viennabelle: (Crazy Cat)
I had a tough day yesterday. After shredding nearly every lacing option in the house, after DH applied creative problem solving, we finally found some twine and got me in my bodice--and it didn't close. I don't know why--but somehow between the layers of lining (I added a layer of wool to smooth it out), the applied trim, it managed to cause the whole thing to shrink. So...I ripped the whole thing apart, including the eye tape I'd been using for lacing. Then I sewed the boned layer back together again with a looser fit. I replaced the eye tape with strips of grommets applied to leftover scraps of coutil. Finally--I recut the outer layer (thankfully, I just had enough leftover fabric--no extra sleeves!), leaving wide allowances (to know the layout of my pattern, I traced it in chalk).

That's when I realized that I wasn't going to get the look I wanted unless I hand sewed. So, I pinned it down (folding under the allowances) over my boned bodice and I prick stitched the pieces in place. Fortunately, it only took a couple of hours and there was a marathon of "Miss Marple" films on our local PBS.

Finally--I cut out the trim from the last bodice, folding under the edges. I'm about halfway through basting it back in place.

The good part--it really fits better and the outer layer looks much smoother. The down side is that I've got tons to do and I'm really sick of this project. So, I'm very happy to be at work...I'm not going to think of this any more until quitting time!

Sorry--no more piccies. I was racing yesterday, but I'll try to take some tonight.
viennabelle: (Devils Whore)
I am fighting off sleep as I draft this. Today went productively on the Charle II mistress gown (I'm Ann Pegge). First--I got the trim that I was scared I wouldn't get. Our postal delivery woman--who'd been getting my anticipatory looks this week--waited to see me open the package. Then I ran downstairs and started cranking on sewing. I have made detachable sleeves and an un-gathered petticoat. With tons of trim. My biggest effort was sewing on the trim on the petticoats, which took a bit of thought to work out so the stitching didn't show through the back--but the result meant no hemming!

What about other things? I don't know. I'm just too sleepy to think, but I do feel I will get this gown done tomorrow. I've opted for early period sleeves. Since they are detachable, if I can work out the fabric, I may bang out a second set for the later period. Though God knows when I'd ever have occasion to wear them...
viennabelle: (Devils Whore)
Ok, I am definitely cutting corners. But there was no way in heck I would waste several evenings hand sewing eyelets with so little time left. My machine seems only capable of elliptical eyelets (oddly appropriate, given that this is the anniversary of the Apollo landing, but not desireable). So what to do?

I got white eyelet tape and sewed it into the boned layer. I'm going to put a facing on the fashion fabric to hide it--but it's what is commonly done with Victorian era ballgowns. Not desireable--but I'm going for costume here, not abject accuracy. Together with chopping off the tabs--it may make this project reasonable to finish next weekend. Now I'm fiddling with the sleeves and hoping the rest of my trim arrives before the weekend.

So, call me a farbie Barbie! Life is good!
viennabelle: (Devils Whore)
I didn't get any free time this weekend, but I did manage to squeeze in a few hours of work this evening (note--I was writing this late Sunday) after my other chores were done, so I went to work on my 1660s gown. My first effort was a bit of web research. I'm getting very inspired by Dutch paintings of this era--which isn't such a bad idea, considering that the English court in exile spent significant time in Holland. Anyhow, one search found this one gem (detail, click to embiggen):

While the date of this painting is just slightly earlier than my objective--it gives some great details. First, the woman in the foreground--you can see so much there--the shoes, the hem facing on the outer petticoat, the guard on the pink skirt, the back of the hair. I also was a little surprised to see a Y necklace on the woman in gold (a trendsetter?). Well, this is definitely giving me ideas!

As for my project, I made one big decision. Given my time restrictions, I have decided to simplify the bodice. I cut off the tabs. Why did I do this? Well, eliminating the tabs will make binding the bottom significantly easier. Most images of gowns do not have tabs--except those before about 1640. But ultimately--it is a matter of convenience. This is a costume, done with consideration--but not strict adherence to historic construction. I don't have time to squander--so I'm cutting corners.

The cool thing is that with reed boning, all I had to do was slice through it with a rotary cutter!

The other thing I've decided to do might strike some as heresy...I've decided to use lacing eye tape instead of hand sewing eyelets. As you  can see above, I test fitted this using some black eye tape--but for the final version, I'm going to need eyes in white--so I need to buy some.

I'm also playing with the sleeve. I am thinking I want bigger, pouffier sleeves. I know that extant bodices have small sleeves, but the big pouffy ones in paintings are...well, just so badass!  So, I started monkeying with muslin and altering it.

Lastly about trim. To my abject horror, I put in a note promising to post an entry about how I did this. Really, there wasn't too much involved. Here is a photo showing samples:
The lace on the top is the base, the middle is base lace with a pailette/pearl layer sewn on. Finally, the bottom trim is sewn on the sides. That gives the full effect.

The one trick I did learn was that it's tricky to sew together. I never really figured out the kind of needle to use--though my local sewing store suggested ball point needles. My biggest issue was when the needle hit pearls--and broke. I ended up going through a full packet of 70/10 universal needles.

The other thing is to drop the feed dogs and use the free motion foot. That helps avoid the obstacles (pearls!) and it all goes together.

For this, since it was silver gilt trim, I sewed it together using "metallic" (really lurex) thread. It became virtually invisible when I sewed it all together.

Ok. I gotta crash, but wanted to push this out. ttl!
viennabelle: (Devils Whore)
Today was an insane day. I'm hosting a display at a major disabilities meeting tomorrow for the Democratic Party--just at the point where it seems that all the campaigns are switching logos. So--I was scrambling for fun stuff, like stickers. I've spent the major part of the past two days hunting down simple lapel stickers. Oddly, I ended up with a glut of tee shirts for various campaigns. Go figure.

With that behind me, I was hoping to give [ profile] bauhausfrau  a belated birthday present--but no luck. I left it at work--and the terms of my status as a headhunted contractor means I can't go in the building after 7 pm Fridays (an advantage in my mind) meant no legal way of getting it at this point. So, it will wait to next week. I was totally nackered. I called her, gave my regrets and took a long nap.

When waking, the urge to make progress sustained. I have so little time to finish this dress! So, while more embellishments are still on their way from India, I decided to make as much progress as I could with what I have already received. I'm really happy with results so far...

Just a little background...I am basing my efforts from Reconstructing History's pattern 707. My first effort was getting the bodice to fit--an effort made complicated by my recent gain in weight and my DH's general bewilderment over general principles of fit. Over the past few days, I've made the bodice layer (which incorporates a kind of corset) and cut/sewn an outside layer.

Tonight I devoted my attentions to the most enjoyable part of construction: embellishment.

Ironically, I must admit that I've spent more for this than any other part of the project--and didn't do so until I got a job that gave me an accessible income. Fabric for this gown cost $40--I was lucky enough to get 8 yards of rayon/synthetic something or other (I burn tested it and rayon came clear, but whatever else was there was only notable as slight and vaguely melty).  On the other hand, I spent about $80 on trims--but only after landing the "job." Spending more on trims seems to make this really seem like the kind of dress a King's mistress would wear. The combination of spangles and baby pearls make it appear just right--although getting the right effect took a significant degree of layering. are the piccies. Enjoy some embellishment porn below the cut. Apologies to folk on both the Chas II  & Dress Diariies lists and my friends list. I just couldn't stop from treble posting. The look of layering is just so darn decadent.

For more posts--click the tags below.

I hope I finish this in time for Costume College!

Now for a little costumy porn!

click to see fanciful embellishment! )
viennabelle: (Devils Whore)
Today I finalized fit on the bodice, which is probably going to be the most complicated element of this gown. Right now, I don't have photos, mostly since I've misplaced the recharger for my camera battery (dead) and don't want to spare time to hunt it down. But come the weekend, I will try to get some pics up...

Mainly, I've achieved the fit by the following process:

1. I cut the pieces to the size closest resembling my size--then I scaled up, just to be safe.
2. After sewing boning channels according to the pattern, I machine basted the pieces together with a very slight (1/4") seam allowance.
3. I machine basted two rows of "eye" tape from hook and eye tape to the edge that I will lace up later with sewn eyelets. This gives me a temporary lacing edge.
4. I laced it up and tried it on inside out, threading cord through the eyelets I've basted in.
5. Pinching in with pins, I approximated a fit, then take the item off, trace a seam with chalk, and machine basted it in. After two tries, I got a good fit.
6. Once I finalized the fit, I oversewed the basting lines with a tight stitch and rip out as much of the basting as possible (but frankly, did't stress over what I can't remove). I have the piece sewn together. Now I'm in the painful process of boning this sucker. I used to teach a stay making classes at G Street Fabrics, up until they cancelled a class the night before it was scheduled (due to a corporate reorganization). That left me with loads of reeds. Slowly I'm using them up, but I still have an adequate stash on hand...That said, boning this is very tedious. Exceptionally tedious. I'm leaving a good seam allowance for binding, mostly since I want to bind this off really fast and not waste time with it. Hopefully, I'll finish it by tomorrow night.

My preference would have been to skip binding and merely to machine off the edges to save time (a cheat I'll do when corsetry won't be seen and I don't have time to be picky). However, that isn't a possibility with this, as I learned when I found a photo of a period gown that resembles what I'm aiming for. The Costume Museum in Bath has a 1760s gown in entirety--and it was once placed on a dummy and photographed. I found photographs in Ribiero's "Fashion and Fiction" (the best fashion reference I've found on this era). On that gown, the attachment of the petticoat and bodice is clear: the binding is almost complety I feel I must bind with leather...fortunately, I do have a stash of that, too.

During this era, there were two kinds of sleeves that overlapped in popularity. Earlier, short poufy sleeves (with longer hanging shift sleeves underneath) prevailed, whereas later, the sleeves lost pouf and hung longer, considerably past the elbow. I wasn't sure which style sleeve came with the pattern, so I emailed Kass, the owner of Reconstructing History (this is pattern 707) to sort out this detail. To my delight, it was the shorter sleeve--just perfect, since I portray one of Charles II's earlier mistresses, Catherine Pegge (fwiw, it's fairly easy to alter it to the longer sleeve).

Catherine was the daughter of one of the exiled cavaliers who served as his mistress for a prolonged time over the 1660s. This was during the era after the Roundheads executed Charles I (his father), Cromwell took over and Charles went into exile, traveling through several European countries with his court. It is likely that Anne wasn't from predominate wealth, although she was favored by Charles II for an extended time, bringing prosperity and titles to her family (and two kids). Though she was said to have been portrayed in several paintings, none are known to survive at this time. That said, there are portrayals of the court in exile (like this one of Charles dancing with his sister at the Hague). While that painting doesn't define Catherine's exact image, it does give a general idea of the look of the era when she was I will go for that portrayal.
viennabelle: (Default)
My 17th c. bodice left me with questions about whether I was fitting it correctly, so I called Bauhausfrau today over my lunch hour, since I knew she'd already started the same pattern. When I got her on the phone, I realized that my own motivation for this gown before CC was perhaps not as strong as it should be towards finishing it over the next two weeks. My excuse was clear: without the trims, attempting this wasn't realistic.

Then I got home from work today...

I not only got some exceptionally gorgeous doll fabric and doll trims, but half of my order of silver trims for my Charles II mistress gown. So, I'm forced out of merely rationalizing an excuse. Shall I try to sew it...or not.

I have to admit, the more I look at this trim (which is just fantastically awesome), the more I feel I just have to go for it. So, let's see how far I get tonight.

Plan B is to drape a new 18th c gown out of the discount silk I got online ($35 for 5 yard of some impressively gorgeous stuff). However, I could do that rather rapidly, since I can drape those fast. So, let's see how far I can get this week...

viennabelle: (Strawberries)
Last week, I rough fit my Chas II bodice. I'm using the Reconstructing History pattern, fwiw.

It took a bit of fiddling, several nights of cutting out cardboard, but I think it's close, which will do (though I'm still a bit concerned about it being too l ong waisted). Finally, Saturday night, I made it to my cutting table. I used random bits of fabric, marked it at will, since these layers are going to be completely encased when it's done. I then took a break from the instructions and sewed boning channels in each piece separately, then basted the pieces together (I like doing stays that way better, because it's easier to alter). It looks pretty good, but I don't know if I'll have this done by the end of the month.

I have a couple of issues generating my uncertainty about finishing--first, I'm not visualizing how the sleeves will turn out, though I'm pretty sure I could resolve that with a mockup. Also, I am waiting for trim to go figure there. Finally, I am having sewing machine issues.

Once again, the tension is out of whack on my sewing machine. My results are ok for boning channels, but not acceptable for the rest of the garment. I will see tonight if my backup machine--a featherlight--is up to the job. I'll take my machine to the shop this week.

After sewing, I sat down with DH and explained my dilemma. He agreed that after resolving some debts, I could start shopping for a new one. I told him it would be expensive and he said OK. I'm not sure he understood how expensive. I'm leaning towards the Bernina Auroroa 430--a mid-line workhorse that can be expanded to embroidery capabilities. I also like Elna, for it's built-in walking foot and tight edge sewing foot--but their line doesn't seem to have a modular expansion capability. I think the sewing machine salespeople expect me to want to "trade up," just like with cars. Little do they know we tend to drive (or sew) both our cars and sewing machines until they die.

But right now, that's kind of moot. Well, gotta get off to work!

viennabelle: (Strawberries)

Thanks to the oracle that is LJ, I settled on an inspiration for my kirtle--a detail of a servant in an altar painting in Bergamo (as usual, click to embiggen)! Is this not fantastic??? Subconsciously, this is exactly what I was aiming towards. My wool (for those who asked, I got it a few years ago from Burnley & Trowbridge--it's supposed to look like walnut dyed wool) But achieving this look requires more wool trim.

I finally completed my work yesterday by 2:30 pm and zoomed off to Needle & Thread (Gettysburg, PA) by way of Discount Fabrics (Thurmont, MD). My first stop was less inspired. I found good deals at Discount Fabrics--just nothing I really wanted. Ok, I'll be honest, I did drool over several of the silks and gawked at the huge leather skins they had--and then moved on. I was under the gun to get to Gettysburg with enough time to shop Needle & Thread.

While Burnley and Trowbridge is my all time favorite supplier, I do enjoy my visits to Needle and Thread. It  is an old fashioned, homey fabric store (complete with a Apocalyptically-inspired clerk that just amused the heck out of me) that caters to quilters and civil war reenactors. My first objective was to get more wool twill tape to match the other twill tape that I'd got out of the stash. The tape I'd had was a rather harsh tone of yellow, so I'd dyed it to get it to a lovely scarlet color. I was pretty sure we had picked up the original wool twill from Wooded Hamlet--a vendor who had left sutlering and sold off her business to Needle and Thread. To my surprise, the scarlet braid they had in stock was close in color--but lacked the muted variation I'd achieved in my hand dyed stuff. So, I bought the desired yardage in same the harsh yellow I'd started with, which was also in stock.   I also got some other miscellaneous tapes, wool cording, a bit of vintage lace and a half yard of some very cute quilting cotton for a doll dress.  I was quite pleased. Here is the stash, minus the tape ([ profile] angldst --the baggie of buttons is the grab bag I got for you)...

BTW--the wool tape isn't there because I immediately put it to simmer in the dye I had left over from the first bit of tape.

Since I tend to discount shop, I am a fairly frequent re-dyer, especially of the trims and embroidery floss that I pick up on sale. For living history demos, I love natural dyeing, but for day-to-day sewing, I tend towards the convenience of fiber reactive dyes. For this project, I used a combo of Pro-Chemical's Polar Red and a little bottle of Jacquard's Poppy Red silk dye, along with a good dollop of white vinegar. Pro-Chemical sells neat little sample kits, which are perfect to keep on hand for small jobs like trimmings--I keep mixed up concentrate batches in the basement fridge, so I can just do small jobs on whim.

I soaked it in a water, vinegar and dish soap solution, put it in my dye pot to simmer for a couple of hours (no stirring!), then let it cool down and rinsed it. This morning I determined I hadn't left it in long enough (it looked a little too tomato-ish) so I resoaked it, then put it back to simmer.  Here is a photo before I returned it to the pot (this time, I corrected the colors, so that is the correct color for the kirtle).

Please note--my dye pot is hardly optimal. It is a very inexpensive old tin candlewax pot. The metal of the pot may very likely mute the brightness of the colors, but for my purpose, that's fine. Better than that, there's a safety consideration. Because he knows I've used it in the past to melt wax, my dear husband is unlikely to appropriate this pot when he next craves a dish of ramen noodles. Why  men would rather use cheap tin pots over good quality kitchen wear is something I've never understood (is it a chromisone thing?)--but this is always a consideration when I select pots (I hide my good steel dye pot that I use outdoors so he's never tempted).

While writing this, the lace I scored on Ebay when my sewing group visited the other day arrived in the mail. It is lovely--and interesting to compare with the lace I bought yesterday. The ebay lace is stunningly fine chemical lace, probably from the 1920s. The coarser lace I got yesterday may be a little older. It's machine bobbin lace with re-embroidery (apparently, by hand). The embroidery makes it look more like needle lace, so I'm leaning towards using it for my Charles II mistress gown, even though it's less refined. I have another idea for the finer lace...


viennabelle: (Default)

March 2013

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