Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thrift Store Finds: making a 1920s Flapper-worthy hand bag from a ladies blouse

A bit of a 'quickie' project to help me feel accomplished in between finishing off bigger fish.  One of the things I made time for on my trip to LA last summer was to hit up some thrift stores.  One of my finds from the Goodwill of Los Angeles (just west of Beverly Hills and south of Hollywood) was this blouse, a Hale Bob beaded silk burnout tank top that I practically tore off the hanger and hid under my arms.  It's the kind of top that, while pretty, I could never personally wear and do justice.  But as luck would have it, it was just enough fabric for a kick ass purse.

The color.  The beading.  The pattern... there was nothing about this that I didn't love.

Blouse was lined in a bright yellow habotai silk, and so I cannibalized that to be my purse's lining.

Only $2.99.  Considering similar blouses on the store's website were running around $140, I got off pretty light.
I happened to already have a ball clasp purse frame in the stash, so I used that as the foundation.  The lining and fashion layers were separated, and a bit of scrap yellow cotton was used to sketch out a pattern (and later as an interlining to give the finished bag some shape).  Basically, from the hinges up, I added a half-inch to the finished dimensions to allow for seams to be folded down.  Then I free-handed a basic purse-like shape that was wider than the handle, but would end up being gathered in at the top edges to meet the hinges.  I did the whole thing over top of the lining to remind myself of what my absolute limits to the dimension would have to be.
I took the cotton pattern and folded it in half before cutting so that I'd end up with something a bit more symmetrical that what I could manage by hand.

I treated the interlining as a sort of flatlining for the lining silk.  I did this because I wanted to install pockets and they needed something of structure to attach to.  I made up the template by pulling out the things that I knew I wanted easily accessible.  By having the heavy phone anchored to the wall of the lining, I could avoid having a bag that sagged in the center under it's weight.  The pen and cash/card pockets were for things easily lost in a big bag.  I just approximated about a half inch of space around each of the items for ease of use.
I folded the lining fabric over the edges of of the interlining once on three sides, and folded down twice on what would be the top edge.  The bottom corners were turned in to keep them from straying into the seam allowance on the bottom edge.
Finished pocket attached to the lining, flat-lined to the cotton interlining.  I put a row of stitches across the bottom of the cash n cards pocket to raise these items up a bit to make them easier to retrieve. 

The fashion and lining layers were assembled separately by laying the right sides together and stitching around the bottom/sides to within just over a half inch of each top corner.  The lining was sewn on the machine, but the delicate burnout velvet fashion layer was done by hand (mostly to keep my machine from eating the bead).
So sheer!

The fashion layer was attached to the purse frame first by folding the top edge over the bar and hand-stitching in place.
Then the lining was inserted and the top edges folded under, then whip stitched to the fashion layer just under the bar.  The outer corners were folded under and whip stitched as well, and then the points of those corners were tack stitched to the insides of the corners near the hinges to give the bag a bit of a gathered effect.  I made sure to  put the tag back into the finished purse, as a reminder of the piece's former life.  It makes me smile.

Slap on a beaded tassel and TA DA!  We're done!  Now to find an excuse to wear it.  :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Medieval Fantasy Kirtle and Paternoster (Rosary Beads)

So I made myself a second kirtle for a medieval fantasy group project that I got roped into and I found myself wanting to come up with an outfit to wear it with.  Hence the non-specific Medieval fantasy-like project was born.

I used Burda 7977 for the kirtle and ended up fitting it with bust darts to give it a bra-less snug fit, so not terribly historically accurate, but comfy as hell.  Darts were a much easier fix to do when fitting myself, as opposed to trying to re-work the armscye.  There is not enough yoga in the world that would let me do that properly and I was too impatient to wait for help.

The dress is a mid-weight (4.7 oz) linen from Dharma Trading Co, dyed a pale green to match the details in the as-yet unfinished overdress.   Machine sewn for all weight-bearing construction seams, since learning when to say no to hand-stitching is one of my goals in life.  But I did cave and tack down the felled seams by hand.

This is the second time I've made up this pattern, but the first time that I attempted the double sleeves thing it has going on.  They actually turned out pretty nice and I think I'll leave off the lacing on the over sleeves so that they hang open a bit for some flair.

Here you can see the hand stitching to finish the seams, as well as where I used gold silk thread embellishment to hide the top-stitching around the neckline, which was also how I treated the lower edge of the cuffs of the over sleeve.

Once it's on me and I'm wearing shoes, the hem will sit just off the floor.

While I was fitting with the back safety-pinned closed, I realized that I could slip the dress on and off without un-pinning it.  Therefor, the lacing didn't have to be strictly functional.  So to save a truly epic amount of time, I skipped binding the eyelets and just gently used an awl to help thread a rayon yarn through the edges.  I was able to keep my lacing intervals much narrower this way, so to avoid too much puckering of the center back when worn.

I came across the idea for a paternoster while browsing through medieval costume sources online, looking for accessory ideas.  While not a particularly religious person myself, I latched onto the notion of the rosary being an acceptable way for individuals to express their tastes and show off wealth, without being considered "too flashy" in doing so.  As the outfit I was making was gearing up to be an upper class representation, the rosary became an essential accessory.  Sarah Edgecumbe has put together a fantastic pinterest board on the topic, with LOTS of references from paintings.  Also,, as well as this SCA paper were super informative.

I ended up making mine from materials that I already had on hand.  Fifty 5/16" light red beads meant to resemble coral, separated by larger beads of "jade", also quite decadent.  Christ Laning has an entire blog post devoted to the red beaded paternooster that helped cinch my choice of beads.  My fantasy lady apparently has expensive and exotic tastes.  I strung them all on gold silk cord and I made a small tassel from the same.

The whole thing isn't large, but just enough to wear wrapped around the wrist and offer me something for my fidgety hands to play with.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Life catching up with you

So... apparently, I haven't published anything since mid-September.  Opps.  I'd say, how did that happen, but I think I already know.  I got side-tracked from historical projects when I scrapped my initial plans for Halloween.  And then work got the way work tends to do, sometimes, with looming inspections and an unimaginable quantity of new responsibilites.  Stress means that I started spending my free time immersed in my preferred avoidance technique, reading fanfiction.  Combine that with a shiny new fandom obsession (hellooooo, Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Where have you been all my life?)  Then there was Arisia coming up and my responsibilities there were more focused on the planning of programming than the making of anything new.  So, yeah.  A creative dry spell and falling off the face of the blogosphere was bound to happen, as I always feel like I have nothing to say if I've got nothing to show.  But things have sorta kinda settled down with work a bit, and I'm ready to stop avoiding the craft room and get back to work.  So I share with you an overview of what I've been working on.

Scrapped Halloween Plans
My original idea for Halloween fit into the Alternate History challenge for the Historical Sew Fortnightly.  The spousal unit and myself were going as 'Victorian Spiders', inspired by some of the fantastical fancy dress costumes of the late Victorian era.  I already had the black underskirt, but I was able to bang out a black widow themed over-skirt and most of a brown gentleman's vest that was due to have an inverted fiddle applique on the back.  But this was the project that just stalled out on me and ended up getting shelved.  Nice part is that when I come up with another event needing something along these lines, it shouldn't take too much effort to polish them off.

Halloween 2.0: Marvel Superheroes
When the motivation to work on the Victorian spiders dried up, I decided to pursue a wild hair inspired by my current fandom obsession.  I made the Captain Marvel on the left for my bff (well, cannibalized a zentai suit and attached the mantle, hip scarf and accessorized), and my fem Captain America on the right (in which I Frankensteined a dress set out of a pair of stretch, textured tube skirts off the rack).  Wolverine in front and Star Lord in the center back completed our haphazard team.

Quilted Jumps
They were originally plotted out as an entry for the HSF challenge #16, Terminology.  Then they took a little while to get from drafted out to cutting and so got pushed back to #17, Yellow.  Then I found a funny reference in a poem while I was doing some research and they were totally going to be done in time for the challenge #18, Poetry in Motion.  But even on the machine, the quilting took FOREVER and I was like, that's it.  I know I've seen SOMEBODY do jumps in the last 18 months of HSF, I'll just write it in for inspiration and call it good.  Well, yeah.  They're still a work in progress.  I'm just about done with the binding, having left a few gaps to put in the boning that I ordered the other tnight.  So there's really very little left to do at this point.  I wanted a set of jumps to use as an alternative to stays worn under my chemise a la reine.  The yellow should be light enough to not be TOO obvious under the thin white cotton (or at least less obvious than my current gray and navy stays).

And what's coming next?

- Well, I've given myself permission to set aside the HSF challenges for now.  As much fun as they were, I was stressing myself out about getting to every single one of them and screwing myself over when it came to prioritizing projects.

- Figments & Filaments (a costuming convention here in Kansas City) is coming up and I've gotten a few panel ideas in for that.  I've not let myself be in charge of anything big, but I've found lots of little ways to get involved and hopefully make the experience a better thing for all involved.

- the deadline for getting in class proposals for Costume College came too soon after Arisia for me to be able to devote a lot of energy to them, but I was able to get one proposal in at the last minute for a workshop that would be uber fun to do, should it get selected.  Plotting for costumes for that, however, will just have to wait.  Before that is...

- Costume Con, which I had to miss last year and I was totally missing it.  Costume Con has a strong competition element to it (among a lot of other things), but as I'm one of those people that thrive on competition, it's totally my thing.  I find that having a hard deadline and knowing that someone is going to be looking at my costumes VERY closely really spurs me on.  I do more research, make my work neater and really put the extra umph into it, which results in a better finished project.  I've lucked out in that I have only one new 'from scratch' project in mind for this year, and that was being an extra in someone else's big group project, so I don't really have to do the stressful plotting and planning for it.  Just make a dress and show up for rehearsals, which is oddly relaxing.  I have a couple of pieces that were long languishing works in progress that I've brought out to finish up for this.  And a finished costume that totally fits a theme.  And my historical masquerade entry was 'finished enough to wear' but totally needs more work and the collation of all of my documentation.

So I've got enough to be getting on with, me thinks.  Mostly I wanted to get all of this down to swing myself back into this blogging thing.  As I wrap projects up, hopefully I'll remember to do the show-and-tell part that should come after them.