Sunday, 25 August 2013

Back to sewing

After completing the last big project, I was desperate to cut my teeth on something quick and dirty to get back into the swing on things machine sewn. So when I came across a lovely green and peacock feather patterned fabric while out shopping with Gytha, I knew just what to do with it.

As I imagine with many people, when my jeans fail, they rip on the inner thigh, not the worlds most repairable juncture. So when my latest pair of black jeans split, I decided to do something with them instead of just consigning them to the bin.

I was lucky with the build of these jeans that I was able to slice off the legs just above the crutch seam, giving me a straight seam to work with on the hip pieces. The fabric that I bought was 150cm wide and 2 metres long, so I sewed the cut edges together with a french seam to give myself a good wide skirt.

I wanted to avoid bulk at the join of the fabrics, so I decided to pleat the fabric. Sometimes, joining the width of the skirt to the much (but not all that much) narrower width of the hip band can be an exercise in drowning in fabric. You can get around this by pinning the fabric down at the points of the compass first. That is, I lined up the seam of the skirt to the back seam of the jeans. Then, I found the half way point of the fabric and pinned that to the front seam. I repeated again for the side seams and it leaves the fabric more evenly divided and much easier to pin in the pleats.

When the skirt piece was sewn on, I folded the seam back up against the denim and sewed it down again to give it a little more strength; hems, they were made for me to step on.

And I have a finished skirt, in a little under an hour. And even better, it has pockets! Skirtage that still allows me to carry my keys and wallet without the need for a ruddy handbag. Suzie approves too, and that's very important.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Victorian Accessories

My time is not my own this week, so while I'm straining to get to sewing on my machine, I'm having to bide my time. Which means in lieu of anything more exciting like an actual project, I can only share with you my plans for the coming months.


The second of my upcoming costuming challenges is Trystan's Costume Closet Accessorizing Head-to-Toe Challenge, which I'm going to use to make a series of Victorian accessories. I've shared pictures recently of my completed Victorian evening dress, and I've plans to make a bustle era walking dress shortly. While I have purchased a fan and parasol, there's other pieces, like the very important head coverings, that the outfit just won't look right without. And I'm a sucker for a sew-along. Knowing there's other people doing the same as you, that you can ask for help or advise, or just share pictures, especially when maps don't matter, I just love it.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

IRCC3 Final entry - a review

The Italian Renaissance Costuming Competition finalists are even now being updated on the Realm of Venus website, with my own being one of the first up! My own entry can be seen here, and now that's it's over, and I have a little more time, I'm looking at it with a critical eye to think of how I could improve things for next time, though overall, I am happy with my costume. Plus, this is a nice excuse for a photo dump post :)

One of my biggest worries with this gown, especially as I was making up my own linen cardboard, so that it would wind up too stiff too be comfortable, or would chafe in all the wrong places. I have never been more delighted to be wrong. Sure, if doesn't fit in the way my regular day clothes fit, so it will take a little getting used to, but as the cardboard warms to my body, I anticipate it becoming even more comfortable. I couldn't get the lacing to come all the way closed for the photos, as the style should, so I'll have to see if another lacing strip is required, or if it will close further as the fit improves.

The hem of the veste gave me no end of trouble. I wanted to take it up enough that it wouldn't drag, as this is intended to be my "outdoors" garb, but it decided to fight back. After four different pinings I settled on a length and sewed a tuck into the skirt. This has the added advantage that when the end eventually does become too muddy to save, I can let down the tuck to form a new hem. It's just a shame I didn't remember to check and tuck the underskirt too, so that's one more sewing job I'm left with.

For the bag, I leaned heavily on the experience and details provided in this blog entry, on Bettina's pages. I adored the example she made, and would have loved to have had my bag a little more trimmed or adorned, but that's something I can work on as time goes on. As it is, the leather I choose for the bag is that of my personal device, and I'm tempted instead to decorate the bag with some embroidery pertinent to that. But we'll see how that goes.

This was my first attempt at an Italian style hat, so I shouldn't be too hard on myself. It fits, and it's unlikely to come off except in the stiffest of breezes, but it bothers me a little that the brim isn't lying as flat as it could. I think it's mostly a seam allowance issue, and I'll have to take care to cut out the brim pattern a little wider next time.

The Zimarra.. no, I wouldn't change anything about it, I love it so. I just couldn't resist the chance to show it off again.

That's all I'd change though, just a few minor adjustments, so I think I've learned a lot this year about my time management, so maybe I'll get away with my ambitious ideas for next years competition...

Friday, 16 August 2013

18th Century Court Gowns

Speaking of my friend Laura, this is what she threw at me during the last week of the competition.

I'll admit, I considered it. While the robe a la polonaise appeals, the court gowns of the 18th century appeals to me less so. But I took a browse, went trough some portraits and some pictures, and then I found this:

Isn't she divine? For reasons I can't explain, I just adore it. The colours, the contrast, it's wonderful!

And then I found out that this is not an authentic 18th century gown, but rather a costume made for Gladys George in MGMs 1938 production of Marie Antoinette. I like my historical references to be historial, damnit! But what the costumer wants, the costumer must have. I asked Laura, much more experienced with 18th century clothing than I, to look it over, and she determined that with some recutting of seams to match period dresses, and I'll be good to go. So the dress plan is back on. I'm picturing a black velvet overdress, I might even have enough already in my stash, and a black satin underskirt. And all that embellishment.... I'm going to need to work up to that.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

And needles down

And I'm done.

Sure there's more embellishments I could do, but with a little under 24 hours to go, I've decied to save myself the stress and stop now.

I have everythig packed away now to head out to my friend Laura's on friday, who has once again very generously offered to help with the picture aspect of the competition, and I was pleasantly surprised with all the bits I had to remember to add to the box. I'd honestly forgotten I had so much done!

My costumers ADHD kicked in in full force this week, and I have several more costumes planned out, that will provide some nice picture posts even if I never get arount to them. A girl needs dreams, eh?

Yes, focus. I'll do a more complete post on the competition when I have the pictures to go with. But most importantly for now, I am very happy with my new, fully complete garb. That's one up I have on last year too!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Finished Zimarra

And it's finally finished! The last parts too a lot longer than I thought they would, once more confirming in my mind that the small, fiddly, almost invisible parts are always the ones to break your heart.

The embroidered buttons took, on estimate, about 12 hours to complete 21 of them, and that's just a simple buttonhole stitch, nothing fancier. The buttonhole loops, also hand embrodiered with 4 strands of cotton floss, felt like they took the same time. Or at least, they took up a day and a half of my time-off-work-to-get-costume-finished time. There's 8 metres of each width of ribbon sewn down, and I am so glad I took the time to pin it down first. It would have been a nightmare otherwise. 

And as I mentioned before, this Zimarra is an old curtain, purchased from an SCA trader. I've known almost since I boguht it what I wanted to do with it, and yet it languished, buried in my to-do pile for over a year. I'm so utterly delighted it's done now, and looking so beautiful. I'm very much looking forward to showing it off at the upcoming Crown tournament!