“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”

Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman

So over the past week…in and around doing a myriad of Masters work (so many deadlines and the looming threat of EXAMS…TERRIFIED!)…I’ve been moving my stuff out of storage. While that may not sound like a massive task, I can assure you it was…so much stuff…so much of it really heavy (why did I put loads of textbooks in one box?…how I didn’t end up with a hernia I’ll never know!). It’s fun to go through all the stuff I’ve been separated from though, including this little box set of delights…

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For the sake of not boring you I will refrain from going into quite how awesome this shiz is, but if you’re a fan of a costume drama or two, watch it I tells thee!

Being set in the twenties, the costumes are beaut…some serious quality headwear…turbans (very much like bow ties) are cool! As such I thought I’d whip up a wee turban style headband and share the process with you fine folks should you wish to try it for yo’self (I have been led to believe they are popular with the fashionable folk and Pinterest would seem to concur). So andiamo…

Turban Headband

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Adequately modelled by Little Sis

So what does one need…

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Aaaaaand a sewing machine…and potentially a seam ripper…

Allora, so the first step is to measure the circumference of the old noggin (head)…or more accurately from the base of the skull, across the ear and round the forehead like so…

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If you’re anything like me you will then spend some time amazed at actually how massive your head is.

Now we need to cut our fabric which means we have to break out some highly complex maths (or math if your Americanly inclined)…

Head circumference + 3″ + (2 x seam allowance) = length
(Desired width (I used 5″) x 2) + (2 x seam allowance) = width

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We also need a square that is 4″ + (2 x seam allowance)

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Make sense? Well you can’t answer so I’m continuing regardless. Starting with the little square, we’re going to make the little cinching band that sits at the front of the turban…

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Fold in half, right sides together and sew…

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Turn right side out and press

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Fold in half along the short edge, and sew again.

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Trim seam allowance and turn to right side…huzzah! Cinching band DONE!
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Now onto the larger fabric piece. Again we fold in half, right sides together along the long edge and sew (just along the long edge).image

Turn so right side is on the outside and press carefully

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So now to provide some orientation for you. The centre of this band will sit at the back of the head…once stitched together, the seam will sit at the front hidden by the small cinching band we completed previously.

We’re now going to use shirring to provide the elasticity so it fits nice and snug while still allowing it to be put on and taken off with ease. This will sit at the back of the head, and as such will be centred around the centre of the band. The centre can be found easily by folding it in half and pressing…the crease being the centre line. From this line, measure 4″ either side and mark with tailors chalk on the right side.

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Ok, so the photo here isn’t the clearest but it’s clear enough in real life…now we simply have to shirr from top to bottom, this 8″ section. If you’re comfortable with this technique jump on a bit, however if you need some hand holding read on…

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First things first, we need to replace your bobbin thread with shirring elastic…this needs to be hand wound (i.e. Don’t use your machine) with a slight stretch put on the elastic. Then bang it in your machine as you would otherwise.

With the right side uppermost (so shirring elastic sits on the wrong side) line up the needle with the tailors chalk and so the foot lines up with the edge of the fabric.

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Sew till you reach the second line of tailors chalk. The first line of shirring won’t be particularly dramatic, but don’t panic it’s totally normal, see…

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Repeat this again, however this time line up the edge of your foot to your previous line of stitches. As you sew, stretch out the fabric so it lies flat.

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Keep repeating this over and over…

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Till you’ve made it to the bottom.

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To secure the elastic you can back tack at the start and end of each row, however I prefer to tie them by hand (much neater!). By pulling slightly on the elastic, the upper thread is brought to the back and the two can be securely tied together.

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Finally, hover your iron above and blast some steam onto the shirred area…you’ll see it shrink down further, which I feel is quite pleasing.

Before sewing the two remaining edges together, slip on the cinching band (It won’t go on otherwise).

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Now line up the raw edges and sew.

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Press the seams open and slide the cinching band over the seam to hide it.

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Aaaaaaand finally, hand sew the cinching band in place on the wrong side to hold everything in place.

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And we are done…I would add that you can also do this with stretch fabric, which is even easier (assuming you enjoy working with stretch). In this instance you simply don’t add the 3″ to the length of the band, and omit the shirring stage…über simple! Now all that’s left to do is pop it on, grab some Champaign and Charleston the night away.

Toodle pip!

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“Hole onter sumpin’ an’ suck in yo’ breaf,”

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Part 1

It never ceases to amaze me how much you can learn from the internet nowadays…this being said though, I’m still a fan of a bit o’ old school classroom learning.

With this in mind, and thanks to a most generous gift from my wonderful Auntie Helen, I decided to sign up for a class on making 18th century stays with the delightful Mairi B (http://mairib.wordpress.com) in Edinburgh.

But what is a stay? I hear you ask (obviously not really, it’s not like I’m hiding behind your Sofa…or am I? Mwahahahaha!). Well in simple terms Stays are the precursor to Corsets, and that’s as much of a history lesson as I’ll be given today (although I may come back to it later as it’s actually quite interesting!).

She runs several classes including a corsetry class, but I chose the stays class mainly because I have some serious OCD tendencies and like to do things in order (and stays predate corsets). I justify it to myself and the world at large though by spouting statements like “I feel if you understand where clothing began it’s then easier to understand the construction of later garments!”. In the main part though…OCD!

Stay paneld
Stay Panels

Regardless, I attended the first day (of two) yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed myself! Not only did I actually learn something but I got to spend the day drinking tea, eating biscuits and chatting about period drama…period dramas (alongside coffee) are my drug of choice so big thumbs up!

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A personal period drama favourite!

Anyway, lots of homework to do before the final day (Sunday) so better get on with some of it…for now, I bid you adieu…

P.S. For those who know me I feel I should point out that I am taking this class to allow me to attempt more intricate sewing projects…I am not secretly wearing corsets and crinolines and currently have no plans to.

P.P.S For those who don’t know me, please note that I do not hold any strong feelings against male corsets, they just ain’t for me!