Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Running running running running.

It seems like I keep deciding I'm making a costume for this event or that event like the week before said event. Welp! If this helps keep me from overthinking it... yay!

Well, it looks like a giant arming doublet sleeve, but dayum does it look good on me. Laurie draped a Tudor block on me this evening over my old effigy stays (which I really need to remake, since they gap a little more at the bust now, and since I don't need them to gap for Venetians).  I converted that into an English Jacket pattern. (I made a quick and dirty mockup in ugly Christmas muslin, and yep, it'll work!)

Oh, and since I never did post a picture, here's the 1930s dress from the last post.
Or, well, at least it's the back of it. Definitely some things I would change in the next one (and there was almost a next one, except that it sounds like I can safely wear this to Gatsby after all).  But it went together beautifully and it's SO comfortable!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Doubting Myself

On a whim, I'm making a 1930s dress out of a polyester fashion chiffon that I picked up on my last trip to the Garment District - Oh crap, I haven't posted since May... Uh, yes! I was at Costume College!  I barely dressed up at all!  But I was there!

Anyway, I got a bunch of printed polyester fashion chiffons that I LOVE from the by-the-pound Michael Levine store. And work is having a sort of electro-swing themed summer garden party (a la Gatsby) so I decided fashion print + 1930s pattern = winning, right?

Well, none of my existing paper patterns (that I could find) actually were frilly enough for the purpose. I actually spent a few hours pawing through my research library and had an option picked out from one of them, when I realized that I'd actually picked up an amazing surplice-back 1930s dress at the local thrift store. 

I took a pattern off that, then enlarged it to my size. Then I spent a bunch of time freaking out about how I was totally doing this by feel, and went back and put the new-drafted pattern against an existing one that I knew fit. I altered it a bunch.  And then, still last night - this was all on Monday, you see! - I threw everything off my worktable and cut it out. 

Today when I got home from work I dicked around on the internet for a few hours, and at 9 really sat down to sew.  I ran gathering stitches in the underbust, set up my serger, and serged the skirt pieces together, switched it into a rolled-hem and hemmed a bunch of parts, then went to my sewing machine and basted the bodice parts together.

Yeah, all those alterations that I made based on that existing pattern that I knew fit me?  I'm taking them out. :P   Whoops.  Should've trusted myself!

So, on the "left to do" list is serge the side seams, re-roll-hem the neckline (too high!), serge the shoulder seams, gather the shoulder seams, and then gather the underbust and finally set the skirt into the bodice.  Then set the sleeves, and roll hem the hem of the skirt.

The one mystery remains - will this be a slip-on frock? Or am I going to have to cut bias and slit it and put in a side opening?  The original has no visible fasteners except at the wrists (and the snaps in the bra-strap keepers at the shoulder seams).  This is gonna be interesting!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Incompletes, Impulsiveness, and Meticulous Frugality

Well, great. So this post probably shows up in your feed twice, because apparently hitting tab and then typing posts the thing on Blogger. Whoops.

I owe so many posts at this point it's not even funny. The awesome thing I alluded to in the last post is an amazing 1894ish tea or graduation gown that I got at the Vintage Expo. But unless I hear clamoring for it, I'm probably not going to get around to posting about it much.

Instead, I've been doing a lot of what I can only call "impulse costuming".  And it's been all from stash, which is AWESOME, zomg I cannot TELL you how awesome.

This post started as a Facebook status that just kept going, and now I'm going to unload a whole 'nother post's worth of impulse before I even get to what I set out to post about. Right.

Awhile back I decided I was attending the final yearly Actions of the Lowe Countries, and that dagnabbit, I wanted a German dress. So I pulled out some patterning supplies and my Tudor block, and went through three iterations of the front curve before I got it right. I then pulled out a 80"x90" old olive-drab woolen (military? boyscout?) blanket from the stash. It took some careful patterning, but I managed to get an entire dress with half sleeves out of it. The skirt isn't very wide, but hey, isn't that about right for a camp follower anyway? The guarding came from a roll of navy blue scrap woolen I bought from another GBACG costumer when I visited Casa de Fruita last - it was slated for just this sort of purpose. I've still got enough that I think I'll make an Elizabethan fitted jacked out of it.  Anyway, the German dress: I finished the last bits of handsewing onsite before dark!  And I fitted a panel of helper lacing into the lining so I could get the hooks and eyes closed. I also made a sort of crappy wulst and conned Cherylynn into pinning it to a wobbly, but reasonable Wulsthaube. When I find my wire, I'm going to remake the wulst and try that again.

It seems that none of the amazing photographers actually took my picture this year, so I have one shot I had a friend take, and a selfie that I took from just before I took down my (plastic) tent.
Drei Schwestern - courtesy Shelley Monson (me on the right)

Plasticamp selfie - I threw the English partlet over it for sun protection. Next I need to make a gollar.
Okay!  So! 

Impulse costuming strikes again!  Last week I took a pattern that Laurie had fitted to me *literally* years ago (possibly four?) and took a piece of thrift-store linen, and cut out a cotehardie pattern. There were some shoulder issues. That's okay. I was able to put a dart in the first draft, then pivot it out and splice the paper patterns together, then move the pattern just far down enough on the original fitting toile/lining to recut the armscyes. (Thankfully it'd been long to start with - needlessly so since there'll be a skirting gore in the middle at some point.)  So then I stalled. 

The reason I started the cotehardie was actually a bit of - you may gasp - medieval fantasy costuming (Winter is coming, y'all). But I would hate to make a full set of underwear and gown out just for fantasy stuff. I have this great bolt of *insanely* slubby dupioni in a quite interesting silver, but it'd be too warm to wear over wool. But I have this great woolen dress-length I got at the thrift store for a song. So, that's two overgowns - one historical, one fantasy - but what to do for the actual cote? 

Years ago, I bought a random length of blue linen, and a random length of pink linen. God knows what I thought I was going to do with them. At some point I made a pair of rather larger than anticipated pocket hoops out of some of the pink. But the blue sat, forgotten. Until I went spelunking into the Fabric Closet of DOOM (requires a headlamp, not even kidding), and dragged it out.

Well, this stuff is bizarre. It's at least partly linen. I think it's got... ramie? in it too. The selvedges are GOREGOUS.  And I've got just under two yards of it, 70", post-washing. (It had clearly been washed.)

"70 inches?" I hear you muttering. "That's not nearly enough to make ANYTHING for an adult sized human."

Yeah, normally, that would be right. But this stuff is bizarre, did I mention? Because it is also 83" wide from selvedge to selvedge.  Just like in the German dress, I grabbed the graph paper and plotted the gown pieces. I can make this work, but I'm going to have to cut the sleeves slim and flip the trimmings into gores to round out the underside of the biceps. And the skirting gores might not be all that wide. Oh, and I will have one strip 2"x10" long, left unused. It'll probably be facings for sleeve buttoning parts. I'm okay with this for a cote though, especially since I patterned in enough room for a lacing stand into the front. This will be the undergown!

And I've got two beautiful gowns planned that can go over it for various occasions. :)

With that, goodnight!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eight Months?!

No, I wasn't pregnant.  Yeesh.  But I just realized that the last time I posted here was... in August.  It's now nearly April.  I'm about to turn 31 (which is a pretty cool prime number), and while things have oscillated between exploding and progressing smoothly at home, I'm finally getting to the point where I feel good enough (and am pushing back enough on day-job work) to get some sewing done.

That said, I haven't exactly *finished* a lot just yet, but I've got a lot of stuff in the hopper. I'm planning to blog more here, so let me tell you a little about what's on deck - if there's anything you want to see more about, let me know so I can write up a post about it.

  • military-blanket German camp follower gown (zomg I did some smocking!)
  • awful Regency corset of DOOM project
  • art deco pajamas
And I think I'm also supposed to tell you about the Mucha outfit at some point... oh hrm.

Aside from that I'm also pondering how to re-order my living and working space at home. I realized at some point that the fact that my worktable is also my sewing machine fixery bench and ironing board really contributes to the project-blockage that I experience all too frequently.  (That said, I have something like five sewing machines waiting for small parts so I can send them on down the line to their next homes.

Hilariously, what I really logged on to post about in the first place will have to wait until I can get some better pictures.  I went to the Vintage Clothing Expo yesterday in San Francisco and bought a really neat 1894ish study piece!