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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chambord Fairy: skirt

Preparations for Costume College are beginning to pick up speed.  As I was clearing out the crafting kingdom of finished pieces for Costume Con, I set out a little inspirational pile of my CoCo projects to be there to welcome me home.  The 1950s Avengers dress there at the bottom is already done, so the next step was up to the pink and gold ridiculousness in the upper left.

There's a cluster of us that are doing a twist on the Absinthe fairy, picking a new booze and a fairy style of our own choosing.  I decided to go with Chambord, mostly because I liked the sound of the flavor and was digging on the burgundy and gold color scheme.

Then plotting led to ruffles and ruffles led me to a tutorial from Tea in a Teacup about making a steampunk skirt and a cohesive theme was born: late Victorian Steampunk Chambord Fairy.  Since the skirt was the driving force behind the costume, I started with that first.  I used the suggested cutting diagram as more of a guideline.  I originally thought to use a crisp silk like tafetta, but finding the right color at a reasonable price just wasn't working out for me.  So I ended up getting the hot pink shantung pictured above for something like $11/yd and I tried my hand at dyeing it.  The fabric took up the burgundy dye beautifully, but the texture was forever changed by the super hot dye bath.  What was once shiny and crisp had been turned into something dense and of an interesting texture...

AND I LOVED IT!  I started playing with scraps and totally fell for the petal-soft fabric with the tiny cross-hatch appearance.  I was getting a Moulin Rouge can-can dancer type feeling going on, and the ruffles just made it happen.  The skirt has a raised front panel that shows off some leg, and a faux-bustled back with two extra layers of ruffles.  Rather than a boring old zip or button closure, I embraced the hardware-heavy steampunk style and put in some gold grommets for lacing.

Three tiers of ruffles in across the back.  Each row has a three and a six inch roll of ruffles, set off with a strip of gold satin piping.

The bulk of the skirt is flat-lined with brown cotton bed sheet.  I ended up cutting the narrow side panels away a bit, to give the skirt a bit more of a swept-back look.  But this mean that a bit of the brown could be seen by someone sitting.  I'm going to add some twill tape ties to the seam between side and back panels, using these to bustle the skirt a bit.  This should help that side panel to curl inwards a bit and hide the lining.  It'll also pull the back hem up just enough to keep it from trailing on the floor.  I also took a lesson from my Avengers dress on built-in petticoats and used extra sheeting to make a small built-in bustle for added umph.

I ended up doing bias-cut ruffles and giving them a rolled hem by hand.  The super-tight weave post-dye bath didn't really need finishing on the raw edges, but the fluttery fabric was so thin that I worried the ruffles would just hang limp and lifeless.  The rolled hem makes me think of the curled edges of a rose petal, and I flipped the ruffles over so that you see the 'wrong' side of them, added additional texture.  All told, the skirt has roughly 30 yards of ruffle.  I got through the entire first season of Daredevil working on that nonsense.

Next up, I need a bodice.

1950s Avengers Dress

I came home from Costume Con and indulged in a quickie sewing project. Well, quick was a bit of a relative term, but when compared to months-long historical recreations, a few days is nothing. Now, I'm just a teensy bit of an Avengers fan. I had been keeping an eye on some of the themed cotton prints at JoAnn's for a while now, but it wasn't until I spotted this gem that inspiration struck. they finally came up with a print that included Black Widow and Hawkeye along side the other more commonly represented crew. Cue the flailing.
Marvel Avengers Assemble Grid Cotton Fabric

In order to take advantage of the large characters on this, I needed a dress that had a lot of acreage that wasn't frequently interrupted by seams. This McCall's 50s retro wrap dress seemed to fit the need:

Only three pattern pieces, darted in front and back, with back waist and shoulder seams.
Back wraps around to the front for a sheath-and-overskirt look. A: has contrast back and skirt.
Bias tape finishes edges.  Large pieces of fabric with darts for fitting that would be largely
covered in the front by the wrap-around "belt" portion.

A bit of googling shows that it was once Butterick's most popular pattern, but among the modern sewers, the dress is getting a lot of hate. I read everything that I could, especially the details on just what people were hating about it. Poor fit throughout the bodice, insecure fastenings, gaping under the arm, heavy skirts draging the dress off kilter with wear, and so on and so forth. Wow. For once being so popular, people sure did hate this dress. But then I lucked upon a tutorial for re-fitting the dress. It turns out that the pattern was re-drafted when being made up for a modern release, loosing a lot of the fit that made the dress so awesome. Katrina over at Edelweiss Patterns Blog wrote up a comprehensive set of instructions that made huge improvements in the way the dress fits.

This was another one of those patterns that, once drawn out, I kinda of started to ignore the cutting construction details. For starters, I had to get creative with the piecing since I was working with a narrow (45") width fabric. Blue lines show where I extended pieces out for better coverage/security/up-sizing.  Red lines are where I either added additional darts or broke pattern pieces down to be able to cut them from a narrow fabric.  Since the bulk of the front panel gets hidden under the skirts, I wasn't worried about the extra seams.

A nice thing about this print is that no matter which orientation you have the fabric in, somebody is upright.  The dominant image to my eye was the Hulk and I wanted to keep him upright on the bodice and skirt fronts.  This left Black Widow and Hawkeye the upright characters on the skirt back.  Of course, Hawkeye falling to the earth while shooting an arrow straight up might actually be upright, so it's hard to tell.

I flat-lined the front and bodice back with the  Sew Classics Bottomweight Wrinklease in white.  This gave a nice foundation for the bodice pieces, while also ensuring opacity.  I added a few inches to the center front pieces so the finished dress doesn't have quite the open space in the front, which I think that I like.  I wasn't a fan of where the skirt fronts flip back, so the three inches or so of the center front is faced, which serves two purposes. One, the reverse of the fabric is quite obvious and a bit unsightly. Two, I used the same cotton bottom weight as the flat-lining, which added a bit of weight to keep the skirt fronts from flying open.  I also swapped out the button-and-loop closure recommended in the pattern for a set of shoestring ties that wrap back around to the front.  Being able to tighten the under layer means that stress is not put on the closer of the outer layer, so that it lays nicely and doesn't bunch.

Another issue with the dress is that you can't really wear the standard petticoat under this, since the dress is open in the front, and the front bodice piece does not flare out from the waist. And this dress NEEDS a petticoat.  You can't achieve that classic 50's silhouette without one.  Katrina's sew-a-long tutorial had instructions for making a petticoat that separates in the front so that it could be tucked under the overskirt, but I worried that it'd work it's way forward and show. So instead, I chose to build the petticoat into the dress. I cut a second overskirt piece out of my white cotton bottomweight that was a couple inches shorter in length, and did not have the added inches to the center front. The hem was finished with some vintage bias tape and sewn down with several rows of straight stitching in a trapunto style to add a bit of stiffness.  I sandwiched the bottom edge of the upper back piece in between the two layers of skirt, then surged the seam allowance which would then be hidden when the skirt layers hang down. The built-in petticoat is nice because I don't have to worry about tracking down extra pieces, but the cotton did add a bit of weight.  I don't notice it when I'm wearing the dress, but my hanger wasn't happy and I'll have to keep that in mind when packing for travel.

The dress opened up to show the facings on the overskirt, as well as the added petticoat layer.
The front has 3 hook-n-eye closures, but I stitched down a couple of Avengers logo pins in place of buttons.

The back of the skirts ride up just a bit.  I think that the next time I make up this pattern, I need to add more length to the skirt back, taking a bit of it out of the bodice back.  I like the built-in petticoat, but I think I'll look for a light-weight tulle and keep the dress hand-wash only.  And even though I added more coverage to the armhole, it still falls a bit short in the front.  Easy enough to fix with a neutral colored tank top for now, but I'll have to tweak that for next time.  Because OF COURSE there's going to be a next time.  The dress is comfy and fun to wear, while still dressing it up quite a bit compared to my usual slovenly fashions of knit tees and cargo pants.  I'm actually already plotting another. This time, a fancy party frock. I've got three yards of this synthetic plum taffeta with black flocked floral designs on it that's been languishing in the stash for eons. It's not enough to make a full dress out of, but if I pair that up with a plain black taffeta and do something along the lines of View A, only cutting the upper back piece out of solid black and leave it so that only the over skirt is the decorative bit, it ought to look pretty sharp.  Holiday party dress?