Monday, May 23, 2011

Project catchup

While I am waiting to make more progress on the dress, I am going to finally post photos of the feted ball ornaments Davey & I made for Xmas.

We made these by felting hand-dyed roving over rolled balls of white wool yarn. (I forgot to take a photo of them with the yellow ribbon for hanging attached.


I tried making these first by the nylon stocking and washing machine method, but since the washers in our apt building don't let you control the heat or cycle length, I got big mushy blobs.

I tried boiling them in the sticking next, but it faded out all the color (hand dyed does not like to be boiled).

Eventually I just felted them by hand in the sink with hot water and dish soap and a lot of rolling on the counter. The roving was of a fluffy fuzzy variety - I picked it on color, not fiber type - so the finished felt balls weren't very smooth, but we were still able to glue sequins all over them!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dress progress + more questions

Well the back bodice is much better after re-cutting the neckline, moving it up 4 inches, and cutting away a section at the lengthen/shorten line, but until  I get the zipper in the muslin and do a little more tweaking I'm not ready to show it to the public yet. ;)

Regardless, after any fitting I do tonight, it is getting cut out tomorrow morning because the party is on June 4th and I don't have the cutaway drafted or the button loops made, I haven't learned how to use the ruffler attachment on my sewing machine, etc.

But here is a photo of the front with the cheap-ass petticoat from China I bought off of E-bay. I LOVE the petticoat, it makes me feel all swishy-princessy.  (This photo makes me look far skinnier than I am, the white side back panels make a great optical illusion.)

This brings me to question #1 - how best to shorten the petticoat for this dress. The center front dress piece minus probably two inches is the length this dress will be, so obviously I am going to hack  a big chunk off the bottom of the petticoat and get rid of the hoop. Should I wait until the dress is done and hemmed and then just draw a line around petticoat where I want to cut it and go at it with the scissors? (I can't shorten it from the top otherwise it'll start pooufing out at my underbust instead of my waist.)  I can't find stiff enough tulle anywhere or I'd make a new one.

Question # 2 - how do I finish the neckline and armholes? Obviously I can sew the dress & lining at the neck right side to right side and flip the lining inside to finish the neckline, but I can't figure out how to sew it together at both the armholes and neckline and still be able to turn it right side out. Does that work and my logic is just failing?

I have at least one modern dress in my closet that has the lining & fashion fabric sewn together & turned in on both the neck and armholes all in one piece (ie they didn't do the front half and then then back and join them at the shoulders/side), but I have no idea how they did it.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dress fitting help needed!

So I am in the process of completing the pattern for my wedding dress. I am  making a "test run" of the dress in red taffeta at tea length, and I have cut out the lining for the party dress in maroon satin, with muslin for the final pieces.

In the following photos, the CB seam closes easily with the zipper installed, so the gaps are just a result of the pinning. All the creasing and bunching are there with the zipper too.

The front pieces fit perfectly after altering, but the back, as you can see, it terribly out of whack.

On the left side of the back you can see the original side back & back pieces where I added width only in the back piece - you can see how the maroon of the side back piece pulls away to the front.

On the right side I re-drafted to split the added width between the side back and back pieces. It makes the seam lines fall better and improves the fit in the back, but doesn't fix it totally.

I honestly have no idea how to tailor the back pieces to lay flat across the curve of my back and down over my butt (And let's be honest, my little rolls of back chub are a problem too).  I had the same bunching and creasing problem with the original pattern out of the envelope, as well as with a Victorian corset I made a mock up of.

The biggest problem is all the extra fabric bunching up - the panels may be a little too tight,  which I can fix, but it's the creasing and wrinkling I'm really stuck on.

Another issue is that the neckline is really wonky - it should be the same as the front.

With a cotehardie, I just put a gore in the CB seam starting at my middle back to give it the required ease, but I can't do that with a zipper in the CB seam in this dress. And it doesn't seem to make sense to add more width since it closes fine - there is just too much material for the concave surface.

I almost wonder if I should move the whole back up 3 inches or so to help the creasing. The back is supposed to be attached to the sides at the same place on the shoulder straps as the front, but it looks a little low.

Here is a photo of the original dress back - you can see how much it does NOT look like the back of my dress! (I added the shoulder straps to move it to a more 50's silhouette to match Rob's suit, but otherwise the buttons, butt bow and cutaway will be the same on both dresses, except that I will not have a tacky seam line down the middle of my train).

Help, anyone?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New project - Silk/Wool Girdle

Since my plans for starting a set of Elizabethan underpinnings got hung up due to fabric snafus, last weekend I decided to get on with a weaving project I'd had on the sidelines for a while (i.e. planned out and bought everything but didn't start it. For like 6 months. Oops?)

Below is a really crappy cell phone picture of the project in progress:

The fiber is JaggerSpun Zephyr 50/50 Wool-Silk Yarn, 2/18, in Chrome and Real Red (don't ask me why the yellow is named "chrome"). I warped up ~ 3 yards (9 feet), anticipating roughly a 7.5 foot finished project after takeup.

The original plan was for a yellow band with red borders, with a double-faced red design woven in every 4" or so. However, I wasn't happy with the way the red fiber underneath showed through the yellow on top; in addition weaving a finicky double-faced design proved almost impossible with such such a fine fuzzy fiber (see below for comments on the fiber). In this photo you can see where I started off with the yellow band, attempted the double-faced design, failed, tried a red stripe and didn't like it, and then started a card-patterned chevron design with a 4" repeat, which I will continue for the rest of the warp. Overall, while I'm disappointed that I couldn't weave my design, I'm happy with the chevrons (and secretly relived I don't have to fuss with working a complicated design every 4 inches.) ;)

Re: the fiber- this fiber is lovely and soft and pretty....and it's fuzzy and snarls/tangles/sticks to itself like mad! This wool/silk blend is not a smoothly or tightly woven fiber, and I wouldn't recommend it for card weaving unless you're ok babying it throughout the while process. My laurel Giovanna came over to help me warp up the 3 yards, and suffice to say, due to poor planning on my part re: winding half of the yarn off  the cones onto sticks, and the nature of the fiber, things got pretty tangled up more than once. (Next time, a yarn swift, a ball machine, a warping wand and a warping board will be employed!)

I did get a useful tip from two experienced weavers when I complained on my Livejournal about the whole thing - apparently one can "size" the fiber beforehand by soaking it in a diluted starch solution (see here). This smooths and protects the fibers. However, since my project was already on the loom with the cards in it, I bought a can of spray starch from CVS and just sprayed down the section I was working on (I used a hair dryer on high to speed the drying process.) It definitely helps the cards turn more easily, but I think properly sizing it beforehand would get better results. The best way I've found to deal with it snagging on itself is to slide the cards all the way up to the woven bit after each turn - that separates out the strands and lets you get the shuttle in for beating. Of course, all the sliding up and down with the cards abuses the warp further and makes it fuzz up more, but it's pretty much the only way to get the shed clear to run the shuttle/weft through. (I like this fiber and I would use it again after sizing it, but it is definitely not for a beginner, or anyone lacking in patience!)

I'll post more updates as I make progress. Because the chevron pattern is a "weave forward x number of times, and reverse the same number of times" method, the weaving goes relatively quickly; however, 9 feet of warp is still a LOT of weaving, so I suspect I'll be at this for a while.

Ultimately I will be blocking/ironing the finished product, and then tacking it onto a strip of linen canvas and finally backing it with silk taffeta, to give it more body and better drape. I have belt mounts and a buckle cast for it already, and will carve and cast a strap end at some point.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2007: Other randomness

Me at Sternfeld fighter's practice in 2007. I'm duct taped into the loaner armor, and using a shield intended for a much larger person.  :D I think I only made it to 3 or 4 fighter practices before I had to give up.

2006: Other projects - toddler pirate garb

I made this set of linen tunics with  tablet woven trim and belt for a friend's toddler.Both tunics are machine sewn and hand finished with silk facings at the neck opening. Trim and belt are crochet cotton. Both tunics have extra big hems on the bottom and the sleeves for room for growth.

Some nice photos of the construction are here at the Flickr set.

2009: Hot pink plaid cotehardie

I made this for Nordskogen's 12th night 2009. As noted below, it needs some changes, but I still really like it!

The gown is pink wool, with a plaid in green, yellow and magenta stripes (all the colors are period if probably more saturated than is possible from plant dyes). Buttons are handmade self-stuffed in green wool. Girdle is green wool with freshwater pearls, garnets and mini gold-colored jingle bells sewn on it with silk thread, with a handcast buckle and strap end from soapstone molds I already had. Undergown is the usual pink linen self-supporting gown with black linen sleeves lined with black silk dupioni and handcast pewter buttons purchased from a vendor. Handsewn linen veil and wimple with pewter acorn head veil pins and brass veil pins from vendors, handsewn red wool hose, black leather garters from a vendor, and handsewn leather turnshoes.

After wearing the gown at the event, I have since removed the green border on the hem as it was too heavy and bulky and made the skirt drape oddly. It looks much better with it gone. I also do not like how the bodice fits over the pink undergown, I am going to try my white undergown next time.

The girdle gave me absolute fits during construction and afterwards! This was the first time I had ever worked with real pearls, and I did not know that pearls aren't all drilled uniformly and that the holes in them are TINY. :( I had a lot of trouble with finding enough from my supply that I could even get a very fine needle+silk thread through, and because I could only make one pass of the thread, they aren't anchored properly and kind of flop around. The girdle was also pretty floppy on its own, as it is made by folding the edges of a 3" wide strip together in the back and whip stitching it closed. It did not have a lot of weight or stiffness, so the end tended to twist and curl.

I have since unstitched the back and attempted to tighten up the pearls, and I am searching for some thin supple leather to put in the girdle before closing it back up to improve the hang of it. Once that is done I will add a backing of white silk taffeta - the whip stitching down the seam on the back is pretty unattractive.

More photos once I'm done fixing it!

Monday, April 12, 2010

2003: My First Garb

Aren't I cute?

This was made for Nordskogen's 12th Night in 2003 (my first event). It is a basic rectangular construction kirtle made with a mauve wool, cotton shift, borrowed belt, linen barbette, and a borrowed circlet. My now Laurel, Giovanna, helped me to make it from material in her stash after I showed up at her house with $70 of black silk dupioni from JoAnn's. (Heh.) The belt incidentally ended up being passed onto me as my apprentice belt from Giovanna.

I think I am wearing some sort of suede boots under this.

Friday, January 8, 2010

2003/2006: Red Linen Italian Ren

This was originally completed for my first Warriors and Warlords in 2003(?), here I am wearing it at Lilies in 2006.

It is made with Period Pattern's pattern #41, altered to have side lacing closures instead of back lacing. It is made of red linen and the bodice is lined in cotton canvas that had been dyed yellow with  (that dye that uses salt and alum). The chemise is white linen with underarm gores and french seams, and a drawstring neck to give the effect of gathering. The chemise sleeves have been rolled up and the cuffs tucked/pinned under the bodice straps for ease of wear. (This dress does have reversible red/yellow sleeves to go over the chemise sleeves, but I have no pictures of it.)

I am also wearing a white linen wimple tied backwards around my head and tucked up into itself, and my green leather apprentice belt.

2008: Grey Wool cotte with pink and black undergown and silk tablet woven girdle

This outfit was completed for the Barony of Nordskogen's 12th Night 2008. I hope to take better photos of it at some point.

Overdress is grey wool with handcast pewter buttons from a vendor. The sleeves are split at the elbow and lined in white silk taffeta.

The supportive fitted underdress is made of a pink linen lined with  white linen, sewing machined lacing holes, and white silk thread tabletwoven down both edges of the front closure to provide support for the lacing. (Photos and discussion to come.) The sleeves on the undergown are pink linen to the elbow, then black linen lined with black silk from the elbow to the wrist. They are sewn shut with silk thread and have more handcast pewter buttons (in a different design, but from the same vendor) running from elbow to wrist along the seam. (The buttons are decorative only, not functional.)

The girdle will get its own post, but for now:  It is tablet woven with wooden cards, a period loom, and black and white silk threads, and I hand carved the molds and cast the pewter mounts and a buckle myself. It is backed with a strip of black silk dupioni and the mounts are sewn on with silk thread. It was originally intended to be knee length but the takeup during weaving was much more than anticipated.

Again, handmade turn shoes, handsewn red wool hose, black leather garters, silver circlet. The hood is from Historic Enterprises, made of grey/black wool, and loaned to me by a friend.