Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Me and my Iron

Have I mentioned I hate ironing?  In my real life I never iron.  In fact I just don't buy the kinds of fussy clothes that need to be ironed.  If they aren't good enough hung fresh out of the dryer, they're too fussy for me. 

But in this alternate costuming life I have fashioned for myself I am often ironing.  In fact there's a sort of zen achieved when ironing out new fabric that has been stored semi-wadded up in a heap after being laundered.  It's kind of like I'm giving the fabric a makeover before it is turned into a full fledged princess.  And there's all sorts of seam ironing going on in between the unveiling of the finished transformation. 

I also find myself ironing my costumes after they've been cleaned to make sure they are crisp.  But that ironing is never as fulfilling.  It's still much more tolerable than ironing mundane clothes though.

Over the years I've been through lots of irons.  My cats like to knock them off of my ironing board.  They don't enjoy sharing my attention.  This particular iron is about a year old.  I got it at Big Lots for about $12.  I was looking for a cheap iron that could be sacrificed to the cat gods when they got angry.  It's held up pretty well!  Bonus points for it being purple.  And I've discovered that I much prefer this iron's stainless steel plate than the Teflon that was on my other irons.  It glides better.  I never thought I would ever discuss iron feature preferences ever in the history or future of my life, but there it is.  Teflon is Stupid!

All-Con Costume Madness!

I am running a panel at All-Con this year about Historical Costuming in Anime.  I was struck by several young costumers at Anime Fest last year who were beginning to show an interest in being period correct for their Anime cosplays based on history.  So I decided this was Finally an Anime topic I could contribute to!

Well, my patterns arrived today, so here is a sneak peek of the work I have in store for putting my costume together for the panel.  Some of you already know what the focus of my panel is going to be, but for the rest of you, can you guess what Anime I'm working on?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #2

Moving right along with the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge brings me to Challenge #2, the UFO, or UnFinished Object.

Several years ago I made up a nice striped linen Edwardian period suit for a small DFWCG outing at Lone Star Park for Kentucky Derby day.  Shortly thereafter I gained a little weight and the suit no longer fit.  So I put it away.  A year or so later the DFWCG hosted its first Spring tea party.  I didn't have time to make a whole new outfit and I still loved my linen suit, so I let out the seams and wore it again.  Unfortunately, when I let out the seams, I did so rather sloppily and several of the seams were too close to the linen fabric edges causing the frayed fabric ends to poke out.  The cotton backing was still in tact, so the suit held up, but it just looked awful.  At the end of the party I put the suit away again and vowed not to wear it again until I could take it back in and fix the seams.  Since that declaration, I have worn the skirt many times.  The skirt has always been fine and it works wonderfully with a shirtwaist for a more casual look.  But I longed to be able to wear the whole ensemble again.

When the DFWCG announced their outing to the travelling Titanic artifact exhibit this year, I wanted a whole new outfit.  Knowing full well that I was short on time, I purchased a new pattern and plotted out fabrics in hopes that I could make a pretty new kimono dress.  But with that knowledge of the time crunch in the back of my mind, I also pulled out the linen suit for a back up measure.  You see, I've lost, and finally been able to keep off, that 10 lbs I gained years ago.  I was pretty excited that I was finally at a point where I could take the suit in and put it out for a good back up for the event, not to mention put it back in the rotation for other events.

I'm glad I made the decision to have a back up outfit ready for repairs because I still adore this suit and once I Finally got off my butt to do the repairs, it was well commented upon by the Guild folk at the event.  And you know, that kind of positive attention on our pretty dresses is SO the reason why love my costuming hobby!
So, enough babbling about the back story, here are the details:

The Challenge:  Challenge #2 UFO

Fabric:  100% striped linen from fabrics-store.com

Pattern:  Rocking Horse Farms Ladies' Coat Suit

Year:  1909

Notions:  None

How historically accurate is it?  As far as I know it is pretty accurate.  I machine sewed the whole suit, but I used cotton and linen fabrics and period appropriate buttons when I made it the first time around.  I didn't alter the pattern at all.

Hours to complete:  It took me about 30 minutes to take in the waist where appropriate.  Then I tackled the issue of re-seaming the places where the fabric ends were showing through.
Before fixing the seams
After fixing the seams
Pressing the fabric even and re-seaming the entire coat from hem to waist took me about 2 hours.  Finishing all the jacket seams with a mock french seam (which I hadn't done before because I didn't know anything about seam finishes) took me another hour.
My little mock french seams
 Since that picture was taken, I also moved that top button to it's proper place so that the jacket doesn't gap anymore.  Moving the button also fixed the slightly askew collar.

Total cost: $0

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The cote that can't be darned

My little red cotehardie was damaged in the wretched clothes dryer at my apartment complex.  That dryer has a tendency to snag clothes and then rip holes in them.  But I've never seen it do this level of damage before.  Obviously I am no longer using the machine at my apartment complex.  I now take my clothes to a proper laundromat.

When I first saw the damaged spot, I figured I could sew the rip back together.  Afterall, the rip is in a straight line.  I should be able to accomplish that.  But tonight I realized that the rip just wasn't that simple.  Not only did the fabric rip apart, but a whole chunk of fabric was just missing.

I can't fix that.  Not without matching fabric to put in a patch.  And I don't have any more of that fabric.  Plus, I got that particular fabric at an outlet store in the fabric disctrict.  So matching it is near impossible.  The only way I could pull off a patch job is if I decide to sacrifice the detachable sleeves. 

My other option is to hack off the bottom of the skirt at the rip.  That would make the cote just longer than knee length.  I've seen earlier blaiut dresses that were layered with a shorter dress on top, but I'm not sure I've seen any cotehardies done that way.

Given that I have yet to ever wear my detachable sleeves with this particular cote, I am going to go ahead and sacrifice the sleeves for a patch.  That is my most versatile option being that hacking the skirt length would mean having to make up a whole new under cote to be wearable.  And I just don't have time for that before I need to wear it.

Bones has graduated potty school

You know how I've mentioned that I wasn't sure if Bones really knew how to ask to go outside or not?  I would always catch him walking back and forth in the kitchen, but since my view to that door is blocked from my work station, I never really knew for sure if he was going all the way to the door and asking to go out.  I just thought that he was running back and forth hoping I'd catch on.

Today that changed.

Today I snuck up behind him and saw him go to the door, wait a few seconds, and then look back at me.  Since I wasn't on my way to the door, he then came to me and then went back to the door to ask again.

He's got this asking thing down I think.  I thought about putting a bell at the door so I could Hear him ask to go out, but I'll bet even money the cats would be the ones ringing it all the time.  Ok, Nabisco would be the one ringing it all the time.  She'd probably drive me batty with that bell!

Friday, January 25, 2013

So many pretty dresses!

Stupid CADD!  Here I am working like mad on my new Sherwood Forest Faire cotehardie with repairs on another cote and a whole new 4 piece outfit for All-Con on the queue.  And I am already so excited about my fabric scores for Scarby garb that I can hardly think of anything else. 

I'm completely in love with my new sleeve and stomacher fabric.    It's a chenille brocade.  Usually I don't go for brown tones in my clothing, but this just really struck me.  And depending on the light, sometimes the blue is more present than the gold.  This was a remnant purchase.  I'll be making tie in sleeves and two types of stomachers out of this fabric.  The pieces will attach to my Pendragon Elizabeth bodice for working in the booth at Scarborough Renaissance Festival.

And it turns out that the other fabric I got for faire garb should be enough for sleeves, two types of stomachers, a doublet, a riding bodice and a forepart.  And maybe, if I'm really lucky, there'll be a matching hat in the scraps too.  I'm crazy excited about the possibilities!  I'm not as smitten with the fabric as I am the other fabric above, but I do really like it.  And this little score from the Golden d'Or clearance sale will end up getting me a whole bunch of mix and match options to go with my Pendragon clothes to work in, or my own garb to play in.  It's a win on so many different levels.

Now I just have to focus on the deadlines that are up before Scarby so I can play with these fabrics.  Sewing marathons every weekend, here I come!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #1

My Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge has had a rather "interesting" start.  I skipped the Bonus challenge and went straight for Challenge #3 "Under it All" and then doubled back to meet everyone at Challenge #1 "Bi/Tri/Quadri/Quin/Sex/Septi/Octo/Nona/Centennial".  That challenge actually worked quite well with my next DFWCG event I was attending.  I had planned to sew a new Teens dress and Guimpe from Laughing Moon pattern #104.  Unfortunately my plans went very awry.  To put it simply it was a Disaster!

The guimpe started out ok, but once it came down to putting the sleeves in, the lace body and sleeves got the best of me.  I had already realized that a corset cover, dress and guimpe was just too much to accomplish in two weeks and was happy to give up the dress.  Surely, I thought, I could complete the guimpe and pair that new top with an old skirt and belt.  That kind of casual look would have not looked so strange with my hatless head.  But apparently it wasn't meant to be!  After great gnashing of teeth and cursing the flimsy nature of lace fabric and proclaiming to everyone I knew to remind me never to sew lace again, I put the guimpe away and pulled out my old linen suit for repairs.  I'll talk about those repairs more in my Challenge #2  "UFO" blog.

Back to the issue of Challenge #1.

Saturday morning I finished the repairs to my suit that would make it wearable.  Then I moved on to a project that would make my short hair period acceptable.  I quickly whipped up a period hair rat.

Dunbar just Had to get those Poopsie toes int the picture!  The rat isn't anything pretty to look at.  In fact, it's really not even recognizable as anything since I used opaque fabric.  But it works, and that's all that matters.  Here's the details:

Fabric:  Spandex satin glove that I cut the arm tube off of.  Filled with my own collected hair and an old ratty clip in hair extension.

Pattern:  None.  It was a tube already, I just had to sew one end, stuff it with hair, sew the other end, and then I rolled it lengthwise one more time because it was too thick for my short hair to cover.

Year:  Any year that people used hair rats.  Rats were used across history for various things.  I used this one for purposes of my Titanic event.

Notions:  None

How historically accurate is it?  The use of hair rats is historically accurate.  Even the use of hair rats made with both real and synthetic hair.  People even collected their own hair in little hair collection pots to use to DIY these themselves.  The material is not accurate.  The gloves were modern, shiny, cheap opera gloves.

Hours to complete:  I whipped this up in about 15 minutes.  

First worn:  Jan 12, 2013 for the DFWCG Titanic exhibit meetup at the Fort Worth Science Museum.

Total Cost:  FREE!!!!!!  This was kind of the best part.  That and finishing it in 15 minutes before I had to run out the door.

My hair rat in action

DFWCG retinue in front of a Titanic exhibit installation.

Little Lost Poopsie

Last night I came home from work only to discover that I was a cat short of the usual herd.  I knew this because I had an unoccupied food bowl at dinner time.  I figured it could be possible that he was feeling a little icky and hiding out, but it was more likely that he slipped out of the apartment that morning along with Nabisco, who I did notice and shuffled back inside.

I spent the next 30 min alternating between looking for The Poops inside and trying to decide whether to set the trap up in the usual place immediately, or just leave him outside on purpose so maybe he'd learn a chilly lesson about running out the door on me.  Of course I decided not to leave my fur child out in the freezing (really, was going to dip below freezing that night) cold all night!  So I grabbed the trusty old cat trap and a towel and headed out to set things up.  I figured once he heard the food bowl he'd be in the trap within 15 minutes.

The Royal Poops caught in the trap one of the other times he escaped

When I got the trap all set up, I called for Bones to finish up his business and come on inside.  As soon as I started calling for Bones, I heard it.  It was the saddest most pitiful Poopsie cry I ever did hear.  and that sad little cry was coming from under my window.  At first I thought it was Nabisco crying at the door to get out.  She's pretty loud when she really wants to get out.  Then I saw his eyes and heard him hiss.  Yep, that was Poopsie Face alright!

I tried to get him to go back down to the other opening where he got under the building in the first place, but NO!  "Mom, I can see you!  Get me out of here right now!". That's what he was crying.  Or that's what it sounded like anyways.  So I dug the bricks out of the opening so he could fit through.  Of course he hissed at me instead of coming out.  He's such a diva that way.  He refused come out until Bones went inside and I put the food out in front of him.  Spoiled brat.  But he was rather humbled by his chilly day outside.  I didn't even have to scruff him and drag him inside.  I just picked up the bowl and opened the door.  He Ran in! 
Now my spoiled little Poopsie Face is enjoying his cushey life inside with the heat.  And warm snuggles.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Clearance Madness!

One of the perks of living in the big city is that heavenly place we call the "Fabric District."  There is a Joann Fabrics across the street from my office and I have a VIP card that gives me 10% off of my entire purchase at any time (thanks to my DFWCG membership), plus I subscribe to their coupons and have the Android app, but even with all of that the Fabric District is Mecca for finding good fabric deals.  Especially when Golden d'Or has their Inventory Clearance Sales!!!  I'm not kidding.  One year I found pure heavy wool in that clearance for $1.99/yd.  I've also found other good wools and even good  linens in there too.  That's when the angels from heaven shine their light down on my dainty head and sing Hallelujah!!!

But deals like that aren't exactly so easy, nor are they the rule of thumb.  Yes, there are amazing deals.  You just have to dig for the right fabric.  Or break out your best Black Friday game face.  I witnessed two women arguing over a cutting today and all of a sudden my joke to the bossman about crossing his fingers I made it back in an hour and sans a black eye just got a little real.  Eventually, they figured it out and were able to laugh about how silly they were, but I had to stand in line for a little over an hour to wait to have my fabric cut.

So what did I get?

On the left is a pretty plaid corduroy.  I have plans for that to be a sweet belted cape.  I've always wanted a sassy vintage style cape!  I should have enough left for a skirt.  $2.99/yd.

In the middle is a little bit of upholstery fabric.  It's totally a synthetic blend.  Mostly synthetic.  That thread's awful shiny.  And there's not much of it.  But there's enough for some bodice/kirtle sleeves and a stomacher to tie onto my Pendragon bodice for work at Scarby.  And there may even be enough fabric for a narrow forepart.  Actually, that's pushing it, but I can hope right?  If there's not enough fabric for the forepart, then I'll use it to make one of my riding bodices I make from the Tudor Tailor kirtle pattern.  $2.99/yd.

On the right is a light weight cotton.  I got 6 yards of this so I think it's going to be a dress.  Maybe vintage, maybe modern.  I should also have enough fabric for a top of some sort.  Again, maybe vintage, maybe modern.  I'm not sure yet.  I'm pretty positive it'll sit in my stash for a while before I decide.  But I just couldn't say no to it.  $0.99/yd.

I passed up a really nice periwinkle and peach plaid taffeta that would be Brilliant as a late Victorian Natural Form dress.  I'm really regretting that now.  I should have gotten it anyways.  I shouldn't go back to get it, but I can't stop thinking about it.  So I may go back tomorrow or early Saturday to see if it is still there.  If it is, then it was meant to be.  If it isn't, well, I'll probably cuss myself and then proclaim that I didn't need it anyways.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sweet Moments & Milestones

If you follow me on Facebook or remember this blog from another time of activity, you know that I adore my pets.  They truly are my Fur kids.  My dog, Bones, occasionally gets to accompany me on costumed events, but the cats have to "suffer" staying home.  They only get to enjoy my costuming hobby by "helping" with the construction.  This video was taken just after Taquita tried to lay down on my hands while I was sewing on the machine.  I had to move her to get anything done, but these sweet moments are my favorites. They balance out the moments when she's picking fights with my foster cat Luna.

Speaking of Bones,  we've hit a new milestone.  The wee Bones has been living with me for about 10 months now - 8 of those as a foster, and two as an official adoptee.  When he came to me he was mostly house trained.  He knew he was supposed to go potty outside, but there were some spots in the spare room where Maizy used to have accidents that confused him.  Once he chewed his last DVD case and dug his last hole in the couch, convincing me of the virtues of crating Every day as regular routine, we were finally able to knock that confusion out.  However, since I kept a very good schedule for taking him outside before he showed signs of needing to, I never saw him ask to go out.  He never needed to learn.  But I believe he knows.
Yesterday he went to the back door, waited a second, then came back to me.  I asked him if he needed to go outside and he got super excited.  So we went out.  I wondered if it was coincidence or not.  Then tonight it rained and he refused to stay out long the first time I took him out.  And sure enough he went to the door again, waited a few seconds, then started to go into the spare room thought better of it and came to me.  I took him out and he immediately went to the bathroom.  And of course came right back in because it was still raining.  I find it funny that he doesn't bark or whine when he goes to the door, but he's obviously put it all together.  I'm very proud!  And he got a treat for being so smart.

This is Bones at our local park waiting for yoga class to start.  Man I can't wait for warm weather again so we can re-start that Saturday park habit!

Historical Sew Fortnightly - Joining the Challenge

One of the coolest things about being a part of the costuming community is the special community projects.  Each costume is an individual project, but each event I sew for is like a piece in a community project.  Even better, since the costuming community is much wider than just our local groups, it is even more interesting when someone throws out a challenge for anyone who is tuning in to participate as they wish.  The newest one sounds like a lot of fun!

The Historical Sew Fortnightly hosted by thedreamstress.com

Each fortnight a new challenge is due.  The rules are set on the official Historical Sew Fortnightly page.  They are also posted on the Historical Sew Fortnightly Facebook group.

Normally, these kinds of sew along challenges stress me out. I often have so much going on and I pretty much always have a case of Costumer's Attention Deficit Disorder.  But this challenge is structured so that I can pick small things to accomplish the goals if I want to.  So I can finally make those little underthings I have been putting off.  Or that new wool tudor coat to replace my other one that shrunk.  Or I can finish something that I had put away.  And I can structure them all so that I could potentially finish each one in a week's time so that they don't interfere with my other costuming deadlines.  Or I can incorporate my other costuming deadlines with the theme of the new challenge.  So, I'm in!  I'm not entirely sure I will be able to finish all of it, but I'm gong to try.  My only real problem that I see is I'm not sure how my All-Con and Costumers' Lost Weekend projects are going to fit in yet.

So how am I doing?  Well, I didn't hear about the challenge until after I came back to work, so I missed out on the bonus challenge #0, but that's ok.  It was a bonus.  I'm currently working on challenge #1 in conjunction with the DFWCG's Titanic Exhibit Meetup.  But I just finished challenge #3 Under it All (I'll update with a link when she gets to this one).  It was an item I needed to go under my challenge #1 item.  So in true Maggie fashion, I'm doing things out of order and posting my finished project #3 first!

Here she is!  I've made a corset cover/chemise.  It is gathered more like a corset cover and can be worn so, but I will most likely be wearing it as a chemise more often right now.  Do you know that in the 8 years since I have been sewing Victorian period clothes and wearing them to events I have always worn this old blue tank top under my corsets that actually belonged to my mom when she was very young.  But my challenge #1 project is slightly see through at the shoulders, so that just won't do.  And besides, a girl needs proper underthings.  I have bloomers, why on earth have I not made a simple little chemise?  Because I'm always too caught up in the pretty dress that's why.  And bloomers are FUN!  

The corset cover/chemise is made out of a remnant of linen, which I suspect is a linen/rayon blend.  The drawstring casing is from stash fabric that I had for an old corset project that was long abandoned.  It is a silk blend.  The rest of the fabric I used for Challenge #1, which will be revealed very soon.  The ribbon came from a cheap corset I ordered.  This ribbon was not near long enough for the corset, so I used it for something more suitable.  And the lace neckline is lace that was given to me many years ago and has been languishing in my stash.  It is cotton lace and I assume it was once attached to a blanket or table cloth because it came as a large square border long since removed from its original place.  I have a lot more of that lace.  I'm thinking I need new matching bloomers!

I very loosely used the Laughing Moon Mercantile #102 pattern for a corset cover for this project.  I used the outline of the pattern and opted to use a drawstring instead of darts and, as you can see, it is a pull over as opposed to a button front.

Year?  We'll call this 1913.  Sure.  I'm wearing it under my Titanic outfit.  But it really is an item that could have been worn sooner, or later, I guess.

How historically accurate is it?  See, here's where I'm going to fail you.  I don't have any documentation of how accurate it is.  It looks like some of the corset covers I've seen except it is pullover.  I don't know if I've ever seen a chemise that draws at the waist, though, so I have to dock points for that.  The fabric and notions should be a little more accurate.  I know viscose/rayon was around in 1910, but I don't know about being blended with linen, so the main fabric is probably not totally accurate.  I'm also not entirely sure that the kind of heavy cotton lace would have been used on the corset cover/chemise, but it's what I had and I think it looks better than a lot of the modern manufactured lace (which I have used in the challenge #1 project).

It took me two full weekend days to finish this little project because I'm a slow seamstress and I was also working on part of Challenge #1 at the same time.  Also, I turned under and finished my seams.  I am only beginning to really finish my projects now.  It's something I'm still learning, but I really would like my projects to last, so I'm trying my best to go the extra mile.

I'll wear this corset cover/chemise for the first time at an event when the DFWCG meets in costume to check out the Titanic travelling exhibit on January 12, 2013.  I'm very excited about that!!!!!