Something Fishy About Them Florals

It should be a familiar story at this point.  I see a garment online/in a store/on Man Repeller.  It’s beautiful.  I want to be the sort of person who wears whatever that is.  But HOLY FUDGING SKIT-BALLS BATMAN IS THAT THE PRICE??!!  HAHAHAHAHA!  NOPE.  Cannot afford.  Nooooooo.

This time, the garment in question was a little sun-dress from The Reformation.  Now I am usually vehemently Not A Dress Person.  I often have places to be via foot or bus or train with multiple bags of bricks to carry (you know how heavy bags sneakily make your dress ride up at the back until everyone on the train platform gets some accidental fan-service?).   I also hate being the person clutching their skirt with grim determination in a 24 knot gust, wishing they had more hands to hold the damn thing down.  The rest of the time I hate how I suddenly look 12, or I associate dresses with auditions and get jumpy, or they just feel… unfinished.  But this time…. ?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s the slightly grungy insouciance with which they’ve styled their models?  Maybe it’s the fact that they were wearing white Converses and I too (I know, surprising!) own a (very scuffed) pair of (used to be) white Converses.  Maybe it’s how El Niño took so long to bugger off that Sydney was still 20+ degrees in the middle of freaking May. Maybe I’ve been watching too much anime and have been coming to terms with the fact that looking cute is, well, cute.  Whatever it was, a cute little mini-sundress suddenly looked a lot more appealing than its ilk has in years.

Sadly I can’t say my take on it is as environmentally sound as The Reformation’s.  My fabric is a synthetic (viscose/rayon, I think?) from Darn Cheap Fabrics which created God-knows-how-much carbon dioxide and waste water (and also I’ve heard rayon’s very bad for you long-term), but they let you order online now and they often have a good range of unusual prints.  I know.  Synthetic.  I hate it.  But it’s the only way I’m not going to be precious about it and actually wear it in casual situations. The best thing about it is the print.  It looks like a floral from a distance, but get up close and:

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THEY AREN’T FLOWERS AT ALL! (APART FROM THE BITS THAT ARE)  THEY’RE GOLDFISH!

So down to the nitty.  While I wanted my dress to look close to the original, there were also a few things I wanted to change.

  1. I wanted a slightly more flared skirt because a true quarter circle skirt (as I suspect theirs is close to, just cut in panels) ends up needing shaping to fit both my hips and my waist, and I’d rather flare the skirt more than have to shape it at the top.  I ended up taking the pattern from the horsey mini and adding flare.
  2.  Pockets.  One of the things I hate about dresses is automatically going to hook your hand into a pocket and then realising with great sadness, after pawing in at the side of your hip for five minutes, that there are no pockets.  And then where do you put your hands?  Because it’s awkward now. You fold your arms.  You unfold them.  You put your hands on your hips, but that’s wrong too. Pretty soon you’d give your kingdom for a pocket.

Mostly it was trouble-free to pattern and put together.  Apart from the bit where I need to re-do the back of my bodice block because it’s always a bit tight across the shoulders, and in my attempt to correct this on the fly I introduced about 2cm too much excess fullness across the bust which needed to be taken out at the end.  Fortunately I’d included a CF seam, and strangely enough my shape likes a bit of CF seam shaping.  The sleeves were a total fluke, patterned from my French sleeve block, but again with extra fullness added into the top on the fly.  The innards are all finished with pinking shears, because this stuff doesn’t seem to fray easily (win!).

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I apologise for the blurriness of that photo.  I dropped my phone shortly after I took the other photos and the camera is no longer what it was.  But you can see all the adjustments I ended up making to the basic pattern in all the taped-in bits of tissue paper, as well as the tiny fold I ended up taking out of the back because I still can’t seem to get the fit right. Damn my prominent shoulder-blades.

And next up in What Strange Hemming Method Will She Try Now? is tying 18th Century costume garters around your legs and pinning your hem to match them.  I didn’t take a photo because I was too frustrated at the time.  The manga-stack method I used for my PANTS gets a bit unwieldily once you get above the knee.

Then it was just stick-an-invisible-zip-in-the-back time, and done!

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And behold!  It pairs well with gold Supergas and over-the-knee socks in my opinion.  And stupid poses.Photo on 26-05-2016 at 2.37 PM

The setting of the zip could be better, but I only have a normal zipper foot, so all things considered it’s pretty good.  You can’t tell in a blurry photo anyway so why am I even telling you?  Geez Belinda, shut up!

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And tbh who even cares about zip setting when there are pockets and goldfish, and the fit is good.  Honestly I put on a RTW skirt this morning and almost died at how appallingly it fit, so I think next up will be making some more skirts.  Maybe.  You know how scatty I am.

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Attack on Cosplay Part Two – The Thousand and One Infuriating Straps

I’m not gonna lie, I would seriously rather hand-sew another set of 18th Century stays than make another Attack on Titan harness.  True, the stays took me like 8 months longer, but they didn’t involve trying to make my craptacular Janome come to terms with pleather.

Internet research confirmed that pleather is a special snowflake, and because it’s both stretchy and sticky, it needs extra help to go under the presser-foot without bunching and puckering.   Some recommended a roller foot (sounds awesome but couldn’t get one), or the ol’ paper trick, where you pin paper over the fabric and rip it off after.  Others recommended a teflon foot, which I got, as my local Janome dealer didn’t have a roller foot.  The poor shop lady looked at me with plain distress on her face when I said ‘cosplay’ and ‘pleather’ in the same sentence.  Sadly, when I got the foot home it only kind of vaguely worked, more on that later. Pleather’s other extra-special attribute is that it doesn’t like pins, because it’s not woven and pins will leave holes.

But this is me we’re talking about, and I like leaping in at the deep end without checking for pointy rocks/stingrays/Cthulu first.  I already felt I’d done enough planning by drawing up a ton of notes on what attaches where.  Bear in mind there are much MUCH better diagrams in google images, and even though I’d drawn these out, there was no guarantee I’d follow them perfectly in the moment.

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Haha, even just reading those back now there are so many places where I deviated from the plan.  Because I am Captain By-The-Seat-of-My-Pants.

So first I just made oodles and oodles of strapping from the pleather, with the non-stretch direction lengthways. Turning a tube was too hard because the right sides stick to each other, so I folded an 8cm-wide strip in half, wrong side to wrong side, topstitched the fold, then folded in the other edge a cm or so and topstitched it too.  Because by that stage I hadn’t had a chance to haul my butt to Maribyrnong to get a teflon foot, I used the paper method, and because pleather dislikes pins, I used bobby pins.  It helps that because I have stubborn hair, I have extra-strong bobby pins.  BOBBY PINS ARE THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING.  Also, if you are someone with Hermione-levels of hair like me, you probably already have loads of them lying around.  If you have short hair/love office products, I hear paperclips work too.

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Yes, that’s La Traviata.  It was in an old subject reader from my undergrad so it was an excerpt anyway.  I wasn’t sacrificing actual sheet music.  The paper rips very cleanly off in this instance because the pleather doesn’t try to come with it the way a knit fabric does.

After I’d made metres and metres of the stuff, I started with the back pad and made my way down from there, sometimes using Dido the dressform, but trying it on me every now and again because sometimes she goes a funny round-shouldered shape that’s not helpful.

The back pad (and both the scabbard pads, for that matter) were a cheap grey poplin underlined with felt leftover from a dragon plushie I made for a friend’s five-year-old a while back and forgot to blog about.  Problem is, this is the colour of the felt:

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Naw, how cute was it before it got loved to death?  Anyway, back to AoT.  Turns out when you underline grey poplin with green felt and then expect to cut what are effectively large buttonholes for straps to pass through, you inevitably see the green felt on the inside of the slash, like your harness is secretly Bruce Banner or something.  Not a massive problem, but weird up close.  And cartoon-prompting.

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Have a very dark photo of the pattern, because I can’t be bothered lightening it.

Then it was a matter of trimming straps to size and adding them one at a time.  The upper back first, then the sternum buckle, then from there.  Somewhere along the line I realised it’d be easier to make the whole thing in one rather than trying to keep the top and bottom separate.  I’m sorry I didn’t take better notes as I went, but it was pretty damn confusing, the whole process lasted a couple of weeks and I’m not entirely sure I knew what I was doing at the time.  There was wine was involved at several points.  Also some pretending to be Levi, some pretending to be Veronica Lake, and some wearing the flower crown from when I was Woodsprite 1 in Rusalka earlier this year. Pro-tip, don’t drink and sew, and definitely don’t let a soprano have access to wine, cosplay and a camera at the same time.  Do have a montage though.

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By the end it was crazy trying to get the whole thing under the needle…

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And sometimes I resorted to some dumb tactics…

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Most of it was sewn together using a variant on this criss-cross pattern:

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Right up the top in that photo you can see what I mean about the green felt too.

Some of the details ended up being pretty crucial.  For example, I realised early on that it’d be silly to permanently attach any of the straps to the scabbard pads in a way that they couldn’t move.  So this is the arrangement I came up with on the back, using fabric loops.  The thigh straps just feed through enormous buttonholes the way the shoulder straps do in the shoulder pad:

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The buckles were just sewn on and the holes for the latchets were made with a stitch ripper because my awl (and by awl, I mean very sharp pencil) didn’t work.

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I didn’t end up attaching the straps at the front with buckles to the belt because I couldn’t really think of a way to do it, I ran out of buckles, and really I was just looping them around the belt loops of my jeans and using the belt (which is totally separate) to hold them down.

Here it is in its completed (if slightly dodgy) glory:

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I tried taking a couple of videos of putting the whole catastrophe on to see if I could document it clearly, but it didn’t make it any clearer and it takes roughly ten minutes (I can see why humanity is dying out if it takes their strongest members that long to get their kit on and off, you know what I mean?), so make do with a talkthrough:

  1. Lay the catastrophe on the floor, front side up.  Make sure nothing is tangled (HA)
  2. Sit yourself down smack-bang in the middle.  Shimmy thy legs under the bit that will cross over just below your stomach in the end.
  3. Then get each leg down into the leg loops until your feet are at the bottom.  Make sure nothing’s twisted again.  If something is twisted, swear at it for a while until it goes away.
  4. Do up the thigh straps.  Adjust the crap out of all leg bits so that everything sits where it should.
  5. AWESOME FUN TIP: Put on some socks now!  It’ll keep the foot loops from leaping off your feet when you stand up, and stop them squeaking like you’re walking through a rubber ducky warehouse in stilettos when you put your boots on.  My socks have cats on them.
  6. Grab hold of the back pad over your shoulder and stand up.
  7. Squiggle all the straps up over your bum at the back.
  8. Pop your arms through the arm-holes at the top and shimmy the top half on without throwing your neck out.  If you can’t turn your head after, time to swear some more and then call the physio.  Make sure those straps aren’t twisted first though.  See earlier swearing comment.
  9. Do up the sternum strap.  If you are a boob-owner and need to move yours out of the way, do that now too.  If you just have massive pecs like Captain America I can offer you little advice except good on you for having them, and can you do that thing where they pop individually?  That’s hilarious.
  10. The ends of the straps that come from the back button on around the front ones (because I found if I sewed them down I couldn’t get my hips through it.  Your mileage may vary if yours don’t prompt strange older women to compliment you creepily on your physiological suitability for childbirth.)
  11. Now’s when I add the belt over the top.  I’m about to tell you about the skirt too. If you’re still reading that is. If you’re not then I guess I can call you a spleeny bat-fowling scut and you’ll be none the wiser. Thankyou Shakespearean Insult Generator…

The skirt thing was a lightly shaped arc thing with holes for the belt loops so I could still put the belt through them.  It tied on to the belt loops with little ribbons (aww).  It goes on after stage 10, and there are slits for the belt loops of the jeans to go through so that the belt can still be threaded through them.  Then the ribbons are tied on to whichever strap is closest.

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It’s pretty hard to see in these photos.  Sorry.  The areas of shaping and the edges were folded over and topstitched, and this is where the teflon foot came (vaguely) in handy.  Vaguely because it was only a bit better than the metal foot, but on seams in the middle of a piece of pleather the paper method gets a whole lot harder.

The bit that really made sticking hot forks in one’s eyes sound like fun was the boot covers.  I loosely followed this boot cover tutorial, mostly because I didn’t want to have to destroy any of my shoes and I didn’t want to buy any new ones to cover.  First I was going to cover a set of riding boots that I can be seen wearing in most of the above photos, but the problem is I have scrawny wee calves, so the boots aren’t fitted.  So the first one looked completely wrong and the top flaps were more flops.  So I re-drafted them to go over a pair of ankle boots and then fit directly to the leg.  Much better from a fit perspective, but such a nightmare from a topstitching perspective.  And the teflon foot did a very half-arsed job. Then when I thought I was out of the woods, the top flaps were still disappointingly floppy (yes, I’m being dirty, you love it) because the pleather was quite soft, even after being interfaced with heavy linen.  So I went with my usual sewing panacea of using twill tape to create a bone casing and putting a cable tie in it.  That appeared to help.

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The other inaccuracy was that the cords on the AoT boots are brown.  But I had green rat tail left from when I butchered the green soprano gown (the gown as it was, and as it is now and ever shall be).  So I have green cords on my boots.  Shh.

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You can’t really tell, right?

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So that’s a wrap really!  I’ll make a cloak at some point to add to it, but I’ll wait for the perfect green wool so that it’ll be warm and rain-repellent and heavy and gorgeous. In the meantime, have some more pictures of me and my friend having fun outside the movies in our costumes!  I may have taken to photoshop and done a Who Framed Roger Rabbit on two of them… couldn’t resist.

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Two Hanges are better than one.

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Levi’s kicking himself he picked the berry paddle-pop when he could have had dulce de leche but didn’t want to look like he was copying Hange 2.

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Eren’s wondering if the Hanges would catch him if he tried to escape.

OH!  And if you haven’t already done so, check out the Society 6 store I just got!  I do way more art than just photoshop characters into silly photos, and you can get it on a mug or a phone case.  It’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Skirting the Issue (geddit? Skirting?)

Eighteen days since the last post; two new skirts.  Plus a shirt toile, but it’s nowhere near ready to be seen by the good folk of the internet yet.

The first is a mini with pockets, made from a cotton twill (so essentially denim) fabric that I found in the Nowra Spotlight of all places, which was surprising because it has an unusual and quirky horse print on it:

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Construction was pretty basic, just the standard  mini pattern I made when I altered the lace Jigsaw skirt, only plus pockets and flat-felled seams, and minus lining and a fair bit off the bottom.  The pattern matching is… passable.  I tried for perfect but I was a bit too impatient to achieve it.

It’s not one I’ll be riding a bike or climbing a tree in, but at the same time it’s definitely not the awful nearly-a-mini-but-not-trying-hard-enough frumpster length that I was complaining about many moons ago on another post.

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Frump it hath not.

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But pockets it hath in spades.

The other skirt is, to put it bluntly, a knockoff.  I saw a vintage organza Chanel skirt in a book and remembered the 6m of black (sadly polyester) georgette that’s been languishing in my stash since a friend gave it to me after a de-clutter at her gran’s.  I also had various scraps of black opaque silk left over from sundry projects, and one very short metal zip.  Because the polyester frays like a son of a bitch, construction was more of an issue, so I went with what’s basically an 18th-century petticoat construction: i.e. rectangles sewn together at the selvedges (woohoo!  No fraying and no finishing?  I think we can call that a win.) and then gathered into a waistband.  Only, I added a zip-side fastening and to kill frayage at the hem, I added a black silk facing that I turned to the outside and whipstitched down by hand.

It doesn’t look much like the original inspiration garment, in retrospect (I couldn’t find a photo on the internet), but it still looks pretty interesting, and offers up various opportunities for layering.  Or not, if one feels daring.  Transparent skirts have been floating around a number of designers for quite a while now, and aren’t unheard of in RTW either (although, I must offer up a prayer of thanks that I no longer see those impossibly vile mullet-cut ones from Supré around anymore.  WHY WERE THEY A THING???).  One of my favourite ever Vogue covers featured Bella Heathcote in a translucent-skirted Christian Dior dress, there was plenty of inspo floating around – Dries van Noten, Nonoo, a particularly risqué Jean-Paul Gaultier – and of course there was Jennifer Lawrence (on whom, along with the rest of the universe, I have a gigantic lady-crush.  Can’t you tell?) in that transparent dress last November.

Here’s my version styled with a black pencil skirt and, alternately, a blazer and heels, and a scarf and clogs.  Also, unlike all of the inspiration garments mentioned above, mine was effectively free!  All pre-loved stash materials, scraps and leftovers!

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Oh consarn it, the damn thing’s dipping at the front.  Even hemming’s never been a strong point of mine.  Also, I look like my face is made of plastic.  What’s up with that?

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Feelin’ sorta vaguely maybe even a tiny bit French.  Hence wolfishly triumphant grin.

Now for some construction pictures:

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It’s a bit uneven where the zip’s gone in, but that’s my own carelessness at play, combined with the warpy, uncooperative nature of the polyester.  This is why I always splurge on natural fibre.

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From the inside, the whipstitches holding the exterior facing up.

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The one seam in the exterior facing was flat felled.

Finally, some slightly more daring styling: the JLaw-sanctioned bodysuit combo.  Now’s your warning to mosey on outa here if it’s going to be too weird for y’all, though to be honest, I have shorts that are worse than this that I wear in public, it’s just once you reference that a skirt *should* be there, it seems kind of strange.  JLaw’s just too badass for us mere plebs.  I have attempted my most angry badass face to complement the style.

DSC_0293 Sadly I think the badassness would be better complimented by large boots.  Or maybe brogues.  

Now that I’ve fed my inner high-fashion-monster for the moment, time to skulk off and make some t-shirts.

Woah Holiday!

Sorry I’ve been gone so long.  I was visiting my parents, who now have wi-fi, so I could have posted, but to be honest I haven’t been doing all that much sewing.  I tried, honestly I did, but barely anything got finished, and then I got bitten by the drawing bug again, which sealed the fate of the small herd of UFOs that’d been generated the week prior.  But anyway.  The full story:

The night before I left to go home, I stayed up stupidly late trying to get a dress off the ground for Mum’s birthday party. (Probably her first.  She’s not big into parties.)  That was a dumb idea for two reasons: firstly I’d only just as in literally that day moved all my stuff downstairs into a new room – one of my housemates had just moved out and we play musical rooms when this happens. Secondly, I had to get up at 5:30 the next morning to catch a flight.  Long story short I managed to finish the dress just in time for Mum’s party, but not before I also (stupidly stupidly) started two skirts and two tops, only one of which is actually completed.  The casual assumption that in the holidays there is this magical thing called ‘time’ is so very very wrong.DSC_0281

Ignore my grumpy frown.  Camera was being frustrating.  This was the first not-massively blurry photo of the lot.

It’s nothing special, just a basic fitted-bodice+pleated-quarter-circle-skirt thing with a back zip and a bit of trim.

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With a bow instead of a hook and eye because there weren’t any hooks and eyes at home and I was not bothered to buy any.

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Such tired.  So grump.  Wowe.

The fabric is a crisp, mid-weight cotton with a cute zodiac print. Drumroll for close-up:

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Also, the edges are bound with some sheer stuff from the stash that’s just been pinked at the edges:

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It looks a bit hairy, unfortunately, and requires occasional trimming.  But it’s interesting, and that’s what counts.

I’ll resist the urge to post further about the UFOs until they’re actually in a state to be posted about.  I’ll also resist the urge to post too much about the elf costume I bodged together for my sister for a Hobbit-themed party, apart from saying that is was a simple matter of adding sleeves to an old formal dress from an op shop, and whipping up a cloak up out of a sheet a la Cation Designs.  I don’t have any pictures of it anyway.

What I do have pictures of though are some of the drawings I did in the hols, which I’ll save for another post.  For now, there are pictures of Rupert being his usual insolent self and sitting in strange places.  Enjoy!

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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!

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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.

So I Finished a Heap of Stuff

Like a Masters degree.  Well, almost.   I finished classes, and now all I have to do is my final recital!

Also, I kind of finished my robe a l’Anglaise.  And two petticoats.  And my stays.  And a vegetable garden.  And the 24th year of my existence.

All round, it’s nice to finish things, so I can start other things (hooray!).

I also apologise, this is going to be a massive post.

But back to the finished things.  I don’t have oodles of photos of stuff on me, because I’m a strangely lazy individual – quite happy to spend weeks sewing various projects, but unwilling to bother with putting them on and photographing them.  Maybe I should do that now while it’s Sunday and the house is clean (as clean as it gets anyhoo) and there’s not a massive backlog of dirty clothes for washing.

So on that note, remember way back in the mists of time when I altered a dorky op-shopped Jigsaw skirt but never put up a photo of the finished product?

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Before.  Icky frump.  Like ecky-thump, only not cool.

Also, what’s a girl of my age doing making Goons jokes?

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After.  Much better.  The lace is too nice to hide with a black lining.

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Strategic arm placement to hide the seams, which in retrospect I should’ve done a little differently.

I love that skirt.  Never was $6 better spent at Savers, nor a better three hours spent driving myself batty altering something.   And the mystery-content synthetic I got from one of the little dodgy fabric places on Sydney Rd is perfect: doesn’t stick to the stockings, looks crisp and not too shiny.  Little dodgy fabric shops can be awesome.

Next, that bubble skirt I made way back in summer from some shiny green stuff I got at the UMSU Theatre garage sale.  The hem’s too deep, and it did something funny to it when ironed, but in general I like it.  None of the photos do the green justice.  It’s quite a deep rich hunter green.  Not dusty olive, not grey.  Speaking of, my legs aren’t actually that orange either.  Them be tights.  I tan like a redhead.

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Before.

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After.

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It’s considerably bubblier from the side. And there be my best surly model face.

Now I know what you all want to see.   That fabled robe a l’Anglaise that I’ve been banging on about for however long. Drumroll please:

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Hello sailor!  Where did those come from and why do I not have them all the time?

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About to pop the bubbly and whack the neighbours house with the cork.

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The Duchess feels that goggles compliment her coiffure a l’enfant perfectly.

I was going for a hedgehog hairdo, and got a coiffure a l’enfant instead because that’s how my hair rolls… er, curls.  Pretty much no matter how I do my hair, this is what it turns into within an hour or so.  What the heck is a hedgehog, I hear you say? Demode Couture has an excellent post that explains the hairstyles and cosmetic trends of the 18th Century, including the coiffure a l’enfant my hair ended up resembling most.  I swear it looked like a hedgehog in the morning.  I followed this tutorial by Lauren at American Duchess, only sans hair extension.

Anyway.  I’ll post about the construction and stuff at another point, because I just want to show off my clever friends and their costumes now.

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From left to right, we have Wolverine, my housemate the Clever Coffeemaker as a monk, another friend the Retro Economist in the best skort I have ever seen.

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And the Adorable Folkey as a mad scientist and one of my workmates the American Guy as a thief.

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The Sardonic Bassist as Audrey Hepburn, and Death as Little Red Riding Hood. 

Here is Brave Sir R. as himself at a concert… DSC_0146small

…and the Gorgeous Daredevil as a 1950’s babe.

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My lovely Baroque Flautist made her own suffragette outfit, and The Coat and his girlfriend came as a matching Doctor and Tardis, which was AWESOME!

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Finally the Quirky Composer came as an alternate reality version of the fourth incarnation of the Doctor.  And then she too found the goggles… oh those goggles…

The Faux and the Furrious

Oh har-di-har.

I cut into that decadent swathe of Lisa Ho faux fur the other night.  It pained me, but it needed to be done.  In the process I have learned the following things:

1) Sticky tape is good.  It keeps the fluffies at bay.  Don’t inhale the fluffies.

2) I can’t remember whose blog I saw it on now, but some very clever lady advised using a silver sharpie on the back side of the fur to mark your cutting lines.  I had one but it ran out after about three cat-paw outlines.  I went to four different stores in search of another, but success was not forthcoming, so I’ve taken to using white eyeshadow and an angled brush.  It’s not as quick, but the effect is much the same.

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4) A stanley knife would be useful.  Embroidery snips make cutting out slow.

5) Bella the cat doesn’t like it; she sees it as a usurper and expressed her displeasure by attempting to upchuck on my sheet music this morning.

Other than that it’s gone together rather quickly.  Because it’s really low-pile fur it doesn’t seem to catch in the seams, so the curved seam across the face looks fine.  Because Sissy-poo’s cat Rupert is an exotic shorthair, I thought she’d appreciate it if her hot water bottle looks somewhat Rupert-esque, so I’ve squashed up the nose and sewn it down.  Means I don’t have to stuff the face either.

??????????????????????Ruppie in an old suitcase.  Pity the faux fur didn’t come in orange.

All in all it looks a tad creepy, but in a hipsterish sort of way.  Or maybe it was a bad idea to watch the Blair Witch Project and sew at the same time…  At any rate I need to buy new velcro before I can finish it.  I didn’t realise the stuff I’d got was self-adhesive velcro.  Not great in a furry water bottle context.  Perhaps I’ll go with buttons and loops instead.  I never liked velcro.

I’m pretty proud though, so just in case anyone’s crazy enough to want to make their own shonky hot water bottle cover in the shape of the world’s creepiest cat, here’s how I did mine:

You need about a third of a metre/yard of low-pile faux fur, and the same of (I’ve now discovered that I should’ve used 100% polyester for the lining rather than the cotton I had, but I’m going to test it and see how well it deals with hot water bottle heat.  Logically it should be fine.  It gets exposed to much higher temperatures when ironed, so a comparatively low temperature over a period of time shouldn’t be too bad.)

For the pattern, you basically just trace around the hot water bottle at a decent distance like so:

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You add ears, of course.

For the face, I just cut it in half and added the same curve to the centre of each half.  I kept it pretty shallow.  Feet and tail at your discretion.

Pattern Pieces Front

Here are the front pattern pieces (not to scale or anything)

Pattern Pieces Back

And here’s the back.  Overlap for the flap, green lines where the tail and legs will go.

Then I cut out and put together the feet and the tail.  I stuffed them a little to make them less boring. Then I did the lining, (sans curved face and CB seam). Then I cut out the front pieces, sewing them together at the curved seam.

On the back you need a horizontal, overlapping flap  to get the bottle in and out, and a vertical CB seam on the bottom half so you can put the tail in.  I did the CB seam first, putting the tail in as I went, then attached it and the back of the head to the front pieces with the legs sandwiched in between.  Then I got jiggy with making the face cuter, put in the lining to finish the raw edges on the back flap (which sort of worked.  I was flying very much by the seat of my pants here) and would’ve added the velcro if it hadn’t been the wrong kind.

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Et voila!  A super creepy/hipster cat hot water bottle.  The eyes are mesmerising…

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I’m trying very hard to like it…

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…But the creep factor.  Oh the creep factor… it’s like a witches’ familiar.

Speaking of witches, the other night was also the premiere of a new work called Weird by a friend of mine, the Suave Composer, which was basically a massive chamber song cycle about witches.  The Suave Composer always had this grand vision that it would be very theatrical, almost like some kind of operatic monologue, so some kind of crazy get-up was required.  I spent a few hours watching all the Pixiwoo costume/creative makeup tutorials on Youtube.  They’re hilarious and awesome.  She says things along the lines of ‘you’re probably watching this thinking woah that’s crazy, I’d never wear that’ or ‘bear in mind this isn’t meant to be a wearable look, I’m just having fun experimenting’, while she’s busy putting eyeliner on her lips or blusher as eyeshadow or using a stencil to achieve a Spock-like eyebrow, but I was sitting there going ‘YES.  THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT TO LEAVE THE HOUSE LOOKING LIKE.’  Cutting loose and going completely crazy with stage makeup is oddly fun. I went as far as to copy the eyeliner-as-lippy and blush-as-eyeshadow tricks.  The light is terrible in this photo, but the effect is probably about the same as people would’ve got in the audience:

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*sleazy eyebrow waggle*

And the hair ended up way bigger and more spherical, like mad scientist frizz and a Georgian hedgehog do went and had a terrible baby together.  My hair’s good like that.  It teases up into an absolute haystack but brushes out quite easily in about 5 minutes.  It’s about the only respect in which my hair is good.

Anyway.  I’m off home for a couple weeks sabbatical.  (constant access to a piano only steps from my bedroom door… excellent…) Expect blog silence.

A Sojurn in Toontown with Alexander the Great

And here we go with the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? references.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and watch it this instant.  It’s the best.

However it’s not Roger that’s inspired me back to my (old) tooning ways, but Hark, a Vagrant, which is also the best, and is even better if you’re a massive history nerd.  Now back in the day, I took Ancient History in high school, and spent most of the time up the back with my two other Ancient floozies, drawing reams and reams of cartoons.  Mostly of our diminutive Canadian teacher getting eaten by mooses (Meese?  Moosi?  What the sam hill is the plural of moose?!), but also of Alexander the Great, who is such a card.  Seriously, he got so drunk at a party at Persepolis that he BURNED THE PALACE DOWN.  So I started a series of cartoons entitled “Alexander the Not Great”, wherein he tries his hand at many things and discovers he’s not great at anything other than hitting stuff with swords.  The older ones are on the Book of Face (I might transfer them over here one day), but here are my fresh batch!  Straight out of the oven, by which I mean my brain.   Enjoy!

*I am aware that probably only my Nixon people will really get the Alexander the Not Great at Opera one.

**I apologise for the poor scan quality.

Alex not Great at DirectionsAlex not Great at KnittingAlex not Great at OperaAlex not Great at FB

Does My Bum Look Big in these Alligators?

Please excuse me if this post is effusive and/or ebullient.  I just had chocolate and then dumplings with my dear friends Death and Brave Sir R-. I am full of chocolate and good-quality dumplings and pleasant company.  I AM EBULLIENCE ITSELF.

I finished my geeky 18th Century garters on the 3rd.  What a massive coincidence that the day after was May the 4th.  As in May the 4th be with you, as in May the FORCE be with you, as in International Star Wars Day.  I had to explain that multiple times to various perplexed people down at my opera company yesterday.  Verdict: geeky opera singers are not as common as I might have bet, or I have spent way too much time hanging around with composers.  Oh well.  I guess this is an opportunity to remind myself how blessed I was to have an adolescence saturated in the glory of multiple forms of geekery, Star Wars being prominent amongst them.  Here, by the way, are my finished garters:

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If Obi-Wan was into Georgian period cross-dressing, these are what he would wear.

So in a continued vein of geekery meets Georgian-ery, I’ve started another accessory that will be essential in achieving a plausibly Georgian shape when I *finally* get around to finishing my stays and making this fabled robe a l’Anglaise.   Everybody who’s anybody references this amusing cartoon:

Lewis Walpole Library Bum ShoppeThe Bum Shop, from the Lewis Walpole Library.  (On their website you can zoom)

Yes, when a lady of the 1780’s asks you ‘does my bum look big in this’, the right answer is ‘does it ever.’  In the cartoon, they’re selling ‘rumps’, ‘bum-rolls’, ‘false bums’, or whatever you want to call them (‘posterior petticoat-plumping pillows?’, ‘arse-augmenters?’, ‘decoy derrieres?’) in order to give their patrons the fashionable bootylicious shape.  I saw a couple of other funny cartoons about the fashionable shape on my travels through the blogosphere…

Lewis Walpole Library Back BitersThose are small, Paris-Hiltony dogs sitting on the ladies’ bums.  Back when it was the magnitude of your bum that mattered, not your tote bag.

Lewis Walpole Library Bum BailiffThe caption reads: ‘The Bum Bailiff outwitted, or, the convenience of fashion.’  Notice the lady making her escape.

Again, the zoomable versions of both of those are in the Lewis Walpole Library.  Type ‘bum’ into the search box and you’ll find them.  It’s very satisfying to use a Yale library search engine to search for ‘bum’.  Try it, and tell me it’s not titillating.  Great word that.  Titillating.  Oh God I had way too much chocolate today…

Back to the bum.  There appear to be many varieties of bum in the shop picture, so I went with a crescent-y shape, like you can see at the bottom (HA) left hanging on the wall.  I didn’t have a lot of calico left (what do we make of a seamstress who routinely uses up her stash?  Sacrilege!), so I had to piece it, but I tried to piece it in the sort of segmenty-pumpkin way that they appear to have quilted their bums, so that I’d have a good guide to sew down later if I needed to.

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My one remaining piece of calico.  Cue Mulan music: “This is what you give me to work with?  Well honey, I’ve seen worse!  We are going to turn this sow’s ear, into a-“.

A bum.  That’s what we’re turning it into.

I also made the top bigger around the outside edge than the bottom, so it’ll puff more and sit more like a bum than a plate.  I have no idea if this is period or not, but hey, I’m embroidering it with alligators, and I’m pretty sure that’s not period.  That whole thing about enjoying being an amateur again.

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Exhibit A: gator.  His eye is a teeny tiny sequin.  (Also, wow, I matched the grain lines at the seam!  TOTAL FLUKE FOR THE WIN!!!)

The gator is part of a larger pattern that references the decadently violent Anita Blake series.   When Anita has multiple preternatural nasties out to kill her, she likes to say that she’s ‘ass deep in alligators’.  Seeing as this is a fake ass I’m making, I figured it was a priceless opportunity to use that gem of a quote (well, I’m normally arse deep in scores, not alligators, but gators are more fun to embroider and I still have oodles of yummy emerald green silk thread left over from my green soprano gown (which I’m thinking of putting through a refashion… but more on that another time)).

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It’s not done yet.  It’ll have two knives crossing at the front and another gator, and possibly some skulls for good measure.

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I’m particularly proud of the roses.

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Illustrating the probably-not-period pattern.  The upper layer will get pleated into this smaller layer.

I’m happy to say the whole thing is hand-sewn so far, and I’ll keep going like that.  It’s very nearly as quick, and it’ll be easier in the awkward curvy bits.  I’m getting pretty fast at hand-sewing.  Well. Fast for me at any rate.

I’ll stuff it with scraps (because I have a massive bag of scraps) and attach it to some twill tape.  I went to Clegs (ooh Clegs) and got loads of it.  I never realised how cheap it was, but despite its cheapness they don’t seem to sell it at Lincraft (grrr, Lincraft).  The problem is that I like the staff at my Lincraft; they’re all friendly and pleasant and the Clegs staff are all snooty and have the temerity to ask you whether you’ve made a toile yet when you’re buying fabric.  DO YOU MEAN THERE’S A COMPULSORY ORDER I HAVE TO DO THINGS IN???  Are you going to sneak round to my house and check that yes, there’s a toile pinned to my crappy home-made dressform before you’ll sell anything to me?  Hell, they should be glad they’ve never met my Gran.  To her, toile only means Toile du Juoy.  Rant over.  Then once I’m finished my bum all I have to do is finish my stays, whip up some petticoats and Bob’s your Uncle, I can (cue drum-roll) pattern a robe!  FUN.