Friday, July 29, 2011

Attack of the Hoop Wires - Robin

OK, so plan A didn't work, on to plan B. I drilled tiny holes between the wires in order to stitch the hoops together (and while I was at it, I applied the Dremel to my dog's toenails - not a success, but that's another story).  Since I couldn't find any white tool dipping liquid anywhere (local or online) I bought some clear spray, sprayed it into a plastic cup and dipped those suckers.  Unfortunately, hoop wires were springing all over the place, duct tape was sticking everywhere I didn't want it to and I couldn't get them to hand straight down (it didn't help that boyfriend was in the garage completely revamping the tool bench, so finding anything became a chore in itself...)Here are the drilled and dipped hoops in all their glory. All I have to do is wait for 4 hours until I can play with them. On to something else.
Next, I had to apply aluminum tips to hoops 1 & 2.  What a pain in the posterior this was. I had 7 tips. I needed four. I really did destroy three until I resorted to super glue to keep the suckers on.  Won't know if this works until tomorrow. There's GOT to be a better way (there is - a machine that does it for you, but unless you are doing this as a business, it is prohibitively expensive - hence, the super glue.) So, the stupid tips are on and now I have to cut material for the hoop casings. Not a good thing to do when one is pissed off, so I'll go watch some Dr. Who, have a glass of wine, and continue tomorrow. (I'm also a bit peeved because the dog I wanted to adopt was adopted 21 hours before I could get to the shelter - rats! Wasn't meant to be...THAT calls for yet another glass of wine!) See ya tomorrow for the big sewing get-together.

Things I did, Want to do, and a BIG day tomorrow - Lisa

I've been making some crocheted lace, just to see if I can, and to use on my polonaise.  I made big ruffled lace for the sleeves, and something a bit 'less' for the hem,  Here's what it looks like, finished, with my fabric.
I still need to finish making more of the smaller stuff.  It gave me the idea of trying to make some that looks like toothed gears. 

I've got most of the material I need to make a Renaissance dress.  I'll post pictures of the fabric soon.  There are a plethora of images on-line that I might post, but the only thing that has captured my interest is how to treat my sleeves.  There are nearly no limits on what I can do, however what I want to do requires lots of layers and fabric which sounds ghastly uncomfortable.  So here I am, balancing comfort and style.  If you knew me, you would know that comfort nearly always wins.  I never wear skirts above mid calf for that reason.  But since I agreed to do this, I don't want to do a half-assed job.  Guess I'll see when it comes time to make them.  I'm looking forward to trying cartridge pleating.  And my steampunk jacket is bubbling up to the top of my mind.  I searched some images yesterday that each have a component that I want to include:


My fabric is a lightweight charcoal wool with a red (faux) silk lining that will show in the turn-backs and possibly at the cuffs.  I've got black and gold braid and little brass buttons with tiny elephants on them.  So lots of those.  I will have tails.  I like how they button up in the first picture, but definitely not that long.  I have a pattern for a jacket with a diagonal close up the front, and a riding jacket pattern, along with a cutting pattern for a violin bodice.  I should be able to scramble something together out of those.  Then I got some crumpled looking silk-like stuff to use for a skirt.  I think I will have it button up the front so I can have some fun with petticoats and/or bloomers underneath.  And I'm on the hunt for old belts to use for holsters and straps.

All this has to wait until AFTER tomorrow when we meet to catch up on fittings, hemming, trim choices and pattern work.  Here's what we have on the docket:

Fit the muslin for the polonaise (final).
Hem brown cotton skirt.
Hem new petticoat, check for 'fullness'.
Review trim options for the polonaise and both brown skirts (one skirt is still an idea).
Pick up the 3 or 4 fabrics Rob is holding for me.
Look over fabric for Renaissance dress and review trim options.
Cut corset for Renaissance dress (at least copy the pattern).
Remember to bring all the things to wear under the skirts getting hemmed...don't FORGET!

Measure length for skirt over crinoline.
Measure for patterns she will cut in the near future (Pagoda top and corset).
Review trim for Victorian dress. There are lots of potential ideas here.
Work on bonnet pattern.
Cut the skirt for the Victorian ball gown.
Measure Renaissance patterns for trim requirements.
Make final decision on Renaissance fabrics.

This is do-able IF we multitask a bit and IF we don't open the wine too early.  (I do have to drive home) So we should have a lot fun pictures for next week.  I'm itching to start cutting and sewing again.  Something other than the interminable petticoat ruffles, and something that isn't beige.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Comments seem to be fixed

Please email us at  if you have a problem, but comments seem to be working. 
(and, ya know, comment PLEASE!)  The comments come to us before they post so be patient.  Sometimes they expect us to work while we're at work.

Wow. I cannot comment on my own blog - Lisa

I've heard from a couple people that comments are not working well.  I just tried to comment and got in a vicious cycle of logging-in in a new window.  Clearly one of Dante's modern circles of hell.  We will look into this.  In the mean time, if you want to comment, please email us at  We'll post your comment for you.

And, for the record, I wouldn't duct tape the hoops together.  I was suggesting creating a duct tape sleeve at one end of the hoop for the purpose of holding the other end.  If you have two sleeves you can alter the hoop diameter.  Duct tape is strong enough to keep the hoop from punching through, and it's durable.  This would replace steel sleeves that used to exist and are, apparently, no longer available.  That said, I agree that duct tape is not pretty. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sad Face - the Epoxy/Snap idea was a failure - Robin

Two days total of gluing and curing and the suckers flaked off the hoop wire quite easily.  Back to the drawing board.  I think I'll try Margo Anderson's (at of drilling and stitching. I just don't want to duct tape them together.  It's a thing I have.  Lisa would happily duct tape 'til the cows came home, but I want to have something....less industrial.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Rant Whilst Purchasing Supplies - Robin

Why IS it that your local craft/fabric store (Jo-Annes, you know who I mean) never, ever has all the things you need at one time so you can get in and out and back to your project. A simple list: snaps to epoxy to the hoop wire for the experiment and rounded covered button kits in two sizes. No, I'm sorry i don't want to buy the size you have in hopes that just MAYBE you'll have the other size I need someday. Then you see some fabric (canvas, stiff stuff, on sale) that you need for a piece of your other project and, after standing in line forever to get it cut, then forever-and-a-day to check out, you realize that, although you've signed up on-line and in the store twice, you still haven't gotten any coupons and you've wasted two hours.

Maybe THAT'S why people shop online instead of bricks-and-mortar stores.

OK, enough of that.  I got the epoxy, got the snaps, but can only do one side at a time until it cures, so here's a pic of one side of the snaps on one side of the hoop.  Stay tuned.

Accessories and Underthings - Lisa

I'm ready for another fitting on my muslin for the Polonaise but I can't do it until next weekend.  In the mean time I must have dreamt up 15 new projects.  But it's time to stop dreaming and start getting things done. I decided to make a petticoat using the 1895 Skirt pattern at Tudor Links 1895 Skirt because I want to use it for an actual skirt and this is a great test.  This pattern is free but not actual size, so I needed to do some math to make sure it would fit me.  It was surprisingly easy to figure out and went together quickly.  I'm using twill tape for a waistband since I have a lot of it and it's fast.  Since this pattern worked well for me, I'm going to go ahead and make a new brown skirt out of a nicer fabric to wear under the Polonaise.

I made ruffles for the bottom but can't attach them until I've got a hem.  There is no word for the special tedium of hemming ruffles.  The ruffles should give me a little more volume at the bottom. 

I also removed the drawstring from a taffeta petticoat I already had.  The new waistband solves the problem I was having with a lopsided hem. 

All that's left is a chemise to wear under my corset.  Underwear? Check!

With a little spare time, I am revisited crocheted lace.  My grandmother showed me how to make doilies when I was just a little nugget, and I haven't done it since, but I was thinking that I could make lace for my sleeves and neckline.  Not because making it myself is so much better, but I can't find anything I like that isn't onerously expensive.  For the record, it is possible to find lovely patterns on line and free.  Unfortunately, trying to read a pattern makes my brain melt.  So I'm making it up myself.  Again.  And trying to remember to write some notes as I go.  First I made fingerless gloves.  I still need to finish hanging strings and add a button closure and probably some decoration. Now I'm just finishing lace for my sleeves.  It's pressed but not starched which will give it more shape.  It ruffles nicely when the edge is straight. I'll make something similar around the neckline.  I may make some for the hem.  I'm not ready to commit to that just yet. 

I now inhabit a world of beige-y sameness.  I am really looking forward to moving ahead with some color.  This Saturday, Robin and I will be helping each other with fittings and hems and comparing ideas for trim.  Theoretically, I will be able to start cutting the plaid after this. 

Brainstorm from a Sleepless Night - Robin

The only reason I was going to make two different hoop skirts (cage crinoline and a farthingale) was because I could NOT figure out how to adjust the hoops in the bottom "bag" portion of the skirt once it was sewn shut.  Last night, however, my brain wouldn't turn off and I saw that dang light bulb over my head saying: Use the epoxy to glue on snaps instead of gluing the hoop ends together permanently. So I'm going to try that on a little leftover piece of hoop wire today to see how that might work. If it does, I'll be able to adjust the hoops for different styles AND I'll be able to collapse it to get it into a suitcase, something I really didn't think about until last night.

Oh, yea, I also envisioned many different ways to trim the skirt and the pagoda top, turning them every-which-way in my mind. Stay tuned....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Making a hoop skirt - Robin

I had originally thought to make an adjustable hoop skirt/farthingale but decided to make two separate undergarments.
Round and round I go. The dang thing is 130" in diameter with 4 hoop channels. This is taking a lot longer than I thought.
The hoop wire is cut, the bottom bag is sewn and the grosgrain ribbon has channels sewn into it. Try not to use yellow tracing paper on white stuff - you'll go blind and after a while you won't even be able to see your markings!  The directions say to use tape to put the hoop wire together, but I don't like that idea because once I sew up the bag, I won't be able to get to them in case something slips without ripping seams, so I'm going to the hardware store to get some epoxy. That ought to  hold the suckers.  I need to find some of that plastic stuff you dip the ends of boning wire with, too, so work is halted for now. After that, it should go a lot faster.

Ren fabric choices - Robin

Haven't found the proper fabric yet for the fore panel for the Renaissance skirt. I've been searching online embroidery sites to see what's around, because Queen Elizabeth had this fantastic one embroidered for her by Bess of Harwick and I thought I'd see what I could replicate. So far, nothing for sale makes me fall in love. Here are two close ones, though, and I'll use them as jumping off points.  Maybe I'll machine embroidery the entire fore panel and embellish it with pearls.  No hurry on this one though.

I have an embroidery machine, but my software for downloading from the internet is so outdated that I had to buy new stuff. Waaah!