Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Anne of Found Objects

In my first week of school this semester, we were assigned to create a dress based on one of the wives of Henry VIII.  The trick was, we were going to do this Project Runway style!  No fabric, just found objects!  Luckily for us, they do not have to be worn by a real person on the runway...

So I started with Anne of Cleves, because I think she has some of the more interesting dresses of the six.  After a false start with shiny red and gold gift bags (which were deemed too easy and too pretty), I used newspaper, some thin cardboard, pot scrubbers, and a few pennies to make my version of the dress.

 The top of the sleeves are made from newspaper that I cut into one inch strips and braided together.  Then I hot-glued them edge to edge to form the three-dimensional shapes.

I ended up making her some arms out of the chicken wire so I could drape the sleeves.  There was something creepy about that, but they did the trick!  I loved making something out of paper and hot glue!  A nice change from fussy fabrics and tiny stitches.  What do you think?  Did I make it work?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Francaise Dinner Party!

Isn't that a lovely group?  Picture courtesy of Robin.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky enough to be invited to an 18th century themed dinner in Philadelphia last February.

It was organized by Kat of Madame Modiste and held at the William Penn Inn.  The venue was so lovely and the staff really helpful!  It was good food and great company.  And an excellent reason to dress up!

I had grand plans to make a new corset and robe a la francaise, but that whole grad school thing got in my way, so I ended up in a "this old thing" dress.  Luckily, I love the dress the most of all the things I've made, so it was nice to wear it again!  The only problem is that I've lost some weight since a made the (not a diet, just grad school stress!) so it was very big on me.  The center front actually has a line of trim on both sides, and I had to over-lap one side completely over the other to get it snug enough.  It looked alright, but it's definitely very wrinkly and gaping in the pictures!  The real story is my new wig and shoes!

Picture from Aubry of A Fractured Fairytale

I started with the Lacey's Southern Belle Wig, a long clip-in hair piece, and some images of ladies from the 18th century, and then I frantically styled it at midnight the night before.  I wish I could share with you some awesome wig styling secrets, but it's really just a lot of hairspray, fake hair, and those spongy, doughnut-shaped hair rat things. 

 The extra hair piece fills in the back, and I just used my fingers and hairspray to shape the pieces into large curls that I pinned into place. The braid across the front was taken from a period image (not that I can remember which one!) and it helps me hide the place where my bangs blend into the wig.  I wish I'd gotten the wig a little less "pointy" and a little more full at the top - the period images tend to show poufs that are even all the way up or that even get fuller as they go up.  But, considering how fast I threw it together, I am pretty pleased with the results!

Ladies in Stripes! Picture from Maggie.
Ladies in Florals!  Picture from Maggie.
Shoe shot!  Oh, my wrinkly stocking is sad! Picture from Maggie.
It was such a good event!  I really hope we get to do it again!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

mmmm shoes

Costume grad school is the best, guys.  My first project in crafts class last semester was re-covering shoes.  Which was extraordinarily convenient because I was invited to attend an 18th Century dinner in February, and I had no appropriate shoes!

My next bit of luck was finding a decent pair of shoes at the thrift store.  Since it was the first project of the semester, I didn't have a lot of time to shop around for something with the perfect shape.  The shoe I found has a much too narrow heel, but the toe was great and they fit really well.

The fabric selection process turned out to really easy too - our professor gave us permission to raid the costume shop scrap bins.  The diamond patterned silk reminded me of these shoes from the Bata Shoe Museum.  I knew I wanted to cover the heel and bind the edges in a contrasting fabric, and eventually I decided to go with HIGH contrast.  I wish I could say that I had a great period inspiration for that color combination, but mostly I just liked it.

The process in involved draping a pattern directly over the shoe in muslin.  The class found that using a little bit of spray adhesive helped the fabric stay put as we worked.  From that pattern I cut the top fabric and used light fusible interfacing to stiffen the parts that needed stiffing (mostly the tongue and latchets).   Then I spread fabric glue lightly on to the shoe and smoothed the fabric on. The trick to getting the fabric to lay nicely over the toe is to make sure that fabric is on the bias!

To deal with the raw edges of the fabric, our professor instructed us to use screwdrivers to pry away the edges of the sole of the shoe and to tuck the edges inside.  We cut off any extra with a Exacto knife and then squeezed a little glue in there to hold it all together.  This method worked really nicely, but I had some nasty scrapes from when the screwdriver slipped and gouged into my hand.  So you should probably be more careful than I was.

To finish them off, I bought the "Fleur" shoe buckles from American Duchess and they were really worth every penny.  They are not only sparkly and gorgeous, they are very functional and make the shoes look more "real." 

And I am happy so say that while there are definitely things I would do differently were I to do this project again, the shoes were a big hit at the dinner!  Stayed tuned for more about that!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oh, hi there.  Where have I been, you ask?  Well...let's just say "grad school" and call it a day shall we?

During poor little Venetian dress has been languishing with my sewing things, sad and neglected.  Until now!  I'll dusted it off, made a few changes, and now I'm making progress on it again.

I decided that the fabric was more suited to something relatively simple, like Titian's Lady in White.  I will probably change the sleeves a little, but I like the over-all lines of that gown.  I also had a really convoluted scheme for getting in and out of the dress, and I threw that out the window for a more straight forward approach.  The original bodice was nearly done, but I took it apart so I could make some adjustments (like shortening the point of the bodice).

Inside that bodice we have: two layers of canvas, plastic boning at the front edges and center back, one layer of thin cotton quilt batting, and one layer of muslin on top.  But the exciting part is the stomacher underneath the lacing!  That's the part actually doing the heavy lifting.  It's also two layers of canvas, but it is heavily boned with lots of padding and a layer of buckram.  The padding is what gives that straight down the front - even with lost of boning, bodices tend to curve in at the waist (see what I mean?) unless you fill in that natural gap underneath the bust.

 Here is the front view of the stomacher.  You can see all the boning in there.  I've also added a layer of buckram to the front to keep it from collapsing on itself when I lace the bodice over it. It will be covered with some gathered while linen, to mimic the look of my chemise.  

And here you can see what all that padding actually looks like.  It's layers of cotton quilt batting loosely stitched to the foundation.  The highest part sits right below my bust. 

Stay tuned for more...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Call me crazy...

...but doesn't it look like the trim goes ACROSS the top of the front opening of this lady's bodice?  What do you think? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bristol Renaissance Faire!

     Last weekend I took a trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, WI.  It was a painfully hot day, so I wore my bodice with no corset underneath.  I cheated a little with a modern stretchy cami under my smock, but even without that it was very supportive.  I think the softer silhouette was really pretty and looked rather Italian. 
     I'm wearing the bodice of the Darnely Gown and the petticoat I made for the new Venetian outfit.  I made up the matching sleeves the day before.  I was overheated a lot of the day, but I think this Elizabethan mix-and-match held up very well.