Saturday, 26 April 2014

Harry Potter studio costumes

Over Easter I went to the Harry Potter Studio tour, outside London. Even if I'm not a HP fan, I enjoy the books and films but not as much as to call myself a fan, I had a great time. There were so many costumes around that you could get really close to, and I love being able to stare down details on how professional costumes are made.

I would have loved to see and hear more about the creation of the costumes, as it was the only costume creation process they talked about was Voldemort. One of my favorite things was seeing a finished Beaux Batons school uniform, next to both the hat block and a dressform with the draped pattern.
The rest was mostly just going around and ooohing and aaahing about the costumes. I must say though that most of the most beautiful costumes were clearly the ones worn by Death Eaters, but maybe that's not so strong when you consider that our heroes run around in quite normal clothes most of the tim.

I think this gown, worn by Narcissa Malfoy, is probably a new favorite. If I was ever to recreate a HP costume this one would be very likely. I also took a lot of detailed photos of the lace applique. I really like the horizontal seams on the petticoat, that would be interesting to try and recreate.

My absolute favorite costume was this one, worn by Bellatrix Lestrange. Unfortunately I don't think I will ever be that good at working with leather that I will be able to recreate it.
Just look at the details of the holster, the sleeve and the corset. It was totally gorgeous, I was just standing there drooling for a while.

Then of course it's fun to see details of some costumes like this of Voldemort's robes.
I guess it's a sign of a costumer when you take pictures of the hems, but not of the whole costume. I thought that it was fascinating that the front is clearly hemmed, but the back has started to unravel a bit.

I also always feel a great relief when even professionally made costumes have problems with puckered seams, especially when working with slippery fabrics. This is Hermione's ballgown from Goblet of Fire.

Umbridge's costumes were interesting because it was clear that they were all made from the same pattern, just in different fabrics and with some differing details. It was pointed out, and I have never thought about it, that her costumes gets aggresively  more pink the more power she gains.

I got very surprised about the colour of the lining of Harry's invisibilty cloak, until I realized that it's not lining, but rather it's doubling as a green screen for the special effects to work when he's wearing the cloak.

I'm also a bit tempted to try and recreate this gown, if I ever decide to do some 16th century costuming. It's my favorite style of renaissance, and the colours are really nice as well.

All in all I had a great time, I think I took around 150 photos of so in total, and me and my nephew spent almost five hours at the tour. I definitely recommend it if you have the chance to visit.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Costume Analysis: Gold Handmaiden part 2

In this post I'm going to take a closer look at the most striking feature of this costume, the pleated gown itself. As mentioned in my first post I'm sure that it was inspired Mariano Fortuny's Delphos gowns, but the technique he used to create the special pleating has been lost.

I'll work from the bottom and up on the gown.

This is the very bottom of the dress. It's visible that the pleats are box pleats. At the bottom they are shallow and spaced quit a bit apart. This picture also gives some information about the fabric. It's possible to distinguish diagonal threads in the weave, at the same time there is also a visibly lighter field at the end of the fabric. This to me gives two possibilites.
  • The fabric has a twill weave, the skirt is constructed of square pieces and they used the selvage edge instead of hemming the gown.
  • The fabric is cut in a circle, leaving some of the threads running on the bias, and the lighter field is the result of some kind of starch/glue that was used instead of a regular hem.
It should be noted that the whole round bottom of the gown was starched. I do not have evidence of this anymore, but here is anecdotal evidence. The costumes of Star Wars were presented at the NY Fashion Week, in a proper runway show. A fellow Star Wars fan was lucky to get tickets to the show, and she was able to take amazing photos. Some of her photos can be seen at Padawan's guide, but her own complete album has been taken down. One of the photos that I remember seeing was when the model wearing this gown turned at the end of the runway, and the whole bottom part flipped up. This shows that whole piece was probably starched to keep that round and flat shape.

If we move up from the bottom roundel it's possible to see that when the roundel turns into the skirt part, then the box pleats are spaced closer to each other, I would also think that they are deeper.

The variable pleats are also visible here. Compare the very straight and even pleats under the sash/obi to the ones that are more uneven in order to accomodate the curve of the bust.

The gown ends on top in a quite square neckline, with rounded corners.
The neckline is edged with a thin plaited cord. The round circle shows where the neckline has flipped a bit, and at least on my original photo it's possible to see a bit of sheen there. The sheen is different to the outer fabric, which I take as proof that at at least some of the gown is lined in a shiny fabric.

The sleeves are almost always hidden under the sleeves of the robe.
Here it's possible to see the hem of the sleeve of the gown. I've once again tried to mark what I see. The green lines are the weave in the fabric, the red could possibly be a pleat, but it's also possible that the sleeves were left unpleated. The hem is ended with the same narrow plaited cord as the neckline.

So to summarize my analysis of the gown: A lot of the shape in the gown comes from manipulating the width and depth of the box pleats. The gown is lined, but not the whole way to the bottom, since no lining can be seen at the edge of the roundel. The roundel itself is heavily starched. The fabric is probably some kind of twill. I have learnt that there is something called silk twill, and I'm really curious if that might be the fabric that was used.

In the next part I'm going to take a look at the sash/obi.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The gaulle is taking shape

So while my mind has started to think a lot more about the gold handmaiden I'm happily working away on the gaulle.

All the pictures are dreadful, it's past midnight, I just have the camera on my phone, and not enough light in my living room.

The one thing I have finished now is the basic bodice. I've used a fine linen, but not as thin as for the cap, and cotton voile. The cotton voile turned out to be even more transparent than I had thought, so I had to think a lot about what I would do to not have any raw edges from the fabric or the lining showing through. This lead to my decision to make as much as possible by hand. I've sewed the main seams of the bodice on the machine, but I've felled all the seams by hand, and I did the shoulder seams fully by hand. The voile is edgestitched to the lining.

 I even did one thing that I have dreaded for a long time and made the eyelets by hand. The voile is so sheer that it wouldn't have handled metal eyelets well.

Having finished the bodice I knew it was too late to start on anything else. Unless I have a very set deadline I try not to sew after midnight. I wanted to get a feel for the shape of the whole gown though so I pin everything to the dressform and see if it started to look like a gaulle.

It was a good thing that I did. I'm pretty sure that I want more fabric on the front, I only have scraps left but it should be enough to add some to it. I'm also going to make the sleeves more narrow at the wrists.

Now I'm going away over Easter, but I'm really looking forward to continue this when I come back.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Costume Analysis: Gold Handmaiden part 1

After I've finished with my 1787 revolutionary I'm going to start concentrating on the Gold Handmaiden costume. I've been researching the costume for a long, long, time though, my first collection of reference pictures are from 2007. Before I start working on it, I'm going to collect some of my thoughts and plans for it here.

What costume is this?

True to myself I've once again managed to pic a costume that probably very few people have noticed, outside of the members of the Royal Handmaiden Society and dedicated Star Wars royalty costumers. It's one of few costumes with no representation in the Rebel Legion. I've seen one reproduction of it, back at Celebration IV in 2007, but I remember that it had taken a few shortcuts. I've still never seen a fan version that's tried to recreate it down to all the details.

The costume can actually be seen three times in the Star Wars Prequels.

First is in the very first scene with Queen Amidala in Episode I

This is a reason why it's some times called the throneroom handmaiden costume. Then it's scene at the end of Episode I, when Queen Amidala greets Senator Palpatine after the defeat of the Trade Federation.
Fun fact here is that two of the handmaidens here are unidentified, but I've actually asked and gotten confirmation from Nick Gillard, the stunt coordinator of the Star Wars prequels, that he's in one of the costumes.

It's seen a third time, in a blink and you miss it moment. In Episode III, when Anakin runs to meet Palpatine at the opera you can see two women dressed in this gown in the background.
This costume has also been part of at least two different travel exhibitions, I saw it in London in 2007 and in Örnsköldsvik 2008.
I'm not a photographer, so I've taken all my photos with a regular point and shoot camera, but I'm still impressed with the details that I've managed to capture. I had a strategy to try and zoom and click away, if I was lucky I would get something useful out of it, and I did.

In general it can be said that the costume consists of three parts
  • A velvet robe
  • A pleated gown
  • A wide sash or obi
I'm dead certain that the inspiration for the whole costume comes from the famous Delphos dresses created by Mariano Fortuny, they are also known as fortuny gowns.

Here is an original Delphos gown
And here is a photo from wikipedia where the gown is worn together with a loose robe.

Unfortunately it's unknown how Mariano Fortuny mainpulated the fabric to creat those special pleats.

Now we have identified the costume, in the next post I'm going to start going through the different parts of it.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

HSF14: Tops and Toes

or the cap that will take a lot of hair to pull off.

So for the challenge tops and toes I decided to make a cap to go with my revolutionary hat. The cap with a very ruffled brim can clearly be seen under the enormous hat.

The giant hat clearly needs a giant cap to go with it. I do wonder how I am going to fix the giant hairdo though, but that's something for the future.

Here is another example of a big cap with the ruffled brim framing the hair, almost like a halo. There are plenty of places out there that gives instructions on how to make an 18th century cap. I mostly followed the tutorials over at La Couturière Parisienne.

My cap consists of three parts. One round piece, with a diameter of 50 cm, one band and the brim. I wanted a really tight ruffled brim, so I cut out a brim that was four times as long as the band and gathered it instead of pleating.

This is my first ever project that I decided to sew totally by hand. It was a bit hard to find out exactly what stitches were used, but I checked out what Costume Close-Up says about seams in the 18th century. In the end I used a running stitch, with some fastening backstitches, to hem the brim. I then used backstitches to attach the brim to the band, and the top of the cap to the band. My stitching wasn't too bad actually. I'm quite pleased with my running stitches, but my back stitches could definitely take some more practice to get really even. One thing I noticed was that I found it pretty hard to keep the seam allowance the same and sew in a straight line.

This was the end result. When I tried it on I realised that it basically looked like a glorified bath cap on me. Big cap needs big hair under it. So I went after my 18th century wig, the one I used for Snow White. I didn't style it properly, just put the cap on it, but even without a proper hairdo it was clear that it looked a lot better.

I then enlarged it a bit more so that I could get the halo effect around the hair.

And with that I am pretty satisfied with myself. I had hoped that I would maybe be able to use the cap without a wig, for those days when I just don't want to bother with styling the hair, but that's not an option. I quite enjoyed making the cap, and sewing it by hand, and since I have quite a bit of linen left I definitely think that I'm going to make another one, a smaller one and maybe with a pleated ruffle instead of the gathered one.

The HSF details:

The Challenge: Tops and Toes
Fabric: lightweight linen
Pattern: None, used my own after inspiration from web tutorials
Year: 1787
Notions: regular sewing thread, satin ribbon
How historically accurate is it? Probably my most accurate object yet, since it was handsewn. I did use poly thread and a poly satin ribbon though so I think it ends up around 85%
Hours to complete: 5 (at least it took around 5 episoded of Call the Midwife)
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: Linen - $5, rest from stash

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Star Wars Costumes - The Original Trilogy

I just read about this book over at Club Jade, and this is just a must have book for me. This is what the description says:

Who can forget the first time they saw Darth Vader with his black cape and mask? The white hard-body suit of the stormtroopers? Or Leia’s outfit as Jabba’s slave? These costumes—like so many that adorned the characters of that galaxy far, far away—have become iconic. For the first time, the Lucasfilm Archives has unpacked the original costumes to be revealed in breathtaking detail.
Featuring all-new photography, Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy affords both new and longtime Star Wars fans the opportunity to examine the stormtrooper armor and discover how it changed from movie to movie; explore Boba Fett’s suit and inspect the rarely seen details of his blaster and jetpack; compare the helmets and jumpsuits of the rebel fighters; and study the details of the Hoth fighter uniforms.
This lavish large-format book not only showcases high-quality photography of each costume, it also pairs these stunning images with original sketches, behind-the-scenes photographs, production notes, and stories.
 Some of the things written make me think that the writers have spent some time over at the Rebel Legion forums, considering all the discussions about the differences in helmets and flightsuits for the pilots, and not least the fact that there is a 50 page discussion just dedicated to the Hoth troopers.

I'm a bit worried that there will not be enough focus on Leia's costumes, but I really hope that it will contain some new and detailed pics of the Bespin gown, since that is a future dream project.

And I need a companion to Dressing a Galaxy in my costume book shelf.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Starting the gaulle

Today I set out to start the main gown, the gaulle, of the 1787 revolutionary dress. I'm going to use this portrait of Emilie Seriziat, painted by David, as my inspiration.
The portrait is from 1795, so a bit later than 1787, but I prefer this more shaped style compared to in the 1780s. I want to be comfortable when I'm wearing the gown on itself, and when I'm wearing the full outfit for the revolutionary costume then most of it will be hidden under the redingote and vest.

I'm going to use the drop front gown on page 48 of Patterns of Fashion 1 as my inspiration for the construction, but that is an extremely high waisted gown, and I want the waistline to be more natural. It was time to test the drafting instructions from Constructing historical clothing. It turned out to be quite easy to follow the step by step instructions. I used up all of my pattern paper though. I started with making the basic bodice pattern, then I went on to flatten the front, and to adjust the placement of the seams, according to the instructions for the 1800 bodice. I cut the neckline more or less free handed.

I'm really happy with the back, both the back side seam and the shoulder seam is where I want them to be. I can't really say how the front is though. My dressform is perfect for my body in modern underwear, but I can't adjust it to be close to my measurements when I'm wearing stays. The bust is simply too large, while my own bust gets squished up quite a bit in the stays. The front is also too short, but that is because I ran out of pattern paper.

I'm definitely happy enough with the pattern pieces that I'm going to try with fabric after this.

The pattern drafthing was definitely simple enough that I foresee using this book quite a lot for different eras. It took me about 1,5 hours to get a working pattern, starting from scratch. I did use up a lot of paper though, since I redrew the bodice for each step (basic-flat front-1800 bodice).

For the next step I drew the pattern on a piece of cotton sheeting that I had in my "toille heap" in the stash. When I started cutting into it I realized I had taken an antique sheet from my great grandmother's things. First I thought that was a shame to just cut it up, but then I thought that since I want to make this a really nice pattern that I'll be able to use over and over agan, then it will get a lot more use than when it's just in my stash.

 I drew the pattern with a 2 cm seam allowance, so that I would have a lot to work with if I needed to do changes, I also lengthened all the pieces downwards with about 7 cm, since I want the bodice to end at my natural waist. I knew that I added too much to the back and side pieces, but it's better to have excess material to cut off, than trying to piece together something because there's too little.

Then I laced myself into my stays, as mentioned previously the bust on my dressform is too big compared to me in my stays, so I wanted to make sure that I did the front fitting on myself. I had to take in another 4,5 cm on the side seams. I took 1,5 on each pattern piece at the side. I also marked out my natural waist with a pen while wearing the toille.

Here is the toille, with the one side I'm going to use as my pattern cut to the new waistline. When I took off the bodice I also realised why the bed sheet was in my stash. The fabric was really fragile, and started ripping apart, just through the perforations from the stitches. It would be impossible to make anything that would take a load of any kind out of the fabric.

With a good fit of the bodice it was time to start to get the armhole in a good shape. This is my big problem when fitting clothes. I have broad shoulder, and big overarms. Always when I sew and I follow commercial patterns I get sleeves that are too tight and uncomfortable. This time I wanted to make a pattern that would really be made to fit good. I took out my 18th century sleeve pattern I made last autumn. I knew that the sleeve fit well, now I only needed to make sure that the arm whole fit the sleeve. I didn't take any pictures of me pinning and testing the sleeve on me. In the end I cut out 1,5 cm all around the arm opening. The shape is still the same, it's just bigger now. This also means that there is no ease in the sleevehead, since the armhole is made to fit the sleeve perfectly.

Here is the new larger arm hole (yes, my overarms are that big).

At this point in the process I would normally rip the toille up and use it as the lining layer for the dress I'm doing. I want to be able to use this pattern for more gowns though, so instead I went over all the seams with a pen and marked them. Then I ripped the seams and cut them down where I had marked the seam lines. I also ripped the fabric on one place, it really was fragile. I have marked up all the pattern pieces and now I can pack them away until I'm going to start on the proper gown.

This is the finished bodice pattern for my gaulle. If the gown turns out well I'm going to be very happy over the fact that I have made a costume pattern from scratch, and not just altered a commercial pattern.