Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finishing the Hat... really this time!

I am happy to say I am succeeding at my goal of being better at blogging  -this will be my fourth post this month. :)  I am happier still to say I got some actual sewing (well, millinery) done this week. And I am happiest to say this was in service to a UFO I had on my list to finish.

Last year, I made an 1880s hat during Historical Sewing's Online Workshop  However, I'd never finished off the lining and had never really been happy with the feathers I used, so it sat unloved and soooo close to complete.  In the re-organization, I found some antique millinery feathers stranded away from the rest of the millinery box and thought they'd be perfect for the hat.

Today, I needed a handwork project to occupy my afternoon as we spent the afternoon playing Shadowrun at our place and the hat fit the bill.  And I can report that the hat is now complete and I can check it off my goals list!

Amazing what a little change of feathers can do! (Hat before below)

In other news, thanks to some Facebook serendipity, Jay and I have decided to explore the SCA (his first time, my first time back in 20 years..  how did I get so old!)  So he's been pouring over Pintrest trying to decide which eras have clothing he is interested in. So far he seems to Elizabethan, 16th century Hungarian, cotehardies and Viking...  in short just about anything but 15th century Italian.

But I'd been meaning to make the doublet that I never got done before Ren Fest, and since he likes Elizabethan, once the doublet is finished, he's already got an adequate set of first garb.  Yay!

I cut corners on what I wore to Ren Fest (I was really far more focused on what Jay was wearing than I was), so I have a lot to get done before our first event on June 27. I'm currently thinking I will stick with 15th or 16th century Italian.  And wouldn't you know, with all the fabric in the stash, so little is appropriate for pre-18th century.  So I get to feed my fabric addiction!  *manical laugh* can justify buying more fabric for the upcoming projects!

I also had an intriguing conversation at an Anniversary party we went to this weekend.  A friend wants a "duct tape gown" for an "Anything But Clothes" party at Dragon Con.  It's been a while since the "fabric engineer""in me got to come out and play, so I woke up thinking about what technique I'd use.  I am hoping said friend was sober enough to remember the conversation and really want to do it, because this could be an interesting project.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scope Creep (in which our Heroine enters into an orgy of organization)

It all began with having to move a bookcase four inches to the right.  *wry chuckle*

My Bernina sits on a 1930s enamel topped little table that I rescued from someone's trash when I was in college.  But with a second sewing machine again, I needed an additional sewing table.  So when Jay asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I wanted a sewing table and started doing some online research on exactly which one.

After ruling out all of the ridiculously expensive tables (seriously, do people actually buy the $700+ tables? If so, why?!?!)  I finally settled on this one from WalMart because  this one had drawers and was reasonably priced.  But since it was bigger than my existing table, I would need to move the bookcase slightly to accommodate it.

Jay laughingly said as he was putting the table together that rather than just move the bookcase 4" to the right, I would probably rearrange everything in the room to get the new table in its place.  In retrospect, he wasn't far off. Did I mention I can be a bit OCD?

Thus began a veritable orgy of organization. While I'd tidied it up in March; the sewing room was bursting at the seams (pun intended) with everything that was in it and the costume closet nearly exploded when I went to pull Jay's doublet out for Ren Faire. I really needed some additional storage space or better organization or..something.  So I started by trying to organize all the pieces parts and fiddly bits from the costume closet.  This quickly took over the whole sewing room.

And the pic above doesn't show all the costumes still hanging in the actual closet.  I'd often thought about moving the whole costume closet down to the cutting room err game room that I happen to have my cutting table in and getting some commercial clothing racks to corral the costumes we have. This seemed like the time to Just. Do. It.

Several trips  to the Container Store later, I had rendered a second room of the house temporarily unusable until I completed this project.  I'd found a book on Renaissance velvets with lots of pics from the V&A collection in the antique store where we bought my 1920 Singer, so I was daydreaming of 15th century Italy and itching to start a new project.

But thanks to the Memorial Day long weekend with no plans and working like a demon, (nothing like wanting to be able to sew again to motivate a girl!) I am happy to say that  everything is OCD organized and the costumes and all attendant fiddly bits are now happily sharing space with Jay's comic books and our collection of gaming books.

Better still, I  broke down and organized the shelves downstairs and refiled all the stray pattern pieces adding a hook to hang my drafting rules from, moved all my fabric for toiles down to the cutting room. did some framing that needed to be done.. and just generally kicked some arse, organizationally speaking. (Photo bomb in the pic below by Samuel L Catson)

The new sewing table next to the bookcase that started all this frenzy.

Now I just need to figure out what I want to sew!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Costumes for the Ren Fest..(Wherein our Heroine muses on costuming and the internet)

I am inordinately pleased to say that I actually accomplished one of my goals for the year:  costumes for Jay and I for the Georgia Renaissance Festival.  We went last weekend with our friends Robert and Bill.

Despite Jay having a leather jerkin and a leather doublet already, he decided it was too warm the day we went so he in just his shirt.(Georgia is an "authenticity lite" faire, so despite this huge sartorial faux pas, he was still one of the better dressed men there)  I'd been planning on doing him a doublet and a flat cap but I declared both of them out of scope 10 days before the faire and, sanity wise, I'm glad I did.  Not to mention the words we would have had if I rushed to finish a doublet and then he decided not to wear it!  Other than a minor disaster requiring a bit of hand sewing the morning we were getting dressed, I was done sewing the afternoon before.  No mad midnight frenzy of last minute sewing!

I plan to complete the doublet and cap this summer when we're not on a hard deadline and probably a pair of German style pluderhosen to go with his doublet flat cap

I thought Faire clothes would be a relatively comfortable project, since I'd done so much of this sort of sewing while I was in the SCA.  Unfortunately, I have none of the patterns I drafted during that period (I am still wondering where my sanity was when I gave them away rather than move them *sigh*) So when I started this whole project, I pulled out my previous go-to reference for Elizabethan costuming...

..and found it sadly wanting.  Which got me to thinking about how much costuming has changed with the Internet. When I started costuming in the SCA, other than the Period Patterns line (which you could only buy if you ran into Medieval Miscallanea at an SCA event) there were no patterns. I learned quickly to recognize the lines of the garment I wanted to make and to franken-pattern from commercial patterns available (assuming I could find one in my size) and fake the rest.  It wasn't a whole lot better for later time periods, either.  In 1989, I was over the moon to find the original Amazon Dry Goods catalog (I was even lucky enough to visit  the old store in Davenport, IA)  When I got my hands on a print copy of the Whole Costumer's Catalogue, I thought I'd died and went to heaven.

In 2015, it's such a different world! There are so many small press pattern companies  offering historical patterns now. Admittedly, some better than others but there are several pattern review sites I can read opinions from people that have used the pattern already. Major museums are putting their collections online so I can research in the middle of the night in my pajamas rather than having to fund a trip to go to the V&A. (or the Met, or the Kent State Museum.).  I can keep track of my research on Pintrest and access it anywhere I have access to the 'net. (like in the fabric store where I want to check a key detail)  If I get lazy, I can buy a finished piece from Etsy.

While I still desperately rue my lack of having a local "fitting buddy" I am still a bit in awe of the plethora of resources available for costuming these days.  And, I can't help thinking a bit wistfully, that I wish I was 20 years younger.  Maybe I wouldn't take that 20 year hiatus if I was making the decision now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A new sewing machine .....x2

It all started last month with my incorrigible habit of inserting myself into interesting conversations in public places. I was in Hancock Fabrics looking for waistband interfacing when I heard one of the clerks say:  "....  well, Tardis blue is a really pretty shade of royal blue..  I have no idea what I am going to do with it, but it was so buttery soft that I had to buy all of it!"

To which I said:  "Oh the Tandy leather sale?"    And found myself chatting with said clerk.  Who as it turns out works part time at God Save the Queen Fashions which is a small costume studio specializing in cosplay costumes.  Really Really Really good cosplay costumes.

And  GSTQ offers classes on weekends!  Classes on things like corset making techniques, glove making, wig care and styling and pattern alteration.  While I would consider myself far more on the historical side than the cosplay side of costuming, any sort of  opportunity to improve my skills by learning from someone is extremely welcome.  My costuming support network is entirely online and I have sorely missed being face to face with costuming folk..

But I was a little concerned about carting my Bernina back and forth.  It has been an absolute work horse and, in the five years I've had it, hasn't given me any trouble that re-threading the machine and the bobbin couldn't solve.  I didn't want to jinx it.

I'd been idly thinking about buying a second sewing machine for a while..  because if the Bernina did give me trouble,  it would be at the worst possible moment and I would be dead in the water.  And getting a truly portable machine that I could take to classes was the extra rationalizat justification that I needed to start looking at a second machine.

Me being me, my web research quickly discarded the $100ish Project Runway model and lead me to a Pfaff Passport 2.0.  Thirteen pounds light, did as much, if not more than my Bernina and was universally loved by quilters to take back and forth to quilting classes.  I have never quilted in my life (and don't intend to start) but it seemed to indicate that the machine was good with being moved frequently.

So I bought myself a new machine as an early birthday present.  And it was a timely early present, because my Bernina stopped sewing the Sunday before we were going to the Georgia Ren Fest and our garb was far from done!

Today, through a series of extremely serendipitous events, I acquired my second machine today: a beautiful 1920 Singer treadle.

The place we were going for my birthday brunch lost our reservations and since it was already overflowing because of Mother's Day, we opted for Plan B:  my favorite diner (the Landmark Jr) which happens to be just down the street from my favorite antique mall (Antiques and Beyond) I think that a third of our house has come from there over the years.  we can't ever seem to leave empty handed.  And today, in the very last row of the mall, there she amazing condition. According to the dealer, other than needing a belt, she works.

After a brief consultation, she met the "where will we put it?" question which is our primary criterion for antique buying.  Better still, the dealer was in need of space and accepted my opening offer of 33% under his asking price without a blink. Best of all, she fit in the back of our Jetta Sportwagen.

So now she is safely ensconced in a corner of our living room with Lucy, my 1914 dressmaker's form that I've had since college.

I'm not sure how much sewing she will actually see, but she is just the sort of interesting antique that our decor is comprised of, so she fits in perfectly.