A Quilt, a Bag, and a Cosplay

Despite the lack of posts I have been rather busy with sewing projects this last month. Since none of these are true clothing items, I’m going to lump three smaller projects into one big post!

First up:

A Little Quilt

Orange Yellow Crib Quilt

(a quilt, with bonus Peanut!)

I’ve been cleaning my sewing room and stash busting like crazy lately. Deep in a drawer sat a bag of pre-cut fabric strips which were intended to become a quilt two years ago. Originally I know I had a pattern for the strips but at this point who knows where that pattern is.

Orange Yellow Crib Quilt

I simply sewed the strips together and chopped them up into smaller bits until I had a roughly-crib-size quilt. The back I made by piecing together leftover strips and some other fabric hiding in my quilting cotton drawer. I made bias binding out of scraps.

Orange Yellow Crib Quilt

The only reason I quilted this thing at home myself is because it’s so small and I only did straight lines following the seams. Easy peasy, or as easy as making a quilt can really be.

A Quick Purse

Two-Hour Tulip Purse

I made this bag as a sample for a class I’m teaching at Me & Ewe but I’m surprised how much I like this pattern.

Two-Hour Tulip PurseTwo-Hour Tulip Purse

It’s called the Two-Hour Tulip Bag from Anything But Boring. I made the largest size. It’s interlined with cotton batting but next time I think I want to use some stiffer interfacing and maybe make a firm square removable base, otherwise the bottom doesn’t keep it’s shape when you load up the bag.

Two-Hour Tulip PurseTwo-Hour Tulip Purse

It really is a quick make and it has plenty of pocket options. The bottom of the bag comes together in a neat way to make a point in the center.

Last Minute Cosplay

SXSW is a massive event in Austin that seems to take up the entire month of march. I usually avoid the chaos all over town but I do make the effort to attend the free Game Expo. It’s like a mini game convention in the middle of a much bigger festival/convention/traffic nightmare.

This year, only about a week before the event, I decided to throw together a costume.

Fallout 4 Piper Cosplay

This is Piper, a journalist and wasteland survivor from the post-apacalyptic video game Fallout 4.

piper

My number one requirement for costumes is that I don’t have to wear a wig. Check!

Fallout 4 Piper Cosplay

 

(btw that’s not a real cigarette, just a rolled up piece of paper)

It was seriously last minute. Most of the costume pieces were bought off Amazon prime (yay 2-day free shipping!) and then altered. I attached the faux suede to the collar and cuffs of the coat and quickly sewed some flannel together for the scarf.

This was only my second real cosplay but I’d say it was pretty successful. Not only did a lot of people recognize me but the whole costume was quick and cheap to put together. Win!

***BTW, in case you’ve missed me, I’ve been posting a bunch of other small projects I’ve been working on over on Instagram if you want to follow along.

1880s Bustle Dress Costume

1880s Bustle Dress

This might be my most elaborate costume make to date. And I finished it justintime for my event at an art museum where these photos were taken (so ignore the buses and cars in the background).

To summarize, I’m wearing a cotton chemise under this Victorian corset, a steel lobster-tail bustle with ruffled petticoat, an underskirt, overskirt, bodice, bonnet, along with silk stockings and costume lace-up boots.

1880s Bustle Dress

Also, my mother-in-law was kind enough to let me borrow this vintage crochet handbag to house all my anachronistic necessities. Thanks MIL!

That’s quite a lot to talk about so to make this post easier on my I’m going to use the Historical Sew Monthly format for this outfit.

1880s Bustle Dress

The Challenge: After my last outing with the DFW Costumers Guild in November, my friend Susanna thought it would be a good idea to come back again for a Victorian themed event in February. “Sure,” I said, “that would be fun.” Next thing I knew she was ordering patterns and I had a new deadline to sew half a dozen pieces for a brand new costume in a little less than 2 months.

1880s Bustle Dress
(my friend Susanna and I)

Material: For the underlayers: cotton muslin. For the dress: gray with orange pinstripe wool – I thought it was wool but it’s actually a rayon poly blend and it’s too late now to fix it, silk velvet for the trim, cotton muslin for lining. For the bonnet: buckram and wire, leftover blue silk from my Regency bonnet, silk velvet, poly satin ribbon.

1880s Bustle Dress

Pattern:  Truly Victorian everything: bustle, petticoat, underskirt, overskirt, bodice. And a Lynn McMaster’s pattern for the bonnet.

However, I heavily altered my bodice to resemble this extant dress by shortening the hem, narrowing the sleeves, and creating a buttoned vest effect in front and changing the lapels. The skirts are mostly just like the patterns except I added big velvet chunks on one side of the underskirt mimicking the extant gown.

1880s Bustle Dress

Year: about 1888.

Notions: metal buttons, feathers for the bonnet, steel boning for the dress and the bustle.

My inspiration dress had gigantic buttons on it. These bronze buttons were the closest thing I could find that would match the style although they aren’t as large.

1880s Bustle Dress

How historically accurate is it? Well, the materials aren’t entirely accurate but I did so much hand sewing on this thing: buttonholes! Hooks and eyes! All that velvet!

I give it 3 out of 5 Typhoid Fevers…

Hours to complete: All of them. All the hours. Ok, really, I worked on this whole get-up for around a couple hours every day for three weeks. Nearing the end, I was feeling burnt out and my interiors look quite sloppy. I wanted to be finished with this monster.

First worn: Last week at the Caillebotte exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX with the DFW Costumers Guild.

Total cost: Ugh, the not-actually-wool alone cost about $100. Velvet was $32… all together this thing was at least $250. Le sigh. I can’t complain. I did decide on my own to pursue this hobby…

The only thing I don’t like about this dress is that the white lining peeks out from behind the vest panel and inside the sleeves. I didn’t think about that possibility as I was sewing, I should have used the self-fabric instead. Oh, and I should really redraft the collar because it didn’t quite work out the way I had envisioned and on the day of the event I had to sew it closed. While wearing it. Can you imagine a needle that close to your neck!?

1880s Bustle Dress

Even though I am incredibly proud of myself for completing this costume I am quite happy to be done with it. I’m ready for a few months of normal, modern garment sewing. I miss finishing a project in a day!

Busy Busy January

I’ve been neglecting the blog in favor of Instagram this month. I haven’t finished many projects but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. So so much sewing… and drafting and cleaning and planning, etc. As a little re-cap, here are just a few of the things I’ve been working on lately…

Blank Slate Sewing Team

Blank Slate Denver Hack

Earlier this month as part of the Blank Slate Sewing Team I shared my Denver Sweatshirt hack over at MellySews.com. I loved this gold painted knit that I used for my shirt, it’s the perfect mix of sparkly and subdued.

Cleaning Up My Sewing Room

I am the worst when it comes to cleaning my sewing room but it had reached a breaking point. I spent a good day throwing out trash, organizing fabric, and returning long lost pattern pieces to their envelopes.

Then I brought to one of my sewing group meetings several boxes full of patterns, fabric, and old me-made clothes to give away.

All the fabrics were leftovers from previous projects. You know how it goes, the pattern calls for three and a half yards but you manage to squeeze the pieces into two and a quarter. As for the remainder, well, there are only so many Scout Tees a person can make.

goodbyedresses

Sometimes a project doesn’t turn out the way you’d have liked. Other times you find yourself never wearing a garment you made for whatever reason. The worst is when your body changes but your clothes aren’t suited to alterations.

Giving away clothes that I’ve made is always difficult, especially when I don’t know if the people at Goodwill will put my clothes on the rack or send them directly to the cotton recyclers.

I didn’t want that fate to befall some of my beloved dresses so I let my friends have first dibs. Luckily most of my clothes were adopted into loving new homes including the above four dresses. The rest will take their chances at the thrift store.

Vintage Patterns for Sale

vintagepatternscollage

In my effort to organize I’ve come to the conclusion that having a full dresser drawer of vintage patterns isn’t doing me any good, especially if I can’t use them all.

So I’ve reserved some of my favorites and I’m slowly adding patterns to my Etsy shop for sale. They’re mostly 60s and 70s. I have a bunch of 80s patterns that I’ll probably sell as one big lot seeing as most people don’t get that excited over 80s designs.

Making Bias Tape from Scraps

biastapesAmong my leftover fabric were several scraps under half a yard that seemed unusable. But then I got an idea – bias tape!

Most of the fabrics were so cut up that I couldn’t get a good size square or rectangle to do continuous bias tape so I had to do it the old fashioned way – cutting long strips and sewing the short ends together.

I wrapped three yard lengths around pieces of cut up gift boxes and now they’re for sale at Me & Ewe. I made 20+ bundles and still have tons more fabric I could use.

Historical Costuming – Late 1880s Bustle Dress

lobstertail_bustle

But this is the big project that’s taken up so much of my time.

If when I complete it, this will be my fastest costume make to date. A full outfit from the ground up in less than a month (well, I’m cheating, I already had the chemise and corset) including a gigantic bustle, petticoat, underskirt, overskirt, fully lined bodice and trimmed hat!

I’m already off to a good start. One day I made my lobster tail bustle. The next I made the petticoat to go over it. The third day I tested the fit of my bodice then redrafted the pieces into a new design.

bustledress_progress

At this point I’ve cut all the pieces that I can from the fabric I have and I am now waiting on my velvet to arrive for the trim.

Oh, and did I mention that I still have to make a hat!??!?

I keep reminding myself, “It will be finished. It will be beautiful. It will be finished. It will…”

Late 1780s Robe en Chemise Costume

1780s Chemise a la reine

When I tell people I like making historical costumes they always ask me, “Where are you going to wear that?” Well, guess what? I finally wore a costume to an event! I went to Dallas for the DFW Costumer’s Guild‘s annual Georgian Picnic. It’s a gathering of costuming enthusiasts where we dress up in 18th-century through Regency era clothes, eat, play games, socialize, and generally have a fun time.

22918496420_25d49b55c0_k(from Festive Attyre’s Flickr album)

Here’s everyone at the picnic arranged in a general timeline – earlier styles on the left, later on the right. I’m right in the middle.

Normally autumn weather in Texas is mild but this year the day turned out to be quite chilly. Unfortunately the costume I chose to make and wear was more of a summer dress: the soft, breezy, classic white Robe en Chemise (or chemise dress or chemise a la reine).

marie-antoinette-vigee-le-brun1

A quick history lesson: when the French public first saw this portrait of Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun in the early 1780s it caused quite a scandal. People thought she was in her underwear because the fluffy white dress resembled a chemise (hence the name “the queen’s chemise”).

But the style caught on — with variations of course. The earliest incarnations consisted of long rectangles of cotton muslin gathered on drawstrings and tied with a sash or ribbon belt. Later they often had fixed gathers into a waistband, long slim sleeves, a structured back bodice, and sometimes they were made in other fabrics like silk or stripes.

P133-2T

The chemise dress was transitional style between the time of the extreme rococo dresses earlier in the century and the sleek, columnar dresses post-French revolution.

If you’d like to see some examples check out my Pinterest board.

My Dress:

1780s Chemise a la reine

I used the Robe en Chemise pattern from Laughing Moon Mercantile.

The fabric is some cheap cotton I bought from Fabric Wholesale Direct. It’s certainly not the best quality but it is light, loosely woven, and semi-sheer.

I made the version with the full gathers in front and back, low neckline, long sleeves, and no train. I added double ruffles at the neckline for maximum floofiness.

It is mostly machine sewn with the exception of hand blind hems on the sleeves and skirt, and rolled hems on the ruffles.

I bought some taffeta from Pure Silks that I ripped it into 6in wide strips and sewed a sash that’s about 5 yards long.

Under layers:

Underneath the dress I’m wearing two 18th century style white muslin petticoats (like the middle one I’m wearing here).

1780s Chemise a la reine

Below that are my 18th-century strapless stays and my regency era chemise.

Accessories:

I made a short, coral bead necklace — a popular accessory in the late 18th/early 19th century.

1780s Chemise a la reine

I also have on ivory silk stockings and these American Duchess shoes with buckles.

1780s Chemise a la reine

I had decorated a cheap straw hat to go with the outfit, but I don’t love it. It’s too heavy and limp to keep its shape and because of the windy weather, the feathers kept falling out even though I had stitched down both them and the matching blue sash. I ditched it for most of the picnic.

Hair and make-up:

1780s Chemise a la reine

I bought a wonderful cosmetic “starter set” from Litttle Bits on Etsy. They recreate actual cosmetic recipes from the era.

For hair, I attempted to do a “hedgehog” style which is basically an 18th-century white girl afro. I slept in foam rollers to curl my hair, then teased the hell out of it. I used the Litttle Bits pomatum and powder to add texture and lighten the color, pinned my hair up in back a bit, and doused my whole head in enough hairspray to light a house on fire.

1780s Chemise a la reine

It’s not as big as I would like. For once my hair is actually a little too long to do a historical hairstyle properly.

Well, this post is long enough so I’ll wrap it up. Thanks to all the DFWCG people who were so nice and welcoming to me. I had a great time and I’m already looking forward to future events.