Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Ancient WDR

And that brings me to Saturday. My re-enactment group (RIFF) had our Christmas party, which was actually an ancients Wine, Dine and Recline or WDR. It's a great theme for a summer party because we all end up wearing what are essentially sheets. It also makes for a very comfortable evening when you are eating lots of food because lets face it, you don't have to worry about your pants getting too tight. After my first failed attempt earlier this year at an Egyptian wig and draping white fabric around my body, I decided that this time I would do an Ancient Roman ensemble.

It was a great evening, we had way too much food, but it was all fantastic and actually made from recipes that are true to the time. I sometimes find it amazing what sort of research you can do on the internet. We spent the evening laying back on some comfy cushions, stuffing our faces and sipping on wine. I was really pleased with how my ensemble turned out and am really looking forward to maybe wearing it all again some time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Proclamation Day 2010

And now onto my very eventful and busy last weekend. It started out with my attendance at Proclamation Day at Newstead House after work on Friday. They do it every year and it is always lovely. It was a stinking hot afternoon and I was perspiring quite badly (ladies don't sweat! ;) ) while I was getting ready, but because of where Newstead House is situated on top of a hill on the point of the Brisbane river, it is always breezy and cool. Which is a really fantastic thing when you are layered on up in Historical clothing.

It was the occasion to wear my latest ensemble. Normally I am super organised and well done before the event, however this time I just kept procrastinating and ended up finishing on Thursday night. Note to self - never again! It is way too stressful, all week I was trying to get away early from work to get my project finished, but it just wasn't happening. At any rate, I wore my new round crinoline ensemble. I made this one out of some lovely tartan silk that I picked up on-line. I only bought about 5 metres of the stuff so I was scrimping as much as I could on fabric. I cut the skirt with the bare minimum width necessary, made the waistband out of cotton (you don't see it) and faced the skirt instead of hemming it. The facing actually helped to weight the skirt down anyway which is always important with silk. On top of that, my bodice is cut straight across at the bottom which again saves fabric and I used a matching plain silk for the waist sash and reticule lining (a lucky remnant find at a fabric shop - there was just enough at 70cm). I actually went very simple on my dress, the sleeves are cut using the lining pattern piece so that they are small and only slightly gathered instead of full puffed, and it is trimmed with a simply matching fringing. I was also stupid enough to hand-stitch eyelets up the back of the bodice. They look great but I always end up putting them too close together and I had 20 to sew over instead of a more realistic 14.

I also made a half hair garland that sat around the back of my head above a low roll of my hair. It was a bit of a challenge working out how to make the garland. It's easy enough to see pictures of how they are decorated in fashion plates, but there are no sketches of the inside or how they are constructed - so it gave me a bit of free licence. I ended up using a strip of 1" wide raffia (the stuff that they make a lot of race hats out of these days). I wove some of my hat-making wire through both edges and bent the ends over. When I was decorating the pieces, I ended up folding the raffia in half at each end so that it would be thinner at the fronts on my head. I then decorated it. I started with some velvet leaves as a base and then added the flowers. It would have been a lot quicker to hot-glue everything on, but I didn't want to destroy my flowers if the garland turned out badly. In the end it really worked. I just had to bend the ends up slightly so that they curled around my head correctly and then bobby pin it all in place.

At any rate, it all worked out really well and I was pleased with the final look. My cousin also looked absolutely fabulous in her new bodice and we had my dad with us as an escort and driver (it is very difficult to drive while wearing a crinoline). I even got him all dressed up in his grey Victorian suit.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

As the end of the year approaches...

Who can believe that December is upon us again? But that brings me around to the planning of the coming year ahead. In this case 2011. I am hoping that it will not be quite as full on with the sewing so that I don't quite burn myself out as I managed to do this year. It has taken me a couple of months to get back on track and into the sewing process, and even then it is not 100% commitment I am feeling right now. But, in working out the year ahead...

December 2010

10th - Proclamation Day Event - 1850s

Coming up fast, and my outfit is in the making. Bodice is underway and I only have the sleeves, trims and eyelets to add to it. Skirt just needs some hooks and I am making a hair garland as some point too. But I am determined to get this ready in time.

11th - Wine Dine and Recline - Ancients

Our end-of-year re-enactment event. I could of course make up the Egyptian costume that I had planned for earlier this year, but I just don't look quite that good wrapped in a white and my wig turned out a little too Cher. Instead, my plan is to go for Greek. I have some dark blue fabric in my stash that is perfect, I just need to get some shells and beads to work the jewellery side of things. I've also got a blonde wig in may stash that I don't have a specific use for, so I am planning to style that up.

31st - Mad Hatter's New Year's Party

I am actually hosting this one. Not strictly costume but everyone must wear a hat. Me though, I will be making a whole ensemble that goes with my hat. I am intending it to be very cool to wear so that I survive our Brisbane summer evening in it. At this point of the party planning, the invitations have gone out and I am starting to make a lot of plans. Especially in terms of food, games and decorations.

March 2011

25th - 27th - The Way We Wear Vintage Fashion Fair

After attending the one in Adelaide, I am really hoping to make it along to this fashion fair as well. It will of course call for a new Vintage Dress. I am not entirely sure what era it will be yet, but there will be one.

April 2011

1st - 3rd - Supanova - 3 costumes

Normally I would have sorted out everything that I am intending to wear by now. So far, I have my Stargate Offworld Uniform in order for one day and I generally re-wear on the first day. But my third costume is up in the air right now - it really depends on how toned up I can get my body before April next year.

14th - 17th - Jane Austen Festival Australia - Regency / late Georgian

I have all my fabric, and am determined to start soon. I will be re-wearing a couple of dresses that I already have, but there is still a lot to be made. Including outer garments like capes and pelisse's this time. Not to mention that I will need reticules, bonnets and new stays. Good thing that I am planning some time off after Christmas. Should put me in order for a head start on getting it all done.

May 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean Movie 4 - Tia Dalma Costume

I love going to the movies in costume, and this presents the perfect opportunity to wear my Tia Dalma costume again. I just need to rope in a couple of people to dress up and go with me.

June 2011

10th - 12th - History Alive - Regency

I will be camping out at this re-enactment event again next year. Thankfully though, I won't be putting together new costumes as I will have all the stuff that I made for JAFA in April. Tents are already sorted as well. Though I am hoping to get Dad into helping me put together a table and maybe a chair or bench as well. Good thing we have a trailer and my new car came with a towbar.

Heritage Ball

I attend every year, well so far for that last 3 at least and I intend to be there again. Thankfully I don't need to make my parents anything new next year. As for myself, I am thinking that I will pull out the blue/black bustle gown that I wore a couple years ago and re-trim it, maybe making a new apron and bodice. The theme this year is also really inspiring me - mask. I am actually thinking that I might go all out and trim my dress and mask to a theme.

July 2011

8th - 10th - Abbey Medieval Fair - 15th Century

It will be my very first time camping at the Medieval Fair. So far, we have a plan for a 15th Century group, and I believe that our proposal has been put in, but it takes a bit of waiting to find out all the details - how much room we have etc. And of course, I will end up making two gowns and complete undergarments.

August 2011

Mrs Beatons - 19th Century

A full-immersion historical event that is in the planning stages. With the option of 19th Century, a couple of us are thinking crinoline gowns would be nice to wear at some point, though we would be camping regency style since we already have the tents and everything. Again, all set for that, what with JAFA at the beginning of the year.

27th - Australian Costumers Guild Ball

I had such a blast attending this year, that I fully intend to make the trip again next year. As to my costume, that is up in the air, but I do have a lot of time to plan it. I haven't even decided if I would wear a film character of historical. I am tempted though to put some time into it and enter the competition too.

On top of these definite plans, there are a few others that I have been discussing with various people. A few things that we would like to do etc. And of course, with my involvement with the Kaleidoscope Dancers, will see me out and about in my Regency dresses throughout the year. It really is a good thing that I make a heap of them to wear at JAFA. Sets me up for the numerous events that I attend during the year. Hmmm, I start looking at this list and it really is no wonder that it feels like my year just flies on by.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Georgian Wig Tutuorial

For my second attempt at synthetic wig styling, I thought that I would be really nice and whip up a bit of a tutorial complete with step-by-step photos. As an introduction, I am making a late Georgian hedgehog wig (there are a few of these worn in the movie "The Duchess"). This sort of wig is appropriate for late 1770s - 1790s. The idea is to have very tight curls that spring back when pulled.
As a start, I am using a wig that I had in my stash from when I dressed up as God from Dogma, so it is a very long wig. Unfortunately I had tried my hand at styling it before so it required quite a lot of brushing out. What you want for this sort of project is a wig that already has some curl in it, but does not have any bouffant sort of back combing built in. The curl that is already there is just going to make the wig more inclined to curl further. As for length, mine is super long but that is more because it was in my collection already. If you are buying a new one, you want something that is mid back length, though anything longer can be trimmed. Your wig should also be a high quality one, as they have more hair sewn onto the wefts.

Step 1.
Tools - wig, 30cm long strips of fabric, brush with wide tong spacing
The first step is obviously going to be brushing out your wig. For me, this took an age because of the aforementioned pre-styling. Then what you are going to do is to take a smallish piece of hair (I divide mine up by weft rows), brush it smooth and taking a strip of fabric, roll up the hair like you would a hair roller. When you get to the base of the wig, tie the ends together in a knot (or two).This is what they call ragging. When doing this, you really want to keep the hair very tightly wrapped so that you get a very tight curl. You also don't want to grab chunks that are too big because due to the length of your wig, by the time you get to the base, the curl ends up rather large. Keep doing this until you have a completely ragged wig.

Step 2.
Tools - kettle, large bowl / bucket, wooden spoon
Now you are going to be setting the style into the wig. Put a kettle full of water onto boil. Place your wig in the bucket or bowl. Once the kettle is boiled, pour over the wig, making sure that all the hair is completely covered. This is where I use the wooden spoon to help submerge the wig. I have read some forums where they tell you not to use boiling water on your synthetic wigs, but every time, I use boiling water, it is totally fine. If you are worried though, I would suggest stopping the kettle just before it has come to the boil. I then leave the wig in the water for a good 10 - 15 minutes just to make sure that it has had time to soak the water right into the centre of the curls.

Step 3.
Tools - chair, pegs, wooden spoon.
Drying. Drain off as much water as you can from the soaking wig, this is where the wooden spoon comes in really handy. Then take your wig outside where you don't mind all the drips and hang it up to dry. You can either peg it to your line or drape it over something. I just drape mine on the end of an outdoor chair. And then just leave it to dry. Depending on the weather and how thick the rolls ended up being this should only take about 12 hours. I like to leave mine for closer to 24 hours if not longer (it will really depend on how far in advance you are styling your wig). the best way to check is to start squeezing the rolls to see if they still feel wet. You may just have to unwind one of the thicker ones to test this. And of course, you could always try to speed up the process with a hairdryer, just don't get it too close to the wig for fear of melting the hair.

Step 4.
Tools - wig head and stand or model, scissors
Now for the moment of truth. Unravelling your wig. Pop your wig on either a wig head (mine is an old hairdressing one) or find a friend to wear it for you while you style. You will need to anchor it to the head though, otherwise it is going to flop around all over the place while you try to style. the best place to start unravelling your wig would be at the back, just so that you don't miss any of the rags. It's as simple as undoing the knots that you tied and the rolling out the rags. You will just need to be careful not to pull too much otherwise you run the risk of loosing your curls all together. I only list scissors in the tools as you may have rolled your rags a little too oddly at the ends (like I did) and you will need to trim off the very ends to take the rags off. Also, if the ends look a little too ratty, you could either trim them now or after the styling process.

Step 5.
Tools - tail comb, wig head, scissors, hairspray
Styling. By now, you should have found some research pictures on-line of how you want to style your wig. I am aiming for a generally roundness to my wig, with some looser curls hanging at the bottom. The best way to get the bulk at the base of the wig to build height is to start backcombing. As this is a wig, you really don't need to worry about your technique and in fact it is better if you a little rough as you are wanting the style to stay. (Unless of course you intend to re-style your wig at a later date). Start building bulk by working your way around the wig. First take the curl (I work one or two at a time) that you want to bulk up the base of, spray liberally with hairspray and take your comb and start backcoming the hair towards the base. It really is quite simple. As for the final styling, I can't really explain what I am doing, as it is really subjective to the style you have chosen. I just worked my way around the wig, first building up the base to get the height that I wanted and then concentrated on styling the remaining hair that was hanging out, by carefully combing it, spraying and pinning into place where necessary. My best advice is to just have a go.

Step 6.
Decoration. This is where you get to be a little creative. The Georgians loved big hair accessories. I didn't make any of my decorations permanent as I have a few Georgian gowns that I intend to wear the wig with. You can however attach flowers, ribbons, bows and feathers to combs that can be removed, so that you are able to customise your wig for your outfit. And there is of course, just simply adding a hat to the ensemble. I will say however, that you will need to be careful of the weight of your hat as it may flatten your wig slightly.

And voila. You wear the wig.

*NOTE* ragging can be done to style your own hair as well, I have found for me, that the best way is to start with damp hair, add a product (mousse, or setting lotion) through the lengths, roll up and leave to dry. It really depends on the length of your hair and how much you are rolling up as to how long it takes to dry.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Georgian Strawberry Picnic

It was a cool and windy day, but nothing could stop us from frocking up and heading into the Brisbane City gardens for Kerry's 40th Birthday Picnic. She has been talking about it for ages, it was to be themed Georgian. And boy did we dress up. We had everything from regency ladies and gentlemen to Mid - late Georgian ladies. The theme was of course strawberries, so when I tell you there was an abundance of them, you will get the picture. The Birthday girl looked magnificent in her blue and cream gown, it really shows the hard work that she put in putting it together.

As it was a cool enough day, I wore my 1790s Green gown that I made for JAFA earlier this year. It can be a little hot wearing in the warmer months due to the slight polyester nature of the fabric (It was on sale and it looks correct) and the long sleeves, but it is my favourite Georgian and I was desperate to wear it again. My only change this time, was that I was wearing my newly styled hedgehog wig (tutorial will be up soon). It was a little massive, but I still liked the effect and I can definitely see me wearing it again.

But enough of the blathering, here's a selection of photos...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Up next

What a terribly slack little costumer I have been. Nothing really new to date, as I really have not had any upcoming costume projects to really inspire me. Plus the fact that I think I managed to burn myself out with the amount of complete costumes that I have put together this year. I have on the other hand, still been sewing and have put together a couple of light and cool cotton dresses and skirts in preparation for the summer ahead.

In other news though, I have a new project that I am now working on that has me completely inspired and gung ho. For the last couple of years, I have attended Proclamation Day at Newstead House in December. This is basically celebrating when Queensland was signed over to become its own state in the 1850s. This year, I am making a new crinoline outfit. In particular, I am making it out of some lovely purple and yellow tartan silk that I picked up on sale. My intention is that as the event starts at 6pm (twilight-ish) to make an evening gown. Not only will it be cooler in the stifling heat of December, but it gives me the chance to make my very first crinoline evening gown. So far, I have the skirt attached to the waistband, the hem facing sewn on. Now I just need to press the hem in place and handstitch it down, and attache a few hooks to the waistband. It's my intention to keep the skirt simple and plain so that I can eventually make a day bodice to go with it. Hello versatility.

The next step of the project is to draw up the bodice pattern. I am going to keep it very simple. I have enough fabric to get it out of the tartan (phew!), and I bought some lovely purple fringing that my cousin spotted at spotlight on the weekend to use instead of a bertha. I also picked up some flowers to make a garland of sorts for my hair (note to self - buy ribbons to match). The only decision I really need to make is what to do at the waist. The bottom of the bodice is going to be cut straight across, a late 1850s style that I like, but I need to decide if I go for a contrast purple velvet belt, or a contrast purple silk bow. I have to admit I am leaning towards the bow, because I have a weird fixation on bows in my historical gowns. Everything would have bows, fringing, pompoms and tassels if I could get away with it. If I do go with the sash option, I will most likely fringe the ends as well.

But, back to it. I promise that there will be progress shots as I get further along on the project.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vintage Fashion Fair - October

It's been a while since I last updated, but the only excuse I have is that I picked up a nasty head cold and have spent most of the last week in bed asleep, so there is a bit to catch up on. I will start with last Friday evening (the 29th). My cousin and I attended the Brisbane Vintage Fashion Fair at Ascot. They run these things about four times a year, and with this one being the last for 2010, I thought it might be nice to attend. We also decided to try our luck at the Fashion competition where participants have the opportunity to win spending money for the Fair. When they listed Victorian among the vintage styles that they were looking for, we decided it would be a lovely time for us to wear our bustle gowns again.

We stood around for about an hour waiting for them to run the show (yes they were late) but it was made worthwhile when we took out first prize. We got $200 worth of vouchers to spend at the fair. It's strange, normally you would see so many things that you could buy and have to restrain. When you have a $100 that you know you are allowed to spend, it is not that easy. But I managed to snag some amazing finds - namely hats, and beautiful vintage ones at that. Now I will have to find some fabric and dig through my patterns to make matching dresses, and make up events that I can wear them to.

My haul:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SG Uniform Progress

I have gotten three packages in the last three days, so I give you...

Pants - olive drab vietnam fatigue pants
For the price that I found them on ebay, it was not worth the time, effort or fabric purchase of actually making them myself. Not to mention a heck of a lot simpler to just buy them. Also lucky in that they come in a wide range of sizes. The only way that you would run into a problem is if you are a petite woman. Mine have cost me under $40AUD.

Shirt -
black t-shirt
This one didn't come from ebay. I ducked over to Big-W in my lunch hour and picked up a plain black bonds t-shirt. You can really go with anything that you want. Just as long as it is a black knit shirt. It should be slightly form-fitting and not swallow you whole, but as long as you are comfortable. It varies in the show, sometimes they wear short sleeve, sometimes long sleeve or 3/4 and sometime a tank top style. Really you should be able to get something for under $20.

The jacket - olive drab G-8 WEP jacket.
I have found quite a few on ebay made by scifi-hero. From what I have ready these are pretty screen accurate. Normally I would make the clothing pieces, but after looking at how they are made, not to mention trying to find the correct fabrics, it is just so much simpler to just purchase. If you are looking at making the jacket, the sort of fabric you want is cotton ripstop (sometimes called ribstop) it has a square pattern woven into the fabric. And you are after an olive drab fabric. One of the other advantages of purchase a pre-made one is that it already has the velcro swatches on it for the badges that you need to attach. It is also a lot more complex than I expected, with all the detail ribbing, pockets and zips. Mine has cost me around the $250 AUD mark and I think it was well spent.

Tactical Vest
Now we start getting into some of the detail bits and pieces of the costume. The thing I love about having a tactical vest for my costume is that it has heaps of pockets. There is no need for me to carry around a bag while at a con, or try and build pockets into my costume because they are legitimately there. I bought my vest through here (the vest guy). It looks great and they have a wide range of sizes available but you may run into problems if you are really petite. I was really surprised of the fabric that they are made - it is a plastic like net sort of thing. I guess that means that it will breathe, but it was definitely not what I expected. These ended up costing around $160AUD


Zat Holster
The holster came from the same place that I bought the tactical vest. (link) One of the best things is that they have holsters for left and right handed people, so you can get one that suits you. This quite simply hangs off the belt and clips around the upper thigh. This one cost me about $55AUD.

P90 Tac
The tac came from the vest guy again (link) and only set me back about $50AUD. I probably could have whipped up something appropriate myself but I think it would have taken quite a bit of playing around to get exactly what I wanted, so it was just easier to purchase this, and it seemed prudent as I was already putting in an order to just add a little more. The way I see it, I am already paying for shipping, so I may as well just add in the extra lightweight items as well.

Zat Gun
Again, ebay saved my on the zat gun, though I did get this a while ago. From what I have found there aren't that many people out there casting zat guns, but I did find one seller on ebay who sells a whole range of cast movie and tv replica weapons. They are unfinished and unpainted, so you will need to do a little research on what the finished paint job should look like, but if you are desperate for a zat, this would be one of the best ways to get one. I will worn you though, that they do seem to be picked up quite quickly, so you may have to bid a bit higher to get what you want. I spent around the $80 mark to get mine. This is the seller (link). Now I just have do the actual painting on my own.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SG Progress

I got another lovely package in the mail this morning. Like I said in my previous post, everything is about to start rolling in. I ordered everything about 2 weeks ago now, so they should all be on their way.

Again, an eaby purchase. I went for ones that didn't have the side zip, but you could easily just purchase some black tactical boots or army disposal shoes to get an appropriate look. I wanted something that would fit and I could justify spending the money in the belief that I will wear them for other costumes. Namely scifi like stargate and battlestar galactica. My suggestion is to spend some time hunting around on ebay to give you a guideline of some prices. You may luck out and pick up a cheap second-hand pair. Mine set me back $150AUD
The only issue you run into when buying your shoes on-line is the sizing. For some reason, Americans seem to think that Australian sizings are bigger, but they aren't, and are in fact relatively the same. My advice is to have a look at the tongue in your sneakers and go by the European sizings. Mine ended up being a little too big, but nothing that some thick socks and tight lacing could not fix. The way I see it though is that it is better to have boots that are slightly too big than slightly too small. Otherwise, I was very surprised at how comfortable they are. They make me want to do some of my other sci-fi costumes. At the rate I am going, I am going to have to find more pop culture conventions to attend so that I can wear my costumes more often. I may have to start looking at travelling inter-state.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stargate Offworld Uniform

I am so excited. My Stargate uniform bits and pieces are starting to arrive. Well, my first package at any rate. Of course, it ends up being the simplest of items, but still it is a start.

Note - Ebay is your friend, and I warn you now that this is not a cheap costume by any stretch of the imagination to put together. But then, I am a costumer and wanted something accurate. You could probably get something that works on a cheaper budget, but you will find that most stargate fans who are inclined to costume are going to spend a lot of money on getting their costume correct.

Ebay. I found this seller that has a massive range of Olive Drab military garments and accessories. From all my research there are plenty of options for headwear so you really should be able to find something that suits you. I chose to go for the military cap (very similar to a movie cap that I already own and love) and I am particularly happy with it. My brother wanted a Boonie hat, and they are worn in the show - particularly by Daniel Jackson. While I was at it, I ordered two bandanas as well, mainly because they were only a couple of dollars extra and it means that I have a bit more versatility with my uniform. More options so to speak. I did notice that the seller also had the tactical helmets. They are a replica costume prop so they aren't going to stop a bullet, but really is that what you want in your costume? I was very tempted but though that they postage was a little bit much to get it to Australia. But by all means, if you live in the US, I think that this would be a great option.

This came from the same seller that I bought the headwear from (link is above). I ordered two but I underestimated the size, so my brother will just have to wear another belt. Big bonus though, they only set me back $4.95 each and they are exactly what I wanted. Now I just have to hope that they pants I have ordered have the correct size belt loops. If not, I am going to be seriously annoyed.

All in all, I am pleased with my purchases so far, and I have had a couple of shipping notifications, so now it is just a matter of waiting.