Sunday, 16 October 2016

Ball report

Yesterday I had finished my jacket and skirt and was of the ball. The ball was at V-Dala nation in Uppsala, where I spent a lot of my time when I studied there. It was held to celebrate the switch to a new inspektor, which is the highest office and since it's only done every fifth yesr it's a big party and usually turns into a reunion for those of us who don't live in Uppsala anymore.

I had plenty of time so I took the time to both put my hair up in pincurls and paint my nails. 

Even if I had time I never got the chance to take nice pics of me and this is the only fullbody pic. The skirt is a simple gored jersey maxi skirt, I made it shirt enough that it will look ok to wear in more every day situations. I didn't wantto be too matchy so I picked a bright blue satin clutch bag. 

This photo shows why I really love to wear emerald greens with my current hair colour. For jewellery I used gold and pearls, you can see a small hairpin in gold in the back.

Some mingle photos show off the top and my hair in better detail. 

The dinner was long, but in the break between the main and dessert some of us took the chance to be a bit artistic in the main staircase.

And finally Petet Wallensteen, world reknown professor in peace and conflict studies, was inaugurated as a new inspektor to make sure that the students at V-Dala behave and don't cause trouble in the town or at the University. 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Chinese brocade jacket - Butterick 6134

I finally have something to post about, yay.

On Saturday I'm going to a ball. First I hadn't thought about making a new ball gown, but of course the closer I got the more I wanted something new. Due to various things I have also gained quite a lot of weight over the last year, so I knew that my old ball gowns would probably not fit very well. Thinking about what I wanted to do I put up some considerations:

1. It should be practical, not just something I'm going to wear for just one evening
2. It should be comfortable, and with my shoulder problem that meant nothing that would close in the back.
3. I wanted to work from my stash.

In my stash I had a gorgeous emerald green brocade that my father bought in China some time in the 90's. He did quite a few work trips there and brought back wonderful fabrics. He tended to buy nice silk brocades, but it's been hard to find something to do with them. The emerald colour goes really well with my current hair colour though, so that settled the fabric. I would not be able to get a whole dress out of it though, and for practicality I decided to go with a top in the brocade and just a plain black skirt.

For the top I bought Butterick 6134

I liked the raised swan neck collar, which givess it a hint of oriental design, but without being and obvious mandarin collar. The seams also gave it a bit of an edgier design. I also liked that the pattern was marked "easy".

The pattern calls for the top to be made of a lightweight vowen or stabile knit fabric and a hidden zipper in the back. I of course made it in a heavier fabric, and I changed the zipper in the back to a dividing zipper in the front. I also flatlined all the pieces to cotton voile but since the fabric was already heavier than called for I skipped the fusible interfacing on the collar facings.

All the pieces went together really easy, and the raglan sleeve meant that I didn't have to fuzz with setting the sleeves. There were issues with the fit though. I cut out my size according to the measurments. When I first tried it on it was way too big from the waist up, but too narrow over the hips. The pattern is clearly made for someone with a more pillar-like shape than I have. I did take in a lot on the upper part through the center back seam, and some in the side seams.

The upper seam is the original, the bottom one after fitting

Quite a lot of the shaping in the back is made with two large darts. I Think the darts would have been better if they were highter up. I usually have to lengthen bodices, but with this one I felt that it was too long for me from the neck and down to the waist. To make it bigger over the hips I simply ripped up bart of the sideseams and made two slits in the jacket.

I am happy with the final result, but I can see that it would have looked better in a softer fabric. The collar stands up quite dramatic instead of being smooth around the neck, and there is some wrinkling going on that would have been hidded if the fabric had had any stretch in it. Still the overall effect is a nice party jacket, that I can wear both as a top by itself or as a jacket with a tight top underneatch.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Things are happening

I haven't updated here in a while, and it's mostly because I haven't finished anything in a while, I have a couple of UFOs that I'm working on though, so here is a little update on them.

1. TFA Leia - I did take approval photos of it two weeks ago, but I wasn't happy with how they turned out. I have also ordered materials to make the ring for it, so now I'm going to wait until I have the ring before taking new approval photos. That will unfortunately mean that I will probably not have it approved before comic-con.

2. Pet en l'ar - The pet was mostly a way of trying out a sack dress pattern. It worked out fine, and since I don't have any deadlines for it I'm going to take it slow. It only needs some finishing things, like hemming and adding ribbons, and those are things that are nice to do at the monthly craft café that I go to, so I'm not working on it outside of that.

3. Ballgown. I'm going to a ball on Saturday. I have decided to make a silk jacket and black skirt, both of them are half finished, and since they have a definite deadline I'm hoping to show them after the weekend.

I have done a mini-project though. I was invited on short notice to a surprise birthday celebration for a friend. The theme in the evening was going to be Oktober-fest. On Friday evening I tried to find something suitable to wear. I had a blouse and black skirt, but felt that I miseed something, so I sewed a drndl-like bodice. I found a remnant of a cute cotton print in my stash and used the bodice pattern or my 16th Century gown. I used the eye part of two lengths of hook and eye tape that I could pull a lacing through to close it. It's not lined or has any boning, but I got quite a few compliments for it.

Not too bad for 55 minutes work.
The only picture of most of the outfit.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Pet en l'air sleeves

I'm not sewing a lot at the moment. I'm busy planning and working on redoing my whole kitchen, meaning throwing everything out and get new stuff, including floor and all appliances.

Still this weekend I got the chance to do two things. The first was that I invited some friends for a party on Saturday, and everyone should come dressed up/out. In the end it was more like a girls' film night, but it was fun and relaxed. I wore my old printed cotton Anglaise, but before we started to watch a film I slipped into something more comfortable. That's when I discovered that I couldn't get out of the Anglaise by myself. The sleeves were so tight, and with my lost flexibility in one of the shoulders I couldn't wiggle out as I usually do. Thankfully I had friends there who could help me undress. (We also discussed the lack of chambermaids in today's society, and that they wouldn't be satisfied with just room and board if I hired one).

With the problems of getting undressed in mind I set out to finish the sleeves of my pet en l'air. I had already sewn them on before Saturday, but it felt more important than ever to make sure that they are big enough.

For the sleeves I went back to my very first 18th century jacket. It's been long since I threw away the jacket, but before doing that I cut out the lining o the sleeve, since that was a well-fitting sleeve, and the most accurate thing with the jacket.

I used the old sleeve as a pattern, but also added a bit at the bottom to make it longer. The sleeves are unlined and I sewed them together on the machine.

I attached the bottom part by hand, using backstitches. I feel as if I have more control of tricky seams when I sew them by hand, and instead of a faster seam that I might have to rip up and redo I took the slower approach.

The top part was pinned on, and the excess fabric was gathered into a small pleat at the back of the sleeve.

A strap, in the shape of simply a rectangular piece of fabric, was pinned on top of the shoulder lining and sleeve seam. As you can see the strap is bigger than needed, I didn't measure it beforehand but simply folded and cut away fabric until there was just enough to cover all the raw seams. As you can see I'm working on my dressform. Even if I can't fit my 18th century bodices on it, I think it's a lot easier to pin curved shapes, like shoulders, on it, than trying to do it flat on the floor or a table. The strap was topstitched in place with running stitches.

To finish the neckline I added neck binding. It's also strip of fabric that was sewn to the right side of the back and then folded to the inside to hide the raw edge.

This is the finished back of the jacket.

As for the sleeve fit. It was really roomy until I added the neck binding. There must have been enough bulk of the fabric, the cotton that I'm using is very thick, so that the back width has shrunk a bit, and that affects the sleeves. I can get in and out, but I need to be careful about this for my next project, and possibly add a bit to the back to avoid the issue.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Good and bad news

Over the last months I have had an aching shoulder. I have assumed that there was a strained muscle or something and hoped that it would disappear. The last weeks it has gotten worse though and there are some movements that I simply can't do. Yesterday I  called my the local health centre and the gave me an appointment with a physiotherapist. The appointment gave me some good and some bad news that will affect my costuming.

The goodnews is that I have a diagnosis, it's a frozen shoulder, and it will get better by itself eventually. Even if there is pain I can't make it worse by doing certain things. I should keep the shoulder active as long as it doesn't hurt too much.

The bad news are that I'm in the freezing stage, that means that for the coming months it wii hurt more and more and I will loose movement in the arm. Then the shoulder will be frozen for a couple of months, meaning less pain but also limited movement, then it will take a copke of more months while the shoulder thaws and I regain movement.

I don't think it will affect my sewing much, thankfully it's my left shoulder and I am righthanded, but wearing the costumes is another thing. I will not be able to lace myself into any backlaced stays or corsets, during the worst period I might get problems keeping my arm over my head to fix any hair, and I already have problems getting into clothes that arebtight over my shoulders.

The silver lining is that my next major project will be centered on the 1770s, so I can use my front laced stays. I haven't started on the sleeves for the pet en l'air yet, but when I do I will need to make them larger and more loosefitting than I had planned. The sleeves were looser in the earlier decades of the 18th century so I will just be a bit out of fashion. I'm also happy that I made several caps and bonnets last year, so I have an option when I don't want to make big hairstyles.

My next Star Wars project is also planned for comfort and ease which feels good right now.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Work trip to Röros, Norway

I've been on a work trip to Röros for the last few days. It was mostly about seeing how they work with their mine museum and building conservation. The program was really packed, but there were some costuming related stuff as well.

On the way there we stopped at Härjedalens Fjällmuseum, which is a regional museum for Härjedalen. It's a small museum, but really nice, and they had one part about the dress of the people in Härjedalen. Härjedalen is very much a transit region, basically in the middle between the Swedish Baltic coast and the Norwegian Atlantic cost, and it's reflected in how they dressed. The clothes were very much of the latest cut, and there were a lot of them. A typical woman in Härjedalen in the early 19th century regularly owned around 100 different articles of clothing. Status was all reflected in the clothes, so even if you lived in a shackle, you made sure to look good before going out.

I really liked these three bodices from around 1820. The regency waist line is obvous, since the bodices are really short. The fronts are wrapped over each other, and I guess pinned in place. I really enjoyed seeing the closure, since I haven't seen too many bodices displayed with the back towards the viewer.

In the mining museum in Röros they also have a costume exhibition, unfortunately it was really hard to take photos there, and I only had time to rush through it.

I really fell in love with this red quilted petticoat. I couldn't find a date for it, but most of the clothes were from around the middle of the 19th century. I would love to have a quilted petticoat like that for my 18th century wardrobe though.

It's hard to see but this jacked from around 1830 was the thing I was most impressed with. The very wide sleeve has been gathered with perfect stroked gathers into the narrow arm scye.

Overall I can really recommend a visit to Röros it's a very beautiful town with a fascinating history.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Starting a pet en l'air

I've always said that I won't feel as if I have a complete 18th century wardrobe until I have a robe à la francaise or sack gown. In order to make a full ensemble I will also need pocket hoops and petticoats. This weekend I decided to start on a pattern for it though, and I want to start with making a jacket version, or pet en l'air as it's also called. That way I can figure out the pattern before ordering a lot of expensive fabric, and I can wear the jacket with my existing petticoats and bumpad without looking too bad.

I have spending time looking for tutorials and inspiration on the web and I would like to recommend the two that I've used the most: La Couture Parisienne and The Fashionable past

I was thinking for a long time if I should order a pattern or not, but decided not to. I didn't start from scratch though. I started off with my Reconstructing History 822, that I used for my navy anglaise. I was after the fitted lining.

 I put the pattern pieces for the lining of RH822 on my muslin fabric and then opened p 34-34 of Patterns of Fashion, since that is a sack gown with all of my favorite elements, not the least that there is a seam between the bodice and skirt part in the front. I simply used the RH822 as a base and folded the pieces until they looked like in Patterns of Fashion. I sewed the muslin pieces together for a quick fitting and then used them as a pattern for the lining.

In the back of the lining I added ties so that I will be able to adjust the bodice. I had first planned to have lacing in the back, but this is a more simple solution from La Couture Parisienne. The vertical lines are boning channels, made from cotton tape and with a piece of plastic whalebone to stabilise the tied tapes.

For the back piece I used a full width of my main fabric. I cut out the shaped side seams, sleeve opening and shoulder seams.

I did my first test of just foldng the fabric to see if I was on the right way. As you can see I'm using my dress form. It is not the shape or size of me in a pair of 18th century stays, but it works as long as I'm just working with the back. I can't drape the front ont he dress form.

I attached the outer fabric directly on to the lining at the shoulder seams and the side seams.

When it was time to start draping I first marked the center on both the lining and the outer fabric, so that I could pleat one side at a time. The pleats are stacked box pleats. I could probably have stacked them more, now the bottom pleats are peaking out from under the top pleats.

The pleats are handstitched to the lining for the first ca 5 centimeters.

Here is the finished backpiece with the pleats. In the end it was a lot easier then I though. The pleats give quite a lot of freedom with adjusting. Now it's on to the rest...