Sunday, January 18, 2015

While I was working - L

I'm still working on my two bigger projects, but I've done a few other things.  I'm being driven crazy trying to modify a 1930's dress that I'm pattern-testing.  I woke up this morning with another idea on how to make it fit.  I have to size it up quite a bit and the FBA is in the center front.  Every time I try it, the center 'V' is way too deep or the bodice sags badly under the bust.  But I think I figured it out.  More to come.

I'm participating in the Lowell Mill dress group on FB, so I'm making a corded petticoat.  So boring and yet so frustrating.  I'm fairly confident that 1830's dress will not be flattering and the fabric is lovely yet frumpy.  I just really want to do it.  I don't even have any place to wear it, except maybe Dickens Fair.

And I got my first paid commission.  A friend wanted a 1920's party dress.  She didn't need to be historically accurate and doesn't like the rectangular 20's bodice.  Lucky for me, she had an amazing sequined minidress.  I made a simple skirt with a silver sequined handkerchief hem overlay.  She also had a small feathered hair clip that we took over-the-top.  She's happy and I'm happy.

Outlander - L

Let's face it, who hasn't watched Outlander and wanted to make a costume?  It's winter, it's raining, and plaid!  With knitted stuff!  I've seen posts about Outlander costumes all over the place, and I want one too.  And yet, it's another 'Lord of the Rings' moment for me.  So many Claire costumes, and all done by lovely waifs.  Fragile and delicate in their yards of plaid skirts.  If I looked like that, I would be wearing it.  Right now.  Being me, though, I had two problems:  I would look like fairly-tale giant in those dresses, AND I sorta like the guys clothes better.  In a fit of early morning inspiration (or a profound lack of coffee) I decided that I wanted to make something inspired by the guys, and that their clothes reminded me of mid-teens ladies wear.  I have a whole Pinterest board of images but here are my favorite inspiration pictures.

This blouse, in white (and not shiny)
Girl in the Plaid Skirt.

I have been informed, by more than one person, that this will be the most obscure costume EVER.  No one will get it.  La la la la....not listening.

I started with the knitting.  Gave me time to think about the other stuff.  These are from free patterns on Ravelry and very easy.  Mitts and a beret.  Because it ain't an Outlander costume without knitted stuff.

I burned some yarn I had laying around.  I buy yarn because I like it and it's on sale and never have plans to make anything with it.  This is a much lighter weight yarn than the patterns called for but the result is soft and not warm.  Which is really good because I rarely get cold.

Then the skirt.
I have a couple of ideas about it.  First, it is simply a plaid pleated skirt.  Second, I secretly want it to be a hobble skirt which doesn't really make sense.  I have an idea about that, and it probably won't work, entailing button-on fabric bands at mid calf.  We shall see.  If it doesn't work, I will still be OK.  My target is 1915 - 1918 (early WW1) and hobble skirts were long past fashionable at that time anyway.

Being a nincompoop, I bought heavyweight cotton flannel.  I couldn't find any wool that I liked at a reasonable price.  I have, and continue, to spend too much money on travel.  Sewing needs must be cheap.  I am aware that this fabric will not hold a pleat no matter how much I iron with vinegar.  I am sewing 1/8 from the pleat edge to hold them in place.  You can sort of see it in the picture.  Sounds horrible but the pinning was a lot harder and more time consuming.  I pinned, I pressed, I sewed.  And I only sewed up to the hip.  From the hip to the waist, I will sew the pleats down, with a slight tapering for my waist.  (Haven't actually done that yet)  The best part of this is that I can wear this skirt around and no one will know it's a costume, let alone that it feels like wearing a granny nightgown.

Most every blouse I looked at for this period has a sort of sailor collar.  But I don't want a sailor collar.  I also don't want a high closed collar because they are kind of claustrophobic.  I decided on a high, two piece collar and I would add a button in jabot.  I use this Kwik Sew pattern a lot.  It lies.  It is not quick.  Two part collar, yoke, and its of topstitching.  I use it for it's parts because then I don't have to draft them.  This time, I added bust fullness at the shoulder and made pleats which requires more math than it seems like it should.  I also added about half an inch to the collar stand and the collar.  I had the sleeves longer and fuller and made up a cuff.  To control the fulness under the bust, I made top-stitched inverted box pleats in the front and back.

Next up was a jabot.  It seemed like a good compromise between the wrapped cravats from Outlander and lacy Edwardian neck decorations.  I looked at pattern pieces online and drew a picture of my estimate in 'real' size.  It took a few tries to get it right (using scrap paper for the test).  It's a simple Fibonacci curve that I tried to draw free hand.  Picture proof that my drawing skills are wretched.  I just kept trimming at the paper until I got it looking the way I wanted.  Then I cut fabric and hand hemmed it so the curves would lie nicely.

Made a little rectangle collar piece and added buttonholes at the ends (not shown).

I added buttons to match on the collar stand so I could button it in, or use the jabot on other blouses in the future.  The rest of this blouse was buttonholes and button.  Interminable.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stash busting monstress - L

I had an urge to try out some of the new things I learned at Costume College so I'm making a Nereid costume.  This meant a corset, a 'wave' skirt, a lacy shift, fish scale arm covers, a crab crown and ass-kraken 2.0 (maybe).   This is where I should show a picture of what I had in mind but I REALLY cannot draw.  So I will just keep adding things when I have something to show.

First, the shift.  I decided to use the last of some very fine cotton lawn and make a simple 'peasant blouse' type of shift with long lace at the end of the sleeves.  It would be fun to have the lace around the neck too, but would make gathering the neckline nearly impossible without treading into clown territory.    The lace was from last year's LA fashion and fabric district field trip.  I bought it because it was cheap.  I still have lots and lots.  I expect I will find myself wearing this shift and watching costume dramas in bed simply because it is fluffy and frilly.  And yes, those are hand stitched eyelets.

Upper arm armor is cadged together based on a post Alisa Kester put on the Shear Madness Facebook page.  One day I will learn to keep notes when knitting the first of two matching objects.  That day I will become an adult.....   

My corset is made based on the Truly Victorian 1880's corset pattern.   I really want to do on some beading after learning the basics in a Costume College class.  The plan is to make creatures found on rocky shores as decoration.  Except crabs.  Because I have plans to add crabs elsewhere.  I'm using up some duck canvas remnants from JoAnns.  My store always has canvas remnants that are at least 3/4 yard.  I'm using two layers of canvas for the main structure with no lining (laziness) and a pleather remnant for the two front and back panels.  This is my first Victorian corset and I'm being shockingly lazy about good fit.  I want to make a good quality Victorian corset some day and I figured it was about time to give it a try and get my mistakes behind me.  First mistake - the corset shrinks as you add boning channels and boning.  Modesty panel will be needed.  All in, I thought it was pretty straight forward.  January will be my 'real' corset month.  I am really long forward to having a corset made to fit ME.  Short waist, small back, big boobs.

Beading.  I will do beading.  On the corset.  An octopus and some sea stars.  Sea starts have been gone from the California west coast for over a year because they all got a virus and died.  They are trying to make a comeback.  I miss them.  (gratuitous science comment)

And now the skirt.  It will be the death of logic.  I had a great idea in my head.  Organdy waves.  I could try a fishing line hem, use up some fabric that was a non-starter for it's original purpose.  Here is my 'curl the fishing line' anti-tutorial.  When the internet says you can wrap the line around toilet paper rolls and nuke it...  no.  Just no.  Do yourself a favor, wrap it around PVC pipe and dip it in boiling water.  In the microwave, you have about one second between 'hot enough to curl the plastic' and melty disaster.  Also, the 1/2 inch pipe makes the curls tighter which is good.  When you zig zag to fabric that curl stretches out a lot.

 My first fishing line hem!  It worked!  But it doesn't look like I want it to.  I added trim underneath it.  Still not working.  So now I'm re-thinking my plan.  I have some new ideas along the line of natural form era skirts.  I will update this post (or write a new one) when my plans are more tangible.

Hat - Crab molts, melted plastic, sculpey.  This hat has been stewing in my brain for quite a while.  This whole costume is a bow to my desire to make this hat.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Last Minute Throwdown - L

I've been working on something.  I'm not making much progress, but I'm working.  It's a fantasy costume comprised of things I have laying around.  I started a post, but I lost access to my pictures due to a power cable malfunction.  It is soon to be resolved.  Separately, my son informed me that he was going to be William Lloyd Garrison for his Historical Figures character.  It's a large part of his grade for this quarter.  Students choose a name out of a hat and do a presentation in costume.  Most kids don't have mothers with time or sewing experience so they just need to make an effort to dress sort of like their character.  There were some inspired ideas.  One kid wrapped a white dish towel around his head to represent a wig.  I made something fast and relatively easy.  And best of all, it looks like I spent a LOT of time on it.  A tailcoat!  (not at all a proper tailcoat)

I had a 'sort of' jacket pattern for the Attack on Titan jacket.  I used that.  I made curved darts in the back for fitting and to make it look like a tailored coat. I made the tails by looking at pictures, because they are just curved flaps. I made the collar smaller, and crossed it over in front and added buttons.  I made a VERY simple vest.  The kind where you start with rectangles and cut big arm hole curves, a neck curve, a V and add buttons.  I made a cravat (8 x 36 inch rectangle).

The pants are from his suit.  The shirt is a regular shirt with the collar pressed up and tabs ironed into the front.  The top hat and cane are things we have lying around.  I didn't get a good picture because he just doesn't stand still for longer than 2 seconds.

What he had to say?  'I look GOOD'
What his friends said?  'Overkill much?'

I probably won't be back to this blog for a month.  Robin and I are taking a 'girl's trip' soon, and until then I REALLY need to clean the sewing room.  Last time I started to clean, I ended up down the rabbit hole of making a fantasy costume.  Yes, it will burn down the stash, but it is making one hell of a mess in the process.  And the holiday season is coming.  That time when the sewing room has to fulfill it's purpose as 'guest bedroom'.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stuff that got done - L

 For a year or so, I keep hearing that I should meet the 'other' Lisa.  The costumer for a bunch of local theaters.  And then my son got a part in a local Shakespeare production of Midsummer's Night's Dream where she is costuming.  We met.  We talked at high speed for an hour.  I agreed to help with some bonnets for Oliver and the costumes for Oberon's boys.  She gave me the plain bonnets and a box of trim scraps.  I gave her back these bonnets.  The plain red bonnet is what the forms look like before trim goes on.  They are actually not bad!  And cheap, on Amazon.

I like to call this project 'Hurrah for Hot Glue', though some of it is actually stitched.

If you're not into bonnets, please scroll down.

One of Oberon's boys.  Tree bark fabric from Spoonflower that matches the trees in the park where the performance takes place.  And, for the record, when someone says 'Do you need more fabric?' the answer is always 'YES'.

These things are knitting needle cases.
I made up the pattern myself because I'm cheap.

The mustard 'cotton' and purple is a gift for my knitting girl.  The grey/brown and winter foliage is for me.  And for the first time I can recall, something that is meant to organize ALSO takes up less space than the box the knitting and crochet needles were stored in.

There, I'm sorta caught up.  Ive been dealing with family stuff and vacation plans.  So see y'll soon!

Monday, August 25, 2014

All the pins came falling out - L

Another sewing day!  We are headed to Costume College soon and realized we have nothing to wear! Yeah, we left it a little late.  I need to fix the Anteater skirt and then I can wear that.  Robin needed to take in her 1880's ball gown bodice.  We got that done.  We also worked on our Regency dresses.  Robin had her Regency dress in good shape for final fittings.  We got that done and she even cut out sleeves and sewed them in.  Her fabric is a sheer white cotton dotted swiss with an ivory under layer. Very pretty.

YES, I started this exactly one month ago.  And never finished it.  Here I go again....

We are using the Simplicity pattern based on Sense and Sensibility.  Why? Because Robin bought it a while back during one of those $1 pattern sales, and before we decided we have trouble fitting Sense and Sensibility to us.  Now we know that Robin doesn't have much of a problem, but I'm still 'challenged'.  The back was too big for both of us.  We both trimmed the side back piece.  Later, I also took a LOT out of the center back.  Both of us felt the volume of the skirt was meager.  And we each added about 4 inches.  I would only recommend this pattern for fragile young things.  For the more womanly, expect to do a few muslins.  And yes, that is frustrating when you are making a muslin dress.  Any-hoodle, moving forward...

I had my underlayer cut and sewn, only to discover that I didn't really need it.  My fabric was heavier than I remembered.  Also stretchier.  And therein lies my tale of woe.  Beware, my friends, of cotton gauze.  No pins shall stay where they are placed, if they stay at all.  I took the underlayer apart and used it as my pattern for the gauze.  Then I tried to baste, only to discover that there were no pins.  Where do they go??  All over the floor.  Once I basted, I tried it on and it was utterly unfit-able.  It just kept stretching.  Sooooo, back to the underlining and sewing it all together again.  Once I got them together the stretch was under control but the back had magically grown.  So I re-did the center back. And it STILL seemed huge.  Now we were scared.  (BTW, I did manage to get the chest mostly right.  A little too long but that was easy to manage).  
Fitting text, no sleeves
At this point we did something very smart.  We left the bodice tentatively pinned and moved on the skirt.  And woe was me again!  My fabric is plaid and while I made no particular effort to match the plaid, I really felt it needed to be straight across the horizantal line at the underbust.  The avoid causing sea-sickness in others.  The required gathering, basting, trying on, pleating, re-basting, etc etc.  It took seven tries to get it sorta, maybe correct.  At this point, Costume College was looming and I still envisioned having this dress to wear.  I would text a picture to Robin and she would text 'nope', 'better', 'still not there', and 'don't give up!'.

To keep this long story from getting any longer, we got them done except for closures.  Robin's snaps were sewn but too small, so as soon as she took a breath, her dress fell off.  My hooks got sewn but not the bars.  I needed a last fitting to resolve the 'magic' center back.  And Costume College was full of great classes leaving neither time nor energy to do fittings.  So the dresses are done, but we have nothing to wear them to.

All sewn up and no place to go....

Gatsby dress
That said, my Gatsby dress was well complimented (mostly on the vibrant fabric) so there's that.

 Here is a snap shot of JUST the hanging part of my Costume College wardrobe.

And an inadequate  picture of the pile of shoe boxes, petticoats, stays and hawaiian shirts piled on my suitcase.

Part of the reason I wanted my Regency dress finished was to wear it to my 'Quick and Easy Regency Turban' class.   It was, in fact, just as quick and easy as billed.  Except the part where I'm not finished.  User error.

I'm still coasting on the CoCo high.  I bought button molds to make thread covered buttons.  I got parchment paper to melt plastic into fabric.  I bought armor scales to knit.  I haven't done any of it.  Except a quick trial run of knitted armor.  I'm looking forward to making it into something, once I get the gauge right.

Tomorrow, probably, maybe, I'll post the other things I did in the last month.  All theatrical, and none of it paid.  And then something for ME.  And a present for an offspring.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fail day - L

I have motored thru a a few things recently.  My 1930's dress is mostly together.  I finished the main knitting in a sweater.  I helped the offspring grade a pattern, cut a muslin and fit it in only 4 hours.  Today, I thought I would finish the 30's dress or finish the sweater.  I did neither.

I did some hand sewing on the dress but not much.  And I did it all crazy.  I did all the bias binding except one armhole.  Why?  I cannot answer.  I hemmed 1/4 of a sleeve and then set it down.  I finished knitting the body of the sweater.  I need to sew up the arm seams and make a 60" I-cord.  I did 1 1/4 sleeve and 1/2 the I-cord.

I'm restless and can't finish one thing.  Instead I'm doing a little of everything.

At least I didn't start the knitting needle cases I bought fabric for.  These are a gift.  I wouldn't mention it but I'm pretty sure she doesn't read the blog.

Tomorrow I need to take a beastly hike.  Then I will be happy to sit and do fiddly things for a few hours.  And no, I didn't take pictures of failure.  This is not a 'learning' failure.  This is an utter lack of discipline failure.

Tomorrow is another day.