Saturday, February 23, 2013

The HSF: Challenge #5: Peasants and Pioneers aka the hard one

This is the challenge I'm having the hardest time with.  You see, when it comes to my costumes I'm a bit of an elitist. I want to be a pretty, pretty princess and have very little interest in butter churny/campy follower type clothes. I blame much of this on growing up lower-middle class (and then poor once my parents divorced) in the ugliest decade of all: the 1970s. For those of you much younger then I am the 1970s styles may seem fun and goofy, all care free disco suits and flippy Farrah hair. Hipsters today wear 1970s crocheted vests and plaid pants and think they're being ironic and funny.  But back then everyone wore that stuff - not the hipsters, but everyone else - moms, kids, dads, grandpas. Everyone.  And it was not pretty.


 

And we didn't have much money so everything was cheap, ill-fitting polyester in primary colors with huge flowers, or crocheted and appliqued in shades of avocado and persimmon.  It lacked the coolness of the 1960s or the sharp clean lines of the 1950s, it was bad, very bad.  It was enough to make your eyes bleed.

   
And no, this is not Zach Galifianakis.

 I pretty much looked exactly like this poor tot with the curled under pageboy in red pants at the top of the ad below, only I was blond and my home-cut hair was short enough that I was frequently mistaken for a boy.   I usually wore my Toughskins with a Kmart turtleneck and one of my many hideous crocheted ponchos a distant relative made me similar to the one below, only much uglier and in avocado and persimmon.

 

If I ripped a hole in my Toughskins, which I did frequently, my mom would often patch them with a jeans patch of another contrasting color (usually avocado or persimmon) and embroider around the edge of the patch with yet another color.  This might sound cool, but it made me look a bit like a Frankenstein boy-child on acid.  I hated being so frumpy but that was all we knew back then. So when I first saw things like Poldark and Lillie I was over the moon.  My first love of historic costume was beautiful upper class gowns like the ones I saw on those shows.  And I'm afraid it's remained that way ever since.

 
(and no, I didn't like Demelza's raggamuffin wear either, but her nicer clothes, like the riding habit above, I loved... despite it being in avocado!)

So the red linen Spencer I'm planning will probably be as close as I get to peasant -
it is linen after all.  ;)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly #1 Bi/Tri/Quadri/Quin/Sex/Septi/Octo/Nona/Centennial

I just realized that while it's incredibly late the new Regency dress does fit the first HSF challenge - woo hoo!  So to make it official here are the stats:

The Challenge: #1 1 Bi/Tri/Quadri/Quin/Sex/Septi/Octo/Nona/Centennial
Fabric: A sheer cotton sari from the Bohemian Belle
Pattern: Half draped, half Mode Bagatelle Regency pattern, mostly on the cross-over bodice.
Year: 1813 give or take 5 years.
Notions: Thread
How historically accurate is it? Machine sewn but fairly accurate design-wise.
Hours to complete: a few days?
First worn: not yet.
Total cost: $40

I plan on adding a bright red spencer, maybe with black piping, reminescent of this.  And a big crazy collared chemisette somewhat like this:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cotton Sari Regency frock

So, I've been CADDing all over the place lately.  In addition to finishing the "Bee" Vest I made my husband yesterday I also finished up another project the day before: a new Regency frock.  I'd bought a lovely sheer printed cotton sari from the Bohemian Belle who picked up a bunch of them on a recent trip to India.  I used a combination of draping and the Mode Bagatelle Regency Wardrobe pattern and this is what I ended up with.  I think it goes really well with the big honkin' "Bright Star" style hat I bought from Mela and I plan on making a bright red Spencer out of a small remnant of linen I have in the stash to tie the whole outfit together.  I know the bust looks a little wonky but I, uh, fill it out a bit better than this dress form does and there are a few threads yet to be snipped, but you get the idea.

 cottonsaribodice cu

There were some tricky aspects to this project.  One was that the pattern of the paisley's only ran one direction so I had to use the fabric long ways if I wanted it to be right side up.  But since I'm 5'9 this would have made the skirt far too short.  Luckily I'd taken a class Mela had taught for the Costumer's Guild West on making Regency Gowns out of saris and I knew that the answer was to cut the border off the top and add that to the bottom, I did this for nearly the entire length of the sari, save for a small bit I saved for the bodice and sleeve patterns and actually ended up with a triple hem decoration as you can see below.  This created both a wider hem decoration and added length.  The design at the end of the sari I cut apart to make the trim for the sleeve hems, under bodice and neckline.  When I was finished I literally had a tiny handful of fabric left - super efficient!
hem cu

"Bee" vest

It looks a little like some sort of Victorian ref's uniform laid out like this but trust me when I say it looks mighty sharp on the husband. It's his vest to match the new "bee" skirt, both of which we're wearing to the Edwardian ball on Saturday. Took about 4.5 hours from start to finish using the trusty buckaroo bobbins vest pattern.
vest Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Musings on Collecting and Creating

I was thinking about hording lately, which seems to be a particular problem to us creative types.  It's something I continue to struggle with and something I see friends and family struggling with too.  We see something and think "Ooo, that would be perfect for X project some day in the future!"  or "I don't know what I'd use this for but it's so cool I have to keep it!"  But really, what I'm often holding onto is not the thing itself but the DREAM of the thing.  The "one day I'll do this" dream.  As I get older I realize I don't really have the time, or even the inclination, to follow all those dreams and so paring down becomes easier.

Although that doesn't happen for everyone.  My dad recently bought a pair of bowling shoes, despite the fact that he hadn't been bowling for about 5 years, has Parkinson's disease and doesn't own a car!  But the dream of one day bowling was so compelling that he bought the shoes.  (I decided I had to do something about this particular dream and took him and the boys bowling this weekend, but I'm hoping he can put aside the dream of covering every available surface with old copies of Scientific American... )  :P

 I've found once I got over the initial shock of "de-accessioning" as I call it (all those years working in a museum made their mark) I find I'm generally happier.  I can concentrate more on what I really love, I find things more easily and can clarify my project goals when I am not so distracted by all this stuff.  Plus there's more room to work!  That's not to say I don't fall into the collecting/hording hole still, but it's less often and I'm more aware of it than I used to be.  So when tempted I try to ask myself if I really want to be a collector or a costumer, and that helps get me back to what I truly love, which is creating.