Monday, January 26, 2015

Busy Weekend Full of Edwardian Things

It's been an insane weekend.

Saturday was the GBACG's annual Open House. I went and ran sound again, which was much needed since we've traditionally had issues with people being unable to hear, or unable to understand the speaker as they're distorted through the PA. (I did this last year, and the comments were that this was the first time attendees had been able to understand half the stuff spoken onstage.)
Backstage Selfies are a Thing. Not in wonderful taste mind you, but a Thing.
I'd also spent a chunk of Friday night going through some of the assorted boxes of Stuff in my closet, sorting through some of the giant pile of silk flowers (millinery projects that never were) and bags and bags of scraps of ribbon (because once upon a time I was a remnant bag junkie - this was before Joann's started giving you a discount to buy the last yard).  I also dug through the fabric stash a little more and ended up bringing three whole bags of *stuff* to donate to the raffle.  It was nice!  I sort of wish I'd had more time, because I'm sure there's more *stuff* that would've exited my home.
But yanno, I can never keep from acquiring things...

So this year we had a silent auction. And in that silent auction was a thing that I desperately adored. So I bid... rather higher than I'd actually planned to.  I'm not sure I'm going to tell you more than that, because I sort of think I'm going to write about it for a certain magazine... maybe? But here's a coy little peek.
Peeking dazzlingly from the tissue paper
I also ended up with a pattern for a 1910s dress, and a bunch of neat lock-together storage thingies. I forsee a Great Button Sorting in my future. So three bags in, slightly less than a bag out, that's not bad... right?

Today, I got up considerably earlier than I'd gotten up for like a month, and drove to Oakland for my first ever peek at the Oakland Museum's White Elephant Preview Sale.  That was a lot of sleep dep for an amazing experience.  I met up with Michelle and others for the first ever McMac Fabrications field trip, and we stood within visual distance of the entryway as the line grew longer... and longer... and loooooonnnnger behind us. A bit before 10 AM, the line began to creep up closer to the door, and at just a bit past 10 we were ushered through the gaping maw of that warehouse.

I have to emphasize that point. The place is huge. HUGE. I expected it to be about 1/4 the size it was. Oh. My. God.  The overwhelm factor in the first few minutes was just huge.

I was going to spend some time in the Women's department looking for vintage stuff, but in my sense of urgency and utter overwhelm, didn't realize there was a vintage *section*, and so spent some time discontentedly glancing around at all the 1980s and 1990s junk, and then promptly left. I sort of percolated my way slooowly towards the sewing, stopping in the home linens area to pick up a very fine filet lace tablecloth.  The sewing area really did me in. There were SO MANY awesome sewing machines, and at least four that I would've taken home with me in a trice given the opportunity. There were bins of ribbon, bins of lace, bins of bits of fabric, more wool than I could justify buying. But I'll spare you the narrative, and just tell you about the haul. :)

So this is my notions haul. The GBACG announced that they're having a summer whites event, and of course my brain went to Edwardian lace dresses... So I ended up with a giant spool of lace edging ($8) suitable for ruffs, I might add, and this five-yard chunk of compiled lace ($6) that desperately needs washing, plus a five yard cluny lace chunk, and this spool of white figured tape that I think will compile nicely into things like bandeau straps and the like.  Along with that I got this really nice brocaded ribbon (18" for $.50), 3 yards of navy seaside themed 1950s trim, and a spool of probably about 280 yards of rather wide soutache.  Er, I had a plan for that, hilariously enough. We'll see.

 Hard goods I was a little more restrained on - there was a seam roll, which is one of the things I didn't yet have, and two non-standard cams for a mechanical buttonholer. A box of giant tapestry needles, which I use all the time as lacing bodkins, and these lovely fancy handled paper scissors from about 1910-1930 or so. (Hard to date, since they have no maker's mark on them, only "Solid Steel" where the initial S is shared between both words. Googling has been unhelpful so far.)
 Patterns!  There weren't many vintage ones by the time I got there, and I was fortunate enough to find one with a reasonable bust size. The other two should be reasonably easy to enlarge since they're fairly simple, and the dress appears to be just a drawstrung shaped sack. It's a lot of trouble, but still SO much cheaper than Etsy.

 Fabric haul: the filet lace tablecloth I'd mentioned earlier, plus a 5 yard length of this insane sort-of-Polynesian border print. I have NO idea what possessed me to pick it up, and less idea what to make of it... but hey.  Underneath it all is this amazingly soft bi-color wool twill. It's *heavy* as heck.
So preeeettttyyyy...
 Okay now we get to the fun part...  This is a middy-style day bodice - I'm guessing a child's size, but I haven't actually unfolded it and checked - in a lovely plushy velvet with silk trimmings. Basically finished, but entirely unworn. I saw this being hung up and literally made the incoherent grabby hands gesture at the woman behind the counter. She brought it over and I gasped at the price tag.
Is this a mistake?
 So no, it wasn't a mistake. It's marked down to five bucks for probably the same reason that it was left entirely unworn - there's a giant gaping hole cut over the back left shoulder.  I have no idea why, and there's no indication, so I've got a few guesses.  Either it was marred or stained in some way, or the kid took a good hack at it with some scissors. (I know I ruined a few really pretty things making tiny sewn sachets for mom when I was 8 or so.)  At any rate, someone very carefully trimmed the edges clean... and then never got around to patching the thing.
 Bonus, we have a clue about where this could have come from - either the fabric, or the blouse itself. (That's the selvedge in the back of the inside.)
 This was impossible to photograph, but I also found a lovely (though in need of some repair) 1920s camisole slip.
 Right *next* to it, I found this lovely thing that I at first took to be a 1940's evening waistcoat.  Until I touched it and...
 Nope! This is some sort of evening bodice, though I couldn't give you a really accurate date at this point. My brain keeps thinking 1870s, but it's small enough and plain enough that it could've been a less-fashionable garment made for a (very) young lady. I love that you can see all the piecing and piping and boning, and the sweat guards and hanging loops and everything.
But  the best part was... definitely the last bit.
 But this was what took the cake. This is the back of an Edwardian gown.

This is the front.  I squee'd. I really did.  It's so lovely, even if it's not in great shape.  The interior construction is really interesting, and I'm thinking about how best to document it.  What say you, dear readers? What do you want to know about this dress?

And now it's after midnight and I'm still working on other blog posts and I have email I need to get back to and and and...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I live!

It's been a few months, and I promise you a blog update on the other blog, for those of you who're interested in hearing about the what/where/why.

But I am *entirely* remiss in posting, and so I have to tell you that *tonight*, I am reprising my talk from Odd Salon last year at Nerd Nite SF. It's sold out, so my apologies for anyone who reeeeeallly wants to see this and didn't hear about it in time, and to anyone who expects me to be much more than a giant bundle of nerves tonight.  (Debating changing my LinkedIn headline to something like "Independent Researcher and Lecturer in Historical Dress and Fashion". What do you think?)

 So how about some costuming updates? That Tudor jacket came out well, and Noel lent me a ruff which made it look *amaaaaazing*.
Damn, it feels good to be.. like 1601ish.
So, remember that cotehardie that I cut out? I was going to make a woolen overdress to go with it, and indeed, I still even have the woolen (a lovely silver-blue heathered suiting from the 1960s) standing by, but for Halloween, inspiration struck late and I ended up using the pattern (with several rounds of modifications) to make a Game of Thrones dress over it out of the same silvery-blue silk that I made my Athena costume out of last year.  It turned out pretty well, all things considered! (Though I'm told it's not "screen accurate". Screw those people. I made this in less than a week! No fancy embroidery here!)

A lady of King's Landing
The other thing, was that the 2014 Holiday Party turned out to be "The Future" themed.  I joked that this was a test by the Events team after the 1930s dress for the last event - they know that "the future" is the one period I don't do.  But I looked at the inspiration boards that they provided, and I spent time drawing and browsing art deco resources and then had a sale on metallic lame.  And I was hooked.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the metallic lame was two-way stretch metallic PVC.  But dangit I'd bought the stuff and designed a dress around it, so like hell was I going to give up now!  I spent a good while patterning it out, and was stumped temporarily by the cowl-neck.  Searching for patterning images for the thing, I ran across a snapshot of a 1930s tailoring treatise, currently running for something like $100 on eBay for a broken down copy. But it turns out that Michelle had a copy, and was able to point me in the right direction.  Game on.

I patterned, I cut, and when it came time to cut the big side panels, I couldn't find a space in my apartment large enough. Whoops.  So I took them to work, and cut them out on the floor of the office between two desks. Then I took the whole thing home and started serging it together.

Now thankfully, I'd made a few knit material tops before, so I wasn't entirely surprised by working with this stuff. But man, if I thought doing French seams on a geometric pattern block was stupid, trying to serge a geometric pattern in *stretch knit* was stupider.  In the end I'm still not 100% pleased with the lay of the front stripe, and it ended up much more rounded than the art-deco steps I'd envisioned. But as is the case with so much in the costuming world, nobody sees the flaws but you.

I also wore this for New Years (because why not?) but sadly neither venue lent itself to photographing the material. And yes, I have an "updo mohawk" in both wearings. :)
Art Deco meets Art... Futura?