Friday, November 28, 2014

White Witch chainmail skirt progress

I haven't posted on this in a long while! I honestly didn't expect it to take me more than a year to do, and when it did it turned into a long-term project I only picked up in the winter and work breaks. This is my version of Jadis, the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia.

The skirt is comprised of the fabric and chain base belt, 5 rectangular panels, and 5 rectangular gores, and I just finished gore 3 out of 5... 2 more to go! It now weighs 6lbs even.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Regency corset, Draft #1

I had not had the best track record with corsets thus far since most books don't tell you HOW to fit for different figures, and modern-day dress forms aren't made for the task of patterning them. My first attempt at a Regency corset was an obvious failure. I made this one back in college when I first started drafting my own patterns.

                                                                    OLD VERSION
The busk just sat over everything making a big 'board' shape, and the bust gores weren't right at all.

Now that I know more about what I'm doing and researched more, I decided to go with some short stays instead of the full sized ones. I used some advice from The Oregon Regency Society which is fantastic, but I'm STILL not sure if this is fitting right or how to fix it.

This is what I have:


I made this out of cotton drill, which did not come in white so it is flatlined with white cotton, and also a white cotton lining layer. It has two bust gores now (that perhaps need to move closer to center?) I put steel boning on either side of the eyelets and cording under and to the side of the bust. I tried adding padding, but that just pushes the cups further away from me, and I can't figure out what needs to be adjusted to fix this issue. This is the original chemise I made in college, and I might need to make it a drawstring chemise instead. Does anyone have any advice for me on the fit of this? Sorry about the poor lighting and pics!

On the plus side, I dyed my Highbury Regency slippers from American Duchess today and made some cute bows to go with them!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dress form suggestions

I've researched this topic to death, so I thought I'd ask the direct question...

I need help with a proper dress form!

My dilemma is this: I am more petite than available dress forms. My first was a dial-a-size dummy from JoAnns that served it's purpose, however, even when I dial it to its smallest size, the underbust is too big, and the bust isn't as high as mine. For this reason, and the rigid boobs, it's not really appropriate for historical wear. The standard, expensive dress forms don't go down to my size, and juvenile forms are too short-waisted to try padding them up to my size.

 I have a Uniquely You form now, but even with the smallest form and the smallest cover, it's still too big. I've fit the cover as tight as I could get it and then some, but the dummy itself is still too big. I got enthusiastic and completely chopped the boobs off now to make falsies for corsetry, but I'm having so much trouble getting the dummy smaller. I've started shaving off foam, but it's leaving such a choppy surface. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

(And duct-tape double isn't really an option, I don't want to pin into duct-tape.)

For some reason, it's very hard to get this separating thing with a smaller bust on these forms, this 'squish the foam to size' isn't really working for smaller shapes :p

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Katniss Everdeen; 75th Hunger Games Tribute Parade

A funny thing happened on the way to the Capitol...

I hadn't posted about this costume yet, this was my 'main' costume of this Dragon*Con year. I didn't have a very large, complicated build this year, I took a bit of a break from that, but I do love the more couture nature of this dress. If you don't recognize it, it's a dress worn by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in the last Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire.

Read on for the details!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Full Costume: So I finally got to model a weird thing

Last winter I tried to get my Katniss Cowl done in time for the last snow of the season so I could go do a photoshoot in the woods, but every snow we had after that didn't stick, but it's just as well since I finally found pants in the right color and got myself a new wig for Katniss. I taught myself how to ventilate wig lace so I was able to add a widow's peak to my wig to hide mine and I no longer have my own hair peeking out. I love this wig so much, but I have to learn how to totally replace the lace now because most wigs come with dark lace and I'm pasty. In either case, I'm really happy with how this whole look came out. I'm still trying to find a used brown leather jacket so I can make one that's closer to screen accurate. Here's the full costume from Dragon*Con 2014.

Photos by the amazing Bryan Humphrey :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Costume Upgrade: Luna Lovegood

Hello, gang!

I just got back from Dragon*Con 2014 and it was a BLAST. I actually got to hang out on Thursday night this year, and I ran into so many people! Usually I search all con and only ran into a few, I think there were very few people I missed.

This year was a little unexpected for me, I usually only bring 4-5 costumes, this year I brought 8, some of them were old, or old with upgrades. I've actually taken a little break the last year or so from doing one big elaborate costume to doing a whole bunch of smaller ones, and though it felt so... wrong to not have a big show-stopper piece that I could enter in the big costume contest, I now feel I have enough in my costume closet that I have plenty of things I want to re-wear or use for group costuming when the opportunity comes up. I've also had the opportunity to have some older costumes photographed that I've never been able to properly share. I love bringing my pieces for Bryan Humphrey to photograph, he makes me look so good XD He is the Mad Scientist with a Camera

The first piece I'm going to share is an upgrade to an old costume. And I mean old. It's also my most worn costume. I made my Hogwarts Robes back in college, 6-7 years ago, when I first started learning how to properly pattern. It took months of studying and several drafts to make my shirt, skirt, and robe, and it's the only costume that old that I'm still proud enough of to wear. I picked Ravenclaw as my house (before it was cool, back in the day everyone only did Gryffindor or Slytherin) but didn't pick a character because I didn't believe I looked like anyone. This year, I decided to try something new and pick a character. I decided on Luna because, between her and Ginny, I already had Ravenclaw robes. I added an Arda wig which I made smaller in the cap. I'd like to add a lacefront so it looks better at the hairline. I ordered her replica wand from the Noble Collection, made her Butterbeer cork necklace, and found some spectraspecs in the vendor's hall which I wore to cover my glasses.

Out of all the costumes I wore all weekend, Luna was the only one that seemed to get stopped for pictures a lot. It felt so silly, after spending all this time and effort on other things, only to get such a gleeful reaction to an old costume upgrade. So here's the result. All pictures are by Bryan Humphrey.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Princess Leia

I don't know if I've ever posted about it, but I'm a member of the Rebel Legion (largest world-wide organization of good-guy Star Wars costumers). I've always done a generic costume when I do troops, like Jedi, and I swore I was never going to do a classic Princess Leia because I don't look like Carrie Fisher (other than height, we're the same). Last year at the Star Wars night at the Cardinals game, since we didn't have a Leia, they had one of their employees wear a halloween costume and everyone loved it, so I realized it doesn't matter that I don't look like Carrie so long as I'm recognizable. I decided to go ahead and make it, and here's the end result.

One from the ballgame. Apparently I was on ESPN :p My buns did make it onto the Wil Wheaton project though XD

I made the boots, I'll probably do a more in-depth write up about it later, I basically built the boot shaft and attached it to a pair of vintage boots.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Etsy Shop Listings: Victorian Corset and more

Since I've added a few new items to my shop including a costume piece, I thought I'd update you all.

First off, I'm parting with my Victorian Corset. It ended up being a little long in the torso for me, so I'm letting it go.

I've also made this Ravenclaw-inspired Tote Bag:

I've also made a couple of Katniss Everdeen inspired lace masks:

That's all for now, still working hard to prep for Dragon*Con!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

75th Tribute Parade Dress - Pt. 1

Here's my current project:

That's right, I'm adding to my Katniss collection. I absolutely love this dress from Catching Fire, and I'm glad that it was custom made, as most of her wardrobe were designer items I can't afford. I don't have many good pictures of the whole dress standing, and you never see it in the movie except when the chariot first pulls into the Tribute Parade. I have a flickr album for my Katniss research, here's a link to the parade research album.  Click on for the start of my build.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

So I finished making a weird thing; Katniss' cowl finished

I finished this awhile back, and was waiting to post the final picture as a 'big reveal', but the last few snows of the season just didn't stick and I wasn't able to get a photographer. I decided to take some dummy pictures today and just post it. I'm planning on wearing it to Dragon*Con this year, and am fixing up my Singer treadle to hopefully sew through leather. Once I can find some suitable leather I plan to make her hunting coat from scratch. So, in the mean time, here's the finished piece.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Getting Brave...

Yay, Project Progress!!

I have to say, I'm liking having multiple deadlines during the year instead of just the one for Dragon*Con, it's forcing me to focus on things one or two at a time and get them finished for an event, so I won't have to try and finish *everything* in August.

This time, the project is Merida from Pixar's "Brave" and I'd like to finish the dress by Memorial Day weekend for Ren Faire.

I didn't plan on doing this one when the movie first came out, especially as everyone seemed to be doing this gown, but I really fell in love with the movie. I'm also of Scottish and Irish descent, and since I'm strawberry blonde I have very pale skin, so this works for me. I decided I'm going to try and do this in a more historically accurate fashion. Not completely, of course, because Disney never does strictly accurate... Merida's gown seems to be a mix between a classic Kirtle or Cotehardie, with Italian Renaissance-style sleeves (no doubt because she'd have to have good arm movement for shooting a bow, which her cotehardie-style dress during the Games proved ill-equipped for). Princess seams weren't really accurate for this era, so I'll be doing a more rectangular style dress with triangle gores, so it has a more medieval feel to it. I've seen many versions of this dress with fabric strips attaching the sleeves, but there's no historical gown that does it that way either; it's done with ties.

To start with, I decided wool and linen would be the most accurate fabrics for the Scottish Highlands. I bought a couple yards of wool for the dress itself and dyed this first. This was rather difficult as you're supposed to boil wool to dye it, but I had no pot big enough to hold all the wool, the weight of the water, and put it over a fire. Best I could do was put it in the washing machine on hot and add boiling water. I had used Spruce dye from Dharma Trading, and had intended for this to be more on the blue side, but it didn't come out as blue as my test strip. It was still a beautiful green/blue color, and it matches some of the screen shots used where she's in good lighting (the promo pics are more blue/teal than it is in the movie anyway).  Later, I dyed some wool yarn which I am using to make cording.

I had a hard time getting my camera to capture the color, it's a darker shade than what shows.
I wanted to build the chemise first so I could make sure the necklines matched up, so I got some very fine linen for that. I had a dilemma though... the chemise neck is clearly gathered, but there's no evidence of a casing, or smocking, or anything to show how it does this (just like she has no seams or closures :p ) I also wasn't sure how I'd do a flared skirt and control the bulk of the extra fabric if I had a chemise with a gathered neckline. In the end, I built it like my Hobbit Chemise by gathering/smocking a rectangle and applied a bias strip on top of that to control it, and putting a flat strap on the shoulders. I put a casing in the waist to gather it to control the fabric, and put gores in the skirt so it would be the same shape as the over dress' skirt.

It's sleeveless because I learned when I did my Italian Renaissance gown, when you have tight sleeves that show the chemise underneath, and you want the chemise to poof a certain way, it's not only hard to put the sleeves on if they're separate, it's hard to control the poofage, so I'm going to attach those directly into the gown so they stay where I want them.

And for fun, shoe shot!! Merida's shoes are ankle high ghillies, but I already had these knee-high ghillies and I love them, so why not put them to use?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

C2E2 Preview post

Hello, watchers!

Here's a little preview of the new project I've been working on for Dragon*Con this year. I decided to make Black Widow from the new Captain America 2 movie. This costume is about 75% done, I had to rush to get it wearable for C2E2 in Chicago this weekend, so I don't have all my props, and the ones I DO have are a little janky. The belt is temporary and the boots I threw together in 2 hours, but they actually turned out fairly decent. I'll post more pictures later, but here's one of a few I got from this weekend.

I also wore my USO Girl from the first Captain America movie (it was a very Cap weekend!) today, which I'm not sure I ever posted on here when I finished it last year. The credit goes to Kathy Kaydee for organizing the group, including the pattern and coordinating all the materials so those of us who make them all coordinate. My grandma pin-curled my hair for me last night so it's pretty authentic! I got called 'adorable' all day, which a girl loves to hear *g* More pictures and info to come later.
My companions are Stacie, Jim, and Beth of the Rebel Legion/501st. Beth, on the right, won 2nd place in the C2E2 costume contest for her husband, Trent's, glorious hand-beaded Ming the Merciless costume :D

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I think I'm going to dye...

Hello lovely watchers!

An update, I did finish my Weird Thing (my Katniss Cowl) but we never got another snow and I wasn't able to find a photographer... I don't even have a blank wall to use to take a picture :p I'll eventually get one up, but spring is finally upon us, so no nice wintery shots :p

This post is more for a brainstorming session.  I like to dye my own fabric for my projects, and I use yardage of silk quite a lot. At the moment, I'm using a load of wool for my Merida costume.

To use acid dye for silks and wools, you have to bring it to a near boil and maintain the temperature for the dyes to work most efficiently. I have the largest pot I could find, and I can usually dye a couple yards of silk in it if I use the barbeque to boil the water, but things like velvet and wool I'd have to chop up the fabric into 1 - 1.5 yard sections, and that's a pain as each dye bath would have to be the exact same formula of dye powder, water, and temperature - hard to maintain on a grill. I've tried dyeing in the washing machine, with the hottest setting and adding boiling water, but it's still hard to maintain. I'm trying to brainstorm what I can use as a dye pot that can take heat and large quantities of water. My dad is building me a firepit with something built in to hold a big dye pot. It is best to be steel because iron or copper would react with the dye solution. I was thinking of those big galvanized steel tubs, but I fear those wouldn't be able to take the heat or weight. Does anyone have any good ideas for large dye pots?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

American Duchess: Introducing and Celebrating Nankeen Regency Boots

It's time again for more American Duchess shoes! I love these new ones, I'm a fan of more rounded toe stuff and I hope there will be a round-toed Regency flat one day. Her shoes are honestly some of the most comfortable I've ever worn. 

American Duchess: Introducing and Celebrating Nankeen Regency Boots: Today is the day for our latest historical shoe - "Nankeen" Regency Boots ! Nankeen boots were an early 19th century fabric ...

Friday, January 31, 2014

So I'm making a weird thing, Pt. 3. Katniss Cowl Progress

Last progress update, hopefully the next pic I can share will be a nice photo of me in the whole costume! I only have to do the vertical braids to fill in the front section, and then some finishing touches. I'm going to tack down the neck a bit on one side to force the slouch because it's supposed to collapse a little over there.

Friday, January 17, 2014

So I'm making a weird thing, pt. 2 - Katniss Cowl Progress

Just a quick progress post!

First, the original for reference:

And where I'm at:

May or may not be bigger than hers, but oh well, making this up as I go along. Next up is the body, those braids will follow the long one draped around the front. I can see why the original took Maria Dora and an assistant a couple weeks to do, this is pretty labor intensive. So far I've used 3.5 skeins of yarn. A lot of people have said it's impractical, but when I tried it on to pin up the long braid I got quite warm, I'll have to try it out during the next polar vortex XD

Saturday, January 4, 2014

So I'm making a weird thing; Katniss' cowl from Catching Fire

I can't rave enough about Hunger Games: Catching Fire! I've seen it 4 times in the theater so far. They are very true to the book and it's so perfect. I, of course, want to make all of Katniss' costumes. I've started with one piece though, since I can add it to my original Katniss Hunting costume:

I just have to put black pants with it to make it accurate for Catching Fire. She will wear the jacket in Mockingjay also, and if I can get my old Singer treadle machine working and buy a hide of leather, I want to make the jacket proper. This lucky ebay find, though, has most of the appropriate shapes. There is one other addition to the Catching Fire version of this costume, and that is the cowl:

It was made by Maria Dora specifically for Katniss, based on a design she had already done. It was altered to be more practical for shooting. Apparently the internet is going nuts over this piece. If you search "Katniss Cowl", you will get hundreds of results of people trying to make their own, it's pretty remarkable. Sometimes I take on a costume I wasn't initially planning on doing simply because I think I figured out how it was made. That's the fun I have with costume making is figuring out the puzzle. Now let me first say that I am not a knitter. I only know the basic knit stitch, and I taught myself the basic crochet stitch for this.

I can't tell yet if I'm making it too big or not since I don't have much of the body done, but I'm kind of proud of the technique I've worked up (and I have no clue what I'm doing, I feel like freakin' MacGuyver here) Hopefully I can get this done before the last snow of the year and arrange some kind of photoshoot!

Also? It makes a great cat bed.

-edit 01/12/14- I'd shortened the end of the "y" and added the next row of braiding...