Tulle

The Making of One Eyed Cat - Part 2: the Tap Pants

Today we continue the series the Making of One Eyed Cat with the details on how to make the cutest pair of tap pants you'll ever see.  They are made of tulle and lace and oh so sweet and skimpy.

 

Photo & Styling by Jacs Saffioti| Editing by Ruby Corvette | Mask by  Pearls & Swine | HMUA & costume by me

 

This is the second pair of tap pants I have made and definitely the best!  If you want to revisit the first pair then go over to The Making of Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' - Part 3.  The issues I had with the first pair was that they didn't flair as much as I wanted and they were kinda just flat.  I combated this by using a much lighter weight fabric a a brand new pattern. 

The design was a follow on from my mesh dress.  my think was, if your dress is see-through then why shouldn't your underpants be too?!  The idea of tulle tap pants was born.  The other advantage of tulle is that any embellishment you add will be that much more effective as it stands out so much more.  With this in mind I decided to add some floral lace and crystals.

Now for full disclosure.  

These are very similar to a pair of french knickers available from Cristina Aaelli.  This was not intentional as I did not know about these until after I had designed mine.  I figured as I was only making these for myself and not selling them it was OK to continue.  Mine are nowhere near as high quality or beautiful as Cristina Aaelli's, but they are basically the same design.  I highly recommend you buy something from her range as it is extremely beautiful and very reasonably priced when you take into account the high quality materials and detailed and painstaking work.  

Moving on.

 

Photo & Styling by Jacs Saffioti| Editing by Ruby Corvette | Mask by  Pearls & Swine | HMUA & costume by me | Collar by Killstar

 

Pattern drafting 

In order to get the shape I wanted I drafted a full circle culotte pattern that I altered from a  pattern I found on a blog called Petit main Sauvage.  This is a really great tutorial that is very easy to understand.  To begin the pattern I drafted a standard full circle skirt pattern using my waist measurement and my required length.  To add in the crutch of the pants you need to first measure your hip circumference, hip height, and sitting height.  Your hip height is the distance between your waist and hips and your sitting height is the distance from your waist to where your butt meets the chair while you are sitting.  

Next you measure along the centre front of the circle from the top and mark the sitting height.  The instuctions on Petit Main Sauvage is, for the front panels,  to draw a line at a right angle from this point that is 1/10 your hip circumference plus 2.5cm.  Mark the hip height on centre front and draw a curve between that point and the centre of the new line drawn at a right angle to the centre front.  Repeat this for the back panels instead drawing the line at right angles at a distance of your 2/10 hip circumference minus 3cm.  

 
 

I personally think that for pants this short that the crutch is simply too long using this method.  I shortened the  crutch by 2.5cm on both the back and front pieces but I am probably going to shorten it even more.  Add seam allowances all around before cutting out and pinning to your fabric.  As for fabric, I first tried bridal tulle but found it felt horrible against my skin and was too light.  I instead used poly stretch tulle which is the same fabric I used for my pink robe/gown.  It has a great drape to it and is comfortable.  

Sidebar: If you are unsure what paper to use to draft your pattern I have a few suggestions.  Newspapers that don't transfer ink, butchers paper, brown paper used for packing parcels, baking paper, or (like I used for this pattern) A4 printing paper.  Just sticky tape pieces together until you have a big enough piece.

sewing

Now you can sew the tap pants together.  I sewed the 2 front and back pieces together before sewing the front to the back, leaving the sides open in order to insert closures. I tried the pants on and decided they needed to be shortened.  The shortening was controlled by the gusset meaning I couldn't shorten as much in the middle of the pattern as I could on the outer section.  The closure I chose was snap tape.  Snap tape is easy to sew in and the snaps are strong but easy to open.  I sewed it in to the sides and together at the bottom.  I trimmed the hems with bias binding which was a bit difficult.  First it is nearly impossible to buy the black satin 2cm bias binding I wanted.  It seems that as soon as it comes in stock it sells out.  I ordered some online which was lost in transit so I got a refund and luckily bought some in store (and you bet I bought half the roll of it).  A couple days later my package showed up so now I have lots.

As the tulle is very light and not so easy to fold the end result is a little hit a miss.  There are sections where the folded tulle extends beyond the edge of the bias binding.  Fortunately, because the tulle is so sheer, you can't see the this  unless you look very closely.  I think that when I do this again I will first overlock (or serge) the hem before attaching the bias binding.  My thought is that this will stabilise the edge and make it easier to fold and contain within the bias binding. 

Lace applique 

The lace I bought is a very inexpensive piece from eBay.  I then cut out the lace into pieces and started placing them on the pants.  I did this with the pants on because I wanted to place the m so that they framed my crotch and butt crack.  

I hand sewed the lace on because I was able to do it at my desk at work and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to machine sew it successfully.  I first tacked the appliques in place along the centre of each one.  I then went and sewed each one along the edges of the lace.  I used regular all purpose thread but should have used embroidery floss.  The standard thread is a little dull compared to embroidery floss and doesn't look all that good close up.  This isn't really an issue for a costume though as no one will be able to see this from the stage.  

I am not entirely happy with the way the lace is sewn on.  It took me 10 days to sew all the appliques on so I did try to have them sit as smoothly on the tulle as possible but there is some puckering.  I thought of using an embroidery hoop to help with this but I was worried that it would stretch the tulle.  I might need to use an iron on adhesive or similar to attach the lace to the tulle before I sew it next time I tackle something like this.

I added a few black diamond and hematite crystals to the lace to finish it off.  I'm very happy with the way they turned out, especially the pattern.  I don't think I'll be buying another tap pants pattern.  Instead I'm going to keep altering this one to perfection.  Next week I will continue the Making of One Eyed Cat series with the the g-string.  If you missed last week, which was the start of series, click here to read it now. 

xo Margeaux

 

Photo & Styling by Jacs Saffioti| Editing by Ruby Corvette | Mask by  Pearls & Swine | HMUA & costume by me | Collar by Killstar

 

Sewing Tulle - Tips and Tricks

I have just started developing a new act with the help of BB Le Buff's School of Performance and have therefore been busily ordering and planning and training but, until recently, had done very little sewing.  I started my first costume piece on the weekend - a pair of tulle tap pants!  Sewing with tulle is not fun but I have discovered 3 tricks that make sewing with it sew much easier!

 

My gown is made of ~11m of tulle!! Photo by KTB Designs | MUAH & Styling by the Bombshell Burlesque Academy

 

Sewing machine pressure dial

This is one of the parts of my machine I never paid attention to/understood what it was for.  This dial actually controls how hard the presser foot presses down on the fabric.  On my machine (a Janome My Excel 18W) the dial is on the top of the machine (number 11 below) and is set to 3 as a default.   

 

Image from the out of print manual for the Janome My Excel 18W. Number 11 is the pressure dial.

 

Setting 3 is for regular sewing.  When sewing fine fabrics you can change the setting to 1 to reduce the pressure on the fabric and prevent feeding issues.  You can also use this for when you are sewing stretch fabrics and bulky layers that you have trouble fitting under the foot. 

Image from the out of print manual for the Janome My Excel 18W.

The Walking Foot

Yeah, I'm probably not going to shut up about this anytime soon.  The walking foot, AKA my favourite foot, AKA the even feed foot, will help with feeding issues when sewing tulle and other fine fabrics.  The walking foot has feed dogs which work with the feed dogs on your machine to ensure the fabric is feed though smoothly.  This foot is also essential for sewing with stretch fabrics as well as for pattern matching.  This foot is a little pricey, but is so so so so worth it and will help you with so many different fabrics and applications.

Pin curl clips to avoid slips

This is the real reason I am writing this post.  Pinning tulle is next to impossible.  The pins will slide out so easily and excerise becomes quite pointless and annoying.  I had seen on a sewing blog somewhere someone using plastic clips instead of pins on their fabric, and I happened to have a couple of pin curl clips on my table that I had used for pastie making (I use them to hold the pastie at the overlap while the glue dries) so I decided to try using to pin together 2 pieces of tulle.  Well it worked so well I actually feel excited about it.  Not only do the pin curl clips securely hold the fabric they also have the added bonus of adding weight to the fabric which helps when you're trying to work on very light fabrics on an extremely windy day!

The clips hold the fabric much more securely than pins and reduce the slipping that you can get when you are sewing 2 layers of fine fabric together (something that can be further reduced using tips 1 and 2).  They are easy to remove as you sew and gather up when you're finished.  Plus most of us burly girls are bound to have some laying around the house.  

They are also very easy to re-position .  In the last photo I had pinned the bottom of my tap pant legs so that they were secure while I marked and trimmed them to make them shorter.  I was then able to place the off cut from one leg, with the clips still attached, on to the other pant leg and easily move the clips on the under layer to clip the top layer as well to give me a guide for cutting.  This is because the hinge point of the clip extends past the edge of the fabric. So instead of lifting the fabric to get to the pins you can just un-clip and re-clip with no issues! 

This is a bit of a quick post but will hopefully save you a lot of time and heartache when you next sew with tulle of any other similar fabric.  I look forward to showing you what I've been up to so stay tuned!

 

xo Margeaux