Friday, May 27, 2011

What's next?

With all the events that I have been attending lately, its a wonder that I have any time to whip up my new projects. But, even though I have been booked out the last few weeks, there is still more to come. Upcoming I have at least a lolita meet, a birthday party, regency re-enactment, medieval events, victorian. The list just doesn't end.

What I am working on most urgently now is getting ready for History Alive. It's a big re-enactment event here in Brisbane over the Queens Birthday long weekend. We head out on Friday to set up and schlep home Sunday night. I'm glad that the public holiday is Monday - I get my day of rest in before I have to head back to work. But, as with every year, I look at having more exciting pieces to add to our re-enactment scene. Last year, my biggest project was making the shade shelter. My wonderful father did the poles and ropes for me.

This year, I have my Dad making me a historical table. It's actually my Christmas present from him, and has taken some time for us to come up with a complete design and actually start making it. Now it is coming down to crunch time and he is almost finished. I won't spoil it and you will have to wait until it is complete for photos, but I am so proud of him and what he has been able to accomplish.

In the meantime, I am trying to get the bits and pieces ready for me to take, so the list of my intentions:
1. Table cloth (to protect the fabulous new table that is being made)
2. Tapestry ground covering (picked up some really cheap tapestry fabric ($5/metre) at spotlight)
3. Small table cloth (to hide the hideous old camping table that we use for tea)
4. Matress Slip cover (to act as a sheet and keep my mattresses together and hidden as my bedding)
5. Regency Apron (to protect my gown - errr, have not started this yet)

Possible Items:
6. Muff
7. Pelisse
8. Regency Top Hat

And finally, a quilt. I realise now that the quilt is not going to get done in time for History Alive, so instead, I would like to have it ready for the next regency event that I go to which will be in August. At this stage, I have a few pieces of fabric that I intend to use, but have not been able to source it all. But I am intending to draw up my embroidery designs for the quilt and take them along with me to sew while we are being ladies at our events. This way, I will be both be doing lady-like things and being productive.

Hmmm, lots to do, little time to do it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A pirates life for me.

The month of May marked the return of Captain Jack Sparrow to the movie theatres. For me, this posed the perfect opportunity to get dress up and head to a session. Of course, I roped in a couple of fellow costumers to go with me; and we had a blast. I pulled out my Tia Dalma costume again for a re-wear, while being surrounded with tricorns, swords and guns. The movie was fantastic and well worth watching, and going along in costume just made it all the more special for me.

We got to the cinema early enough to take some photos with the pirates display in the foyer. The cinema attendant even removed the cordon from around the display for us so that we could get close for our photos and then took a group shot for us as well. It really makes me want to host an international talk like a pirate day event later this year. 'Cause lets face it. Pirates are cool!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'40s on parade

For the first time this year, I got all done up in full Vintage on Sunday and headed off to the Petrie markets for a '40s on parade morning. The day started out raining, but it seems that by my bringing an umbrella, I managed to scare any wet weather away. My cousin and I rolled in at around 10am, just as everything was coming into full swing. My strolled around a few shops before meeting up with a fellow costumer. We had a blast of a time, and I managed to restrain myself, only bringing home cheese and honey. We stopped for a few photos in our finery before calling it a day and taking our sore feet home.
I, of course took the opportunity to make a new dress for the occasion. It was rather a prudent idea considering that I wore out my last 1940s dress some months ago. (You know it is time for retirement when the seams start to give out from wear). At any rate, it was the perfect thing to hunt through my fabric stash and pull out something that I already had on hand. In this instance, it was my navy and white spot fabric. It's a bit of a polyester sort of fabric, so perfect for the cooler months. I picked out a pattern that I had made before, but decided to play on the sheerness of the fabric by making it long sleeve as well. As for the day, I dug out my blue vintage hat and purse to go with it, some seamed stockings, vintage style shoes and the black slip underneath. It's amazing how long it takes to get ready in full vintage. Getting the hair set in rollers, full makeup done and all the layers of the dress. But it is well worth the effort, I always feel very feminine and pretty when I am in full vintage.
The funniest thing though are the comments. You get the rude looks, where the people look you up and down as they walk past as if to say "what on earth are you wearing?", then there are the people who do the discreet stare, the ones who just shrug and then the lovely older ladies who say "why don't we wear this anymore?". You might not, but I certainly do. I mean we all have those days when you just cannot bear to dress up, when pulling out the jeans and t-shirt seem the best option, especially when you haven't had enough sleep and you stare at your wardrobe unenthusiastically bleary eyed, and think about the lovely dress sitting in the ironing pile and just cannot bring yourself to put in the effort. But then there are the days that you do make the effort, and nothing is as nice as the comments you get. It really makes you feel like a girl. I want more of those days!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The busy life of a costumer

What else has been going on lately, you ask? I had a day off on Monday this week, so was able to get stuck into some of my long awaited sewing projects. In particular some vintage and lolita dresses that are suitable to wear to work. I also managed to spend some time sifting through the plastic tubs of fabric, organising what I had in stock (let's just say that I really should do some more sewing before I buy any more fabric).

In the realm of finished accomplishments though, are my new Victorian Stays. The last pair that I had, were about 2 years old and had been worn to death. To the point that I had bones poking out top and bottom that would jab me in the hip and armpit as I moved around. And in fact, the last time that I work it, one of the seams decided that it was time to bust. All in all, it was a scream to me that it was about time for a new set. Cue an upcoming Victorian event and you have me motivated to get stuck into it. I used the same pattern as my last set, as they still fit really well (though next time that might change). I dug through my stash of silks and pulled out some lovely purple that was perfect for the outer layer, then pulled out some pink sweets quilting fabric from Japan to act as my lining. Everything in the middle though, that you don't see is left over scraps from other projects. All in all, my stays are five layers thick: 1 silk, 1 cotton (as the silk is so thin), 1 shapewell (stiffened cotton), 1 cotton, 1 cotton lining. Add to that the bias I add in through the middle sections to provide a backing for the boning and you have all my layers.

The way I see it is that if it is a little thicker, it is likely to take a lot longer for the bones to be able to work their way out of their casings. It probably helps too that I have rounded off the edges of all my boning instead of just the lazy cutting that I did last time (oops). Lesson learnt.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another Regency outing

Well, the weekend has more than come and gone. I spent most of my Sunday heading out to one of the heritage houses in the Brisbane Area - Wolston House. It is one of those houses that was originally a farm house on a large surrounding property. Nowadays it sits with views of the Jail over the rise and the Abattoir which by days end gives off the most pungent smell of cow and blood.

At any rate, the house is lovely, and the Kaleidoscope Dancers were invited to perform. Originally we had planned to wear Crinoline as the house was built in the 1860s, however as our musicians do not have the correct period garments, we instead went for Regency. And yes, we did have live musicians with us this time. It was really nice to be able to dance to live music rather than a recording, though dancing on grass is always a unique experience. Especially when a long setting has been put on the mower and there are a few ditches and holes in the lawn. It took skipping to a whole new level. But I did have fun, and even picked up a lovely basket at one of the stalls for $2 - perfect for carrying my stuff to historical events.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A crinoline outing...

Sunday. What we like to call the day of rest. For a costumer, not so much. It is the day of last minute sewing projects and events. I am just glad that Monday was a public holiday - I needed the rest.

But what it all boils down to, is that on Sunday I attended the Redland Heritage Festival with both the Australian Costumers' Guild and the Kaleidoscope Dancers. First up off the mark was the performance for the Australian Costumer's Guild. We did a reverse strip. For those not in the know, this is wear (as a costumer) we start in out undergarments and put on each layer. It is a bit of an education as a lot of people just don't know what goes on underneath all out skirts to get the shapes. It tends to be pretty popular and we seem to do at least one per year. For this, I wore my gold Natural Form bustle ensemble.
After our little performance, I changed into my brand new crinoline set. I need to be in crinoline as this was the chosen theme for my dance group. Last December, I had made an evening ensemble with some lovely purple/yellow/teal tartan silk. So, to get some use out of it all, I decided to whip up a day bodice that I could wear with my skirt. I dug around in my stash for the purple velvet I had bought some time ago and got cracking on drafting up a bodice pattern. I used the Truly Victorian pagoda sleeve bodice pattern as my base and just started adjusting. I wanted a built in skirt from the bodice that was a bit fuller than my crinoline and fitted sleeves instead of bell sleeves. I ended up being a little bit limited on the amount of skirt I could build into the bodice. This was just because of the width of my fabric, and I probably didn't have quite enough to successfully be doing what was in my mind. In the end, I folded back my pattern so that there would be an v opening at the centre front. It works though, because it shows off a bit more of the skirt..

I went very simple with the construction, just flat lining everything. I tend to go this way with Victorian as it allows me to either let out the bodice or take it in if my body decides to change shape. To finish it off, I bound the hem, neckline and sleeves with a bias cut of the tartan silk. I was originally tossing up doing fur trimming, but thought that it might be too much. I'm glad I went with the silk though, it really carries the colour through the outfit. Next on the list though is a new corset. My current one is worn to the point that bones are poking out, I have busted one of the seams and the lacing is worn from being pulled. It's not very comfortable. I did have every intention of getting it done for last weekend, but 3 days of lying on the couch with a cold kind of set that back.
At any rate, I had a lovely but exhausting day. My bodice was finished in time and wearable, and I finally got to wear one of my mantillas in my hair. I have a couple of them but just don't have the appropriate gowns to wear with them. We had a lovely picnic on the grounds, did a bit of dancing and finished the day off with a quick look at the heritage museum. All in all, quite successful.