Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Project - Polonaise (TV 410) in plaid, Lisa

I bought this teal plaid months ago on sale.  I love the color, especially with my brown skirt.  I have 10 yards (because it was really cheap) and thought I might make a dress, but have decided to try the Truly Victorian Polonaise  (TV Polonaise) It's a light weight cotton so I'm going to line the whole thing. I got my lining today and it's very yellow. I don't like it with the teal and brown so I'm going to get a chocolate brown or rust instead. Even if it never shows, it will bug me. I'm not sure about lining the bustle but I think it will hang much nicer over the cotton skirt. The only changes I plan are a watch pocket and a secret pocket in the lower front as a shout-out to future steampunk potential. I haven't sewn with a nap since the '70's and this is theoretically a more difficult pattern than I've used in a long time. Soooo, for the first time, ever, I am making a muslin. My corset does some genuinely bizarre things to my measurements and I don't want to mess this up. I am looking forward to wearing this at my next Steampunk outing with the insect straw hat and my tea-kit belt. Probably Dickens Faire too with less aggressively bizarre headwear.  I'll try to be back soon with updates on fitting the muslin over the corset and details on the instructions for choosing cutting sizes based on my measurements.  It looks pretty helpful. 

While I'm working on this, I may have to slam out an Iggy Koopa plush for my son.  I sort of promised, but am avoiding it.  Koopalings are the obscure heart of Mario-World.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bustle is almost done, and spats! - Lisa (new Pics!)

In an effort to avoid anything complicated, I finished the knitted spats.  Hmmm, the second one was a lot harder.  Note to self:  when making up a pattern, write down what you're doing so that you can do it again without stopping to count and measure every two rows.  (Note from Rob: Divide your yarn into two balls, knit them both at the same time, both spats - or sleeves or whatever you need multiples of - and you don't have to worry about having them match - it will be automatic!) I think they're cute and by simply threading a black ribbon through the knit, they are adjustable to a variety of shoes.  Here's a picture of a finished spat, and also the finished spat along side the basic knitted shape, accompanied by the obligatory crafty cat.  Apologies again for image quality, but phone pictures are just too easy!!!  (and for the record, I doubt I will actually wear these)

I'm also nearly done with the travel bustle.  I still want to cover the black canvas with something a bit prettier and smoother.  I don't want the fabric rubbing against whatever I wear underneath and possible dislodging critical garments.  Also, if I were to shrink dramatically, or want a fuller bustle, I can take a tuck in the canvas back and it will be fuller and narrower.  Here are a couple blurry pictures of the basic framework and the mostly decorated detail.

All done! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Robin Is Making Now

I'm making a big dent in my wallet right now. Gathering the fabrics and ideas for a Mid-Victorian day dress (for me) and full-out Victorian Gentleman's garb for my beau, I ordered patterns for the ball gown skirt, pagoda blouse, crinoline hoop cage, men's frock coat, men's shirt, and men's pants from Truly Victorian and the entire Elizabethan couple's wardrobe patterns from Margo Anderson ( )for use next year.

I wanted to start with the underwear for the Elizabethan (Ren)) and Vic outfits just so I wouldn't have to change thread in the machine, but while waiting for hoop wire, patterns, coutil and other esoteric notions to show up on my doorstep, I started fabric shopping. Some might have called that a mistake… Alas, I could NOT justify the cost of silk for my Mid-Victorian costume no matter how much I love silk, but while browsing at Joannes, I saw (felt) some Silkessence fabric. Most people use it as a lining, but I told Lisa about it, found it on-line with more available in more colors than we had locally, and Lisa and I were off to the the races buying all the pretty colors. Yes, it's synthetic and yes, it will be…warm, to say the least, but my Mid-Vic will now be lavender Silkessence lined in… lavender Silkessence. I found a lavender/peach striped silk shirting fabric that would work for the bottom skirt if stabilized and bought some other bits and pieces of various hues of purple for trim, the bonnet and, perhaps, a reticule (love that word). Then we went crazy and bought the frock coat material (lovely pewter), some suiting for a jacket for Lisa, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember because I was on a charge card high.

Did it end there? Heck no! I marched myself over to a discount fabric house I'd had on my list and promptly bought a boatload of lovely emerald velvet for the bodice and doublet (that I won't even be starting on for 6 months, but ya gotta strike while the iron is hot), another boatload of linen and some lovely charmeuse (mocha latte) for my beau's Ren breeches. I'm on a roll.

Oh, I forgot to tell you how this all started, this buying spree: I fell in love,,, with a fabric. "Clay" colored drapery silk that I wanted for the overskirt for the Elizabethan that I wasn't making yet. There were 15 yards. I bought them all. Hey, I'll use it for something. Sometimes I walk by and just pet it, it's so pretty. That was my downfall. The fabric could not live in the closet all alone, it needed compatriots, and that's what brought me to my credit card overload. Gotta stop now and pay some of this stuff off!

What Lisa Is Making Now

Right now I’m remaking the brown cotton skirt I bought for Steampunk. It was basically a 120 inch circumference tube with a drawstring. If you were wondering, this look is less-than-flattering for anyone, but particularly for those of us with a belly. I wanted to keep the fullness in the skirt but control the volume at the waist. In future I will show pictures of how I decided to cut, but since I’m catching up, here’s what I determined:

Take the whole thing apart. I have two rectangles 60” by 45”.
One piece is the back and is pleated (half inch pleats) up to half my waist size. I want to have a bustle under the back so I need to maintain the length somehow (yes, I’m tall). I have a plan, but it means I will need to salvage some fabric from the front half. I’m going to make what is basically a yoke that sticks out the back about 4 inches (mid-back) going to about half an inch at the sides. Since I haven’t made a proper bustle yet, I just have to hope this is going to work.

For the front, I did math to figure out how to make the top smooth and still have 60” at the bottom which included knowing how the angled cut would impact the hem. I cut an A-line where the top is half the width of my waist (both sides include a little wiggle room and seam allowances) and the bottom is 30”. From the remaining fabric, I cut two right triangles that are 15” across the bottom and the full height of the fabric (45”). I sewed the straight side to the A-line on each side of the front. Viola! 60 inches at the bottom. I realize this wreaks havoc with the hang of the fabric and with my hem. I would not have chosen to cut a skirt this way, however I’m determined to make this skirt work better and I have limited options. I will have to shorten the center front panel at the top to maintain any kind of decent drape to the fabric.

With the 15” by 45” I have left, I cut a waistband and two little flaps. I’ve decided to accommodate my flexible waistline by having the waist close on each side with hook and bar. I plan to have multiple bars. I also sewed flaps on to the sides of the back at the waist to reduce ‘gap’ in the side seam below the hook and eye.

I’ve sewn the yoke on onto the back pleated section. I’m pretty sure I need a bustle before I finish sewing the waistband just so I can get an idea if this is working.

Travel Bustle

First, a big shout-out to Alisa of Dragonfly Designs from whom I stole this idea. She is an inspiration in so many ways. I have decided to use plastic strapping tape for my bustle. At under $3 for 25 yards, it is priced right, and it seems incredibly tough. I will need to double the thickness because it’s a bit wobbly, and I made a mock up of the biggest loop to determine how much I wanted it to stick out. Turns out, not all that much! My 1.5 in twill tape just arrived so I’m getting to work. Hot glue and duct tape to the rescue.

6 27 11 – update on Skirt and Travel Bustle

After nearly launching the PS3 out the window when I couldn’t get Netflix to work right, I set to work watching BSG repeats.  With commercials.  I got the waistband on the skirt, and pinned the travel bustle together.  I put it on and asked the men in the house how it looked.  Spit shot.  Clearly I achieved the ‘horse’s ass’ I had been attempting to avoid.  This is confirmed by texting photos to Rob.  Clearly any solution requires wine.

I pick up the bustle again, look at it, and decide to knit spats.  That’s easy.  And crochet trim.  They’re mostly done and maybe cute.  I’m not putting in the underfoot/shoe strap until I’ve chosen shoes.  I think I will just use ribbon.  (photo)

Travel bustle is taken apart and plastic is trimmed.  This is better.  Or maybe too small?  This is an historical moment.  I’m worried that my butt looks too small.  And with that, I’ve decided I’m done.  I will sew down the twill tape and trim the bustle, along with finishing all the detail on the skirt that needs to be hand sewn (hooks and eyes, snaps, whatever).  The skirt will remain without a hem for now because I can’t do that myself.  It’s a bit uneven due to the rebuild.  (photo – bustle, and bustle with skirt)

Playing Catch up

Last December we attended the SF Dickens Fair. As it happens we were there on the impromptu Steampunk day where local aficionados swarmed the fair. With that, Robin was introduced to Steampunk, sending her on a mission of discovery. Lisa, having had a brief flirtation with the literary genre in the late 70’s was merely bewildered to discover that it was still hanging on. Robin, enamored, decides we must go to a convention, and we must dress the part. We recruit Lisa’s daughter, Valerie, and spend the next month scouring the internet for ideas, costume materials and inspiration. With very little time we limit what we plan to make and buy what we can afford and discover that making hats is really, really fun. In the post-convention glow we are bubbling with new ideas for outfits. True to our respective natures, Robin is searching out historically accurate garb and high quality silks and brocades, while Lisa is still trying to figure out how to make a skirt from copper tubing without using a welding iron. OK, in fairness, Lisa was actually making a Larry Koopa plush for her son. It came out fantastic. (She also crocheted a little tiny Chibiterasu)

What we learned:

You can crochet a top hat.
You really can’t have too many feathers and ribbons on it.
Make time to do things right or expect to want to do it over.
When you buy, you usually get what you pay for.
(This is fine when you’re in a hurry and don’t have money, but expect to want to make it over.)
After all these years, we still have trouble taking ‘no’ for an answer.
Failure is NOT an option but a great way to experience materials science in an up-close and personal way.
(super glue and some plastics make smoke and it smells bad…really bad)
apologies for iPhone pictures - we'll do better...soon
Larry Koopa