Sunday, September 29, 2013

My latest obsession: Chokha!

One of the things I love about following costuming blogs & pintrest sites is that I find out about so much that I didn't know about.  I was taking a facebook break from sewing on Saturday and someone posted an album of pictures of the Georgian national garment, the choka....  and it was obsession at first sight for me!

(there are much more interesting pictures of chokha out there but darned if I can managed to link to any of them)

I knew Jay needed one (even if he wasn't so sure) and I set about scouring the web for a pattern.  Normally, my google fu is pretty formidable but a couple of hours and the best I could come up with was a comment on the Reconstructing History facebook page asking if there were any plans for a pattern and a pic of a cutting diagram from a book (no measurements of course) from With the limited time I have to sew  (and the amount of other projects I have planned) drafting something workable from the cutting diagram was not something I was looking forward to.  And let's not even talk about the applique on the front.  That was going to take a lot of experimentation.

Finally, I decided the chokha would have to be a long term project and decided to call it a night.  Still, visions of chokha danced in my head as I went upstairs and I decided to check out the out of print Folkwear 503 pattern for a Cossack coat that I'd bought kind of on a whim from Amazon Dry Goods a couple of weeks ago.  I vaguely remembered the coat being the same shape as the chokha..  maybe it would be a jumping off point and save me having to draft from the diagram.....

Rummaging through the men's pattern bin in the sewing room, I find the Cossack coat pattern...  and damned it I don't realize that it's not just a good starting point to work from...  it is a chokha, down to the applique on the front  (for which directions are included in the pattern).

The serendipity for this (considering that I haven't had any interest in Russian/Eastern European for years and the pattern is out of print)  is mindboggling.  I clearly should have played the lottery on Saturday.

There may be a chokha in Jay's future after all...whether he wants one or not! :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

New Boots!

I had a pair of Victorian looking granny boots that I wore to death in my LARP days.   I loved them enough to pack in my LARP wardrobe that moved 3 times with me even though I haven't been to a VtM LARP in years.  (I came to the realization that while I loved the whole concept of LARPing..  it inevitably lead to meta game interpersonal drama that I hated more than I loved LARPing)

When we started thinking about Steampunk, I pulled them back out and realized just how battered they were.

Jay bought a pair of riding boots for his aviator outfit that needed stretched so when we went to a cobbler that was highly rated on Yelp, I brought along my beloved boots, hoping for a miracle.  What I heard was $110 to resole and reheel them and he couldn't do anything about the hole in the toe.

So it was time to think about new boots (and fast, because I'd been planning on wearing these to Sunday in the Park at Oakland Cemetery on October 6).

While I desperately wanted a pair of Tavistocks, the pure historical accuracy was almost a deterrent for me.  They were gorgeous, but I knew doing up all those buttons was going to be a nightmare. (especially since my ankles tends to be a bit thick) so Tavistocks were probably not a decent investment for me  (darn it!).  But I wanted something more substantial than the flimsy little goth-steampunk boots  I was finding (and with a heel I could comfortably spend the day walking in)

so I engaged in some google fu and came upon a company called Oak Tree Farms, who were western boot makers that did a "wedding" line.  Behold my new boots!

I'm pretty happy with them.  I wore them around the house for a few hours and they're actually very comfortable.  I know the western heel isn't entirely authentic, but I'm willing to give in on that point for shoes that I'm comfortable in all day.

And Ziyi approves of the box they came in.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stretch Goals

So I was doing really well with having an outfit ready for Sunday in the Park.  I'd been toying with adding a late Victorian shoulder cape to the outfit, but decided not to push my luck.  Then I realized that the upcoming Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #20 was outerwear; it ended the day after Sunday in the Park and I had some black silk dupioni that wasn't earmarked for anything in particular.

So I guess there's a shoulder cape in my future after all!

I'm going to be "drafting" the pattern myself.  I've made enough full circle cloaks in my SCA merchanting days that I should be ok.  *crosses fingers*

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Black velvet Steampunk arm garters

These were a little side project for my Steampunk chemise.  Historically accurate?  Not for women. Still, they were a fun little bit of fluff to make and I love multiple textures of a single colour.   *ponders*  and it would look also look good against a red or burgundy chemise....   and that would mean I would need another corset.....  :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Saga of the Chemise

So I had a red silk corset that I  bought at Dragon Con to use for a Steampunk outfit.   What was I going to wear under it? That was the million dollar question.

After looking at a lot of pictures of women's "Steampunk" fashion on Pinterest, I decided that an achievable goal would be a chemise..  more Ren Faire than pure Victorian, but I had recently become enamoured of both Regency "Marie" sleeves and some sleeves in Alexander McQueen's pre-fall 2013 collection.  (and hey...  if I am going to radically mix periods like that, why do it half heartedly? :)

from Alexander McQueen's pre fall 2013 collection

Marie sleeves

I wore Italian Renaissance when I was in the SCA and I had made many, many renaissance chemises. This project would be a snap, even messing about with the sleeves!  (I should have known then that those would be famous last words)

I bought a cotton/linen blend from and was pretty happy with how it washed up (altho it was nowhere near the "handkerchief" weight it was listed as)  and figured that I could knock this out in an evening or two.  Unfortunately, this was a project that just didn't want to play nice.    But I finally got it to a point that I could live with the look of the finished garment (as long as I didn't think about the fixes I'd had to implement to correct issues during construction).  At some point I know I'm going to end up re-doing the whole thing, but it's something to wear to Sunday in the Park.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Every girl needs a pretty hat

Now that I had a top hat, I was determined to dress it up.   But I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with it.  I had a bunch of millinery trimmings that I'd collected over the years, but there were just too many choices.  Did I want to use the black tulle, the coarser netting or the Russian millinery veiling? Feathers?  Were feathers and something else too much with the tulle?

Finally, I just decided to play until I got something I liked.  Ironically, I gave up that night, completely unsatisfied.  But when I took a look at it the next costuming session, I found that I liked what I'd come up with very much.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Since AnachroCon is over Valentine's Day weekend, they announced that they were going to have a 1940s swing dance and dinner event.  Swing dancing...  yay!    1940s costume, not so much.  I've never really cared for the 1940s look.  But ok... the next goal after Sunday in the Park is a 1940s dress.

Jay wanted to be iconic and dress as a sailor and have me dress as a 1940s nurse, but AnachroCon was using that picture in their promotions for the event, and I didn't want to be one of a dozen couples that had that "brilliantly original" idea.  (and I wasn't terribly keen on a nurse's uniform anyway)

Reconstructing History had some 1930s patterns (RH1314 and RH1319) (hey..  if I'm going to make something I have to at least like it, right?)  and a longer 1940s dress (RH1409) that had some promise but when I think of the 1940s, I think of prints, However, my google fu was weak and I was just having no luck finding anything that looked like a 1940s print in anything but quilting cotton.

Oh well, I decided to back burner the project at least until after Sunday in the Park.  Then I was in Gail K (the one decent fabric store I've found in Atlanta) and the woman cutting my fabric mentioned that they had a brand new store in Norcross (the suburb I happen to live in!)

So, of course, I had to check it out.  And lo and behold, what did I find in the middle of a rack of sari silk was this:

It had a retro 40s vibe, colours that weren't awful, a great hand (and a nice substantial feel..this wasn't flimsy blouse weight stuff) to it and better still, it was silk and not rayon.  Best of all, since there was a rip in one end and some fading, I got it for $8 a yard.  Sold.  I took the whole piece because it wasn't something I was likely to ever find again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trimming the skirt (or when to leave well enough alone)

It wasn't exactly buyer's remorse, but the skirt I bought at Dragon Con had some flaws.  The zipper (which was set in well enough) was a huge plastic coat zipper.  It was honking huge, but on the upside, this thing was never ever going to break.  It was just that sturdy)

The ruffles at the bottom of the skirt were also finished with a serger stitch that I wasn't thrilled about.   But I decided I could cover the serging with some trim and it would be OK.

Except that trim was a dark charcoal grey and not black, which brought into clear perspective the fact that the ruffles were nowhere near even lengthwise.  *sigh*  Without the trim, I hadn't even noticed.

But it would work until I got something better made (which would be after Sunday in the Park).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Afternoon at Dragon Con

Jay and I both ended up sleeping late (we'd taken the day as a vacation day, after all) and by the time we'd had brunch and were heading downtown, it was early afternoon.  The badge line for on site registration was much less arduous than the last time we were there and we had badges in about an hour.  We also pre-registered for next year so we can plan better next time.

Coming out of registration, we happened upon a table for AnachroCon, a local alternative history/Steampunk convention happening in February.  To give us another costuming goal to work towards, we pre-registered for that.  So 1 outfit for Sunday in the Park and another 2-3 for AnachroCon in February.  I can do this!

We agreed our first stop was the dealer's room....  well, building (there were at least 3 whole floors of dealers!).  Fighting the mad crowds through the first floor we saw many wondrous things (and, to be honest, a lot of junk)

Jay found a grey wool German officer's jacket that looked so good on him we had to buy it, although we have no immediate use for it, a brown leather officer's hat and a pair of goggles for his aviator costume.

I found a black leather top hat and a pair of opera glasses, but was decidedly unimpressed with any of the corsetry I was seeing for sale...  it was all rather flimsy and marginally constructed.  With about 30 minutes left until the dealer's room closed I ran across a booth for a Philadelphia fetish-ware store called Passional in the back corner of the 3rd floor.  The owner clearly knew her corsets and answered my  "tell me about your corsets" by telling me how many bones were in each one and that the bones were made of spring steel.  Before I knew it, she had me in a gorgeous red silk corset with spring steel boning that I knew was going to go home with me and a black ruffled hobble skirt that was too fun to resist.

By the time the dealer's room closed, we were starving.  After taking a look at the crowds at all the restaurants, we decided  that we were getting old and we really wanted to just catch MARTA home with all our loot and eat somewhere less crowded. So we did.