Artist Talk at MOWA Saturday, Jul 22 2017 

Several months ago I was approached with the prospect of giving a presentation on 19th century undergarments at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, and I happily accepted!2017-07-11 (2)

The crowd was much bigger than the usual for these events, I was told, and they needed to bring out another couple dozen chairs. There were between 60 and 70 people, all told.(!! No time to get nervous!!)
20048983_10213750675066942_1504549661_o-e1500737790398.jpg

They had two mannequins available, and I utilized both. I gave an overview of the entire century, though my favorite period is Late Victorian. (Which I may have mentioned a couple of times)

I was able to pepper in some socio/cultural facts regarding the reasons for and impact of changing fashions, which I find to be just as fascinating as the garments themselves.

20049244_10213750670386825_1852528574_o

I also used some images of my own finished gowns, in a shameless display of pride and self promotion. ūüėÄ

I did make a brief mention of men’s unmentionables, but there has been much less substantial change with men’s undergarments than with women’s.

I wasn’t used to using a handheld microphone, but I had a good time!

The crowd was responsive and had some good questions for me at the end of the talk.

19897485_10213750655586455_841913445_o

I closed with a scandalous (!) undressing of a mannequin in Victorian garb, to visually illustrate the logistics of all the layers I had been talking about. I also brought in several books I’ve referenced in my work and samples of corsets, bustles, and boning.

20048883_10213750649946314_1960161145_o.jpg

It was a great experience, the people who worked with me to make it happen were very pleasant and professional, and I loved seeing the exhibit afterwards!

I’ve linked to the powerpoint below- please note that non-vintage images in the slides were used specifically for the purpose of this presentation and are not licensed for redistribution or sale.

19897927_10213750661266597_771953687_o.jpg

You can see the Powerpoint I put together for the presentation here!19th Century Undergarments

Advertisements

TC7- Teslacon Victorian Silk Day Dress Saturday, Jul 1 2017 

First: the bulk of my Master’s program is complete! So, here’s a post, finally!

I made several new items for the Teslacon 7, 2017, Fashion Show, Paris Edition.  The crowning glory among the new pieces was a grey and cream striped silk Victorian day dress. My inspiration pic:

330_Bustle_307

I set my sights on making a fancy day dress. I’d fallen in love with a beautiful sample of cream and grey striped silk while visiting a tailor’s booth at Teslacon but he didn’t have any yardage left. He admired the dress I was wearing, and I believe if he’d *had* had any of the fabric he would have sold it to me.

So I set out to find a reasonable facsimile of that lovely fabric.

I knew I’d be looking for a drapery weight fabric, so I delved into Google and branched out from there… I ended up finding a striped silk in three large pieces all from one seller on E-bay. The colors, weight and finish were perfect, there was just one problem…
The stripe was twice the width I needed.

However, I’m not one to be dissuaded by a challenge.
I decided to buy the silk and create narrower stripes myself. I cut each stripe in half and then sewed them together. Here’s a picture of me with $300 of shredded silk (eek!)…

7205283953486758437-account_id=1

Nope, not nervous at all…

I had chosen two Truly Victorian patterns to start from; TV466- 1887 Alexandra Bodice and TV367- 1887 Cascade Overskirt. The Alexandra bodice had the appropriate level of Victorian repression I was looking for, and the overskirt would show off the stripes wonderfully.

I was creating the look as part of (mentioned above) a line for the 2016 Teslacon fashion show, with a theme set in 1884 Paris. The color scheme I developed for my looks consisted of black and white, grey, cream, and deep purple, with silver accents. Specifically, I tapped a highly talented jewelry maker, the owner of Rogue Maille, to design and supply the jewelry for the line… they were all highly detailed, sumptuous chainmaille creations and each piece took my breath away.

For the cream and grey dress I decided to use some of the eggplant silk crepe from a gown I was making for myself as an accent for the bodice collar and cuffs. But the very first thing I needed to do was shred 8 yards of silk and sew it back together, alternating the stripes. Then, so much ironing of seams.

A before & after shot:

19622281_10154865702788237_1369954649_n.jpg

Big stripes, little stripes!

I cut out the bodice first, with special attention to matching the stripes, because I knew I didn’t have a ton of fabric to work with. For the bodice, I wanted to made an offset front closure, with decorative buttons down the front. I gave the front panel additional reinforcement with a sturdy interlining, and used a hook and eye closure. It’s mildly cramp-inducing to close, but it lays beautifully.

The actual fitting was done with the skirt on as well, but I didn’t want to put EVERYTHING on for a quick pic of my progress:

19668262_10154865702648237_173209814_n

Before setting the sleeves in, testing out how the front closure sits. I decided to add the purple accent after this fitting, for shoulder mobility ūüėČ

The overskirt was cut out next. It seemed that there were discrepancies between how my cascade overskirt was laying in the back, the image on the cover of the pattern, and the image inside the pattern instructions… so I just decided on an aesthetically pleasing arrangement and called it good.

The skirt was a different challenge. Even knowing there wasn’t excess yardage, as I laid out the pattern pieces for the basic 6 gore underskirt, it was going to be closer than I thought.

I did everything I could, playing with placement on the pieces of fabric that were left, and I knew I’d have to sub in some cotton for the top half of the underskirt. After the cutting and stitching was complete, the seams between the cotton and silk were close enough to the hem of the overskirt to warrant tacking down the outer edges to keep them from peeking out during the runway show.

When all was said and done, I I barely had enough silk left over to make a pocket square.

19576382_10154865702428237_659143495_n

You can see the placement of the offset closure for the bodice…. it was a little tricky.

19679785_10154865702508237_379845328_n

Dat bustle!

19691541_10154865702438237_1220636420_n

I lined the underside of the pleats in the back with the eggplant fabric also. this is before I put in the eggplant accent at the top back center.

Some adjustments I made to the pattern:
Besides the usual adjustments for fitting (done over the corset, undergarments and finished skirts, of course), in the end I decided that the classic high-necked Victorian style was a little stuffier than I really wanted, so I changed it to a modest V-neck, with a decorative cameo at the base. I interlined the bodice, but did not bone the interior. I may go back and do so to avoid the bunching seen at the waist in the picture of me in the outfit.

For the hat, I took an ivory 1950’s hat with netting I had in my collection and trimmed it with extra eggplant material and a purple butterfly.

Overall, the outfit was a success, though I really could have used just one more yard of fabric.

15111114_10209700910553500_6326813455240095711_o.jpg

15123295_10209983175388889_3351977885157590750_o

The eggplant accents in the back really popped.

15129003_10209983172588819_3968198982992940817_o

A view of the front of the bodice, finished with bias tape of the same material and tiny silk buttons. Shawna, stand up straight!

15129100_10209983173588844_2445302442844203129_o

A side view.

15068895_10154214114558237_6519757411339708614_o

The full collection that day, with beautiful jewelry from Rogue Maille on nearly every lovely model.

TC7 Paris Runway 1- Foundation garments Tuesday, Sep 13 2016 

In preparation for Teslacon 7, the grand journey to Paris circa 1884-ish, I’m designing several looks inspired by the period for the Teslacon Fashion Show. I decided to make three sets of corsets and bustles, and two or three new petticoats to serve as foundation garments for some of the looks.

The corsets and bustles were made from a champagne/golden taffeta embroidered with fluer de lis… so appropriate!

20160623_205809

I made two double layer corsets with interior boning channels and closed fronts, and one triple layer corset with boning channels sewn into the layers, lined in ivory silk and with a front busk. A matching bustle accompanies each corset. I’ll keep the front closing corset and one bustle, and if one of my models from the Teslacon fashion show wants to buy their foundation set I’ll offer a good-buddy price.

I made my own bias tape for the edging, 1 1/2″ strips cut at a 45 degree angle.

Thought it would be lovely to make matching petticoats, but when I searched for this fabric online I couldn’t find it for less that $20/yd… and I just know I didn’t spend that when I got it… either at the Discount Textile Outlet in Chicago or at a JoAnn Fabrics with a coupon, I don’t recall.

goldcorset1goldcorset2goldcorset3

In the meantime, the foundation garments for the Highborn Collection are done, and I’m on to the first gown!

 

Gown featured in CA Victorian museum 2016-17 exhibit! Wednesday, Jun 22 2016 

I have exciting news- I was asked if I would be willing to loan one of my gowns to a Victorian Bridal Museum in California for the next year, for an exhibit! They’re featuring various period pieces alongside creations by master costumers in a “Then and Now” exhibition, and they contacted me when they saw my work online. I was very honored, of course, and from everything I’ve seen of the museum, it looks like a beautifully staged¬†operation with well chosen pieces.

The museum is in Hemet, California, and is¬†located in the town’s historic Opera House…. how very!

Even better, it is attached to a vintage consignment boutique called La Boutique, so your lusting for vintage fashion needn’t be left unsatisfied. ūüėČ ¬† (also, I’ve haunted enough antique stores, resale shops and thrift stores to recognize a very discerning eye in the pieces they accept for sale- check them out! www.victorianbridalmuseum.com

The owner, Eve Faulkner, also has a Facebook page which gets lots of updates with beautiful pictures of happy clients

Which gown is featured, you ask? Why, one that I wrote a post on… the burgundy and bronze! ¬†If you’re around southern California, I think it would be a worthwhile cultural side trip plus shopping excursion all in one! ¬†If you live far far away and have no hope of getting there in the next year, here are some pictures of the exhibit, courtesy of Ms. Faulkner!

museum pics (5) museum pics (4) museum pics (3) museum pics (2)

 

 

 

Jaime Lannister Costume- Game of Thrones Friday, Apr 29 2016 

got blog (3)The making of the Jaime Lannister costume- Captain of the Kingsguard Edition.

Game of Thrones is an interesting show, from a costuming standpoint. It’s a mishmosh of styles, feeling generally medieval-y to Renaissance-y, with worldwide influences, from Asia to Africa.

The show’s first costumer, Michele Carragher, is a master of decorative embroidery, and this was evident in the thick, sumptuous adornments on many costumes.
got blog (7)

There are design elements in the clothing and aspects of armor pulled from that of samurai warrior dress, like the plated-look hip gores in many Lannister costume designs.

 

 

 

got blog (9)One can see an obvious¬†direct influence of the traditional Indian nehru ¬†jacket in Joffrey’s and Petyr Baelish’s¬†exceedingly¬†fitted costumes.

 

 

 

EP302

Brienne of Tarth’s expensive plate and chainmail armor speaks to a classic medieval knight style, though check the studded leather skirt for more Samurai influence (appropriate, as the armor was gifted by a Lannister).

 

 

 

 

got blog (1)Shae, Missandei, and at times Daenerys Targaryen’s flowing robes strongly bring to mind images of ancient Greek and Roman goddesses.

 

 

 

 

got blog (1)Margaery Tyrell‚Äôs and (again) Daenery’s more fitted gowns have architectural features that feel distinctly more modern, like decorative cutouts and minimalist asymmetry.

 

 

 

 

got blog (4)

Though pulling inspiration from all corners and time-frames, there is intentional consistency, particularly within family groups or by character region (aforementioned styles of Lannisters, the studded details of the Ironborn, the plentiful fur trims of the northern families).

 

 

 

In a series known for its plethora of characters, this can give visual cues to familial ties or allegiances.

got blog (6)

SO.

What this means when cosplaying the show’s characters is that there is some flexibility in construction, even if you’re the type to usually go with historically accurate details or techniques. The goal is to achieve the look, and it’s easier to take a little creative license in achieving that when there is not a strict time period’s style being replicated.

 

 

got blog (5)

When developing the costumes for Jaime and Cersei Lannister I had to decide first the look that I wanted to replicate, and then the most iconic and identifiable details of those costumes.  For Cersei there is a wide range of looks to choose from, but I wasn’t interested in one of her structured, wide 1950’s style necklines, and I also didn’t want to try to create her decorative, sculpted body armor. An early and frequently seen Cersei was in a red gown heavily embroidered at the neckline and sleeves, and the Lannister lion embroidered on hip gores of gold fabric. With a wide metal and maille belt, the look is regal and still comfortable.

Choosing Jaime’s costume was easier- he has one primary leather coat that he wears, with or without his armor. I chose the most iconic look- Jaime in the coat with his Captain of the Kingsguard armor.

 

However. I don’t have access to limitless funds, so the prospect of finding enough of this beautiful, oiled, battered leather for a long coat was rather cost prohibitive. ¬†Instead, I found a great silk blend woven drapery fabric in a $6 bag at a thrift store and had enough for the coat and Cersei’s hip gores as well. That made me a happy camper! The color and weight were right, and there was a rich luster to the fabric that kept it believable.

blog thrones (1)I used a commercial pattern for this jacket because I had 9 days to complete both Jaime and Cersei. I’ve used this pattern before, and found the fit was on the better than acceptable side. The double breasted style and length were also appropriate for my goals.

Changes I made: The collar was made higher, and extended the length of the front breast flap. I flared the skirt of the coat a bit more, joined the side pieces and cut out the hip gore. When measuring the piece to be inserted in that space, I gave it a couple extra inches all around, attached iron-on interfacing for a little extra structure, and stitched in some horizontal tucks to look like the banded strips of leather in the original costume. I also extended the sleeve of the right arm by about 4 inches, to allow for a false hand.

After that I focused on the armor.

  1. The scale mail
  2. The breastplate/Pauldrons
  3. The belts
  4. The cape

jaimecersei4The scale mail: I had some thin leather that I had planned to use for a book making project, oh say, a few years ago. I took that leather and spray painted the unfinished side dark gold. Then on the finished side I marked lines to cut out a whole bunch of 1″ x 2″ diamonds and used my rotary mat and blade to do the rest. Then I took a piece of the jacket fabric, cut out a shape that I wanted the scales to be in, and finished the edges. Using the longest stitch, I sewed across the top section of each diamond, placing them so the centers overlapped slightly as I went. The next line was about an inch up. The end result, while it could have been more orderly (and you can certainly measure everything precisely, if you’re not on a strict deadline) it looks like golden scalemail for zero cost, since I happened to have the leather and spray paint. Even if you have to buy both items, the cost and time factor is so minimal, for me it’s a no-brainer.

jaimecersei3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks pretty good, eh?

Looks pretty good, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Breastplate/Pauldrons: You’re going to laugh, and that’s okay- I kinda giggled myself. The breastplate was a two piece “roman gladiator” purchase (about $17) online from a Halloween costume store, with a dark bronze, black and gold dry-brush repaint. You could, of course, go with a more accurate breastplate design- there are examples and tutorials out there, I’m sure. But this took about an hour. We replaced the flimsy ribbon ties with leather straps that we fastened (reinforced on the other side of the cheap plastic breastplate also) with brass double cap¬†rivets. We had some small buckles laying around, so we added them to leather straps on one side and it already looked much better.

 

 

hehe

hehe

So we had the breastplate and the scale mail for the arms, but we needed the shoulder armor-¬†pauldrons. I went to the dollar store. I got two child knight helmets. That is what they are. Really. Fastened to the shoulders of the breastplate by more rivets and leather straps. I didn’t even repaint them, it was such a close match. ūüėÄ The scalemail pieces were riveted to the underside. ¬†(Though I plan on making more scale mail for the thigh armor, in the interim it is two knight’s shields from the same store. Did a little dry-brushing on those.)

The Belts: Jaime wears a few belts crisscrossed and tied, and they have fancy bits of metal on them. If you have a sword and hang a frog from one of them, great. But generally, just visit a few resale stores, get some leather belts and make em work for you. You may find some metal belts that will work wonderfully, you never know.

 

 

jaimecersei11

Niiiiice curtains…

The Cape: The Captain of the Kingsguard has a long flowing, superhero-esque cape. Seems counter-intuitive to effective fighting, but what do I know? Perhaps it’s more of a statement that, as the Captain, he should never even have to fight and so will send his cape-less underlings to deal with you, bwaahahaa. At any rate, this was one good-looking curtain panel, almost a microsuede texture. I pleated the two top corners and tacked the pleats as I wanted them, then used heavy button thread to attach them¬†to the top of the breastplate shoulders. Since it was a curtain, the edges were already finished and the extent of my sewing was tacking down the pleats and tying¬†a lion’s head button over the handstitched area on each one. Easy peasy.

Add some boots and gloves (false hand coming later, ran out of time), and you’re good to go!

Final Result? A respectable Jaime, though not completely accurate to the series. (Note that in the pictures, his scarf had worked above the collar, and should have been under it.)cerseijaime (4) cerseijaime (12)cerseijaime (10)

-Jaime-Lannister-jaime-lannister-36908577-2832-4256

The actual costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cersei Lannister Cosplay… Jaime up next! Wednesday, Apr 6 2016 

“Costume”.

When I think of the word, I’ve usually associated it with quality… or the lack thereof.

This is an inaccurate association than *can* be true, but certainly is not true all- or even most- of the time; many costumes I see, at Concinnity, Teslacon, C2E2, etc., are well thought out and executed across covering a wide range of sewing, crafting and tailoring skill levels.

So I’ve reassessed my view of costumes, and cosplay, over the last few years. Now when I talk about costumes I’m making, it’s usually an outfit replicating¬†a specific character, without always worrying about¬†fiber content, historical accuracy in technique or (sometimes) finishing techniques.

cerseijaime

Cersei and Jaime have a date night

If I’m making a Victorian-era gown, I refer to it as such because I will be building it like a high quality piece of clothing & not a quickie¬†“on & off” theatrical piece (not to dismiss all theatrical pieces either- often there is much research that goes into theater costuming, and just look at what the team at First Stage Children’s Theater turns out for their shows!).

All this to say, it had been a long time since I had made a “costume” when I began the Cersei and Jaime Lannister costumes for Halloween 2015. ¬†I thought that, as far as a couple’s costume goes, it was just the right amount of wrong. ¬†And I’ll start by proudly stating¬†that 90% of the fabric and “armor” was from thrift stores (curtains!) and dollar stores.

 

 

 

blog thrones (2)I rarely use commercial patterns, but I picked up one¬†I thought would be good to start with, during $1 sales at JoAnn Fabrics. It was a¬†McCall’s brand, 6940. Honestly, I had some dark gold “silkessence” fabric from curtains I made ages ago and I had found these red dupioni-look curtains with gold embroidered swirls that absolutely made the whole look.

 

Working from a number of source photos, I decided on how to change the pattern:

 

cersei (2)97fc0205429d4b35ef9f722b9cc1f54ccersei (3)

CERSEI-

Dress- I didn’t haveto adjust much on Cersei’s pattern- I raised the hip gore, as it starts directly beneath the belt. I also shortened the sleeves- a necessity due to a shortage of embroidered fabric. This is one negative side effect of thrifting your supplies… you must work with what you have, and have to face the fact that there is no more available if you screw up. (No pressure though) Other than that, I raised the armscye a bit, for mobility.

jaimecersei8I ended up finding more curtains with a gold embroidered dark red sheer overlay. The embroidery was a close enough match in color and style to the sleeves that I didn’t have to scrimp much on sleeve length, and still had embroidery circling from the center back to wrap front. Lucky find, honestly. The obvious detail I left out was the edging of the hip gore fabric on the center front, neckline at cuffs. I could add it at some point, ¬†but with our time constraints (9 working days for both costumes) I deemed it unnecessary.

jaimecersei7More fabric I found, as I didn’t have enough of the above embroidery to wrap both the neckline and sleeve cuffs, had a similar embroidery pattern on a sheer overlay (applied to the same base fabric). I am a lucky thrifter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

cersei (1)The coup de gr√Ęce was the (Lannister) lion embroidered on the hips. This was a process… I found an image of a lion that was similar.¬†Then I lengthened, narrowed and enlarged the image, estimating an appropriate size. It ended up being about 20″x 8″. I divided the image in half to fit onto two A4 pieces of cardstock. After printing I taped them together. Then I outlined the image (mirrored, one facing left, the other facing right) onto two pieces of the red fabric that I had attached interfacing to (good stiff iron-on). I pinned the interfaced fabric lions to the hip gore pieces.

 

 

jaimecersei6The longest step was using a wide tight (nearly) buttonhole stitch to outline the lions. Then I carefully cut them out and pinned them onto the hip gores. The last step was stitching them onto the fabric. I found that a med to long zigzag worked well, going over the edging in the same thread color.

***You could use double sided iron on interfacing… You would iron one side to the lion fabric and cut it out, then lay it onto the hip gore and iron on the other side of the interfacing… this would reduce some movement and eliminate some extensive pinning. I just thought of this. /le sigh

 

 

 

 

 

jaimecersei9Belt-My husband was the mastermind behind this- starting with four pieces of machined aluminum, he added holes for rings and decorative elements. He shaped them for fitting a curved surface (my waist) and I assisted with a dry brush technique for antiquing the surface color. The costume will eventually have a metal mesh or chainmail back to the belt, but for now I used a piece of heavy leather, laced with ribbon to the metal rings at the sides. It was adequate for our purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

cerseijaime (11)Misc- I found a wig online that served nicely, for less than $30. Cersei has long, waved, dark golden blonde hair, but affordable wig options tend to be white (Khaleesi), light blonde, or brown… I chose light blonde. Her makeup was a very important part of capturing the Cersei look… in particular, her eyebrows. I did my research, watched some less-than-helpful tutorials on YouTube, and practiced. I feel like I nailed them. You may also want to practice her sneer… if just for fun.

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

jaimecersei5

Necklace- Using Sculpey, I¬†also made a medallion pendant by pressing a large lion’s head button into sculpey. Once it dried, I used that as a mold and pressed fresh sculpey into it to create the medallion. I used cling film in between the dried and fresh to make it easy to remove. Once the impression is made, you clean up the edges and make a hole for a necklace chain, and you’re done! Bake it and paint it- I used metallic spray paint.

 

 

 

 

 

jaimecersei12For accessories, I thrifted a glass decanter and gilded wine glass… so very Cersei!¬†She wears red leather ankle boots over tights- I have some burgundy stamped leather boots that worked well… no-one will really see your shoes, as the dress is floor length.

The Jaime Lannister Cosplay post will be finished and up within the month- watch for it!

cerseijaime (7)

Work that sneer for all it’s worth!

Teslacon 6- The Evil Queen Tuesday, Jan 26 2016 

Corsets, leather and Evil? ¬†Read on…

With the usual craziness of the Halloween season, being one of the designers for Milwaukee Fashion Week’s Couture & High Fashion evening, and new outfits for Teslacon, it was a *very* busy summer and fall. It’s not an excuse for neglecting you, but it’s as close as I’ll come. So, what have I been up to? Here are the highlights:

Check out this article about my Milwaukee Fashion Week collection, “Retrospective”, here.

Two costumes (in 9 working days) for Halloween this year… Cersei and Jaime Lannister! Just the right amount of wrong ūüėČ ¬†More details to come in the next post, but for now, a picture:

cerseijaime (10)

Jaime and Cersei

 

And new outfits for Teslacon, as well as bringing two friends- and newcomers to TC- and dressing them for the duration of the con. Did I mention they entered and won the Group category of the costume contest while wearing my designs? Another picture for you:

tc 2015 (45)

The new outfits I created for my husband and I were a…. departure…. from our usual. For mine, I was inspired by the film Maleficent, and I wanted to create an outfit that had a darker tone but still incorporated Victorian elements, while playing to the year’s Teslacon theme (Wild Wild West, and Dark Circus) as well.

In the meantime, I had promised Jim a new frock coat and possibly a vest. I’d also cut out a new pair of pants for him, so I had to finish all of that- after Halloween, mind you- before starting my own outfit. I knew that once I started mine I would be unlikely to pull myself away to give proper attention to anything else. He ended up with the new pants in a fine dark grey and charcoal stripe, a vest in a striped purple woven material, and a dark grey waxed denim frock coat lined with the vest’s fabric, and patterned from an 1890’s frock coat from “Men’s Garments 1830-1900; A Guide to pattern Cutting and Tailoring”, by R.I. Davis. The results:

tc 2015 (3)

My own outfit would consist of a black and red striped silk corset (from an 1890-1900 pattern in “Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques”, by Jill Salen”, a heavily edited version of the “1887 Corsage w/Pleated Surah Vest” by Ageless Patterns, and a pair of black pleather pants of my own design. Additionally, I planned to tart up a black velvet and tulle vintage hat with some antique French millinery feathers, and make a ridiculously epic hairpiece to top it all off. Judge for yourself:

12419031_1082189425147972_2757030718993958500_o (1)

The Evil Queen

Continue to scroll below for details on red leather inserts, chiffon screened to look like muscles, and details on that hairpiece.

bodice

1887 Corsage w/Pleated Surah Vest

Inspirations for the new design:

inspiration (1) inspiration (2)

Jacket and sass above, pleather and split sleeves below.

inspiration (3) inspiration

I extended the jacket ¬†to make it full length¬†and created an under-skirt for it. I made the sleeves fuller, as I planned to open them and have the pleather/chiffon details underneath. I made piping and lined the jacket and both sleeves with it. Some personal design touches include the red leather diamond insert in the back, and a full 9″ of black leather encircling¬†the hem. The split sleeves with the chiffon and pleather undersleeves were also a personal innovation. The jacket was lined, boned, custom fitted for my corseted measurements, and fully edged¬†in handmade self-fabric piping.

The red and black silk corset was created by taking a 1/2 scale antique pattern, re-sizing it in Photoshop and printing, then modifying it to my corseted measurements. I used garter straps to create two tie-on “pockets”; a holster for a small LED-lit pistol that started life as a pirate-y butane lighter, and a sleek red leather pouch for holding money & ID, etc.

The pleather pants have a sailor-style front closure, wide waistband and matched curving seams along the legs. All the pleather I used in the outfit is embossed with a black-on black rose design.

But really, can I show you the back?

tc 2015 (8)

That is a red leather diamond, with the collar portion pattern matched to the back portion. Yes. And very fancy- I tore up a thrifted $6 red leather skirt for the fabric… it doesn’t ALL have to cost an arm and a leg!

I also incorporated hidden hooks and loops to enable the skirt to be “bustled” up, a look that plays peek-a-boo with the red satin lining. (Will have to add a bustled image later)

And the hairpiece, which was dark blonde with an elasticized attachment for over a bun. I took two red-to-black ombre hair falls that I’ve had FOREVER¬†(see proof) and twisted them into the blonde hairpiece, to create a massive and impressive final structure. I also used a hair rat I took a year to collect beneath the center of the hairpiece for added volume, but the majority is fake hair.

Some images of the hair, at the end of a very long day:

tc 2015 (24) tc 2015 (39)

I needed the hairpiece to be high enough to tilt my hat forward, and also for the bottom to be high enough off the nape of my neck so as not to interfere with my jacket collar.

The chiffon is screen printed with a red and black pattern that is reminiscent of muscles sans skin, and I used it to make the gathered sleeves spilling out of the jacket’s split sleeves, and headed by black fitted pleather “gauntlets”, a’la Maleficent’s battle costume sleeves.

tc 2015 (4)

This outfit was a lot of fun to make, and it was helpful to have the original vintage pattern to use as a starting point, though it barely resembles the original when all is said & done.

More to come soon, I promise ūüėČ

 

 

 

 

Corseted Edwardian Skirt, or Adventures With Dutch Pattern Translations Wednesday, Aug 12 2015 

I have wanted to created a corseted skirt for a time now, and meandered into a search on Pinterest along those lines, coming up with this:

11113633_391349101069026_6048540763192940002_n corseted skirt (3) corseted skirt (2)

So, this looks lovely and during a fabric shopping excursion to Chicago I found a delicious spring green fabric (unusual, I’m not a particularly “spring green” kind of gal) that prompted me to jump into this with both feet. Note, of course, that this pattern is in Dutch. And that the image quality is approximately 72 dpi, which is shite for printing. I printed an 8″x 10″ of the pattern and it was difficult to read, even that small.

The first challenge, besides translating the dutch, was switching the measurements from centimeters to inches. Not necessary, but I find it easier to work in imperial units… what can I say, I’m used to it. ¬†Several numbers were difficult to read, so I guessed at times- a six or a five, an eight or a three…. at times I ended up with a curve that didn’t quite make sense, so I went back and checked to see if the number was questionable, and replaced my first guess with the second choice.

It went pretty smoothly.  The measurements lined up pretty closely with my own, so I drafted the pattern as-is, after adding seam allowances.  The one adjustment I would make is giving a tad less generosity to the hip measurements- you can see in the images to follow, there is a visible line at the bottom of the corseted portion which I may still creatively disguise, but am dealing with for now. If it were just a tad smaller, I believe the line would flow more smoothly. Another layer of interlining or a thicker fabric may have also helped with this issue. Something to keep in mind when choosing a fabric- mine was pretty thin.

I also have not inserted pleated gores, as pictured in the last image… debating on whether to add them until after I decide on a hip-line cover-up.

For the interlining I used two layers of canvas and sandwiched the boning between them, and a thin cotton for the lining. If you know how to make a skirt, and how to make a corset, this pattern is not terribly challenging…. historically, however, it wouldn’t have been all too common for one person to have made both. Usually tradespeople had a specialty, and would have stuck with it…. corsets or skirts, linens or hats, shoes or hose, etc.

I was really slacking on taking pictures because this outfit was created in a fast and furious blaze of inspiration, but I lined the grommets on both sides with spring steel, made my own bias tape and hemmed each skirt panel individually so that if I chose to insert gores later I wouldn’t have to re-hem the whole thing. I also hand-stitched a beaded applique onto the bodice and did some (very little) decorative stitching at the seams… possibly more in the future. I would say this outfit is still officially evolving.

It was interesting, but knowing what I know NOW, I’d suggest checking out Truly Victorian’s 10-gore Edwardian princess skirt… beautiful, same look and period, with (knowing Truly Victorian) clear instructions and extensive directions on adjustments. Just saying.

So, without further ado, here is the final product- photo credits to Kathy Berger Photography.

springgreen (1) springgreen (8) springgreen (6)

For October: Victorian Skating Outfit, with much more in-progress detail!

Seven of Nine Costume Tuesday, Jun 2 2015 

Firstly, I am appropriately chastened by the span of time that has passed since my last post. #chastened.

I have 2 new Victorian dresses and 1 new costume to show you…. Forgiven??

This post is focused on the Seven of Nine (Portrayed by Jeri Ryan, and possibly the best character arc, ever.) costume I built for Halloween last year. Unfortunately, there were precisely zero decent pictures of it from the evening. When I wore it again, at Concinnity, I took advantage of a photographer on location (well, resistance WAS futile) and had some better pictures taken.  In conjunction with some in progress images, we have enough fuel for a blog!

Now, this fabric was purchased probably 15 years ago and has been in my sewing room ever since, as I thought wistfully, “One day, I will lose weight and make a 7 of 9 costume”. A year ago I finally DID something about my weight (see my post) and last October I pulled the fabric out from storage… ¬†In conjunction with a few hi-res pictures online, I was off & running!

The parts comprising this costume include the bodysuit with incorporated shoes (heels, for the oh-so-practical borg), a corset underneath with “borg bone” exoskeleton, a padded bra (may not be necessary for everyone, but even Jeri had … help), and of course the “borg” prosthetics on her face and hand. Above the left eye is an “occipital ocular implant”, a small nano-something is in front of the left ear, and a glove-like series of silver “nanoprobes” stretching over her left hand and fingers. Picture time:

04adb_1-agfascans1

The original metallic suit was, according to actress Jeri Ryan, the most uncomfortable by far. My guess is, that was due to the unforgiving nature of the fabric. Later spandex knit costumes were much more comfortable while still being skintight.

7-of-9

This is the costume I re-created, working with colors and fabrics available. I ended up using a spandex velour in two shades of blue, though you can see that the original fabrics were gray and blue ribbed knits with metallic woven in.

628x471 seven

These are a couple decent images of the glove. Further details include the communicator insignia, the tri-corder she frequently carries, and the look (make-up and hairstyle).

Prosthetics:

I purchased the facial prosthetics from ebay. They were made of silicone, and far too thick to be of any use. Don’t buy them in silicone. To make the best of the situation, I thought I could use the silicone implants as a mold base to make my own from latex. ¬†And I learned something about myself- I have the patience to hand bead a forepart, but I have no desire to make something that is meant to be a replica, and which I could purchase at a reasonable price. I ended up finding the two pieces online in a SFX store. As it turned out I had to paint them myself, so they ended up having my own personal stamp anyway. I tried a few different types of paint, and much of it didn’t work (even theatrical metallic face paint with a “glue” additive. The most effective was actually metallic eye shadow. ¬†Spirit gum works just fine to hold the prosthetics on for a day.

The glove was another story, because no-one makes it (to my knowledge). ¬†I found this blog post very useful, but still went in another direction. I purchased a yellow rubber kitchen glove and drew the outline for the glove, according to the many pictures available online. I then painted on about 8 layers of liquid latex, following the lines I drew and allowing drying time between each layer, to create a three dimensional look. Then I used an exacto knife to cut out the gloves, leaving the fingertips on and cutting about an inch down, leaving a thimble-like pocket¬†(because you need some way to keep them on your fingers). I also left a strip at the wrist and across the hand just below the fingers- both of these strips are authentic to the original and, I believe, increase stability. I then painted it with black multi-surface¬†paint and dry-brushed it with metallic silver and gold. I did not glue the glove to my hand, and it was acceptable. After a few wearings I have found the paint is cracking & I may need to come up with a new design, but I think version 2.0 will go much faster now that I’ve done the first one.

The Corset:

I’ll admit, I somewhat cheated and did not make this from scratch… I took a cheap corset I had laying around (like one does), and cut it to be an under-bust style. I replaced the plastic boning with steel (told you it was cheap!), and replaced the grommets with a separating zipper. I could do this because the corset was too big, allowing me to find a good snug fit and then insert the zipper at a point before the grommets began. BUT- the important part is to have an under-bust corset that fits- it should be snug in the waist but not pooching you out at the top or bottom… this is not a waist-training corset! If you can avoid it, don’t use one with plastic boning- plastic warps when it is warmed (by your body) and then retains that warped shape when it cools. ¬†Once I had the fit determined and the zipper in, I used large piping cord and whip-stitched it along the corset horizontally (marked in chalk) to create “borg bones”. Voila.

The Bra:

This wasn’t too- I bought a big full coverage bra from a discount store, making sure it had pockets for ¬†push-up pads. Then (after adjusting band and straps) I started stuffing. ¬†After sending a somewhat hilarious tank top picture to my husband, I took out one of the pads. I think it was a good call. Then I whip-stitched everything into place with sturdy thread.

*Interesting note- Jeri Ryan’s costume actually consisted of a “merry widow” style bodysuit, incorporating both the bra and corset-like piece in one. Probably helped create a smooth line from top to bottom.

The Bodysuit:

This is the really important piece- it’s 80% of the costume, really. Now, one plus to working with stretch fabric: there’s a lot of give, literally. It’s pretty easy to edit your leg or your waistline… the exceptions here are areas like the crotch. Be careful there, or you’ll end up with the dreaded camel-toe. Another touchy area is the zipper. I went with an invisible zipper, and I put in knit interfacing to help avoid weird pulls and bumps. I put it in after getting weird pulls and bumps and seam-ripping the whole thing, of course. Learn from my mistakes… use interfacing and pin religiously!

So, from the starting point, there’s the top and the bottom, joined at the hip- I lined up the bottom “borg bone” of the corset to match with the hip seam. The zipper from neck to tailbone is how you get in and out of this thing.

I took apart a really close fitting pair of yoga pants to get a baseline for the leg pattern. The seam on the leg is on the inside, so I wanted to keep it as authentic as possible. When you have a mostly monochromatic bodysuit, seams stand out. I left a little extra at the hip to play with, and plenty at the foot/ankle area because I still had the shoes to attach! *Make sure you give yourself at least as many inches as the top of your foot from ankle to toes!

seven of nine 2014 4

Hip line at left, LOTS of room for the shoe at right.

The shoes in the original costume have a stacked wooden heel. I was able to find a pair of heels that matched the silhouette pretty closely, covered in brown “suede” down to the heel. This served the second purpose of giving more surface area for the fabric glue to grab onto when I eventually glued the bodysuit fabric to the shoes. This required much pinning and cursing, as I was wearing the shoes and bodysuit leggings. After gluing, an exacto knife came in handy again to get a nice, clean edge. * Make the ankle as tight as you like, but… you DO have to get your foot in there.

seven of nine 9

The top part of the bodysuit was particularly challenging because the front is made up of 5 pieces- two sections for each breast, plus the single piece beneath them, with a pointed bottom to mach the long, zippered back piece. I made a pattern and mocked it up with swimsuit fabric scraps I had lying around. I made the mock up short sleeved because the length is really secondary, and not necessary in this mock up.

seven of nine 2014 1

Front and back.

seven of nine 2014 3

“Inner boob” and “outer boob”. In my defense, I refrained from calling it “side boob”.

The sleeves were a challenge also, because (I had no idea) there are several types of raglan sleeves. What I did was cut away from the paper pattern for the chest and upper back, and added the ( I hoped) right shape to the sleeve pattern block. I ended up stitching the angle with more of an angular bend, but it was just about on target…. again, the stretch fabric allowed flexibility in certain aspects.

seven of nine 2014 2

Sleeve with the addition of fabric for the raglan style.

seven of nine 2014 5

Cutting out the sleeves… dont mess up!!

The mock up looked pretty good, but resulted- again- in a confused husband when I sent him progress pics.

seven of nine 2014 6 seven of nine 2014 8 seven of nine 2014 7

I explained it was scrap fabric, not a new, funky “Seven of Nine”. ¬†I finished cutting out the good fabric, sewed it together, made some adjustments and there it was! I did double stitch every seam, and zigzag stitch them to finish it… so even if a seam rips, I have a backup plan to preserve my modesty ūüėČ

I bought a magnetic Voyager communicator insignia online (I think it was at Think Geek) and, surprisingly, my old Razr made a great tricorder!

RAZR_V3i_opened

So very futuristic!

Now, without further ado, some images of the finished product at Concinnity (with my darling Red-Shirt) and one from the costume contest we won on Halloween 2014.

seven of nine (4)

seven of nine (3)

seven of nine (2)

Halloween 2014 (11)

seven of nine (1) One of my favorites!

7 of 9 Halloween 2014 (5)

Next up, one of the two Victorian gowns, and sooner rather than later!

Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Nomination Thursday, Apr 2 2015 

Teslacon 2012

UPDATE!!

I did it! Thanks to all you wonderful readers who voted for me, I won the “Best Dressed- Female” category! Winners were announced at the International Steampunk Symposium in April! I’m thrilled to have received this honor, and will work even harder on future efforts… which you’ll see *very* soon!! ūüėČ

 

Exciting news- I have been nominated in the Steampunk Chronicle’s “reader’s Choice Awards”, in the category of Best Dressed Female!

If you’ve been following my blog, you know how much work and pride I put into my designs, so this is a great honor. ¬†If you’re inclined to vote for me, the link is here, but even if you don’t it’s worth the jump to check out all the other fantastic categories and nominees- ¬† Thanks so much!

(A note, you do have to register/log in,  in order to cast your vote.)

PS- Next outfit is almost done, Victorian ice-skating costume, watch for the post!

Next Page »