Summer projects

It's been a scorcher of a week. Over thirty-five earlier in the week, and over forty degrees Celcius two days running with minimum of a sticky thirty-three overnight. We've shut all the internal doors and holed up in the lounge and dining room, huddled under the air conditioner (and feeling a bit like we're trapped in a MARS module). Have I mentioned I don't like summer? Then the internet and Foxtel died, first on Wednesday, then again on Friday, only to reappear on Saturday afternoon. What to do? I caught up on some culling of my costume cupboard and made a new skirt for my new 'work wardrobe' and rolled up a new D&D character. I found some funky octopus material in the cupboard (I've already used the map material for a blouse) - only two metres but I managed to eek out a longish skirt by narrowing skirt panels and shortening the length to fit the pattern onto the available material.


I had some thread in my thread box - perfect match. I cheated and used some (leftover) bias binding to finish the hem (and get back 3cm of length).

  Add a blouse and a wide belt or cinch corset and I'm ready for another book signing! I've packed away the sewing machine for now (it's just too hot to do anything). It truly needs a service. I don't think I will be able to make a planned blouse before the tension is rectified.

Photos ©2016 Karen J Carlisle All Rights Reserved.

Steampunk Explorer Costume Diary.

Earlier this year I scored some material on Freecyle (a local group who giveaway unwanted items so they can be recycled or reused), including brown cotton and blue polycotton offcuts. I was inspired to create a new steampunk outfit, loosely based on the character of Lara Croft. As usual, I left it til the last week to put my plan into action - for this year's Time Travellers' picnic.

The brown material seemed to be the remnants of an old sheet, left over from someone's project - wide enough to make a ruffle skirt (which would provide better circulation, hence much cooler than a pair of bloomers for a summer's afternoon). The blue cotton consisted of just under 5 metres of 48 cm wide offcuts - just wide enough to cut out waistcoat pieces.

To save time, I fished out a pattern I adapted for a previous project, and one I bought at the last Spotlight sale:
  • Butteric 3418 (skirt)
  • Simplicity 8114 (to make the waistcoat)


I use bought patterns as a starting point when time is short, using them as a sloper to adapt into something new. For this outfit I wanted a sleeveless waistcoat and a ruffled skirt with an uneven hem (longer at back).


waistcoatfitting_copyright2016karencarlisleI ignored the sleeves and used the basic waistcoat pattern as a toile, reshaping and trimming back the armholes and adding a dart to make it more fitted (with some help from a friend to reach under the arms).

I used cotton duck (in my cupboard stash) for the interlining. Cotton breathes and is cooler than synthetic iron-on interlining.

The pattern suggested plastic boning. I used 6mm metal spiral boning for the front and back side seams, and 10mm metal spiral boning for the side seams. I find this lasts better and gives better support (plus I had most of it in my cupboard).

There was just enough material to include all the body pieces and make a matching bias binding. (2) Phew! I added brass-look buttons to give a more steampunky feel. (3)

(2) Making bias: waistcoatbias_copyright2016karencarlisle waistcoatbias2_copyright2016karencarlisle

(3) Bias edging and buttons to finish off. waistcoatbiasarm_copyright2016karencarlisle waistcoatbuttons_copyright2016karencarlisle


I wanted a shorter look to this skirt (to keep it cool to wear and reminiscent of Lara's shorts). The front hem was raised to the knee and the back raised a few inches, with the hemline curved to join up. I managed to eek the lower ruffle from the original material. But I wanted a flirtier look to the skirt - a second ruffle. I purchased 1.5 metres of complimenting polycotton and added a second ruffle. The edges were zigzagged in contrasting cotton for decoration. skirtruffle_copyright2016karencarlisle


My new steampunk outfit had it's debut at The Time Travellers' Picnic last Sunday - consisting of a double-ruffled skirt and blue, boned waistcoat/bodice. This was inspired by a 'Freecycle' stash of material I obtained - with blue and brown cotton-blend material. All I had to buy were buttons, some extra metal spiral boning pieces and some buttons. Total cost just under $30 (mostly for the buttons).

 photo3-d-carlisle photo2-neil-swadling

Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle/ David Carlisle. Group photo: ©2016 Neil Swaddling. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Friday: Inktober wrap up

Well, Inktober's finished for another year. Unfortunately, I didn't complete all the daily drawings due to migraines and all-day events. I suspected that might happen, as the past few months have been difficult stress and health-wise. So why did I bother?

Inktober provides many benefits to both me - and you, my readers. It pushes me to flex my drawing muscles (they don't get enough time to shine these days) and kicks my visual creative juices in gear. It allows my writing-brain to have a rest before the writing sprints of November's NaNoWriMo.(Though it still bubbles away, often resulting in some ideas to use for future stories.) As an added bonus, I often delve back into my unfinished pile of sewing projects. And this year, it spawned two new t-shirts, now available from my Redbubble store.

It was a pleasure to discover some highly imaginative artwork - some things I had never dreamed of - and meet some new artists in the process.

Here are just a few of my pieces from this year:

 day-13-scared_copyright2016karencarlislesmaller day-16-wet_copyright2016karencarlisle


day-6-cleonopencil_copyright2016karencarlisle day-4-henry-collins-for-sharon_copyright2016karencarlisle

day-20_copyright2016karencarlisle day-27-creepy-copyright2016karencarlisle

I am grateful to get the opportunity to rev up a different part of my 'creative brain'. and really need to find more time to draw. You can find all of my drawings on my Inktober Pinterest page.

Art and Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.