Monday, April 21, 2014

Renaissance Faire!

On Sunday my friends and I went to the Southern California Pleasure Faire and had a blast. There was an Easter parade for the kids, and we spent more time watching shows than we had in previous years. I wore a costume I made up quickly and quietly a few months ago, my Vik-torian costume.

The inspiration with a comment by a friend about trying to mix Viking and Victorian components in a steampunk-ish style. I had trouble with the design at first, until I realized that the bunad, the national costume of Norway, came into being in the 1800s. My mother is Norwegian, and what better why to progress the Viking aesthetic into the Victorian era than by looking at the clothes of the people in Scandinavia.  I pulled together ideas like these:
Pattern available here
This is similar to the cutting layout I used
This men's shirt pattern is how I made my shift
The modern inspiration came from this bunad from the Telemark region of Norway
I also altered the shirt to reflect the modern bunad blouse
And the resulting outfit:
The close-up
The shift/shirt is linen, stitched in the viking style with a keyhole neckline, but with modern cuffs. The neck is bound in store-bought bias tape and some fancy store bought trim circles the neck and cuffs. My tortoise brooches are slotted spoons with the handles broken off, wrapped in wire, with a safety pin on the underside. The double strand of beads are a collection of various bits, the belt was a blank one a stained dark and added a buckle. On the right side you can see my drinking horn (which I totally drank mead out of. Like a Viking.) The apron dress is black wool that I bought on clearance, and the under-bust corset bodice is red wool, with cotton canvas for strength and zip-ties for boning. A different trim goes around the top.
The lacing eyelets are jewellery clasps I bought, and it is laced with suede cord.
The the bottom of the apron dress has a different trim, and the bracers are scrap leather with metal grommets for lacing. I painted Viking sigils on them, the left prevents you from getting lost at sea and the right strikes fear in your opponents in battle. I also sewed on some fake fur trim, because a google search of Viking costumes will tell you that you're not a Viking unless you have fur on.
The costume was surprisingly comfortable, I was expecting worse considering I was wearing wool when the temperature was in the mid-80s. But the fabric was thin, the linen helped keep me comfortable, and the fact that I made the outfit knee length meant a had good air flow. I did have to let the corset out a bit, after lunch, but that was easy. I was particularly happy that I got to use my relic bag.
I knitted it a while ago out of a wool/bamboo blend, based off of this actual Renaissance bag:
My pattern in based off of the description of the Chur Purse. Note: although the gauge for the original is listed as 7 stitches per inch, they mean 7 stitches per centimeter. My bag is 7 stitches per inch.
So there you have it, Vik-torian costume at the Renaissance Faire. Now to get ready for my trip tomorrow, but one more pic before I go. Here is my cat, Ali, helping me draft of 18th century stays:
If the internet has taught me anything, it's that every sewing blog should have at least one photo of your cat "helping" you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I am feeling good. Since I will be out of town next week, I wanted to get as much done on my Victorian Femme goals as possible, that way I can hand-sew my shift and stays for the Amazzone costume while I'm on vacation. (I don't want to lug my machine along with me, and I don't like my mother's machine.) Sunday was my day to work on Samifer's bustle, which was completed. Yesterday through Thursday I allotted for Gabriel's corset, and then Friday through Sunday will be Samifer's petticoat, giving me Monday to make a mock-up of the stays and gather the bits so it will be ready to be worked on. Yesterday was spent basting the silk to the coutil on each piece of of the corset. Getting them lined up can be tricky, so I hand sew it, thus it takes a while. Today I started on the actual stitching, and well, look!
Cording done on all the front pieces, boning channels added to the sides and back, and those pieces stitched together. (While the picture is only of half, I have both sides done to equal completion.) All I need to do is make up some covered channels, add them to the second piece, and stitch it all together. The front channels can't be added until I have the busk, but I should be able to do a final fitting this Saturday. Minus the basting, this thing took a day. A DAY. Mine took over a week. I really feel like I'm hitting my groove. (Beware the groove!)

And one more picture, lest you think Gabriel's corset is a little too similar to Samifer's.
The color is called 'peacock' and it's a lovely bluish-green. It's stitched with brown silk thread, and following the 'accidentally another fandom' theme (see Samifer's TARDIS corset), it's looking very Daenerys Targaryen.
A la this outfit
So I've decided to do dragonscale flossing on it when it's finished. Gabriel fully supports this. Right now I going to take a break for ice cream and beer, and then try to finish this corset.

Update:  Aw yeah.

Sew Historical Fortnightly #7

So I just realized today that these challenges are the Historical Sew Fortnightly, not the Sew Historical Fortnightly. Well, it's in my brain wrong, so it will take a while to correct. Anyhoo.

I had originally planned to knit a pair of socks for this challenge, but I'm having difficulty getting motivated to make the second, so I only have one sock to show. The socks are for Crowley, in a Scotch Plaid pattern. Since Crowley's Scottish, and since my Crowley has notoriously cold feet and could benefit from some thick colorwork stockings, it seemed perfect.
This is the image from Weldon's Practical Knitter, Twelfth Series. Though I can't find a date for this specific series, the publication started in 1885, and then were reprinted into larger collections in 1888. So the pattern is late 1880s. The original pattern was top down, knit on size 14 needles (Modern size 00, or 1.75mm). They were also intended for a man. Since I was making them for a friend with small, girly feet, I decided to knit the pattern from the toe up, since this made it easier for me to keep the pattern centered. I also used larger needles, size 3 or 3.25mm. These are a bit too large for Victorian stockings, but acceptably small for modern socks.
I used Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters Book One to work out a new pattern. I love this book. I use it for all my socks. There's charts where you match your foot size to your gauge and it tells you how many stitches you need for each section of the sock. It's literally a book of how to math socks. Also, I totally spilled tea on it at one point. Here is what I came up with:

It was hard keeping the sock in the light, and my phone didn't want to pick up the colorwork. You can see the Scotch Plaid pattern starts after the single color toe, continues up the leg, and ends at the striped ribbing. The heel is also striped. The breakdown:
The Challenge:  Tops and Toes

Fabric:  Brown and blue wool yarn

Pattern: Gentleman's Stocking, from Weldon's Practical Knitter, reinterpreted by Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters

Year: This pattern shows up in the Practical Needlework compilation Vol. 5, and assuming those came out once a year, would put this pattern between 1885 and 1892.

Notions:  A set of Size 3 double pointed needles.

How historically accurate is it?  The gauge is too loose, and while socks knit from the toe up have been found before this time period it wasn't common in the Victorian era. The colors and yarns are good, though maybe a little thick considering the suggested needle size. I'd say 50% at best, the construction is extremely modern if you know what to look for.

Hours to complete:  No clue. I didn't have all the numbers when I started this project, so I was stalled waiting for my friend to measure her feet and text me the numbers.

First worn:  Not worn yet. I'm sure once I complete the other one and get them to my friend they'll get regular use.

Total cost:  $27, but that was for the two colors. A single ball would have been enough to knit a pair of stockings, so I'll have a lot of yarn left over.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stupid Adulthood

I had to bribe myself to get things done today. But now that the house has propane again, the car is gassed and had the oil changed, and I have ability to mow the pastures again, I allowed myself a trip to the Dollar Tree to pick up a bottle brush to clean my new drinking horn.
Is so pretty
Once it's cleaned and cured, I'll make a leather holster as use it at the upcoming Renn Faire. I was going to coat the interior with beeswax, but considering it can be over 80 degrees F indoors I thought it better not to waste time on something that won't work in the long run. Most guides use ale to cure it, but I wonder if vodka is okay. I like ale, but I have a big thing of vodka gathering dust in the cupboard. And wasting beer always seems like a crime. I plan to do more to it, but there is talk of going to the Renn Faire on Easter, so I doubt I'll have time.

I also picked up a selection of bamboo place-mats to use for boning in my 18th century stays. When I get to work on them (which will probably be during my vacation next week), I'll be using this tutorial, along with information in Norah Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines.
The pale ones in front have pieces 1cm wide; they're also the longest at 14 inches. They were the most expensive, a whole $2 each at Anna's Linens. Behind it, the next one has white pieces 2mm wide and blue pieces 5mm wide, but only 12 inches long. It was the only one I could find at the Dollar Tree. The two rainbow and two greenish ones at the top of the picture have pieces 3mm wide and 13 inches long. Those were $1 each from Big Lots. I have the width in metric because most articles I've read talk about stay bones in millimeters. 2-4 mm is more period for fully boned stays, but I'm not sure 13 inches will be long enough. But these will be my 'cane' boning for any lightweight stays or corsets I make for a while.

In the upper left corner of the picture are the silk pieces for Gabriel's corset, which I will be basting to the coutil by hand. Luckily, I found The Dark Knight for $5 at Big Lots, so at least I'll have entertainment.

Want to see the Disappearing Pencil trick?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bustle Up

Samifer's bustle is completed!
Or, you know, nearly completed. I still need to add the buttons and buttonholes, but there's Dungeons and Dragons on Tuesday, so I'll just do it while we game. Here's the inside as well:

Samifer's bustle was made the same way as mine, using this tutorial. I originally was going to make a trained bustle, since her dress will have a train, but upon further research a number of people who have made trained bustles have been disappointed by the results. Add to it a few images of beautiful trained gowns wore by ladies stating to be wearing a lobster bustle underneath, and I decided to go the easy path. The bustle is longer than mine, and should hit around mid-calf. It also has a box-pleated ruffle along the bottom to give it more poof.

Right now I'm playing with the proportions of the bustle. For mine, the smallest bone (closest to the waist) was 2/3 of my waistband measurement. (The waistband is 2 inches below natural waist, which for me is 30". So my smallest bone is 20" long.) I felt it was a good size, but I didn't know whether that system worked for everyone. So this is my test. I used the same proportion for Samifer, and I'll see how it looks. If it works for Samifer, I can extrapolate that it will work for Gabriel since she is a similar size. The true test will come from Crowley and Castiel, who are the farthest points away from the mean in either direction.

And now you know two important things about me. One: I play Dungeons and Dragons (technically, I play Pathfinder, but I call it D&D since more people are familiar with that), and Two: I have taken statistics.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I've been a bad, bad girl

So you know how I said I wouldn't work on the Amazzone Perugina costume until after I finished my Victorian Femme goals? Well, that only really works as long as I have Victorian Femme things to sew. But once I finished Gabriel's mock-up, I didn't have anything else to work on. Without Samifer's measurements I couldn't start her bustle, and without a busk I couldn't finish Castiel's corset. So, in lieu of not sewing anything at all, I started on an 18th century shift. (I should be working on Crowley's socks for the upcoming Sew Historical challenge, but I didn't wanna.)
If it doesn't look like I got much done, that's because I decided to hand sew it. Yes, the part of the costume least likely to be seen by another human soul (except my husband, who couldn't tell hand stitching from machine and wouldn't care anyways.) I don't know why, I just wanted to. I have the lower gussets stitched on, selvage to selvage with the smallest seam I could manage, and I have one sleeve and underarm gusset attached. Once all the seams are stitched I'll flat fell them, but right now I'm just getting it together. I haven't cut the neckline yet, as I intend to cut it small and then trim it proper once I have stays. I'm also going to make the sleeves a little short for the period, so it can transition into Regency. I also found some fabric in the stash to use for pockets:
It's one of those overly bright patterns that you're never sure how you came to own, but there's more than you know what to do with. The pattern makes me thinks of the designs on embroidered pockets, and it's as good a use as any for a fabric I'd have a hard time wearing.

This will be the last Amazzone update for a while, though, since I now have the needed measurements for Samifer's bustle and will be doing a corset fitting on Gabriel tomorrow.

Nothing like more sewing projects to encourage you to work on all your other sewing projects.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Because life should be it's own obstacle course

Apparently I've decided that life is too easy, and so I have to make challenges to increase the difficulty. I have decided to make the Amazzone Perugina costume, and hopefully in time for the Art challenge due on June 1 for Sew Historical Fortnightly. BUT I can only start work on it after I've finished my goals for the month. Castiel's corset is as complete as possible without a busk (I basted the front pieces together to do a final fitting before flat felling all of the seams into boning channels). I still have to add two boning channels to each front piece, but I need the busk to figure out placement. Then I can bone it, bind it, and floss it. I've started the mock-up for Gabriel's corset, and hopefully I'll be able to measure Samifer for her bustle and petticoat tomorrow.

Holding my new project hostage until I complete my goals has given me new motivation. BUT I've also decided I'm not going to buy any fabric for Amazzone. I can buy things from Goodwill, to cannibalize for parts, but otherwise I'm making it from stash. Shift, stays, petticoats, pockets, all of it. Because apparently 'crazy' is my lifestyle choice. I have some remnants I like for the interior and exterior of the stays, and some clearance brown jean for the core of it. Muslin for the shift, an old cotton print for the pockets, a Goodwill silk blouse for the habit shirt. But I only have from when I finish my Victorian Femme goals until the end of April to work on it. After that, I get new goals for my main project and Amazzone goes on the back burner again.

And I still want to get it done in little over a month. No biggie. *silently screaming*

Monday, April 7, 2014

Things are conspiring against me

So I have these two remnants in my stash, and they work pretty well together so I wanted to use them in an outfit.
To the left is a third of a yard of burgundy cotton velvet, and on the right is about half a yard of cotton upholstery print. The colors are similar without being matchy-matchy, but I didn't know what to do with them.

Flashback: I made a new friend and we were discussing favorite eras. I said 1880s (Second Bustle Era), she said 1870s (forgot to ask if she liked First Bustle or Natural Form). She also mentioned 1780s, so every once in a while I'll do searches for images in the 1780s, so see if there's anything I can get behind. I don't like panniers, and the flamboyance of Rococo is too much. There's a reason I prefer the tailored jackets and pleated skirts of the Late Bustle Era over the layer cake decadence of the mid-century Victorian. Good for other people, but not my cup of tea.

On one of my recent searches I discovered riding habits and redingotes. I like the habits more, the simple functionality over the frouffed up version, but it was something to get behind. And then I found this:

I loved it. The shape, the lace, the colors. The HAT! And I happened to have some velvet that would be perfect for the collar and while the print for the cuffs might not be accurate, it would be easier and certainly look beautiful. I had found it. Tell me, oh Pinterest, the details of this beauty I had discovered!

Amazzone Perugina, by Cesare Auguste Detti. (Born in Spolete, Italy December 28, 1847 and died in Paris May 19, 1914)

. . .

Born 1847

. . .


Okay, so this wasn't a 18th century outfit; it is a late Victorian interpretation of a 18th century outfit. That's alright, I can work with that. Besides, technically everything Merja does at Before the Automobile is a modern interpretation of historical garments, and she looks like the time-travelling queen of period perfect. Maybe the artist wasn't too far from the mark?

Marie Antoinette - Joseph Kreutzinger 1771
Woman's Riding Habit. Italy. Circa 1780s
Mr. and Mrs Thomas Coltman - Joseph Wright 1770-1772
Riding Habit. United Kingdom, 1770 - 1775
Based of some period examples, the painting isn't too far off. The main things it got wrong were the collar and the cuffs. Le sigh.

Well that's that. I have enough on my plate now anyways, I don't need to be picking up ANOTHER project. Even if it is perfect. Even if Sew Historical Fortnightly has an art inspired challenge coming up. Even though I'm beginning to hit my stride and think I really can make all the costumes I planned.

So today I was at my friends' house doing laundry, and I figured I'd walk to Goodwill since it's less than a mile away. I may find something nifty. You know what I found?
This white cotton jacket with metallic floral embroidery that would be perfect for the waistcoat. It also has awesome buttons.
Not to mention this red wool jacket that also is super nice.
With military buttons.
So I started drafting images of my new 1770s riding habit, made from remnants and thrift store finds. (I like the 1770s more than the 1780s. 1780s lapels were weird.) I will be aiming for period, with the painting as inspiration. The cuffs will end closer to the wrist, the lace cuffs of the habit shirt will be closer to the jacket instead of extending way past. The collar will still be velvet, but will have a notch where it meets the lapels instead of being a shawl collar. The skirt of the jacket will be gored, using the extra fabric I take off the waist and back to make the bottom wider. I will be making stays, so I should be able to take off a good bit of fabric. I will also be on the look out for more fabric that is similar. More on this plan, as it develops.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Corset Number 3. Three corsets, ah ah ah!

Castiel's corset is coming along nicely, especially since I'm trying to be efficient about my work. I sewed all the cording channels in one go, then sat down and threaded all of the cording through. Then I cut all the strips of coutil for the boning channels, and ran them through the bias tape maker (while ironing, of course). Normally, I just work on one thing till I get bored, then I'll change to something else until I can't do anymore or I again get bored, and then do something else. Which is terribly inefficient. So I fought through my boredom and just kept doing a thing until said thing was done. All of the cording is finished, the third, fourth, and fifth pieces have all of their boning channels and are sewn together.

It's my best corset so far. My phone is bad at picking up colors, but the fabric is a burgundy silk duponi, stitched with black silk thread. All of the channels are stitched to the inside of the corset, so all you see on the outside is the outline. Since I'm getting better at stitching straight and taking my time, I may attempt flat felled channels at the seams, but I've got extra fabric if it looks bad and I decide to do covered channels instead.

Of course, no amount of efficiency can make up for a sudden change of plan, so although I have strips of coutil ready to be covered in silk and stitched in place over the front two pieces, I've decided to do it a different way. Every attempt I've made at covering a strip of coutil with an equal sized strip of silk and then stitching them together onto a corset hasn't looked very nice. It's functional, but the silk frays and sticks out and it's hard to keep the pieces aligned. Then I remembered a different way to make channels: sew a tube, press it flat with the seam in the middle (not at the edge), and sew it down onto the corset. Since I want the channels to be silk covered coutil, I think it would be easier to stitch a tube of the layered fabrics, press, and then sew. At least that way the fabrics can't shift independently of each other and look messy. It's worth a shot, and if it works out as planned, this corset may be the first of what I'd consider a sell-able quality.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Goals for April

These are my goals for this month, posted in order to keep me actively working on them and not get distracted by all the other pretty things I want to make:

Castiel's corset

Gabriel's corset

Samifer's bustle

Samifer's petticoat

Crowley's socks, for the next HSF challenge, Tops and Toes.

I still don't have the busks for the two corsets, but if I can get everything else done it'll qualify. Each corset takes me about a week, since I'm not good about just sitting down and hammering one out. My bustle took about a day, and I'm expecting no different for Samifer's. I expect three, maybe four days for the petticoat, less if I can build up the enthusiasm. I already have one of the socks done, so if I can do the other one it'll fulfil the challenge. I want to be finished with the underwear so I can finally start on the outerwear.

As of right now, things I still need to make before Halloween: 1 chemise, 1 drawers (set of drawers? Is it like pants, where you say pair of pants to refer to one?), 3 corsets, 4 bustles, 4 petticoats, 1-5 corset covers (depending of how badly the corset shows through), 4.5 pairs of socks, 5 skirts, 4 overskirts, 5 bodices, 1 jacket, and 1 cape. Also, maybe 5 pairs of boots.

The chemise, drawers, and bustles come together quickly, and if I figured out how to use the ruffler foot on my sewing machine I'm sure the petticoats would come together quicker. I still have seven months, not quite time to start panicking, but I do worry about getting things done on time. Especially because there are other things I'd like to make this year.

I'm also going to be visiting my folks for a week this month, so I may just take my sewing machine with me. Who knows? I might get all my shit done.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sew Historical Fortnightly Challenge #6

So this challenge gave me trouble, but I really didn't want to skip it like the last one. I could think of things I wanted to make, but not a fairy tale they would apply to, or good fairy tales, but not costumes they could be made into. I also wanted something quick, so I didn't take too much time out of my main project. Finally, inspiration hit in the form of this pattern:
Free pattern found here.

I know that not all Disney movies are fairy tale and not all fairy tales are Disney movies, but I had a difficult time separating the two. So I didn't try. My fairy tale character:
Megara, from Disney's Hercules. That slinky dress with shaped bust works perfectly for the 1930s.
Following this advertisement:
I aimed to make a dress like the one third from the left. I choose the longer option for the dress, lilac fabric for the main body, and added a darker purple under bust accent and a low slung belt. I also went with light purple chiffon sleeves, echoing the shawl Meg wears in this scene:
The result:
Then I realized, wait a minute. 1930's. Bombshell make-up. So I pulled my hair back, did up my pretties, and took some glamour shots.
I'm a damsel. I'm in distress. I'm handling it. Have a nice day.

The breakdown:
The Challenge:  #6 Fairy Tale

Fabric:  Light purple crepe, dark purple charmeuse, and light purple chiffon.

Pattern: Vera Venus' 1930's Little Bias Dress, linked above

Year: Based on the ad I found featuring a similar dress, around 1933

Notions:  Light and dark purple thread, hem tape, invisible zipper

How historically accurate is it?  I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of ALL THIS POLYESTER. Beside the totally inaccurate fiber, the cut and styling in on par with the time period.

Hours to complete:  8 - 12. I didn't really keep good track of time, but it came together quickly.

First worn:  Tonight, because that I have it on and my make-up done up, I don't wanna take it off.

Total cost:  $40, give or take.