Bavarian fun on Halloween

Posted on: November 10th, 2012 by

And Now…  the moment that some of you – and my mom – were waiting for!

I think I declared this to be our official Halloween picture.

Halloween did happen, as scheduled, and the costumes got finished!!!

Really wasn’t interested in changing serger thread.

Also, I have decided that one step up from quick-and-dirty should not be called quick-and-clean, because it doesn’t sound as cool.  In any case, this is the method utilized on our Oktoberfest  costumes.  I think that part of my difficulty is starting this project was trying to get my brain around the idea that these were costumes, and didn’t have to be “clothing” level design/construction.  Still, I think they came out quite nicely, and I have gained a whole new appreciation for the “bachelor button.”

The only  piece I ended up making for Michael was the actual lederhosen;  we picked up the hat at a Halloween store for about $5 and the shirt, socks, and boots came from our closets.  I made the dress  for myself, along with an apron (read: I put half of a scarf on a ribbon) and arm floofs (read: serged rectangles with elastic;) I already had the lacy cami, socks, shoes and hair.

Living and Living Dead!

When we wore these to Theatre Bizarre we ran into our zombie counterparts, and had to stop for a photo-op.   Happily, we were cute and comfortable, all night; and for once, I didn’t need to rip off half my costume in the car, after that massive party!  Side note on TB: if you’ve never been, you are missing out!  If you can find your way to Detroit on the third(?) Saturday in October, it is totally worth getting tickets in advance.

Happy Halloween,  Samhain, and Dia de los Muertos!!!

Halloween Costumes? What? AKA: a new adventure in simplicity

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by

Those of you who know me, know that I have this horrible case of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes,” when it comes to Halloween; which is a shame, because it is probably my favorite set of annual festivities.  Despite the favoritism, I can’t ever seem to get it together and actually make a specific, purpose-built Halloween costume; I often say that I will, but in the end, I always end up raiding my garb closet, and doing kooky hair and makeup.  I think that there are several factors at work here, but one of them is definitely that I never manage to settle on something in enough time to execute it in the way I would want to.   Another is that most of those awesome ideas, that I finally decide I like, would require more expense than I am honestly willing to throw at something that I am going to wear maybe 2 times and poorly lit parties, and then never want to wear  another year, because it was too memorable to repeat.  From that struggle, I inevitably wind through “sometime it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be DONE…” which is immediately followed by “I have lots of pieces that are DONE already, surely I can adapt some of those?” which ends in the afore mentioned garb + kooky hair + fantasy make-up = costume.   Again.

I’ve even tried to go about this in other ways;  just this week, Michael and I went to a couple of the Halloween stores and looked for costumes-in-bags, and came up with nothing.  There were plenty of costumes, not many of which I liked at all, and the ones I didn’t hate got dismissed by the “I could do so much better, with not-that-much effort.”    I have come to the conclusion that the costume in a bag industry doesn’t have much to offer me for two reasons:  I am just round enough, and short enough, that gathered polyester anything just isn’t flattering to my figure; and, for the same reasons,  all of those “sexy _________” mini-dress costumes cut me off  at the worst possible hem height.   Also, for some reason, I feel odd about going as a Viking woman, or an Elizabethan lady,  or whatever other random period outfit, I may have/could throw together.

After some deep self evaluation, I have come to realize that the problem is simple; Desire to over achieve, because costuming is my craft + chronic procrastination and desire to be comfortable/cheap/done-with-this-already = existential costuming crisis, annually, and no later than October 15th.  Once I accepted this somewhat unflattering truth, I asked myself which is more unimpressive, a simple  but complete, and purpose built costume;  or a mish-mash of clothing items and accessories, poorly tied together with fantastical styling?  … Yeah, that simple costume is sounding better by the second.

As such,  I have decided to make good on a decade-old threat, and go as a Oktoberfest bar maid, and  Michael  has agreed to wear lederhosen in support.   In the spirit of simplicity, I am making a costume version of both of these things, much more “inspired by” than “reproduction of” the real thing.

So far I whacked out and fitted a bodice pattern for myself, drafted(sort of) a pattern for Sweetie’s lederhosen, dyed some stash twill for said hosen, picked out  stash fabric for myself, and raided one of the “Grandma’s fabric” boxes, rendering an embroidered scarf that wants to become a pretty apron.  If I can manage to remember, I will take some pictures of the bodice underlining before I hide it, as I tried some interesting stabilizing in there.



Yellow Linen Effigy Stays

Posted on: August 1st, 2012 by

This project started after I sold my old elizabethan stays, and then realized that I didn’t have anything to wear under my dresses.  So smarts, I is, sometimes…

As a group project, with my costume cronies, I started with the Tudor Tailor’s Effigy Stays pattern, and then changed some stuff.  Unlike the Effigy, this one will lace up the front, and also along the side backs, rather than being sewn.  My reason for this is that, at the moment, I’m coming off my sitting-on-my-arse-all-winter chubbyness, and want to have more adjustability for what my body gets like, once it’s warm out.  (Some may say this is optimistic; I say I’m planning ahead.)  The biggest change I made to the actual pattern pieces was to lower the back neckline; and subsequently, relocated the straps.  At this point, I’ve sewn all of the chanels, and added all of the boning: This it what it looks like.  Notice how a few chanels are lighter?  That is where the spring steel is.  I decided to add a few steel bones to this one after the legendary Ass-Over-TeaKettle tumble down a hill, in my old, reed-only corset, snapped all of the tabs on one side.

Bleaching fabric to make it better?

I had this creamy butter yellow linen for the stays, but I couldn’t find a color for the binding that was quite right; so after much mucking about, and a total failure to dye a swatch I liked, I tested bleach on a couple of blueish pieces of linen I had in my stash, and what so you know? That was a perfect color! I went with the one marked 1B.
I still need to bind the edges, and sew a small ton of eyelets. I will make some attempt to record my progress, here.

So, I finally got all 78 eyelets finished; and was able to try the silly thing on, only to discover that the waist was riding very high, and that I needed to put in about 20 or so more eyelets, (at the side back openings, and the tops of the slashes,) to bring everything under control about an inch and a half lower in the back… Ack.
After I cried a little bit, I busted out the rest of the eyelets, and tried it again.  This time it felt absoultely wonderful, and the waist was low enough to look significantly smaller than it had, previously.  As of now, all that’s left is to make some lucet cord in a matching color, and maybe sew over a few of the eyelets, where I was beginning to loose my patience, and skimped a little…. Pictures to follow, soon!

I’m finding that I was really motivated on this project, until I reached the point where I had the fit right, then proptly lost much interest.  As such, I still haven’t made yards and yards of matching lucet cord.  However, I really wanted to try it on, and get some pictures, so I went to Joann’s to find some form of lacing. I started in the trims, and ribbons, trying to find something that didn’t clash, and that I thought wouldn’t snap when I pulled on it hard.  I failed, and took myself over to the home dec section, where I got several yards of some good, old-fashioned, baby/pet-strangling drapery cord.  It may not be safe to have dangling in homes with small souls, but it’s insanely strong, and glides through eyelets like little else I’ve ever seen.  If one could complain about anything, it is that it can be an absoulte bugger to get it to hold a knot; but I seem to have won that battle, on sheer brute force.  It has worked so well, actually, that I am debating on how best to try dying it blue, and calling the job done.  I wasn’t paying attention to fibre content, so this could go either way.  If it’s nylon, I have a fighting chance.

Yeah… that cord is totally polyester, and it quite determined to stay white; also, I still haven’t gotten around to making a different cord for it, and at this point, I’m not totally sure if I want to bother. The stays have seen a bit of use, and the light weight linen is starting to show it’s age in some places. I may chalk this one up to a long term test garment, and try to make improvenents on the next version.

To see all of the pictures, look HERE.

Blue and Pink German-esque Elizabethan Gown

Posted on: July 30th, 2012 by
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I think I started making this dress in about 2006, and this will be the first of many flash back posts, migrate old content to the new blog.

I started with the Dresden woodcut from those maps (erm…I’ll look it up later?) And then I sort of extrapolated to make it more English. All of the visible topstitching was done by hand, (including all of the skirt guards,) but I used a sneaky trick to do the edged tabs on the shoulders…

First I cut out blue strips 2 inches wide, and pink strips 3(3.5?) inches wide, then I matched the cut edges and sewed them at 3/8″ (or so.) This made a bubbled tube. Then I flipped the tubes and did a lot of careful pressing. Yay, edged tabs.

I often wear pockets under this, so the plackets at the sides of the skirt are longer and deeper than is strictly necessary to get into it. I think that this was my first dress with lacing rings, and I am a huge fan.  They are sturdy, nifty looking, and they are easy to pull tight, even when the lacing placket is in an awkward place on the body (like side back.)

The shift is of a style that is more about style than accuracy, and possibly more about hot weather than about style… I chose the wide neckline for heat regulation, and the poofy sleeves so I could pretend that I didn’t need to wear other sleeves over them, (READ: heat regulation!) I think that I have added some machined “blackwork” to the shift since this photo was taken, it was looking a little plain.

For more Pretty Pictures, look HERE.


Oh my! I’ve upgraded…

Posted on: July 26th, 2012 by
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IT would seem that I’ve fallen ON the blog band wagon, finally; and now we’ll all find out how long it takes me to get fully moved over to wordpress, from my old site.  Fear not, I will be leaving it up in the meantime!

In other news, I have actually been sewing! Photos to follow soon-ish…