March 10, 2016

Romantic Era Confections

Big floofy sleeves? Check. Sari fabric? Check.


Even though sewing errors doomed my attempt to finish the 1890s dress in time for last weekend's ball, I still wanted to go. Trouble is, I didn't have anything from the later end of the Victorian spectrum, so I decided to dig out something from the closet that was similar to what I'd been working on (sari fabric! giant sleeves!) only from the opposite end of the Victorian era. It's a good thing PEERS isn't overly picky about sticking to the costuming theme!


Remember this old pink romantic thing from two years ago? Turns out that it was such a rush job, I never showed you what it looked like after I finished it! I originally threw it together in a week, and it shows. While it will never be anywhere near decent quality, I was able to patch it back together enough for another outing.

They look great before you try to move in them...

The fancy pleated sleeves were one of my early (failed) experiments to recreate those glorious origami confections from that pink romantic era LACMA dress we know and love. These days (and many, many iterations later) I'm much closer to a viable repro sleeve, but at the time this was as close as I could get. They're not full enough, they collapse and pull weirdly, and there's some funkiness with the shape of the underarm portion, but unless you've got your nose in my armpit they look decent for a first wearable try.


Of course, the damn things ripped right out at the underarm during the original wearing, so I sewed in some hasty gussets to give me a little more range of motion. I also mended some other tears, tacked down some bits that never got properly sewed in the first place, and patched the areas where the fabric had frayed so much it had disintegrated.

By range of motion, I mean my right arm can
go about two inches higher that this, tops.

I added a silver silk taffeta sash and bow- something that the original outfit sorely lacked. For whatever reason, the sash takes it from eh-just-some-random-nonspecific-fancy-dress to 1830's hell YEAH.

While the pink dress is fun to wear but is still a bit of a hot mess even with repairs, my hair game for the ball was SPOT ON.

This is the end of night somewhat squashed
version, and it is still EPIC.

Mind you, just before I started my hair, a big storm blew out our power. This was all done by the light of a camp lantern!


To make it even more challenging, I had to find a way to take this towering monstrosity through ferocious rain and wind to get from the house to the car, and car to the venue. The paper bag I used as a shield wasn't quite up to the task, but my hair made it mostly safe and sound. Shoes, not so much...

My front curly sections were quite high and bouncy to start, but after wind, rain, and hours of dancing and sweating, they lost their buoyancy. After the ball I experimented and discovered that I could pin up the bottom-most tails to revive the original look, so that's something I'll keep in mind for next time.

Sad, floof-less curls by the end of the evening.

Floof revived!

All in all, the dress was a sparkly, fun bit of nonsense to wear again, the hair was a great conversation piece, and the night was a success. I love the ridiculous 1830's, so you'll be sure to see more floofy sleeves here in the future!


One last thing before I bail- I've got another bustle article up at Your Wardrobe Unlocked, and this one comes with a free pattern! It's a complete how-to on making a lobster tail bustle with removable bones. Even better, the pattern is not just multi-sized, it's also designed to let you swap out the bustle pattern piece so that you can go bigger or smaller as needed. Go have a look!

March 3, 2016

Don't sew after midnight


See the mistake?

How about now?

Yeah, that's my combo facing/hem support pinned wrong sides to wrong sides with the skirt. Sewed all the way around before realizing it. 

I'm being an adult and allowing myself to let this one go for a few days. I will not completely drain myself struggling to finish the skirt and the as yet un-started bodice in the very little amount of time left before the ball. I'm going to have a nice bit of dinner, snuggle the cats, and watch a comedy or read a book.

I will wear something else to PEERS on Saturday, and will not bemoan my lack of a train or ginormous poofy sleeves. I'll tackle the gown again starting Monday, and will have time to finish it at a far more leisurely pace before the Rite of Spring Ball.

This is progress, yes?

March 2, 2016

Trained Skirt in Progress

While I finished my petticoat, you'll have to wait till the weekend to see it as I've gotten completely sideswiped by another large, last minute project!

Quality control by Kitteh

I've only squeaked out this quick break to post because I'm waiting for the fray check vapors to clear out of the sewing room. (There's a reason they card you when you buy that stuff!) With luck, I'll have this dress finished for the PEERS Ball this weekend.


Until then, I've only got a few teaser photos of the skirt and its overlay (another sari, who would have guessed?) in progress. 

Square peg, meet round hole

We'll see if I finish the whole shebang on time, or if the fray check does me in first.

February 7, 2016

Every Day I'm Bustling

2016 is already shaping up to be FAR more productive than the previous year. If I haven't posted here much yet, it's because I've been busy making SO. MANY. BUSTLES. for a Your Wardrobe Unlocked article.

Now including combination bustle/tea service

If you want to break out of the lobster tail mold, or just see what your other options for increasing the square footage of your rear end are, go have a look! I've constructed 6 unique bustles in order to contrast and compare size, shape and wearability, among other things. Included is this fabulous monstrosity-


Have a gander, and I'll see you here next week for some petticoats to cover up all that glorious badonk-a-donk.

January 2, 2016

The 2015 That Wasn't

This is literally everything I managed to complete in 2015 (it ain't much)-

A "1-hour" (hahahahahhaha) 1920s dress that was so
awful, I have no photos from the shoulders down.
Marsh Corset worn steampunked out
Remake of the Marsh pattern with added 3rd
bust gore, more hip room and revamped back
Crocheted miser's purse.  That only took two or three years...
Stuffed whales for nephew
Spoonflower pleated skirt.
Redo of the lattice gown bodice; TBD a third
time because I don't like how it turned out
Reconstructed the ugly ass day bodice
from the Polka Dot Dress into an evening
bodice; still unfinished but it's wearable!
Skirt for the Christmas tree

And fully half of those were items started or remade from previous years.  2016, we have to do better.

May 3, 2015

Lattice Gown Revisited

Remember this old thing?

After 6 years (and a lot of butter, bread and cookies) the bodice to the Lattice Gown doesn't quite fit anymore.  I have a little bit of each of the original fabrics squirreled away, and with very careful design and perhaps some piecing, it might be possible to make a new one. 


Question is, what should the new bodice look like?  Should the lattice design from the skirt be echoed in the top?  Where, and how?  Should it include the evil gauze of evil? 

The fashion plate I based my skirt on.

The original fashion plate that inspired my skirt (above) has the latticework across the bertha of the bodice.  It didn't strike me as something I liked at the time, but now... maybe?

October fashions, 1837 France,
Journal des Dames et des Modes

I found this green dress while researching for my Romantic Era Gown.  I like the idea of a relatively simple lattice front, though the sleeves are too early era for my elliptically-shaped skirt.


I might split the difference between the green romantic dress and this one.  I'm not digging the tassels, but the shape and design is well within the right era, and I like the look of the lattice work.

April 27, 2015

Reveal: This is Pure Insanity

Luna approves of the current fabric selection.

Remember the circular ruffle tester I posted last week as a teaser?  Well, there are a LOT MORE of those ruffles in my future, because my crazy ass decided to replicate the Cinderella gown from the live action film!

Yup, that one.

This is an enormous undertaking.  I've spent the last few weeks researching obsessing over how the dress was made, and I'm determined to get as close as I can to the original (well, without spending $200+ per freakin' yard to get the exact fabrics).  I've already bought about 90 yards of fabric, and I've my eye on another 60 yards, at minimum.  Estimates put the original dress at 270 yards total, so even that is short of the mark!

I've already started experimenting with dyes and different fabrics, and have
had some interesting surprises along the way.

 I've already got a whole Pinterest board of research and screencaps, and I've gone a bit cross-eyed staring at any photo that shows the under structure of the dress.  Of course, I'll be sharing all the trials and tribulations as I go here on the blog.  I've already learned a few new techniques, and I can only imagine how many more I'll pick up along the way!

Early experiments in blending fabrics are looking good!

Speaking of crazy large projects, my friends/neighbors have an awesomely insane project of their own.  They're opening a vintage clothing store/event space in Oakland, and they need help to make their dream come true!  Watch their awesome video, spread the news about the OverAttired Kickstarter, and donate if you can.