Tuesday, July 28, 2015

18C wig - Lisa

I'm making a wig for my 18C court/masquerade dress.  I'm using the 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling book to style my wig otherwise I'd be hopeless.  I barely know how to dry my hair with a blow dryer.  The book offers clear, step by step instructions and a list of the needed supplies.  It's still not easy for me because I find setting hair in rollers nearly as hard as making a corset, but that's a personal problem.

I started with a cheap cosplay wig.  Mistake.  For very little extra, I could have got a much nicer wig. My wig is too small, is very thin along the sides, and has little inch long hairs sticking out of the wefts.  It might work if I was
planning to cosplay Sephiroth but not really for anything else.  Unfortunately I waited too long to figure this out and have had to make modifications because I don't have time to get an alternative.

Too small - solution is to add elastic between the wefts.  The book suggests adding elastic at the sides.  I needed much, much more and cut all around the top of the wig and added between 3/4 and 1 1/2 inch all the way around.  Yes, this created a gap.  I added to areas where I knew I was going to have to add addition wefts of hair.

And then I just started pinning up hair.  And spraying.  Pin and spray (yes, there was also rinse, repeat).  I won't repeat the instructions and violate the author's intellectual property.  My biggest problem was that after sitting for a day or two, the pinned and sprayed hair suffered from entropy.

This meant unpinning, combing out and re-pinning in a tidier way.

wefts on table behind wig

I chose to wrap the curls and boil them, then coat them with glue because of entropy.  I only want to do this once.  I used 1 inch PVC pipe wrapped in foil, dipped the wrapped curls for about a minute, then coated them with white school glue.  Hair STILL worked loose.  I has skilz!

 More wrapping and pinning, spraying, undoing, wrapping, pinning.  Eventually I sewed some of the hair in place.

Here are final pictures of the wig, fabric ornament and both with and without a feather.

It's not possible to see how tall the wig is by looking at it on the wig stand.  It is at least 6 inches taller than the top of my head.  The men in the house are still giggling.  I have no pictures of it on my head because I just couldn't manage it.
The second biggest problem was the Sailor Scout cosplay sewing that was happening in the other room.  I'm coaching them through this project, but making them do all (OK, most) of the work.  To the right is my court gown.  Nearly finished.  This was supposed to be my 'Outside your Comfort Zone entry in the HSM, but I really think it's too costumey.  So I'm just not putting in an entry.

I'm off to Costume College tomorrow.  I plan to make Robin take pictures of me wearing dress and wig.  We will have fun, and be back next week (when I may or may not add a picture to this post).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lowell Mill Dress - L

My court dress is on a brief time out.  Luckily (ha, snort, ha) I have another project to fill the time I don't have.  I'm making the 1830's Lowell Mill pattern.  It's not a complicated dress but the pattern makes it so much more confusing than it needs to be.   Why?  It's based on a real dress, originally made in 1827  and refashioned in 1836.  Apparently the pattern assumes you want your dress to be exactly the same.  Here are some of the odd things:

-  There are 4 skirt panels that are different widths for no apparent reason with a center back placket cut in the middle of one of them.  I cut 3 panels with a center back seam.  Same total width.

-  The center back has fabric that extends inches beyond the side back seam for no apparent reason than that is how the original dress is.  Maybe the fabric wasn't trimmed during the refashioning?  I am not cutting it that way.  The bodice is lined and no additional strength or support is needed at the side back.

-  The front bodice lining cutting instructions and layout show it cut on a fold, on the grain.  But is also 'says' cut on the bias.   The fashion fabric is cut in the bias and is shown that way on the pattern piece and in the layout.  Confusing?  Yes!  The pattern company was contacted.  No response.  I chose to cut on the grain because I don't want to give my bust any extra opportunities for random movement or stretching.

- The pleating marks don't work.  There is even a physical pleating gauge for the skirt that leaves your skirt 10 - 12 inches too big.  Or I'm just really unclear on what their pleating diagram means (I'm not).

- The sewing instructions assume you are sewing by hand as with the original.  3 bodice fittings and two sleeve fittings are built in.  And the order of construction doesn't play well with a sewing machine. So I'm flying without a net on this one.  Imagine, if you will, pleating those gigantic sleeves and basting in the pleats.  Then baste the sleeve into the armscye.  All so you can fit the forarm and trim excess fabric.  Next, you un-baste the sleeve and pipe the length of the (now fitted) sleeve seam.  NOW you get to sew in the sleeve for real.

As I mentioned, the back of the pattern is big.
Even for me, it's really big.  I cut the back 2 sizes smaller than the front and did a FBA.  I don't have a picture of the front in fashion fabric, but you can see from the lining muslin that the front has zero room to spare.  where as the back has two inches plus on each side of the closure and a couple of inches at each side back seam.  We took a little from the side seam too.  I'd carefully gathered the fabric either side of the back closure, per pattern instructions and that entire part of the center back will be cut off.
Next post update I'll show the work on the sleeves.  I don't want to get too confident in my pleating until I can make sure they actually fit correctly.

The one thing I didn't expect was that the pelerine would need a full bust adjustment too!  OF COURSE it does.  It goes over the bust.  I made one.  It's lovely and also useless.  It's designed for an A cup.  This isn't a joke.  It will only work if I take giant darts.  I'll try to remember to take a picture when the bodice is complete.

Now...  back to the giant plastic court gown........

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Demode Court Dress - SHINY and all in one place - L

 Queen of Clubs.  All hope is not lost.  I've made a lot of progress in the last few days and have decided to re-assemble most of my posts in one place.

The Demode Court Dress for CoCo meet-up was delayed by one year.  This was a very good thing for me.  I had originally thought I could drape this without a pattern.  I now know this was wrong.  Maybe another time.  This is my first attempt at anything earlier than 1850 and I went right for something remarkably difficult.  Not only that, though, I chose an inspiration dress that is a victorian fancy dress.  I'm on my own to figure out how to make all the trim look 1770's.  Or even something sorta kinda like that.

 Last year I made stays and giant pocket hoops.  I also made a chemise.

Earlier this year I caved in and got a pattern.  Mill Farm.  I got it because it was cheap and I knew that I'd have to do a lot of modifications.  While the shape of the pattern is accurate, I find it confusing.  More confusing than it needs to be, mostly because there are no pictures or drawing in the instructions.

Step one.  FBA.  I couldn't find any help online for increasing bust volume for this kind of dress, so I made it up.  It actually worked pretty well.  Robin helped me fit and there were only modest changes.  But I was laced too tight.  When I checked the second muslin it was too small.

I 'fixed' it again and went ahead and cut.

I also cut organdy for an under petticoat.  I used Kendra's post for help in getting it put together because I really had NO IDEA.  None.  Pretty sloppy the first time through but it worked and won't show at all.  I promise to do better with the proper petticoat.  Really.  I have a picture but is is trapped in a device with a broken power cord.

So I have cut my cheap poly taffeta for bodice, petticoat, sleeves and skirt (including the pleated francaise back).  I chose cheap fabric because I wasn't sure I could do justice to a project this size and I just couldn't spend a ton of money on an abject failure (remembering the disastrous Edwardian tea dress here - no link for the obvious reason).

I managed to put everything on - pinned together and fraying - just to make sure that it did, in fact, actually fit.  Here is what I learned:

- Wow!  It is really shiny!
- The bodice fits pretty darned good (there is a pin in the center back because it was a little big)
and the creases mostly go away when I turn up the edge of the bodice.
- The length of the petticoat is fine.  I can do a little hem.  I can now sew it up for reals including that 'doing a better job' part.
- Wow, it is REALLY shiny!

Next, I need to start deciding what I want to do about the decoration.  Because it is time to start decorating the stomacher and front of the petticoat.  I have to wait for Robin to get back from travels to fit the sleeves and the pleated back.  I'm just not THAT flexible.  Not in stays.  My dress form is useless for this because it is nothing like my body.  It is smaller than my measurements but the shoulders and back are larger than me.  An expensive hanger.  But very helpful for deciding what trim combinations I like.  So there's that.

Fun fact - if I wear rubber soled shoes and drag my feet on the carpet, I could probably electrocute someone in this thing.  More to come soon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I'm back and I've been busy - L

I wrote a nice post right before I left for Paris and Morroco.  I never published it.  Just plain forgot.  When I got back I had a full plate of costumes for the local kids improv group and cosplay for me and my son plus an assist with my daughter's costume.  Been going all out since the day after I got back. Jet lag and all.    Cosplay does amazing things to your hands!

Young Actors Worshop
This year I tried to scale back expectations and thought I only had 6 or 7 costumes to make.  It turned into 18.  The kids are encouraged to be creative and always toss me a challenge.  Here are some of the fun

Two boys wanted to be churros.  Their super-power?  Lick them and you have 5 minutes of super sugar energy.  They beat the evil psychic spy because she couldn't read their minds.  They don't have brains.

There was also an evil alien and and evil sunflower.  I have no idea why.

And reincarnation girl.  She wanted a victorian dress with Egyptian jewelry.

And a kid with his own owl costume that hadn't actually fit him in years.  I cut it horizontally below the zipper and added a 6 inch panel.  Then I cut it open on each side and added a 4 inch panel on each side.  The panels were muslin.  The rest of the costume was fun fur.  A little splatter with spray paint and you could hardly tell (from stage, anyway).  I wasn't even sure it would work.  I didn't get any pictures because i did it all the night before dress rehearsal when the kid told me about his problem (the ole' 'I can't actually fit in my costume' excuse)

My dining room table was a pile of animal costumes, kilts, superhero logos, robes, and I can't even remember anymore.

This is my last year working for them,  Next year I will be a stitcher for another theater group and get paid.  Paid poorly, but paid.  And no more dealing with parents.  Huzzah.

Then there was cosplay.  This year we decided to all dress from Naruto.  It's like the gateway drug of anime.  Very comfortable.  This is an important thing.  We also reprised Attack on Titan because my son loves getting flattered by 'older' women (20 year olds).

All the Jiriaya and Tsunade clothes were based on traditional Japanese clothing which is mostly rectangles.  I used the picture of a traditional haori as my inspiration.  Kakashi was a t-shirt and leggings with ivory knit tacked over for the design.  The bardes part was the wigs, with my son's shoes being the second hardest.  They are boots with no toes.  Also his legging wraps aren't wrapped.  They are pleated fabric made into leggings.  In Naruto, many characters have wide mesh on parts of their costumes.  I couldn't find the fabric so I had to buy wide mesh stockings and cut them apart,  That was very much NOT fun.

Mine is the Kakashi kneeling center front.

Arm bands - craft foam and scrapbooking brads on knit fabric, spray painted elastic at wrist

Cosplay hair.  Bane of my existence.

And finally, mesh over tights for leggings.  Had to do this for my arms, legs and chest.

And some really bad reference pictures that I ripped off the internet.                                                                                                                                                                                                       So now I'm back working on my 18th century court dress and the Lowell Mill Dress.  No spray paint or hot glue required.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

HSF/HSM April and May challenges all together - L

The April challenge was War and Peace.  I was going to just skip it since I ways traveling for most of the month but I really wanted to do each challenge, even if I was late.  The very first thing that came to mind was socks.  How often in novels have I read of women knitting socks for 'the men'.  Specifically, I was thinking about the Civil Way, WW1 and WW2.  And, of course, I knew I wouldn't be able to do anything big or complicated because of travel and other costuming commitments.  I'd never knit toe-up socks so I chose that.  This would give me a chance to make the leg part as tall as my yarn allowed.  Of course I screwed them up.  Sort of.  I didn't watch the video tutorial about casting on that came with the pattern.  So I didn't do the proper closed toe cast on.  I ended up just sewing them closed.  I knit them in a week, though I wasn't actually knitting every waking moment.  Partly because of....

The May challenge was practicality. I didn't think I'd get it done.  I figured the socks were practical and would have to make do.  But I also really wanted to try a drawn thread hem (is that the right description?) for a handkerchief.  I love the look of drawn and pulled thread embroidery and want to use it in an early 20th century summer dress someday.  But I clearly didn't have time for a project that complex with a week left in May.  Plus, I figured I should start on something small.  A simple 14 inch square handkerchief seemed perfect.  I pulled out 4 threads on each side.  Each about 1/2 inch from the edge.  Then I folded the hem twice and pressed it a LOT.  Then it's simple but time consuming.  Pull the thread thru the hem edge, wrap it thru around 4 threads at least twice.  Put the thread thru about 4 threads of the hem edge and repeat.  I was a little sloppy.  Even though it isn't complicated it is incredibly fussy.

Next month is 'Outside your comfort zone'.  So looks like it's time to get back to my 18th century masquerade court gown.  Long overdue.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HSF/HSM - stash busting - L

OK.  I did it.  I made the hand-woven thing wider.  I'm still not ecstatic with it, but at least it looks like what it is.  A shawl.  I will it was about two feet longer but I didn't really calculate properly when I started.  And, candidly, since this was some yarn that I got with a knitting machine about 6 years ago, I'm not sure I'd have had enough yarn.  It's only about 6 feet long so it would be perfect for a 4th grader.

I am not a skilled weaver.  I know I need to practice to get better.  I am now realizing my epic hubris in choosing a novice project to show in the interwebs.  C'est la vie.

weaving two pieces at once
I made the shawl wider than the loom allows by weaving two additional strips and crocheting them to the main body.  The join didn't come nearly as 'clever' as I'd hoped (ergo no close-up).

I learned some interesting things.  Use different weight yarns intentionally, and know what the effect will be.  The cream colored yarn was slightly lighter and more stretchy than the blue.  The result was an uneven fabric  It was also very fuzzy.  Weaving fuzzy yarn leads to broken yarn.  Fixing a broken warp is difficult and tedious.  Fuzzy yarn requires a different heddle.  Shoving the heddle into the weave out of frustration isn't a good idea.  Kick something instead.  Weaving two pieces simultaneously was slower than I thought it would be but made matching the white strip a tiny bit easier.  Trying to match plaids WHILE you are making cloth is just a BAD IDEA.

uneven edge at bottom
 I do want to point out that wiggly edges are the mark of a novice weaver.  I managed to make some very wiggly edges.  The crochet did a great job of disguising it.  I tried to take pictures with the tripod but my exposure was utter crap.

Ultimately I folded it and hung it over a door.

Now I need a reason to wear it.  It's actually pretty soft and comfortable.  And not too warm.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nereid - or 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.  (no offense to clowns)  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.....   

The scale is to go under shoulder armor.  The armor is made of painted craft foam and a chopped up juice bottle.  Decorated with wire, moss, shells and scrapbooking brads.

I have straps that are supposed to buckle in front and keep the armor on my shoulder.  Sadly my shoulders really ARE too small.  I will need to move the d-rings on the corset to keep the shoulders up.  This is will done later.  About the same time I finally make the holes in the straps to allow them to buckle.  I can't do that until its all fixed.  Despite a few problems, I still really like how it came out.

My corset is made based on the Truly Victorian 1880's corset pattern.   I really want to do 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.

Octopus beading in progress
Beading.  I will do beading.  On the corset.  An octopus and some sea stars.  Sea stars 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)  Update - sea stars are NOT gonna happen.  At least not anytime soon.  I overbooked my brain.  i beaded onto brown broadcloth and then stitched that onto the corset.  I also decided to make something fishy for my hands.  the pieces are made of beads and sequins on muslin with net covered elastic to hold it on.

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 it to fabric that curl stretches out a lot.

NOT this either!

 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.  


After two months of noodling around in my spare time, I'm finally getting to something I kind of like

Left long pleats 
Polyester organza is the devil itself.  It is stiff and stubborn and frays if you even look at it.  I'm still finding long strands of it stuck to my clothes.  It does look amazingly shiny and ripple-y in flash photos.   All the front pleats had to be hand tacked because they are on the bias and no amount of pressing (including vinegar and rajah cloth) would make those pleats stay put.  The side pleating was just slightly more cooperative.  I haven't decided about the back.  It's love/hate.

I also added some 'netting' made of gold cotton crochet thread.  It's macrame.  I haven't done THAT since the 70's.

Hat - Crab molts, melted plastic, sculpey and some seaweed.  This hat has been stewing in my brain for quite a while.   I've got the armature with sculpey bones done and baked.  The crab is an actual crab molt (shed) with spray foam inside for support.  I also sprayed some foam in molted claws.  And I made seaweed out of plastic.  Melting didn't work like I expected despite being enormously fun.  I used strips of medium weight plastic and stretched it at the edges.  Then I used glass paint of make a little detail and spray painted over it.  I also used glass paint on some bright green plastic (shopping bag).  The detail shows thru on the clear side.  The next step required Robin to help me pin it all together.  After that, I just tacked and glued until it all stayed together.

This is the part where I admit that I have better pictures.  They are trapped in a machine with no power.  The power cord is in the mail because I left it in Los Angeles.  I has a stupid.

Following are a bunch of pictures of the costume in action.  We hurried down to the beach to get pics before the sun blasted thru the marine layer.  And it just isn't easy to get things 'just right' when you're in a hurry.  And joggers have stopped to watch.

Thetis, nereid, queen of the shore and mother of Achilles.

Costumed in a Victorian style (you can call it steampunk but I'm not feeling love for the local steampunk community right now).