Monday, May 28, 2012

Modern Woman

How can a costumer resist when an exhibition comes to town displaying works from 1850-1910? The girls in Brisbane certainly can't. We were lucky enough to find a mutual date for all of us to attend the Modern Woman Exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) in May. The exhibition displayed a selection of works from male and female artists throughout history. There were some truly amazing pieces on display and we all gazed in awe at the detail achieved with pastels - there may be some art lessons in our future. One truly unique piece on display featured a musical evening scene that was painted to be made into a fan. On our way to the gallery shop, we were sidetracked by many other pieces of historical art on display - these ones owned by the QAG, so were able to photographed. Three hours later, we sat down to lunch. While there, we decided that these sort of outings need to by much more frequent - it was a lovely and relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning.
I decided that I wanted to wear my gold and orange bustle ensemble again, but was a little loathe to have it exactly the same as last time. So, I paired it with my first gold skirt with the massive train and I styled my wig a little differently than last time. I think it worked successfully, and it made me feel like I was wearing a different outfit. I am now considering making a different hat that would go with it all so that I can mix and match just that little more. And of course, I am planning to turn it all into an evening ensemble with a new bodice for the heritage ball later this year. It really is a good thing that I was able to get more of that gold fabric...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Steampunk Safari

We are talking Steampunk. I had been wanting to organise a Steampunk event for the Australian Costumers Guild for some time now, and took the chance this year. And since I had a safari costume in the plans what better event to do than a safari to the zoo? We headed to the Alma Park Zoo in Brisbane (located on the North Side of town). It has been around for 70 years, so it is one that is very well established, and I must say rather beautiful.

We wandered around all day, admiring the animals. Some we were able to feed, and we did, dirty noses and all. While others were just too cute not to stare at. I managed to get some pretty good photos of some of the animals, but I had a few stand-out moments of the day. The Red Pandas are of course my favourite and always will be - the pair of them were very active and running around their enclosure. The marmosets were just too cute not to appreciate, and I did love the lemurs. I even bought a stuffed red panda toy and a lemur toy. And as a final treat of my day, I had my photo take with a koala. she was just beautiful and quite happy to be held. It was a thoroughly fantastic day, and a place that I would definitely look at going to again.
Since it was mother's day, I took along my mum and dad with me for the day. And they both dressed up. I tweaked my mum's pirate wench costume into a Steampunk gypsy and a few historical pieces from my dad's wardrobe and he became a journalist.

As for my costume, it was completely new. I had always planned on a steampunk safari outfit. About 4 years ago I bought my safari hat and it has just sat in my collection waiting for a matching outfit. This time, I wanted to go for something that was very masculine inspired, however still have the victorian elements of steampunk. So, I started with my victorian corset. I made a mens victorian shirt from a simplicity pattern out of cream cotton voile, left the neckline open and rolled up the sleeves. My shorts are drafted up from the laughing moon victorian pants pattern. I had made the pants for my dad a few years ago, so wasn't too daunted by the task of making them for myself. But best of all, the pattern includes a women's cut. I didn't mock them up, which could have been a mistake, but as my luck would have it, they fit perfectly. I made sure that they have both hip pockets as well as back pockets (somewhere to tuck my gloves), and then I decided to finish them off with a cuff. As for the vest, I drafted it up from a modern vest pattern, cutting out bust shaping so that it would fit properly over my corset, and then I added welts to the front so that I would have somewhere for my pocket watch. I topped it all off with cream kilt socks, brown leather boots, a should bag, a necktie and a safari hat. Oh and I dug out my long burgundy wig so that I could have a lovely long plait running down my back. Overall, I am incredibly pleased with how it turned out. The only thing I want to add is a blunderbuss weapon. I haven't made one as yet, as the zoo wasn't an appropriate venue for weapons, but I can tell you that it is coming.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Regency Turban Tutorial

When it came time to try and hide my then half turquoise coloured hair (now half blonde) for a regency costume, I started searching around for turban hats. There are a lot of different styles and some that I would dearly love to have a go at some time, but for my first turban, I took it to it's simplest form and whipped up a really quick one. I was really pleased how it turned out, so when I made a couple for my mum for her Birthday (she does not have much of an aptitude for doing her hair), I decided to take a few shots and put together a tutorial.

- fabric, approximately 80cm (mainly because I make bias as the turban band). So far mine have been made out of dupion silk, but a lightweight cotton or silk would be just as lovely.
- matching thread
- contrast thread
- trimmings

Step 1.
Patterning - I don't actually have a pattern for my turbans, but it would be simple to make one. It is simply two pieces. The first is a circle as the crown. I cut mine with an 4" radius. I simply fold my fabric into 4 or 8, measure each edge and draft the curve of the circle, then cut.

The second piece is the band, I make this as bias cut fabric so that it will fit tight to my head, but still have room for any movement and with the intention that it will not give me a headache. This is cut by simply folding the selvedge edge of the fabric to the cut (hopefully straight) edge of the fabric and cutting along the 45 degree angle. I then measure out about 2 -3 inches from this and cut. How much you cut will depend on how wide you want your turban band. The finished width will be half this measurement minus 2 cm seam allowance.

Step 2.
Unfold your crown puff. Change the setting on your sewing machine to a long stitch and loosed the tension. Using a contrast thread, sew around the outside of your puff at about 6mm. Sew another row on the inside the width of your machine foot away from this. Leave the ends of the thread long and do not back stitch. This is your gathering thread.

Step 3.
Press. You will have a nightmare time later trying to iron a sewn in puff, so make sure to do it now and get out any unwanted creases.

Step 4.
Make your bias band. Line up the ends of the bias and sew the wrong sides together. Open out so that you have one continuous piece. (depending on the size of your head and the length of your bias strip, you may not need to join). Iron the seam flat. Fold your bias in half and press. Wrap the piece of bias around your head where you want the turban to sit. Cut to the necessary length, but make sure that you leave a seam allowance. Open out the fold, and sew the ends together to give one circle.

Step 5.
Mark the four equal points on the circle puff and the band (this will help you make sure that you gather up the puff evenly) Gather the puff to fit the band by pulling on one side of the long threads (the bobbin side works better). Match up your four points. Make sure that you have changed your machine settings back to normal sewing and put in your matching thread. Sew the puff to the band with a 1cm seam. Pull out the gathering threads (the reason I use a contrast is so that it is easy to see which thread to pull out).

Step 6.
Press a 1cm seam allowance on the other half of the bias band. Turn this to the inside, encasing raw edges of puff and whip stitch in place.
Step 7.
Decorate. Feathers, flowers, tassels, beads. You really can go to town.
Step 8.
Wear. I always make sure that the puff is pulled one way and not sitting up on top - that leads to shower cap territory.
And there you have it. Your very own shower cap, er, Regency Turban. :D