Monday, March 21, 2011

The Steampunked Alice

So I've been wanting to create a bustlette for the Alice dress and was inspired by this one on the blue dress in the movie The Secret of Moonacre.

I Love how the hoops are exposed and you can see the cage.  I was looking for more inspiration pictures and happened across this extant bustle....

Which I think was the inspiration for the MoonAcre movie costumes.  I can't wait to start on this! 

Modesty is NOT one of my Qualities!

I have been busy these past few weeks.  The Man Finally came home, I had the opportunity to save a life (metaphorically speaking), and have been sleeping!  LOL.

I talked to a lady, we'll call her Mrs. R a few months ago about fixing her bridesmaids dress.  About 2 weeks ago I got a frantic call from her wondering if I could help her.  Of course I could.  Brad was coming home, I would be able to sew without interuption, so I told her to drop by and I'd see what we were up against.

When Mrs. R arrived she was very unsure if I could fix it.  Little did she know "I can fix anything"  (I really am modest!  lol) and that is exactly what I proceeded to do.  Over the next week we had a few fittings and the dress was taking shape.  I basically ripped it apart and reconstructed it from the ground up.  She had also purchased a couple extra of the matching shawls that came with dress.  They were slightly off in color, but really you only noticed it if you were a perfectionist like me.  Oh how I agonized over the color match, until THe Man told me to leave it alone, I've done the best I could.

Mrs. R was ecstatic when she tried on her dress fro the final fitting and was amazed how comfortable it was.  She didn't mind the color shading and I don't think would have noticed it had I not pointed it out.  She Left with a smile on her face.

Mrs. R has to have been my favorite client to work with to date!  She was easy to talk to, had fun stories and was generally a happy cheery person every single time she came to visit.  I LOVE working with people like that! 

Thank you Mrs. R!

I have one more modern dress to fix.....the pretty pink confection of ruffles and sequins.....before I can get back to the 18thc century although I have been side tracked an am planning a Victorian/Steampunk/Alice in Wonderland Confection, I might just abandon the 18th century for that....LOL.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Adventures in Breeches....The Finale.

The Breeches are done!

The Man looks great in them too!  I have a few alterations to make to the pattern.  The opening on the sides of the fall front gape a bit, so I need to shorten that. and take out about a cm in the center front so it doesn't bag and it lays flat.

I also have to work out the sequence of construction better.  There were a few issues while sewing that I want to address for the next pair.  Its pretty good for a finished muslin.  I did do two other muslins first and then decided I need to to have a finished one.  These are made out of linen and are completely machine stitched.  I will hand stitch the next pair on all the elements that require top stitching.

Has the right amount of baggy him the illusion of perkyness...LOL!
A little baggy in the  CF.  Gonna take out about 1.5 cm and it should lay flat.
I think I need to shorten the width of the band so it hits the back of the knee and you can see the curve of the calf.
The placket opening is a bit too long.  Although you can't see it in this picture.
The gusset needs to be a bit bigger and the waistband needs to be longer.  I want him to be able to gain weight and still be able to wear these.  He tends to get heavier in the winter than in the summer, so I need the extra wiggle room.

They are missing buttons, which I don't have.  I looked through my HUGE button jar and the only thing I have alot of are plastic ones.  I wasn't really feeling up to cutting out a ton of circles and doing fabric covered buttons. 

I also tried to keep the bum as fitted as I could and still allow unrestricted movement.  I think it's baggy enough to give the look of 18th century breeches without the excess saggy diaper look.

I think once I have the pattern perfect then I will try to make a pair out of Chamois leather.  Buckskin breeches would look yummy on him!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Men's Frock Coat De-Mistified.

I had a realization this morning!  It was like an atom bomb went off in my head in regards to patterning a Men's 18th century frock coat.  I've been looking at diagrams of patterns inline for weeks now, trying to figure out the easiest (and admittedly laziest) way of drafting a men's jacket.  I do have the background in pattern drafting and can do it from measurements and the formulas, but I have been stalling, hoping I could find something easier.

This morning I realized how easy it actually is.  This Diagram gives me everything I need to know to draft up a man's frock coat.  Its been staring me in the face for weeks now!  Sometimes I can be so dense!

If you understand the very first lessons in pattern drafting then you can pattern this in no time.  All the measurements needed are on the diagram. 

Basically you start with a vertical line which is the length of your garment.  Here the front of the coat is 116 cm long.  The measurements start at 0, and draw a perpendicular line out from there.  This is the top of the shoulder.  The next line down is 6 cm from the top, square out from there, this is the center front neck point.  You continue to square off your lines from the vertical line, measuring down using the numbers provided in  centimeters.  Use your french curve to draw your shaping.

At this point it is all just theory.  I could be completely way of base.  BUT....This is exactly the same way you start the draft on modern day tops pattern.  I think the only thing I need to work out is the measurements and translate them in to a size.  I am gonna do a copy of this pattern  and see if I have to do any changes in order for it to fit The MAN. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adventures in Breeches

After I finished my polonaise, and The MAN and I attended a soiree to celebrate Robbie Burns, I asked him if he wanted to join the world of re enactment.  He agreed and told me that before I was allowed to man any more girly clothes, I had to make him a proper set of clothes.

Super excited that The Man wants to play dress up with me, I started right away on a pair of breeches.  For inspiration I found these, which were originally made from buckskin.  I love the how the fall front comes from the side seam, the decorative stitching,  and overall esthetics of the front fall shaping.

I made up the pattern and had to wait 6 weeks for the hubby to be back home.   He agreed to let me take pictures of him, under the orders that I chopped him off at the waist. Mission accomplished!  The overall design in almost perfect.  I a few alterations to make.  Mainly they are too big, too long, and the seat needs more fabric to allow for more movement in the legs now that I have them pinned tighter.

I pinned one leg on the inseam and you can see that the one side is wrinkling on his upper thigh near the junk.  I like the hang of the leg that is not pinned. 

After they were pinned there wasn't much room in the seat, and although he has a cute bum, it's not period accurate.  I was hoping to make a compromise between the ubersaggy bottomed period version and the modern version of the pant.  I'll be reshaping the seat and adding more volume to get the right look.
Gonna have to shorten them
He was pretty concerned with what i was writing on his bum....Alteration notations of course!  Like I would do anything otherwise, (wink, wink)

Overall I think they worked out pretty good for the first muslin.  I have a few changes, but nothing major.  After I make a basic version for his first set of clothes, I plan to make a pair out of a nice soft chamois leather.  I'm so excited to be finally moving forward on his clothing, but not before I fix a few zippers, a grad dress and a bridesmaids dress, which are all due next week.



Monday, March 7, 2011

Stew Pot Sunday: Vegetable Curry

Well I made a Vegetable Curry from my Company's Coming Slow Cooker cook book.  It was a FAIL!  It had some really good ingredients in it, stuff that I normal use in my Indian curries, but some how it had a wierd smell and tasted bland.  The funny thing was that 3 out of the 4 kids ate it with no complaints, which I thought was weird.  I won't post the recipe, and I won't be making a curry in a crock anytime soon.  I will have to stick with the traditional version that my great friend Mrs. Gray, who is originally from Fiji, taught me.

The one thing that did turn out is my Roti....Its so simple and easy to make, once you get the hang of it.   I remeber being over at Mr.s G's the first few times when she had invited us over for lunch.  The wonderful smells she could create. 

I was in HEAVEN!

Soon after I asked if she could teach me how and thus began my training.  I remember watching her roll roti out and being so quick and then handing me the rolling pin and me trying to do it to.  I ended up with misshapen ones while her's were always round and perfect.  With practice I've gotten pretty fast.

I want to leave you with a recipe for Roti, but it's kinda hard to do as its all by feel, but I'll give it my best shot.


2 cups flour
about 1 cup very warm water, use more or less depending on the dough.
vegetable oil
salt to taste

I start with the flour in the bowl, add my salt, and slowly add the water until the dough starts to come together, then I add a splash of oil and work it into the dough.  Make sure you don't add to much water as you don't want the dough to be sticky.  If you've ever made bread or pizza dough you want that soft pliable consistency.  The dough won't be smooth after you've kneaded for a bit, BUT let it rest in a bowl covered for about 10 minutes and it will get a smooth texture.  Divide into about 10 balls, and roll out using flour till very thin.  Meanwhile heat up a dry pan. 

Depending on the stove, you may have a high temp or a med temp or something in between.  I use 5 on my electric stove, Mrs. Gray uses hi on her gas stove.  Its all relative.  You just need a temp that you can easily cook and roll the roti at the same time, without the ones in the pan burning.

Place the roti in the pan and cook until you see the dough changes color and gets dimply, flip, and cook the other side. It will start to puff up, flip again and turn it with you spatula till it gets golden brown spots.  Transfer to  a tea towel and brush one side with melted butter, cover with the towel. 

By the time you are done cooking them, the rest of the roti should be soft and yummy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Capes Are NOT Just For Batman.

I am in LOVE.

It took me a few dates, But I am In love!

With Frenchy's.  Its a ubercool Thrift store, that is actually selective as to what gets put in the bins.  My last visit I found a DNKY jacket.

DONNA KAREN!  With this sage green lining and cream and brown herringbone wool.  unfortunately it was too big on my and I had to put it back.  Sad face!

Why is this Uberexciting to me?  Well because I've always thought about using my fashion design background and creating something sustainable.  Don't get me wrong I LOVE LOVE LOVE yards and yards of fabric, with its clean untouched surface waiting for me to make it into something exotic and beautiful, but for the past 5 years have lived in places that are the black hole of fabric lovers.  I've had to become creative and think outside the box in order to find my fabrics.  I've always admired the designers who take already made garments and turn them into something fun and unique, but in order to do that one has to have a readily available supply of second hand garments.  Which until now has been next to impossible.

Now I have Frenchy's!

I've since learned (and this was a major DUH moment) that sheets work fabulous for muslins and at 2 bucks a pop, thats ALOT of fabric. 

On my recent trip I found a 100% worsted wool charcoal grey pleated skirt.  It was calf length and  gathered into a waist band in the back and huge box pleats in the front.  LOTS of fabric.  I have been thinking that when I create my Reenacting clothing that I don't really put a whole lot of thought into the accessories and one of those accessories I over look is the cape.  I thought this skirt would be perfect for a cape! 

BUT it couldn't be just a plain old boring cape, I had to make it fun. And modern.  So I could wear it all the time.

I decided I was gonna base the look off of my friends cape at Sewaholic, her's is from a groovy 60's vintage pattern.  I wanted the seams to go down over the bust and have an opening for my arms to come out of.  In the back I wanted it pleated like a Watteau Gown from the 18th century.  The best of both worlds.  Something I could wear with my historic clothing and my modern stuff.

Back with the pleats.  Its inside out.

Front, inside out

The shoulder, inside out.  I had already sewn the shoulder seam but it didn't lay properly so I had to take it out and baste it in so it layed better .  You can see the back had to come up quite a bit.
I draped the skirt on Mrs. Squishypants and formed the pattern.  The back of the skirt became the front of the cape, and the front of the skirt became the back. 

Needs a final press.

I love how the pleats face towards the CB, creating a fan with the folds.

The funnest thing about this cape!  The bias bound seam allowances in a funky ink and yellow flower patterned cotton.

I opted for a mandarin collar and I bias bound the seam allowances in a fun pink and yellow cotton that used to be a girls sundress in it's previous life.  I hand sewed bar tacks at the top of each pleat and the opening in the princess seams for the hands.  I also did a spaced back stitch along the center front and the collar to hold it in place.  The hem was a herringbone hem stitch.  It will be closed with hook and hand sewn eyes for now until I find a wonderful cloak clasp. 

I love the finishing details.
It just MAKES the cape.