Friday, June 23, 2017

1920s Elsewhen Millinery Sybil hat take 2

Madame Mimi's amazing vintage 1920s tablecloth hat.

The first version of Sybil I made almost two years ago. I used yellow silk taffeta. So technically I have already reviewed this pattern. However I could not resist making this lovely again for an up coming 1920s-1930s picnic.

Hands down this is probably one of the most well drafted hat patterns I have ever worked with. All the pieces fit together without any finessing.
I have made quite a few hats and let me tell you some of the patterns out there are bad. Big 4, I'm looking at you. I have literally had a 1 inch difference between crown and brim to finesse. I don't like that. It makes me stabby.

Size and materials:
This pattern goes up to a size 25 head. Truly wonderful. I have a 23.25 inch head so most "one size" hats and patterns don't fit. Since this hat needs to sit all the way down on my head I use the size 24.

I found this old tablecloth at the thrift store about a year ago. Beautifully cross stitched, stained and faded in spots. I don't know why I bought it. It may have been the bright happy colors of the embroidery threads. Or that little voice in my head that says "you can use this for something".

Needless to say because of all the fading and stains I had to do some serious fussy cutting. My second  concern was there were 8 motifs on the tablecloth but they weren't all the same. With a 6 piece crown I knew 2 crown pieces wouldn't match. Oh well, my work is never about perfection. I gather up my creative inspiration and just go with it. I decided to match the 4 front and side pieces and put the non matching ones on the back. The brim also had to be cut with some of the cross stitch design on it. I fused a crisp woven interfacing to all the crown pieces and used a heavyweight home decor interfacing for one of the brim pieces.

RST=right sides together
WST=wrong sides together
The pattern maker gives you 2 options on finishing the wired brim. Method 1 is to sew the brim RST and insert the wire afterwards. Method 2 is to stitch the brim WST, attach the wire and use bias tape to finish off the brim. You will have to sew the bias on by hand. The first Sybil I made I did the insert the wire into brim method. It was not fun. You can't attach the brim until after you have wired it. That was a huge pain in the ass. I wound up hand stitching the brim on because it was super awkward to run through my machine. So this time I used the bias tape method. It was so much easier. You can attach the brim BEFORE you wire it. What a difference! Even though you need to stitch on the bias tape by hand, it was worth it. I also use petersham ribbon as my hat band instead of fabric. I just stitch it in by hand and when it gets soiled I can always change it out.

I really like my tablecloth hat. The shape of Sybil is very flattering and the brim gives some sun protection. There was no reason to add any additional decoration because of all the pretty handwork. I would like to think the person who made this tablecloth would be pleased with the repurposing of it. Or they are rolling in the grave cursing my name for abusing their tablecloth.

You can see the beginning of my non matching panels in the back. That little bit of not perfect makes me love my hat even more.

ElsewhenMillinery is on Etsy. They sell both hats and hat patterns. :-) 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Harlots and Angels Versailles Corset

Yep. One picture. That's all I got. I had been asked to help out at the Brass Screw Steampunk event that takes place in Port Townsend, Washington. I worked will call at the hootenanny, because fun. :-) However, that also means I am too busy for pictures. Boo.

PDF Harlots and Angels Versailles corset/bodice size range 32-34-36 waist.  This is an actual corset that will give you waist reduction. The measurements are for the corset laced fully closed. Also, make sure when you print out the pattern you size it down to 100%. I think it comes in at about 126% PDF format. If you don't resize it your garment is going to be huge.

Under layer, 10oz black denim. Fashion fabric black/ivory cotton sateen.

I figured with a 37 inch waist the size 34 would give me ample reduction. My muslin told me different. I am calling it a muslin to save face ha! I tissue fitted this pattern (mistake) and jumped right in to construction. I had almost finished it and when I tried it on it was too big. Garrrrrr! On the plus side I had all the boning pre cut, there was my silver lining. I sized down to the 32 and figured I would baste the side seams (between pieces 2 & 3) last. Just to make fitting easier.

SA=seam allowance.
She is asking you to build a 3 layer corset. 1 layer of fashion fabric (outer layer), 1 layer of tightly woven underlining, and a heavy duck or coutil for lining. You will be using the lining layer to make your final boning channels.

The seam allowances are printed as 7/8 inches on the pattern pieces but in the instructions she says 3/4. I went with 7/8. There is no real SA information on binding the corset. I used a 1/2 inch SA. Also only the back pattern piece tells you where to end the boning channels. I was not sure about the rest. If you use spiral boning it will lay limp so I wasn't too worried about it messing with the drape of the peplum.

I will admit I find her method of corset building very laborious and her busk insertion method even more so. I pulled out my trusty Basics of Corset Building by Linda Sparks. This is my go to book on making corsets. Ok, off we go!

My changes:
I made a 2 layer unlined corset. Please bear in mind that whatever you line/underline this corset with will show because of the peplum. Since I alternated my fashion layer (solid, stripe, solid, stripe etc etc..) I used the black and ivory stripe as my underlining on the solid pieces and solid black underlining on my striped pieces. Even though I hate using my seam allowances as boning channels I decided to go that route due to time constraints. I serged all my SA and top stitched them down. I went with the book instructions and did a 1/2 inch top stitch VS pattern instructions of 3/8 an inch. One little mistake with a 3/8 inch boning channel will mean you can't fit the bone in. 1/2 inch gives me some wiggle room. I also used the book instructions on busk insertion.

Fitting adjustments:
Fairly minimal. I am short waisted. I was surprised I didn't need to adjust the waist length. If you have a longer torso you may need to. Between pieces 2 & 3 I took in the bust line seam about 1/2 inch total for a closer fit over my boobs. I let out the waist seam about 3/4 an inch total. Of course I needed to shorten the shoulder straps. That really was all I did. Because of the alterations to seams 2 & 3 I did use bone casing tape for that SA. All total I have about a 2 inch lacing gap in the back. That is my ideal.

Final thoughts:
So after I put it all together and tried it on I realized that Versailles must literally translate to "show the king your nipples" Ha! No, really this is very low cut. If I sneezed my boobs would have popped out. Also it is not much on boob support. So I wore my "makes me mean" uncomfortable AF push up bra and a black lace cami.
Not for a beginner. Make a couple basic corsets and find a method that you like and use it.
The only thing I would change when I make this again are the straps. I will do them 18th century style with grommets and lacing string at the front, instead of buttons. That way they are more adjustable. I do recommend this pattern for intermediate and up. I adore the finished product! Oh, and yes, you can make it like the pattern picture without the busk. Just adjust the seam/fold allowance and cut the pattern piece on the fold of fabric.
Also you will be doing some trimming along the bottom and top once the corset is sewn together to even things out a bit. Don't let that freak you out. The waist line markings don't really match up and there are no notches to help with matching the seams properly. It is what it is. Just go with the flow. That was easily 12 hours of work with my short cut methods. Her method would probably push you into the 16 hour range.

My cute pirate hat. Simplicity 8361 view D. About 3 hours of work. Skip the lining and use grosgrain ribbon as your hat band. Trim it however you want.

If I have the energy this week I will put this damn thing back on and take a few more pictures. I am wearing my Truly Victorian Umbrella skirt I made for VicFest and my little black bolero I made for my blue 50s dress. It's very satisfying to use existing parts of my wardrobe and just add to them. I also may just go ahead and wear this to The Siren's Ball at the end of July. Pirates and mermaids go together, right?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Truly Victorian TV456 1850s gathered front day dress

Well, it's about time I reviewed this pattern. I haven't felt much like blogging lately. My sweet little MinPin Havoc passed away at the end of April and I am still very sad. Some days I feel ok and then I get hit with a wave of sadness in my heart. I know in time it will get easier to deal with. He really was my special little friend and I miss him so.

Fort Nisqually was putting on a Queen Victoria's birthday celebration on May 20th. I decided it was time to make an icky green dress for the event. I do not possess a cage crinoline and really don't want to make one. I decided on TV456 because I figured I could get away with no crinoline and just use corded petticoats and a cheater net crinoline.

1856 dress for day or evening. Fan front gathers, dropped shoulder full pleated skirt. I used my normal TV size  G back and I front. I had 10 yards of this ick green cotton that I bought for a bustle dress but that never happened. When cotton is on a flash sale and it's 2.99 a yard you get 10 yards. Am I right or what!!

Anything after Regency and before the bustle are a mystery for me in regards to fitting. That dropped shoulder... I did my standard alterations, 1/2 inch tuck in the upper back, let darts out 1/4 inch, shortened the upper bodice length 1.75 inches. Normally I shorten TV skirts by about 2 inches. With dropped shoulder patterns I normally take about 1 inch off the shoulder area.

Fairly straight forward. I didn't have any issues. The bodice gathering is fussy but I expected that. The skirt is pleated and easy to do. I sewed my skirt to the bodice but if I make it again I will just make it into a separate skirt.

Final thoughts:
It makes a very pretty dress. This would be fantastic in taffeta. I managed to not need a hoop but the dress would look much better with one. Both center back pattern pieces are labeled as lining. One is the lining the other is the fashion fabric. The gathering on the center back piece is pretty minuscule. If I make this dress again I will not bother with the gathering and just use the lining piece.

As usual the Countess and I had a good time at Fort Nisqually.

 Such a demure lady...

 My partner in crime The Countess

 Oooooooo someone is playing with Lucifers (matches)

 Staring longingly at the marble bust of husband number 4. For some reason my husbands keep falling down the stairs and dying. I'm now on the lookout for husband number 5.

 The dining room

 The parlor.

 Some of the historical re-enactors.

 Havoc the rescue MinPin. From ??? to April 2017
You are missed.

RIP my Havoc aka SweetBabyLuvMuffins. You were my doggie soul mate and I will see you again someday.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Butterick 4918 Retro 50's evening gown

So I decided to make a retro 1950s dress for the Vampires Ball PDX this time around. I wanted something ankle length and easy to dance in. After going through my pattern stash I decided on Butterick 4918.

Circa 1952 evening dress. Fitted boned bodice with fabric drape across the bust. Full gored skirt, floor length. Sizes 6-20.

I was gifted with 8 yards of excellent quality blue/black shot taffeta. Yay! I decided to add some sparkle with a net overlay that was studded with faux sequins. You can find this stuff at JoAnns in their novelty netting section. It is fairly inexpensive and I was on a budget.

Sizing and alterations:
I chose size 20 based on the finished garment measurements. I figured I would need to take it in just a bit in the bust and let it out a bit in the waist. I was exactly right. From the bust apex up I took it in about 3/4 of an inch. I let out the waist 3/4 of an inch. I shortened the skirt by 2 inches, I'm 5 ft 4 inches barefoot. However, I did neglect to make a corresponding bust adjustment to the bodice drapes along the top seam line. So that part became a bit fiddly when I attached it. But I made it work.

Putting it together:
Easy. The instructions were easy to follow and it went together quickly.

End notes:
This is a really pretty dress! It was easy to wear and I received many compliments. Flattering for a broad size range. Again, if you are expecting it to look like the envelope art you will need a very fluffy crinoline. I used Simplicity 3737 view C. It really makes the dress look fabulous. Also the wider/fuller the skirt the smaller your waist looks.

I made a cummerbund (no pattern). It closes with hooks and eyes. I used Decades of Style Sleek Sleeved bolero pattern circa 1940s. A very easy make. I had run out of the blue taffeta so I just used black broadcloth and a layer of my sequined novelty netting. I made my headdress using a headband, roses, leaves, butterflies, netting and feathers. I decided on blue and burnt orange for my headdress colors. My shoes (not shown) were a 1940s style peep toe platform. 3 inch heel + 1/2 inch platform = 2.5 inch heel. That is as good as it gets for my middle aged feet.

We had a great time at the ball. As a retired goth it's nice to dance to some good music and have a couple drinks. My BFF and I will definitely go back next year.

The picture on the right shows the dress with a nice full crinoline. What a difference it makes.

 My sexy BFF! Patterns I used, McCall's Shape Shifter corset, Harlots and Angels hobble skirt and Vogue 9016 view C bolero.
 Melody Ballrom Portland Oregon

 Me and Ms. Smolder ;-) Rawr!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Simplicity 3737 Crinoline for my 1950s dress

Gearing up for The Vampires Masquerade PDX 2017 in a couple weeks I decided to make a 1950s taffeta dress. A friend had gifted me with 8 yards of good quality blue/black taffeta. So yummy! I decided to go with Butterick 4918. I'm not reviewing 4918 yet because I want to get some good pictures of the dress.

Once I finished the dress I knew I would need a big full crinoline. I have had this OOP Simplicity pattern 3737 forever and view C was the perfect length for my 4918 dress.

Crinolines of different lengths and ruffle butt panties. I chose View C and ordered my 16 yards of crinoline netting. The pattern also wants you to purchase 40 yards of ribbon for ruffle trim. I prefer to use Xtra wide double fold bias tape for my crinolines. It gives a nice finish to the scratchy netting and a bit more body to the ruffles. Happily Vogue Fabrics sells it BTY in black and white. Yay! I ordered that too.

Side notes:
I have made two other crinolines from crinoline netting. I have only seen crinoline netting in black and white. I did make another fluffy petticoat that is a combination of poly organza, specialty netting (a stiffer netting that comes in some colors). However, I do not recommend this "specialty netting" because it's horrible to gather. Last but not least is el cheapo 72 inch wide netting that comes in a rainbow of colors. The grannies like to crochet this stuff into dish scrubbies. Needless to say it is very scratchy and more flexible than standard crinoline netting. However my poly organza petticoat is kinda hot to wear, so not my favorite.
I don't use tulle at all and I haven't tried nylon chiffon since I can't source it locally. Nylon chiffon makes fabulous petticoats. It's soft and super fluffy, in a way that tulle can only aspire to. Some of the prettiest petticoats you can purchase at Malco Modes are nylon chiffon. So yummy!

Pattern alterations:
I used size 20 and shortened it by 2 inches. I tend to cut my waistband elastic smaller that the pattern recommends. It's like they want you to cut it at exactly your waist size and what good is that? My waist is 37 so I cut the elastic to 34. No other alterations.

Instructions and construction:
The instructions are fairly clear. I used the diagrams a lot for this project. Some of the sewing is counter intuitive. Wrong sides together, wrong side to right side. Basically in the end you have a two layer crinoline with all the scratchy seams facing each other in the middle.

End notes:
It went together perfectly. This is a very labor intensive project because of all the cutting and gathering. I did use my gathering foot instead of a long basting stitch. It worked just fine and made it a bit quicker to finish. Just be warned this thing gets very fluffy and cumbersome as you sew it together. Be patient, the end result is worth it.

I decided to add some pink ribbon trim and pretty rosettes.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cosplay McCall's Shape Shifter Corset pattern M2032

I like the Cosplay McCall's patterns for the most part. The designs are fun and they are nicely packaged. I have several of their patterns and look forward to making them at some point, says every costumer ever...Never enough time in my day.

I made M2032 view B for a friend of mine. We have a goth/vampire themed event coming up and, well...I had some red skull mesh fabric. When in Rome. :-)

Two styles of under bust corset. View A-no hip gussets, View B-hip gussets. My friend has a fabulous hourglass figure so I thought view B would be perfect. Pattern is printed on thin tissue paper. For 21.00 you would think heavier paper would be included. The instructions are very clear and well written. They even have extra notes on putting in a waist stay. Both are really nice solid designs.

Oh my!!! Sizing....DO NOT even think the finished measurements printed on that tissue are accurate. Pretend they are not there. They are so far off I don't know why McCall's even bothered. I was left wondering if I was incompetent, crazy or both. How can something you are selling for 21.00 be. so. wrong. Here is my advice.

1. Use the sizing guide on the outer envelope.
2. Ignore the bust measurements, really.
3. Find your desired waist size, not your actual waist size.
4. Example, I have a 37 inch waist. I would like to lace down to 34. So I pick size 18. Now that being said size 18 will be approximately 32 inches laced fully closed. So in theory if I go with size 18 (32) that will give me a 2 inch gap laced down to my desired 34 inches. I don't want a fully closed corset, I like a gap. If you don't want any gap then just pick your desired waist size. But bear in mind if your corset stretches out it may become too big.
5. Make a muslin. Truly, you will be much happier if you do.
6. In the most simple terms, go down a couple sizes.

Now on to finished garment measurements. I made two different sizes/muslins, here are the approximate numbers:

Size 16 laced fully closed
waist 30 inches
hips 40

Size 12 laced fully closed
waist 27 inches
hips 38

Printed on the pattern tissue the 16 was supposed to be a 27 inch waist and the 12 was supposed to be 23 inches.

The other interesting thing is the gussets, side front, side and side back are all one size. No difference at all between sizes. I don't know anything about pattern grading so I can't say if this is a normal thing or not. But that is a pretty broad size range. The other corsets I have made all had each piece graded, no universal sized pieces. Gussets would be the only exception.

Changes I made:
I prefer to use bone casing tape instead of making my casings with the lining or seam allowances. My corset is not lined. Fabrics I used, red skull mesh, coutil and underlined it with twill. A really great book I cannot recommend enough is The Basics of Corset Building by Linda Sparks. It covers the construction methods for several different types of corsets.

Fairly simple. I would not recommend this pattern for a beginner. My most favorite pattern for beginners is the Laughing Moon #113, under bust corsets. They have good sizing info and there are no sizing surprises.

Remaining crumbs:
Corset requires a 10 inch busk. If you lengthen or shorten it that size will change. The seam allowance for the body of the corset is 5/8 inch. For the top and bottom it is 1/4 inch. Since I didn't use a lining I bound off the bottom and top with bias tape. This corset really has a great shape. I don't know if I will make another. The sizing aspect was very frustrating. :-/

 Sexy AF. The red skull fabric was bout at JoAnns in the halloween section. It is a sheer mesh.

 Not even a little bit accurate.

Larger sizes not accurate either.
These 3 pieces, plus gussets (not shown) are all the same size, for all the sizes. FYI

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Port Townsend Victorian Heritage Festival 2017

The first weekend in April was the Victorian Heritage Festival in seance Port Townsend, Washington. I was somewhat surprised to see VicFest on the calendar because 2016 was supposed to be the last year due to lack of volunteers. Happily enough some wonderful folks stepped up and decided to revive it. There is already talk of a 2018 VicFest, how fantastic is that! I participated in the fashion show on Saturday. It was so wonderful to see many of my friends and we all had a wonderful time! Here are some random pictures of the event.

 At the Commander's Beach House for tea! We were very color coordinated that day.

 The lovely Lady Rebecca

 Caught taking a selfie!

 Once a mom always a mom, helping with shoes.

 Commander's Beach House and good friends!

 I'm so famous!

 This guy...He must have taken a wrong turn at the border. This was my fashion show outfit. Truly Victorian walking skirt and Eaton Jacket. You can't ever go wrong with those two patterns.

 Lovely view!

 Lady Rebecca and her magnificent bustle!

 Tea time!

 Two of the most lovely people!

 Ready for the dance social! Truly Victorian Umbrella skirt and 1883 Tail bodice.

The skirt is one piece cut on the cross grain. It works very nicely with a horizontal striped fabric. With careful cutting and matching the back seam stripes will chevron. It looks awesome, but of course you can't see it. ;-) 
 I do have plans for a true 1890s bodice. The one I was working on did not pan out, so this was my back up.