Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I'm afraid I've been neglecting this blog sadly, but so it goes with the holidays...and speaking of which I'd like to wish you Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year! <3

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Sleeves, many of us hate them.  Setting them, drafting them, 2 part sleeves, it's all rather nightmarish, isn't it?  There's a reason why they've been nicknamed "sleevils" by so many of us.

Ikat Bag to the rescue!  Thanks to Gianetta Veronese on the Facebook Elizabethan Costume group  I have been made aware of Ikat Bag's wonderful blog entry that demystifies sleeves and showed me things I never knew, so I thought that I'd pass the word along!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Borgias costume day-dreaming

I do a lot of fiddling around with fabric and trim before and during my projects.  I'm a very hands-on visual person so pinning stuff on my dress form isn't just part of draping but is also part of my designing process - I need to see the fabrics together and feel how they drape.

Anyway, I wanted both my Borgias dress and my Lost Hope (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel) fairy dress to come from the stash.  I had a few stipulations - I didn't want to use fabric ear-marked for something else (obviously) I also wanted to use only fabrics I had 5 or less yards of so I can save the multiple yard stuff for things that HAVE to have a lot of fabric like bustle gowns. I really love how layered all the trim is on the Borgias gown and want to emulate that and also use the same sort of saturated colors as in the show.

Here's what I've come up with: some sari and jacquard trims, velvet ribbon, burnt orange changable silk and aqua silk.

I don't have enough of the aqua to do much so that will probably just be the sleeves, or parts of the sleeve and bodice and/or trim. And I've ordered a little more velvet trim in both the color above and aqua because I didn't have enough.  I might also get some narrow gold trim from JoAnn's, they often have good gold trims for cheap prices around the holiday season.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bits and bobs

*  I'm working on my own costumer holiday gift list but in the meantime I thought you might enjoy this guide from American Duchess.

* Sometimes commercial patterns from the "big three" can yield really wonderful results.  I love the Tudor gown that Learning to Costume has made from a Simplicity pattern.

* Historical Sewing has a great guide posted of patterns that are perfect for new costumers.

* Comic book fans have gotten their first look at the cast for the upcoming Suicide Squad.  I predict Harley Quinn will become even more popular than Elsa in the future.

* Two Nerdy History Girls have a really interesting post on Vigee-LeBrun and the new vogue for smiling in 18th century painting.

* DNA analysis of Richard the Third has interesting things to say about the connection of the modern royal family to their ancestors.

* Have you ever had the need for a really full, ruffly petticoat?  Angela Clayton has a great step-by-step of the uber ruffled petticoat she made.

* Sometimes it can be hard to get a handle on eras that are less popular amongst costumers.  The Closet Historian has a great overview of later 17th century costume for those of you interested in this era.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bits and Bobs

*  The first full length preview of Disney's live action Cinderella is out and wow, has it got cool costumes!

It's a mash up historical styles in vibrant technicolors with a whole host of styles that should appeal to costumers.  Check out some stills and an article on the costume here on Vogue and more stills here from Tom and Lorenzo.

* I was sad to miss the Colonial Williamsburg Symposium on Hair and Headdresses, word around the blogosphere was that it was a pretty fab event.  But CW has another interesting symposium coming up in March of next year Stitching Together a National Identity, which asks the question - what makes American quilts, clothing and needlework distinctly American?

*  I know it's not for everyone but I really enjoy the wacked out costumes of American Horror Story.  You can read some behind the scenes info with the costumer of the show, Lou Eyrich, here.

*  There have been scant few pictures of costumes from Game of Thrones upcoming season 5, but I was psyched to see this batch of pretty large images of a few of the characters in Dorne.

*  Thanks to The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes for the heads up on these sneak peeks of Mia Wasikowska in Through the Looking Glass.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My other costuming

As much as I love historic costumes and media recreations I also love the crazy street costumes that come with the wacky events that San Francisco, and now LA, have to offer.  Some of my first costuming creations were made for events that the San Francisco Cacophony Society had back in the late 80s and early 90s. Midnight laundry parties, cemetery poetry readings, the BART lounge and of course Burning Man.  I haven't been to Burning Man in many years now but went many times in the early-mid 90s.

This weekend was the Pasadena Doo-Dah Parade, which I love in part because it reminds me so much of those old Cacophony events.  Just a bunch of random weirdness, art, humor and fun. So despite my twisting my ankle the day before I wasn't about to miss it!  My husband wore his Heisenberg costume, my younger son wore his 10th Doctor suit, my older just wore a fez and I wore a top hat and tails.

We saw all sorts of craziness, among other things- Furries, motorized han, "billionaires," a ton of art cars and bearded ladies.

There's a grand tradition at Doo-Dah of throwing tortillas like frisbees at everyone, so there was a lot of that too, which the boys loved.  I can't wait til next year!

Then last night my husband and I went to see Re-Animator, the Musical.  We'd actually seen it twice before but kind of like Rocky Horror, it's one of those things that just gets better each time you see it.  We wore our lab coats and best evil scientist expressions and got there early enough to sit in the "splatter zone."  And get splattered we did.  You haven't lived til you've seen a guy singing "My Way" while wrestling a pile of squirting guts on stage.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sewing Room

For the past several months I can count on one hand the number of times I've been upstairs.  It's just been too hard with my foot surgery.  But now that I'm in shoes I'm actually able to poke my head into the sewing room.  Yes SEWING ROOM, not hobby room any more, because now that my husband has taken over Dad's old office I have the whole room to myself! With that in mind I've been doing a lot of pouring over Ikea catalogs and studying the sewing room make overs other bloggers have a have done.  I want it to be a place I can invite friends over to sew in as well as my own space, so one of the considerations was getting a cutting table that folded and was on casters so I could put it off to the side if needed.  After a lot of pondering I ended up with this.  And took over the Ikea cubby wall that my husband had been using.


 H offered and so I'm considering swapping out the two sides that fold down for longer ones since there's room when it's folded for them to be longer.  Even more cutting space!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bits and Bobs

I've been very busy lately but will try to post more, sorry for the silence!

* Locks of Elegance has a great tutorial up on how to create a gorgeous curly Late Victorian hairdo, the perfect thing for that holiday ball.

* Have great historical shoes but need some stockings to go with them?  The Pragmatic Costumer has a great write up on Modern Stockings with Historical Flair.

* B*tch Pelisse! has another brilliant Dollar Store costuming hack, this time she creates some mitts and lovely stockings, check it out.

*  It's heresy amongst many costumers, I know, but I never liked the Little House on the Prairie TV show.  I'd read all the books before the series came out and I couldn't reconcile the 70s vibe of the show with how I'd imagined things.  It turns out that Laura's real life was very different from her books as well.  A new book, Pioneer Girl, publishes Wilder's original manuscript of her girlhood with additional research that adds even more new details to Laura's life.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bits and Bobs

The list is little short this week since I've been sick, sorry!  But these links are oh-so-good I think you won't mind!  ;)

*  American Duchess looks to be putting out some mighty cool shoes soon.  Take a peek at her "exclusives" here.

*  My friend Chantal found an amazing treasure trove of cutter's guides online here.  Seriously, this could take ages to go through there is SO MUCH THERE!

* The first longer preview for Into The Woods has been released and it's chock full of interesting fairytale costumes.

* The Museum of New York City has a new exhibit "Gilded New York" up until November 30th and it looks to be a stunner with numerous Worth gowns on display including the famous 1883 fancy dress costume "electric light."  There's an article on the exhibit complete with large images here and you can purchase the accompanying book here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I hope you all have a wonderfully spooky time filled with costumed fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bits and Bobs

Thanks to Maggie of the Costumer's Guide for the heads up on this new Star Wars Costumes Book.  It covers the original movies with all the depth we could have wished for when they were first released.

Only concept art is floating around at the moment but word is out that a whole host of new Marvel movies are in the works for the coming years, so there are sure to be some fantastic new costumes for future Halloweens.

The Pragmatic Costumer has a useful new post up on using a basic Simplicity costume pattern as a block to produce costumes for a wide range of periods.

Just in time for Halloween A Most Beguiling Accomplishment has a great post up on the history of mourning.

This website has a great gallery of   Day of the Dead make up  ideas for anyone planning on attending any Dia de los Muertos festivities on Saturday.

If you're over Halloween and already making plans for the winter holidays you might get a kick out of A Damsel in This Dress.  She has reproduced a gorgeous 1876 costume for a Victorian Ice Skating party and includes lots of great construction details.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Right after we finished watching Breaking Bad this summer big H declared his intention of going as Walter White's alter ego Heisenberg for Halloween and started growing out his beard.

 We slowly collected clothing pieces for him with the help of Walt's Wardrobe, a handy chart of every outfit Walt wears.  H already had a blue shirt and on the 'net we found the the screen accurate hat, jacket and shoes.  He wasn't sure he wanted to dye his beard so we masked off his face with masking tape, held is nose closed and used spray-in hair color in brown (the same we used for C's 10th Doctor) and then he shaved his head.

 It was so successful that when we arrived at the party he caused quite a sensation.


 I got a cheap hazmat suit, goggles and respirator off ebay and went as Jessie thinking it was the best option for covering my surgery boots, not the most flattering costume but actually very fun to wear in conjunction with Heisenberg.  Hilariously enough, given all the multilayered historic costumes I've worn, the tyvek hazmat suit wins as hottest costume ever.

 Don't mess with us!


Yo, Mr. White!   Jesse!!!

 And here's one last pic of the whole gang, with my 13 yr old reprising his Jake costume (from Adventuretime)

What are your plans for Halloween?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The 10th Doctor

The big costumes in our family this Halloween were for C and my husband.  Yesterday we went to a party and got to do a trial run for them both.  

First up - C's 10th Doctor.  He really wanted to be the 10th Doctor for Halloween and had asked for one thing only for this birthday (which was last week) - the brown coat 10 wears.  So we got him a knock off from one of the cosplay stores on ebay.  That, paired with the blue boys suit he had, and he was nearly there.  He spent Saturday making a psychic paper prop out of an old wallet and had me style his hair with hair paste and brown hairspray.  The kid values accuracy!  I think it all turned out amazingly well.

Sonic in action
Psychic paper

So grown up!

There is a bit of a timey wimey thing happening here were I can see a glimpse of the man he will become that makes this Mama's heart rather full.  He's looking forward to wearing it all again on Halloween, his Doctor Who themed birthday and at Gallifrey One.

Can you tell he's excited?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bits and Bobs

* Marvel Superhero Experience -  This sounds like the perfect place to wear your Avengers gear!

*  Ever wanted to build an authentic 1973 Dalek?  It turns out that if you wrote to the BBC back in the day they would send you a set of these plans, how cool is that?

* The Victorian Needle has a great post on breastfeeding in the Victorian era, timely for any new moms or expecting ones!

* American Duchess has a new pair of shoes!  Unisex "Virginia" is a flat Renaissance era shoe that looks like just the thing for a long day at the Faire.

* I just love this headless Marie Antoinette costume and it seems like something a historic costumer might get a kick out of making for Halloween.

* Speaking of Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century has compiled a bunch of playlists of music to help get you in the 18th century mood.

* Fashion Through History has a timely blog entry on historical fancy dress with plenty of fashion plates and photos to inspire you to get cracking on that Halloween costume.

* Looking for some wool as the weather gets colder?  Lots to be found on sale here at Fabric Mart including a lot of plaids for you Outlander fans.

* Circuit Scribe looks like it has the potential be very useful for costumers who use electronics.   Light it up!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween - Accessory Tutorials Roundup!

To my mind accessories are often what make the costume.  In fact,  some accessories are so good you don't even need anything else!  With that in mind here's a round up of Halloween Accessory Tutorials.  I tried to pick things that were relatively cheap and easy to make given Halloween is just around the corner, like the cardboard version of the Iron Man helmet vs the fiberglass one.  So these may not last forever, but they should get the job done for that last minute Halloween party you've been invited to.  I hope you like 'em!


Beautiful feathered wings made from foam.
Feathered wings with real feathers.
Cellophane Fairy Wings - one of many online tutorials for these easy to make fairy wings.
Demon Wings - I just had to throw the method I used for my devil wings for my Myth Masque "Diablesse" costume in there too.

Remember these?
Leather wrapped Maleficent horns - these are really cool, or maybe hot.
Fun foam horns - these are simple to make, cheap, and pretty darn effective.
Light up horns - if you're going trick or treating after dark, clubbing, or to a rave this is the way to go.

Cats wig - If you have fond memories of the Broadway show this is the purrfect wig tutorial for you.
Fiber Optic Wig - The best kind of wig for a dark October night.
Papercraft Anime wigs - amazingly cool anime wigs using papercrafting.

Chell's Longfall Boots from Portal 2 - white gogo boats that are the base for this accessory.
Weathered Pirate Boots - these do need a purchased base but the result is worth it.
Thigh High boots - easy and rather brilliant, just boots, thigh high stockings, hot glue and felt.

Foam Armor - a short but detailed article on making armor out of foam.
Fast foam armor  - out of foam floor mats!
Cardboard armor - a killer breast plate and all she used were balloons, cardboard, newspaper and glue.

Dalek Hat - I thought this assemblage of household items made a great Dalek hat.
TARDIS fascinator - the perfect accessory for your TARDIS dress!
Top hat - Don't have any buckram?  No worries, use cardboard!
Mini Top Hat - for those of you who like tiny perchy hats.

Cardboard Iron Man Helmet - pretty spiffy for cardboard.
Robot Monster Space Helmet - using an old globe!
Foam Sauron Helm - this is amazingly realistic and doesn't use fiberglass.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Doctor Who, American Horror Story, and the 1920s

We watch both Doctor Who and American Horror Story in our house, so last night, when I watched the DW episode "Mummy on the Orient Express" I was immediately struck by something - Clara wears the same dress in DW as Nora does in AHS season 1!  

Nora in American Horror Story

Clara in Doctor Who

They may look a bit different because "the Vamp" a very sheer dress and the color of the slip shows through.  Nora has a light or gold color slip and Clara has a black slip under her dress.  

How do I know so much about this dress?  Because I own a different dress from the same company!  Leluxe specializes in luxurious beaded reproduction 1920s dresses.  Several were also used in the Artist including the "Tango" - which I own!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Needle Painting

I've been working on another bird (of course).  I think it's my best one yet.  No surprise really because aside from having a lot more practice under my belt, I bought a needle painting book and am finally learning how to properly do some of this stuff.

If you're into this sort of thing I recommend the book, clear instructions, projects that are actually interesting instead and it's not very expensive.  The other thing I did was trust my eye.  I've always been good at eyeballing things, in sewing or drawing/painting, so this time instead of slavishly following my penciled outlines I kept my reference pic in front of me at all times and "sketched" what I saw in front of me, I think it resulted in something much closer to Cersei's original than the others.

If you aren't sick of seeing my endless parade of birds I'll post this one when I finish.  I have one more to do but may end up doing two and replacing one of the older ones as I like the new one so much better.  Three of them are in very visible spots so I want those looking really spiffy!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

1909 Hunting Liscense

My Dad passed away this year and I've been going through a lot of his papers as a result.  I came across a bunch of old family photos and ephemera and will be posting some of the ones I thin you might be interested in.  One of the most interesting to me, just because it was kind of unique, was my Great-Grandpa's hunting license from 1909.

He was chief engineer of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad, a handsome guy who loved his wife, my grandmother was his youngest daughter.  Funny how genetics work - blue eyes are recessive, he had blue eyes, his daughter (my grandmother) had blue eyes and my other grandmother had blue eyes, so I got my blue eyes in part because of him!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bits and Bobs

* Information on what average people wore is always less common than that of the rich and famous.   How wonderful for us then that Isis' Wardrobe has mined the songs Carl Michael Bellman wrote about average Swedes in the 18th Century for his descriptions of costume.  As an added bonus she has helpfully included photos of extant garments similar to those described.

* Wear When Why has another post up on the amazing beetle wing embroidered gown she's been working on.  This post includes background on historical goldwork/beetle wing embroidery as well as some pictures of her embroidery in progress, so inspiring!

* If you've ever dreamed of a Victorian wedding you will enjoy reading about the making of  A Damsel In This Dress' gorgeous bustle era wedding gown, complete with all the underpinnings and a separate evening bodice.  So lovely!  Part 1 is in the first link and she now has part 2 up here.

Silk Damask features a great piece on 18th Century "bizarre" silks complete with some rather stunning examples of this flashy fabric up on her blog.

* Have you ever wondered how some costume bloggers manage to get such wonderful portraits of themselves?  I suspect that Paper Mothball Vintage's article on "How to take self-portraits" will help.

* The Closet Historian has a great article with a myriad of beautiful photos on Ivory and French Ivory Hair Combs.  The Art Nouveau curves on the Egyptian Revival comb made me swoon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I've been steadily working on my embroidery for Cersei and have nearly finished 4 birds now.  There are 5 total - 2 on each sleeve (high and low, asymmetrical) and one CB.


I think I may actually end up making 6 birds and just use my favorites of the bunch, and maybe make a purse or pocket for myself with the left over one. They are all a bit different, which I actually like, it gives them more personality.  Some have slightly differently shaped wings, and different markings but they are all obviously the same type of bird.

I worked the most recent bird quite differently from the rest.  First of all I appliqued gold Italian mesh over the whole thing, instead of metallic aqua I'd been using, I thought that would give it a slightly warmer feel.  Then I used large, zigzagging embroidery stitches to color block large spaces with a background color.  Then I've done single thread stitching over the top.

You can see that I've just started to do this on the left wing and have blocked in the right but only barely started on the details on that wing.   I think this gives it a finer look but also makes it a little richer by having more variation on color. I also went back over the earlier birds and added a few little stitches of orange right next to where the feather is to blend it better with the rest of the bird's breast.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Instructables Halloween Roundup!

Flowerpot Head Costume
One of my favorite Halloween activities is checking out all the costume tutorials on Instructables. Pretty much any costume you could want to do for Halloween is on there, often with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make it.  Whenever I'm in doubt as to how to put something together Instructables is my go to place for ideas.

So I thought I'd share a few of the costumes I've seen this year that I especially liked.

* Flowerpot Head.  This reminds me of Magritte's Son of Man.  I just love how simple and surreal it is.

*  Dune Sandworm.  This is brilliant, so simple and yet so effective.  Even if you're unfamiliar with Dune what's not to love about a giant worm with teeth?

* Statue Busts.  Another wonderful idea.  These are famous composers but any famous dead people will do, perfect costume for reenactors who may already have wigs for this in their closet.

* Kid's Flying Monkey.  Great example of a thrifted/repurposed costume.  All the pieces were put together from other things and yet it all looks so right.

* Kid's Thor.  Super creative amalgamation of sewn, repurposed, purchased  and thrifted bits that came together to make a really stellar Thor.  Using a thrifted doll to give his son Thor's trademark long blond locks?  Brilliant!

* The Comedian from the Watchmen.  Not a whole of of detail on exactly on what they got where but I thought this thrifted/dollar store version of the Comedian was really good.

Vanellope Von Schweetz.  This is a pretty easy and simple costume but oh so effective.

*Zoltar from Big.  I just love this, a refrigerator box, some odds and ends from around the house, a few beads and a moustache and you're in the fortune telling business.

* Zoiberg from Futurama.  I can't believe how great this looks and it tickles me no end that they used a Bart Simpson mask to create it!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween! Breaking Bad, Doctor Who and Adventure Time!

So Halloween is one of the favorite holidays around here, natch.

Upon our finally finishing Breaking Bad this summer my husband immediately started to grow a goatee and plan his Heisenberg costume.  I splurged and bought him a very special present (because Halloween is also the anniversary of our first date) - the honest to goodness Heisenberg hat!

We found the same black windbreaker they used on Amazon along with some blue rock candy and wire rimmed glasses.

We usually try to do costumes that at least sort of go together.  But this year is a little awkward for me because I will probably still be in at least one surgery boot come the holiday, so what to wear?  I'd thought Skyler would be fun, a barrel of methlamine or even wearing a super sparkly dress and coming as "blue sky."  But none of this was going to work given my shoe situation.  So I decided to be Jessie!  I got a cheap hazmat suit, gloves, goggles and a respirator all on Amazon.  The suit covers my feet so it should work fine.

My younger son is going to be the 10th Doctor.  He already has a blue pinstriped suit and usually we try to do one big present instead of a lot of little ones so we got him a knock off of the brown trench coat.

My older son still hasn't decided but will probably wear his Adventure Time Jake costume from last year if he can't think of anything else.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bits and bobs

*  Thanks to Jennifer at Historical Sewing for pointing out The Custom Wig Company's amazing guide to rollers.  If you ever wanted to see visual examples of just which hair roller did what, this is the place.  Definitely using this next time I style a wig!

* In costume movie news: The Imitation Game (out in November) with Benedict Cumberbatch  tells the story of how Alan Turing helps crack the Enigma code during WWII and looks to have a bunch of great 1940s fashions.  

* Here in Southern California we mostly have to worry about how to stay cool at the Renaissance Faire but those of you in more northern climes may have the opposite problem.  The Girl With the Star Spangled Heart comes to the rescue with a great blog entry on how to stay warm at Faire.

* The Victorian Needle has a great blog entry on mid-19th Century etiquette with humorous and informative examples from the Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness.

*  Are you in the mood for the eerie and macabre with Halloween around the corner?  Why check out the  American Horror Story Costume Design Contest?

* Speaking of Halloween, I received a few of the Game of Thrones accessories I ordered from the Spirit Halloween Store -  I bought Melissandre's necklace and the Hand of the King pin was very impressed with the quality, and others tell me even the costumes are higher quality than is usual for a Halloween store costume.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Facebook page for the Costumer's Closet

I finally decided to follow other costume bloggers' lead and make a Facebook page for this blog.  I'll post things I run across I think you'd like there and links to new posts on the blog.  I hope you like it!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Birds of a feather

This weekend I got the second bird done and also just happened to get some of the feathers I ordered in the mail.  So I played around with one of them then stitched it on.  I may need to tweak the colors in the embroidery a bit more to mesh with the warm brightness of the feather, but the feather is so dead on the ones on Cersei's gown I feel I have to use them.  I think changing the tone of my metallic threads to a more straight up gold will help.  And I have a warmer ivory and red I can add  to it as well.

Now on to bird # 3...

Friday, October 3, 2014

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling!

So I was satisfied about the bird, but not as wild about it as I wanted to be. I went through my box of sparkly embroidery thread and found the perfect threads for the sparkly bits and added them on today. And I like it SO much better. I think the bling (and all the added beads etc when I get to that point) will help marry it to the fabric so much more.  It may be subtle in this pic but it's actually fairly


 Next to the dress fabric.  It's a changable aqua/gold silk taffeta, not exact to Cersei's but trying to work from the stash and it was the closest thing.


I also belatedly realized that I had some silk organza in the stash that was a much better match to the dress fabric than this light blue.  That's what happens when you can't get to the sewing room for a few weeks!  So I'm going to do the subsequent birds on that and hope this one doesn't stand out too much once it's cut out and appliqued on.  Worst comes to worst I can always make another one...   :P

The birdy details

So the first bird for Cersei's blue gown is basically done!

I spent an inordinately long time staring at this image of Cersei's bird embroidery trying to get colors, ideas and what to stitch when in my head, when I suddenly realized I was seeing something rather unexpected.

Look at the mottled center part of the red breast of the bird - what I see there is red velvet, not embroidery.  Specifically something that looks a lot like red leopard print velvet!  So appliqued to the center of my birds breast is a tiny piece of red velvet leopard print!

But I'll back up a bit and tell you my process.

First I found images of the birds online, this exact photo in fact.  One I blew up for reference, the others I shrank down until I felt they were the right size. Then I used a light box and traced the outlines of the different parts of the bird onto my silk organza with a sharp mechanical pencil.


Next I stitched down the bit of velvet and a piece of aqua Italian mesh ribbon (cut open and stretched into the right shapes) to the bird.  The center of the velvet I wanted to show, but the mesh is there more to add body and provide color in case my stitches don't completely cover it.


Then I started embroidering on top of the mesh and velvet.  I'd brought my ipad with me to the embroidery store and picked out threads I thought would match the original, mostly I'm just "drawing" with thread using rather large single stitches, other times I'm doing outlines or chain stitches.


 I probably won't sew the feathers onto the bird until I've appliqued it to the gown.  I found the perfect source for the orange ones and am still poking around for the best ones for the tail.  I think too that Michele Carragher may have sewn feathers onto parts of the wings, a few areas look rather "fluffy" to me, but I think I'll pass on that, for this first one at least, or maybe add them later.  Although I do plan to go back over these with the silver striped embroidery thread in in the places you see it above I've gotten fir first bird basically finished.

This took 3 hours
This took an additional hour, and another hour finished it - 5 hours total

One kind of fun thing - having the Italian mesh as an under layer means that tiny bits of it shine though giving it a very subtle sparkle. I figure this first bird will be put down low since it's my first one and will probably be the worst of the bunch.  I just need to do two more left facing and 2 right facing birds then it's on to the dress!  :P

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bits and Bobs

*  Cool post from Two Nerdy History Girls on an 18th Century Scottish Highland wedding dress.  What I was most interested in was the pdf from the which shows construction details of the dress, not quite a pattern but close for anyone wanting to make their own "Outlander" style Scottish gown.

* Aubry of A Fractured Fairytale has a couple of great post on making an using a split bum roll.  It really creates the look we've come to love in so many of the "big butt" fashions of the 1780s.

*  Jennifer of Historical Sewing has a great article up on flatlining skirts.  She gives a lot of great detail on when to flatline and which fabrics to use.

* Spirit Halloween Stores have some nice, inexpensive Game of Thrones pieces for sale this season.  Joffrey's crown, the Hand of the King pin and Melissandra's necklace among others.

* Laura of Shear Madness found a great tutorial for patterning foam for costumes.  Some of the stuff Ludi has made with this method is pretty amazing.

*  Just FYI - I go in for my next surgery on Tuesday so I may miss doing Bits and Bobs next week, but I do have a few other posts in the works before then, including step-by-step pictures of my first embroidered bird for the new Cersei gown.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The HSF ’14: Challenge #18: Poetry in Motion - A Venetian gown inspired by Veronica Franco

My Dangerous Beauty movie-inspired Venetian
“We danced our youth in a dreamed of city, Venice, paradise, proud and pretty, We lived for love and lust and beauty, Pleasure then our only duty. Floating them twixt heaven and Earth And drank on plenties blessed mirth We thought ourselves eternal then, Our glory sealed by God’s own pen. But paradise, we found is always frail, Against man’s fear will always fail. ” 
― Veronica Franco

Like many other costumers I fell in love with Venetian courtesan costumes when I saw the movie Dangerous Beauty about the famous courtesan and poet Veronica Franco.  Long ago I made a dress in homage to the costumes from that movie.

But I'd long wanted to make a more accurately cut version of a Venetian gown.   A while ago I'd modified Margo Anderson's  Elizabethan Lady's gown pattern to make my version of this but had gotten caught up in other projects and had never finished.  I'd loved the pink of the gown in this painting of Franco and when I found some pink damask in a similar color I snatched it up.

Veronica Franco

So with two foot surgeries looming on the horizon I got things as ready as I could and settled in to try and finish the hand sewing parts of the gown during my recuperation.

I only had a few yards and barely managed to squeak the bodice, skirt and sleeves out of it.  I have no idea if it's accurate but I made the skirt like an 18th C petticoat with the front part tying to the back and the back sewn to the bodice.

I've only managed to get the gown finished for the challenge - the sleeves, partlet and camica are still works in progress, I hope I can finish some of them while I recover and will post more pics of the whole ensemble then.

The Challenge: #18 Poetry in Motion - A Pink Venetian Gown Inspired by Veronica Franco's poem to Venice (at the top of the post) 

(Please ignore the blue lacing ribbon, it was all I had in the stash!  Also I'm a LOT squishier than my dress form so this fits me a lot better than it fits her.  ;)

Fabric: Cotton Damask lined with linen
Pattern: Modified version of Margo Anderson's Elizabethan Lady's Pattern  
Year: Mid 1500s
Notions: gold trim, cotton interlining, thread, metal and plastic boning, glass peals, tapes for ladder lacing a la Jen Thompson.
How historically accurate is it? Fairly accurate in silhouette but there is a fair amount of machine sewing and modern trim and boning.
Hours to complete:  Hard to say since this is a UFO, sorry!
First worn: I plan on wearing it to several of the SoCAL Renaissance Fairs once my feet heal
Total cost: The fabric was a bolt end I got on sale as were the lining and trims but all were purchased long ago so I don't remember, sorry!  I've been trying hard to work from my rather large stash which means a lot of prices of things have been lost in time.