Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday in the Park

So Jay and I decided sort of last moment to go to Dragon Con for a day next weekend..  of course, too late to do anything but go in mundane clothes.  (Right now the costume closet consists pretty much of a bunch of VtM LARP stuff I don't fit in any more and some kimono from our days LARPing L5R)

But we did decide that our first costuming goal was Sunday in the Park at Oakland Cemetery in early October.

Sunday in the Park is an annual  "Victorian Street Festival" that's been going on in the historic Oakland Cemetery in downtown Atlanta since 1979.  We went last year but didn't dress so this is a good first costuming goal.  One outfit for each of us and 6 weeks to manage it.  I can do this! (I hope)

Some pictures of beautifully dressed strangers from last year's Sunday in the Park

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kimono and other things Japanese

A couple of years ago, Jay and I got involved in a living campaign for Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) roleplaying game, which has a fantasy feudal Asian setting.  The thought of looking like a sausage an modern Kimono and obi was what initially motivated me to buy a sewing machine again and clear out a spare bedroom for a sewing room.

After doing a lot of research, I came across this picture (I don't remember the source at this point) and realized that the juni-hitoe of Heian period Japan was my salvation.

Better still, I found that Reconstructing History had patterns to make the whole outfit! I made the mistake of not using natural fibers for the first attempt and immediately regretted it.

But Jay and I had the opportunity to go to Taiwan for his cousin's wedding several years ago and here is attempt #2 done in some of the luscious silk brocade that I picked up for (I kid you not!) $7 USD a yard!  The Yong Le market is a fabric nirvana.  I ended up bring back 84 yards of silk brocade (and had to buy another suitcase to get it all home)

The finished outfit (with Ziyi photobombing the picture)

Fabrics:  all 100% silk
Level of historical accuracy:   Nominal.  I was going more for the feeling of the art in the game books and CCG cards that pure historical accuracy.

Shape and lines of of the kosode (under robe) the nagabakama (pants) and the uchigi (robe) are accurate.  I've read some research that suggests that the authentic fabric would be a lighter weight silk, more like organza (since the uchigi were layered on top of each other to as many as 12 worn at a time.  (juni-hitoe leterally means twelve layer robe).  And the L5R game has very specific colours assigned to each family, so I was pretty much stuck with turquoise and white.

I have a second uchigi cut out to use the other side of the fabric (gold with a turquoise design) that I planned to use as an under robe.  But we stopped enjoying the campaign and fell out of playing, so I never got it finished.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My costuming philosophy

While I am a firm advocate of research (and could and do spend hours researching)  what I really enjoy is the "design" part -bringing the look I imagine to life and recreate it exactly. Whether it's an actual extant dress or something that only exists in my head.

And I'm getting back into costuming because I enjoy it.  I have a high stress "real life" job and costuming is a relaxing activity I get to indulge in a couple of evenings a week.

This time around I want to play with fabrics that please me and occasionally dress up in pretty outfits that I've made/ designed. The historical accuracy will probably vary wildly from project to project.

I will probably never completely hand sew a garment.

I will probably buy things like corsets because I can find good ones and I don't find corset making fun. (I did it for my thesis project...  it's a beast and really its own art)

I will probably rip out as many seams as I sew while I'm remembering things I haven't done in years.

I may get brave and try to recreate a certain black and pink Worth dress that has remained in my head for years.  

But I will have fun doing it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My furry assistants

Every costumer needs a cat to interfere with  assist them in their endevours.  Well, I have 4.  Mercury, Ziyi, Miyuki and Samuel L. Catson (Sam)

Miyuki couldn't care less about the sewing room door opening.  She can't be arsed to wander upstairs to inspect.

Mercury is nominally interested in the sewing room.  If I've been in there "too long" he will wander in and meow until I stop and reassure him with some petting.

Ziyi, on the other hand,  finds something both fascinating and unsettling about that door opening and me being in "that strange room that only appears sometimes."  She needs to keep a close eye on me when I'm in there and frequently demand attention, scolding me till I stop what I am doing and pet her.

And then there is Sam.  Sam also needs a lot of reassurance when I am in the sewing room.  Only he launches himself into my arms from the ground, which can be rather awkward when my hands are full of fabric.  Sam also loves  sabotaging  helping me cut out pattern pieces.    To Sam, if it moves, it's a toy!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Sewing Room

We are lucky enough to have enough space that I have a whole room devoted to collecting fabric..err  sewing. Below is my storage wall, complete with Lucy, the 1914 dummy who I found for  $100 in an antique store in college and who has traveled with me ever since.  The sign is from my old SCA business and the poster is from a Cleveland Ballet production that I actually worked on.

My idea boards.  Full of things that interest me, project pictures and the occasional oddity that has no other home.

My Bernina, and my research shelves (that also house my collection of Maneki Neko and my collection of Rabbit (from Pooh) )

Unfortunately, there is not room for a cutting table so I have to use our dining room table. Which is at least, nice and long, altho I long for a real costume shop style homosote table covered in muslin that I can stick draper's pins in to hold patterns down.