Friday, October 28, 2011

The vest comes together - R

 This vest was difficult to put together, but only because I followed (or tried to) the instructions. There were many points where I could have chucked the instructions and done it my own way, but I thought I'd learn a new technique somewhere in this confusing morass of verbiage.  In the end, i still ended up chucking the instructions and figured out how to finish it on my own.

It's only missing the buttons, which I tried to make as covered buttons, but the fashion fabric is too thick to create a 1/2" covered button, so I'll have to go to the store and find some that will work.  Otherwise, this puppy is finished with out my having bit the head off anything. Bring on the Frock Coat!

Bonnet work - R

 Got the Rit dye in the mail.  I ordered online from because the local store carries a limited color selection.  I dyed the Petersham ribbon with blue denim & wine and stitched it on, also attaching the tie. Then I tried it on the buttons, but they kept coming out lavender, no matter how strong I made the dye bath.  The solution?

SHARPIES to the rescue. (Thanks, Faye, for having a purple Sharpie at hand at work and suggesting this to me!) I colored them with purple Sharpie and I know from experience that Sharpie doesn't come out of fabric no matter what you do.  I also played with the flowers and have decided to paint them with the dye bath to get rid of some of the blue.  I'll do that this weekend, as it is not a priority right now.

All I need now are some fabric flowers, which Lisa will show me how to make on November 6 and I'll have everything I need to finish the bonnet.

I will show you the flowers and make them for you at the same time.  Each flower will take 5 to 10 minutes even if you 'take your time'.  Bring your dark ruching strips.  We can put Valerie to work making tubes.  You could pull this off, 100% yet!  

Yes, I really did this - L

Needed to put together a costume for a man, very cheap, and not too much work, for Dickens Faire.  I don't have the time to make something fancy, and neither my daughter or her boyfriend wanted to spend a lot of money.  Here's what we decided to do.  I have an old long black blazer.  I would slit open the back seam and cut through the collar.  Then I would add about 4 - 6 inches of black fabric that looks close the the twill of the jacket.  I would also add 4 inches the the end of each sleeve.  By any logic, this shouldn't work, and should look really bad.  Here's where I am so far:

I realize these are bad pictures.  It is difficult to take good pictures of black on black.  On the left is the outside of the back with the piece sewn in.  The match is better than it looks in the picture.  I was trying to create contrast.  The inside is to the right.  I tucked under the edge of the lining and tacked it to the seam.    It looks like there is just another set of seams in the back.  The problem areas are the center back vent and the collar.  In place of a single vent, I made the added panel into a flap that looks like two vents fairly close together.

 On the left is the vent from the outside.  And on the right is the vent from the inside.  And yes, it's ghastly on the inside.  If it is visible at all when he wears it, I will add some lining.  But I don't think so.  Next I will have to deal with the collar.  It won't be lovely no matter what I do.  If it is truly awful, I will buy a small bit of velvet and cover the collar altogether.  Pictures soon!
I also added length to the sleeves and made them cuff to cover the seam above the wrist.
Next I will make him a vest.  He needs it because adding only to the back of the jacket means it doesn't close in the front.  I don't have a pattern for a man's vest.  But I don't really need one since this fellow is very tall and very slim and any pattern would have to be modified beyond recognition anyway.
Based on my measurements, he's actually a true rectangle.  A very long rectangle.  So I made a quick muslin (pinned only) and have since cut out the fabric.  I decided I could teach myself how to make a welt pocket on this project.

  Here's my welt pocket (muslin).  I used a tutorial on the web for a single piece welt pocket where the lining is the same fabric as the welt.  It worked well.  Here is a link:   Single Welt Pocket Tutorial   I had plenty of the fashion fabric to use for this, so it wasn't a problem.  Finally we will make him a cravat.  I found a really nice brocade remnant.  That should disguise the fact that he's just wearing a regular white shirt.  He will also wear regular grey wool slacks.  Not perfect, not even close to perfect.  However he will clearly be 'dressed' and should look pretty nice.  Assuming, of course, that I don't mess anything up.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Devices and Desires - L

(All apologies to PD James)
As we have crested the hill on our first project (Victorian for Dickens Faire) we have been having an email chat about what we've learned.  Mostly about ourselves. 

We took a bath in reality.

Robin is currently focused on finishing the outfit for her beau.  She has not gotten to most of the ruffles and trim she imagined adding to her dress.  If she has time (and inclination) she will add to it.  I was pretty surprised by this.  She had some fantastic ideas, and had already purchased lace and extra fabric for ruffles.  She has had a craving for 'decor' far and above mine.  Ironically, I was the one who went 'all in' on hand crocheted lace and pleating.  In both cases it was a question of priorities.  Rob had a lot of fun out of town weekends planned that ate into her sewing time.  She also chose to delay her start to lose weight, and opted to make her own corset. (I'm STILL not finished with the corset, haven't lost weight but gained instead, and still want all my gee-gaws on the dress, but I also want my beau to have some semblance of a costume, so I defer to that desire. The dress looks fine as it is and I can always add the trim for next year. It was hubris to think I could make two complete Victorian outfits from scratch with only intermediate sewing skills and a busy schedule.)
Both of us found that there was more work, and the work took longer than we expected.  I (Lisa) started early after struggling with a plan to work out more.  I was also going to make a corset, but decided not to make one at this time (mostly hoping to lose weight).  Then I undermined myself by choosing to play with trim and crochet my own lace instead of working out.

So body issues all around!  Something we would rather not blog about, but since it has impacted our costuming, we chose to include a couple of paragraphs.  And body image is NOT the issue.  The real issue is how much time we've chosen to commit to these projects, what we thought we could get done, and our natural competitive instincts.  I can't say whether Rob would do things differently.  I would not.  I had my job increase substantially when my daughter and her boyfriend decided to make outfits.  I really need the time now for them, and for my son's Halloween costume. (The four things I would have done differently would have been: (1) to start the corset first and, if I'd had to build a new one later, I'd would've had all the experience from the first one.  As it was, I delayed the corset and that delayed my project and (2) use Silkessence as the foundation fabric for everything I made.  I now hate that fabric with a passion and, as my hatred grew, so did my lack of passion for sewing and (3) would've tuned up my sewing machine before the start of the project, thus curing a lot of headaches before they started and (4) to be more realistic about how much time I can devote to sewing given my already busy schedule - and that's the most important lesson and it's also the one I'm still struggling with because I honestly don't know how long it really takes to make things.)
And as a break from all that serious stuff, here are my newly updated accessories
Fingerless gloves (handmade), small bag for money and phone (handmade)

And my finished outfit front and back.  And sitting atop the dress form, my first cut at my hat.
This hat have generated more mental turmoil for me than nearly anything else.  I'm not sure why.
Here is the pinned, stapled, taped, and generally jammed together hat, close up (along with a photo of what I did next).

Later, after wine and reading, I'll be fitting the jacket I've hacked apart for my daughter's boyfriend.  It is a violation of every sane principle of sewing.  But it's not looking too bad.