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.

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My vintage research provided the inspiration for the bodice:

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.)

 

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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”.

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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.

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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!

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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!!)
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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!)…

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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:

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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:

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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.

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

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Dat bustle!

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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.

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The eggplant accents in the back really popped.

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

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A side view.

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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!

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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.

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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. 😉   (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!

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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.
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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.

 

 

 

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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’s and (again) Daenery’s more fitted gowns have architectural features that feel distinctly more modern, like decorative cutouts and minimalist asymmetry.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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. 😀 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.

 

 

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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)

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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.

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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:

 

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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 grâce 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.

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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!

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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 😉  More details to come in the next post, but for now, a picture:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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The Evil Queen

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

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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?

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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.

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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 😉

 

 

 

 

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!

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