Still Not Dead

Wow… July.  My last post was July.  How many months ago is that, even?  I’m not sure I want to know.

The good news is that I’ve still been sewing in that time, to the point where I’ve actually finished a few things, including ripping an op-shop dress apart and turning it into a miniskirt that any Sailor senshi would be proud to fight evil in, and finally finding something to do with that chartreuse silk satin seersucker (try saying that three times fast), which was make that sucker (ha) into a cool-as-a-cucumber summer cami pretending to be that elusive beast the going-out-top.  Not that I get out much in summer.  I’m just fooling myself into thinking I need something in case I did, and then wearing it around in non-going-out contexts with sneakers because I’m desperate to look like I don’t take myself seriously.  Seriously.

I haven’t managed photos in either of them because I’m lazy, and because I got sidetracked with other creative interests.  Insert shameless plug for new Tumblr!  Check out my geek art!

So I wouldn’t have anything to report, but then I joined the Melbourne Opera chorus on a whim, and they did a thing on Saturday involving the O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, which is fun, and I enjoyed breaking out the misheard lyrics video on Youtube and having a merry chortle.  The dress code was gowns for ladies.  As usual.  The forecast was cold and rainy.  Most of my gowns are backless.  Bad combo?  Wrong.  Excellent combo.  Why?  Excuse to make new gown.  With sleeves.  And maybe even a back.  But perhaps not a front.

The inspiration was mostly Gucci…

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With a dash of Ralph Lauren…

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…And a whole heap of dressing gown.

First step, I ripped apart the Green Soprano Gown, salvaging roughly 5m of relatively undamaged silk satin.  Then I had a play:

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I liked this idea a lot.  So then I had a think.  I wanted a really relaxed, draped look, so my normal method of mathsing out a pattern and then testing with a billion toiles wasn’t going to really work.  I’d enjoyed draping on the form so much that I thought I’d give moulage a go.

DSC_0684First I made a fitted back lining, then started draping the other parts onto it.  Kind of in a robe a l’anglaise-y sort of way… shh.

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I backstitched the back panel on over the gathered front, then turned in the neckline and point a rabbatre-d it.  Then came a long debate over what to do with the side skirt seams, which was resolved by putting it on, pinning them where they looked right and sewing them down.  It was liberating after having been pretty strict with myself about sticking to patterns for the past couple of years.

The only sad thing was cutting the back hem.  I loved the look of a big long train, but past experiences of people stepping on them have taught me they’re not a good thing.  Cue anecdote about having the back of the Atonement dress stepped on just before the bows at a Mozart Requiem in 2012. All the snaps at the back came undone and I had to hold it together to preserve the innocence of the first violins.  Not good.  (That link will also show you the gown that I ripped apart to get the fabric for this one)

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It was still sad to cut away that swathe of silk though.  So very sad.

The sleeves I wasn’t game to drape, so I just patterned them like usual.  They’re a straight-up French sleeve, with tucks on the inner elbow for bendage. Finishing involved three rolled hems, a twill waist tape, one hook and eye and a discreet tack to keep the split in the skirt from flapping too far open.  I still need to make a proper sash for it, but for all intents and purposes it’s pretty much done.  It goes on like a dressing gown.  Funnily enough.  It sure looks like one.  So I struck some vaguely film noir poses and had a little fun:

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You can’t think little old me responsible for that grisly murder, can you?

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Dammit, Johnny, fix me a scotch already.

 It’s got me addicted to moulage now (seriously, the whole process was so organic and fun, and a helluva lot quicker then draft, toile, redraft, toile).  I’m thinking of doing more while I have the time, and filling in some of the gaps in my audition/day-performance wardrobe… Stay tuned.  But not too tuned.  In case I don’t post for another six months again, you know?

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End in Sight!

I’m now ridiculously close to finishing those Bombshells costumes.  All mine lacks is a hem and a little hook and eye behind the belt to prevent any gapping.  Folkey’s is super close too.  The skirt’s done, and all it needs is the belt, waistband, buttons and hem.  Very excited to go busking in them!  The only thing, buttonholes are monotonous.  Another eleven to go and then I don’t have to do any more until I stupidly decide to go and make some other thing with an idiotic number of buttons.

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Victory!  Well, sans hemming, but victory nevertheless!

DSC_0142Smug mode.

Of course, I couldn’t help myself…

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MOON PRISM POWER!

If I did make a sailor scout costume though (which of course I am massively tempted to do.  Hey, it’d be cheap – hardly any yardage!), it’d be Sailor Jupiter.  I haven’t had hair like Usagi/Serena since primary school.

Progress!

Having finally finished my Masters degree (eep!) I now have a bit of time to work on finishing those Bombshells costumes.  It’s now at a point where to finish them properly I have to go to one of the cheapo fabric shops in Brunswick and get some cheap vintage buttons, and hopefully some belt buckles too.  At the moment the skirt of mine’s just pinned to the bodice, because I’m going to make the belt a built-in feature of the waistband, so there’s (again) not much point in attaching it until I have a belt buckle.  But what it does mean is pictures!

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Words cannot express how proud I am.  My machine sewing is normally horrendous, but these are all even and neat and stuff.  And yes those are more cartoons in the background.

DSC_0132So I watch Sailor Moon while I sew.  What of it? …

… well, apart from meaning that the bodice of my dress has spent the last few days looking like this:

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Sailor Soprano!

Oh, and in case anyone’s curious/hasn’t seen it doing the rounds on the book of face, here is one of the cartoons that was on the wall behind me.  They’re doing the Ring Cycle in Melbourne at the moment, you see, and I managed to score a ticket to the dress rehearsal of Siegfried.  A particular scene towards the end had me and Folkey giggling.  Unfortunately, this will only make sense if you’re familiar with the opera, but I’ll try my best to explain:

Siegfried’s parents were siblings (Wagner is unfortunately chock-full of horrible horrible incest, FYI), children of Wotan, king of the gods.  Understandably, Siegfried is not very bright.  A little birdy (literally) tells him that there’s this chick called Brünnhilde who’s basically doing a Sleeping Beauty atop a mountain surrounded by fire and only the manliest man-hero can get past the fire and wake her up and so on.  Brünnhilde is actually Wotan’s daughter, so it’s another whole level of ick-Siegfried’s-going-to-do-his-aunt-ness.  Anyway.  So Siegfried, who literally can’t feel fear because he’s too inbred, goes and rescues her, but there’s this whole scene where he forgets he’s up there looking for a lady (because he’s inbred and also he’s never actually met a lady-person) and gets a rude shock.

Siegfried Suppresses

Siegfried might be suppressing something.

Also, in the actual opera that whole exchange probably goes for about 45 minutes.

Also also, I apologise for the poor picture quality on some of my earlier posts.  They were bigger before, I swear.  I guess I’m still on the ol’ WordPress learning curve.

Bomb(shell)s Away!

So my housemate the Adorable Folkey and I also sing together in a duo called The Bombshells, where we basically do Andrews Sisters covers and sway in a semi-coordinated manner (we’re really not very good at the swaying.  We look like we might stop singing at any moment to lumber off in search of braaaaiiiinnnnssss….).   We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to do stuff like put together a website, and a facebook page and business cards and stuff, but something else we need is some cute matching ’40s style outfits, because every other group that does this sort of thing looks darn spiffy.  It’s lame to show up in sneakers and ponytails.

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LAME.

I’ve been doing a bit of research (because I want them to be semi accurate of course!) and thinking carefully from a drafting perspective because my pattern-drafting manual was first published in ’61, which is close enough to the ’40s that a lot of the techniques would still be very similar, especially in the basic edition. And the author does talk quite a lot about how ‘our mothers’ used to do things. Well.  My mum barely knows what end of the needle the thread goes in, but I think they meant more like her mum, who was a nurse in the ’40s.   Every time I start thinking about ’40s style I think of my Nana, and of Aunty Izzy, who still dressed in killer ’40s fashions right into her 70s.

Because Adorable Folkey and I are both very pear-shaped, I’ve gone with a quarter-circle swing-style skirt with two box-pleats in front for striding (Folkey never walks, she only strides).  It’s mostly bodice and sleeve options that were up for debate, and because we’re also both card-carrying members of the flat-chested community, anything that looks good on one of us will suit the other.

My research took me to these two lovely blogs, (Lucky Lucille even LOOKS like Aunty Izzy used to!  It’s incredible!  And now I also know why there’s never any good fabric at Savers… because this awesome lady gets there first!) and between oogling their vintage patterns and taking random suggestions over facebook and from Folkey (because I really want her to like these costumes so she’ll actually wear them), I drafted a sailor-esque bodice with little pintucks at the waist and a dropped front shoulder seam.  The consensus over facebook was that our friends preferred navy blue out of all the options I gave.The other two were khaki and grey because Folkey is famous for being allergic to bright colours and prints.  She’s not really.  But I wanted to go for a more uniform-esque aesthetic anyway, so solid colour it was!  I got oodles of navy blue cotton voile and a bit of white too, because I don’t want us to bake doing Bourke St Mall in summer.

So basically, this is where I’m up to:

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Cue Handel Messiah: HAAAAAAAAAAA-LE-LU-JA!!!

It looks a tad odd on Dido because she’s spent the past few weeks wearing my robe a l’Anglaise, and so she’s still all compressed and hasn’t puffed back out to a non-18th-century shape yet.

Construction-wise, it’s actually been pretty good!  I haven’t run into any major barriers yet, and I’ve had enough foresight to do things like reinforce the front edges where the buttons are going (with some heavy canvas stuff) and so forth.  The only thing that hasn’t gone to plan is that my zipper foot is missing, so I can’t make piping until I source a new one.  I compromised by just peeking the lining out a little from under the shoulder seams.  It’s not as bold, but I sort of like the way it sits really flat and doesn’t distract from the massive bias-cut sailor stripes on the collar.  I’m also very proud of my pin-tucks and topstitching.  I’m not normally good at things that need to be even and/or symmetrical, but BEHOLD:

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Not totally even but pretty damn close.

Sadly my phone is being pissy and refusing to release the photos of the topstitching; you’ll just have to take my word that it’s awesome.

I also got a set of pinking shears.  I’ve been meaning to for ages, but the fact that pinking was a popular method of seam finishing in the ’40s tipped me over the edge.  I LOVE THEM.  It’s so quick and easy and attractive and doesn’t waste butt-loads of thread.  It also means that I might get around to trimming that robe a l’Anglaise, but that’s for another time.

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Pinking is cool.