Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rhinestones are a Girl's Best Friend!

Life here is crazy busy at the moment.  We leave for our first ballroom dance competition on Wednesday and between work (which is more of a madhouse than usual), the usual errands required to be a nominally responsible adult. extra practice time and all of the girly things to be done in preparation for the comp (practice spray tan to buy foundation, hair cut/colour, mani-pedi, running around trying to find hair adornments with fushia/purple stones (harder than I thought!), fake hair, and an afternoon at the mall including a Sephora spree for more cosmetics), I am pretty much fitting everything in like a jigsaw puzzle.

My dress.  It's a Dore Designs gown...  I didn't make it, just used my dummy in the sewing room to photograph it.

All of that doesn't leave much for sewing, unfortunately.  My current projects are my 1880s corset for class and my Art challenge for the Historical Sew Fortnightly. Neither of which will get any significant time devoted to them until Memorial Day.  

But speaking of the HSF, I was astoundingly flattered to find that my 1920s rhinestone heeled dancing shoes made the Dreamstress's list of favorites for the Fairy Tale challenge.  I often feel like a country mouse seeing all the amazing things that people submit for challenges, so little moments like this really mean a lot to me.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

HSF #9: Black and White

Ironically, I am out of my sewing slump, just in time to have to focus on an entirely different sort of costuming for a few weeks.  Jay and I have our first ballroom dance competition coming up over Memorial Day weekend and oh my, the details to be settled before it.  Per my teacher, it's not just dancing involved, it's presenting an entire image.  As a costumer, I understand that...  but it somehow feels far sillier and artificial than lacing into a corset and doing historical costuming.

Anyway, between that and wrestling with corset mockup #2 for my corset class (that saga probably deserves its own post), the black and white book patterned silk 1940s dress which was my original plan for the challenge, clearly wasn't going to happen. But, being me, I couldn't just skip the challenge.  I love black!  And I'd still obsessed with black and white stripes, but darn it, I'd submitted my 1880s hat for the Tops and Toes challenge.  Then browsing Pintrest  doing "non-specific" research late one evening, I came across this picture of a fan from the mid 19th century.

And I thought...  hey.. in black and white that would make a great challenge entry.  Only, my freehand painting is pretty rusty.  But a stencil!   So I ordered a white silk fan and a stencil or two from Amazon  (Amazon Prime's free two day shipping is da bomb!) and was off and running, I thought.  I took a look at  Dharma Trading for silk paint and got a little baffled at what exactly I would need (silk painting is apparently far more complex than fabric painting..  who knew!) but Michael's had a silk painting kit on their website, so off to Michael's it was. Of course, the Michael's store did not carry said silk painting kit, so I ended up with a black fabric marker and would have to just hope for the best.

The fan, when it arrived, was definitely more ivory than white, but there was nothing to be done about that.  Determining the design was an easy enough process of sketching out the shape of the fan on paper and using the stencils to lay out each motif in a harmonious pattern.

Except that putting the stencils on the fan itself wasn't as easy as putting them on paper.  The fan wasn't perfectly flat and it's natural inclination was to close up a bit. So it was off to the cutting table where I used a few pins to keep the fan open and relatively taut for stencilling.  The next difference was that the stencils stuck to the paper much better than the silk but with some manuevering I got the first motif stencilled in successfully.

 This might actually work!

 The ever helpful Samuel L. Catson, supervising.

 Pretty pleased with the finished product.

 Until I saw the mess that the marker left on the top of the cutting table. Oh well.

 The finished fan in the light.

I'd been a bit worried that the fabric marker would bleed too much on the silk,  but it just softens the edges nicely.  I'm now inspired to buy more colours of these fabric markers to try the stencilling on silk organza for a Heian Period karaginu-mo...

So I'm feeling all pleased with myself, having finished the challenge five days early, and I go back to my original inspiration picture and realize that its from etsy, so essentially I have zero documentation for this (now completed) project.  But how hard can finding documentation on this be?  Well, after a good 4 hours of googling, trying the Met collection, V & A online, the Kent State Fashion Museum Collection and even the MAK and going through my own collection, I am forced to believe that my original source was either total misinformation or very non-standard for the mid 19th century.  

I can find hand painted fans and that painting fans was an acceptable ladylike pastime for genteel young ladies. But none look stencilled and the painting style is significantly different from my design. And let's not go into the style of the sticks. I thought about not submitting at all, since this is for the Historical Sew Fortnightly, but decided I would submit as a cautionary tale to always make sure you finish documentation before you start the project. *sigh*  Still, its a pretty fan.

The Challenge:  #9  Black and White
Fabric: silk and bamboo
Pattern: none
Year: possibly mid 19th century?
Notions: stencil, Marvy fabric marker
How historically accurate is it:  See above post
Time to complete:  2.5 hours for laying out the test design and then actually stenciling the fan.  Another 4 or so trying to document.
First worn:  not yet
Cost:  $15     ($4 for the stencil, $3 for the fabric marker, $8 for the fan itself)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

HSF #8: UFOs (Un-Finished Objects)

I am still mired in my sewing slump.  This is week three and I tried to make myself do some sewing to see if that would kick start my passion again. No such luck, but I did manage to finish something for the UFO challenge.

This winter I'd gotten behind in the Victorian Undergarments class I was taking and chose to move on to the next project to (try to) keep up with the class, even though I hadn't completed the drawers project.  Two classes later, they were still unfinished (but halfway done) so I thought it would be a manageable challenge for unmotivated me. Still, I am three days late finishing this challenge. *wry chuckle*

The challenge:  #8  UFO

Fabric: some lovely cotton lawn from Dharma Trading Company.  It has a soft broken in feel, like a favorite nightgown after only one washing. Also some cotton eyelet and embroidered trim from my stash.

Pattern: Truly Victorian 102 Chemise and Drawers

Year: 1880s

Notions: thread, grosgrain ribbon, 2 plastic buttons

How historically accurate is it?  60%  Pattern is accurate, but its mostly machine sewn (including the buttonholes), the buttons were plastic and the grosgrain was poly.

Hours to complete:  hard to count since its a UFO

First worn:  Not yet, perhaps never.  The complete openness of this garment, while historically accurate, does not appeal to me.

Total cost:  maybe $20 for the fabric (originally) everything else was from stash