Sunday, December 12, 2010

LJ Archives: December 2010

December 12:  Solstice

Yay for actually finishing a thing on time!  No time for sleeves, but the dress itself is finished.  Now its just a matter of adding another layer, getting some accessories, and sewing on some bling. 

I love how this turned out.  The silk is so light, but with the lining I was able to make the pleats look really sharp.  I got a ton of compliments on it.  I was scared to death to let anything stain it, but I managed with no messes at all, and just a bit of grime on part of the hem from all of my walking around.

Here's the back:

Ånd here's my new farthingale!  I held up beautifully all day, though the tape on the topmost cord undid itself by the end of the evening.  I just need to sew the ends together properly.  90" is probably the perfect size for me -- it gave just the right amount of poof and didn't inhibit my movement at all.  Win!

Drew didn't look so bad himself, either.  He made extra pieces for his court outfit (the hat, red hitoe and purple hakima) in about two days.  He considered himself the best dressed Japanese persona there, and I have to agree. 

He was almost kinda sad that everyone noticed the hat (that took 20 minutes to make and starch) more than his enormous pants (which took the better part of two days).

January 8:  How Cool is This?

by "Master A.W", Portrait of a lady, c. 1536. 
(I thought I'd found it on Wikipedia, but turns out it was from Kimiko Small's website)

I'm a total sucker for black and pink.

But not right now, with my latest project nearing completion.  Focus!

December 16:  Project Update

I spent a long weekend with my family out in New Hampshire for my little niece's baptism, and it was a great mini vacation.  I was hoping to hit the ground running to complete my Solstice project, but after waking up at 4:30 am EST to catch my flights back, I was pretty much useless for the day.

I made a new farthingale, though admittedly I wasn't really intending it to be as such.  I just got three free yards of dupioni silk and decided to make a 10-gore petticoat as something of a practice piece for my A&S kirtle.  The gore technique is fabulous -- by just cutting 10 trapezoids out of every bit of the fabric, I ended up with a beautiful full skirt with a fantastic drape.  Since I went along the width, it was super long, so I decided to gather it up into 5 2" channels for an Arnold-style farthingale, and I boned it with some upholstery cord from Home Fabrics.  It has some issues but I'm pretty pleased with it.  It's a smaller circumfrence than my first farthingale -- 90 inches around the bottom instead of 120, which I think will be an improvement.  I might go even smaller in the future but I want to see how this one goes first.

I'm also making a new kirtle, out of a white stash silk.  Looking through the little scraps of gold silk I had left to try to extend my hem, I decided it was a worthless cause and I made some quick cash selling the gold kirtle to my friend Anna (who is now the lucky recipient of TWO kirtles that I made but can't wear, *grumble*).  But I took my time over Thanksgiving break making the bodice for this next one, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  I had a successful mockup with two layers of canvas with just a bit of hemp cord to reinforce the lacings, so I'm playing with this concept for a bit -- it seems to fit better with the sillhouette of the 1530s-40s (especially with all of the layers expected of a court outfit), but I have to see how it wears on my body for more than a few minutes at a time.  I plan to cut and pleat the skirt hopefully today (Pics to come up then, hopefully) and do some fun sleeves. 

It's time to consider the jeweled bits on the neckline.  I was trying to find some gemstone-type cabs at Hobby Lobby or Joanns, and came up empty-handed.  The closest I could find were some acrylic flat-backed gems, but they were only in packs of multiple colors and sizes and it didn't seem to be enough of the right size or color for what I want (which is admittedly pretty nebulous).  Currently I have some pretty metal jewelry links that will hopefully get painted to a nice gold color (I found some Testors spray paint that should hopefully turn out well) and some pearls, but it seems a tad plain -- I need something colorful and maybe a bit glittery.  Stuff from Firemountain seems to come so close, yet miss the mark:  Something like this could be nice, but 6 mm seems really small.  Alternately, this could work, but I'd have to glue it on, which might backfire on me.  This would be awesome, but way too expensive to actually get enough to glam up an entire neckline.  Maybe I should check the thrift shops once more.

The kirtle is my only solid goal for Solstice, and while I can probably wear it with my black velvet overgown I don't know if I will (it has some issues).  I thought I could manage a brand new overgown too, but that will have to wait until 12th Night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LJ Archives: November 2011

November 2:  Halloween!

Other than Tabby's totally awesome steampunk party Friday night, we were pretty mellow for Halloween weekend.  My Agatha heterodyne costume made another appearance, sans spats and plus sensible shoes.  I also whip stitched the front corset ends together which made it fit much nicer.  Drew made some new stuff from scratch (he made his shirt from a 1909 pattern, I'm so proud!) and reused his yellow vest thing.  I've got to get that guy in some pants that hit his waist, but otherwise, he looked great.  At the party, there was a friend dressed as a Book 1 Agatha, and I regret not getting pics together. 

We also got each other Nerf Maverics for early halloween gifts, and then proceeded to ambush one another with foam projectile goodness for most of the week.  We didn't have the time or resources to steampunkify them in time, but we surely will by next year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

LJ Archives: October 2011

Quoth Ellisif, "We didn't win, but we looked fabulous."

I'll say.

Ellisif did all of the work on her cotehardie, but I did the fitting (before she lost 20 lbs too, so it's a bit loose).  I designed and did a significant portion of work on Vidar's overtunic -- Hastings did the trim on the bottom hem which was a huge help as my list of things to do was pretty outrageous.  It's actually something of a mockup -- it's a proof-of-concept for future Varangian stuff.  The tunic and trim came from a sari.  I did as much as I could with Ellisif's hair, which is to say, not much, but I did little buns and pinned the veil to them with fancy straight pins, which kept it on her head perfectly for the whole day.

I finished my gold kirtle, but I didn't think to take pictures until after I'd been wilting outside all day.  Next time, honest.

Friday, August 27, 2010

LJ Archives: August 2010

August 27:  Varangian/Byzantine sources

For Filing Purposes.

Basilios II, 11th century:

The Madrid Skylitzes:

August 26:  Handsewing

So here's what I mean by "sewing from the outside".

It's a construction method that, according to Ostergard, was common on medieval clothing finds in Greenland (specifically Herjolfsnes).  Greenland finds were pretty well representative of the rest of Europe, and are the only extant garments close to what I'm trying to make, so I'm trying to utilize their methods where I can.

I'm using small swatches of the actual material I plan to use for my project -- one layer each of blue wool and white linen, sewn with two strands of Gutermann silk thread (I used black for convenience as I had it lying around, but Joann's also has it in a matching blue).

I have two ends, and I press down the seam allowance on the left side (in this sample I'd pressed both sides, but it was only really necessary on the left side).

I whipstitch the two ends together, being careful to catch all of the layers while not making the stitches too obvious.  This is the aspect I probably need to work on the most.  The stitches go much closer to disappearing if I do it right.  Also, I find it nearly impossible to pick up the linen lining of the folded side as I work unless I make huge obvious stitches.  I don't worry about it to much, as the next step should take care of it nicely.

To stabilize the raw ends, I fell the wool layers around the linen and tack it down.  This is a departure from the Herjolfsnes finds which only fell one side--it's a true felled seam, but seems to work better on unlined garments.  It is, however, similar to European artwork that depicts lined garments (such as this guy).

This is how it looks from the front.  I could probably improve the tension so that the stitching isn't so visible, but there is evidence of such shadowing in the artwork of the period:

It is especially prominent around the neckline of Mary Magdalene's red kirtle in Hans Van der Weyden's Seven Sacraments.

August 21:  Adventures in Solo Fitting

Fitting by myself wasn't as hard as it could have been since I just draped the basic bodice over my duct tape dummy, but after that it was just a consistent pattern of futzing, cutting, sewing, trying on, futzing, etc.

It's a mockup, but it's made with cheap (re: Ugly as sin) wool lined with linen, to replicate what the actual kirtle will be made from.  Because I hate doing eyelets, I just tacked on some grommet tape so I could see what it would do laced up.  Drew and I agreed that the overall effect was very punk.

As a first mockup, this wasn't too bad, and was even fairly supportive,  The thing that annoyed me the most was a huge gap at the top of the neckline that was determined to be the Thing That I Could Not Fix. 

After several rounds of futzing, I brought it in slightly at the side seams, and brought the shoulder straps upwards.  It might not be super obvious in these pics, but it became much more supportive, so much so that  could "fill out" the top portion much better than before, which minimized the gap slightly, but not enough for my liking.  Note that the armscyes have gotten much smaller, due to my own stupidity.  That was a fun ten minutes trying to take it off.

There is some horizontal wrinkling under the bust, but I'm not too worried about it.  The skirt will weigh it down a bit, and even if it doesn't, there is plenty of evidence in the artwork that such wrinkling is fairly common.

I cut out the armscyes some more before trying to take up the shoulders again, but the gap in the top of the lacing still wouldn't budge.

I thought maybe I needed to broaden out the neckline farther out on my shoulders, and then it occurred to me that the arm holes were still pretty far past my armscye, and it was probably contributing to the gap in the front (evidenced by the long diagonal wrinkles from the shoulder to the bust).  So I clipped it some more, and also adjusted the shoulder straps -- in my futzings the shoulder seam had started creeping more toward the front, so I clipped the back shoulder strap instead of just taking in both the front and back.  It still felt kinda loose so I also took it in about 1/2 inch in the side seams as well.

I almost think I went a little too far with this -- This is the first it started feeling tight, though not tight in a constrictive, corseted type of way.  And while it felt very supportive, I thought it was doing weird smooshy things to the bust, as opposed to the nice rounded look I was getting previously.

The gap finally shrank, though it's not gone completely.  I think with expanding the armscyes a little more, especially as a result of setting in a sleeve, it should end up disappearing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

LJ Archives: July 2010

July 22:  Ho. Lee. Hell

Miniature Portrait of Charles I executed in silk and metal thread:  Gobelin, tent, and couching stitches.  c. 1651

I'm speechless.

July 28:  New Project:  Late 15th/Early 16th Century Kirtle

So it came to pass that I was looking at stuff like this:


and this:

And I thought the short-sleeved kirtles bore a striking similarity to the working class outfits the Tudors did in the 1520s.  I'd been wanting a slightly earlier (14th-mid 15th century) cotehardie for a while (I even have all the fabrics and everything), but I was never convinced that I could make it look good on my body.  Suddenly, the late 15th century waisted kirtles are looking better and better, with a similar aesthetic but with the added bonus of being able to easily transition into later styles with basically an apron and a partlet.  Plus, it'll make great camp garb, which I seem to always need.

And I have enough time, I could probably do it for the provincial A&S championship at Toys for Tots.  I've been really excited about the potential for handsewing the whole thing with a sort of whipped felled seam (from PoF 4) which could potentially go pretty quickly.

Wish me luck!

Monday, May 24, 2010

LJ Archives: May 2010

May 24:  Documentation Breakthrough!  Also, musings

Gloves by Valerie Cumming (charmingly located on the same shelf as Shoes and Pattens and a book entirely dedicated to pins and pincushions, both of which I also nabbed) has seriously saved my life.  Srsly.  I was having a hard time really documenting gloves with embroidered leather, rather than separate cuffs or something, that were solidly in period rather than sort of cheaterly museums-date-this-past-1600-but-I'm-sure-they-were-around-earlier-honest documentation.  This book pointed me to not one, but TWO gloves whose provenance dates them FIRMLY in the 1560-1580 camp:

Gloves belonging to Queen Elizabeth, at the ashmolean museum

These also prove that the long slender fingers on these gloves weren't true to life -- the fingers on this are seriously huge!  Lizzy was so fond of her long fingers, but she was totally faking it with gloves that were nearly 1/2-yard long.

The other is one that was owned by Mary, Queen of Scots which looks almost identical to my original inspiration from the Manchester museum and has a design that I like so much I might use that instead of the heart design that I fell in love with.  The provenance, according to Cumming, is so rock-solid that they surely came from the 1580s.  Squee!


In other news, I'm conflicted about future A&S championship events.  Would I be cheating if I submitted the following items?

-costume accessories:  Elizabethan-era embroidered leather gloves
-leatherwork:  handsewn gloves
-embroidery:  satin stitch and metal embroidery on cuffs and thumbs of gloves
-alchemy:  perfumed infusion on gloves (with a sample in a little bottle, probably)
-Lace OR Weaving:  either metal bobbin lace trim on gloves, OR handwoven metallic/silk fringe on gloves (with a little sample piece on the side, probably)

Theoretically, you could compete at kingdom with effectively one object, but I'm curious to know if it's something that would actually seriously be considered.  There would definetely be overlaps in the some of the more general documentation, but each one (I've found) has it's own specific line of study.  I'd also have to work to make sure each item has a good amount of complexity, like, say, distilling my own rose water and grinding my own ingredients for the perfume.  But really, at the end of the day, it's just a single thing.  Hmmm...