Friday, August 12, 2011

Buying supplies

lace for Rob's Vic dress sleeve
Yesterday Lisa and I ordered more supplies, so here's a compendium with pics:
Jacquard ribbon for Lisa's Ren dress
Jacquard Ribbon for Lisa's Ren dress
Trim for both Rob's ad beau's Ren outfits

black-and-gold piping for both

Venise lace for all Ren outifts

And last but not least, the all-important spiral boning!
Additionally, Lisa bought satin and velvet ribbon in both brown and black, but those pics don't show up well.

Bonnet Musings - Robin

After weeks diligent research on Mid-Victorian bonnets, I finally bit the bullet and just bought a pre-made hat form. I'd had grand dreams of making my own from scratch, but have bowed to the Gods of No-Spare-Time and just bought the sucker. This is from where they have a great selection of buckram frames and all sorts of millinery supplies. Of course, I couldn't resist a few trinkets to adorn my bonnet, so I got these:

OK, this is NOT me, but a pic from Hat Supplies website of the buckram frame.
and from, I ordered these:

After I mull and cover the bonnet in Blackberry Silkessence, the same fabric that I'll make into trim, I'll use some striped silk to match the bottom skirt panel and neck embellishment, some fabric from the dress and velvet ribbon to decorate the bonnet. As soon as I get the bonnet properly covered, I'll finally have some portable hand work to do.

Addendum:  Received the stuff from hatsupply via post on Saturday!  Really fast service.

Deadlines and daydreams - Lisa and Robin

One week from tomorrow we're getting together for another fitting and sewing day.  While waiting, we've both been thinking a lot about costume details, doing what we can and prepping everything else.  Also made some last minute trim purchases for things we just discovered we needed.

We just learned the date that we'll be attending the Dickens Faire (SF) and it's sooner than we'd hoped.  Lisa's daughter will be playing flute at the Faire so we're going on the day she performs, and she will need a dress!  We are hoping against hope that it is also the stealth Steampunk day at Dickens.  It was so fun last year.

A quick look at our calendars reminds us that, after next weekend, we won't have many (if any) opportunities for a 'group sew' until the Faire.  That means more fittings in public restrooms after work, and uber-efficiency. 

We pondered the theme for next year's Nova Albion Steampunk event - Vikings Celts and Villains.  We're bemused.  Lisa spent half a day excited about portable Tesla coils, only to discover the potential for lethality.  But, hey, what a way to go!  I can't help wondering how Vikings and mechanicals will meld, and yet, based on my appearance, I think Viking is an obvious choice for me.  But how?

All these time limitations have also dragged our body image issues into the bright light of email.  We are 'women of a certain age'.  If our faces were fabric, we'd line them.  If our bodies were dresses, we'd take them in in more than a few places.  And we both recently found ourselves in the 'fat trap'.  This I define as that mental state that tells you you're fatter than usual and with just a little work you could drop weight and your clothes would fit better.  Certainly true!  However, while you are doing that, time is passing and your dresses, corsets, skirts are not getting made.  And you have a deadline.  But if you go ahead and make it, and then lose weight, it won't fit!  Then again, things are all taking longer than you thought so maybe you should go ahead with what you need to do.  This is particularly tough for Robin because, despite her current concerns, she is still tall and slender.  Just not as slender as she'd like!  (we all know that one)  She knows she can lose the weight with extra workouts but she has a lot of sewing to do.  She is making a new corset and can't fit her waistlines and bodices until it's complete.  If she waits on the corset until she loses weight, Lisa may not be able to help her with fittings (school starting, multiple birthdays, Halloween and acting class costumes, Pumpkin Festival).

Here is our solution - Start the corset and make it tight!  If weight is lost, it can be laced tighter.  Make the muslin for the bodice.  Hem the skirts, because it won't make that much difference in the length.  Then she can go on to make the clothes for her sweetie, and work on the corset, leaving that bodice for last. 

Lisa has a different problem.  Yes she needs to lose weight, and doesn't want to make clothes and have them get too loose.  She's willing, however, to cross that bridge when she gets to it.  On the other hand, she loves the costumes she's making, but not on her.  So while she loves to make them, she dreads actually wearing them.  Pathological dread. 

But enough of the cranky body image issues.  This is not news for any woman, and my daughter sent me a picture of what she wants her dress to look like:

So cute (and thanks to redthreaded on Etsy who made and sold this).  I'm going to attempt this without a pattern, using bits of patterns I already have.  Picture of the fabric as soon as we pick it out.

In summary, we are now making Victorian dresses for ourselves; Renaissance dresses for ourselves; Robin making Victorian and Renaissance outfits for her man; Lisa making a Victorian dress for her daughter, and a Steampunk jacket.  Only our Victorian dresses are more than twinkles in our eyes and some fabric in a closet. Twinkles, NOT Twinkies.  Really.  Neither of us has Twinkies in our closets. We have a lot of fun work ahead, and vow to make an extra effort to share some of the snarky quips that are usually limit to email exchanges between Princess Perfection and Crusty the Crank. 

I don't have much to add to Lisa's summary except that both of us have been harangued and whipsawed by the Financial Markets so much that neither of us can turn our heads well, furthering the sewing slowdown (and the lack of progress on the fat meltdown for me).today I wrote:  IRockin' my look today
which consists of one of those heat-in-the-microwave neck-and-shoulder covering bird-see-filled thingies for my stiff neck, covered with the very voluminous snack-skin print scarf/table runner.  God, I'm hot in so many ways! Lisa, of course, mocked my spelling errors and wants to know what a snack-skin is. Twinkies! 
I'll be cutting out the corset  and Pagoda Top muslins tomorrow, later than I'd planned and need to have both together for our sewing meeting.  I need to get some sort of handwork project going because I find myself with hours to kill just waiting for something (car repairs, doctors office, etc.) while I really want to be home sewing. And my dog hates me because he's getting less playtime now. Matter of fact, my boyfriend feels the same way. However, I'm making great progress procuring supplies (something I do really well) and now have ordered everything I need to finish the Victorian costumes for both myself and beau, including bonnet supplies. "Princess Perfection" even has all her fabrics preshrunk, ironed and on hangers in the closet with yardage tags on every piece and all the notions grouped according to project. I do this because I'm the type of person who can lose something in my own house for days on end. Onward to greater sewing heights! - Robin

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A lovely tutorial I found online - Mr.Seamstress: Finishing the corset

Mr.Seamstress: Finishing the corset
This guy has very clear instructions and pictures of his corset- in- progress.

Seaming Drudgery & a Malfunctioning Machine - Robin

No pics for this one - who wants to see pics of a bunch of seams on fabric over and over and over again until it actually becomes something identifiable?  The fabric for my Vic skirt is actually polyester lining fabric.  I'm doubling it for the over-skirt.  It's extremely slippery so I have to sew slowly in order to keep it from sliding off the table. I sewed all the vertical seams for the over-skirt and base skirt and have sewn the bottom striped panel together. The bottom striped panel really needs something to stiffen the fabric as it is actually silk shirting, so I've decided to line it in the same fabric as the skirt. I originally ordered 1/2 yard extra, but I almost didn't have enough of the striped stuff because it shrunk so much. I ordered another yard so I can have fabric for the Pagoda Top neck trim and for the bonnet.

In the meantime, I'm having tension problems. No, not me, but the machine! Why all-of-a-sudden? Had to rip out four crummy seams and rewind a bobbin. I'm gonna get the skirt together and baste the corset together for fitting and then take it to the shop. I MUST be addicted because I'm worried about what I'll do while it's gone!

Hopefully, pics of something worthwhile tomorrow.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning what I have left to do - Lisa

I pinned all my darts, strapped on the corset and petticoat and tried on my hard work.  I had added to the front to allow room for my chest and I clearly added too much.  The front darts are not quite right, and strangely, the side seams that fit in the muslin are too loose.  The shoulders and arms seem fine (although I haven't pinned on the sleeves yet).  I'm going to pin the side seams where I think they should go, but wait for Robin to finalize.  She can correct my darts, and pin the sleeves.  She will also need to help me even out the bustle tapes and get the poufs right.  Then I sew it all together, add a front hem, trim, boning, and deal with the hook and eye closure along with decorative buttons.  And, yeah, I still need to crochet the neck trim and have to wait for a final measurement.

Things I learned about reading the directions!  When the pattern calls for 45 inch fabric, 44 inch is not the same.  Especially after it's shrunk.  Luckily I had extra and so was not too messed up when I had to re-fold for every cut.  The front has a 1.5 inch hem allowance.  I didn't read that and planned for a lined panel.  It's a little too long.  Luckily that's very easy to fix.  And a very novel concept for me (at 5'10').

So here I am, pinned together and pinching the baggy sides seams in place.  I'm really happy with it.  And with my petticoat.  While I wait for the next fitting day, I can make the brown skirt that goes over the petticoat.  It's the same color as the lining, but nicer fabric.  I think I'm going to make the bustle stick out a little more too.

Polonaise, interrupted (but more pictures!) - Lisa

This is a Pikmin.  I knew that any time now I would be obliged to make my son another Mario-related toy.  I had promised.  He called in the chit this weekend.  So in the midst of cutting and lining my polonaise, I dropped everything to make this Pikmin, celebrate the 25th birthday of offspring, and survey two beaches for the marine sanctuary.  Chaos, lovely chaos!

It was fun to sit with the 'big girls' and talk about knitting, weaving, crocheting, felting and sewing.  And hot glue.  I may have to help crank out a Dickens Faire dress for my daughter who's flute group may be performing.  Or not.

And through it all, I did make progress...

Pleat on outside of sleeve (unsewn)

I cut out the entire pattern.  I sewed the interlining to the plaid.  I made the sleeves including lining.  I lined the bustle, pleated it and hand sewed it to the upper back.  I pinned the bustling tapes to the bustle.  And I pinned the shoulders and side seams.  The following picture does not do justice (a fitted, bustled dress on a hanger???)  But it's the best I can do right now.  The plan is to pin the darts and try it on this afternoon.  If it seems to fit well I will sew the side seams and shoulders.  I will wait on sleeves and darts for a final fitting.

Hand sewing twill tape to bodice

Pleating bustle to twill tape
I'm looking forward to sewing on the trim, but I want to wait for the final fitting.  Because as tedious as all that hand sewing will be, taking it out and doing it over will be much worse.

Oh yeah!  I also made boning channels out of muslin for my cable tie bones.