Poltergeist Stole my Icecream (well, cableties really…)

The stupid Poltergeist is at it again.

I might have had my stays finished by now, but oh the trail of destruction wrought by that bloody poltergeist!  Firstly, he’s gone and nicked one of the back-panels.  Secondly, BOTH the Officeworkses (plural of Officeworks?  Like pocketses?) were out of jumbo cable-ties, and I need like another 30 or so to finish them.  The awkward be-acned attendant at the second Officeworks I visited looked like he was going to die of altitude sickness in search of where the re-stock box was on top of the shelf.  I just gave up and went home.

So I put the stays aside and completed the Badass Ass instead.  Not much to relate, really.  I stuffed it with scraps (which makes it a bit heavy, but that’s what I had to hand), closed it up and added tapes.  From what I can tell, on a scale of one to bootylicious, it’s about a 5.  As in it makes Dido look vaguely female.  At least, here it is pinned on her, with the done half of my stays and some of the assorted fabrics I’m using.  Pins and dressforms and bits of fabric are mighty addictive.  I’ve halved and flipped some of the pictures to get an impression of what the finished thing might (one day…) look like.  Yay inspiration!

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Such a badass ass.  Blurry, but badass.

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Needs to be higher though…

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The Completed Embroidery

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Rorschach-test dress!

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And as it really looked.

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More Rorschach-dress, this time with a ribbon.

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And the money-shot.

Because it’s so heavy and solid, the weight of the fabric didn’t appear to compress it at all, but it (unfortunately) migrated south and started looking a bit more 19th-century saggy bustle than 18th-century perk-tastic.  Tying it on a bit more firmly will fix that.  Also because Dido’s just hanging from the curtain rail, the extra weight at the back caused her to tip a bit.  On a real person that can hold themselves up against the call of gravity better, it won’t do that either.

The stays thing is frustrating though because if they’d been done I could’ve been making petticoats already.   But instead I guess I ought to finish the Circus sailor costume seeing I’ve teed up a fitting for Friday.  I only have to hem the shirt and make some britches now, and the britches are going to be completely and utterly inaccurate because of the demands of ropes-acts.  Oh well.  Knowing me it’s going to take me all week, so I’d better get started now.  Grumble grumble, grouch, grumble.

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Did I Say Soprano? I Meant Zombie.

Ah, weekends.  I remember when I used to have them.  Regular meals too.  Those were halcyon days…  And then I had that real clever idea that I wanted to be an opera singer.

I can handle the whole exhausting schedule thing, and I’m getting better at the whole work/uni/opera balance.  But then my wallet got stolen at work on Friday.  That really chucks a spanner in anyone’s works, but I still had to head off to a gig after and sing like nothing had happened, and get up the next morning to put in a 6 hour long production call.  Boy was I happy that the guy behind the counter at King and Godfree’s didn’t ask for ID when I hauled my zombified arse in there after production call to pick up wine (that I still haven’t drunk thank you very much.  But it’s nice to know it’s on standby). Well.  I guess that zombies don’t really need ID.  Surely alcohol works like a preservative once you’re dead?  Such has been the glory of my life recently.

Sewing-wise there’ve been bits and pieces, but no wonderful triumphant finished products.  I’d been steadily beavering away at sewing boning channels for my late 18th Century stays (and feeling jolly proud of myself) when I ran out of the pale aqua thread I was using.  Seeing I still haven’t decided whether I’ll cover them or not at the end, I didn’t want to risk changing colours in case I wanted to leave them uncovered.  Naturally, I haven’t had the time or the energy to scamper down to Lincraft to get more matching thread.  The couple of panels that I’ve finished make me so happy to look at though.  I’ve got the hang of the whole stitching-in-a-straight-line thing.

Behold!

Before:

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It’s not linear.  It’s more of a wibbly-wobbly-stitchy-witchy thing.

*unsubtle Doctor Who reference*

Whereas after…

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Look at them purdy straight lines!  Who says practice doesn’t make perfect?

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Bella, as always, likes to help.  These are a friend’s stays though, not mine.

Seeing the stay making had hit a brick wall, I decided to continue with my Bottega Veneta inspired summer dress (yeah, I know it’s heading in to winter.  I figure that far away deadlines leave less room for stress and/or disappointment.  That and it’s Melbourne.  I’m sure a freak heat-wave can be expected some time in August.).  I sewed the oodles of darts into the lining.  Why oh why would I draft my own pattern to be full of accursed darts?  Well I did.  And they turned out lovely (for a change).  I moved on to my delicious silk ikat, and then realised I’d just blunted my last fine silk needle.  There’s no way I’m risking a larger or blunt needle on this stuff.  It was disgustingly pricey.  Plus, what’s the point of making a high-end-designer-inspired frock if you’re going to cut corners? I already cut enough corners for three seamstresses.  More trips to Lincraft ahoy.

Sunday being my one and only day off, I decided not to go out.  But without going and picking up new machine needles and thread, I couldn’t progress on either the stays or the summer dress.  So I decided to start a third, smaller project instead.  Stockings.  Of the how-can-I-best-approximate-18th-Century-stockings-with-only-things-that-I-have-in-my-immediate-environment variety.  It was like Bear Grylls, only with sewing.  Though there was that episode where he found a dead seal and made a seal-blubber vest in order not to freeze to death in the sea…

I had a pair of lemon-yellow stockings that had seemed like a great idea when I bought them, but that I never wear, so I earmarked them for adventures into costume, seeing whenever I put them on I feel like I should maybe have a pink polonaise gown and a massive puffy chapeau to go with them.  (Speaking of, I think I’ve found the fabric I want to make my anglaise out of…  it’s a pale pink satin-weave cotton with a subtle floral embroidery.  Jumping the gun much?)

So I cut them off at well-above the knee height (figuring that once they were cut and hemmed they’d be shorter.  I was right, and I think I should have left even more length, stumpy legs notwithstanding), did a rolled hem, and planned some embroidery.  My adventures on the interwebs , mostly over at the Dreamstress, American Duchess and the Pragmatic Costumer, tell me that the stockings of the 18th Century were ‘clocked’, that is, beautifully embroidered at the ankles, like these lovelies:

Met stockings Other Met Stockings

These are both from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Now there’s one glaringly large difference between these beauties and my Jon Astons.  Mine are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay stretchier, being modern and mostly synthetic.  Now, back in the day, knit stockings did exist, but they weren’t anywhere as near as stretchy as modern stockings, and were still seamed and shaped like the ones from the Met.  This means that I’m not a hundred percent certain that it’s possible to embroider my stockings and have it work purely because of the enormous stretch factor.  But I’m going to give it my best shot.  My idea is to put the stocking over a big mug which will stretch it out while I’m sewing, and then hopefully they won’t rip when I put them on.

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The rolled hem.  I had to leave it pretty loose to allow for stretch factor, even for me.  I’m thinking a more sophisticated hemming system with more give would be required for someone with more curvaceous pins.

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A large Bach-print mug to stand in for my ankle.

My embroidery won’t be a patch on the examples from the Met, but I think a simple, fresh design will work better with the yellow anyway.

And what happened to the pants part of the pantyhose?  Well.  A medical friend of mine put this link up on the book of face recently, and as a person who goes through stockings at the rate hipsters go through coffees, I think it’s a marvellous idea and will start putting together a box:

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia

PANTYHOSE FOR AFRICA! We use the ‘panty’ part to keep post-operative pads in place and we cut the legs off and patients plait them into bath mats. If you would like to contribute, please post clean pantyhose (second hand is OK but they must be spotless!) to PO Box 5066 Turramurra NSW 2074 or drop them into the shop at 1396 Pacific Highway Turramurra. They must arrive no later than 13 May to go to the hospital as luggage. Such an easy way to help. Thank you!
Photo: PANTYHOSE FOR AFRICA! We use the 'panty' part to keep post-operative pads in place and we cut the legs off and patients plait them into bath mats. If you would like to contribute, please post clean pantyhose (second hand is OK but they must be spotless!) to PO Box 5066 Turramurra NSW 2074 or drop them into the shop at 1396 Pacific Highway Turramurra. They must arrive no later than 13 May to go to the hospital as luggage. Such an easy way to help. Thank you!

If I Find That Goddamn Bloody Murphy I’ll Kill the Bastard.

Referring to the Murphy of the proverbial Murphy’s Law, of course.  I don’t think I know any actual Murphies, but if you are one, please don’t run around in fear of your life.  Unless you are THAT Murphy.  In which case, hide.  It’ll make it more interesting when I come after you with a chainsaw.

But I digress…

Remember the little black lace rib-hiding crop that I spent ages lovingly hand-sewing stubborn polyester ribbon on like bias binding?  Remember how it was designed specifically to go with a dress that I was so absolutely certain that I knew exactly where it was that I would have merrily staked the lives of thousands of fluffy kittens on it?  Turns out, on the morning of the Gala, that it was not where I thought it was, in fact, it wasn’t anywhere at all and in a hypothetical universe lots of hypothetical little kittens may have lost their lives because of my memory-hubris, may they hypothetically rest in peace.  The only explanations I can think of are: 1), I accidentally bagged it up and sent it to Savers in the massive wardrobe purge I did earlier this year; or 2) the House Key Snatching Poltergeist has expanded his operations beyond just house keys.

After much hyperventilating and general panic, my mum, who was down for the Gala, came to the rescue by suggesting that we (gasp!) BUY A NEW DRESS.  I was horrified.  I am someone who Does Not Buy Dresses.  Unless they pass the studentine frugality test, the construction test, the fabric test and the style test (picky?  Who, me?).  Mum had spent the morning indulging herself down at Peter Sheppard, so she was all warmed up to the idea of spending the equivalent of almost two months worth of my rent on what she saw as An Entirely Necessary and Not Outrageous Because Aren’t We Lucky To Find Something In Your Size Long Black Dress by Bianca Spender.  It’s lovely.  I’m tremendously grateful.  But then I spent 3 hours cutting and doing a rolled hem on the damn thing because I have stunted legs (I swear one day they’ll do my autopsy and find Harris lines in all my long bones.  Self-inflicted, of course, because when I was a kid I wasn’t picky about clothes, but I was damn picky about food), and, it being made of some very stubborn very floaty silk georgette, my hands didn’t stop twitching for about half an hour afterwards.

Then the end bit fell off the heel on my favourite performance shoes.  Then I ran two minutes late to chorus warm-up, and had to do the Scamper of Shame to the end of the row and suffer Accusing Scrutiny.  Lucky that having a memory for music like a bear trap meant that I had everything off the book just because that’s how my brain works, and I could then weather the Accusing Scrutiny with the Smugness of Having Been Able to Pick Up Where They Were From Outside the Room and Continue on Without Having to Either Ferret in My Bag for My Score Or Read off the Person Next to Me.

To change topics, my most recent adventure in Sewing Land!

The other year I got a black lace skirt from Savers, with a mind to (what else?) bolstering my collection of performance blacks.  It was Jigsaw, but it was a bit too big, and it was a frumpy mid-calf length that made me feel about 40 whenever I put it on.

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And here it is, complete with pins to mark how much I’m taking off the top.

For some reason I hung onto it.  Boy am I glad I did, because not so long ago I excavated it from the roof cavity and noticed that the lace was quite nice.  Sort of like a slightly lighter version of last year’s Collette Dinnigan dresses.  Then I got inspired by a skirt from Lover A/W ’13; a black lace skirt lined in white to really show the detail of the lace.  Inspired, I had a gander to see what my skirt might look like if I were to say, re-line it in white:

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… Not bad at all…

So with the aid of some cheap unknown content synthetic that I had in my stash, I shortened the skirt to non-frumpy length from the top to retain the nice bottom edge of the lace, and re-lined it in the white synthetic, which wasn’t too bad to work with, it just needed the darts flat-felled because it didn’t iron super-crisply.  Unfortunately I had a little screw-up on the zip side that makes the top edges a bit un-matchy, but hey, it’s a good effort for me!  The lining is entirely flat-felled so that no little synthetic fray-beasties have the slightest chance to escape, and the lace looks a treat now that you can really see the detail.

… Which you’re going to have to wait until I find my camera again to see.  The Key Snatching Poltergeist has snatched my camera.  Sorry.