Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Single fabric challenge - Shear Madness - Lisa


When Laura announced a single fabric challenge on the      Shear Madness FB page, I was all in.  The fabric is cotton   with a floral/vine print and lots of birds.  All in shades of blue and white.  By 'single fabric' the costume is supposed to be made with the chosen fabric as the focus.  I came back from Costume College with a strong desire to make a jacket/curacao/casaquin targeting the 1780's (which I'm not sure I did, it might be earlier).  I'm not terribly worried about historical accuracy and the fabric 'reads' 18C but clearly is not.  In addition, during our spring trip to Morocco, I suffered a little anxiety on a camel that enjoyed his liberty a little too much.  We took to yelling 'liberte' every time he pulled loose from the line, with me on his back.  Happily, he never took off across the desert.  So for me it's all  about French Revolution and freedom seeking camels from a (previously) French speaking country, and birds.  I'm a part time birder.

See the faded birds in the center...print matching the bodice

Everything but the stays had to be made.  The jacket is the focus, and is made from the challenge fabric, plus a little of the solid blue left over from my Neried skirt.

aww, look...they're kissing!
Jacket.  I started with the Mill Farm pattern that I used for Queen of Clubs.  I made a muslin and started drawing lines where I thought the zone front should go.  The I cut along the lines.  Thing is, this pattern is designed with a stomacher and I wanted to make it meet in the middle so this was a little more complicated than I expected.  I might have yelled 'I don't know what I'm doing' on a variety of occasions, and it took me longer than I expected.  I didn't have enough fabric to make mistakes.  The print is VERY directional and I wanted the birds to be facing each other front and back. Each piece was cut individually. I was worried about doing the Anglais pleating in the back because I didn't have Robin to help, but it wasn't that bad.  Steaming as I went really helped set the curved folds. I stitched them in place with a running stitch.  I left the center back piece long as a sort of 'swallowtail'.   Fitting the side back was the hardest part because I was in stays, and I'd put the sleeves in backwards.  I really, really didn't want to fix that, you know, when you're tired of looking at the same thing and are ready to be DONE.  But I did.  
Finally, I decided to add a faux belt in front because I like the look of the dress at left.  I even made my red ribbon striped by sewing some thin white ribbon over it.  

And I left a little gap where the print meets the blue at the center front so I could pull my fichu through.  Which I then forgot to do in all the pictures

pull fichu through here, unless you forget
finished skirt and shoes

Petticoat and petticoat - because we have to call them the same thing?  Both were made using tutorials from The Fashionable Past (Koshka)  The under petticoat was made from old sheets and really should be remade since it's too limp.  The skirt is white cotton voile with a big ruffle.  I don't have any construction photos available.  Oops.  I also made a rump pad.  It's a largish stuffed rectangle that ties around my waist.  I may remake that too since I'm not super happy with the shape.  Or not, because I'm not sure how often I will need it.

Kerchief/fichu- based on 10 minutes of research, typically 36 in square.  Quick math gives a hypotenuse of 51 inches.  Just about perfect unless you're rather tall with a large chest.  Quick estimate with a measuring tape yields 55 inches, plus seam allowance = 56.  Reverse the math, 39 1/2 inches on each side.  I used some beautiful sheer cotton voile and hand hemmed it.  Hand hems are much softer and more fluid than a machine seam.  Also much, much slower.  Now that I have this, I will be less concerned about my necklines.  I can make them lower and not worry about massive cleavage since I can cover it up.

The hat.  It's made 
from an ugly party sombrero that I deconstructed and sewed back together in the shape I wanted.  Then I spray painted it blue.

I made the birdcage from some wired burlap stuff on sale at Michael's.  I cut it, shaped it and set it with white glue. I cut out a square for the cage door, and used scraps to MAKE a cage door which I tacked on. Then I spray painted it gold.

The bird was the challenge.  I wanted a bluebird, that was flying free from the cage.  And I assumed that one could simply buy a bluebird with outstretched wings.  But NOOO.
So I got a wingless bluebird and a made wings.  

 Here is the sad little wingless bird with the wings in progress.  I made craft foam wing shapes and glued a wire on the leading edge so I could shape them a little.  Then I used a variety of blue, or blueish feathers and started gluing them down.  I tried to use white glue because it's not as heavy as hot glue.  I gave up pretty quickly.
 Gluing feathers was...interesting?  My kitten succeeded in running off with one of the wings but I caught him before too much damage was done.  Once everything was glued, I trimmed them into wing shapes.
Finally, I glued them to the sides of the bird. They only fell off twice.  And I'm only a little bit bothered that they aren't anything like actual bird wings....

I'm actually really happy with my bird.  I got it done, attached it to the cage and the beak fell off.  Oh happy, happy glue.

The final parts of the hat are the banner and the cockade.

The banner is blue grosgrain with wire sewn in.  I painted 'Liberte' on both sides and added gentle folds to make it 'float'.  This is the shout out to my charming Moroccan camel.

The cockade was a last minute addition.  I needed something to echo the red in the belt and I had taken a class in the spring on making cockades.  (A class from Candice Kling who is the most amazing ribbon worker, bar none)  This red cockade was one of my trials from the class.

And, finally, after a bit more glue and wire, some ruffles and ribbon, I got it done.  I tilted the cage because I will tilt the hat when I wear it.

Here is the final dress.  Pictures taken at sunset with horrid light, by a man who cannot figure how to work my camera.  I needed to wait for the rain to stop, and for my hair to dry so timing was awful.  and I made him take a lot of pictures and almost none of them are actually, totally in focus.  And my secret and very fun shoes don't show (just a little in the skirt picture).  They're red and white stripe Moroccan mules made from camel leather.   

Friday, November 6, 2015

Silk hats from straw trash - L

Before and After
 Think to do when you're sick in bed.  Knit.  Sleep.  Knit.  Get bored and make a hat.

My fellow blogger Robin had a pile of these cheap straw costume sombreros that she was getting rid of.  Knowing I needed a couple of big hats in the near future, I asked to take some of them.  Straw is fairly compliant, once it gets wet and some of the lurid colors could easily be spray painted.

I cut the crown off the brim about 3 rows from the bottom.  Then I folded the top row over and tacked in into place.  Next I pulled apart the bands of woven straw from the crown (seam ripper!) and used the top, patterned, part to make a round flat crown.  Then I got both parts wet and ironed them into the shape I wanted.  It takes a little patience, but damp straw will eventually take a hint....

After ironing I let them sit for about an hour and dry.  Then I sewed the crown onto the little ridge I'd made and I was done.  If I am feeling more lively, I may add a wire in the brim and spray it with sizing.

In fact, after I finished, I liked the blue and natural colors so much that I made another hat to spray paint.  And I made the crown even lower, more like a bergere which is what I want.  I have some fun plans for this hat, due up in a later post......

Secret Challenge and a swing coat - HSM/HSF - L

I bought some lovely fabric years ago.  It's a loose weave wool/silk blend.  It's a light, soft, medium drape fabric.  In fact, I got two different colors of this lovely fabric.  I knew I wanted to make a swing coat and maybe a capelet (or, ya know, something fun).  Every fall I tell myself  'I need to make that swing coat' but something else gets in the way.  Since I'm trying to burn down stash fabric, I simply HAD to get this done.  I live on the California coast near San Francisco so a lightweight coat is useful most of the year, and I love 30's and 40's clothes.  I'm using the Butterick '48 vintage pattern that was recently re-issued.  That makes this coat too modern for the HSM/HSF group, however the challenge is to add something secret to an item.  I seriously hope I'm not stretching the rules too much by adding an small embroidered pocket on the inside of the coat as my 'secret'.  The plan for the embroidery is to copy a tiny painting my grandmother made.  She would have worn a coat like this, and was as fashionable as she could be on her rather limited budget.  She loved birds and took up painting them in the latter half of her life.  The challenge is entirely around my embroidery skills.
See the secret pocket??

The coat

As always, I'm did an FBA.  Bust shaping in the pattern is accomplished with a shoulder dart at the edge of the shawl collar.  I was loathe to increase the size of this dart since it looked like it would add more volume at the center front than at the actual bust.  So once again, I added a bust dart.  Basically, I slashed and spread as if I was increasing an existing dart to create this dart.  I'm trying something new.  I'm making the changes on a tracing of the pattern from the waist up.  I marked the waist on the tracing.  I used this modified pattern piece as an overlay for the front, the interface and the lining.  It saved me having to make the modifications 3 times.  The added width from the FBA was perfect to allow me to add a button to a coat that wasn't supposed to have one.

 The fabric ultimately had too loose a weave and too much stretch for this coat.  Sadly, I'm not very happy with it.  Also, my poor choice of interfacing remains crunchy even after a few wearings and professional pressing.  Hanging  it on the dress form doesn't help but I've had the flu for over a week and couldn't bring myself to take a picture in it.

The happy, happy secret:

It only took three tries to get the bluebird embroidered.  It's been a VERY long time since that Girl Scout badge so I can't even remember the names of the stitches I used.  

Giant pocket hoop tutorial - Lisa

If you are seeking historical accuracy, quit now.  Giant pocket hoops are NOT a real thing as far as I can tell.  I wanted to make some, so I did.  I started by looking at the pattern in Corsets and Crinolines, but they were far too small for what I planned.  I wasn't sure giant pocket hoops would work.  Holding up a big skirt is typically done with a pannier hoop, but my pocket hoops worked pretty well.  And they pack up small enough to fit in a carryon.  Barely.  Mine are packed away and hard to reach so all numbers are estimates.  Your mileage may vary.

Black muslin - fairly heavy weight, about 3 yards (don't remember, mine are from leftover yardage
3/8 inch flexible PVC plastic tubing - about 10 yards
1 inch twill tape for waist ties and boning channels

Figure out how wide you want each hoop.  You might choose about the distance across the front of your hips for a fairly accurate court gown silhouette.  You will then be about 3 times wider than normal.  Fun!    Diagram shows how I got my measurements.

Hoop width - 20 inches (X to B)
Outside perimeter - approx 47 inches (A to B to C)
Side - approx 10 inches (A to C)
My hoops are about 15 inches tall (1 to 3)

If you want a different width, draw a line the width you want (X to B) and bend some tubing into the curve shape (A to B to C).  This will give you your perimeter.  No math required.

For each hoop:
Cut a rectangle 47" by 35" PLUS seam allowance.  Sew in boning channels with 1 inch twill tape at the bottom (leave a seam allowance below the channel), up about 7 inches, and up another 7 inches.  Sew an angled channel that goes from 2A to 1B to 2C, in between the top two boning channels.  Keep the curve gentle.  This provides support for the other channels.  Leave about 5 inches of sewing open at the top of each channel so you can put in the tubing. There is extra fabric at the top.  Ignore it for now.

Cut a rectangle 10" by 15" plus seam allowance.  Sew it along side A from 1 to 3 and side C from 1 to 3.  Now you can put in your tubes and tack the channels closed.  You can close your hoops at the bottom.  I traced the shape on fabric, cut it out and tacked it to the bottom seam allowance.  If you want to skip that, you can.  I think it adds stability.  If your tubing is too curly, you can straighten it by dipping it in boiling water.  It straightens up beautifully.

Now for the really technical part (kidding)....  Easiest on a dress form but you can borrow a friend.  Wrap twill tape around the waist and start pinning the extra fabric.  Start at A and C about 4 to 6 inches above your top boning channel.  Pin to the twill tape.  Then start wadding/folding the rest of the top fabric to the twill tape.  Try to get a slightly tighter than 90 degree angle because this will stretch when you put your dress on it.  And it will stay stretched.  There is no right way to do it so don't worry about doing it right.  I made a 'sort of' channel at the waist so my twill tape waist can slide thru it because my waist fluctuates.  Most important is that each hoop is level with the other at the outside edge.  They won't be perfect but get as close as you can.  Trim any extra fabric.  I put twill tape across the back from 2 to 2 that rests against
my backside when I wear them.  I also have ties from 3 to 3 in front.  This keeps them from sliding around while I'm wearing them.  Mine close at the waist with the twill tape.  Tied in a bow.

The top on my hoops required a bit of fiddling to get right.  And then they stretched and I took big tucks.  That part really is an ugly mess.  I hand sewed it because it's easier than trying to get it just right to machine sew.  Despite being a fugly mess, the hoops worked perfectly.  And collapsed on themselves and fit in a small suitcase.

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Restac", the Leader of the Silurian Warrior Class

The challenge with this one was that there were no patterns!  As Lisa can tell you, I'm usually lost without a pattern, but I finally got to put those draping classes to work. Here you exchange the discomfort of a corset for the discomfort of neck rings where the paint never dried.
I ordered the cowls from Decimated Designs. This is just your garden-variety latex house paint. I don't own a spray gun, so all this is by hand.

You can see a photo of Restac here :Restac photo

 For the makeup, it is better to put on a bald cap first, so you don't end up gluing you hair, but my boyfriend is not skilled and putting one on yourself takes waaay too much effort, so I opted for some glued hair strands.  The cowl fit me much better than it fit Roger, probably because of the mass of hair stuffed in the top of it. I had to put the costume on first because I couldn't make the opening big enough for the head AND have it stay on my shoulders,

 I made a shift out of double-sided quilted material, which I bound with quilt binding. This didn't have the flexibility I'd envisioned and I felt as if I were wearing a giant pot-holder.
I draped some material over the dummy for the jacket.  The first time I did it, it was too small because I draped it over just the dummy without the rest of the costume under it! The "potholder" dress added so much bulk that the coast had to be much larger. The "armor" is craft foam with gold scrapbooking paper glued to it.  Then I slit and laced the shapes together, then glued those down. I wore it as a sort of apron, just pinned inside the jacket, as the jacket would never be removed.

The only problem with the gold paper is that it bounces light.
For the sleeves, I did a test crochet for chain mail, but decided on just a straight garter stitch for the sleeves.  Had to do those twice - the first time they were too skinny, the second time, a little large.

The neck and arm rings are just plastic tubing, painted.  The paint wouldn't dry, so I doused them in baby powder. That helped a bit, but they ended up in the trash the next day. Gonna have to find a better paint for those rings!
All in all, I'm happy with these costumes.

Silurian Eldane makeup

 The cowl was a one-size-fits-most, but Roger's head is small, so I put scrap fabric in between his head and the cowl to take up space. I glued down the cowl with spirit gum, then painted his face with green grease paint. To break up the monotony of all green, I stippled yellow in highlight areas, added the hand-drawn scales, then added a few purple discoloration marks. After powdering thoroughly - TWICE - he was ready.

Silurian Eldane for a Dr. Who-Dunnit Murder Mystery.

"Eldane" and "Restac" at the Murder Mystery

For the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild Dr. Who-Dunnit murder Mystery, I went to Cosplay for the first time. There are no patterns for these things, so I just made it up as I went along.
For Eldane, I bought a graduation robe from Amazon, made a stole, then added purchased ribbon in stripes to simulate the Eldane look.
Couldn't get wide enough cream ribbon, so I bonded two pieces together, then laid the red one on top.

You can see the original Eldane here: Eldane pic

The cowls were fun to paint.  I ordered these from Decimated Designs, a wonderful site that has latex costume supplies. These were unpainted, so I got to play with stippling and breaking up the colors. Then I outlined the scales to give it depth.

There is a separate post for the makeup.
Here's my sweetie in his final costume.  The neck rings were problematic as the paint would not cure. I finally doused them in baby powder, but ended up throwing them away after the evening was over.  Wrong match of materials, so if I use these costumes again, I'll have to rework the rings.