Seven of Nine Cosplay Borg Hand Prosthetic Wednesday, Apr 22 2020 

This February, just before SGS (shit got serious), I was in a position to attend MarsCon, a fan run science-fiction/fantasy convention, in Minneapolis, MN. I hadn’t heard of it before, despite it closing in on its second decade of existence (with separate annual goings on in both Virginia and Minnesota!). cover

I poked around and took a look at attendee images to decide on what costumes I wanted to wear. It is a smaller con, and it was short notice, so I did NOT plan to make a new costume. Keep it simple, right? I decided on the Evil Outfit of Evil, and Seven of Nine.

Cue to me pulling out my outfits and inspecting them for maintenance, mending needs, etc.  Evil looks good (it usually does), but I had a rude lesson in how and where to store my accessories when it came to my Seven costume…. the facial prosthetics needed a repaint, and the Borg exo-hand was badly deteriorated. The paint was cracked and flaking off in areas, and the rubber of the glove base had actually begun to disintegrate. Yikes.

old

With some paint I *could* have limped it through a day of wear, maaayybe, but that is not how I costume.

I had one week to make a new glove. After some light research online, I decided to make the second one in the same fashion as I had created the first.

I’ll take you through the process, and end with some finished images as well as a comparison to the one used in Star Trek: Voyager.

glove1

I began with a heavy rubber cleaning glove. I used a smaller size than last time- lessons learned- and used my original as a basis for planning my lines. The glove had a band across the palm, caps over each finger and thumb, and a closure (I used velcro) at the wrist. The lines on the back of the hand extended up the wrist, past where the sleeve of the bodysuit would cover.

The first step, though, was not cutting- another lesson learned. I used liquid latex to create the lines of the glove. Originally, I planned to do layers of latex in order to build a three dimensional effect, but it was so thin and took so long to dry adequately that I gave up after about six layers. THIS time, however, I was using the *same* quart of liquid latex, from four(?) years ago… and it had thickened considerably. So I planned out where my lines would go, and used a toothpick to scoop up the thick latex and lay it down in ropes along the back of the glove. I did three layers, and had beautiful results!

As you can see, the first layer created a good base, and the next two layers I worked to round off the top of the ropes, trying to make them look as much like nano-tubes (I suppose) as possible. Fortunately, because the latex was so old the drying time was likely shorter than it otherwise would have been for the amount I used.

Day three, and it was finally time to cut. I used small scissors first, and then an exacto blade to cut the exo-hand outline away from the rest of the glove. The knife was especially useful for the detail work in the interior spaces. Afterwards I gave it a coat of black Plasti-dip spray, which was leftover from repainting my husband’s Jaime Lannister armor and makes for a great painting base. I did weigh down the edges of the wrist band, as the Plasti-dip made it want to curl in. This effect was actually to the benefit of the project otherwise, as it helped narrow the nano-wires and give a little extra grab onto the finger caps.

I dry-brushed metallic silver spray paint over the raised areas, letting the darker colored recessions do the hard work. I do not know where my gold metallic pen is hiding, so I skipped the bronze/gold accents this time. After that, it was just hand stitching two little squares of velcro to the wrist band, and I was ready to go!

The results were good- I received a number of compliments, and it even stood up to battle!

battle

So, a comparison between the new one, the old one, and the prop from the show:

 

The image on the right above is from a prop auction, so I believe it is authentic. If I had slowed down, I would have re-evaluated the design of my lines. They should have, in my new version, become more closely gathered and linear along the length of each finger and instead, I made them more random if anything. And my MIA gold pen resulted in the bronze accents being absent, though I can add those in later. Ah, well.

However, the depth and three-dimensionality resulting from the thicker latex and paint job gave a nicer overall look, and possibly a sturdier end product.  The fit of the finger caps is more secure than in my original version, which makes for easier wear. The Voyager prop is made of painted foam, and was identified as used, and in fragile condition. No more battles for that prop! Again, I think my only change would be to mirror the “wire bundle” design more closely. Overall, I would say excellent results for a last minute project, though not perfect 😉

PS- For the curious, my repainted prosthetics, a shot of the full Seven of Nine costume with the original exo-hand, and the Evil Outfit of Evil;

 

I will NOT be storing *this* prop in the basement, btw.

A Romance of Mesh Wednesday, Feb 12 2020 

 

2406945-KVKPAVNP-7

Not my painting.

It was many and many a month ago,
In an online shopping spree,
That I acquired a fabric, the price so low
T’was unbelievable to me

The Etsy wholesalers- not half so detailed in their descriptions- offered shipping for free.
Yes! This was the reason that, long ago,
in the cart, too quickly-
I placed a mesh far too thin,
And ordered it, sight unseen.

But this mesh, it was lighter by far
than those I’d used previously,
and of those in my closet, you see.

And neither the stars in the heaven above,
not the demons down under the sea
could ever transfigure this net to the weight
of the net that I need it to be.

And so all the night-tide I drape and I sigh
at my dress-form, my dress-form,
for the White Party’s nigh….
at Crucible, west of the city-
at the club west of Milwaukee.
-Me

This is the tragically romantic tale, in poem form, of how I ended up the proud owner of approximately 6 yards of white powernet mesh in two weights that were completely useless for the intended purpose; per-piece sewing that I do for a local (amazing and sex-positive!) sex toy store, The Tool Shed.

Importantly, I am not really a person who wears a lot of white…
So when it came to “whatever will I do with 6 yards of white mesh?”, the answer was of course “Make something for The White Party”, an annual themed evening at the monthly dance event Leather & Lace in Madison, WI. Eight months away, at that point. PLENTY of time.

Fast forward seven and a half months.

And this blog is about the dress I made two weeks before the White Party, 100% draped, and made in two layers of lovely mesh with accents of white lingerie elastic and steel o-rings.

Having worked with powernet a great deal in the past, I knew that it would be perfectly possible to leave the edges unfinished, as it will not fray. In fact, the 4-way stretch makes it more likely that turning a hem under will distort it, potentially ruining a nice clean look.
This won’t be a terribly long post, since there wasn’t much prep, nor much finishing. However, I can give some tips for working with stretch fabrics, and for draping mesh.

First, don’t worry about it being tight on your dress-form; you’ll probably want it that way, since your body compresses slightly and the dress-form does not. With stretchy fabrics, the last thing you want is for it to be loose and baggy. That said, I would not cut down seam allowances until you’ve tried it on and are happy with it.

The dress is made of two layers- the tight sheath dress underneath, and the draped layer with the elastic harness on top. For the sheath dress, I just laid one of the mesh dresses that I already own flat on the white fabric, and traced around it. I added length because I wanted it to reach the floor, and I added about three inches in width, because the mesh is heavier than the one the existing dress was made of, and it would stretch less. That’s it. No darts, nothing more than shaped side seams. I zigzagged the seams first, tried it on,  then stitched in two different lengths to be sure the seams were strong. The seams stop at mid-thigh, allowing for plenty of movement.

Once the sheath dress was done, I simply draped two large pieces of the thinner mesh and pinned them at the shoulders until I was happy with where they lay. I wanted the front to drape over the center of the body, and the back to drape around and below it. The harness went on next, and was also pinned before checking for fit. I used steel rings at the shoulders, front and back as accents, and hand stitched everything with upholstery thread. The overdress is tacked at the sides of the harness too, since I don’t want it to shift.

It was very simple, which was fortunate because I didn’t give myself all that much time… heh.

It was a great success, fun and comfortable to dance in, and it looked great in the black lights!81427790_307408770184294_3831241025670610944_n81050294_688146525051074_2571697408912130048_n

 

 

The “Fetish al Fresco” Collection Monday, Dec 2 2019 

This is a bit of a saga… an obsession of sorts. I don’t recall where it was that I first saw it…most likely a Facebook ad, because they’re nosing into my search history. 😏 Regardless of where it was, I saw this incredible fabric… this amazing pattern.

2019-10-14 (2).png

And I had to have it.

It is a fabric featured at Sin In Linen, a company specializing in unique and sassy prints for the bedroom and bathroom.

I began my Google search. I hit a lot of dead ends, and found a lot of lovely pastoral scenes of French countrysides. No luck. Finally, I found someone who had a couple yards of the fabric…. in white and *pink*. No.

I went back to Sin In Linen, gazing longingly at the sheet set. And drapes. And shower curtains… and I started thinking about how these products are really, mostly, large rectangular yardages of fabric. I got out my calculator, did some figuring, and decided on the purchase that would give me the most usable square footage per dollar. SOLD!
67887876_553950865145518_6777724118419636224_n
I planned to make a Victorian overskirt. Like you do! Truly Victorian pattern TV367.
*If you have NOT heard me rave about the TV patterns (and they don’t pay me to do so- I wish!) then check out some of my other posts.

The purchase was made: a queen sheet set, which should have been just enough. And still, I unpicked every seam and ironed them out to get every usable inch!

The only difficult part, really, was that due to the yardage, I had to make the center line of the front a seam instead of a fold. CHALLENGE! 

I laid out the fabric, figured in my seam allowance, lined it all up carefully, pinning and re-pinning…. and here we go:

After that, I finished the edges *before* doing the pleating… that’s a tip that will save you from working around annoying fabric folds just to turn or face an edge. Since this is such a light cotton and intended for a summery Victorian dress, I did not line it, and only faced the necessary edges. A bit of a time saver, and if it was something I planned to add trims to I would want the additional support of a lining or all over facing, especially with such a light fabric. But, I wasn’t.

Post-pleats on the front and back:

Upon completing the overskirt, I had planned to wear it with a black jacket and black underskirt, but I didn’t like the darkness of the resulting look. (I know, I know… me? Not liking how dark it was???)  So I hied me off to a thrift store, picked up some white cotton (blend) curtains with a little lace trim and made up a six panel skirt. I stitched on some black ribbon trim and faceted beads to pull it together with the black and white toile. The picture above is in bare feet- I wore three inch black boots with this skirt.

So.

Fast forward a year, and I had decided to make a dress from a vintage 1950’s pattern. I bought more material (sheets) and did a TERRIBLE job of taking pictures of this dress, both in the making and in the wearing. So here’s what you get:

67805289_959757204367464_7287057332205256704_n

It was quite the weekend.
After the creation of this epitome of mid-century grace and modesty, I thought that maybe, between the scraps from the first project and now from the dress, I *might* have enough to put together a Victorian bodice to go with the overskirt!

68887269_412101002758672_2280628059377762304_n.jpg

I hunted through my patterns and pulled out  another TV beauty, one I hadn’t made yet.
I cut out the pattern pieces, laid out my fabric (I had enough!) and pinned it to the lining, cut out the pieces, and happily headed back to the pattern pouch to pull out the instructions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..68436586_606730133188665_426052432116580352_n.jpg67906138_3256747097670466_494184078153613312_n

Where are the instructions??

They’re certainly not in that bag.

Not by the ironing board.

Oh no….

 

 

67970856_358629835077435_1700998115131129856_nI was not happy.

 

But, things as they are, right?

I did a brief, hopeless search online, just in case someone had posted the instructions for this particular pattern online.
No dice.

Well, you know what? I’ve made so many bodices at this point, I’m sure I can just read the pattern and figure it out, and it’ll all be just fine, right?

Right.

Plowing ahead, I followed standard procedure, stitching each seam twice (at two different lengths, for strength), then clipping curved seams and ironing them. I zigzagged the seams to finish instead of binding them- not as pretty, but it works. I opted against interior boning.67921333_2180786922033107_3899910551936958464_n67950526_648496062302976_5780516739028615168_n

I then faced the shoulder straps and the neckline before I set the sleeves.

I also faced and finished the lacing back, after checking the fit.

For the bottom edge I used white bias binding… mostly due to time constraints but also running low on the necessary fabric to make a proper self-fabric bias tape.

68441415_363329991012173_6909142498405253120_n

Looking good… time to set the sleeves and see how it all looks together!
The puffed sleeves went on without any issues. I added black matte grommets (size 0, I believe) around the sleeve band and at the neckline to insert different colored ribbon… a dress with this much print going on doesn’t need much adornment!

Putting it all together:
68518227_2265347750244789_1445315598148960256_n

And the final product, with ribbons, accessories and sass, at an event:

74682744_10220968099171382_5321161242168000512_o

Instructions? We don’t need no stinking instructions!! 😀

I have worn this both with and without a corset and bustle beneath, but of course with both is more accurate, and achieves the correct silhouette more fully.

Now, from a historical context, this is definitely a ballgown. The short sleeves paired with the low cut square neckline would require that this bodice be relegated to a formal evening event. And of course very long gloves would be needed, to maintain modesty. I’m *clearly* not interested in that. But I am wearing it as daytime wear, primarily due to the fabric I chose (even if we forget about that saucy pattern :D). the cotton is simply not fine enough in content or color to make it into a historically accurate piece of evening wear. although white lawn, a very finely woven linen or cotton was seen in (primarily) upper-class Regency clothing, that would still be summer apparel and usually considered daytime wear. So, this is not historically accurate, either in construction or fabric choice. But it was fun to make, and a lot of fun to wear! 

Teslacon 9 Green Dress Post #3 Tuesday, Dec 25 2018 

At last! After only a month and a half post-event, you get to see The Dress.

But first, Teslacon was amazing- a wild ride for sure!- the type of ride you’re not sure if you’d go on again, but you wouldn’t trade the experience for the world (partly because you can’t anyway). I caught up with many friends, paraded many outfits, and did much people-watching and enjoying of other outfits.

AND…. yes, I finished the green dress. It was completely reinvented from my original post due to the time crunch and the weight of the fabric. I may end up making a velvet and fur trimmed cape or mantle at some point, since I have so much left.

But, not to meander from my point….

THE SKIRT-
First, I finished the skirt (recall, it was on the dress form that was set to my corseted measurements, and with the corset, bustle and petticoat I planned to wear also in place so that all fittings would be accurate to how it would be worn). I also set the height to reflect the shoes I planned to wear with the outfit. Since I knew the back of the jacket would cover the opening at the back of the skirt, all I needed to do was choose how to decorate the hem. I decided on something relatively simple- a wide velvet hem with a piped edge. I made the velvet piping first, and I’ll admit to NOT making it on the bias, simply because the application would not be curved. Saved a bit of time.

I decided to use the selvage edge for the bottom of the hem band since open velvet edges are such a mess- the only cut edges are now on the interior of the hem, and not making a fuzzy mess of anything! (The handheld vacuum was my BFF during any and all velvet cutting during this project!)

THE JACKET-
Next I was on to the jacket! As mentioned in the last post, I chose a jacket I’ve made before since the mockup was already done and ready to go. I made some adjustments as I laid out the pattern, based on the differences I knew I wanted for the back of the jacket.

After cutting the fabric and lining, I stitched them and ironed the seams, then checked for fit. It looked good, so I moved onto laying out the boning for the interior of the bodice and whipstitching them in by hand. Boning your bodice is important, as it will help hold the shape and resist bunching.

As you can see in the last image above, I had set the sleeves in after stitching in the boning channels. I (planned for) used two pieces of the skirt’s velvet hem for the cuff decoration on the sleeves, stitched in the lining and then basted the two layers into the armhole. I checked placement and fit, then stitched the sleeves on. I had bought decorative buttons for the jacket front and cuffs, but those went on last.

I lined the underside of the jacket’s tail in velvet, and also the collar and a band down the front (I stitched in a spring steel 1/2″ bone to add stability to the front closure. A thin band of velvet edges the bottom of the jacket, stitched in and hidden beneath the lining.

With the simplicity of this look, in addition to the felt hat base I’d purchased, I decided to style the hat and final look along the lines of a “Victorian meets 1940’s film noir” feel, complete with asymmetrical, sassy mesh veil on the hat.

FINAL TOUCHES-
In addition to the four buttons I found in an antique store (LARGE silver buttons with a blue-grey background and a latin motto which translates to “there is no room for more than one king in the world”) I bought seven small ones to match that I found on Etsy. I always like to have special details on the back of my outfits, so in addition to the velvet revers and button, I added a silver celtic knot that was once a vintage shoe clip to the small of the back, and an embroidered set of silver laurel branches to signify victory. For extra sass, I planned a plunging neckline to be accented by my rhinestone bra. Because it doesn’t have to be period! I paired it with the small purse I made to accompany my green velvet ballgown several years ago, and added a fun steampunk accessory on my forearm.

And, voilé…

 

Thanks for keeping me company on this journey into procrastination… I’ll come up with a new project soon!

Teslacon Green Dress Post #2 Friday, Nov 9 2018 

Oh god. I started my skirt nearly a month ago. The convention is in a week. One week ago I determined that my prior dress design would not work.

Why?

  1. The original plan was a big ol’ overskirt because I have SO MUCH fabric. Usually, that’s a celebratory thing- you can do ANYTHING with it. However- this fabric is very heavy. I would have had 12 pounds of skirt. And it’s so thick that a skirt and over skirt would’ve added at least an inch to the waist and I’m just too vain for that noise.
  2. The original design called for a brand spankin’ new jacket design with all sorts of unusual features, based off the leather jacket worn by Miss Peregrine in the self titled film. Instead, I’m using a pattern that has already been mocked up, adjusted and sized. Timesaving galore!
  3. The color scheme is elaborate, and with the right amount of detail would work, but not with this pared down design. Then I remembered that I have yards of dark green velvet leftover from the ballgown I made with it several years (and Teslacons) ago. 

     

    In progress pictures….

    2 (2)

    Calmly ironing the seams open, isn’t that great?

    3

    I have a lovely base skirt. Let’s get a side view.

    4

    Okay, wonderful. Time to start on the overskirt.

    5

    Ohhhh, crap. This fabric is way to heavy and thick for a 6 yard overskirt. Maybe just a nice pleated fall of fabric down the back?

    6

    Aw crap- total redesign. I have less than two weeks…. I’ve made this pattern before- it’s ready to go!

    7

    ?Movin’ movin’ movin’, let’s cut out the fabric and lining at the same time!

    8

    Yes, get it onto the sewing table already!

    9

    We’ll use the dark green velvet for trim, screw the color scheme. Make piping with it and get it on the cuffs!

    10

    Okay, bodice is ready for boning and trim, sleeves are ready to be inset.

    11

    I even have a design plan for the back, and matching velvet trim pinned onto the hem of the skirt.

T-minus one week. Tune in for the exciting conclusion of: “Will I Have A New Dress?”

(Alternate working title: “What The Hell Is Your Excuse, Now That You’re Done With Your Masters Degree?”)

Teslacon 9 Green Dress Post #1 Wednesday, Oct 24 2018 

It’s September 2018, and I finished my graduate work. What does that mean? that I’m looking for a job? That I’m diving into an ocean of student loan repayment?

Well, yes. But more importantly (not really), it means that it’s time to create a Victorian-inspired costume for Teslacon… and it’s going to be a grand one! This year’s theme is The Battle of Britain, so I was tempted to go with a military touch in the design… and I DO like menswear-style details over flounces and frills.

There have been several (15?) yards of a beautiful deep green wool sitting in my sewing room for about a year and a half. It was less than $1/yard, scored from a resale store.

44518036_2022027871193013_6156657132860080128_n.jpgThat was a happy day, trust me. Why green? I don’t have a green dress yet, of course!

I believe I have developed a color scheme for the outfit, which will consist of a bodice, hat and skirt…. possibly overskirt/underskirt. The colors will be this deep green, grey/blue & grey, and a dark mottled orange.

The felt hat from Ebay will serve as a solid base for adding decoration.

p.jpg

I’ll assign an existing corset, bustle and petticoat to the outfit, so the shape of the undergarments won’t change… I like my tailoring to be precise enough that a different corset *would* impact the lines somewhat.

I think the corset and bustle set I’ll go with for this one will be the pink and purple dotted silk, and I’ll base the petticoat choice on the heel height of my shoes, which will be my new black Fluevogs! (perfectly comfortable for hours and hours of wear!) ❤

detail.jpg

So, for the design I pulled inspiration from the beautiful black leather coat worn in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and an overall mild commitment to the “Battle of Britain” theme by way of a militaristic nod, and came up with a sketch. These are the initial ideas…

44516881_111697593087170_1682465580356993024_n.jpg

You can see from the fabric samples that the deep orange will be an accent seen mainly in handmade silk cord piping. The silver fabric has a stylized vine pattern embossed on it, and I think it will give some flair to the outfit while retaining a tailored feel.

In an antique store I found these great, oversized, grey-blue and silver buttons with a latin motto on them that I had to look up instantly… “There is no room in the world for more than one king”. Adjust that to queen, works for me! 😉

***DISCLAIMER***

I am 110% sure that the plan for the skirt will change. But it will include a peek-a-boo of the silver cloth on the underskirt, some orange piping, and the four large buttons. I found a set of 7 smaller buttons with the same motto on Etsy and nabbed them for the bodice.

I’m setting the dress form measurements, getting undergarments on it and cutting out the underskirt tomorrow!

Victorian Black Taffeta Ballgown Friday, Dec 15 2017 

I was being kind to myself.
I only planned on one new outfit for Teslacon this year.
It would have worked out so well, if I hadn’t waited until the week before to start it!

At any rate, here is the saga:
I found ( 2 months after the Teslacon that “happened” in 1883 Paris) this gorgeous black faux silk taffeta with a little embroidered fleur de lis pattern. I don’t remember how much it was, but I know it wasn’t expensive because I can’t afford that shit this year.

I decided this black and gold taffeta would become a ballgown. I love the look of Truly Victorian’s French Fan Skirt, so early on I planned to use the pattern again for the bottom half of this gown. Now, this particular skirt pattern doesn’t usually lend itself to fabric with directional stripes or patterns, but the little fleur de lis are small enough that I felt it wouldn’t be distracting.

TV294

My vintage research provided the inspiration for the bodice:

7927676_orig

I love the pleating here, as well as the off-the-shoulder feel, but I tend to like a longer bodice, so I knew I would just be taking this look and running with it.

I found this *adorable* trim on Etsy, a black and gold embroidered ribbon with little skulls and fleur de lis. Perfect!

I started with the skirt, since the bodice would have to be fitted over the actual undergarments and skirt. Following the pattern was painless… thanks Truly Victorian! (I am an !unpaid! fan of their patterns)

The *interesting* part came in at the trim… I cut evenly spaced strips of the black taffeta and sewed them together into one long piece, giving the top and bottom edge of the strip a narrow hem.

Then, I box-pleated…. COMPLETELY ignoring the fact that I said I would never box pleat again (I remembered about 20 minutes in). I centered one fleur de lis on each pleat, measuring, folding and ironing along the entire length. Then I sewed the skull ribbon onto the top  edge of the strip. With the skirt on the dressform at the correct level for the shoes I had planned for the gown, I pinned the ribbon and pleats onto the bottom of the skirt. Here are some pics that cannot express the pain:

20171030_201612Here is the finished skirt over the bustle and petticoat, before ironing:

(I had my dress form set to my measurements with the corset I planned to wear)

One more step…. take vintage rhinestones harvested from a disintegrating 1940’s crepe dress and stitch one to each eye socket of the little skulls!! Because, insanity.

20171031_224718

Next up, the bodice. I was really short on time (2 days before the con), so I took the muslin mockup of a jacket that I’d made a couple years ago and just cut it down to the general shape I wanted for the ballgown bodice. Then it was cutting out the fashion fabric (paying attention to matching the pattern!), the interlining and the lining, and flatlining all of them together.
For flatlining I just use a big ol’ needle and embroidery or upholstery thread, and run big stitches along the edges of each piece so when I sew them together the three layers stay in place and don’t do any sliding around. I zigzagged each edge afterwards to reduce fraying.

 

20171031_152807

You can see in the above image how large the stitches are- they don’t need to be small to keep the fabric from shifting around.

Once the panels were sewn together I got them up onto the dressform and decided how I wanted the bodice to close. Originally I was going to have a hidden front closure, but my planned decoration shut that shit right down.  I also didn’t want a closure down the back due to some lovely pattern centering I did.

20171031_191536

The only thing left to do? I decided to go a bit unconventional and lace it down both sides (after reinforcing the sides with boning, of course).

Finishing the interior of the bodice included stitching steel bone casings along most of the seams for structural support. I turned the edges over and hand-stitched them on the top edge, only finishing the bottom edge with handmade bias trim…. mostly to save time.

The exterior bodice decoration was completed in a mad three hour frenzy of experimentation, pleating, ironing, cursing and hand-stitching. I got caught up and didn’t take pictures of the process. 😦

But you’ll see in the pictures I DO have that I applied the same trim (and rhinestones) to the pleats on the bodice, and made more fleur de lis centered pleats for the little cap sleeve decoration. Two shades of gold mesh went between the bodice base and the pleats, much like in the inspiration photo- though the actual pleating on the front only went halfway down the bodice and ends in a V shape. I used gold accents, and a large German black glass shield as decor on the bodice. Since the shield had no holes of attachment, I made a base with prongs from black Sculpey and baked it onto the glass gem. The gem matched those in a crown I made to wear with the gown. Yes, a crown. Well, see for yourself:

20171101_184955 Done, the night before the con.

And below, at the con with gloves, crown, and completely inappropriate jewelry because I never wear gold. But how about that immaculately centered trim?23456400_10209921706254866_8496993106251255603_o - Copy

(No, it’s not the photo, I had red contacts in. It made perfect sense at the time, trust me.)

 

Edwardian Gown, after Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix Wednesday, Nov 15 2017 

Before 1908, Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix was known for the sleek corsets with minimal boning that she designed for her mother’s couture house in Paris. But in 1908, during the Prix du Prince de Galles at Longchamp racecourse, she created a sensation with her draped dress designs that would inspire the next shape of the century, the “directoire gown”.

lacroix2

755f25aeae9ca57356218903c0635f43

She sent a trio of beautiful models to the racecourse to show off three gowns of a style she first introduced in 1899, in L’art et la Mode, as “sans corset”. These gowns were touted as being incredibly slimming, as their draping eliminated the need for “bulky undergarments”.
Yes, when the models strode across the enclosure, it was plain to all that they wore neither chemise, petticoat nor corset beneath their gowns. In fact, their skirts were split up to the knee, their legs masked only by a thin underskirt of muslin! The crowd was aghast, even for fashionable Parisians, and the models were mobbed with onlookers.

new-picture-7

Now, I ask you, who *wouldn’t* be inspired by this?

For my part, I decided to create an iteration of this gown as my outfit during the Teslacon Fashion Show in 2016for which I was designing a collection.

My materials were an eggplant silk 4-ply crepe and eggplant silk double georgette from Mood Fabrics, black sheer fabric that was pre-pleated and hemmed, and some vintage beaded silk fabric. I also used black tassels, a black straw hat and enormous feather, and a cameo featuring a succubus purchased on Etsy and set into a vintage cameo setting.

In honor of Margaine-Lacroix’s style, I draped the entire dress. I used no pattern (though I’m sure she had patterns of her own), but simply began by pinning a corner of the fabric to the neck of my dressform. I draped thrice and cut once… you can be sure, with silk crepe!!

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens when I get swept up in a project, I created the dress in one day and didn’t come up for air until it was essentially done. I could swear I took a couple pictures in-progress, but alas I’m unable to locate even a solitary example.

So this post is more a tribute to the gowns that shocked a nation, and rocketed Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix’s designs to fame, even though her name has faded from the most common annals of fashion history.

Some notes:
The hat was just a large straw garden hat, and I pulled one side up to create the dramatic sweep, accented by a ridonculous black ostrich feather and some artfully arranged crepe.  I decided on long fingerless gloves instead of the sheer sleeves with many buttons, mostly due to time constraints. Perhaps I’ll add the sleeves one day.

The band beneath the bust was created by cutting out the shape desired in 2 layers of the fashion fabric, using iron on interfacing to add sturdiness and sewing them together. I turned them right side out and pressed the band, then used an embroidery stitch to embellish the edges. Then I tacked it to the seams and hand-stitched it at the center and back.

Instead of creating a muslin underskirt, I inserted the pleated sheer fabric into the side slits of the skirt, and that worked very well. True to the original aesthetic, this dress is indeed “sans corset”…  I hope you enjoy the results of this little experiment!

received_10209666289528502TC fashion 201615128830_10154135584290975_2002473117055121231_o

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. 😀

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

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 😉

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.

Next Page »