Tuesday, August 27, 2013

HSF #17: Robes and Robings

more info here
I thought I had this challenge all mapped out in my head, weeks in advance.  I was going to use that yellow paisley silk to make a Regency era open robe.  Or if that fell through, a 1920s robe de style, to wear to the Kansas City World Con in 2016 bid parties.  I tried several times to get myself to get started on these, but I kept running into snags.  Not enough material, couldn't figure out the support structure or not the right foundation garments, and so on and so forth.  A week into the challenge and still not getting anywhere (although I did make a lovely snood while I procrastinated) and I was ready to give up.  So I did just that.  I threw my hands in the air and pulled out a pattern that's been in the to do pile for a couple of years now, the 1870s Polonaise.  It was Victorian, for which I already had all undergarments in triplicate and it's a Truly Victorian pattern, of which I've made several and had a pretty good handle on.

TV410: 1873 Polonaise
So last Sunday I had an entire day to myself.  No plans, company gone, and jack all nothing that had to be done and it was GLORIOUS!  So I bust through it and instead of the time wasting waffling I've been doing on a lot of projects lately, I just pulled out the linen that was once upon a time intended for this and got to work.  No mockup, because I felt like living on the edge.  I skipped lining the bodice and just cut it a little larger than I knew I needed, figuring it'd be simple enough to just take in the darts where needed after it was put together as I've done for a few other quick-and-dirty TV bodices.  It went together fine and the first fitting showed nothing that couldn't be tweaked taking in the darts or seams, I was soaring.  Here I was, all set to finish a whole new garment in about a week.  Go me!
So I get the thing mostly sorted and move to the trimming stage.  Now, the instructions have all sorts of lovely notes about how you can attach your trims in many places while you're assembling, hiding raw ends in seam allowances and the like.  That'd be great, had I any clue how I wanted to trim the damn thing before I started.  Perhaps some people can do this, see the final product before they've started, lay out a fabric and a trim or two and have a sketch all done about what goes where but alas, I am not one of them.  Sewing historical garments is more of an organic process for me, one that evolves and changes direction as I go.  Does that make me an artist?  Anywho, so here I am, pulling things out of the stash, playing the mix-and-match game, and what do I do?  I was set on brown trimmings.  Velvet bows, linen binding and piping.  Even a 3" brown nylon lace.  Woo hoo for using the stash!  

But then I whip out this ivory lacey collar bit with matching cuffs that I picked up in the vendor room at Costume Con.

Hmm, not bad.  I like how the collar points hide some of the darts and really draw the eye in, minimize the waist.  It's a bit old fashioned, but hey, it's the 1800s.  In fact, it looks a bit more like something that would have been worn in the... well shit.

HSF #17: Robes and Robings
Make anything that 1) could be described as a robe (T-shaped), 2) is usually called by the name robe (open robe, robe a l'anglaise, or robe de style, or 3) has robings (the flat trimmings around the neck and down the front of the bodice of 18th and early 19th century garments). 

I had unknowingly came all the way back around to the very challenge that I'd thrown my hands up at and abandoned.  Yeah, the style is perhaps a bit dated for the 1870s, but if fashion's taught us anything, it's that nothing ever truly goes out of style forever.  If the 1980s have taught us anything, that's it.  I like to think that this dress could have been made by a woman pulling the lacey bits from her mother's stash, or perhaps lovingly picking it from one of her late grandmother's dresses. 
Just the Facts:
Fabric: dark purple floral print linen, dark chocolate brown linen (bows and bias tape), white cotton canvas for flat lining the bodice and white cotton muslin for lining the sleeves and bustled portion of the skirt.
Pattern: Truly Victorian 410: 1873 Polonaise
Year: early 1870s/first bustle era
Notions: twill tape, ribbon for bustle ties, lace cuffs and collar, faux pearl buttons, hook-n-eye tape, silk ribbon for sleeve cuff facing, silk thread for top stitching and lace anchoring,
How historically accurate is it?  I'm going to give it a 9/10.  Machine sewn wherever possible, but otherwise pretty darn close. 
Hours to complete: 16 or so.
First worn: I do believe I'll be scheduling a picnic in the park for the costumers' guild with this outfit in mind.
Total cost: I probably dropped $60 or so on the linen when I bought it, but what the internet said was lavender showed up at my door as PINK!  So add in purple and brown dyes, plus all the linings, trimmings and boning and we're looking at around $100 USD.

There's a waist tape made of twill tape that attaches to the waistline on the side seams and ties in the front to make that dip in the lower back sit snug without pulling too much on the front closure. The front closes with the hook-n-eye tape and the buttons are purely decorative. I want to find a way to make the top layer lay a bit flatter, so I might stick a couple of small snaps in there. The bustling is held in place with safety pins for now, as I'm wanting to make a new underskirt for this and should probably have that finished before I make the bustling permanent. I'm still not 100% satisfied with the sleeve head; it's a little too poofy, me thinks. I may just fold that bit of extra and top stitch it down, cover it with a bit of trim. I'm definitely wanting to do a bit more trimming on the front of the polonaise. Probably pull a bit of the brown linen to the front. Maybe a few inches of binding on the front points? Any ideas from the peanut gallery?

Friday, August 23, 2013

18th Century Court Ensembles

Because I am a lemming that can't resist a challenge...

Kendra of Démodé has issued the challenge to create an 18th century court outfit (male/female, any country, from any point in the 18th century) between now and Costume College of next year. Seeing as how I'd placed something fitting those requirements onto the "someday I wanna do that" list, I figured, what the hell.

See this beauty:

Something about the dichotomy of this image - the court size of the gown and yet it's only minimally decorated, the dressing table in the background set with, not powders and perfumes but a writing set - it's peaked my interest.  Well, that and the frankly ridiculous paniers required to pull this off intrigue me in a mathematically impractical way.  I imagine myself wearing this and just laugh myself silly.

Kendra was nice enough to break down construction of court gowns a bit and it seems, while not simple, at least somewhat more doable than I'd previously thought.  There will be a boned bodice with 3/4 sleeves, a separate skirt over what looks like an ivory petticoat.  The chemise I already have, unless I make one with a lacy neckline to peak out, and the paniers I'll probably just use the Simplicity pattern that I'm using to make my stays:

Although the paniers only come in the one size and I think I'll have to up the proportions a bit to get that frankly ridiculous silhouette.

As for dress fabric, I'm not terribly sure.  Red silk faille seems like the most proper choice, but that's going to run me over $20/yard.  I'm leaning towards buying the silk twill from Dharma Trading Company and dyeing it up in the washer.  I do like the idea of the fabric having some sort of subtle texture to it, since the only other embellishment is the oddly placed fur.  Speaking of fur...

Mom, if you're reading this, let's talk about all that mohair in your stash.  :D

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Obligatory Intro Post

So I've FINALLY started up a costuming blog.  Took me long enough, yeah?  Several different things lead me to this place, and forcing myself to write them out makes me really think about why I'm here.
- it feels like this is where all the costumers are.  I can't count the number of times that I've been googling whatever costumey thing happens to have caught my interest at the moment and been led to somebody's blog post about doing just that thing.  And along that line,
- the HSF challenge "Gratitude" has made me really think about just how much inspiration and instruction I'm getting from other blogs... AND THOSE PEOPLE WILL NEVER KNOW!  Won't lie, that's something I'll admit I'm feeling a tad guilty about.  By using the same medium as a lot of the costumers that I'm being inspired by right now, it's easier to interact and be a contributing member of the community.  I don't want to be a lurker anymore.
- I miss having something to say and feeling like I have a good outlet to say it.  It seems costuming, especially historical costuming, has become my fandom obsession now and I needed an appropriate outlet for it.
- sharing pictures of projects on Facebook just isn't very fulfilling.  So much of the audience there really has no idea what they're looking at and there's very little conversation there beyond "that's pretty" and "thanks". 
- I like getting to show off what I've done.  I'm proud of my hobby and I want what I've accomplished to be in a place where others can find it, even if they don't already know me.
So what am I up to right now (ie, the things y'all are going to be hearing me talk about):
- I'm trying to boost my local ICG chapter into something awesome that people want to be a part of.  it involves lots of scheduling meetups and playing hostess, basically just coming up with new reasons to get dressed up.
- I'm participating in the Historical Sew Fortnightly hosted by the Dreamstress.  I've known for a while now that I'm just so much more productive when I can sew to a deadline, so having a series of biweekly challenges has really helped.  I doubt I'll go back and make up blog posts for too many of my past challenge submissions, but expect to start seeing the new ones here any day now.
- I've accepted the post of costume track director for Arisia, a long-running sci-fi/fantasy con held in Boston in January.  Big shoes, yo.  But I've been brainstorming up a storm and will hopefully have some enticing opportunities to put out there by the time panelists start signing up.
- I've been sewing through my stash.  My spousal unit has gone back to school and consequently dropped down to working only part time.  Belt-cinching on the spending means that my impulsive fabric buying had to come to a screeching halt.  But this is good as it's got me thinking outside the box and using the materials I already have on hand.  I've been using up scraps and forcing myself go in directions that I may not have been planning, but turn out pretty nifty all the same.
- SEWING ALL THE THINGS!  Really, this is mostly a productivity thing for me.  I spend a lot of my downtime when I can't sew just thinking about, researching and plotting out historical costuming.  I need to do less thinking and more doing.  Hopefully, by having an appropriate outlet to share about my accomplishments, I'll be better about actually accomplishing them.  And then perhaps documenting what I've done and not just sharing pictures.  I like talking about the process of making things.
I read somewhere along the line that every blog post should come with a picture, to keep it interesting.  A popular theme around costuming blogs seems to be pictures of pets "helping" with the sewing and I thought I'd add one of my own.  Below are my dogs Lily and Artie.  They like to hang out in the work room with me, but unlike all of your fabulous fabric weight cats out there, they just lay in the middle of the floor and get in the way.
Lazy sods.