Erzsabet in Stitches

My life in costuming and tatting

Loops and Chains Choker Tutorial

Tutorial for a simple tatted choker or bracelet.

 

This is a simple pattern that I adapted from the base of a crown I found in Tatting Patterns and Designs by Gum Blomqvist and Elwy Persson. It reminded me so much of those stretchy “tattoo” chokers from the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I started the pattern as a bracelet to test it out, which I made two of. One in variegated green, the other in variegated pink. The next step was to do it in black to simulate the “tattoo” chokers.

 

The pattern is simple enough to follow. It starts off with a loop consisting of 9 picots with 3 double stitches between each one. Then reverse work, and do a chain with 3 double stitches, picot, 3 double stitches, picot, 3 double stitches, and reverse work.

My Raspberry Swirl bracelet WIP

Raspberry Swirl bracelet WIP

Do this until you have reached the desired length, then along the top do a mirror of the chains along the bottom (3ds, p, 3ds, p, 3ds) and join each end to the center picot at the top of each ring. I find that with size 8 thread, 3 sets measures about an inch long.

Green Swirl bracelet

Green Swirl bracelet

You can add a clasp and short chain to make it adjustable, regular clasp closing, or a loop and button.

The shorthand of the pattern is as follows:

Round 1

(first set)

R: 3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 RW

Ch: 3-3-3 RW

(regular set)

R: 3-3+3+3-3-3-3-3-3-3 RW

Ch: 3-3-3 RW

(closing set)

R: 3-3+3+3-3-3-3-3-3-3

Repeat until desired length

Round 2

Ch: +3-3-3+

Thread Catcher Tutorial Review

Thread catchers are handy things to keep around your sewing space.

I had never heard of a thread catcher before, but when a friend shared theirs, I immediately saw how easy it would be to make one, and how convenient they would be to have around. I always had threads lying around everywhere, and having something to stuff them in once I trimmed them off my projects helped keep my sewing room a little tidier.

My thread catcher

Thread catcher

My friend linked me to a simple tutorial, which you can find here. The directions are easy to follow, and you don’t have to have amazing sewing skills to pull this project off. It also includes visual steps to follow.  And best of all,  project that doesn’t take a lot of time to put together.

I decided to  use leftover fabric from a cotton sateen duvet cover I had taken apart for another project. It was easy to draft up the pattern for it and put it together. The part that took the longest for me, was finding buttons I wanted to use for it that went with the fabric. I have a lot of buttons.

You could easily make a bunch of these and sell them on Etsy. You could even give these as gifts to any other sewing enthusiasts you know.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend giving this tutorial a try, it’s both fun and easy to make. This is one of my favorite small projects to date, due to the ease of construction and the handiness of this simple little

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Burlesque Captain Hook Costume

Costume design: Burlesque-style Captain Hook

Captain Hook(er)

My design for a Captain Hook burlesque themed costume.

The story:

A few years back I made a friend who was also very interested in costuming. She told me about MegaCon, which was a huge (one might say…mega) anime/cosplay/whatever convention in Orlando, Florida. We wanted to go. And obviously, we wanted to dress up. She had a themed group for Sunday, which was a Firefly cosplay group. We thought it would be cool if we did another themed group from the Friday.

I had seen a few cool burlesque ones, which were always mislabeled as “steampunk” because they had corsets and sometimes bustles. So one of us came up with the idea to do a Disney themed one. First we were going to do princesses, but that has been done to death. Then we came up with the idea to do villains instead. And some of them would be gender-swapped, because we were going to do it with a group of girls, and some of the best villains were male.

I picked Captain Hook, because yay pirates. In the end, someone called the design Captain Hooker, and it stuck. I didn’t get to go to the convention, but I still intend on making this costume.

The breakdown:

The easiest parts are going to be the ones I don’t have to make myself, obviously. Which means the boots. And because I will end up being on my feet for long periods wherever I wear this, I needed them to be something comfortable, that I’m not going to be tottering around in, worrying I’m going to break my ankle. So I’ll be wearing my Dr. Marten’s knee-high boots that I adore. If I decide to do a short photo shoot, I have high-heeled black boots that are just above the ankle and super cute. I just can’t walk in them, due to a bad ankle.

I already have thigh-high fishnets with an attached garter belt as well, so that easily takes care of that part.

Black ruffled underwear are easy enough to find online, though I would probably also wear something underneath them, just for my comfort.

Belts with an appropriate brass buckle aren’t usually too hard to find, and I actually have one I got from Old Navy that would do in a pinch. Brown faux leather, square brass buckle.

The rest of the costume I would have to make myself.

Black satin corset, drafted specifically to my measurements. I’ve found a nice sweetheart satin that doesn’t fray too much. I know Disney’s version of Captain Hook doesn’t wear black, but it was more suited to the design. Along the top edge will be a waterfall of lace, most likely in white, to replace the jabot Hook wears in the Disney cartoon version of Peter Pan.

I’ve been practicing making corsets for a little while now, and I use a free corset drafting pattern from Foundations Revealed, which is a wonderful resource for corset-making.

Corsets aren’t as difficult as everyone assumes they are, they just require sewing knowledge, a good resource for a pattern or instructions on how to draft one, and some patience with fitting. Always do a mock-up first, to make sure it fits.

Captain Hook’s coat itself will be a bit of a challenge, since I have only ever made one pirate coat before, and that was from a Simplicity pattern. This one will be shorter, and fitted in the back to the waist, then have a ruffled train. At no point will it close entirely, but it will be held snugly around the body by the belt at the waist. It will have lapels, which will be trimmed in gold braid all around. The same trim will be applied at the cuffs, as well as brass buttons. I have these ones which I had found on Etsy, which have anchors on them, well suited for a pirate. The jacket itself will most likely be made from a red velvet, since that is the color of Hook’s coat. And most pirate coats.

Then there is that cute little hat. That will be probably the most difficult part, as I have never tried my hand at millinery before. From what I can tell, they are usually just done with some buckram, or some stiff interfacing even. Then cover it in velvet that matches the coat, the same trim as the coat, and a couple of feathers. It will be a mini tricorn, which I think are adorable.

My hair will be my own, as it is currently very dark brown, and down to my waist. I’ll do it up in small, tight curls, which should probably reach to my shoulder blades. A fake skull and crossbones tattoo on my chest for decoration. And the final accessory, which is not shown here, will be a green crocodile stuffed toy turned purse, for things like phone and keys. What would Hook be without the crocodile that took his (now her) hand?

Possible addition:

I may also make a little tiered skirt, about mid-thigh length, to go with it if I want to wear this somewhere where a little modesty is needed. That will be simple enough to make with squares of black cotton gauze sewn together in multiple tiers in a circle skirt style.

Conclusion:

This is one of my favorite designs so far, and I really want to get it done. I will most likely not make it to any conventions where this would be appropriate any time soon, but I could just as easily wear it out for Halloween. It’s perfectly suited for that! Just…not in Canada. At least, not outside.

 

Note*: This post contains affiliate links.

 

 

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Shuttle Review: Susan Bates, Starlit, Aerlit

There are quite a few different types of tatting shuttles out there, which sometimes makes it difficult to choose which one to go with. To help ease the labyrinth of shuttle styles, I’ve decided to write up a little review of the shuttles I use. They’re all easy enough to use, although there are some major differences between them in practice, with their own pros and cons.

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Susan Bates shuttle

The first shuttle I ever used was a Susan Bates bought from a local craft store. I started off with just this one shuttle, some white thread, and some simple patterns.

Susan Bates shuttle

Susan Bates shuttle

The Susan Bates shuttle is made primarily of a plain cream-colored plastic. It also has small metal crochet hook on the end of it. The hook makes it easy to pull up threads through picots without the need for an external hook. At 3 inches (7.5 cm) from the tip of the hook to the end of the knob, and about 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide, the shuttle is diminutive.

The great thing about the Susan Bates shuttle is the removable bobbin at its center, which makes winding smooth and easy. You just pop the bobbin out and wind it by hand or machine. Conversely, you just pull the shuttle to have it unwind automatically, since the bobbin spins freely inside the shuttle.

Pros:

  • Freewheeling center bobbin makes winding a breeze especially since you can use a sewing machine to speed things up.
  • Crochet hook for easy thread pulling without the need for an external hook.

Cons:

  • Quite a bit smaller than some other shuttle types, so may be harder for some people to hold.

Handy Hands Starlit shuttle

As I got better at tatting I came to realize that I needed more shuttles for more projects, especially for more complicated patterns requiring the use of two shuttles. I decided to go bulk and get a six-pack of Handy Hands Starlit tatting shuttles.

Starlit Shuttle

Starlit Shuttle

At 4 inches (10 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, these are somewhat bigger than the Susan Bates shuttles, so are easier to hold. The Starlit shuttle sports a pointed plastic tip at one end; I don’t use it since I prefer a small crochet hook for joins.

Unlike the Susan Bates shuttle’s bobbin, the Starlit shuttle has at its center a set post 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide. In the middle of the post is a small hole to manually tie and wrap your thread. Other than the post in the center, the two sides of the shuttle don’t meet, which allows the thread to unwind from the post.

Pros:

  • Large dimensions make it easy to hold, so great for beginners.
  • Comes in a variety of colors, which makes it easier to tell which thread is which for your project.

Cons:

  • Post design means  that thread unwinding requires the entire shuttle to be rotated.

Handy Hands Aerlit shuttle

The last shuttles I bought were a pair of Handy Hands Aerlit tatting shuttles. These are almost identical in design to the Susan Bates ones. However, they also come in come in different colors and have a second bobbin. I love the availability of an extra bobbin since I can switch one out and do a different project with the same shuttle.

Aerlit Shuttle

Aerlit Shuttle

I am also fond of colors, not just for keeping track of which thread is which, but because they’re prettier. And since the Aerlit, like the Susan Bates, also comes with a hook, it’s become one of my favorites to use. Its dimensions are identical to that of the Susan Bates.

Pros:

  • Comes in a variety of bold and attractive colors for easy project identification.
  • Having two bobbins makes for easy thread switching between projects.
  • Crochet hook for easy thread pulling without the need for an external hook.

Cons:

  • Diminutive size may make it harder for some people to hold.

Verdict

Although all three shuttles are differentiated in a number of small ways, I ultimately like them all, and would purchase more of any of these. Each plays to its own strengths, and I find that the best approach for me comes in using all three types. They’re usually easy to find, and are pretty cheap to boot.

Do you have any favorite shuttle brands that you swear by? Drop a comment below to let me know!

 

Note*: This post contains affiliate links.

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