Sunday, 14 October 2018

I heart Star Wars dress

This summer I picked up a piece of Star Wars knit fabric in the fabric store in Mora. It wasn't enough to make a whole dress, so I also picked up some solid navy knit fabric to go with it. This week I felt it was time to make something out of them.

The boring thing with making clothes is to cut out the pattern and then the fabric. By now though I have a standard pattern that I can then tweak to make different dresses. My standard pattern was picked up many years ago from the sewing magazine Ottobre. It is made for a woven fabric, but if I make it in a knit fabric I only need to eliminate the zipper in the back. What I really like with this pattern is that the bust is shaped with to big darts, and that makes it very flattering for my figure.

I made the bodice out of the Star Wars fabric and the skirt out of the navy knit. I sew on a regular sewing machine, using the overlock stitch that is both a zigzag and straight stitch. For the  darts and hems I use a regular straight stitch. It is necessary to stabilize the edges of the knit fabric with the overlock stitch, or go over them with a zigzag afterwards, or seam allowances will just roll up and look like sausages.

All my dresses end up in this stage. I have made the bodice and decided on the neckline. The original pattern has a much deeper neckline, but I just filled it in. This skirt is a long piece of fabric that has been gathered and attached to the skirt. Variations on the skirt is how much fabric I use, the original pattern is a quite tight skirt with just two pleats in front and back for shaping, and if I gather or pleat it to the bodice. I had planned on an even wider skirt, but felt that it would be too heavy and pull to much on the bodice. If it had been a woven bodice I could have had more fun with a big, twirly skirt.

Since I had changed the neckline compared to the original pattern I couldn't use its neck facing. I have learnt through the years that the neck opening really needs a facing, otherwise it will look wonky.

To make a new facing I simply put the facing fabric on top of the bodice and traces the neck opening. It's an easy way to make sure that you always get a perfect facing.

The sleeves are another way of making a lot of variations to the dress. The sleeve pattern I'm using is a standard sleeve that I know fit my big upper arms, and by sheer luck t fits perfectly with this bodice pattern. Sometimes I make the sleeve even wider, and I vary the length quite a lot. For this dress I made elbow length sleeves, simply because that was how much fabric I had left. After cutting out the bodice and the sleeves I just had scraps of fabric left. I wanted to add something more to the skirt though.

What I did was to find my biggest heartshaped cookie cutters and use them as a pattern to cut out a bunch of hearts with motifs from the Star Wars fabric to use as applications. I sewed them on to the skirt using a small and tight zigzag stitch.

The finished dress.

I wore the dress yesterday to a Lord of the Rings-concert and I got quite a few compliments from random people in the crowd.

All in all I can make a dress like this in the afternoon, the most time consuming thing was to sew on the hearts. It would take longer to make it in a woven fabric, but I like working with knit fabrics just because it's easy and they are forgiving when it comes to fitting.

Friday, 12 October 2018

HSM challenge 10 - my smocked apron

The HSM challenge for October is fabric manipulation - "Take fabric to the next level with any kind of historical embellishment or manipulation: smocking, shirring, embroidering, beading, pinking, ruching, printing, painting, dyeing etc." This was one of the challenges I was sure what I would do, already when I saw the challenges for the year. A very common accessory during the late Middle Ages and early 16th century was the smocked apron.

Of course I wanted a smocked apron for my 1520's outfit, and it would work for the whole 15th century as well. 

I used a length of unbleached linen. I started with hemming the sides, and then I smocked the top. I didn't mar out where I wanted the pleats to be, but instead I free-handed them, making sure that the gathering stitches were quite even by eye. I used 8 rows of gathering stitches.

I smocked the top with honeycomb smocking. To be honest I would have liked the pattern to be larger, this is perfect for a shift, apparently that's what my eye is calibrated to.

This is the back of the top.

When I had finished the smocking I made a long strip of double folded linen fabric and sewed the apron to it. I ended with hemming the bottom of the apron. That was a good thing. The smocking had also affected the length of the fabric. I had first planned to make a quite large hem, but I ended up with just double folding the fabric and do a similar hem to the sides.

It's a nice lightweight apron, and I am very happy with how the smocking turned out, even if it is a bit small. One thing I have done differently from the aprons that I have seen is that I have made the ribbons to tie it with so long that I can tie them on the front. I did it because my stiff shoulder makes it hard for me to work behind my back, now I can tie it a lot easier compared to my other apron with shorter ribbons.

The Challenge: 10 - fabric manipulation
Material: 1,5 m of unbleached linen
Pattern:  My own, after historical images
Year: 15th-16th century
Notions: waxed linen thread
How historically accurate is it? It's based on historical images and totally handsewn with appropriate materials, but the smocking pattern is a bit too large and I don't have any evidence for the long ribbons. I would say 75%
Hours to complete: 10 hours
First worn: I brought it to work on an SCA event first weekend of October and I had planned to wear it to the evening feast, but I didn't finish it due to the extra long ribbons, so I haven't worn it yet.
Total cost: Everything was from my stash, but bought new it would have cost around $15.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Introducing Enfys Nest for Star Wars Celebration

It is time to reveal my main project for Star Wars Celebration. This will be a big and expensive project, but I'm hoping to have it all done for Celebration in April.

So who is Enfys Nest? It's a character from the new Solo film, that was released in May. And she's really cool.

This is definitely not my usual kind of costume project, but it will be fun to make something different.

Thankfully by the time I saw the film a lot of people had already researched the costume for months, so there is a lot of information out there, and a lot of files if you want to 3D-print the things needed.

Here is my breakdown, but for a more detailed description I recommend visiting the Rebel Legion forums, or the Enfys Nest facebook group.

Shoes - Demobaza Moon Rovers with added greeblies. The Moon Rovers are expensive (€413 last I checked) so I will start off with modifying a cheaper hight top sneaker. Greeblies can be 3D-printed.

Jumpsuit - brown waxed cotton with inserts of black fabric. There are a lot of complicated seams on the jumpsuit. I will use my standard jumpsuit pattern and modify it, I have ordered the waxed cotton.

Knee pads -

Leg flaps - a long strip of canvas with painted markings, rolled around a dowel.

Belt - with leather with topstitching and some accents in other colours.

Chest piece - the box and "beads" can be 3D-printed, the "beads" are also available as resin casts on Etsy. I will need to make the teeth and bone details.

Cape - a wool cape with a orange-red lining, and some strips of other colours in the lining. The fur is a bison hide, but I will look for suitble fake furs.

Arm shields - also available as 3D files, but they don't look too complicated to cut out from plastic sheets.

Gloves - tac 2 gloves, modified.

Helmet - I have preordered a resin cast of the helmet.

Staff - available as 3D-files.

That's the breakdown. This is going to be an expensive costume, since there are so many parts that I can't do mysef, so I will try and take it slowly and add piece by piece and hopefully I can bring it with me for Celebration, otherwise she will have to wait for NärCon 2019.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

HSM Challenge 9 - my Christmas stockings

The HSM Challenge 9 was the following:
SeptemberHands and Feet: Create a fabulous accessory for your hands or feet.
Back in the beginning of the year when I saw the challenge I figured that I would probably do some kind of gloves or mittens. When September rolled along I realised that it would be a good opportunity to make a pair of hose for my late medieval/early 16th century ensemble.

Women's hose in the time only went up to the knee, so it's not the full length hose that men wore, which also make them easier than a pair of long hose. I had my friend Linnea help me create a pattern. The main piece of the hose was simply a piece of fabric that I pinned along my calves and down to my toes. I then cut two triangular gores out of it to make the ankles easier to bend.

Yes, this is what my calf and foot look like, and it's also a good illustrations on why perfectly symmetrical patterns rarely fit that well.

For the fabric I once again used my bolt of red wool twill. I also cut out a sole piece and two triangles to make the gores. My first sole piece was patterned very tightly after my foot, and when I had sewn it to the maine hose, the whole thing felt too tight. I made a new bigger one, but that ended up way too big.

The solution was to turn the hose inside out, and then pin it tight to my foot, and sew a new seam.

As you can see there's a really big difference between the old and new seam. I actually think that my first sole that I cut out wasn't too bad, but I was unused to the fit and remade it.

The hose are sewn together with backstitches and then felled with waxed linen thread.

They do not stay up by themselves, so I will need to get some kind of garters to make them stay up. I have already asked my mother to knit a pair for me, but it would be more correct to use leather or a woven band.

I am happy with the fit, except for the heels, there is a bit too much fabric there. I also don't think that it will be possible for me to fit the hose in the shoes that I use, and when I finally buy a pair of proper historical shoes I will probably have to upsize to take the hose into account.

As for the name, well when I brought them with me to our Tuesday cosplay/costume meet the first reaction was that I had made a pair of Christmas stockings, and that Santa Claus would be able to fit a lot of presents in them.

The HSM facts

The Challenge: 9 - Make something for your hands or feet.

Material: 0,5 of red wool twill

Pattern: Drafted on my body.

Year: late medieval early 16th century

Notions: waxed linen thread

How historically accurate is it? I think around 75%. The more I've worked with this fabric the more I feel that it's not a really historically accurate fabric.

Hours to complete: 5

First worn: I'm home sick with a cold, and it's been really nice to walk around in a long pair of woollen socks. I'm planning to  properly wear them on an even next weekend.

Total cost: From my stash, but the fabric would have cost $10 new.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Storing my costumes

Costuming is not just a fairly expensive hobby, it also takes up a lot of space. I'm the first to admit that my apartment is overstuffed with things. A third room that I could use as a combined crafting room/library would be a dream. Except for the space I love everything with my apartment though, and since the prices around here have trebled since I bought my apartment I'm not likely to move just to get another room. I have to make do with the space that I have.

Basically my costume related things are divided up into three areas.

1. I have my crafting corner in my living room.

Here i keep thread and all other sewing supplies, under the desk I also have three large boxes with corset supplies, general craft supplies and foam. To be honest whenever I'm doing a project the sewing corner takes over the whole living roo.

2. My fabric stash
This is my main issue. I try to keep fabric to a minimum, but for some reason it always overflows.

3. My attic storage.
This is where I keep my costumes, and since I spent four hours on Sunday cleaning up and reorganizing it, I might as well show it.

The left corner of the back is the stuff that I never touch, mainly thngs that belongs to the apartment or mementos from my childhood that I want to keep. The right corner keeps all my Christmas decorations, I need to be able to get to them once a year. In front of them I keep my suitcases and bags.

Along the wall there are nails where I keep my costumes that I want to hang. Mainly the most fragile costumes, or costumes that I wear a lot, or simply costumes that take up lesser space than if I would pack them in a box. The box on that side is my dye box, where I keep my dye supplies and I also use it to dye in.

On the other side I keep my boxes with costumes. Packing them into boxes is maybe not the best way, but otherwise they would take up too much space. They are fairly airtight and I also add balls of cedar wood to them to protect the textiles in them.

I have three rows of boxes, one with general things, one with Star Wars costumes and one with historical things. When I started using boxes I had fairly large and high boxes, I'm more and more trying to switch them for boxes that are flat, and that way I can keep one costume per box. The Star Wars costume boxes are stacked with the ones I use the most at the top.

My historical costumes are divided into eras or kind of things, so there is one for the 16th century, one for 18th century clothes, one for 18th century accesories, one for corsets, one for shifts and petticoats from the 18th century and onwards, and one box for panniers and other supports.

Finally in the corner I have a small shelf where I can pack away smaller things in boxes, and I keep my shoes there as well. My best and most used wigs are also standing on the shelf, while the other wigs are packed away in a box (on styrofoam heads).

My plan for now is to buy a larger shelf, that goes all the way to the ceiling, add more nails to hang clothes bags on and add a proper shoe rack. I'm also looking for a wooden box that I can use to store my household things that I use when I'm at medieval events.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

ComicCon Stockholm 2018

ComicCon Stockholm took place the weekend 14th to 16th of September. It bills itself as the largest popculture event in the Nordic Countries, and that is probably true. It has grown out of an earlier game convenction (Gamex) and it has had problems finding a balance between games and general popculture. It's still not perfect, but I felt that it was better than some years, unfortunately it's also now sponsored by one specific store, which has lead to other stores selling popculture stuff not being invited. The merchandise is limited to the one sponsor (and now special con prizes) and smaller independent traders.

Anyway this year I wasn't motivated at all for the convention. If I hadn't booked my hotel in May I would probably not have gone. I felt that I only had my old costumes, nothing new to bring. The dye for my Melisandre coat and hood didn't show up in time so I would not be able to bring the full costume. I stressed to get TLJ Leia done, got it into a wearable but not finished state, only to forget the undergown at home.

In the end it turned out to be one of my best conventions in a long time, and a big part of that was that I had people around that could take a lot of funny photos during the weekend.

Cosplay Dalarna had it's biggest group photo so far on a convention.

 On Friday I wore my X-wing pilot first, and I couldn't resist climbing on the the big airplane wing that was in the main hall. Ingeli, who took the photo, said she was a really good friend since she didn't film what it looked like when I tried to get onto the wing. (I basically needed to be pushed over it by two people)

Looking S-foils in attack position

 AFter my stint in X-wing I quickly changed to Mon Mothma, and of course I had to take my photo on the Iron throne that HBO had in its area. If I can't rule the galaxy I guess Westeros will do.

The real reason I switched was because Mads Mikkelsen was there and got inducted as an honorary member of the 501st legion, and I wanted to wear a costume that was a bit connected with Rogue One.

The day after I also made sure to have him sign my "A Royal Affaire" DVD.

The three days of ComicCon all have very different atmospheres. On Friday it's quite easy going and you have time to check out all the stands, and if you are interested in games that's the day you have time to test play them without any lines. Saturday was really crowded though. The Nordic Legions had their stand outside the main hall, and after I had gotten my autograph I didn't go in to the main hall for the rest of the day. I did my shifts in the stand and walked the parades, but there was too much people to do anything else.

The R2 builders had invited Simon Wilkie as C3P-0 and I got my photo with him, as you can see the stitches on my white over poncho had unraveled so I need to fix that before the next time I wear it.

Sunday is a family day, with less people, but a lot of kids everywhere. I had brought my Melisandre costume and I used the time to take photos in the HBO area.

As a child I dreamt of a red motorcycle, here I could at least mount a motorcycle in a big red gown.

I finished the con in my X-wing pilot costume again, and finally we managed to be three orange pilots in costume at the same time, thanks to Aiwei from Norway. It was really fun to be in a group and goof around.

So it was a really fun convention, and it shows that you don't need new costumes to have fun, the important thing is to hang around with fun people.

Monday, 10 September 2018

My snow cone reticule

This was a small project, that of course took longer than planned, but it was fun.

I bought the "American Duchess Guide to 18th century dressmaking" when it was released, but I haven't really been into any big 18th century projects this year. When I made my roundgown and chemisette for I used the book for inspiration, and then I felt the need to make a new reticule. There were some weird accessories in the 1790's and I wanted something more than just a soft bag with a drawstring. I picked their "Sundae best" reticule, on page 221.

I used some cream silk satin for the soft part, and the cardboard for the bottom structure was from a moving box. I thought about what I would use for the bottom part, and then realised that it would be fun to be able to call it a "snow cone" if I kept to a winter theme. I didn't have any exta silk, so I took some grey high quality poly satin, and then for trim I used a silver etallic braid.

The silver braid was fraying a lot, but that made it possible for me to cut off a piece of braid and use the strings to make the tassle.

Overall the instructions in the book were easy to follow, I think there is one typo in the pattern, asking you to cut two pieces of fabric to cover the cardboard, when you need 4, but otherwise it was really good. The reticule is handmade, mostly because it was a nice little project to work on while watching TV. The finished bag is roomy, but the silk ribbons were narrow enough that they cut into my wrist when I wore my phone in the bag. I could probably use some wider ribbons for that.