Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Shear Madness Challenge: Anything Goes!

Shear Madness is one of those blogs that I love following, just to see the amazing variety of awesomeness that is out there in the costuming world.  Their tag line is "The joy of impractical costuming," which is kind of an awesome summary of what this hobby can be, at times.  They hold quarterly challenges with varying themes which I often intend to enter, but often fall short of getting my shit together in time.  Their end of the year challenge was "Anything Goes," which easily translates into "all of those things you meant to enter earlier, but didn't get around to.  

To make a rambling story less rambly, costume bestie was over for the holidays and was all "Hey, you're about done with a thing.  You should enter it."  Cue an 11:30 sub zero front porch photo shoot ahead of a midnight deadline and Viola!  First place in the historical category.

We crammed about 20 pics into 90 seconds, it was so cold out there.  The hemline is cut off in every picture because I totally cheated and wore flip flops, we were in that much of a hurry.

Non-functional anchor button embellishment and sneaky hook-n-eye closures.

So.  Much.  Trim!  I feel like I owe my sewing machine a spa day for this one.  In put the trim on after the skirt had been finished and hung up for a good long time, because I'd have cried if those lines warped due to heavy wool skirt sag.
I tried to get the majestic beast to pose for pictures with me, but she was having none of that.  But it gives you a good look at the top of my hat.  Re-shaped thrift find with thrifted ribbons and a pair of mallard duck wings for decoration.  The wings were WAY more affordable then I anticipated.  Pro tip, shop in the fly fishing supply section for feathers.

Check out all of the amazing winners here.  And if you feel that your day would be brightened with a dose of costume nonsense, their Facebook group is totally worth following.

Friday, August 4, 2017

CoBloWriMo Current Project: the Bastille Day Project

Last weekend saw B and I traipsing around Kansas City, hitting up craft stores and thift stores and a long overdue visit to Fabric Recycles in Overland Park.  The place is like a curated thrift store for sewers of all flavors.  We walked out way poorer, but with a lot of nifty finds.  One of which was the motivation for my latest impulse project.   I've been meaning to do something for Bastille Day for several years.  So many pictures of lovely late 18th century costumes showing up from dinners and picnics around the world, and I wanted to play, too. Nothing happened this year, but I figured it might work out better if I got on top of getting a costume ready.  At Fabric Recycles, I managed to find the perfect ribbon for making cockades.  Now, that wasn't my whirlwind project for the week, but it did motivate me to start working on a hat for the costume.

Thrift store find: generic straw hat with plastic flowers hot glued to the brim.

I picked up a straw hat for something like a buck.  While it's not a great quality of material, it worked just fine as a base for a late 18th century hat.  For inspiration, I just browsed the fashion plates I'd saved to Pinterest and a couple of modern tutorials on re-coverings straw hats.  The puffy crown idea came from Venifice, and the pleated brim from Koshka.  I ended up deciding that the tri-color ribbon was just a little too in-your-face for what I wanted.  I'll save that for making cockades and instead just focus on making myself a costume in the red, white, and blue palette.

Ta Da!
sans flash, the colors really come through.

The red silk is a nice low-slub dupioni that I salvaged from a blouse picked up at a thift store a few years back.  This project was an exercise in compounding trims.  I'm really pleased with how much texture and dimension I was able to get out the different combinations.  The sashes were made by attaching a strip of braid to one piece of blue ribbon, then sandwiching a single piece of the pleated white ribbon between two pieces of the blue, making them pretty from both top and bottom.

Blue ribbon and gold braid picked up in the LA Fashion District last CoCo.  White pleated ribbon re-homed from (I think) my mother's stash at some point.  It looks like it could be her handwriting on the label, at least.

He may be a bit too bourgeois for a Bastille Day outfit, but I gave this fella a tail and some gold detailing and he just pins on.  Now if I could just figure out his name.

CoBloWriMo Introduction

Wow.  Looking back, it's been a year and a day since I last posted.  That feels kinda significant to my Pagan heart.  I've had a lot of Big Life Things going on in the last year.  Most took me away from costuming in some fashion, all ate up significant amounts of free time and brain processing capacity.  But I feel like I've kinda settled a bit and found renewed motivation for being a productive member of the costuming.  And to me a part of that means a more active online presence.  So how timely is it that Aurora from Dramatic Threads sends me a link a link to CoBloWriMo.  I'm going to take that as that Universe dropping a hint and make an attempt at sharing on the blog again.  I let myself get into a rut feeling like I had nothing to share if I didn't have some epic tutorial or research project to disclose.  I'm trying to remind myself that I have interest in other people's small projects, nifty finds and even just pictures of what they wore to some event.  So why should it be so foreign to think that some quite person out there might find some tid bit of information or idea of mine to be useful?

I'm a few days behind, but let's consider this my (re)introduction post.  Hi.  I'm Jennifer and I'm gonna do my damnedest to share my creative adventures with you.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Costume-Con 33 Roundup, Monday et al

Wrapping up the last of my Costume-Con 33 posts.  Monday was a pretty low key day, with only a half day of programming and no competitions.  My crew did an Archer cosplay group, including Bethany's mom in on the fun as Mallory, complete with a drink tumbler full (of iced tea).  We commandeered an unused boardroom for a quick a photo shoot.  I played Pam, which was fun simply for the excuse to run around with a hand puppet and nosh on pastries.

I also took down my quilt show entries, the 18th century quilted petticoat and waistcoat.  The stays got an award for best wearable art.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Costume-Con 33 Roundup, Sunday

Still playing catch up from Costume-Con 33.  On Sunday, they had the "Miss Ellen's Portieres” competition, where entrants made costumes out of curtains.  I entered wearing my shower curtain short gown, paired with a teal cotton petticoat and my perpetual work in progress, the whitework apron.

Showing off my grandmother's sewers union pin from when she worked at a men's pants factory in the 70s. 

Sunday night was the Historical Masquerade, to which I wore Maria Carolina's court gown.  Kristen was kind enough to help me with my presentation, wearing her own jacket and petticoat combo to serve as a chamber maid.

Our presentation was a comical nonsense number that was basically me getting my maid to help me find my dog.

A portrait of Maria Carolina of Austria, Queen of Naples and Sicily, by Giuseppe Bonito, c. 1770s.

I still have a few yards of this red silk left, as well as some fur.  I'm thinking that one of these days I'm going to make myself a court train to hook onto the dress, even through one wasn't present in the source painting.

I'm particularly proud of my wig, which I carted onto the plane in a gift bag as my carry on.  Well, it made it!

Ridiculous staged costume portraits.  It's was friends are for.

Kristen and I with our roadies, Bethany and Lauren.
(the gals pulling the strings to make our dog move on stage).

No awards for this one, which just goes to show how hit or miss this kind of thing can be.  Ah well.  We had a hell of a lot of fun back stage and I'm proud of how the costume turned out.  Now I just need to figure out where on earth I'll ever wear the thing again.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Costume-Con 33 Roundup, Saturday

Opps!  Going back through the drafts, I've found a few posts that really should have happened before now.  For a bit of a throwback, here is the roundup from Costume-Con 33 (LAST year) for Saturday day, which I found sitting around waiting for captions to photographs, but otherwise ready to post.

I pretty much spent the entirety of Saturday running around without a bra on.  It was AWESOME!  I started the day in my black and brown sideless surcoat with the linen kirtle, then lost the surcoat in the afternoon for rehearsals (so I was pretty much running around in my underwear.  Yay for historical costuming!)  Then put on the white overdress at the absolute last possible moment because white and me, we make messes together.  There's just something about a white dress that makes me want coffee and spaghetti sauce.

I was a part of a group for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Masquerade that was based on the fantasy novels by Garth Nix.  Super fun costumes, but I was only able to make myself read far enough into the books to be introduced to the group of characters that my costume was to represent.    We did well, too.  A presentation award for best literary adaptation and Best in Show for Workmanship.  I'm not even going to pretend here, the BiS was about 95% earned by the crazy people molding leather, printing tartan and smithing their own jewelry.  My outfit was fairly simple by comparison, with nothing terribly special beyond a bit of dye work and embroidery.  But I think it was well made and Bethany came up with an awesome design for the overdress that we worked together to make, so there you go.  I'm happy with 5% of that ribbon.

The white characters in the back row were all representations of various vocations
of Clayr, a sort of academic and future-reading sort of group.  I was personally set
to represent a merchant, with my money pouch and key.

Blonde, lol!  I am totally digging the way that light green pairs with my skin tone, though.

Stay classy, people.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Costume Con 34 in Madison, WI

*le flop*  We got back this evening from driving up to Madison, WI for Costume Con 34.  By far, one of the most fun Costume Cons I've been yet.  Major kudos to the team that put it together.  The overall con theme was "The Wonders of Nature," which I didn't personally find super inspirational, but meh.  I hardly had time to put together much of anything new this spring, so it worked out just fine.  I had a lot of costumes that were completed in time to wear to Costume College last summer, so that's mostly what I brought out here.

Friday morning I wore the 1950s Avengers wrap-around dress, minus a lot of the accessories.  I kept it simple and comfortable, since I was going to be spending the majority of my morning in ICG board meetings.  That afternoon, my costume bestie and I teamed up to present Practical Considerations for Costumers," which I thought worked quite well.  We're a good team, B and I, not the least of which because we are so damned different in the way that we go about things.  But it was funny and informative and the audience had good participation.

Friday evening was the social and Single Pattern competition.  I had picked up the pattern in time to use as a basis for my Chambord Fairy from the booze fairies group at CoCo last year, so the Honey and I worked on putting together a nicer set of wings to take along.  I brought a bottle of Chambord along to judging as my documentation.  And then found several nice people to help me drink it after the show.  

A better picture of the wings.  Each is a layer of silk gauze over habotai, spray painted in two
shades and sewn together to make a channel along the tops, through which the wires run.

Saturday was a busy day. I started in stage blacks to help with the run through for my costume bestie's entry for the Science Fiction and Fantasy masquerade that night. Tech rehearsal accomplished, I changed into the 1890s seamstress to wear for a spin around the vendor room. I picked up a hall costume award for this one, as well as a ton of compliments. People were really digging on the vintage sewing accessories I had dangling from my belt. Ooh! And there was a vendor selling vintage and damaged kimonos and kimono materials for $10/lb. That was a dangerous booth. I ended up with three little bolts of indigo and white cotton intended for yukata, as well as one damaged silk kimono with a small gold ivy leaf motif on a read background that I'm thinking of turning into an 18th century jacket of some sort. With my wallet lighter and luggage heavier, I hit a workshop on costume rendering.
I'll keep working on it.
Then it was up to the room to help the bestie paint herself black from the waist up.  A good time was had by all who got to witness her getting slathered in cold paint, and it paid off for her when her Lolth took an award for Best Group.

I'm totally in this picture.  Those are my feet as I stand in the back and hold up her giant spider butt!
See what I said about being the polar opposites of costuming?

Sunday was a fun day, with the theme for hall costuming being "peasants", I put together an 18th century costume from all the odd bits that I'd been working on over the last couple of years.  Several old Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges that hadn't really worked into anything, such as the petticoat made from poorly dyed linen and a shift with sleeves too long to fit under my other gowns.  I also got to wear the quilted waistcoat for the first time and it was SUPER COMFORTABLE!  Also, hella boosting for the bust, which was a bonus.  While packing, I realized that I couldn't find my simpler rough linen cap, so I ended up cobbling one together utilizing the extra bit of ruffle that I had cut out of the neckline of my chemise a la reine.  Since that bit was already hemmed, all I had to do was cut a crown and gather the two together, sewing them on the machine on the underside.  Quick and easy like that.  Then I realized that my only apron was the one I've been doing white work embroidery on, so probably a touch too dressy for a peasant.  I hacked up the skirt of a Regency petticoat that was made out of a bed sheet, so a super thin cotton apron was achieved.

Sunday night was the Historical Masquerade.  I waffled about entering this right up until the last minute.  What sold it for me was that, in ten years together, the Honey and I have never entered a masquerade together, outside of large groups.  So I cobbled together  close enough for stage outfit for him that he then proceeded to distress the hell out of.  Not gonna lie, I got a little weepy when I first saw that waistcoat covered in black smudges.  I wrote up the documentation in the hotel room on Thursday night and away we went.  It must have been worth it, because we took home a Best in Show for Workmanship.  TOTALLY didn't see that coming.  I expected maybe a lesser award for presentation, since it was kinda funny and I thought we did a good job of showing off the costumes without feeling like we were just spinning in a circle on stage.  I tried to make fun of the ridiculous poses you see in some some fashion plates, but then only sorta serious presentation gets 'interrupted' by a zombie shambling across the stage.  I guess all of the meticulous hand-stitching on the bodice of the dress, as well as the cap and chemisette paid off.  I *cough*  did not take the Honey's outfit in for workmanship judging, not only because it was filthy, but because the shirt and waistcoat were made on the fly out of non-period-appropriate materials, sewn almost entirely by machine and with tons of short cuts, such as unfinished button holes, non-functional buttoned bits half-assed finishings throughout.  The trousers were an older pair that was made with the intent of serious wear, but that he hates the fit of.

*sigh*  How could I refuse that face anything?
Also, am totally digging on the red shoes with this outfit.

Emo zombie.  Only historically accurate in the impression,
but I'm still submitting it for the HSM April Challenge.

Monday's theme was pijamas, and I won a hall costume award for my 1930s Lounge PJs.  SO comfortable.  I think these are going to be the go to hall costume for every con from here on out.  I did a lecture on 18th century fashion terminology, which was surprisingly well-attended for first thing on Monday morning.  I promised the class that I'll put some of the information from those slides up here, and I'll do that just as soon as I figure out a somewhat easy way to get that info off of the power point slides and onto the blog. Then all of the sudden, con was over.  I picked up a video of the masquerade, then spent the afternoon being a tourist.  We hit up Gayfeather fabrics while she was unloading from the con, then the Mustard Museum, a chocolatier, a coffee house, and I got hooked up with some Laotian food hot enough to make me cry.  It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Regency Spencer, HSM March: Protection

HSM 3 Protection

I finished a spencer to go with my Regency day dress this spring.  The blue cotton pique was picked up at the scrap swap at Figments & Filaments last year.  I used the pattern from the dress for the bodice back and sleeves, and just extrapolated the rest.  The dress has a drop front bib, so I was able to work with the under bits which overlap underneath the bib.

Decorated with a total of twelve completely non-functional buttons, as well as a few
bits of folded fabric tubes sewn down over the back seams to add a bit of interest.

Ruffled collar holds its shape with two rows of piping along the edge.
Or perhaps a couched cord would be a better way to describe it, as it's not encased within a seam.

Detail of the non-functional false cuffs (and fabric texture).

I turned the sleeve inside out so I could show off how that nonsense was put together.  The seams at the armsyce and bottom of the sleeve puff are bound with cotton tape.  The puff is supported with a crescent of silk organza and the band is held up with two tapes, further assisting the poofing.
Sleeve head, inside out.

I can't decide if it's too much ruffle to wear the chemisette AND the spencer.
I suppose I could always sub out for a fichu if I want to tone it down a bit.

The flash really brings out the shiny in the dress fabric.  I haven't the foggiest what the secondary
content of the dress is, and have absolutely no fabric left to play with.  I guess the world will never know.

And for the Historical Sew Monthly Challenge:

What the item is: Regency Spencer
The Challenge: Protection
Fabric/Materials: blue cotton pique, linen, silk organza.
Pattern: heavily modified from the Laughing Moon Mercantile bib front dress pattern.
Year: 1810-ish
Notions: fabric covered buttons, hooks with hand stitched loop closures, cotton twill tape.
How historically accurate is it? 8/10
Hours to complete: maybe 20
First worn: in a 'done enough' state for a costumers' guild outing to see Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, but in the finished state, right there in the dining room.
Total cost: The fabric came from the scrap swap at a local costuming convention and the lining is from my own leftovers, so the only really cost was the button forms. All told, maybe $6.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1930s Lounge Pajamas

I was able to whip up a quick indulgence project for myself in between the hustle and bustle of February.  This was one of those projects that killed two birds with one stone.  It stated like this.  I'm going through the fabric in my grandmother's stash when we sorted out her house after her passing.  In among the truly lurid 1970s polyester atrocities happened to be some flour sack rags that I took home to use as pressing cloths.  They started me down the path of researching the feed sack dresses and clothing from the 1930s.  I got all gun ho about making one for myself, and even found a lot of 11 feed sacks in matching print on eBay.  But I ran into a conundrum when it came to finally buckling down and making a feed sack dress of my own.  The whole point of making clothing from feed sacks was that the sewer was being economical.  That made full length dresses a luxury that ran counter to the use of feed sacks.  And I HATE the way I look in knee length dresses.  So the fabric sat around being useless.

I had been holding onto the 1930s Kitchenette Pajamas pattern from Decades of Style for a couple of years now.  I'd originally bought the pattern for a Single Pattern contest at Costume Con, but then never got around to making them.  So it languished in the pile.  

Fast forward a couple of years and I'm reading an article in Behind the Seams that looked at the details in a couple of feed sack dresses.  The lighter one in the background was hypothesized to be a night gown, and the waistline was fitted using a series of narrow tucks.  I had one of those light bulb moments where nightgown = pajamas and tucks fit in with the Historical Sew Monthly's February challenge of pleats and tucks.  Viola!  A solutions was found!
From an article in Behind the Seams.

I had thought about staging a lovely photo shoot with me doing some 1930s-worthy kitchen chores,
but I honestly just drank coffee and ordered pizza for dinner that night, so this is what you get. 
It's a one piece garment that closes with overlapping center back panels and attached waist ties.  If I were a bit smarter about this, I'd have read a few more pattern reviews before I started cutting.  I could have saved myself the exact same problem had by so many others in that the back with tend to creep open with wear.  If I were to do this up again (and I might, they are wicked comfortable), I would move the attachment point of the ties up an inch or two.  As is, a well-placed safety pin does the trick.  Or I could invest the time in putting in a couple of lingerie straps into the shoulder seams.  We'll see how annoying it gets.

The front part of the bodice is cut in one piece.  The shaping comes from a tuck going into each shoulder seam, in addition to the waist ties.  In order to lessen the shoulder drooping problem, I added a pair of box pleats into the center front neckline.  This pulled the shoulders in a bit, in addition to adding a bit of shaping around the bust.

No flash to show my snazzy pleats and tucks.
The tiny cap sleeves were an addition to the pattern as well.  I had come across this image on Pinterest, linked only to the image and not the source, so I'm without context.  I was digging on the way that the end of the sleeves on the brown dress were set up with the bias tape and the overlapping top.  Since I was planning to finish the neckline and cuffs with a contrasting bias tape anyhow, this seemed like an awesome way to continue that theme.

The incredibly technical pattern for the sleeves, which amounted to me going,
"Eh, let's make 'em about that long and overlap by about yey much."

Now, 11 feed sacks go a heck of a long way.  Each piece opened out to about 36" x 48".  However, many of the pieces showed damage from long years in storage.  A few had a discolored background, others had stains in spots and there were holes and tears scattered throughout.  Also, feed sack cotton equals THIN.  See through when back lit, even.  So what I did to make the most of every piece was to fully flat line all pieces in the sketchier pieces of fabric.  I had to piece one of the pant legs, and overlook a few of the pinprick holes, but overall this worked well.  The print is the same inside and out, the double layer of cloth is thick enough to ensure adequate warmth and modesty.  Plus, you could never find another fabric as soft as feed sack.  The finest combed cotton ain't got nothing on this.

Details for the challenge:
1930s Lounge PJs
Challenge #2: Tucks and Pleating

Fabric: self lined with vintage cotton feed sacks and burgundy cotton for the bias tape

Pattern: 1930s Kitchenette Pajamas from Decades of Style.

8/10 for Accuracy. The feed sacks are vintage, but probaby date a little after the lounge sets were all the rage in the late 20s and early 30s.

Hours to complete: maybe ten. Cutting was an adventure as there were 11 individual feed sacks in the auction lot of varying quality. It took a bit of finagaling to work around the stains and holes and there is some piecing on the inner layers. The lining with self fabric gave me a bit more modesty, plus it meant I was able to use up almost every scrap of fabric, regardless of how stained or discolored it may be. Also, SOOOOOOO incredibly soft.

First worn: not gonna lie. After I put them on for pictures, I wore them around the house for the rest of the day. they were incredibly comfortable.

Total cost: $60 US ($58 of which was the feed sacks)