Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The brown challenge - HSF/HSM - Lisa

I had a couple things I could make for the brown challenge.  Both from the 30's/40's with my Wearing History patterns.  Trousers and a blouse.  I actually made both, and started working on a swing coat.   I've planned to make the swing coat for the last two winters.  Wide leg trousers were popular starting in the 30's, though they were not common and not worn as everyday clothing.

Jean Harlow in trousers

I have a pin stripe cotton, mostly brown with a little blue, for the blouse.  I was going to get wool flannel for the trousers but I wasn't sure I would like how the pants looked on me so I declined to invest the cash.  Instead I got a dark chocolate rayon twill.  It has lovely drape, though it's not very forgiving of my bumps.   I actually bought all this quite a while ago and just haven't got around to sewing it.

Smooth Sailing Pants 
The largest size of the pattern is a tiny bit too small for me in most places.  It's definitely too small in the 'high hip' (commonly know as the 'pot' belly).  I altered the curve of the hip and altered the pleats and darts along with adding to the overall size. I also hand sewed the side zip because I've found that I get a smoother line.  Clearly I'm too lazy to go downstairs to press my work before pictures.

Hand picked zip - Not pressed
And now, a moment to talk about squish.  I have a lot of squish, and it's not all just fat.  Everyone should know their squishability, because it matters when making alterations.  I added room in the pattern to match my measurements and then, when the muslin seemed too tight in the waist, I added more.  But I shouldn't have because I'm squishy, and I know it.  If my pants fit 'properly' in the waist they are actually too loose and will slide to my high hip.  I find I need to squish in about 1- 1 1/2 inches (more if the fabric will stretch a bit when wearing).  I always have a little roll over my waist but I prefer that to droopy pants.  I added an extra inch to the muslin and ended up taking two inches out.  That same 'squish' factor means I need to add a bit of extra room through the seat.  When I sit down I squish OUT there (wearing ease).  Alternately, Robin my co-blogger, has almost no squish no matter what her size.

Welt pocket - Also NOT pressed 
A side effect of the squish alterations was that the legs of the pants are a bit fuller than they appear in the pattern picture.  The pattern is for straight leg pants from the low hip and I added ease in the low hip.  My final decision was whether to add a welt pocket on the seat.  I've never done it, so I HAD to try.   I haven't made the belt yet, but I want to do that, too.

Smooth Sailing Blouse
The blouse pattern fit, except the bust.  Because it's made of cotton shirting and buttons down the front, I wanted to make sure I added plenty of fabric.  No gap!  The pattern creates bust fullness through pleating below the yoke.  I added half my extra volume there.  I also chose to add a bust dart, along with a little extra length in the front.  Due to the extra volume at the bust, I added a second shaping dart at the waist.  I'm quite content with how it worked out.

A couple of surprises with the pattern; first, the yoke is not lined and second, the shoulder seam came out slanting back over my shoulder.  Neither one of these were a problem.  I'm going to use the pattern again, and I will likely line the yoke and will slash and spread to move the shoulder seam closer to my actual shoulders.  The yoke is fine without the lining and hangs nicely, but my next blouse will have the outside of the yoke cut on the bias (for stripe detail) and will need the support.
The shoulder seam placement meant that closing the blouse up to the neck wasn't a viable option.  It will be easy to fix in the future.  Note; this is related to MY shape, not a problem with the pattern.

Both these patterns were extremely easy to work with and the instructions were straightforward.  I LOVE them.  I'm also secretly happy that I matched stripes (sorta) at the shoulder.

It's 7AM!  Only time I had for pictures...

Monday, August 31, 2015

1826 cap, HSM - Lisa

1826 cap

I saw this pattern photo in about 8 different facebook feeds and liberated it for my personal use.  I genuinely want to address every challenge and my original plan was derailed by, well, a lot (more after the cap).  But I do have a lot of cotton organdy remnants from my daughter's cosplay and decided I could do something with them. 

I'm still working on my version of the Lowell Mill Dress and decided that an 1826 cap would be the perfect compliment.  This cap likely fulfills the 'heritage' part of the challenge.  My family is Northern European and roundly middle class so this cap makes sense.  But to insure I fit the criteria, I hand sewed it (so it could be sort of 'heirloom' too).  

The pattern comes with measurements and I copied them exactly, adding seam allowance.  Apparently my head is a lot bigger than I thought and I had to do it over, adding about 2 1/2 inches to the length (ear to ear over the head).

crown and back before gathers
There were no instructions so I was on my own for construction, but it really isn't complicated.  Fussy, but not complicated.  I could have done some research but I WAS running out of time.  My first decision was to gather the back section over a length of cotton yarn, like piping.  This means that it can't be made larger or smaller but I'm OK with that.  I used the same yarn for the piping around the front section.  I chose to box pleat rather than gather the ruffles around the edges because it's easier for me.

'decorative' tuck
finishing edges
The back and crown pieces are single layers, but I chose to make the front piece double layer.  That allowed me to enclose raw edges easily.  I did a fitting before I added the lining piece to the front.  The front seemed to come to low on my forehead so I took a 1 inch tuck across the top.  I'm now calling it a 'decorative feature'.  

tiny strips for bows
Most of the stitching, including the hem of the ruffles, was done in running stitch.  I used back stitch to attach the front to the back and crown, and whip stitched the lining to the front.  

Then I made about 5 feet of 1/8 inch wide 'ribbon' for the decoration.  I had some poly ribbon that would have worked but I wanted to try and do this like it would be done in 1826.  No JoAnns in 1826.  Those skinny strips were really annoying. 1/2 strips of fabric folded like bias tape and sewed with running stitch.

True Facts:
First time I've hand sewed 100% of an item bigger than a handkerchief.
First time I've made something just like the picture (I'm excepting the 'decorative' tuck).
I've never been excited by these little caps but I find that there have been times that I really need one when I get 'dressed up' and don't want to wear a big 'ole bonnet.
I will wear this for Regency, without shame.
I'm thrilled that I will only have to curl the front of my hair.  The rest will be hidden. Or, maybe even fake curls.

And because it was requested that we have a picture of ourselves wearing the item...  (no curls, no makeup, poor lighting, my apologies)

And oh gosh what a month this has been.  Started off great with Costume College.  And then it went downhill fast.  Broken water heater, broken car, broken kitten.  Two of those were expensive, but easy to fix.  One was just kind of awful.  Poor kitty!  He knocked a huge owl house over by repeatedly running into it.  And he cracked his front paw.  He needed to be sedated and restrained for 3 weeks. And during these three weeks I started to clean my sewing room and discovered moths.  A LOT of moths.  They had eaten a knitted hood and were starting on the mitts.  Luckily they had found the fabric but hadn't settled in.   I had planned to try and reproduce my great-grandmother's wedding dress.  I got fabric and lace.  It's gonna have to wait.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

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

New pictures added below.
 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.

Or not so soon.  And since I wrote the words above, I've learned even more.  Most everything needs to be hand sewn. It's just too fussy to do on a machine and would actually take MORE time.  Getting the dress to hand correctly over the hoops is difficult.  I would pin it on the dress form, baste it and hang it right side out.  And it would be uneven.  The pattern was not designed to be worn over panniers so I was on my own to figure it all out.  Attaching the skirt to the bodice with the pannier sides sticking out didn't work as simply as I expected and I just kept pinning basting and ripping out.  Eventually it was 'good enough' and I sewed it into place.  One area of dismay was sort of hidden by the watteau pleats and another was in plain view but my sleeves were often in the way.  The sleeves weren't as difficult as I'd expected.  Only had to baste them in twice.  For the record, at this point I was fully sick of looking at shiny ivory fabric and had started to pin trim on the dress.

First was trim on the petticoat (AKA the underskirt).  My original color scheme and ideas had all flown the coop so I decided to put a large black band along the front and trim with ivory ruffles top and bottom.  And I also added 3 big quilted ivory clubs between the rows of ruffles. I made the clubs by cutting the very ravel-y fabric with a soldering iron.  I blanket stitched two layers of fabric around a layer of batting and then blanket stitched them to the front of the petticoat.

The sleeves flounces were attached before I sewed them to the bodice.  Much easier that way.  I wanted the trim at the base of the sleeve to be like the trim on the bodice.  I tried about 5 iterations of black and ivory before I hit on the one I liked best.  I had bought some 2 1/2 inch ribbon from the same fabric (in 3 colors) so i used that for most of the trim.  I zigzagged some of the black fabric for a added contrast over the ivory.  All the bodice trim was box pleated.

And I also experimented with crocheting little clubs and tacking them to the flounces.  It was a great way to channel the original dress, although a gigantic pain because I had to make 36 of them.

For the stomacher, I wanted some color.  The Queen of Clubs was originally the only Queen which held a flower.  And the flower was often a thistle.  I picked some ashy pink ribbon with green accents and made flower that looked like thistles and then I tacked them onto the stomacher.  For much of this hand sewing I had an assist from our new kitten, Eggroll.  He's adorable and cuddly and proceeded to knock over a large birdhouse and break his own leg (not badly).  This is just a part of the reason the poor blog has been neglected.

I also sewed the stomacher to one side of the bodice and used hooks and thread loops to close the other.  super easy cheat!

Last, and definitely not least, I added trim down the front of the skirts.  I wanted to try painting fabric and had a clever idea to paint clubs on part of this trim.  Problem was, I had to pin all the trim to determine where the clubs needed to go, and I needed to make a stamp because free-hand painting was a non-starter, AND I needed to check my paints to see which worked best.  First I made a stamp out of thick craft foam backed with poster board and glued to a lipstick cover.  This allowed me to get the most pressure without wiggling the stamp (and was also conveniently to hand).  Then I did a test with the 3 paints I had available.  Not all of them were stable after they dried.

While the paint was drying I started pinning trim.  I'd like to suggest I just whipped right thru it, but I didn't.  All the pink ribbon had to be gathered down each long edge and ruches.  All the ivory and black trim needed to be box pleated as I pinned so I could figure out where the painted clubs would be.  And then I would just get sick of it and have to walk away.

Once it was pinned in place I could jam some paper towels behind the fabric and stamp the clubs.  I only screwed one of them up!  Yay me!

 I was happy with how it turned out but felt it needed some green in the bottom part of the trim (to go with the top).  At this point, Costume College was a couple of days away and I hadn't started packing so I made some more leaves and tacked them in.  No pictures were taken.  I also decided to literally scrap together a mask from craft foam, spray paint on stick on jewels.

For the gala, I finally got to try it all on.

The wig turned out great, makeup was subtle (not bad for a first time through), and Robin took a picture that utterly disguised my wrinkles.  Thank you Rob!

Also, a picture of how easy it was to sit down in this giant dress.  I am not crying.  I am laughing.  A lot.

The gala was amazing.  Lots of fun with lots of costumers.  Robin didn't get a picture of the group but she did get a picture with Lauren from Americian Duchess.   And I ripped a group picture from FB.

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........

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.