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...


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Another small troop

Yesteday I did another mini-troop. The FFG Nordic Championships in Star Wars boardgames took place in Uppsala and they had requested pilots for the X-wing tournament. I went there and suited up in my pilot and walked around the room where they were playing. To be honest most of the players were so immersed in the game that they didn't even notice me, but it was still fun. One thing surprised me though. My experience with the Star Wars fandom is that it's quite gender equal, or at least that there are always other females around, This time though I was in a room with around 70 other people, and I was the only woman.

"100 000 crewmen, and yet not a single woman"
I think these two last troops I've done show the variety of reasons on why I troop. The concerts in Avesta and Grängesber was for a chance to show up in a region where it's never been done before, trooping at this event I felt was important to show that SW fandom is all inclusive. The 501st and Rebel legions have a bit of reputation for being elitist, due to the fact that we have high standards and are proud of our costumes, but for me personally I love everything that has to do with SW, this is just a form of fandom that I've never been involved in. I hope that showin up at pure fandom events like this can help in showing that it doesn't matter how you express your fandom.

And the game looked pretty fun, especially when I heard that my favorite pilot, Tycho Celchu from the Star Wars books and comics, is in the game and goes under the nickname "Psycho-Tycho" due to his insane piloting skills.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Ghostbusters cosplay

Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places, and sometimes it's just the time and company that feels right. I'm not a Ghostbusters fan, I've never understood how the original film can be so popular. It's an ok film, but I've just never thought it was a great film. I did grow up with the Ghostbusters cartoon on TV and I had a Ghostbusters boardgame, that I don't think I ever finished since it took several hours to play and we usually stopped Before reaching the end, so it's still a bit of my childhood.

When I heard that there was going to be a new Ghostbusters film I mostly felt that it was a bit unimaginative. When I heard that it was going to be female Ghostbusters team I though that sounded great, and then just watched all the internet fanboys go crazy with male entitlement. I finally saw the film on Saturday, and in general I think it's a good popcorn flick. I enjoyed it, but nothing I would become a fan of. Still after having seen it ArtyAnna posted on my FB that we need to make a GB team, and I thought that was a great idea.

One should also not underestimate the fact that it was so nice to finally see a character in my own bodyshape, Melissa McCarthy's Abby, and that I won't have to hide what I look like to make the cosplay. There are Three of us now that are making a GB team, and it's such a nice feeling to keep in contact, discussing references and then decide together on what should do, instead of just working by yourself. First we are just aiming for the uniform, any hardware and gadgets will wait until there are more available references.

Hopefully we will be able to receive your call in December

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A quick jersey dress

This week I started with reorganizing my stash. I simply took all the fabrics out, and then sorted them back in. I took the chance to get rid of quite a few meters of poly satin and organzas. One thing I noticed is that I had a couple of jersey fabrics. I have probably bought them with the plans to make something to wear everyday, but nothing has happened. Since most of my regular wardrobe consists of jersey dresses I felt that I should come up with a basic pattern, and then it shouldn't be too hard to move the fabric from the stash and into my wardrobe as an actual dress.

I decided to use an old dress pattern from the sewing magazine Ottobre Woman. It's the same pattern that I used for my Star Wars coctail dress and comes with a few variations on neckline. Now I went for the most basic, called "Old-school teacher". Since the fabric I had was jersey I ignored the zipper and simply cut the back bodice piece in one, I also didn't use any lining but made a facing around the neckline.

The skirt was just straight panels that I pleated into the waist, instead of the shaped pencil skirt that's in the original pattern. What I really like with this pattern is that it's shaped with two underbust darts, I think they are very flattering and easier to get right than princess seam darts.

I felt that in this plaid fabric the dress really said "old-school teacher", which is great for a basic dress, but I still wanted something more fun. I took a look in my ribbon drawer and took a piece of by now quite worn satin ribbon. I made a basic ribbon flower, by simply making gathering stitches along and edge and gather it together. To cover the hole in the middle I could finally use two fabric covered buttons, they were a strange gift after a seminar about tourism. Everyone got one button in quite a strange fabric. I got two since one of my coworkers gave hers to me "after all you sew you can maybe do something useful with it". Finally after 8 years I have used them.

I think that the flowers bring a bit of fun to the dress, but I haven't attached them very securely so I can take them off if I change my mind.

The whole dress took around 2 hours, so now I have a basic dress pattern to use. It will also come in handy for my next Star Wars costume project, but that's only in the planning stages at the moment.