Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the cards

After the rush to get my last two costumes done (the 15th Century and my Saber Lion) I was adamant that I would have no more rushing to get things done. No such luck I tell you. I have scrapped one thing off my list and postponed to make it at a later date, but I have unfortunately added something new. Which means that I need to get off my butt and get productive. So what am I making now?

1. Picnic at Pemberley
A blessed nothing! The open robe I had hoped to make for my mum is never going to happen in time, so I am going to lend her one of my bonnets and sashes to go with her yellow dress. A shawl may be needed as well - depending on how fresh the weather is this weekend.

2. Gangsters Ball
Super late notice, but I will be attending a gangsters ball in a just over a weeks time. Meaning that I need an outfit. I really want to use up some fabric in my stash, and went hunting for something slinky. I have come up with a choice of fabrics. I have just over 3 metres of red or just under 3 metres of purple. My biggest decision though is what style to do. 3 options. A 1950s fitted dress, a 1920s handkerchief hem dress or a 1920s drop waist tiered dress (3 tiered ruffles). I also have a 1930s pattern, but would have to buy enough fabric to make the dress. Please give me your opinions and help me decide!

3. Redcliffe Festival
We have decided as a bit of a group effort to go in Crinoline. Thankfully this means that I just pull my purple tartan skirt and velvet bodice out of the cupboard to wear. But, I am going to give it a red hot go to make the matching hat. It's all cut out and has partially been started, so I really should finish it in time.
4. My birthday
I am hosting a Georgian dinner with my close friends, and as it's my Birthday, I want something new. I will be re-using an open robe pattern for myself, so that is no big worry, I just have to cut the fabric and get cracking. The real worry is that my brother has decided that yes, he will dress up for me. Meaning that I need to get something made for him too - I am aiming to have a shirt, knee pants and vest done. The only part the I expect to be of issue is the pattern drafting. My brother has a rather rotund (nice way of putting it) stomach that I have to get around. Of course, the pattern that I have don't really accommodate his size, so it could be a bit of an issue. At least I have a couple of days before the party to get it all made up. I am taking him fabric shopping on Saturday so that he can help choose the fabric (only fair considering I make him pay for it!).

So, that's what's on the cards for September. If you notice, you will realise that it all equates to an event each weekend. Hmmm, can see I am going to be busy. At least the weather is starting to warm up which in theory should make me more productive of an evening.

Monday, August 29, 2011


What a weekend. I made the annual pilgrimage (as my cousin like to call it) down to the Australian Costumers Guild ball in Adelaide this weekend. We headed out to the Brisbane airport before the sun had risen to catch our 6.25am flight. On the plus side, we arrived in Adelaide bright and early ready to get our shop on. After picking up our fellow room-mates who flew in from Sydney, we headed to our little unit to check in. The best thing about this unit had to be the fact that it was only a 5 minute walk to the hall where the ball is held (a short walk to the next street over and past one building).

Our first stop of the Friday was Eastern Silk. I simply adore the store and am a frequent online customer. Of course it is nothing like being in the actual store and drooling over all the silk. If only I could afford to take it all home. The other side of Eastern Silk sell a lot of pashminas, saris and home furnishings. I took it upon myself to stock up my supplies with a couple of pashminas which are perfect for re-enacting (especially regency). We rounded out our afternoon with a trip into some local shops and the supermarket as well as a fantastic little antique shop that we spotted on our way in. I managed to score on getting a Max Factor instructional makeup book from the 1930s.

We woke up ready to go on Saturday and headed out to DKs fabrics. A couple hours later, we all stumbled out with bags full of fabric and trims. For myself I picked up some lovely linen, velveteen, pompom trim, velvet ribbons and the most amazing false eyelashes. We had to be back at the hall at 2pm for the parade rehearsal and the judging of entries into the workmanship award. I entered my 1823 ballgown that I made for JAFA this year into the workmanship competition. And I actually came out as the winner which was a huge surprise.

Later that afternoon, we all headed back to our rooms for some last minute sewing (wenz....) and to start getting ready. After the super-late fiasco that was last year, there was not going to be a chance for us to be late. As it turns out we arrived right on our schedule, each of us debuting new costumes. For me, it was my Saber Lion suit. For those not in the know she is from a game called "Fate Tiger Colosseum" that is based off the anime "Fate Stay Night". I was really pleased with my costume and in fact won one of the hall awards (for cuteness). It was a great night and we had a blast of a time.
I am really looking forward to going down again next year, and am even working on my costume plans now. I definitely don't want to be quite so last minute next time.

Below is a selection of my shots from the ball...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Living it 15th Century

Living History. On Saturday gone, I attended a living history event out at the Baden Powell Scout Grounds at Samford. It was set for the 15th Century. A few members from my re-enactment group headed on out to spend the day (including our newest little member - only 7 weeks old). It was a really lovely day. We mingled with other groups doing the same period, sat down to dinners and feasts and learnt crafts. I in fact learnt to do one of the many different styles of finger-looping. A very practical past time to make your own cording for gowns, and something that I am going to look into in the future for doing different patterns. I think a book purchase might be in order - I really learn best by getting hands on and trying. And let's face it, practice makes perfect.

It's the first that I have really delved into making historically accurate medieval costumes. In the past, all of my medieval gowns have been based on an element of fantasy or a sketch that I have seen somewhere. In the past I have tried the rectangles and squares methods all over the internet but I just seem to end up looking very frumpy. The designs just don't work well for my figure. So, this time, I bought a book. "The Medieval Tailor's Assistant". And I cannot recommend it enough! It was time-consuming and a little awkward to do up my own pattern block as described in the front of the book, but it was well worth it as you can tell from my costume. In the past, if I don't wear modern undergarments with my medieval gowns, I tend to look very flat-chested. The 15th Century Kirtle however, actually fits and provides a lot of support. Especially the one that I made - the flat-front kirtle. It actually has a piece of canvas in the front section to help provide support and by lacing it up tightly, it give a very nice bust-line. Of course, mine was made from bright green linen. (I am always one to head for the bright colours). I also whipped up a houpeland to wear over the top in the evening when it gets a little cooler. Mine is just made of two layers of blue linen in different shades. The collar and cuffs both fold back to show the contrast colour. And it is reversible. Meaning that I can wear it as either the light blue or the dark blue as the bulk colour. It's just that bit more versatile. I think though, if I am doing more 15th Century re-enactment in winter, I am going to need something a bit warmer than linen - maybe I need some wool.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

So, what's on the machine?

So, it really has been quite a while since I posted about my upcoming projects. I guess I have just been so busy attending events that I forget to do the whole progress thing. And between a few other frustrations in my life, I've had some trouble scraping up the motivation. But enough of that. I recently took a week of leave off work to dedicate to some sewing time. I don't really have that much to show for it, because I was mainly drafting up patterns for my upcoming projects. One of which was the regency dress for my mum (last post). But aside from that, I do have a few events coming up in August and September. And events mean sewing projects. (Well, to me they do).

1. 15th Century Living History (1 day)

In a couple of weeks time I will be attending a living history day in 15th Century clothing. Of course, I really don't have anything that is historically accurate in terms of medieval costume, so this meant a whole new outfit. I really struggle with medieval costumes. They are generally made up from rectangles and triangles and while that sounds simple, I really struggle to sew if I don't have a pattern. I guess it is just the way that learnt - pattern drafting and grading from a block. I work best that way. So, I jumped online and bought "A Medieval Tailor's Assistant". It has truly been a huge help, though time-consuming.

The first step was to create your pattern block. I had to enlist the help of my mum to pin the fabric in place to me so that I would be able to draft the block. It is all described in one of the chapters in the book. So, I traced off the block, cut out a mock up and tried it on. It fit perfectly! From there, I have been able to draft up the pattern for my flat front kirtle and over robe. After another mock up, I cut out the fabric and am now getting stuck into the sewing part. Unfortunately that has involved a hell of a lot of hand-sewing and that is just taking too much time (It's all that I have left now). But I am progressing and I am determined it will be ready in time. I guess it is a good thing that next Wednesday is a public holiday (show day).

2. ACG Ball - Saber Lion

So, I have been keeping this on a little hush-hush. A couple of people know what I am intending to make, but this is my very first time working with creating body suits. I was intending to pad out my body a bit, but my first mock up was a utter failure, and the padding looked really terrible. I had another hash at the pattern and I am so unbelievably pleased with it. *cue happy dance* I just need to make one simple change to the amount of allowance across the hip and then I am ready to cut my fabric. My fabric has been collected and dyed to match (well as close as I can get), and my wig arrived last week. I will just need to make a couple of style changes to it and trim up the fringe. This is saber lion: (she is from the game, Fate Tiger Colosseum)

3. Redcliffe Festival - Bustle Gown

I finally have a deadline. I have two bustle gown ensembles cut out and waiting to be sewn up. Both of them have been started, but will require quite a bit more work to be finished. I would really like to get one done for September 18th. It's not doing to worry me too much if I don't get it done in time, 'cause I do have another bustle gown that I could wear, but it would be nice. At any rate, I am hosting a Victorian picnic later this year, so I will have one done by then.

I do have a few more things up my sleeve, but I am just trying to focus on August for the moment. I suppose I had best get my butt in gear and get back to the sewing. So much to do, so little time....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Regency Dancing

Last weekend I attended a Regency dance held by Kaleidoscope (the dance group that I belong to). Originally I was not going to be able to make it along, because of a re-enactment weekend but that unfortunately fell through. It's a shame but at least I was able to make it along to the dance. I dragged along my parents and a few of my fellow costuming friends. It provided the perfect opportunity to re-wear my ballgown from JAFA this year. I really is lovely to just pull a costume out of the wardrobe to wear.

I have to admit though, I had done some preparatory sewing for the evening. But it was actually for my mum this time. I have never really been happy with the first Regency dress that I made for her. It wasn't really the best design for her and the fabric is a little "meh". So I have been meaning to make her a new ensemble for some time now. I had some fabric sitting in my stash that I had tagged for it, but it just wasn't right. After a fabric shopping trip, mum spotted the yellow voile that I bought for a snow white skirt and decided she would like to have that. Best of all though, I actually found a photograph of an extent garment that is the exact shade of yellow. As for design, I decided to just go with a very simple gathered front dress using the sense and sensibility pattern. The only really changes that I made were to cut the skirts to the width of the fabric so that they were a bit fuller and to build in a lining / petticoat layer on the skirts (the fabric is a little too sheer otherwise). I am really pleased with how it has turned out and I think that the design is very flattering for my mum. It would be better if she would wear a set of historical stays, but she prefers to go with regular undergarments underneath. At any rate, it is sitting nicely and has opened up the options for the different pieces that I can put with it. Next on the agenda is a v-front open robe out of some embroidered black voile. Hopefully I will get it done for the next regency event that I drag her to.