Monday, March 30, 2015

Nereid - or stash busting monstress - L

I had an urge to try out some of the new things I learned at Costume College so I'm making a Nereid costume.  This meant a corset, a 'wave' skirt, a lacy shift, fish scale arm covers, a crab crown and ass-kraken 2.0 (maybe).   This is where I should show a picture of what I had in mind but I REALLY cannot draw.  So I will just keep adding things when I have something to show.

First, the shift.  I decided to use the last of some very fine cotton lawn and make a simple 'peasant blouse' type of shift with long lace at the end of the sleeves.  It would be fun to have the lace around the neck too, but would make gathering the neckline nearly impossible without treading into clown territory.  (no offense to clowns)  The lace was from last year's LA fashion and fabric district field trip.  I bought it because it was cheap.  I still have lots and lots.  I expect I will find myself wearing this shift and watching costume dramas in bed simply because it is fluffy and frilly.  And yes, those are hand stitched eyelets.

Upper arm armor is cadged together based on a post Alisa Kester put on the Shear Madness Facebook page.  One day I will learn to keep notes when knitting the first of two matching objects.  That day I will become an adult.....   

The scale is to go under shoulder armor.  The armor is made of painted craft foam and a chopped up juice bottle.  Decorated with wire, moss, shells and scrapbooking brads.

I have straps that are supposed to buckle in front and keep the armor on my shoulder.  Sadly my shoulders really ARE too small.  I will need to move the d-rings on the corset to keep the shoulders up.  This is will done later.  About the same time I finally make the holes in the straps to allow them to buckle.  I can't do that until its all fixed.  Despite a few problems, I still really like how it came out.

My corset is made based on the Truly Victorian 1880's corset pattern.   I really want to do some beading after learning the basics in a Costume College class.  The plan is to make creatures found on rocky shores as decoration.  Except crabs.  Because I have plans to add crabs elsewhere.  I'm using up some duck canvas remnants from JoAnns.  My store always has canvas remnants that are at least 3/4 yard.  I'm using two layers of canvas for the main structure with no lining (laziness) and a pleather remnant for the two front and back panels.  This is my first Victorian corset and I'm being shockingly lazy about good fit.  I want to make a good quality Victorian corset some day and I figured it was about time to give it a try and get my mistakes behind me.  First mistake - the corset shrinks as you add boning channels and boning.  Modesty panel will be needed.  All in, I thought it was pretty straight forward.  January will be my 'real' corset month.  I am really long forward to having a corset made to fit ME.  Short waist, small back, big boobs.

Octopus beading in progress
Beading.  I will do beading.  On the corset.  An octopus and some sea stars.  Sea stars have been gone from the California west coast for over a year because they all got a virus and died.  They are trying to make a comeback.  I miss them.  (gratuitous science comment)  Update - sea stars are NOT gonna happen.  At least not anytime soon.  I overbooked my brain.  i beaded onto brown broadcloth and then stitched that onto the corset.  I also decided to make something fishy for my hands.  the pieces are made of beads and sequins on muslin with net covered elastic to hold it on.

And now the skirt.  It will be the death of logic.  I had a great idea in my head.  Organdy waves.  I could try a fishing line hem, use up some fabric that was a non-starter for it's original purpose.  Here is my 'curl the fishing line' anti-tutorial.  When the internet says you can wrap the line around toilet paper rolls and nuke it...  no.  Just no.  Do yourself a favor, wrap it around PVC pipe and dip it in boiling water.  In the microwave, you have about one second between 'hot enough to curl the plastic' and melty disaster.  Also, the 1/2 inch pipe makes the curls tighter which is good.  When you zig zag it to fabric that curl stretches out a lot.

NOT this either!

 My first fishing line hem!  It worked!  But it doesn't look like I want it to.  I added trim underneath it.  Still not working.  So now I'm re-thinking my plan.  I have some new ideas along the line of natural form era skirts.  


After two months of noodling around in my spare time, I'm finally getting to something I kind of like

Left long pleats 
Polyester organza is the devil itself.  It is stiff and stubborn and frays if you even look at it.  I'm still finding long strands of it stuck to my clothes.  It does look amazingly shiny and ripple-y in flash photos.   All the front pleats had to be hand tacked because they are on the bias and no amount of pressing (including vinegar and rajah cloth) would make those pleats stay put.  The side pleating was just slightly more cooperative.  I haven't decided about the back.  It's love/hate.

I also added some 'netting' made of gold cotton crochet thread.  It's macrame.  I haven't done THAT since the 70's.

Hat - Crab molts, melted plastic, sculpey and some seaweed.  This hat has been stewing in my brain for quite a while.   I've got the armature with sculpey bones done and baked.  The crab is an actual crab molt (shed) with spray foam inside for support.  I also sprayed some foam in molted claws.  And I made seaweed out of plastic.  Melting didn't work like I expected despite being enormously fun.  I used strips of medium weight plastic and stretched it at the edges.  Then I used glass paint of make a little detail and spray painted over it.  I also used glass paint on some bright green plastic (shopping bag).  The detail shows thru on the clear side.  The next step required Robin to help me pin it all together.  After that, I just tacked and glued until it all stayed together.

This is the part where I admit that I have better pictures.  They are trapped in a machine with no power.  The power cord is in the mail because I left it in Los Angeles.  I has a stupid.

Following are a bunch of pictures of the costume in action.  We hurried down to the beach to get pics before the sun blasted thru the marine layer.  And it just isn't easy to get things 'just right' when you're in a hurry.  And joggers have stopped to watch.

Thetis, nereid, queen of the shore and mother of Achilles.

Costumed in a Victorian style (you can call it steampunk but I'm not feeling love for the local steampunk community right now).


  1. This sounds kind it will be marvelous! Nice to see that the knitted armor works. It looked like a brilliant idea, but I haven't tried it myself yet.

  2. Ah, so that's where the scaly knitting is going. My son will be a little disappointed but then he'll say what I have trained him all his 15 years to say: Damn, what a great idea! Nay, it's an ASS KRAKEN good idea!

    I'm thanking you in advance for my new catchphrase. You are so kind to me! All the best!

  3. Hm. Time travel comments. Did you edit this post? Weird!

    This is really really beautiful. All these parts coming together and the whole thing is really more than the sum of those (I love a cliche...). What a swell human you are!

    (and in case this sort of thing proves useful later again, halfway down this post there's good organdy/organza gathering info: )

    1. Yes! The post was edited and updated. Thanks for the organza link. I might have taught my son some creative profanity combinations. And thanks for the support! This one was a long time coming together.

  4. I love this costume so much!