Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy Halloween, from Kermit and Miss Piggy!

The Honey and I did Kermit and Miss Piggy for our Halloween party this year.  Talk about costuming to body type.  We were a hit, and it was such a fun costume to do.  Will have to break it out for conventions where my Honey will be joining me.  Arisia, perhaps?

There wasn't a significant amount of work involved.  I made Kermit's eyes out of molded craft foam glued to felt.  Kermit's collar and flippers were felt.  Piggy's ears are folded felt hooked onto a wire head band.  SO EASY!

The dress was an uber cheap "bridesmaid's" dress ordered from Amazon.  Doesn't flatter anyone, but at under $40, at least I didn't have to worry about getting cheese dip on it.  It did come with a pre-formed bust area that I in my wildest dreams couldn't hope to fill.  It fit the character, but oh man, those boobs were weird.

Apparently, Piggy eating salami was hysterical.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Costume-Con Roundup, Friday

Wow, have I been lax about blogging this summer/fall!  Life, work, blah, blah, blah.  Time to play some catch up.  Costume Con 33 was held in Charleston, SC this year.  Through some sort of cosmic frippery, I ended up having an entry in pretty much every contest over the course of the weekend.  So I was hella busy doing pretty much nothing but over the course of the four day event.  But I got the chance to show off a lot of stuff that I'm really proud of, and I got to work with some of my bestest costuming besties throughout, so it was worth it.  I did have to leave my Honey at home, though, since he had classes he couldn't get out of.  Also meant that I didn't have a companion's luggage for spillover, so I had to get super conservative on the packing.  My year's as a Girl Scout served me well here.  I can pack like a boss, and I had to do like I've never done before.

There are eight, count 'em, EIGHT costumes packed into those four bags.
(there's a black check bag at the back of the stack, blending in with the sofa)
I spent much of the day on Friday running about, turning in paperwork and entries and doing all of that last minute BS that always eats the day away.  So I went with something more comfortable to wear: the chemise a la reine.  It's nice and cool, even with the stays.  And it's easy to sit in.  Plus the hedgehog wig just sorta plops on the head and requires very little prodding before getting covered with a cap and hat.  I got a lot of very flattering comment on the dress, including one from Sandy about how I 'always look so lovely and put together' at con.  Which just about made my weekend right there.  While I love Love LOVE to make pretty things, I always get a bit weird when it's time to put them on.  So yeah, total confidence boost there and a great way to start the weekend.  Sandy spent a lot of the con hanging out in the con suite, seeing the rest of us parade through.  And his smiles over the weekend always made me feel like it was worth getting all dressed up just for that.  Unfortunately, I was so busy that I never caught a picture of myself in this outfit.  But not so dire, as I've gotten some good photos in it before.

The Friday Night Social had a 1920s Speakeasy them this year.  And the Single Pattern Contest included two Folkwear patterns that I've made use of in recent years: le Smoking Jacket and the Monte Carlo Dress.  Both were used in the making of our big 1920s Batman Villains group from Arisia the year before, but neither had gotten any recognition on their own (our Best in Show for that group was in Presentation, and the only Workmanship award went to the Joker's suit).  Plus, this Poison Ivy dress is one of my all time favorite costumes, yet not something that I could ever personally wear.  Luckily, Lauren was a doll and agreed to play dress up for me.  A few minor adjustments for fit and a new bob wig and she was ready to go!  I'm no sport a shaved head, so I made up a house cap to match the smoking jacket and cover my hair.

Lauren being a life saver and donning the dress for me.  She must have been having fun,
because I'm pretty sure she sashayed those hips and made the skirts swish all night long.

Silver buddies at the Social.  So Much SHINY!

Not gonna lie.  I totally had Maral's Cyd Charisse in the back of my mind when I was designing Poison Ivy.
I was tickled to get to see the two of them back-t-back like this.
I was going to link to the project summary for these two, but it looks like I only ever got around to posting the one about Poison Ivy.  Note to self: get on with that.  The judges split the awards up, giving a Best in Show for each of the four featured patterns, and the two of us each took home that honor.  And amazing start to the weekend.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hand Hemmed Handkerchief Instructions

As promised, the photos to accompany my hand-hemmed handkerchief workshop that I taught at Costume College over the weekend.

'Squaring' your piece of fabric by drawing out a single thread.

Cutting along the cut line left by drawing that single thread gives you a perfectly straight line.

Measuring in one inch to draw another thread, then drawing three more threads
towards the center of your work, giving you a 'ditch' of  drawn threads.

Each edge is folded over about 1/4 inch, working around your handkerchief, then folded over again until the folded edge lines up with the outer edge of your ditch of drawn threads.  You have to work sequentially around the piece, otherwise, the raw edges won't tuck in nicely at the corners.
Gently unfold your edges and identify the outermost square out of the nine part square left in each corner.  Carefully trim this square of linen out to reduce bulk at your corners.

Refolding the hem and pining in place.  Press with the iron if necessary.

Anchor a single length of waxed thread inside the folded hem where it won't be seen.
Your thread should come out of the folded edge near the gap made by the crossed ditches.

To begin your first stitch, take the needle down through the gap, going under four threads, then coming back up. 

Gently tug the thread to the right to make a small gap between threads.

Take the needle back down through your first hole, then back up through the second, re-tracing the original path.  Only this time, when you come back up to the top side of the work, catch a thread or two of the folded edge of the hem with your needle.

Your thread has wrapped around the four threads in your ditch, pulling them into a wedge shape.
This is the end of the two parts of the hem stitch.

To begin the next stitch, take the needle down through what WAS your second gap from your first set of stitches.

The second part of the second hemstitch on this example.

Repeat your two-part stitches until you get to the end of your work or run out of thread (which will happen on larger pieces).
If you run out of thread, just anchor the end of your thread under the fold of the hem as you did in the beginning.  Then anchor a new piece of thread to continue stitching.

When you get towards the end of a row, you will be picking up a few threads from the cross-ditch instead of a folded edge.

To continue the hemstitch across the corner, use your needle like an awl to shimmy a hole four-threads wide,
by deep enough to encompass all three of the layers folded up at this point.

You may not be able to take the "down and back up" in once stitch like you've been doing thus far without the gap you've made shifting on you.  If so, just take your needle straight down and all the way through your work, then come straight up from the bottom.  It's a touch slower, but you'll only be doing this at the very end.

When you've completed your row, you can either pass your thread through the middle of the corner and begin work on your next row, or you can anchor the thread by taking 3 or four short stitches back and forth within the corner.
If you decide that this corner nonsense is too fiddly, don't sweat it.  You can also secure the hem on the corners with a series of neat whip stitches.  Only someone examining your work very closely would be able to tell.

It's not such a big deal on work with a narrow hem, but if you're doing something larger like a table cloth or pillow case, you can use a whip stitch  to close up the open edge at the corner.  Totally up to you.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A quick-n-easy way to store pre-cut corset boning is... not what I'm supposed to be working on right now.

Getting ready for a big costuming con is always a maddening thing.  It seems like the to do list gets more things added to it than get crossed off.  And my attention flits from one project to another so often that I feel like I'm always working, and yet never getting anything all the way done.  Plus, I never get around to taking the time to take any good pictures, so even the stuff I'm getting done doesn't get shown off.  I suppose that when I'm quiet around here is probably when I'm getting the most things done.  I just can't seem to share any of it until after the con has come and gone.

The Sunday breakfast at Costume College has a Regency theme this year, and my only Regency piece was a ballgown.  So, something new had to be made.  And with the ballgown I wore a pair of wholly inadequate short stays, so new stays were on the docket.  And a new chemise.  And perhaps a day cap.  Ok, so I was building an entirely new outfit from scratch.  My sanity is clearly in question.  Here, have some ridiculous fitting pics to giggle at.  The chemise is straightforward, and the cap is exactly as ridiculous as I intended.  Once I get a nice, clear photo of it, I'll put it up on the Historical Sew Fortnightly group for the Accessories challenge.

Collapsing bust cups.  Not groovy, yo.  I went back and put some corded channels over the bust to give a bit of added shape, then put in an additional boning channel.  Not extending over the hips made the stays super comfortable and way easier to fit.  Back looks good, except for the boning is too long going into the straps.  I either need shorter boning, or I need to learn to hold my shoulders back, because when I pull them back, it looks fine.  An extra snug bodice on the dress might aid me in that respect, but I might try to shorten the bones, anyway.

Anywho, so of course, my brain decides to take a little detour on a a quick-and-easy side project that: fit an immediate need, used up a bit of stash and was started and a finished in a matter of hours, making me feel like I'm at least accomplishing something.  While trying to figure out what boning lengths I had and what I needed to order, my frustration level with my current mode of storage for corseting bits reach critical mass.

Seemed like a good idea at the time, but hella hard to dig out the lengths I'm looking for.

The concept came from the ideas for rolled up storage of knitting needles and crochet hooks that I've come across over time.  There are no pictures of the pieces, but it's pretty straight forward.  Cut two rectangles of the cotton canvas left over from the stays project; wide enough for one inch per number of differing lengths of boning I'm likely to have on hand and tall enough to accommodate my longest bones, plus a few inches for seams and wiggle room.  Lay the two pieces on top of each other.  For the top piece, cut it in half at an angle, on a line drawn between marks 2 inches shorter than the shortest and longest bones.

Bind the angle cut side of the 'top' piece with bias tape from the Grandma stash.  Lay canvas pieces together and sew 1 inch channels through both pieces.  Lift the needle and skip over the top of the channels, but go ahead ans sew across the bottoms.  They're going to get bound, anyway.  Cut the loose threads at the top of the channels on the right side of the project, but...

Leave the threads on the back of the project in place to prevent unraveling.

Sewing across the bottom of the channels, within the 1/2" seam allowance of the binding.

Lay the two layers of cotton on top of a fashionable outer fabric and sew
together with binding around all four sides

Add a ribbon to one edge for securely tying the rolled case.

And the genius moment, use up the leftover bits of bias tape by making a loop for hanging and...

Viola!  Store hanging up to keep boning from sliding out and free up space in the drawer.

You like that striped yellow cotton?  Me too.  I picked it up from the Scrap Swap at Figments & Filaments this year.  The other 5 3/4 yards of it is getting made into the Regency day dress that goes with the foundations pictured above.  I like how the projects pair up like that.  Makes me smile.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CoCo Count Down

Only 29 sewing days left before I leave for Costume College.  *flails*  Aaaand, I'm stuck at work waffling about what I want to be working on, instead of at home working on it.  So I'm going to do a bit of an accountability post here to try to wrap my head around what's left to do.

Cavalcade of Costumes Exhibit:

1920s Poison Ivy: totally done
- This is one of those costumes that I can't wear myself, which is sad, because I am hella proud of how she turned out.  Since she packs small and has fiddly bits that just love to be appreciated up close, I'll hopefully be bringing Poison Ivy to go on display in the Cavalcade of Costumes exhibit, should there be space left.

Thursday Night Pool Party: Journey to Atlantis (the Booze Fairies group)

Chambord Fairy: about half done
- I've always had a problem with having a concrete plan of attack when doing a totally original project and this has been one of those projects that morphs as it goes along.  I've somehow ended up with a Wild West Steampunk sort of theme going on.  Very stylized saloon girl with the ruffly skirt and corset on the outside.  Skirt and blouse are done.  Still needs a corset to wear on the outside (something that's both reminiscent of that CHAMBORD label strip, yet also kinda steampunky.  Yeah, I know.  Don't make it easy or anything).  I also need to make some spats to wear with my boots and some sort of leather crown topper hat 'thing' since the tiara I'd originally picked out doesn't gel with the Steampunk direction the costume took.

Friday Day: hall costume

1882 Tea Gown: 95% done
- The tea gown was one of those projects that I've worn a couple of times, but not yet had any really nice photos taken in it.  Looking forward to having the opportunity to stop by the Photo Studio and get those done this year.  The dress is done, I just need to make an adjustment to the waistband of the underskirt to make it lay right over the petticoat.  Will take all of 20 minutes once I actually get around to it.  Should also figure out something to do with my hair, as it not grown out enough to do much in the way of historical styling with.

Friday Night Social: Around the World in 80 Days

Hanbok (Korean)  Totally done.  This is my Historical Masquerade entry from Costume-Con 31.
- I will find an excuse to wear this costume at least once to probably every con I'll ever go to.  Wicked comfortable and such pretty colors.  The outfit is done, but I need to pick a new pair of shoes to wear with it, as the old ones had to be tossed.  As the skirts are floor length, any nondescript pair of flats should do.  If I'm lucky, my hair might be JUST long enough to pull back into a tiny little pony tail that I can hook the bun onto.

Saturday Day: hall costume

1950s Avengers Dress: done (enough)
- Yay for comfy and fun hall costumes.  If I have time, I'd like to sort out some accessories themed after individual Avengers, but that's pretty low on the priority list.

Saturday Night Gala: Characters

Clayr from the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix: done.
- I'll admit, I've been waffling on what to wear to the Gala this year.  The big group of 18th century court gowns picked back up and is really happening this year, so I kinda wanted to participate in that.  But I wore that last year and won't have the added luggage space from the spousal unit this year and was trying to pack conservatively.  So I'm like 90% certain that I'm going to partner up with one of my costuming besties and wear the dress from her big masquerade entry at this year's Costume-Con (that I haven't posted about yet because I'm waiting for pictures better than the ones taken on our cell phones).  It's another comfy costume that packs down well, doesn't have a corset and is worn with flats.  It's a character from a book and it should be fairly easy to sit at the dinner table in it.

Sunday day: Breakfast with the Bennets

My Regency day dress is going to be entirely built around getting
to show off the bib-front smocked apron that I made last year,
when I didn't have anything to wear with it.
Total outfit progress: about 30% done.
- The nice thing about Sunday this year is that I'm not doing the afternoon Tea and won't have to negotiate a costume change between meals.  I'm teaching a workshop on handkerchief hemming that afternoon, so a downplayed Regency day gown seems about right.  I only had a Regency ballgown and I'd worn with a pair of short stays that I didn't really like the fit of. So, other than the apron, this project was essentially starting from scratch.  The aforementioned bestie helped me drape a set of full length stays when she came out for Halloween like a two years ago, so I pulled those out of the drawer and set to work.  The stays are now done except the boning and binding.  I've also made up a cap of ridiculousness to cover my hair.  I've got the petticoat from the ballgown that I can use, and the apron is done.   All that's really left to start on is the dress.  The boning is on order.  Once that arrives, I can finish up the stays and start draping on the dress.   I think I've settled on using the striped yellow cotton blend in the picture below that was acquired from the "scrap" table at Figments & Filaments.  I don't know who out there considers six yards of fabric a scrap, but I'm certainly not complaining.

bib-front Regency day dress
This dress will be long-sleeved and relatively simple.  At least minimalist on the embellishments.  And the front closure should be somewhat adjustable, limiting some of the stress from fittings.  I'll also need to make up a chemisette, but I ought to be able to bang out a simple tucker or even reuse one of the late 18th century fichus if time  becomes a constraint.  

So yeah.  Lots to do, but lots of it is little projects and finishings that I should be able to bang out relatively quickly once I set to them.  It feel better just putting it all together like this.  Now to print out a to-do list to hang above the desk with these guys and I'll be good to go.