Monday, November 9, 2009

ren faire planning

I've been dreaming and planning of ren faire costumes since our visit last month. I've done tons of research and looked at hundreds of costumes. I've been on forums and boards, and very badly designed sites looking for advice and opinions. What I've discovered is that (and this is something all regular faire-goers know) for the most part, it is frowned upon to make a costume that isn't historically accurate. This is a problem for me, because I like to put my own twist on things. However, I do really like the historical gowns. So, I'm reaching a compromise of sorts.

I've essentially decided to make two costumes. Yep, two. It means a lot of work, but it will satisfy both of my costuming wants. I sketched out this basic costume to start with. I'm basing it on peasant garb and will be using Simplicty 5582 as a base for the skirt and blouse. Instead of a bodice over the blouse, I will be using a corset from McCall's 4861. I plan on this being kind of an adventurer/mercenary costume. Of course, there was no such thing as far as I know historically, so I will be stepping on some people's toes. But I want an interesting costume, damnit! This way I can wear cool boots, and carry weapons, and wear wrist bracers. All the stuff men get to do. But I still want a pretty corset. :)

I drew this sketch up and then went shopping for fabrics. I want to try to be realistic where possible, so no purple fabrics, and as much natural fabric as possible. I'm using an un-dyed slubby muslin for the blouse, a dark blue for the skirt, and I picked up a dark maroon that will possibly be used for an overskirt. For the corset I chose a dark brown twill for the lining and a natural dark brown faux suede for the exterior. I've wobbled back and forth about sewing a bodice that can be changed out or worn over the corset, but we will see. I bought enough of the maroon fabric that I can do so if I decide.

I'm hoping to order a pair of boots like these to go with my outfit, but I don't think it will happen any time soon because they run about $600. However, they are completely custom made, fitted to your individual foot. And of course the colors, materials, and designs are up to you. This particular pair comes from Native Earth, which is the booth I saw at the Texas Ren Faire outside of Houston. I think that they are cool enough that if you chose designs and colors that don't scream ren-faire, (like opting out of the turned down top) you can wear them for street wear as well. The idea of custom shoes on my extremely hard to fit feet makes me giddy. Maybe they'll give me a discount for my tiny feet. :)


Ooh, totally forgot to put up the pictures of the "weapon" I found at the Celtic Festival this weekend. I was looking for daggers to go with my outfit, and came across a booth with a guy that was selling some awesome replica items. He was pulling out pieces, and when he showed me this one, I was already ooh-ing. I was very impressed - and then he pulled it out of the sheath to show.....

Scissors! And I knew I had to have them. For Ren Faire, they will look just like a dagger. And at home, I have gorgeous sewing shears. I danced a little jig, and took them home.

Monday, November 2, 2009

yet another new sewing machine

Two weeks ago I bought yet another sewing machine. I was at Joann and they had a floor model on sale for $250 because it was a class machine, and another 10% off as a floor model. It's a Husqvarna Emerald 116. It's a strange purchase in a way, because it's a step up, and a step down.

It has a whole lot less features than my current machine, which is a Brother CS-8150. I like all of the features my brother has, but its not a very substantial machine. I wanted something that had more power and a bit more finesse. When I alter jeans it frequently skips stitches and has problems with thick layers of fabric. It's also loud as hell. Brian and I have a kind of all purpose room where my sewing machines, the computers, and large screen TV live. We do that so that even though we have completely different activities, we are still in the same room and can talk. However, the Brother can make multi-tasking difficult because it's very loud. Brian plays games that require a mic, and between the sewing machine and the TV turned up to loud enough to hear, he has issues playing.

When I bought it I was very impressed with all of the stitches it could do, but now I find that I use them very infrequently. Generally its a basic straight stitch, basting stitch, or zig zag that I find myself using for most projects. Assuming that I keep the Husqvarna, I won't get rid of the Brother. It will be a back up machine, and on some rare occasion that I need a stitch that looks like a leaf, or need to sew an eyelet, I'll break it back out.

So, I think the new machine fits the bill. Even though it's short on features, its a Husqvarna and quite sturdy. Its much more quiet than either the Brother or my serger. It zipped right through the last pair of jeans I bought with no skipped or elongated stitches. After the jeans I immediately had some wonky stitch issues that I'm still trying to work out, but I suspect that it's user error and not the machine.

On the negative side, there is no needle up feature, no thread cassette (I got spoiled), and everything is controlled by dials. I keep finding myself reaching for the needle up button, and then having to reach around to the side to turn the hand wheel. Same with the buttons for changing stitch length and width. I think that maybe the dials aren't really a con, it's just something I need to readjust to. Also, the Brother starts and stops with a push button, and has a slider to control speed. I always thought that was a major benefit, but in working with a treadle again I'm discovering it wasn't. Having the treadle really allows me to control my speed without having to take my hands off the fabric. It's a real plus when the fabric is slippery, or it needs to be stretched, and going around corners or curves.

I think I'll play with it a bit longer and see how things go before I decide definitely to keep it, but so far I'm pretty happy. Its interesting how you can feel the power and smooth operation of the motor in the better machines, and that does whisper to me that I should keep it.

Photos of my finished costume

Everything in the pictures are made by me, except for the corset. (Makeup by me, too.) I wanted to make a corset, but I ran out of time. The overskirt is a six gored skirt and is made from the tutorial here:

It is a great tutorial, and really stretched my math skills. Everything else I made from scratch or altered with no pattern. Yay!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quick update

I don't have much time to talk, but I finished the blouse. In the picture at the right, you can see what it looked like earlier in the week before I began changing it. I didn't do a whole lot to it, but I think that it will work really well with the overall costume. I cut out a decolletage window and seamed it up, and added small black lace all around the edges to dress it up a little more. I also added a deep 4 inch lace to the cuffs. Below, you can see it finished. On the right you can see that I had finished both the overskirt and underskirt, but I think that they could both use a little extra. I bought a ton of tulle and will be adding it to the hem on the red skirt. The black skirt will be getting black lace trim at the bottom. Depending on what kind of time I am working with I might also add some embroidery to the red skirt.

Sorry for the quality of the pictures, but we haven't had sunny weather in quite a while, so getting decent pictures on black fabrics hasn't been too easy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sketches for my Halloween costume

In my post day before yesterday, I mentioned my halloween costume and my inspiration. Here are the sketches I did. They aren't the best quality since I took them with my iphone, but I will get around to taking better ones.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

baby blanket and another project finished

I'm slowly chasing down all of my unfinished projects and completing them so that my pile is diminishing. I have finished my first ever sewn baby blanket. I've done several crochet and/or knitted blankets, but this is the first one I've done since I got my embroidery machine. It was essentially problem free until the very end. I realized as I rounded the last corner on the binding that I was about three inches short. So I ran out to the craft store, and of course they were completely out of the color I needed. So I pulled apart one end of the blanket and sewed it again about 4 inches shorter. I am very thankful that I got my serger working again because it made the task infinitely easier. Here is the finished project!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Halloween costumes are blogging inspiration

I've been meaning to get back to blogging all of my projects for a while but I'm always so tired at the end of the night. This project in particular is so big that I definitely want to document it, and hopefully it will help me to continue on.

I decided to do a neo victorian goth inspired costume this year. It isn't accurate to any time period, just a picture in my mind. My inspiration was this makeup from Illamasqua, which I will be recreating. I have all of the supplies to create the look except the eyelashes because they required multiple sets which would have been too expensive. I bought a couple of pairs of other false eyelashes which I will cut up to try to replicate.

Yesterday I made the hat for the costume. I knew I wanted a mini top hat. I saw some people online who had made them from felt, but I wanted more of a luxe look. I also wanted something that looked sturdy and real, rather than something thrown together for the costume. I started out by buying mesh wire form from Hobby Lobby. You can find it on the aisle where the polymer clay is. I also got plain black felt for the frame work, some violet colored velvet from the remnants basket at the fabric store, and some feathers. I also used some items I already had for decorating.

I started by using an oval shaped plant dish to trace out the approximate size and shape of the hat. Once it was cut out I used the end of a sharpie pen to fold up the edges evenly all around so that no sharp edges were showing. I then traced a similar hole in the center, and used a ruler all around to make sure it was even. I cut out the center and pushed back the edges the same as the outside. I cut a rectangle of the same mesh and pushed the bottom edge down at a 90 degree angle so that once it was slipped through the hole it could grab on. I used a glue gun both on the seam up the sides of the top, and under the brim where they connect. As the glue started to cool I pushed it through the mesh to make sure the pieces connected. The top of the wire hat is cut down about half an inch all the way around and folded flat at a 90 degree angle to support the top. I cut another piece of mesh to match the top of the hat, and glued it down the same way I did the brim.

At this point I cut out pieces of felt and covered the metal frame. I wasn't too woried about doing it neatly because it would be covered by wire. Because velvet is so delicate I wanted to make sure that the frame work would not show lines through, so the felt added extra padding. Once it was completely covered I added velvet. I learned that you have to be very careful with the glue gun and velvet because if any gets on the velvet it pulls up the nap when you peel it off. I ended up with a few bald spots, which sucks. Since it's my first try at millinery I won't be too hard on myself. :) The order that I covered the frame in was: brim, then the top, then the outside of the top. I made sure there was plenty of fabric on the brim to fold under, and then added one more panel on the bottom to cover the seams.

And the finished product with all decorations: