Ok, I Admit It, I’m Dead

Struggling, at any rate. I can’t actually remember when I last posted.  I’d need to look at it and check and I don’t think I actually want to know.  Wait, yes I do.

LAST YEAR. OH DEAR GOD.

dontwanttogoonthecartBUT I DON’T WANT TO GO ON THE CART!

You know what I’m blaming?  Opera.  So far this year I’ve made two role debuts (Mabel in Pirates of Penzance and Woodsprite 1 in Rusalka), and studied Czech diction because we did the Dvořák in Czech.  And for that one I also helped out with costume alterations.  Between that and working full time I have been one busy little sausage.  At one point I worked out that I was putting in 50+ hour weeks.  And my costume for the G&S was effectively a large lemon meringue pie (as is customary).

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This is how I looked.

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This is how I felt about it.

Understandably sewing’s taken a backseat while I’ve been putting in production calls and learning what sound a ‘ř’ makes.  I had one mad rush when we did a Czech art song concert and the director told us she wanted brightly coloured cocktail dresses as a dress code.  (FYI my concert wardrobe is the picture in the dictionary beside ‘funeralcore’)  I had a grand total of 10 hours to either a) find something in the shops that fit the bill, fit me and didn’t break the bank (I actually had a breakdown in Emporium and had to go home.  I was very stressed out at that point) or b) make something with the 4m of fuchsia silk a friend had made me buy on the offchance.  Turns out that friend is pre-sentient.  I went for hurriedly making something, whilst having an actual panic attack, and because I am completely incapable of doing anything the easy way, I went with the muslin that had been sitting on my dressform for the last 6 months that I’d pinned on there in a daze of admiration for tight pleats.  You can see where this is going, can’t you.

I didn’t bother to hem it, and had only just finished the zip when my friends swung by to pick me up.  This is what I ended up with:

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WHY THE HELL DID I EVEN?  WHEN ARE PLEATS SENSIBLE FOR THE TIME-POOR?

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Again, why?  And that’s not even the half of it, because look at the inside:

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Yes, that bodice is fully boned.  I still have no idea how I did this in 5 hours whilst hyperventilating.

Looking at it now I am completely amazed at what an idiot I am, and simultaneously thinking that my skills must be improving if I can turn out something like that under massive pressure.

Fortunately the other two/three things don’t have such dramatic backstories.

Thing the first: I finally used that chartreuse silk satin seersucker for something.  A boxy cami with a creative strap arrangement and a by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants triangular panel detail.

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By the seat of the pants as in, I only looked up a tutorial on setting in triangular panels AFTER I’d sewn it.

Thing the second: a ruffle-bottom racer-back cami in silk ikat with cotton lining, based on a Tibi one that I saw online that would have cost me $400 if I hadn’t had a metre of this still sitting in my stash from 2013.  I made it yesterday, and because I was calm and everything stressful is finished, it’s all neat and pressed properly and symmetrical and stuff.  This is the standard to which I could hold myself if I wasn’t so bloody minded under pressure.

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I still haven’t figured out why I’m making all this summer stuff.  It’s like 10 degrees in Melbourne right now.

And here they are all together with a skirt that I altered from a dress a few months back in order to be less 1980s French maid and more 1990s sailor scout.  It hasn’t been ironed.  I give no craps because you can’t see it properly in this photo anyway.

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And you’d think the ’90s were back judging by the number of spaghetti straps in this photo.

Next up, as many button-down shirts as I can possibly make.  They are my uniform, so I may as well make a ton while I have the time.

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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?

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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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.

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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.

So That Construction, Eh?

I said I’d post about the construction of that robe a l’Anglaise later, and this is later, so here we go.  In case anyone else is crazy enough to muddle their way through one of these as a beginner, here is my experience doing just that, for better or worse, with all the links to things that I used.

I finished the stays first (well duh), in all their historically inaccurate glory.  The multicoloured thread is particularly great.  You can just see it here in this picture, where I’ve only lined half.  Luckily, extant stays are pretty messy on the inside too, so I don’t feel quite so bad.

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Messy, neat.

Basically, I drafted the pattern myself, flying very much by the seat of my pants and relying heavily on the stays-related posts from the Mantua Maker and the Dreamstress, because they’re professionals and know what they’re doing.  Mine are nowhere near as nice, but they are my first set and they do the job.  I decided on a 1780s-y ‘prow-front’ shape, made a toile and fiddled with it until it vaguely fit me.  Then I cut out the two layers of calico (because I’m a cheapskate), basted them together around the edges, sewed the channels with a backstitch, (gosh it sounds so quick here.  In reality it was like 6 months of jolly procrastination), then cut the cableties that were the bones to size (without hurting myself this time.   When I made the Green Soprano Gown back in February I managed to take a chunk out of that bit between the thumb and index finger cutting cableties with blunt scissors.  DON’T DO THAT.) and put them in the channels.  Then I whipstitched the seam allowances down and joined the pieces together with a whipstitch as is the done thing.  Then I covered them with brown linen and a spaced backstitch, cut the tabs, attached the shoulder straps and bound the edges with a bias binding that was sloppy as all hell because I suck at bias binding.  Possibly also because I did it while working Theatre box office shifts, having to sit out front for 2.45 hours doing nothing while they did the Tempest. I was dog tired.  Then I poked lacing holes (spaced for spiral lacing) with my dodgy-brothers awl (a really really sharp pencil followed by a size 5 metal knitting needle), and bound some very sloppy eyelets that look like wilty daisies.  Then I lined it.  Behold:

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Functional wilty daisies.

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But also vaguely attractive.  The maroon ribbon was a good choice, I feel.

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Here they are with and sans petticoat.  Dido hasn’t quite got as broad shoulders as I do, so the straps sit funny on her.  But on me they’re vaguely indecent, so Dido’s what you’re getting.

Stays done, and maximum uplift achieved, I could then pattern the robe.  There’s also another great post, again from the Mantua Maker, about draping and constructing robes a l’Anglaise which was EXTREMELY helpful.  It seemed like gibberish until I had the bits in front of me – much like pinching the laterals off tomato plants seemed unintelligible until I actually had tomato plants with laterals to pinch – and then it became crystal clear.  Basically, I put my stays on Dido and draped the pattern over her.  Sadly she’s…. just a little less squishy where it counts, let’s put it that way, so I made a toile first and then tried it on myself, and a little adjustment was necessary.   It’s a really efficient way of patterning though, because you don’t have to true the seam lengths or do any geometry, as fun as that is.  This was the pattern I ended up with:

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Complete with curved back seams. Hawt.

Then I cut out the fabric and lining (eek):

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Yes, I’m aware stripes are scarier, and I’m not the best at stripe matching.  I’m both an idiot and a sucker for a pretty stripe.

Then I basted the back panels together, wrong side to wrong side, seam allowances inwards, and sewed them together with a backstitch very close to the edges, leaving a little gap at top and bottom for turning in at the end.  I used some twill tape to make boning cases for the CB.  Then I did the same on the front, only sans twill tape.  I finished the front edge with point a rabbatre sous le main, and then I pinned the front and back to my stays (on myself) and worked out the placement of the side seams from there.  At this point I had a strange dream (well, strange for me.  Most of my dreams are incredibly violent and involve using machine guns or Buffy-style kickboxing to fight either zombies or Voldemort.  I kid you not.  For me, a bloodless dream qualifies as strange) that I went to New Zealand for a costuming workshop run by Leimomi from the Dreamstress, and got loads of help fitting the robe, so she’s now the Dreamstress quite literally.

I found these tutorials from the Fashionable Past immensely helpful too, even though I wasn’t making mine en fourreau.  She uses so many pictures and is so clear.  It’s impossible to miss the point, really.  I’m thinking if I’m crazy enough to attempt another of these, I’d make a jacket with an en fourreau back (I don’t even know if that’s really historically plausible, but hey.)

Then was the bit I was secretly excited about: the sleeves.  I’m not great at modern sleeves, but I feel like the 18th century version had more room for adjustment, so I was interested to see how it panned out.  I drafted a pattern, tried it on and adjusted it.  This is what I ended up with (and then I closed out the dart because it ended up laying flat that way anyhow):

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Sleevilicious.

And exactly as I anticipated, the 18th century method of sleeve setting in was easy, fun, quick, and generally awesome.  This post from American Duchess made it very clear.  Because Dido is as armless as a Greek statue, I did make sure to try them on pinned first, but there was relatively little wrestling required, and I even fluked some bonus stripe-matching.  Here is my catalogue of stripe-match flukes:

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Top-sleeve fluke-match.

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Two more flukes.

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Yet more sleeve flukes.

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Here’s some of the damage the robe took when I kept trying to reach glasses on the top shelf in the kitchen.  Stupid.

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This stripe-match was deliberate.

Also the last photo shows how I closed it with pins in the end.  I had hooks and eyes, but they were stupidly fiddly getting dressed, and after ten minutes of struggling I caved and broke out the straight pins.  Next time I’d do buttons maybe.  Or just pin it again.  Hell, here I go talking about next time again like it’s a thing.

Then I attached the skirt.  I know that’s meant to be the easy part, but I struggled.  Next time I’ll do it differently.  (Bad Belinda.  Stop talking about next time.  There is no next time.) I may even detach it and try again if I get massively bothered (no I won’t, what am I saying?)  It was a big rectangle. Why are rectangles hard and yet sleeves are easy? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  I am that crazy lady who can sing the Lied der Lulu standing on her head, yet would prefer to be disembowelled with a plastic spoon than sing Vedrai carino.

The petticoats were a different matter though.  Nice and simple.  There’s a tutorial from A Fashionable Frolick that had way more detail than I needed, not being any kind of re-enactor, but was also very straight-forward and made it a breeze.  I made two.  I was going to make three, but two seemed to cut the mustard, especially with the Alligator Bum underneath, and I didn’t have loads of time.  The under-petticoat was a plain cotton that had loads of body, and was hand-sewn, the outer was of a soft off-white silk twill and was machined because I ran out of time.  I also half-hand-sewed/half-machined a chemise, and didn’t bother to finish the neckline or hem (again because time).  Then I didn’t bother to roll a hem on my fichu either.  God I’m lazy.

So to summarise:

The corners I cut:

-I didn’t make pockets.  I used a small drawstring bag I made when I was like, 13 tied onto my petticoat waistband.  I started pockets but never finished them.

-I didn’t end up bothering with stockings.  It was 28 degrees, and I was wearing an anachronistic pair of red patent clogs.  Also, I found that my legs are so damn skinny that even with the garters tied below the knee as was the done thing, they fell down pretty much right away.  What did skinny girls do back then when this happened?  I’m curious.

-General lack of finishing/trims.  I will trim it someday.  I like it plain, but I feel it wants a row of pleated or ruched trim around the neck and sleeves.

-Various material inaccuracies.  The chemise is cotton, not linen.  Basically anywhere a linen thread would have been used, I used cotton because I’m cheap.   The waist sash is unknown content synthetic that was in my stash.  The structural layers of my stays are cotton calico rather than linen, and the ribbons are nylon rather than… whatever was used then. I’m pretty sure they didn’t use nylon.

-The mad machine rush to the finish line.

The things I would do differently:

-I’d try another method of attaching the skirt.  I found that really tough.

-No hooks and eyes.  They are the work of bealzebub.

-Shorter petties.  Like, walking length.  To show off my anachronistic clogs and keep them out of the damn way.

-The clumsiness of the tabs on my stays bugs me.  I want them more tooth-y and less deflated-balloon-y.

What I liked:

-Silk thread is great.  It’s like butter.

-Spaced backstitch is awesome.

-The period method of setting in sleeves is fabulous and I wish modern sleeves were as easy.

-Fishing around the blogs of awesome people for inspiration.  You are all magnificent and wonderful.  Particularly American Duchess, the Dreamstress, Before the Automobile, Temps d’élégance, The Fashionable Past, the Diary of a Mantua Maker, Dressed in Time, and Démodé.  I am always inspired by what you do and in utter awe.  Many a happy hour was spent procrastinating and not writing program notes for my recital.

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This is how it is now, on Dido.  God I need to piece a wedge onto the back of the skirt….

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…

Trying to Eradicate the UFOs

As in Un-Finished Objects, so not so much BAM! ZAP! POW! as uuugh I can’t find half the pattern pieces/remember what I was doing.

I decided since it’s ramping up to summer I’d better finish the Bootleg Bottega Veneta dress.  Last time I worked on it I got as far as 90% of the lining (and then I ran out of white thread and never remembered to get more) and had just cut out the shell of the bodice.  This round, I finished the bodice structure and the front panel of the skirt, but unfortunately two of my pattern pieces have gone walkabout and I can’t find them.  I could always re-draft them.   I should.  But here I am on the computer procrastinating.  Hell, finishing this dress is technically procrastinating too, but seeing I’m on antibiotics at the moment for an infection, I figure it’s a good idea to spend a day in and not wear myself out by either a) practicing the crap out of my recital rep, b) cycling all over the city on my wretchedly heavy bike, c) working, or d) gardening.  It was not a fun infection and I’d like it banished properly and for good.

Mind you, my sewing machine and the silk are still having hissies at each other.  It’s the best I can do to minimise the puckering, using every bloody trick in the book (small sharp new needle, small stitch length, carefully calibrated tension, slowly-wound bobbin, basting like crazy, holding the fabric taut, pressing every which-way afterwards… you name it, I’m doing it).  It’s not as bad as it could be.  It’s just not as nice as it could be either.

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I know, what am I complaining about?  But it’s SLIGHTLY PUCKERY!!!

However,I’ll soldier on, because I want it done.  I want more room in my stash and a bit of recent machine-wrangling behind me so I can progress with confidence onto my next project: the urgently-needed Bombshells dresses.  I’ve finally decided on a design, and now I just need fabric and my housemate so I can measure her.  Sadly, I appear to have lost the design picture.  WILL IT NEVER END???

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Bonus picture of Rupert with his evil eyes sitting on a bin.  Just because.

 

Post-Hiatus Art Deco Glamour

Ok is it just my dirty mind or do other people read the words ‘post-hiatus’ and see something else?

Just me?  Righto.

A while back my lovely Modern Flute/Piccolo friend mentioned she was going to a 1920s themed cocktail party.  If you’ve ever had the good fortune to lay eyes upon my lovely Modern Flute/Piccolo friend, you’ll know that not only does she have a perfect bob-cut, but that all the kayaking and cycling she does has left her with the absolutely perfect athletic Art Deco figure.  Naturally I jumped up and down like a three year old and begged to make her something.

After rifling gleefully through all the Vionnet dresses Google Images had to offer, I settled on a couple of inspiration shots:

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We loved the idea of a drapey back.  Because I am not kidding, that is pretty much exactly her figure.

I also really liked the idea of an asymmetrical hem, but so much in the standard 1920s handkerchief skirt format, more in a sort of Poiret-influenced way.  So in a sense to mash together the handkerchief skirt construction with some slightly earlier Poiret-y sash/robe/train-like connotations.  I guess if I was going to be harsh on myself I would say ‘mullet skirt’, but it’s not really, I swear!  They were everywhere in the ’20s, especially if you look at wedding dresses, where you often get a train on a knee-length dress.

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See?  It’s not really so much a mullet skirt as a Japanese-influenced-train-obi-thing.

So, drumroll please, here is the final design I decided on:

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On Goethe Institut paper, no less.

The front is straight-grain, all very respectable, then you turn around and it’s all flowing bias-cut drapery.  The sash is separate so it could be tied at the front or the back or however you please.

Then yesterday, having (finally) got the weight of the stupid hour long but pass/fail marked presentation I had to do for postgrad seminar off my shoulders, I finished the toile.  It looks a bit stupid on Dido, because she’s a lot shorter than my friend.  But it’ll be fitted this afternoon, and we’ll go shopping for fabric.  I’m thinking especially of a beautiful teal-blue silk I saw last time…  much nicer and drapier than the horrible pieced-in-places Lincraft polypop I use for patterning.

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I didn’t so much pattern the sash as just use a scrap.  Also the photo’s massively cropped so you don’t have to deal with the mess on my floor, dear reader.  Who says I don’t care about y’all?

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And the back.

I have since trimmed the train a little so that the folds hang a bit more evenly.  The sash will also be much wider and nicer and less like a giant scraggly bit of scrap-poplin in the finished version.  Then all that shall be required is a nice cupid’s bow, a few sets of beads and tons of Kohl, and we shall have our very own Louise Brooks (and not a bad likeness at that!).

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Now if only we could find a pair of shoes like that…