Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ravenclaw Bustle Gown

The dress is based off several different fashion plates - I knew I wanted to mix plaid and solids, but in the end, I couldn't find any that were exactly what I wanted. The bodice, pleated trim, and the outside of my pleated tail are all navy wool from a sale- the same wool left over from my Victorian and Edwardian bathing suits from last year. It held pleats very wonderfully. Most of the pleats have a selvage edge, but I did a rolled hem on the serger for the areas where I ran out of selvage. I starched the wool first, then pleated it while sitting on the floor at my little ironing board. All of the pleats are eyeballed. Then I pinned and stitched the tops of the pleats, and serged over that, so it wouldn't fray. To trim everything, I attached the pleats first with a straight stitch, then used a zig zag to attach the fur trim ($1/yd from the fabric district) about an inch above the pleats, and the metallic gold braid (also from the fabric district) at the edge of the fur. These trims went on my skirt hem, my overskirt hem, and the sleeves, each with a different pleat length. I love the way the pleats fan out on the skirt train!

I took my Ravenclaw bustle gown out for another outing on Halloween. I wore it for most of the day just because (it made my trip to the bank, to pay my rent check, and to post my ballot more interesting), and then at night I hosted a Halloween game night for our board game group, and we wandered around Ballard afterwards. Luckily, one of our regular attendees is a photographer, and he was kind enough to snap some pictures for me. All photos in this post are by Richard Tran.

As those of you who have been reading my livejournal lately have noticed, a fair bit of work went into this gown. This was my first foray into Victorian bustle gowns (unless you count my Jane costume, which I don't). I attempted pleated trim (tedious, but pretty!), worked with rabbit fur for the first time (pretty sure I inhaled a fair bit of it), and learned that bustling a skirt is not as hard as it seems.

Pleated Tail
I knew I wanted to incorporate the waterfall or cascade pleats in the back of the dress, even though I found very few fashion plates with this feature. And now I know why - it is amazing how much fabric is required for those things! In the end, I had to make mine much smaller and shorter than I originally planned, but I think it worked out. I can't imagine how heavy it would have been otherwise. It's actually quite easy to make, too, if you're not attempting to scrimp on fabric like I was - the backing of mine is the navy wool. The inside is a base of gold cotton (Joanns), with some salvaged gold velvet pillowcases (that came with my $20 couch) on top. I had to place them very strategically, since there was not enough to cover the whole back, and I didn't want to see any of the cotton. I wound up cutting them into triangles and angling them into areas where the insides of the pleats would show, then stitching them down with a zig zag stitch before attaching, turning, and pleating the whole tail piece. Even then, it wound up much shorter than I wanted, so I decided to make a yoke out of canvas and wool to hang the pleats from the waist, where it wouldn't really show under the peplum of the bodice. The joining seam between the yoke and the pleats had 26-28 layers and was over .5" thick, but my Viking made it through! I tacked the pleats in the center in two places, so it wouldn't open up and show the cotton fabric inside.

Bodice and Skirts
The bodice is interlined with ticking, and the peplum is lined with another scrap from the velvet pillowcases. I didn't wind up having to bone any part of the bodice. The pattern was based off of a Truly Victorian pattern given to me after HMS Pinafore, and altered to have a V-neckline, and to have the peplum pleated up in back (I used the technique from the pleats on 18th c jackets). The buttons began as tacky white and gold plastic things that I think came from Michaels years ago, but I antiqued them with black nail polish. The sleeves and the skirts are all plaid cotton homespun from Joanns, unlined. I purchased the Ravenclaw patch from ebay, and attached it with a zig zag stitch. The velvet wand pocket was the pouch that came with my wand (purchased at Dickens Faire in 2010), which I shortened and tacked to the bodice. The overskirt is bustled up with twill tapes on the inside. I gathered the skirt where I wanted the tapes to be, then stitched the gathers to the tapes. It was quite easy once I figured out how it was supposed to work! The pattern for the skirts was based off of one from Period Costume for Stage and Screen. I added an additional two panels to the underskirt, though, since the overskirt seemed to be too fitted (I made that one first).

I accessorized the outfit with my Timeturner (orginally purchased at Alnwick castle), my Ravenclaw Prefect badge (from Whimsic Alley), my wand, my vintage mink muff (ebay), black gloves (Value Village), gold earrings (Disney World), a black velvet purse (I think the GBACG 2011 Bazaar), lacy Victorian boots (Funtasma) and a big wired ribbon hair bow.

I'm really happy with this outfit, and I can't wait to wear it again at Costume College!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Restoration Gown

My Restoration Gown was the first thing I made using a pattern from a book instead of a paper pattern, back in Jan-Feb 2011. I used Period Costume for Stage and Screen as my pattern, and enlarged it to fit me. It actually wound up being quite easy to fit, and the first mockup only needed a little tweaking. However, the planning stage for this gown was ridiculously long. I found the fabric (7yds of a home dec blend) at Hancocks on the remnant table before I had even graduated college, and had been saving it for a 17th c gown. (though one of a slightly different design - a little more 1640s).

This one was inspired by a few different gowns - namely, the orange gown from Stage Beauty, the silver tissue gown, and this portrait of Suzanna Huygens. One of the things that I love about reproducing the 17th c also wound up making things more difficult - very few people (at least that I know of) have made gowns in this era. (though I did appreciate finding Kendra's gown, and Lauren's gown.) Likewise, while there is a great wealth of men's Musketeer-era patterns available, at the time, there were no patterns or books devoted to women's fashions.

I did not do this particularly historically accurate, besides using a sewing machine, the main thing I did differently was to build the bodice over my fully boned mid-18th c stays, instead of making a boned bodice.  I also was not able to find any information regarding how skirts were connected to bodices, so I made it up! I sewed the back panel of the knife-pleated skirt to the bodice, but pleated the front section to twill tape, so that it could be tied around the waist (under the bodice in back) like an 18th c petticoat. The bodice closes in front with hooks and eyes, and the slashed sleeves are cartridge-pleated into the armseyes. . The bodice and sleeves are trimmed with pearl-and-lace trim and swarovski elements, as well as false chemise puffs around the neckline.

The gown is worn with a very puffy-sleeved chemise, with the chemise cuffs turned up over the bottom of the slashed sleeves, and over a couple 18th c petticoats, my mid-18th c stays, and my petal-shaped bum pad. Of course, although I finished it in February, I didn't actually wear it until August, for the Gala at Costume College. And unfortunately, that's the only time I've gotten to wear it, since it is now too big.

At Costume College
I also made a mask for the occasion

I made the pearly accessories for my hair
With my historical dog

June 2011
I might remake it smaller some day

Back View
Side View

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Queen of Hearts

I love the Queen of Hearts. Which might explain why I have not only played her onstage, but also have designed two different Queen of Hearts costumes.

Queen of Hearts, 2008
The first one came about for Halloween 2008. It was modeled on a Queen of Hearts Barbie, and I used Simplicty 4092 view B as my starting point. The underskirt is made of black cotton, with a center "forepart" section that I quilted - made of many small strips of quilting cotton with various heart-related patterns. The front of the bodice is also made of even smaller strips of the quilting cottons, topped with a giant red cotton velveteen heart. The body of the gown is also made of the red velveteen, with lace ruffles at the cuffs. I trimmed the front with black velveteen, which was painted with swirly gold hearts. I believe I lined the bodice with cotton, and the bodice laces up the back with purchased lacing strips. The overskirt is knife-pleated to the bodice, which is boned with rigilene boning (since this was one of my first real projects, and I didn't know any better), and some of the edges were machine-hemmed with a heart-shaped stitch. Unfortunately, I did not have a serger when I made this, and used a too-small seam allowance on my quilting strips, so after a few wearings, many of the strips have now pulled apart in the skirt, and need redoing. I had also made a detachable stand-up collar for the gown, but it proved too cumbersome.

I also made a flamingo, out of cotton scraps and pink feathers, all of which I found in the costume shop bins at school. He is stuffed with additional scraps. His beak and foot
are stiffened with hot glue sticks, and his leg with the cardboard
tube off a wire hanger.

Queen of Hearts, 2010, with the White Rabbit

The second version of my Queen of Hearts costume came in 2010. I wanted to wear something Disney-themed for Mickey's Not So Scary Party at The Magic Kingdom, but I didn't have time to make a whole new outfit, and by that point, I knew enough about costuming to realize that my first bodice was not up to my standards. I also wanted something that would be nice and easy to wear at Disneyworld all day. What I came up with was a Victorian-inspired Queen of Hearts. I used the underskirt from the first costume, and paired it with a red peasant blouse I had made earlier in the year for a pirate festival, and a black corduroy underbust boned bodice that I made for one of my costumes in Dames at Sea earlier that month. I also took some black with red pinstripes fabric that I had left over from the breeches I made for the pirate festival, and made a somewhat bustled-up overskirt. The tacks of the overskirt were finished with red felt hearts, which I also added to the bodice. I stuck a heart jewel on my face, wore my heart earrings, and bought a tiara at Disney for the occasion . It was nice and comfy for a day at Disney, and I got a kick out of interacting with some of the Alice in Wonderland characters.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alice in Wonderland

In 2008, I decided to be the Queen of Hearts for Halloween. And some of the other girls in my Alpha Chi Omega sorority family decided we might set Alice in Wonderland as a theme. In the end, it really only wound up being me and one of my littles, but we made a nice pair. So I made her an Alice dress (all during one two-show day of The Importance of Being Earnest, which I designed and wardrobe mistressed). It is all cotton, with eyelet trim on the apron. It was a super quick project, but it came out really nice, and looked really cute on her.

Allie in Wonderland

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chemise a la Reine

The Chemise a la Reine was the first project I made using my new dress form, which I got as a Christmas present in 2010. I draped the whole thing in Jan 2011, using the pattern in The Cut of Women's Clothes, by Norah Waugh. I was inspired mostly by this portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier by Jacques-Louis David.

The body of the dress went together very easily, but I did have quite a case of sleevil on this one. You can read my dress diary for the project here. It is made of white cotton lawn, and trimmed with drapey ruffled lace and velvet ribbon around the neck, with shorter lace at the sleeves, all from Joanns. The sash is made from poly taffeta, three lengths joined together, with a narrow hem down the sides.

To go along with the chemise a la reine, I made a light blue cotton sateen petticoat, a bum pad, and a short-sleeve chemise, and wore them with my blue fully-boned stays. The petticoat is made of two large panels, knife-pleated to bias tape ties, which tie at the waist. The bum pad (cotton stuffed with batting) was based on American Duchess's design, with three sections, and an eyelet lace ruffle on the edge. The chemise is a standard rectangle with gussets design, and a drawstring neckline, made of muslin. I'll post more on the stays later. I also made an additional petticoat a couple months later, out of blue and white floral striped cotton, using the same knife-pleated to bias tape design.

Other than a quick photo-shoot at home, the first time I wore this was at Costume College 2011, for the Sunday Tea. I have since also worn it for a Regency tea with the South Bay Ladies Tea Guild (since I don't have anything Regency-era), The Queen of Naples Ball in 2011 with the Bay Area English Regency Society, and Bastille Day 2012 with some of the ladies from Somewhere in Time, Unlimited. When I wore it for the Ball, I wore it sans stays, and with my new "Regency" shoes I decorated for the occasion - white $7 Walmart flats to which I added bows made of vintage ribbon, ribbon to wrap around the ankles, and painted the petersham binding and faux seam lines.

Costume College 2011
Costume College 2011

Costume College 2011
Costume College 2011

The Queen of Naples Ball

The Queen of Naples Ball
The bum pad
My "Regency" Shoes

Renaissance Undergarments

When making my Navy Velvet Doublet Gown, I of course had to make all new undergarments. The only thing I continued to use from my old faire-wear was my purchased farthingale, and the old bloomers I made back in 2005. For my new ensemble, I made a "Frankensmock," a pair of bodies (corset), and a bum roll.

The Frankensmock was my own pattern idea - basically combining a knee length chemise, with a shirt, and having the option to wear the shirt collar like a partlet. In addition, I only had enough money in my budget to buy the fancy fabric for the visible parts of the shirt. The fancy fabric is cotton, with tucks and lace in a criss-cross pattern. I used it for the sleeves, the parlet portion of the shirt, and the box-pleated top of the collar (which I had to piece together from tons of scraps, in order to match up the pattern). The cuffs and collar band are out of a plain cotton, with a machine-done blackwork pattern. The body is done in a typical rectangular smock pattern, with gores at the sides, in plain cotton. The cuffs are edged with lace, and both collar and cuffs are finished off with buttons (and buttonholes on the cuffs). To make the partlet option, the "partlet" is sewn to the smock until right in front of the armpits, at which point it is finished, and closed with hooks and eyes, so that it could be worn with the triangular opening seen so often in the Tudor period.

The pair of bodies was patterned from the Elizabethan Corset Pattern Generator. It is reversible, and laces up front and back. It is boned with Malco brand heavy duty duct ties, which are inserted into channels made of bias tape. Instead of binding the tabs, I simply turned the two fabrics, which are a random pink and white dotted red tag fabric, and a damask print blue and white cotton canvas. The eyelets were done with my sewing machine, and it spiral laces up with ribbon. I also wear this corset as a bodice for faire, with my "milkmaid" look, when it is too hot for the doublet gown.In hindsight, I wish I had shortened the top of the bodies by at least an inch, since they are a little high. Otherwise, I'm quite pleased with them, and they're very comfortable, and were very fast to make.

The bum roll was a super quick project. I don't remember if I used a Simplicity pattern, or if I just did it myself. It is cotton, stuffed with batting, and tied with ribbon.

The black-worked collar
Sleeve cuffs

Renaissance Undergarments
Renaissance Undergarments

Navy Velvet Doublet Gown

This was the first real project that I made once I got my own sewing machine (it's the same one I currently use - a Viking Emerald), which I received as a belated graduation present in May 2010. It is based partially on Simplicity 3782, and inspired by this portrait of Leonora de Medici, by Alessandro Allori. My original design called for shoulder rolls and matching sleeves, but I didn't have time to make them at first, and since then I've realized that if I had ever added sleeves, I would probably wind up overheating. I finished it in early October 2010, in order to wear it to the upcoming Lady of the Lakes Ren Faire in Tavares, FL. It has since also been worn to the Sarasota Medieval Faire, the Bay Area Ren Faire in Tampa, Scarborough Faire, and the NorCal Ren Faire.

All the fabric came from the Joanns red tag table. The bulk of the gown in made of navy cotton velveteen. The forepart (which is detachable, using whopper poppers), collar lining, and trim is all some sort of poly home dec material. The undergarments can all be seen in this separate post.

  • The underskirt is made of black cotton sateen, and has whopper poppers in the front, so that the forepart can be switched out if I ever make another look. It is gathered at the waist, into a cotton canvas waistband, which closes with hooks and eyes. 
  • The forepart is backed with felt, since the gold fabric is pretty lightweight. I hand-sewed glass pearls into the centers of all the flowers. 
  • The overskirt is cartridge pleated into the waistband (it was the first time I ever did cartridge pleating!), which is lined with gingham canvas, to make the pleats even. There are bars spaced along the waistband, to hook the bottom of the doublet down, so that they don't separate. The overskirt is trimmed with the home dec fabric.
  • The doublet is lined with cotton canvas, and trimmed with the home dec fabric. It buttons up the front with buttons from Pillaged Village. Instead of buttonholes, I used a fancy braided trim that has loops on the side, and they just happened to be a perfect fit for the buttons, once I stitched it down.

Before I wore it to the Bay Area Ren Faire, I made a matching escoffion, out of the gold home dec fabric, and wore it with my tall hat (the hat was purchased, but I made the feather arrangement). The last time I wore it, for the NorCal Ren Faire last year, I decided it needed something new, so I also made all new jewelry for it - the pearl necklace with pendant, large pearl drop earrings, and the pearl girdle, as well as stringing all the pearls through my hair. I like the look much better that way, than with the hat and escoffion.

Lady of the Lakes Faire, 2010

Lady of the Lakes Faire, 2010
Sarasota Medieval Faire, 2010

NorCal Ren Faire, 2011

NorCal Ren Faire, 2011
NorCal Ren Faire, 2011

NorCal Ren Faire, 2011
NorCal Ren Faire, 2011