Friday, January 25, 2013

Finished Petticoat

Challenge number two of the Historical Sew Fortnightly is finished! A few months ago in a fit of boredom I started a petticoat out of a white and pale blue striped cotton/poly blend I had bought from the clearance bin. The fabric has a gorgeous sheen to it but it was blemished in quite a few areas so I wasn't too sad to use it up on a petticoat. I got distracted from the project halfway through and never picked it back up though, so when the UFO (Un-Finished Object) challenge came up I knew it was time to finally finish the petticoat.

When I came back to the project I realized I had cut the petticoat rather wide. I considered reducing it since it's probably wide enough to fit over a hoop skirt but in the end decided to keep it the way it was. It will fill out my skirts nicely at least!

Close-up of the pretty little stripes!
Since the project didn't take me too long to finish I've gained myself an extra weekend for the next project, Underneath It All. I plan to complete a corset and chemise with my extra time, and then I'll have a full set of brand new underthings!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Foray Into the Dark Side

I've briefly mentioned my second job as costumer for Frightful Acts before. Frightful Acts is a small high-end  silicone mask company made up of a very few dedicated people. We were recently commissioned to make a Darth Maul mask by a devoted Star Wars fan, and when someone saw our progress updates on Facebook they commissioned an Emperor Palpatine mask as well. Since we're making the masks we figured we might as well go all the way and make the costumes as well.

I decided to start with Emperor Palpatine because frankly his costume is a lot easier. There are just two basic pieces to it, a cloak and under-cloak, both of which are fairly straightforward. Darth Maul on the other hand has half a dozen very specific layers and a cloak of tiny little sunray pleats that I'm dreading having to make. Tonight I finished the Emperor's cloak.

The original movie cloak was made out of waffle weave fabric dyed black (or so I heard while researching my own cloak) since it's almost impossible to find waffle weave fabric in black, as I quickly found out. I did however find a black plisse fabric that looks very similar to waffle weave. It had glossy stripes on the good side which wouldn't work for the costume so I just used the backside of it. The cloak itself is fairly simple, the only really defining characteristics are the fabric choice and the shirring at the sleeves. I had a fairly easy time making the cloak actually. We'll just have to wait and see how the rest of the Star Wars costumes go though.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

1913 Delphos Dress

The first challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly is the Bi/Tri/Quadri/Quin/Sex/Septi/Octo/Nona/Centennial Challenge, due January 14th. I had just found out about the challenge on the 11th and thought there was no way I could complete a dress in time, but then I found inspiration looking through one of my fashion books. I found an image of a Delphos dress from the 1910's, a dress that would definitely fit into the challenge as a dress from 1913. 

This image comes from the collection of the Kyoto Costume Institution. A Delphos dress is a simple tunic-like dress usually made from pleated silk with glass beads sewn down the sides to weight the dress. The book the image comes from describes the dress as intended to show the natural beauty of a body's shape at a time when most women still wore corsets. It was therefore only worn in the home at first.

By this point in time I only had two days left before the challenge was due, so I decided to take a little creative leeway with the fabric of the dress. Not having enough time (not to mention the patience!) to make the dozens of tiny little pleats the dress called for, I found myself a shortcut in the form of a crinkled lamé cloth (it was even in the clearance bin!). It gives the right look to the dress but unfortunately sacrifices the historical accuracy. 

The Challenge: Bi/Tri/Quadri/Quin/Sex/Septi/Octo/Nona/Centennial Challenge
Fabric: 3 1/4 yards Crinkle Metallic Lamé
Pattern: Figured out from photos of historical examples
Year: 1913
Notions: Glass beads
How historically accurate is it? The beading and pattern are accurate, the Fabric is not
Hours to complete: About 5
First worn: Only worn to take photos
Total cost: $17

If I had found more options while I was looking for cloth, I would not have chosen such a metallic one. The dress is really comfy though, and I love the detail of the little glass beads. The construction of the dress was super simple, most of the time went into adding the beads. When I have more time I would definitely like to do this dress over the correct way, pleating and all. The lamé looks almost right, but it doesn't lend the right drape and cling to the dress. 

Overall I would call this dress a success, though not as historical as I would have liked. Now that I have the full time for the rest of the challenges I don't think I'll have to make such compromises again though.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Where It Started

My interest in costuming started around the time I was in high school, but I've been sewing for as long as I can remember. My mother is a talented quilter and throughout my childhood she always had a fun craft or project for me to do. I remember a little box I had full of her precisely cut squares and triangles that I was going to sew together into my own little quilt. That never happened though, as I found out very quickly that I did not share my mother's incredible patience for perfectly piecing together quilt blocks. I was more of the slap-dash type who would jump in without looking, often ending in a big mess that I would have to go back and find the patience to fix it the right way. I learned very quickly, mostly by making every mistake there was to make.

In high school I was given a chance to costume my first theatrical production, Macbeth, in which I also played one of the witches. My love for costuming took off from there. I made my very first corset for my senior prom, and what a sight it was! I didn't know where to find a busk or half of the other notions the pattern called for, so I improvised. The front closed with a row of large hook and eye closures, and the lacing was a piece of twine I found laying around the house that snapped halfway through prom and had to be tied back together by my friend in the bathroom.

When I began college I put my costumes on the back burner for a few years, but they fought their way back to the front. I interned with a small children's theater group and continued working with them for a few productions after my internship ended. I began exploring more historical clothing on my own and even made my first one hundred percent historical dress as a pastiche for one of my classes. It was a Medieval houppelande inspired by the illustrations in Tres Riches Heures.

The Medieval dress was a lot of fun and turned out gorgeous but my true passion still lay with Victorian and Edwardian fashion and especially with corsets. I've made several corsets over the years, but I've never found the time to make a truly historical Edwardian dress. I've made facsimiles in the past, such as the grey striped dress I wore for my senior thesis show.

Recently I had a little fling with steampunk fashion and out of that came a lovely blue corset made from some leftovers of the medieval dress fabric.

Also somewhat inspired by steampunk was my Halloween costume that year, Mrs. Lovett. It was my first attempt at a bustle skirt but unfortunately there just isn't much photographic evidence of the dress and the corset has since been cannibalized to make a red one instead. The apron was probably my favorite part of the costume, it came out so lovely but my plans for the costume involved bloodying it up, and bloody it got. The Mrs. Lovett dress now has a new home at my second job with Frightful Acts as the costume for a very creepy old mask. 

And there you have a brief look into my costuming history. These are some of the standouts from my own personal collection but I have a few more dresses to introduce you to in the future, as well as the new projects I'll be taking on in the historical challenge and my work with Frightful Acts.


Well then, I've finally gone and done it. I can't even remember how long it's been now that I keep telling myself I should start a blog. You can thank The Dreamstress for finally giving me a reason to kick my butt into gear with her Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge. But first, how about some introductions?

I'm a somewhat-recent graduate from New England trying to muddle my way through this whole becoming an adult thing. By day I work at a coffee shop and by night I work as costumer for Frightful Acts, a mostly horror themed silicone mask company. I adore costumes of any kind but my true passion lies in historical costuming, so in all my spare moments I'll strive to meet the challenges of the Historical Sew Fortnightly.

My hope for this blog is that it will give me a place to organize and share my thoughts and ideas but more importantly that it will give me someone to answer to so that I don't begin to slip back into laziness as I am wont to do. I'm starting the fortnightly challenge a little late, having just heard about it with two challenges already down, but I'm jumping in feet first for the next one! Over the next few days I'll post up some of my old projects to introduce some of my influences and tastes while I work on my first challenge, but for now I think it's time to call it a night. Here's to a new beginning!