Monday, May 24, 2010

Times a-running-out...

It was a semi-productive weekend. I took Friday off, but ended up doing chores for most of the day. Between the baking and the washing and cleaning up the mess that was my room, I really didn't make any progress other than cutting out my brother's medieval monk costume. The only sewing I managed was a couple of seams on my medieval gown.

On the other hand though, I have completely drawn up my patterns for my ballgown and have started with mums pattern as well. In hindsight this was probably not the best use of my time because I have now realised that History Alive is only a couple of weekends away and I am not ready with my sewing. I foresee a few nights of work this week. I was hoping to get around to replacing the sleeves on my white regency gown (they are way too tight) but that is going to be the very last thing that I do, as I have only just purchased the parts to make our day shelter.

I picked up the poles on Sunday afternoon and then went to an art supply shop to buy the unprimed canvas that I will be using to make the shelter itself. They looked at me rather strangely when I asked for 9 metres of fabric, but rolled it up for me. Now this weekend I need to completely make the thing; ie - sew the two pieces together, hem them and put in eyelets. In other words I need to make a trip to a fabric store this week to purchase a needle and thread for the canvas as well as either leather for the eyelets or some metal eyelets to bash in. I am also going to have to help my father make the ridge pole and uprights as well as putting spikes on the top of my side poles. I can see that this is going to take most of my weekend. It's a good thing that I don't have any other plans.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

14th Century #2

And what did I get up to on the weekend you ask? Not much unfortunately. I am at that stage in a project where I am finding it a little difficult to just get started. Once I get going, it won't be a problem, but at this point motivation is hard to come by. The sole extent of my productivity is cutting out my new medieval outfit. There was a lot of cursing and swearing involved (and maybe a small tantrum). The reason: the pattern pieces are so big that they don't fit on our dinner table (we are talking a 6 seater dinner table) which is where I normally cut out. I ended up pushing the couches back, sweeping the floor and laying the fabric out so there so that I had enough room. Of course this then brings in the issue for furry little kitty friends who like to walk, sit and sleep on new things on the floor. Not helpful.

And then there was the drama of having it already pinned out and then realising that it would not fit that way and I would have to shift it around. Grrr.... Who knew that cutting fabric could be so frustrating. but now I am able to get on with the sewing part of it. I have Friday off this week so I am hoping to make a lot of progress. Must find the time to cut out my brother's costume as well.

Robin Hood... Medieval?

Movies. It has been a few months since I last saw one at the cinema; and when my cousin invited me to go along to see the new Robin Hood movie in costume, it struck me as a fantastic idea. It is not very often that you get the chance to dress up to see a movie. And it's not really the sort of thing that I would do by myself as I would feel like a giant knob.

It was a great opportunity for me to wear my medieval gown from last year again. Mind you, I spent half an hour on the weekend taking it in so that it would fit and look decent. As for the movie, I thought that it was pretty neat. The battle scenes were very accurate, but the costumes left a lot to be desired. And Russell Crowe was not who I would have liked to see in this role. I enjoyed it at any rate. Though, getting home after midnight was not fun when I had to be up at 6.30 to get to work today. I felt like I kept dozing off at my computer all day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mum's Early Bustle Ballgown #1‏

I almost forgot to post these. As those who celebrate it know, last weekend was Mother's Day. We don't really do much in my house, other than a nice breakfast of mum's choice and dinner. (We had pancakes). I always give her a card and a little something else. This year, I chose to get her bustle foundation made. It is made from the Truly Victorian pattern for the early bustle. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it took to put together (one I had thread). It is basically just making a skirt with a few rows of bias tape sewn on and some ruffles. The ruffles themselves are completely optional but I chose to put them on so that I would not need to make another petticoat that goes over the top. The ruffles on their own are enough to hide the ridges of the boning. As for the boning, I just grabbed out my roll of plastic tubing (from bunnings) and thread it on through. If in the future the bustle looks like it might sag, I will then replace them with something a little stronger but at this stage, it seems to be working well.
And now mum's undergarments are completely ready for me to make up her gown. While I had her in her undergarments on the weekend (because of course she wanted to try them on) I took all her measurements, so that now I just need to draw up the patterns and get cracking. I do still need to buy the lace trimmings though. And of course the medieval costumes come first.

Monday, May 10, 2010

14th Century #1

As I may have mentioned before, the Abbey medieval fair is coming up in July. I will be going on the 11th with my dance group (Dance Kaleidoscope) and I discovered that when I dug out my old medieval gown it was too big (can be taken in though) and the train was way way way too long to dance in (holding it up parallel to the floor on both sides and it still drags. This is not really a good idea when you are thinking of dancing. Plus the fact that the linen seems to weigh an absolute tonne and makes the dress hard on the arms to hold up.

So, I am making a new medieval gown. I found a drawing of a 14th Century kirtle with a cotehardie over the top that I loved. And then while browsing through some John William Waterhouse paintings (one of my favourite artists) I spotted a similar medieval gown and decided that mine was to be the same colours. The painting is titled "Miranda" and the colours are a deep red for the kirtle and a blue/green for the cotehardie.

After a trip to the fabric store last weekend, I came home with my linen in colours that were close. With the intention of dying the fabric to get the correct colour. I should mention now that my brother decided that since he will be coming with me that he wanted a monk costume (it won't take long to make). But I couldn't get brown linen. My response to this was to buy yellow at $1.99 / metre. I tried dying the yellow first. Notice that I said the word "try". I used a dylon powder dye that you dissolve and add to a large bucket or tub with your fabric and salt; and ended up with a bit of a mottled pale yellow/brown. Quite horrible really.

My next attempt was on the red fabric. I couldn't get the correct colour of linen and ended up with a lighter red. This time I used idye (a newish brand). It is a lot simpler. You put everything in the washing machine (dye is in a dissolvable packet), put it on the hottest setting and let it go. No standing around and stirring the fabric required. It turned out perfectly. I followed this with dying my blue (navy) fabric with an emerald dye to give it a green tint in the light, and again perfect. So I sent my brother to spotlight to buy that brand of dye in brown. Another cycle in the washing machine and it is the exact colour that he wants and no mottled effect. Perfect.

So my lessons learnt are to never again use dylon and instead go for the idye. They even have a ipoly range for polyester fabrics. I spent the time while waiting for the washing machine to finish drafting up the patterns that I will need to make all my medieval. Thankfully the only one that really required something different was the sleeve of my cotehardie. Now, I am looking forward to cutting the fabric this week and making a start on getting them made up. The sooner the better in my opinion.

Brisbane Vintage Fashion Fair MAY

Ah, the weekend. I dived out of bed bright and sparky on Saturday morning, ready to attend the Brisbane Vintage Fashion Fair at the Doomben Racecourse. My hair was up in rollers and the dress was freshly ironed when Cat, Donna and Kerry turned up. Still in my slip, I pulled out the hair rollers and teased and combed my hair into some semblance of a 1950s hairstyle. Dress, makeup, jewellery, perfume and shoes quickly followed. Kerry's hair was styled and makeup done and then we were on our way.

This time it was a new venue for the Fashion Fair. In the past it was held at West End where you had to contend with the Saturday markets, and parking was a nightmare. Now, there is heaps of parking available and the venue is a lot bigger. Much more space that they can spread out in, meaning more stalls and better goodies for me to find. I got a few things this time; white elbow length gloves (perfect for with my historical ballgowns), blue silk fabric (I think it is silk. I got 4 metres for $15, and have yet to do a burn test), tatting lace, and some 1950s style glasses (which you can see in the photos).

We had worked up quite an appetite after shopping around for so long, and headed on down the street to Le Bon Choix where we feasted on beautiful cakes and tarts. After our quick trip home, we parted ways and I headed to my bed for a lovely afternoon nap, before getting up to cook dinner. Ah, the life of a 1950s lady.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


And what a productive day it was. My first stop of the morning was to East Coast fabrics to start trying to select fabric for my upcoming projects. I managed to get the right colour blue linen that I want for the outer robe of my upcoming medieval. I did manage to get some red for the kirtle, but I will need to dye it a darker colour. I also picked up some yellow linen (to be dyed brown) for my brothers medieval. A bargain at $1.99 / metre.

But the real wins of the day were the ballgown fabrics. The first one I spotted was some natural vegetable dyed silk at $9.95 / metre that my mum decided would be perfect for her gown (the first one). Now I just need to buy the trimming ribbons and a voile or chiffon or georgette for the overskirt and trimmings. The second find of the day is the gold fabric for my ballgown. Natural form. I decided that I adore the colours in the fashion plate and would try to find them to make for my dress. And I did. Downside is that it is a synthetic fabric, but it was only $7.95 / metre and it is 3 metre wide fabric. Making it a lot cheaper. I just need to buy the complementary orange silk as decorations. (Sorry about the photos, my camera did not like the fabric shine or slub).

Our next stop of the day was to an antique centre at paddington. A great way to waste a lot of time, but I managed to get 3 beautiful tea trios and a silver cream spoon. All very reasonably priced too. Oh, and as promised, I took some photos of the silk ribbon embroidery on my blue regency spencer...