Thursday, December 8, 2011

18th Century Stays

Finally, the stays. This is my second try at corestry, which, honestly, isn't nearly as hard as everyone makes it out to seem. I cut these stays and put them together in a day, no problem.  Really, the only issue that came out of them was binding them by hand, which, as it turns out, was also all in my head (see the title of this blog).

The pattern was J.P. Ryan's "18th Century Half-boned Stays for a Fashionable Shape". They fit with no alterations at all and were super easy to construct. The directions were very clear. I used a layer of striped silk, a layer of coutil, and it is lined with simple cotton muslin. They took me 7 months to make, but only because I was being stupid about binding them until Noelle showed me how easy it was. In real-time, it was more like 2 days.

I will totally admit that any matching of stripes was totally accidental - It just happened that way, I wasn't actually trying! There's some problems with them, mostly due to my own lack of perfection in sewing, but for my second attempt, I am pretty happy with how they turned out. They are totally wearable and surprisingly comfortable

Here's some photos for your viewing pleasure:

Robe a la Francaise

18th Century Stays

18th Century Stays

18th Century Stays

18th Century Stays

18th Century Stays

Possibly dull for you, but motivating for me

I note that on other people's blogs, they update progress, even if it is just a little sometimes, and even if it has no pictures.  Frequently, I like those posts a lot. They are short and sweet, i feel connected to what they are doing, and I start to root for their project and get excited when the reveal happens. This also seems to have the effect of making the person have to have something to report here and there, so they do more.

So, I have decided to report progress where it happens. Even if that is boring for you. :-) Depending on my life, that may or may not happen frequently. You can skip these if you want. I'll try and title them with a "Progress" of some sort and may tag them as such too.

With no further ado: Today I washed 12 yards of white cotton which will be made into a bustle cage and lining for a skirt for my 1870's outfit (I will show you the jacket progress shortly).  I then spent an hour ironing said cotton and trying to get the fold on-grain.* I would like to note that I HATE doing that part, with a passion, on a tiny ironing board.

I also set the last 4 grommets on my 18th century stays (post about that upcoming as well) and can now call them officially totally done.

Go me. :-)

*aside here to mention that when i was at Noelle's house**, she has this giant cutting table with a custom made ironing pad on top that is totally amaze-balls.  What took me an hour here today would have taken 15 minutes at her house. I cannot even tell you how much having something that big, pinable, and at a decent height helps your sewing speed, accuracy AND motivation! Sigh. Someday, I will have the awesome too, but not in my tiny current house. 

** Aside from my aside.  I *do* actually have other friends, just not many that sew, and even less that I actively sew with.  Also, she's got the best toys of anyone I have ever met, and she blogs about them, so she gets a lot of attention here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pssst! It's someone Very Special's Birthday today!

It's my pal, Noelle's birthday today!  Happy Birthday to an awesome chick who deserves a year of wonderfulness after a tough run this year! I hope you get it and more! XO!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Dress of PAIN

Ok, I have re-committed to making this blog, and sewing more, work in my life. I often feel like my accomplishments are small and insignificant compared to the rest of the blogs that I read, so I don't post anything. Also, they are few and far between, and tend to drag on and on. However, I have been noticing that everyone does the latter, and as for the former, well, maybe there are people out there that might like to see what it is that I am doing that are more at my level. 

So here goes! My Voyage to see my doppelganger.

In the beginning of November, I set out to visit my pal, Other Noelle, for a week in Salt Lake. We had a mission: to sew. I had a list a mile long of what we *could* accomplish, and not a very realistic grasp of what was actually going to happen. I had ventured out that way in April to try and create an 18th century Robe à la Française, which we thought we would finish in 3.5 days on that trip.  Well, that didn't happen and I ported all the stuff back to Utah again this go round to finish it up.  We thought it would be another day or two, topps! HA! 4 days of sewing later, it is wearable, but not trimmed, and I just finished the stays a few days ago here in San Jose (More on those in a later post).  The outfit consisted of:

- Bloomers
- Stays
- Panniers
- Under Petticoat
- Over Petticoat
- Robe
- Stomacher

We are now finally the trimmings stage and I feel good about the outfit, so here's some pictures of the final fitting for you to see:

Robe a la Francaise
Me in my underwear (and pajama pants, sorry about that!)

Robe a la Francaise

Robe a la Francaise

Robe a la Francaise

This was the dress of PAIN. Every possible place where something could go wrong, it did. Between the two of us, we pleated the back wrong, the sides did not fit at all and had to get cut down smaller, etc etc etc. Also, I had to learn to hand sew on this dress (never had to do that before now), and I made my second ever corset (stays) without much guidance, but my irrational fear of binding them made that project last forever. I'll do a detailed post on those sometime soon. I now have labels for this dress that read "This took forever." They look like this:

You can get your own here.

At least the worst is behind me and I can trim this out.  When I do, I will post on that. Next up will probably be a post about what we did with the other 3 days or a post about my stays, we'll see, but hopefully It will be soon.

Big-ups to my pal (who is also named) Noelle who fretted and slaved over my gown with me to make sure it was perfect (at times, she was even more obsessed with it than I was). She is the most awesome queen of awesomeness ever and I love her! Hopefully I will get to see her again soon!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dragon*Con Pics are up!

DragonCon 2011 Incredible Costumes

Interested Peeps can take a look at a whole lot of awesome costumes (and me and Wil Wheaton) here.


Some of my Favorite Costumes? Oh God. They were all Awesome. But here are a few:

March Hare
DragonCon 2011 Incredible Costumes

Mad Eye
DragonCon 2011 Incredible Costumes

A Jayne Hat
DragonCon 2011 Incredible Costumes

The Best The Dude and Walter that I have ever seen
DragonCon 2011 Incredible Costumes

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


OH EM GEE! I have been pondering costuming for next year, for many reasons, but largely because it is a big year for costumers. It is 2012. The 200th anniversary of the war of 1812, and the 100th anniversary of 1912, AKA when the Titanic sunk.  I have been wondering what I could do that would flatter my "apple" figure and haven't (still) come up with anything to fit that specific bill, BUT I was perusing the internets the other day and over at Experiments in Elegance, Antonia was discussing wanting some Turkish pants.  I was happy to read about it, but not really so interested until I saw this picture:
I was taken aback by the awesomeness of this outfit, and of course, the fact that it had pants! And the Empire waist is actually a pretty decent look on me! I must have some of my very own!  I have no idea how I will make this happen or what to make the outfit out of as I am so new at this, but I am sure gonna give it a shot!  I'm adding this to my project list for sure!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Costume College 2011

Ok, So I guess I had get better at blogging consistently, so here goes:  

Last weekend was Costume College, and it was pretty awesome.  There were some classes that were a total let down, but all-in-all I had a great time.  I went down to LA from the Bay Area with my two friends, Amber and Wendy, for whom this was their first time.  I had gone last year and reported it to be pretty awesome, so they decided to join.

I have to say that doing CoCo (as it is referred to by people in the know) the weekend after Comic-Con (and only a week before that I had gotten back from Iceland for 9 days) was a crazy thing to do.  By the end of the trip, I was emotionally and physically drained, and am still recovering, but it was a great time anyway,

If you have never been and you are into costuming, you should go. It's likened often to "summer camp for costumers", and it really is.  There are people roaming the halls in the most beautiful of outfits, usually created by themselves, and sometimes even by hand.  The craftsmanship involved in most of the dresses walking around is astounding. I hope, someday, to be as good at this as these people are; sadly, or happily, I have to wide an interest-range in my hobbies to actually dedicate a severe amount of time to being that awesome.

Costume College

Anyway, here's a brief run-down how my time was spent:

Thursday: Work from home and leave for LA around 3:00.  Arrive at the hotel at 8:30.  Go swimming.

Friday: The highlight of my day was attending the covering parasols class, which is something that I have wanted to do for a long-long time. I also sat in on a wig making class, learned how to master a crazy huge project from Cathy Hay, learned how to bind 18th century stays, which I am actually stuck on right now (OMG, thank jeebus that I saw that, now I feel much better about that project!), and had a regency overview.  All-in-all a productive day!

Costume College
( a Massive project that Cathy Hay did:recreating The Oak Leaf Dress)

After College, we bailed out on going to the ice-cream social in favor of attending the Tim Burton Exhibit at the LACMA.  If you have not seen this and are able to, it's well worth your time and money.  It's beautifully done and there are hundreds and hundreds of original drawings, paintings, statues, some costumes, and movies on display.  It was a fantastic exhibit.

Costume College

Saturday: Highlight on this day was the Victorian Circus class, which was a lecture both on the history and on the costumes, with modern recreated examples.  The instructor was really excited and knowledgeable about the subject and her costumes were extremely charming. I am totally into making one of these now!

Costume College

Also, there was a class on the fabrics of star wars, which was a fascinating look into using heat guns and other techniques to get really cool textures out of your clothing.  The instructor here was pretty great at passing out examples and describing the technique thoroughly. I feel pretty well prepared to go add some texture and dimension to future costumes now! I also went through the shopping area and started to get a feel for what I wanted to pick up while at the event this weekend.

Costume College

I took a limited hat making class in the afternoon, but I think I was just to far advanced for what was happening, combined with me not getting what the description was saying and the description not being exactly what happened. I spent a few hours making a paper hat, basically.  Kind of sad, but this teaches us to be super careful about what limited classes we pick, and read and interpret according to your own skill level. So, lesson learned.

Saturday night was the Gala Ball, which I did not attend last year.  We got dressed up and went down for dinner, dancing, picture taking and a LOT of ooohing and ahhhing at people's handy-work.  This is usually the event that everyone wears their finest to, and that people slave months over to have gowns for. (I went as the mad hatter in a not-slaved-over costume that I already had).

Costume College

Costume College

Sunday: I learned to embroider!  Whoo-Hoo! I have been terrified of this for years, but it is really very easy!  I took the class in hopes that i would at least learn something that would help me hand-sew better, and I think I came away with a new hobby.  I also took a class on the silk road, learned to make bows, piping and scallops in a really easy way and sat in on a class teaching modern corsetry techniques, which I knew most of, but was happy to review and learn new tricks. I ran through the shopping area one more time, and came away with a bunch of really nice lace that will sit in a box until I figure something out to do with it, but now at least it will not haunt me when I need it!

Sunday night, we had the absolute pleasure and privileged to attend a preview of Iris, a permanent show in LA by Cirque du Soliel. I cannot describe how beautiful it was.  It made me cry. Literally.  I have seen something on the order of 10 Cirque shows, and this is by far my favorite.  Not only because of the fact that Danny Elfman scored it, and that is masterful in itself, but also because of the acts contained within and the way that the history of cinema was threaded through the show.  Amazing.  Go see it.  It is absolutely worth your time and money.

Monday: Monday was the day of doom.  The fabric district all day and then a 6 hour mad-dash home so that Wendy and I could work the next day.  This is a lot in one day to begin with, but we sadly learned the night before that Wendy was getting pretty sick.  Ugh.  She was a total trooper though and drugged herself with Advil cold and sinus enough to power along way after Amber and I crashed out on the bus.  We went to the hat making store, got fabric for what I think is 4 dresses, feathers for hats, lots of hat forms, and miles and miles of trim, just because. I think I will soon need a bigger garage.

Then we headed home, sad to be done with College, but exhausted and ready to be home and not to have an agenda for a while.  

Photos of the whole weekend can be found here, if you are interested!

If you are interested in Costume College for next year, they do have a website that you can bookmark for the future - I would guess it would get updated in the Oct/Nov timeframe and signing up early is a good idea. :-) I know I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

American Dutchess 18th Century Shoes PSA

Random news for people who read that costume: American Dutchess is selling her leather 18th century shoes on pre-sale right now for $100, which is very reasonable. I got the silk version and they are very well made and sturdy and comfortable. Can't recommend them highly enough. [Get 'em Here]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meet Brünnhilde. She's me. But not.

Brünnhilde arrived at my house just about a week ago. I have always wanted a dress form, and to have a Uniquely You seemed like the right way to go as I don't think that I could have gotten one of the plastic, adjustable ones to be...well...uniquely me.

What came as a surprise to me is that she is nearly me already. I had to give her a couple of inches of lower belly and a little added "me" right under her boobs (because mine do not appear as if they are being carried around on an invisible platter), but everything else is pretty correct. I had always thought that I had an odd shape, and maybe I do, but apparently, I have normal measurements. Oddly, she is way lager (by like 6 inches) around where her thighs are. I don't think that will matter much though as she isn't being used to fit pants or pencil skirts.

I guess I should introduce myself as well. I'm Noelle, and I am learning, through trial by fire, to sew better, to costume, to draft and drape, and generally how to be a seamstress. I was dragged into costuming by my friend, Amber, years ago, but I had always preferred to go in plain clothes and check out everybody else that I did to dress up myself. I like watching people go by in lovely gowns, beautifully tailored coats, corsets, and accessories, but I really do enjoy being super comfortable in my jeans and t-shirt. I never thought I'd be making these things for myself, but I think the time has come.

I knew how to sew from an early age, as my grandmother taught college-level home economics and decided that sewing was something a young girl should be trained in. I am perfectly adept at following a simple pattern and I can make most "normal" clothes if I am given a good pattern and a lot of time. I sewed for some time with her when i was young and then put my machine in storage and got on with my life. I dusted it back off about 10 years ago when I needed a dress for an SCA event back when I was trying that group out, and have been making 1 or 2 things a year ever since.

Recently though, I decided that I needed to up my game. Costuming is getting very popular here in the Bay Area and it means that there is increased demand for awesome outfits. However, I refuse to pay $800 for a perfectly tailored corset, so I thought that I should just learn to make my own. It kind of snowballed from there. Now I want to make everything - from hats down to shoes. I have been loading myself with classes and information and am ready to get started.

I thought I should keep a blog about this process mostly just for myself. I named it "Costuming Drama" because there's currently this big drama being played out in my head. Part of me thinks I don't have enough time for this, and part of me thinks I can't do any of this well at all, and part of me thinks that I absolutely can do any of the things that I want to try and just shut up and get on with it. I have excuses why I need more space and more time and more money, but that's all any of that really is, an excuse. So I'm gonna give it a go, although I am sure that you will be privy to an occasional pity-party or head drama fest if you read these pages.

I haven't narrowed down yet what I will post about, but it will probably be pictures of finished things, maybe some in progress updates, maybe thoughts on what I am doing and what I could be doing better, possibly images of things that I like and aspire to... I'm really not sure yet. Like I said, this is really just for me, but if you are reading this, then Hi! Welcome. Please excuse my mess and my randomness and I hope you enjoy reading about inner monologue while I try my hand at all of this!