Sunday, April 24, 2016

Has it really been 3 months? - Lisa

Liberte!  I got 3rd Place in this VERY challenging single fabric costume competition.
Everyone wanted a headdress
When I finished my last efforts, I decided to take a break.  I needed to deal with my yard, and paint some walls in my house and do some more knitting, not to mention travel!  After I last posted, Robin and I flew to Myanmar/Burma. It was an exciting photographic trip, with some challenging hikes on steep trails in the rain, some amazing people and traditions.  We photographed the Kayan, Chin, Akhu and Enn tribes.  If I was less lazy, I'd post some pictures.  Also, though, I want to wait until I learn how to use Lightroom software for editing.  Great expectations.  I managed to make a stand for my headdress out of a styrofoam head, tissue paper and glue, a heavy dowel and a plumbing fixture.

I also did a little (and continue to do) work in the yard, painted one wall red, knit a scarf and knit about 5 feet of a 7 - 8 foot shawl (dubbed the mini-blanket).  Pictures can't do it justice because it's black with silver sparkles.  When I get enough light, it looks faded and covered in cat hair.  OK, there IS some cat hair...
mini blanket with bonus cat hair


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was exactly as much fun as you'd expect.  Our costumes look great.   To make it even better, at least 15 drag queens were there in full and beautiful Regency ball gowns.  We reached out to the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild and had a couple extra people show up.

The black Regency dress is from the Simplicity Regency costume pattern.  Cut a little extra full in the back, higher at the front neckline, and lower in the back.  Someday I will trim it.  The jacket body is from a McCalls blouse with a mandarin collar from a jacket and the long sleeves from the Regency pattern.  Cheap lace scraps in the collar and $5 of fancy lace from eBay for the front. The front lace had to be coaxed and clipped into going around the bust, and hand tacked.  Added eyepatch from the drugstore.  The sword is $3 and painted (which has mostly flaked off) and the harness is made from belts left over from our Attack on Titan cosplay.  I think I'm going to bring this to Costume College because it's super comfortable (no corset!) and fun.

Inspiration image

Missy from Dr Who was a bit more work, but less than I planned.  Hoo-raw!  The costume changes every season, sometimes just a little so it was a challenge to decide where exactly to put the trim.  The best part of cosplay is that mostly people don't notice as long as they recognize who you are.  I used a pattern from the 1912 project for the skirt and added pleats where the trim should go in front.  I didn't do the fancy period accurate closure.  Just a zip in the back.  The jacket is a frankenpattern mashup of these two patterns.

I used the long jacket pattern for the body and sleeves.  I used the Vogue pattern laid on top of the jacket front to make the lapel, and the rest of the collar.  Finally I curved the front of the jacket at the bottom and added pockets.  Trim all over every edge.  The trim is too narrow, and the color is wrong. And I love how it came out.

The blouse was hard.  I used the Wearing History Smooth Sailing blouse for the body with sleeves from a different blouse pattern.  I cut the center back very specially to get the point and cut the front yoke on the bias  meaning I had to line it to hold it on grain sorry, no picture.  I had to make cuffs from scratch and used a two part collar from the same blouse pattern as the sleeve.  Then I trimmed the collar to get the shirt curved front.  I bought the cameo from a cosplay friend. 

Then there is the hat.  It's another torn apart and re-molded sombrero.  Spraypainted black.  The flowers are leftover bits from other hats, the cherries are some Xmas decoration thing at JoAnns ($3) and the dead leaves are actual dead leaves from my yard.  I opted out of all of the accessories.  Sure it's cool to have them, but then you have to carry them around.  I saved my pockets for my phone, ID, credit card and room key.  Gallifrey was a blast, as always but may be my last for a while. It's turned into a busy time of year for my son.  He had to do a video audition from our hotel room.  I will wear this again at Fanime for the Dr Who meetup.  Another costume that's incredibly comfortable.  
Posing with a rather rude Dalek

Speaking of Fanime, two of the offspring are cosplaying Booker and Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite and my nephew and his girlfriend are learning to sew so they can be the red and white mages from Final Fantasy.  I'm supervising, and stepping in to avert disaster as needed.  We've modified as needed to make these costumes as easy as possible.  The characters are pretty iconic so I'm hoping it works out well.

And finally, I helped out in the tiniest but with the High School musical, Cinderella.
Because four white mice just might become four white horses...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Holiday avoidance sewing, knitting, cosplay - Lisa

In the midst of all the holiday fun with my family I did some avoidance knitting and started a couple of cosplays for 2016.

Also, my Bluebird Dress got a 3rd in the Shear Madness Single Fabric Challenge!  I'm a happy girl.

Avoidance knitting is wonderful.  It's soothing and repetitive, AND you can pretend you're accomplishing something when you're really just avoiding what you are supposed to be doing.  Like bills and laundry and decorating the Xmas tree.  I actually knit an entire sweater. Admittedly, I
started back in September, but I actually DID the whole thing.  I forgot all about negative ease and ended up knitting that baggy sweater that you leave at the office for when the A/C is too high.  I love it.  I also started a large scarf copied from a Xmas gift one of the offspring received last year.  It's practically a mini-blanket.  It's made from fingering weight black yarn with a little sparkle.  I found a comparable yarn and asked the girl for a description of the stitch.  She told me 'basket weave'. There are two kinds.  I did a large sample of both and while the diagonal stitch looks very nice, it's slow and dense.  Traditional basket weave is light and fluffy and makes a more comfortable scarf.  

raglan shoulder seam

both kinds of basket weave

On the sewing front, I'm working on two cosplays.  I love Missy from Dr Who so that's been in planning for a little while.  I plan to put a full construction post up when I get it done.  So far I have the skirt and the blouse and the basic hat.  I'm getting a cameo from a friend who makes them, and I'm thinking hard about how much more I will be doing.  The umbrella/parasol is really calling to me.

And a last minute throw down....  Lady Catherine DeBourgh from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Someone mentions cosplay for the opening weekend and then next thing I know it's on.  This was a really quick build.  I used the Simplicity Regency pattern in black shirting (super cheap <$3 per yard) for the dress.  I could have just made a skirt but maybe I'll have a use for a black Regency dress someday?  The jacket is too long for a spencer and I made it using a McCalls blouse pattern with the sleeves from the Regency dress.  I bought a couple yards of wide silver metallic lace on eBay and some horrid scratchy polyester lace around the neck.  The only thing particularly difficult was getting the flat silver lace to go over my chest.  I need an eyepatch and a cheap toy katana from Chinatown (spray painted) and I'm ready.

And that is good because Robin and I leaving tonight for Burma.  We are going to the tribal region to do some photography.  It's going to be a very exciting time since they just had a successful election.  So goodbye house men, cats, reliable internet and El NiƱo!  Back in February

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Single fabric challenge - Shear Madness - Lisa


When Laura announced a single fabric challenge on the      Shear Madness FB page, I was all in.  The fabric is cotton   with a floral/vine print and lots of birds.  All in shades of blue and white.  By 'single fabric' the costume is supposed to be made with the chosen fabric as the focus.  I came back from Costume College with a strong desire to make a jacket/curacao/casaquin targeting the 1780's (which I'm not sure I did, it might be earlier).  I'm not terribly worried about historical accuracy and the fabric 'reads' 18C but clearly is not.  In addition, during our spring trip to Morocco, I suffered a little anxiety on a camel that enjoyed his liberty a little too much.  We took to yelling 'liberte' every time he pulled loose from the line, with me on his back.  Happily, he never took off across the desert.  So for me it's all  about French Revolution and freedom seeking camels from a (previously) French speaking country, and birds.  I'm a part time birder.

See the faded birds in the center...print matching the bodice

Everything but the stays had to be made.  The jacket is the focus, and is made from the challenge fabric, plus a little of the solid blue left over from my Neried skirt.

aww, look...they're kissing!
Jacket.  I started with the Mill Farm pattern that I used for Queen of Clubs.  I made a muslin and started drawing lines where I thought the zone front should go.  The I cut along the lines.  Thing is, this pattern is designed with a stomacher and I wanted to make it meet in the middle so this was a little more complicated than I expected.  I might have yelled 'I don't know what I'm doing' on a variety of occasions, and it took me longer than I expected.  I didn't have enough fabric to make mistakes.  The print is VERY directional and I wanted the birds to be facing each other front and back. Each piece was cut individually. I was worried about doing the Anglais pleating in the back because I didn't have Robin to help, but it wasn't that bad.  Steaming as I went really helped set the curved folds. I stitched them in place with a running stitch.  I left the center back piece long as a sort of 'swallowtail'.   Fitting the side back was the hardest part because I was in stays, and I'd put the sleeves in backwards.  I really, really didn't want to fix that, you know, when you're tired of looking at the same thing and are ready to be DONE.  But I did.  
Finally, I decided to add a faux belt in front because I like the look of the dress at left.  I even made my red ribbon striped by sewing some thin white ribbon over it.  

And I left a little gap where the print meets the blue at the center front so I could pull my fichu through.  Which I then forgot to do in all the pictures

pull fichu through here, unless you forget
finished skirt and shoes

Petticoat and petticoat - because we have to call them the same thing?  Both were made using tutorials from The Fashionable Past (Koshka)  The under petticoat was made from old sheets and really should be remade since it's too limp.  The skirt is white cotton voile with a big ruffle.  I don't have any construction photos available.  Oops.  I also made a rump pad.  It's a largish stuffed rectangle that ties around my waist.  I may remake that too since I'm not super happy with the shape.  Or not, because I'm not sure how often I will need it.

Kerchief/fichu- based on 10 minutes of research, typically 36 in square.  Quick math gives a hypotenuse of 51 inches.  Just about perfect unless you're rather tall with a large chest.  Quick estimate with a measuring tape yields 55 inches, plus seam allowance = 56.  Reverse the math, 39 1/2 inches on each side.  I used some beautiful sheer cotton voile and hand hemmed it.  Hand hems are much softer and more fluid than a machine seam.  Also much, much slower.  Now that I have this, I will be less concerned about my necklines.  I can make them lower and not worry about massive cleavage since I can cover it up.

The hat.  It's made 
from an ugly party sombrero that I deconstructed and sewed back together in the shape I wanted.  Then I spray painted it blue.

I made the birdcage from some wired burlap stuff on sale at Michael's.  I cut it, shaped it and set it with white glue. I cut out a square for the cage door, and used scraps to MAKE a cage door which I tacked on. Then I spray painted it gold.

The bird was the challenge.  I wanted a bluebird, that was flying free from the cage.  And I assumed that one could simply buy a bluebird with outstretched wings.  But NOOO.
So I got a wingless bluebird and a made wings.  

 Here is the sad little wingless bird with the wings in progress.  I made craft foam wing shapes and glued a wire on the leading edge so I could shape them a little.  Then I used a variety of blue, or blueish feathers and started gluing them down.  I tried to use white glue because it's not as heavy as hot glue.  I gave up pretty quickly.
 Gluing feathers was...interesting?  My kitten succeeded in running off with one of the wings but I caught him before too much damage was done.  Once everything was glued, I trimmed them into wing shapes.
Finally, I glued them to the sides of the bird. They only fell off twice.  And I'm only a little bit bothered that they aren't anything like actual bird wings....

I'm actually really happy with my bird.  I got it done, attached it to the cage and the beak fell off.  Oh happy, happy glue.

The final parts of the hat are the banner and the cockade.

The banner is blue grosgrain with wire sewn in.  I painted 'Liberte' on both sides and added gentle folds to make it 'float'.  This is the shout out to my charming Moroccan camel.

The cockade was a last minute addition.  I needed something to echo the red in the belt and I had taken a class in the spring on making cockades.  (A class from Candice Kling who is the most amazing ribbon worker, bar none)  This red cockade was one of my trials from the class.

And, finally, after a bit more glue and wire, some ruffles and ribbon, I got it done.  I tilted the cage because I will tilt the hat when I wear it.

Here is the final dress.  Pictures taken at sunset with horrid light, by a man who cannot figure how to work my camera.  I needed to wait for the rain to stop, and for my hair to dry so timing was awful.  and I made him take a lot of pictures and almost none of them are actually, totally in focus.  And my secret and very fun shoes don't show (just a little in the skirt picture).  They're red and white stripe Moroccan mules made from camel leather.