressing with the embroidery pattern, working madly to get the current piece of cord off the lucet so I can start making a sample with the purple wool I mentioned in an earlier post,  and having a lot of thoughts about the project.  For a start, I think I need to build a couple of custom frames, which won’t be expensive but may need some help from a friend who does DIY.  I have a wrist problem which means I can’t saw up bits of wood, even if they are fairly light.  Normally, in fact, I don’t use a frame or hoop for embroidery at all, since I’m well practised at keeping a good tension, but I think this project is going to need it.  I do own an embroidery frame, the sort where you can rotate the work on rollers at the ends, but with all the couching (and eventually beadwork) I don’t think that is going to cut the mustard.  I think I need a flat fixed frame, and, since it’s going to be so cheap to make one, I may as well make two so that I can work on both front pieces at the same time, rather than having to finish one before I can make a start on the other.

I will also need to make a mock-up to ensure that it fits… so I won’t be able to surprise my friend completely, but I can at least keep it quiet till the project is well under way!  To this end I have recruited another singing friend as my co-conspirator, and he has agreed to try to find out the height and chest measurement of our unsuspecting waistcoat-wearer in a discreet fashion.  At the moment, I have a good guess at these measurements as a back-up.  There’s a chap at work who is about the same height as my friend, but slightly thinner, so I explained what I was trying to do, asked him for his chest measurement, and added two inches.  The height I’m fairly sure about.  Let’s just say my friend is a classic haute-contre.  He’s not tall.  This means I have to scale down the vertical measurements of the pattern by a factor equal to my friend’s height divided by 5’10”, which is the height for which the pattern was designed.

This weekend I’ll probably get some unbleached calico and cheap lining material for the mock-up, though I can’t really do much about it until I get the measurements I need.  I should also be able to make a lucet sample and get more work done on the embroidery chart, and I have just the music to relieve the tedium of that particular job.  On Tuesday night I went to hear the Orlando Consort (linked on the right), who were singing some beautiful 15th-century music.  I bought another of their recordings during the interval… well, it would have been rude not to, don’t you think? 🙂  So you know what I’ll be listening to while I’m filling in all those little squares.