Friday, February 28, 2014

Psst...Over Here

Just a note, I'm still alive. I've been working hard on my piece for the Sew Historical Fortnightly challenge tomorrow, and hopefully it will be finished in the evening. I would be working on it now, except I ran out of thread. Le suck. But a quick trip to JoAnn's in the morning and I will be back to work.

I also have a secret project that I'm nearly finished with, and pictures will follow as soon as the details are done. Yes, in the middle of this crazy project I added another project just because.

To bed, because I'm tired.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sew Historical Fortnightly 2014 #3

So this challenge was giving me some trouble in that I don't really like pink, and none of the costumes I'm making for the Victorian Femme Supernatural Cosplay utilize pink (considering they are all based on men's outfits from a show where the bad guys are mass murders and the good guys are also mass murders, this is unsurprising). I considered skipping the challenge, until I found this article about Victorian hair falls. It's too early in the period for the costumes I'm already making, but ever since I got my dreadlocks, I've realized how awesome I look with hats and other head accessories. I stuck with a floral look, and I this is what I came up with:

The supplies: a beaded garland, fake pearls, jute ribbon, a St. Patty's day headband with the clover ripped off, and some fake flowers.

I used wire to secure the pieces to the headband, and then covered the whole thing in jute ribbon.

Pearls were then sewn on to give a little extra detail. I was going to have dangling pearls, but I got lazy.

My completed hair fall, with pink beads and fake mini-roses, allowing it to qualify for the challenge. It's very "spring" without being overly girly. And finally, me wearing the finished product:

I tied my dreads into pigtails and then put on my headband. It's a lot going on, but I think I can pull it off.

The details:
The Challenge: Pink

Fabric: Not actually sewn, but the supplies are a headband, garland, fake flowers, beads, and some ribbon.

Pattern: Just made it up as I went, following The Pragmatic Costumers general guideline.

Year: 1840s or 50s.

Notions: Beige thread to match the ribbon and wire to secure everything.

How historically accurate is it?  The flowers and the beaded garland are plastic, but I know that fake pearls have been used since the Renaissance (I doubt mine followed an accurate faux pearl recipe, but cheapness is always accurate)

Hours to complete:  Two, maybe three. I had it done in an evening.

First worn:  I've yet to wear it, but once it's closer to Spring I think I'll give it a spin.

Total cost:  About $15. All of the supplies were on sale, plus I get a sweet, sweet employee discount.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ups and downs

Did the corset fitting on Samifer today, unfortunately I had to do it right before she left for work, so I wasn't able to get pictures. The waist was good, so was the back support, and I marked all the alterations to the top and bottom edge. It seemed a bit loose at the bust, but after reading an article about a woman did the fitting in duck, took in where needed and made the corset in coutil, and then found the hips to be FOUR inches too small due to bias stretch of the mock-up, I'm terrified to take in anything at the bust or hip. When I make the corset proper, I'll do a fitting after sewing the seams but BEFORE I flat-fell them, so I can be certain of fit. I'm going to sew the non-seam boning channels on to the pieces of the corset before sewing it all together because it's easier that way, so when testing size I'll still have boning, just not at the seams.

On the downside: my left hip is out. Not all the way, screaming in pain out, but sitting is an exercise in tolerance and my back keeps spasming due to the unevenness out. I screwed up my joints years ago, due to my habit of shoving every book I owned into my backpack and then only wearing it on one shoulder. Now one or the other hip will go out occasionally, but most of the time I can get them get in. Not today. Hopefully sleeping will help and I'll free better in the morning. Or at the very least maybe I can pop it back in in the morning.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Still at it

I have the mock-up for my corset all done and good, so I moved on the Samifer's corset. I'll be doing the fitting tomorrow, but I already took what I learned from mine and applied it, such as making the bust an inch higher to begin with. If that's too much, I can mark the fabric and and transfer it to the pattern, but I'd rather start with too much and trim it down than to start with it too short and have to worry about making another. I realized I can only fit one mock-up at a time, since I only have one set of lacing strips. It's helped me pace myself. I've been working on lace for Crowley's chemise, as well as socks for Crowley. In Weldon's Practical Knitter Vol. 10 there's a pattern for Scotch plaid socks. They're two color, Fair Isle socks in a lovely pattern that's a hell of a lot easier than argyle. I also bought yarn for my socks (black wool), Samifer's (white wool), and Castiel's (black cotton). They have some nylon content so they won't be period correct, but I hate droopy socks. I still have to decide on sock color for Gabriel. I think he would have crazy socks, but I haven't decided. This project is making me ask the hard questions: "What color underwear would Lucifer wear?" "What kind of socks would Gabriel have?" "How do I take the excessive number of layers most actors wear on the show and fit it into the Victorian aesthetic of two, maybe three colors, and a bodice that matches the skirt?"

First World Problems

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mock-up Part 2

So since my first mock up fit pretty well, I figured that was good enough and was going to just let it go. But then it occurred to me: the final corset will have cording, and I've never done cording. And since the cording will be near the bust, what if it shortened the bust so that the extra length I added disappears in the cording? So I decided a second mock-up was in order. I want my finished corset to be a single layer of coutil topped with a layer of silk duponi, with external bone casings. The cording I can sew between the silk and the coutil, but for the mock-up I used a scrap piece of duck. At first the cording didn't look like anything that would give support, but when I finished, Wow. Here's a look at the corded mock-up:

To compare, this is the same seam on the non-corded version:

See how the corded version stands at attention, while the basic version just wrinkles down on itself? Color me impressed. The fit overall was better this time:
It no longer poked when I sat down, and my boobs were more secured. The cording will need to be raised up, closer to my actual bust, and angled better, but I marked those points on my corset. I also am going to change the curve slightly in front, because having it hug closer to my underbust gives me better cleavage. All in all, things are starting to take shape. (Did you see what I did there?)

Update: I ripped out the bust seams and sewed them with less of a curve. Much better.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

O Frabjous Day

Since I live about an hour from Los Angeles, I figured I'd be able to buy all my corset supplies locally. But since Farthingales L.A. closed down, I started looking for other places. I'd found a link for Richard the Thread, which is in L.A., but comparing the price of boning to another internet store, it was much more expensive. Plus, their spoon busks only come in 11" and 12" sizes, and I was going to need closer to a 14" for four of the corsets. So they dropped off my radar. Today I got the idea to check just coutil, since it would probably be the most expensive part to ship, and if I could find it in L.A. it would save me quite a bit of monies. (Random note: spell check red lines "coutil," but not "monies" so I did a search. Monies is an actual word and is the plural of money. I thought it was just an internet thing.) Richard the Thread came up in my search, so I checked their price. It's almost half the cost of the place I was thinking about getting it! Even with the online minimum of 5 yards, it would still cost me less than 4 yards from another store. So I started looking at other things, and found that everything except the boning and the longer busks are cheaper at RtT.

So now to plan a trip to L.A.


Made my corset mock-up today. It was a little loose through the bust and hips, but as cotton duck has some bias stretch whereas the coutil I'm going to use on the finished product does not, I'm going to stick with the sizing. The waist cinched in nicely, and I was quite happy with the shape. It was, however, too long on the bottom, so I marked with a pencil the almost 2" that need to be removed in some places, while also realizing that it's a bit too short on top. I added half an inch in front, curving it around to a full inch in the very back. It was comfortable, and I think it will turn out very nicely.

The mock-up. That weird dark strip in the very front is just a shadow. The black bits poking me in the boobs is the tops of the zip ties I used for temporary boning. The top of the corset hits me right at nipple height, which I find annoying.

The roughly drawn pencil marks are where the corset should end, tested while I was sitting down, as well as by inspection in the mirror.

The new lines, added to the pattern draft.

The corset was tested using the new lacing strips I made, following this tutorial by Bridges on the Body.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


So the last couple days I've been crocheting, embroidering, and making things for work in an effort to avoid working on Step 3: Corsets. Everyone is going to need a corset for their costumes, and I am drafting custom corsets for the best and most comfortable fit possible. I've finished most of the drafts, but for a good fit I'm going to need to do mock-ups. And I've been scared. I've seen plenty of costuming blogs were someone states "since none of my current corsets will work for what I'm planning, I made a new one using this and this and that . . ." But I've only made one corset before, and I'm nervous. So I've been putting it off. But that needs to stop if I'm going to be able to finish everything in time. So I pulled out some canvas duck that I got as a cheap-o remnant a while ago, ironed it it, and starting laying out the pieces for my corset. I still need to make lacing strips, but I have zip ties to approximate boning and I should be able to figure out the basic shape. On the plus side, the remnant I have is half a yard by 60", and my pieces fit perfectly with some fabric left over. Which means when it comes time to order the coutil, I'm going to need half a yard per corset, with some extra for binding and boning channels. Which is a lot more financially friendly than the yard per corset I was estimating. Time to get back to work.
Pieces, ready to be cut.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sew Historical Fortnightly 2014

So I realized that amidst all my big plans, I completely over looked the Sew Historical Fortnightly Challenge #1. Luckily, I have something that qualifies for challenge 2: Innovation. My combination undergarment.

Combinations are a single garment that serves the function of a chemise and drawers. Combinations were a way to free up women from the mounds of undergarments that they were expected to wear. The reduction of cloth helped to create the trimmed waist that was *the* look in the 1880s, but also paved the way for women to wear less and have greater freedom of movement. It was a small step, but an important one.

The Challenge: #2, Innovation

Fabric: White Cotton Muslin

Pattern: My own creation

Year: Combinations came about in the 1870s, but I plan to wear mine under an 1880s outfit

Notions: Cotton thread, 8 buttons, ribbons, handmade lace

How historically accurate is it? I could have used a lighter weight fabric, the buttons are plastic, the ribbons are polyester, and the yarn I used was 20% man made fibers. In the macro, the waist should have been higher. Overall, not bad, but the devil's in the details.

Hours to complete: With pattern drafting, fiddling with the fit, crocheting the lace, and handstitching buttonholes, quite a few. I'd say around 80.

First worn: For pictures a few days ago.

Total cost: Muslin was $1.50 a yard, the yarn for the lace was a gift, the buttons were stolen from a jacket, the ribbons were $1 and $3, respectively. So less than $10.

Castiel's Chemise and Drawers

Castiel's chemise and drawers are finished. They are a yoked style, more popular during the Civil War, because I found a pattern for one dated for 1888 titled "Old-fashioned Chemise." So although yoked style was no longer popular, it was still present. And considering that Jimmy Novak, Castiel's human vessel, seemed like a modest, old fashioned kind of guy, I went with it. Also, that previous sentence had a lot of commas. It is trimmed with "Mile-A-Minute" lace, that actually was surprising fast. As in, I crochet almost five feet in a day. Not a 'I'm going to crochet until my fingers bleed' day either, a day where I was babysitting a five year old, driving around a lot, and having to take regular breaks to push her on the swings.

I don't have any full shots, since I don't have good lighting in the evening, but here are some close-ups:

The button is decorative, and the lace has been moved to the side for the photo.

The sleeves ended up being too tight, so I sliced them open to the shoulder and covered them in matching bias tape. Bias tape is the sewing equivalent of duct tape. It fixes EVERYTHING. (Well, almost)

Lace and tucks on the legs of the drawers.

I'll be putting up full pictures later, and if Cas is willing, pictures of it being worn. Until then, here's the pattern for the lace.

Mile-A-Minute Lace Edging

     First Row
Chain 7
Work (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) into 4th ch from hook, skip 2 ch, dc into last ch, ch 3, turn.

     Second Row
Work (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) into ch-2 space of previous row, ch 3, turn.

     Third Row
Work (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) into ch-2 space of previous row, dc into top of turning chain of previous row, ch 3, turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 for pattern.