Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When rip means RIP, and future projects

So you are probably thinking, "Andrea, what about that post about the Pisces dress?" We...aren't going to talk about that dress. Every piece of the dress had to be redone in some way, and it pushed me into that "Why am I doing this?" mode. But I pushed through it and finished enough of it to wear the dress. It was well received at Archon and during Halloween (hey, I won the costume contest at work with it, so I can't be too mad at it). Then I went to wash it. Now, I had already washed it before after Archon, and even though the train was dragged around a convention center, the dirt came out without any fuss. Not so the second time around. So after dousing the train with Shout, I rewashed the skirt. And because I didn't want the coloring to get off after washing the skirt in hot water, I put the polonaise back in as well. Long story short, that third wash caused the buttons on the polonaise to rip up most of the lace, so this dress will be politely shoved in a corner until I have the patience to take the entire thing apart, bound seams and all, to fix it. Until then, Pisces will be out of sight, out of mind. I have some progress pictures, but I'm still too mad at it to post them.

In other, happier sewing news, my winter coat is in the works (a bit late since it's already getting cold, but I should be done with it in the next week or two). It's made of black wool flannel, interlined with poly fleece, and lined with dark red bemberg rayon and dark red poly knit (I believe it's the Jet Set knit at Joann's, if anyone wants to know). I flatlined the lining and the fleece for the body pieces, and I have most of that sewn up. It fits well enough that I'm going to go ahead and sew up the wool pieces and finish fine tuning once I have the sleeves on. The sleeve/armhole fit always plagues me with these types of coats. I actually had a peacoat that I worked on last year, but it was scrapped for that very reason. I'm excited about this coat. I've been wanting a wool coat for years, and now I finally have one! Also in my sewing class we're slated to have a section on bra making and corset making, so I'll hopefully be focusing on that after my coat is done.

Other projects in the works...well, it depends on whether or not I can get all the supplies that I need. So I will say that I would like to make two cosplay outfits, Anthy's "Leaving Dress" from Revolutionary Girl Utena and Uriel's final outfit from Angel Sanctuary (really I just love his jacket, and I want an excuse to make it). Both will require wigs and specific footwear, and Uriel's outfit will not only require me to bind/pad to look like a guy, but makeup couldn't hurt either. Also I need to make a very specific pin for his outfit (see the first picture). So there's no guarantee that I'll make these (even though I have most of the fabric for it).

Costume Con will be coming in the vicinity of where I live (read: 5 hours away) in 2016, so I plan on going, and I want to make something impressive! Unfortunately, I don't have anything in the works as of yet, Victorian wise. I have fabric and a ball of "Ooh, pretty creative time!" that doesn't equate to anything in particular. I have Venetian Carnival fancy dress on the brain, so maybe that's where it's headed. No clue. But I want to make something for at least two of the competitions.

However, all of this will be put aside (except for my coat), for it's NaNoWriMo season! So I'll stop here and use my typing fingers to get another thousand words or two done tonight before bed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New costuming convention and extant Victorian/Edwardian garment pictures!

I live! Hopefully I'll be making a few posts fairly close together, since I have several months' worth of stuff that I want to share.

This past March was the first annual Midwest Costume Academy. It was only a one day convention, which made me a bit sad, but man did the organizers make use of that one day! They had wonderful panels, and I learned a ton. The panels I went to were: Sewing with an Iron (there were two parts; the first one was on ironing tools and pressing techniques and the second one focused on fusible interfacing), Combining Commercial Patterns (presented by Andrea Schewe, one of the pattern designers for Simplicity who makes, among other things, some of their costume patterns), The History of Costume, Making Costumes That Can Be Moved in and Move Well, Basic Pattern Drafting, Wonderflex Techniques, and Historical Clothing CSI. The last one, which unfortunately was in the last time slot of the day, woefully did not get as many attendees because of the impending snow/ice/gross storm, but I wanted to go to the panel more than any of the others, and I was not going to miss out seeing extant garments from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It was well worth it (and the weather wasn't even bad on the way home, so double win!) and you get to reap the benefits in the form of pictures! I'm keeping them in the large format that my camera took them in, so just view them in a new tab/window to see the pretty up close.

This panel will definitely be back next year on March 28, so if you happen to be in the St. Louis area, check it out.

I'll make a separate update on my progress of the Pisces dress and other stuff later.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The blog lives! Also final Leo dress pictures!

It's been a while!  A combination of busyness and laziness is a good summation of my absence.  But I am happy to report that the Leo dress is done (was done quite a while ago, like the beginning of October...)

A few progress pictures though.  This is the polonaise after all but the facings and back were sewn together, from the back:

Not bad for pattern matching for the first time:

And I even matched up the buttons!  I had to cut into uncut fabric for some of those buttons...

And for the best parts of the outfit (in my opinion) the hat and the stole!  The pin for the stole I got from an antique shop in the St. Charles historic district.



And an above shot of the hat.  I thought I had some shots of the individual pieces being put on the hat, but you can sort of see most of the construction from the top.  The larger feathered area towards the back were just six of the smaller feather pieces bound together, and it's propped up a bit by a couple of net puffs.  There's a net puff in the front and a single feather gather on either side behind it to fill in space.  The fabric pieces were part of the pattern, which is the Lynn McMasters Bustle Hat pattern, View A, I believe.  The net puffs were from another hat version, but I don't think I followed the pattern piece, just the instructions for it.  I got the feathers from Joann's.

And this was the first incarnation of the dress worn at Archon.  I didn't have time to work on my hair switches or skirt trim, but at least the big elements were finished!  Alas, I did not make the gloves.  It was an ebay purchase.  In hindsight, I probably will not get leather that color again, since it's pretty close to my skin color and looks a bit odd if I think that's the skin on my hands...but it goes so well with the velvet stole...

I had a take two with hair switches.  These turned out much better than the original.  I kept them as switches instead of wrapping them around a piece of wire.  Then I sewed them to little wig clips and curled them using Magic Curlers, the mesh spiral curlers.  I just sectioned each switch into several pieces, used the curlers, and dipped them in a pot of hot water, then let them air dry.  No pictures since I was rushing at this point and I needed to get other things done.

Here is the second incarnation of the dress worn at Rural Heritage Day, without the stole but with skirt trim and my hair pieces curled and done.  Thanks to Mary for taking these.  I finally have some decent pictures, and of course since she's a seamstress, she knows where to take pictures to showcase awesomeness.  So here's some nice eye candy for you:

As for the riding habit, that was put on hold since I was having trouble finishing Leo at the time for Archon, and I haven't had a reason to start it up again.  But I had the jodhpurs and shirt done, the jacket partially done (I stopped during the lining stage, so I guess I just needed the collar and lining finished) and the vest still needed to be resized and made.  Maybe I'll have that done early next year.

Future plans?  Pisces is officially underway, and I finished the combination underwear just yesterday (no pictures, as I cannot find my battery charger for my camera...).  I have a petticoat cut out, which I should work on after this, and a mockup for the fantail skirt and polonaise made out of the Truly Victorian Tea Gown pattern.  Normally I wouldn't do a full mockup of a dress, but this one is very specific, so I want all the kinks worked out before I cut into my good fabric.  Speaking of fabric, it was such a pain to find fabric that worked for this project.  I was looking for fish scale/scalloped/fan-shaped patterned fabric in an aqua or turquoise color.  But the ones that I did find, for the longest time, just didn't work or were discontinued or the stores didn't have enough.  I finally found a suitable fabric by accident online, and at first it was a pain to find anything else that matched with it.  But the sewing powers that be finally shined on me, because not only did I find a solid fabric that worked but I also found lace, tulle, and beads as well...and with the exception of the original scaled fabric, which is on the left, I found the rest of it at Joann's, oddly enough.

This probably doesn't make up for almost a half year of lack of updates...but at least you had something pretty to look at, right?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another new project!

I'm alive!

It's been a while, hasn't it?  Mostly because I've had little to report.  I've been majorly slacking in the sewing department, and I've only just started to make some progress in the two outfits I want to finish by October.  The Leo dress was delayed by fabric acquisition issues (which I hope are now resolved) and I fairly recently decided to make a riding habit (of sorts). The jodhpurs need buttons and a waistband, along with a bit of waistline adjusting.  The jacket, which is from the pattern I drafted for my red and black dress, is still in the mockup stage, but hopefully I can sew that up this weekend.  I just got the top hat pattern, so that will be cut out soon and I can start wiring it this week.  That still leaves the gaiters, vest, shirt, and short skirt (well, short for Victorian).  Oh, did I mention this would be in black and gold?  I had bought some gold fabric a while back, and what they said online was twill was actually sateen and too shiny for what I had wanted to do with it.  So since I'm already making a gold outfit with Leo, why not use more gold this year?  Last year was red, this year is gold.  I feel like I'm an extra in that one scene from The Wiz.  I don't like green enough to have a year of green dresses.

For this being my Victorian dress this year, Leo doesn't have a definitive plan yet.  Fabric constraints may prevent me from my original plan, which was to make a box pleat trim for the skirt.  I have 15 yards of brown velvet ribbon that I don't know what to do with yet.  Maybe I'll get more inspiration as time goes on.

Pisces is in the "I'm seriously going to make this dress so I need to finalize my jumbled cloud of ideas" stage.  I'm going to a convention in April called Figments and Filaments.  It's a costuming convention, so I want to make something dramatic and awesome.  Except for Scorpio, Pisces fits the bill.  Right now the only thing I have are sketches and some of the fabric on the way.  It's a start.

More updates soon!  Promise!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fur-filled times with Leo

So I promised Mary that I would start on the hat first for my next Victorian dress.  I got the Lynn McMasters's Bustle Hat pattern in preparation for that.  Since I'm doing Version A and it's so simple, I may make two hats.  I don't know how possible it is to cover a buckram frame with fur, but if it's possible, then I'd like one to be fur for the Leo look and one to be fabric for the regular look.  I decided on fur because Leos are characterized as being high end, best that money can buy type of people.  So I think fur works better in that regard.  This will be my first venture into using fur, so this should be...interesting.  Luckily it's a simple hat and it's only a circle of fur to cover the top of it.

In addition to the hat, I've been messing around with stole and collar patterns.  Yeah, I got a pattern for the collar, just a wide shawl collar from a coat pattern.  I'm lazy, and it was $1.99.  This was after a few days of messing around with other patterns and not getting the result that I wanted, so I've earned my laziness.

In terms of current projects, my Renaissance skirt has the major seams sewn and the smock is cut out.  For some reason it was a pain to alter that pattern, especially it being such a simple garment.  And the bodice...I'm not looking forward to that.  Fitting bodices are such a pain.  But hopefully I can get most of this done before I start Leo.

So hopefully in the upcoming weeks I can get my hat wired and ready to cover (it's only two pieces, so it won't take long) and start the polonaise mockup once I get the pattern for it.  Also I might as well repair my red and black dress before I delve into this new project in May.  The red bled into the white overlay.  Should have seen that coming, but ah well.  I'll just cut off that section and make a chemisette.

Progress pictures to come and such once I finish something...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Petticoats and paisley

It's been quiet over here...

It took me quite a while to finish up a half dozen petticoats.  I left them alone for various reasons.  Disinterest, job stuff, teaching sewing classes.  So it got put off for quite a while after I managed to get all those things ruffled up.  So now I have an Early Bustle, Late Bustle, and Natural Form pettis, plus a bustle petti from the wire bustle pattern sans boning and overlay, plus two quick and dirty "gather fabric to a waistband" pettis for general purpose and Renaissance skirts.  After I was done, I decided to put them all on.  The volume was almost like a small hoop skirt.  And it was heavy, and it chafed my waist.  I wasn't wearing a corset, which would have helped some, but something tells me that having over twenty yards of muslin hanging from your waist probably isn't going to be light as a feather.

Plans have changed again.  I'll be making a Victorian dress, of course, but it's not what I planned.  After breaking down the cost, I have concluded that the Sagittarius dress is just too expensive to make right now.  Not just the dress but the archery equipment I have to make (since the real ones aren't allowed at conventions).  So that will be put off.  Pisces as well because I want something that I can wear for Rural Heritage Day.  So I decided to use some stash fabric and start on my paisley polonaise dress, which I will now dub the Leo dress:

The gold is a tinch too dark and rich for it to work 100%, but it looks so good with it that I have to use it. The brown is pretty dull in the picture; it's a richer chocolate brown. Also doesn't quite work, but I'll use it for trim and the hat, so I'm not super concerned.  It's okay if everything isn't matchy-matchy.

I haven't decided how to make the "mane" part yet or how I'm going to do the glyph, but they will be detachable since I want to wear this as a historical dress.  And I'm not going full on costume with this, so I'm not going to be a 19th century member of Cats with claws and makeup and such.  That's not really my thing.  Think of it as fancy dress.

I still have plans to work on my first Renaissance dress (if I can get the stupid bodice to fit...) and I told myself I would try to do something practical...but of course I can't just do something normal.  So I'm hopefully going to start a mockup of a tailored suit with Vogue 8333.  That jacket in that color wool is my dream suit.  Alas, I am not worthy of such wonderful fabric yet, so I shall stick to something less extravagant.  I have this thing for suits.  Especially on men.  I don't care who the man is or whether or not you think he's attractive, put a man in a tailored suit, and he's at least 20% handsomer.  Bonus points for three piece suits.  Why don't men wear three piece suits all the time anymore?...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Two and a half years...I've come a long way...

I was just thinking...this month I've been sewing for two and a half years. And I've come quite a long ways since then. I'm in a niche that I never would have thought I would like, let alone be in.

Actually, since I'm talking about a sewingversary, I guess I could talk about how I got into sewing in the first place. Back in 2008 when I graduated from undergrad, I told myself I wanted to learn two things: I wanted to learn how to decorate cakes and I wanted to learn how to sew. The former I got into right away that summer and I loved it. The latter...took a while. Sewing was something I was still a little iffy about. I didn't know much about it, certainly didn't know how to use a sewing machine. The only thing I could do was sew by hand.  I've had a needle in my hand since I was eight or nine, so transitioning from cross stitching to hand sewing wasn't difficult. I finally decided to get into it when I wanted to make my own kimono. So starting in July of 2010, I got around to taking classes. Sewing...was a lot more complicated than I thought. And like all of our projects that we start out with, it was imperfect. The stitching wasn't all that great. You probably didn't wear what you first made. But after I learned the basics I went on to make my kimono:

The thing about kimono is that it's not a complicated garment. Isn't meant to be.  It's a garment of rectangles. So once you've made one a couple of times, there's not...much else.  So I wanted to branch out after a couple of months.

Then my friend Meghann started getting into steampunk, and I was interested to a certain point.  I was interested in the Victorian aspect of it. So I did research. By September I was dabbling in Victorian clothing.  What you ask?  A skirt?  A blouse or bodice maybe?  No.  A corset.  I went from not knowing how to use a sewing machine to kimono to corsets (a perfect example of my very odd ways).  It was from a commercial pattern and I used plastic boning and it didn't fit well (I don't really count this one) but it was finished. I completed it by Halloween (no pictures of it though). Soon after I discovered Truly Victorian and, not really feeling the bustle at the time, decided to go with a plain 1890s walking skirt. That was the first skirt I made, of any kind.

There were other crafts I was messing around with at the time. Kanzashi, kumihimo. So while I worked on that type of stuff, my interest in Victorian clothing grew until I decided I wanted to tackle a full Victorian dress instead of just a skirt for my first year sewing anniversary. So by May 2011 (on my grandmother's birthday, actually, which consequently was the first time I went to the Ren Faire here and the first End of the World date) I started on my first Victorian project with stripping a pair of boots to repaint them. I finished it just in time to wear it to Archon in September, followed by Rural Heritage Day soon after.

And the truncated Project Runway project was at the end of 2011.  I never did take a picture of the vest and jacket (they're still in my sewing room, don't worry) but I had a quick picture of when I finished the pants and blouse (it's taken in a mirror tile wall, hints the weird lines).  Proof that I've made normal clothing!

Which pretty much brings us up to when I started this blog.  So yes, now you see the (very odd) evolution of how I got to where I am today.  Who makes a corset after a few months of learning how to sew?  This weirdo.  But if hadn't tried, I wouldn't be doing what I love doing now.  I always strive to push myself, strive to try something new for each project and learn as much as I can from both research and the sewing process itself.  It may not be perfect...but it's what I want to do.  It's what I love.  And you can't ask for more than that.

I love hearing about how people got to where they are, sewing wise.  Feel free to share.  I sure have jabbered on enough.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My adventures in welt pocket land

I found my NF straw bonnet from earlier this year hiding behind other sewing stuff, and I finally finished up the last few strips on it.  So that's done!  I'll probably use that for Pisces instead of making a new straw hat for it.

So I was a little bored Friday night, and I started reading some of the sewing books I got from the library.  One of them was a sewing guide reference book by Threads (awesome book by the way) and I stumbled across the section on welt pockets.  I've heard people complain about how difficult they are, saw May struggle to make practice pockets galore and still not get it right.  So I decided to try my hand at making one.

Two hours later...

Well, part of the reason it took two hours was because I hand sewed everything except for the stitching on the welts before sewing them on.  Part of the reason why I wanted to hand sew it was because I knew I could have more control on the very precise corners.  That and I ran out of thread on my bobbin and I was too lazy to wind another one.  That too.  Also, my hand sewing for this was more atrocious than usual.  Hints why some thread can be seen.  A bit counterproductive, but...

Verdict?  It's tedious.  No one can say it isn't.  Though there's a certain zen to it (perhaps I'm confusing that with all the hand sewing).  And they look impressive if done perfectly.  Mine wasn't too perfect (It's crooked on the right side!  Grr!), but hey, it was my first time making one.

I also got Period Costumes for Stage and Screen at the library.  A pity it was the 1500-1800 one.  Not my cup of tea time period wise, but I do plan on making working/middle class Renaissance garments eventually, so the chemise and partlet patterns could be useful.  I wonder if it will be more or less difficult jumping from time period to time period and having to figure out your body in comparison to the silhouette you need to have for that period.  Something to think about.

Well, the year will be winding down pretty soon.  Here's to another year of sewing!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It is intellectually challenged, not a dummy

I haven’t posted in over a month, so I might as well post…

Over the past couple of weeks for sewing class, we’ve been making duct tape dress forms.  Normally, if everything goes right, it would have only taken those two weeks.  But May and I each had some patch work to do on our forms.  We used the duct tape as a mold and filled it with batting and spray foam, then covering it with the usual jersey fabic.  During the drying process, my form decided to settle at the waist, compressing my poor breasts and squashing my midsection.  So, after we tried pulling at the duct tape to see if it will straighten on it’s own…we ended up cutting me in half.  I mean it in half.  Magic trick jokes ensued.

I’ve been very slow on my petti progress, partially because of Thanksgiving, mostly because of my wrist.  I’m not looking forward to gathering six widths of fabric.  Though I may leave it short for future shorter dress applications.  I know Pisces will need it.

Speaking of Pisces.  And Sagittarius.  I’ve been making plans for these dresses pretty much over the course of this year, when I got the idea to do it for Your Wardrobe Unlocked.  I won’t be able to obviously, but the idea still stuck.  The plans for the specifics keep chaning except that Pisces will be Natural Form and Sagittarius will be Late Bustle.  The former because of the fantail skirt, the latter should be pertty obvious.  Huge bustle.  Horse’s hindquarters metaphor.  You get the idea.

Fabric?  This is what I have planned to use for Pisces.  I also plan on using a complementary solid color as well. (This is a major close up, FYI.  The pattern's not this big).

The back of the fantail skirt will be cut in the shape of a fish tail.  I may gather it to that look, which was my original plan, or just cut the shape.  Either another layer and/or the balayeuse will be of the original pattern’s size.  Also, I plan on having the fabric of the left and right sides going in different directions, the same as most pictures of Pisces (glutton for punishment, I know, I know).  The rest of the design keeps changing, but I hope I have the final incarnation this time.
With Sagittarius I plan on using the gold version of the fabic I used for the dress I made last summer for the wedding, along with a plum sateen and the white sateen I used for my red and black dress.  I love the tailored look of Late Bustle dresses.  It’s really the only thing I’ve seen that feels like my personal aesthetic.  I’ll be using Truly Victorian’s Tail Bodice (guess why?) and altering the front of it.  I may make it like the red and black with different fronts for the vest and jacket, or I may just cut away the front and form the vest that way.  We’ll see what I feel like doing at that point.  What I'm more concerned about is fashioning my own archery equpiment since I can't use a real bow or real arrows if I want to wear this dess to conventions (and the dress doesn't make sense if the archery stuff isn't there).  So plan on some DIY fails learning curve with that.
Some more eye candy for you…this baby is the reason why I instantly decided to put off my military project.  From De Gracieuse, 1873:


Can’t you just imagine that in black wool and gold trim?  And the cords!  The I don’t know if I would use black or brown fur, but…come on.  I have to make this with that outfit.  No question. 

Oh, here's the site for the De Gracieuse.  Like you need another reason to look at pretty clothing all evening...
So yes.  Some things to think about when I can start up a project again.  I'm also picking away at the designs for other  zodiac dresses as well.  I'm excited about Scorpio the most, but it's also the most complex.  Trying to fashion a scorpion's tail out of a fantail skirt isn't easy and will require some major hardware back there.  Somehow.
Pictures to come when my dress form is complete, and I may hang some stuff on it to take more pictures of stuff I didn't get a chance to photograph.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Red and black done! And future plans

After battling sinus crap for a week and most of those days doing well to get four hours of sleep, I did manage to finish my dress, somehow, in time for Rural Heritage Day.  I had a blast.  Unfortunately I only had a chance to take one picture (not of myself) but fortunately it's of two dresses Mary made for this year, so I'm glad I have a personal picture of those:

Yesterday I got dressed up again and walked around the Botanical Garden for a while.  A nice trio took a couple of pictures for me (after they took pictures of their own of course).  So here it is, my finished dress, which I left in the original size since, come on, that background.  We're talking about the Garden here:

The only thing I don't have pictured is me in my jacket, which I don't have a picture of anywhere, but there should be time to put that on at some point.  It's a plain jacket, so I'll be wearing it again.

Oh, and here's my big bun bun I wore.

Remember those hair switches from my very first post?  Yeah, finally used them.  I used one switch for the inner braid and three for the outter.  Made a pretty huge bun, but that's pretty period.

So that's over and done with.  What's next?  Well, I'll be taking a big project hiatus and just working on petticoats for a little while.  I have 18 yards of muslin in the mail that will get turned into more than likely bustle pettis, and maybe a Natural Form one too.  Get the stuff done that gets put off, and then you never have enough pettis!

As for future big plans, I hope to get started on my zodiac dresses next year, starting with Sagittarius and Pisces, depending on which fabric I get first and whether or not I have a dress form made at that point (Pisces NEEDS it for what I have in mind).  The military dress will be put off because I have much much grander plans for it, and I'll need a ton of wool for it.  Which isn't cheap, as we all know.  But if I'm going to make a military dress, I need to use wool if I'm going to do it right.

So between making the petticoats and participating in National Novel Writing Month, that'll take me through the end of the year.  I haven't mentioned that I write? *stares at bio* Yes I did.  Writing is my old school obsession.  About fifteen years in fact.  Nine of which have been dedicated to one novel series.  Man, it's been that long?  Really?

Anyway.  Here, enjoy some pretty fall shots of the Japanese Garden.  Click for full size awesomeness!