Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Costume College Corset Class

I love taking corset classes because every time I do, I learn something.  Everyone has a different method or a new insight or, sometimes, just a plain easier way to do something.   This is the corset that I made at Costume College.  It is only one layer of coutil and does not have the quantity of bones that I have seen used in previous corset classes.  This class was given by Barbara Muran. She had a couple of amazing corsets on display and walked us through this hands on class.

Next up - the 3-in-1 petticoat.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

1840s Cap or Why Do They Wear Diapers on Their Heads???

I want to make an 1840s day dress - nothing fancy, just a plain everyday dress to wear at Dickens Faire or some of the other Gold Rush Era events in my area. However, I am many pounds heavier than I'd like to be and want to get back to the size of my other costumes (because I am lazy and don't want to remake them!).  I have the fabric, I have the pattern.  What to do?  Sew all the accessories first! That's the ticket!
Here is the pattern I'm using. After making a paper mock up, I thought it was a bit too small so I added an inch to the crown (I have a lot of hair) and an inch to the face framing part.  That was a mistake because I failed to account for the flounces.  Oh, well, I'll make it work.

I started by thinking I was going to hand sew the entire thing.  After embroidering the designs (I don't know how to embroider by hand, so this is my first try), I decided to screw the hand sewing.  Hey, I'm looking at miles of little flounces.  Of course I'm using a machine.  If I ever become a docent somewhere, I'll redo the sucker by hand, but in the meantime.....

I made a few mistakes.  I forgot to add the side casings and had to put them on after the cap was finished.  More hand sewing. All in all, it looks OK, but I'm not a fan of the "droopy" look of the 1840s, the demure Victorian.  Droopy hair, droopy shoulders and, now, a droopy cap.
I must say, this is the dumbest looking thing I've ever stuck on my head. That said...
Stay tuned as I plan to create that Oh-So-Fashionable Coal Scuttle Bonnet, the one that was was caricatured vehemently during the Victorian times - You know, the one that makes it impossible to see anything coming at you from the side, the one that makes it impossible to hear that horse drawn carriage careening at you in the street, the ever-demur Coal Scuttle Bonnet!

Fairy Costume for Costume College - Robin

I haven't been inspired for a long time, but CoCo was coming up and I had nothing to re-wear.  I wanted a quick-and-dirty fairy costume but ended up with this.  The underdress is stretch satin.  Well and good.  The overdress is full of glitter that shed everywhere.  It was as if I had my own fairy dust machine. I'm supposed to be Moth from Midsummer Night's Dream, but I didn't like any North American Moths.  I loved the South American Moths, brightly colored and iridescent. Yes, I had traveled to Brazil last November and saw these moths in person. Many bad cellphone shots later, I decided to just look them up online.

Here is a back shot of the wings.  I had the most fun/annoying time making those suckers.  I didn't want any sharp points to avoid poking other guests but I do have the habit of "Go Big or Go Home".  You have to go through a door sideways while wearing these things. There are many fairy wing tutorials on the web. I used fabric, glue and wire. Oh, and glitter.  Lots and lots of glitter.
I'm also wearing a cut little hand jewel that I bought at Costume College and promptly lost!  Oh, well.
Nothing to add about construction, it was just a straight up build of a commercial pattern. This costume must live in a bag for the rest of its life.  I am STILL vacuuming up glitter from my house. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

we are still alive!!!

I can post from my phone, but not add pictures!  My computer, she is nearly dead.  My hard drive is slowly fragmenting.  But I've been busy and having fun.
Made corded stays that failed.  Badly.
Made a 30's blouse that is pictured on Wearing History blog somewhere in the Costume College pictures.
I've been doing a lot of therapeutic knitting.
I made a Cobweb costume for CoCo.
I helped with costuming for MacBeth in out local community theater.
I made jeans from Smooth Sailing pattern and I love them them more than anything.
Robin made some giant amazing wings.
And we are leaving for 3 weeks in China and Mongolia very soon.

My computer should be fixed when I get back and I promise to start posting, and posting pictures again.  And in the mean time, I'm knitting the Clapotis.  Because everyone knits the Clapotis sooner or later.

BRB, Lisa

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Everyday vintage - L

Hadn't sewed in ages when I suddenly got the urge.  Sadly, the urge ran out before I finished.  I did make 3 things, though and I've worn 'em all.  I have a 30's blouse pattern from Wearing History that is all ready to modify.  And I have some beautiful fabric to make it up.  I've had the fabric for a few years and no longer remember why I bought it meaning it is fair game for the fabric stash burn-down.   

The picture is rushed and not so great.  I will SAY Im going to add a better one, but it's not that likely.  Maybe I'll snap a picture at Costume College.

First - Decades of Style Girl Friday blouse
I've made this before in a print, and I love it.  In addition to the shoulder dart and the under bust pleats, I added a side dart.  And this time I made it in plain white muslin and did the color embroidery around the collar and sleeves.  Or rather the 'not sleeves'.  While the embroidery itself wasn't fast, the rest of it goes together quickly and it's very comfortable.  Other mods - I used snaps at the side opening instead of a zipper and I added ties sewn into the outside front pleat.  I can tie it in the back for a slimmer fit.  Snaps at the side have a softer look than a zipper.  I added a 3/4 inch placket on each side of the opening, then put a hook and thread loop at the center, and two snaps at either side.  I added shoulder pads.  The other 'slow' thing I chose to do was to add the bias tape to finish the neck by hand.
For me, the embroidery is really hard.  It's my kryptonite.  I fret if it isn't perfect.  Well, it isn't, but I love it anyway. I used charcoal grey and two shades of pink.  I never wear pink BUT there is method in this madness.

collar is a pain, but looks pretty cool
hand tacking bias binding

Border print skirt - I got this big, like 4 yards, length of fabric in Morocco.  It's meant to wrap around the body and over the head.  I paid $8 for it.  It has a few stains and is worn in a couple places.  It's also very thin and sheer.  But it's this great turquoise with pink and orange and a black border.
I backed it with white cotton lawn which was hellish since both fabrics were so wiggly and the cats decided to romp over it while I was working.  Cut off the border on one side, pleated it into a waistband and done!  Border print skirt with complimenting blouse!  I came out a little longer than I expected so I may replace the waistband and take some off the top.  I don't normally wear bright colors and worry that I look like a clown.  But I wore it anyway.

Grey 40's wide leg trousers - Smooth Sailing from Wearing history
I made up this pattern again, this time with front pockets and a fly front zipper.  I had 3 yards of the smooth grey wool that I used for my anteater dress.  I kept meaning to make a skirt until I realized that I don't actual WANT another skirt.  I get much more use from vintage trousers.  I had already altered this pattern for fit so it was pretty quick.  Except I really wanted a fly front and pockets.

fly front without backing flap
backing flap is SO much better

Fly front isn't so hard, but like a welt pocket it doesn't make a lot of sense until you've don't it.  I followed the tutorial on the Threads website.  It works beautifully except for one thing.  In a real fly front there is a flap under the edge of the zipper.  So you don't catch your belly in it while zipping.  That is not included in the Threads tutorial.  I added it by sewing a folded and interfaced piece of fabric to the flap that the zipper attaches to (seam is hidden under the zipper).

tiny, baby kitten is now huge and loves rolling on fabric

The pattern pieces and template to add pockets

The front pockets are done exactly per the Anerican Duchess tutorial.  I cut paper pattern pieces so I can duplicate them every time I make the pattern. The only thing I added was bias tape along the curve of the pocket so it holds its shape better.  The pants cam out a little to broad across the beam.  I may take them in, but not now.  Now I'm just going to enjoy them.

Added some bias tape to the pocket edge

Pockets and fly front zipper
 More cosplay sewing this weekend, after 4 straight days of recording wildlife for the marine sanctuary.  'Recording wildlife' sounds much more glamourous than counting seals and seagulls thru binoculars.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Has it really been 3 months? - Lisa

Liberte!  I got 3rd Place in this VERY challenging single fabric costume competition.
Everyone wanted a headdress
When I finished my last efforts, I decided to take a break.  I needed to deal with my yard, and paint some walls in my house and do some more knitting, not to mention travel!  After I last posted, Robin and I flew to Myanmar/Burma. It was an exciting photographic trip, with some challenging hikes on steep trails in the rain, some amazing people and traditions.  We photographed the Kayan, Chin, Akhu and Enn tribes.  If I was less lazy, I'd post some pictures.  Also, though, I want to wait until I learn how to use Lightroom software for editing.  Great expectations.  I managed to make a stand for my headdress out of a styrofoam head, tissue paper and glue, a heavy dowel and a plumbing fixture.

I also did a little (and continue to do) work in the yard, painted one wall red, knit a scarf and knit about 5 feet of a 7 - 8 foot shawl (dubbed the mini-blanket).  Pictures can't do it justice because it's black with silver sparkles.  When I get enough light, it looks faded and covered in cat hair.  OK, there IS some cat hair...
mini blanket with bonus cat hair


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was exactly as much fun as you'd expect.  Our costumes look great.   To make it even better, at least 15 drag queens were there in full and beautiful Regency ball gowns.  We reached out to the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild and had a couple extra people show up.

The black Regency dress is from the Simplicity Regency costume pattern.  Cut a little extra full in the back, higher at the front neckline, and lower in the back.  Someday I will trim it.  The jacket body is from a McCalls blouse with a mandarin collar from a jacket and the long sleeves from the Regency pattern.  Cheap lace scraps in the collar and $5 of fancy lace from eBay for the front. The front lace had to be coaxed and clipped into going around the bust, and hand tacked.  Added eyepatch from the drugstore.  The sword is $3 and painted (which has mostly flaked off) and the harness is made from belts left over from our Attack on Titan cosplay.  I think I'm going to bring this to Costume College because it's super comfortable (no corset!) and fun.

Inspiration image

Missy from Dr Who was a bit more work, but less than I planned.  Hoo-raw!  The costume changes every season, sometimes just a little so it was a challenge to decide where exactly to put the trim.  The best part of cosplay is that mostly people don't notice as long as they recognize who you are.  I used a pattern from the 1912 project for the skirt and added pleats where the trim should go in front.  I didn't do the fancy period accurate closure.  Just a zip in the back.  The jacket is a frankenpattern mashup of these two patterns.

I used the long jacket pattern for the body and sleeves.  I used the Vogue pattern laid on top of the jacket front to make the lapel, and the rest of the collar.  Finally I curved the front of the jacket at the bottom and added pockets.  Trim all over every edge.  The trim is too narrow, and the color is wrong. And I love how it came out.

The blouse was hard.  I used the Wearing History Smooth Sailing blouse for the body with sleeves from a different blouse pattern.  I cut the center back very specially to get the point and cut the front yoke on the bias  meaning I had to line it to hold it on grain sorry, no picture.  I had to make cuffs from scratch and used a two part collar from the same blouse pattern as the sleeve.  Then I trimmed the collar to get the shirt curved front.  I bought the cameo from a cosplay friend. 

Then there is the hat.  It's another torn apart and re-molded sombrero.  Spraypainted black.  The flowers are leftover bits from other hats, the cherries are some Xmas decoration thing at JoAnns ($3) and the dead leaves are actual dead leaves from my yard.  I opted out of all of the accessories.  Sure it's cool to have them, but then you have to carry them around.  I saved my pockets for my phone, ID, credit card and room key.  Gallifrey was a blast, as always but may be my last for a while. It's turned into a busy time of year for my son.  He had to do a video audition from our hotel room.  I will wear this again at Fanime for the Dr Who meetup.  Another costume that's incredibly comfortable.  
Posing with a rather rude Dalek

Speaking of Fanime, two of the offspring are cosplaying Booker and Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite and my nephew and his girlfriend are learning to sew so they can be the red and white mages from Final Fantasy.  I'm supervising, and stepping in to avert disaster as needed.  We've modified as needed to make these costumes as easy as possible.  The characters are pretty iconic so I'm hoping it works out well.

And finally, I helped out in the tiniest but with the High School musical, Cinderella.
Because four white mice just might become four white horses...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Holiday avoidance sewing, knitting, cosplay - Lisa

In the midst of all the holiday fun with my family I did some avoidance knitting and started a couple of cosplays for 2016.

Also, my Bluebird Dress got a 3rd in the Shear Madness Single Fabric Challenge!  I'm a happy girl.

Avoidance knitting is wonderful.  It's soothing and repetitive, AND you can pretend you're accomplishing something when you're really just avoiding what you are supposed to be doing.  Like bills and laundry and decorating the Xmas tree.  I actually knit an entire sweater. Admittedly, I
started back in September, but I actually DID the whole thing.  I forgot all about negative ease and ended up knitting that baggy sweater that you leave at the office for when the A/C is too high.  I love it.  I also started a large scarf copied from a Xmas gift one of the offspring received last year.  It's practically a mini-blanket.  It's made from fingering weight black yarn with a little sparkle.  I found a comparable yarn and asked the girl for a description of the stitch.  She told me 'basket weave'. There are two kinds.  I did a large sample of both and while the diagonal stitch looks very nice, it's slow and dense.  Traditional basket weave is light and fluffy and makes a more comfortable scarf.  

raglan shoulder seam

both kinds of basket weave

On the sewing front, I'm working on two cosplays.  I love Missy from Dr Who so that's been in planning for a little while.  I plan to put a full construction post up when I get it done.  So far I have the skirt and the blouse and the basic hat.  I'm getting a cameo from a friend who makes them, and I'm thinking hard about how much more I will be doing.  The umbrella/parasol is really calling to me.

And a last minute throw down....  Lady Catherine DeBourgh from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Someone mentions cosplay for the opening weekend and then next thing I know it's on.  This was a really quick build.  I used the Simplicity Regency pattern in black shirting (super cheap <$3 per yard) for the dress.  I could have just made a skirt but maybe I'll have a use for a black Regency dress someday?  The jacket is too long for a spencer and I made it using a McCalls blouse pattern with the sleeves from the Regency dress.  I bought a couple yards of wide silver metallic lace on eBay and some horrid scratchy polyester lace around the neck.  The only thing particularly difficult was getting the flat silver lace to go over my chest.  I need an eyepatch and a cheap toy katana from Chinatown (spray painted) and I'm ready.

And that is good because Robin and I leaving tonight for Burma.  We are going to the tribal region to do some photography.  It's going to be a very exciting time since they just had a successful election.  So goodbye house men, cats, reliable internet and El NiƱo!  Back in February