Monday, 27 October 2014

Halloween costumes

Halloween is coming up, and of course it's a great reason to get dressed up in costume! Halloween in Sweden is basically that, a reason for private parties or night clubs to have a masquerade. The sad thing though is that if you just google "woman costume halloween" it seems as if the only choice for a woman when it comes to costumes is to wear a corset and skimpy skirt.

google top hit "woman police costume"
It of course makes me even angrier since men usually can choose between both "real looking" costumes and sexy versions of the costumes.

Well for this reason I really recommend that everyone to visit Take Back Halloween.Org. They don't sell any costumes, but it's simply an inspiration site for women's costumes that you can create yourself, without having to even sew. The costumes are based on real and mythological women of all ages, from all time eras and cultures all over the world. I love just sitting and reading throughout the entries and have learnt a lot about fascinating women I didn't even know about.

And isn't it a lot more interesting to follow their directions to create a costume personifiying Morrigan, the Celtic goddess/demon that is linked with Samhain (the Celtic New Year that has been transformed into Halloween throughout the ages) than just putting on a hat and skimpy skirt and call yourself a witch.

Morrigan costume instructions
Personally I am a bit grumpy that I won't get the chance to go to a Halloween party and dress up just for fun, but at the same time the reason for that is that I will be at Stockholm Comic-Con in Star Wars costume that weekend.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

My New York trip, from a sewing point of view

If you wonder why I didn't post much the last weeks, well it's because me and my mother went to New York together. It's been a trip that we've talked about  for a really long time, and now it was finally time. To be honest I didn't do much costuming or sewing related things, no museums or exhibits and just a very short visit to the fabric district.

There was a short visit to the fabric district, and just looking at what the info points looked like made me happy
 Then there were shop after shop with just fabrics and trims. To be honest I got overwhelmed. I'm not used to even going into a fabric store, and there there were so many of them.

It was amazing to go into a store and not just having to look after colour and hope you could get something of a decent quality, but here you could actually go in and the shelves were sorted first by type of fabric, and then in colour. As I said I was a bit overwhelmed, and both me and my mother were quite tired after a long day of doing other things, so when I had found 4 yards of black silk taffeta for $20 I decided that that was enough. I wouldn't be able to get more fabric with me, and I didn't have any more specific fabrics that I was after.

I didn't even go to Mood's.

In the end this was my costume/sewing haul. I found a gorgeous beauty box at Century 21 that I'm going to use as a sewing box, the 4 yards of silk taffeta and a little Elsa figure. I figured that since try to buy action figures with the SW costumes that I make, then I should have a little mini-me of my Elsa costume as well.

If you read Swedish you can read more about my New York trip here:
Mat i New York
Besök på Metropolitan Opera
Museer i New York

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

New shoes from American Duchess

It's time again for a new shoe from American Duchess

Pre-orders are up, and even if it's not really a time period I'm planning to do anything with I would still love to get a pair.

More information can be found here.

Monday, 20 October 2014

HSF Challenge 19: Inspiration

So it's been a while, but I've now completed a project that goes within the HSF again.

First a bit of background to this. In my regular work I am responsible for the educational programs, and school holiday programs, at a local museum, that also happens to be an underground mine. For the autumn school holiday it was time to come up with something new, and I decided to make a sort of Time Travel, back into the early 19th century. More information about the activities can be found here (in Swedish) Now me being me, I suggested that instead of just using the clothes we have in the basement, and goes into the "general old fashioned, but no particular time period"-kind of costume, I would make an early 19th century costume for me and the other person doing the program.

I wanted to make a woman's outfit, rather than pretending to be a crossdresser or impersonating a man. I found it easier to come up with a reason why a woman would be in the mine, even if she wasn't working there. Since this isn't a personal costume for me there were some things I needed to take into consideration. First of all it needed to be easily adjustable for all kinds of sizes. For the first usage me and the other person are quite similar in size, but who knows what the future holds. Since the program is taking place underground it also needs to be machine washable, it's going to get really dirty quite quick.

Now for the HSF challenge: Inspiration. I would like to use the whole of HSF as an inspiration, until I followed that I had hardly thought about doing everyday kind of clothing, costuming for me was all about fancy and droolworthy dresses. Through the HSF I have seen so many wonderful examples of clothes worn by the lower and middle classes that I've started to enjoy them more and more. If there is one specific inspiration for this it will be Sarah W, of amostpeculiarmademoiselle. Her research and recreating of the clothes of ordinary people has been a lot of help and inspiration for me, she has also helped when I have asked questions about this in the Swedish fb-group "Skapa historiska kläder och gör något kul" I can also point to her early 19th century shortgown as a direct inspiration for what I wanted to do.

Now a shortgown would have been easy, but I would still have needed to make a petticoat, in the end I decided that I wanted to make a roundgown, and to make it adjustable for several sizes I would make it big enough to pull on over the head and use a drawstring at the waist. To have a pattern to start from I pulled out my pattern for the revolutionary gaulle, which at least is late 18th century. I then made each piece wider, and shortened the waist.

Here is the new pieces, with the original laid on top. To be honest in hindsight I enlarged them too much. If I'm going to do this kind of dress again I would not enlarge the side piece, only the front and back pieces, and I would shorten the waist even more. I've always felt that the gaulle is quite high, so I thought just using the original sewing line as a cutting line, without the seam allowance, would be enough.

The bodice was made up in two layers, and I used 18th century construction methods, eventhough I sewed the main seams on the machine. All the visible stitches on the lining are handsewn though. I then cut two panels of fabric, sewed them together and gathered them to make a skirt. I added a drawstring around the waist. Now the waist being lower than a proper regency waist, and with a skirt that was a lot wider than it should have been, after all 19th century fabric was not 150 cm wide, the whole dress started to gravitate towards a later date than the early 19th century. This was accentuated when I looked at the length of the gown. On me it was OK, but I have very short legs, on anyone taller it would have been too short, so I had to add a bit of length to it, and now for me it just reaches the floor.

Then there were the sleeves. With the enlarging of the pattern, the armscye had also turned out very big. I took out my sleeve pattern I drafted for the shrug I wore to my sister's wedding, and just added to it. The result made the sleeves very full, and quite puffy as well.

Here is the final gown, and I would say that to me it looks more 1830s than 1810s, but this woman I'm going to portray might either have been very fashion forward, or a bit backwards, wishing back to the waists and skirts of the 18th century.  As it is I think it's a bit similar to this extant Swedish gown, dated to 1830-1840.

I wore the dress today for the dressrehearsal for the holiday program.

I had managed to scrape together an apron as well from the last pieces of linen I used for the lining. The apron doesn't go into the HSF challenge it's quite a nasty thing, all machinesewn and I just zigzaged over the edges. If I ever take the time I will take the apron home and hem it properly. The neckerchief was also just something I found at work. I'm hoping to get the time to do a cap to wear, I know that I have made two 18th century caps for work previously but I just couldn't find any of them. For the dress rehearsal it was alright to go without the cap though.

The Challenge: 19 Inspiration
Fabric: 4 m of cotton/linen blend and 1 m of linen
Pattern: My own, drafted from instructions in Creathing Historical Clothes
Year: 1830s
Notions: regular sewing thread, cotton tape

How historically accurate is it? The fabric is correct, even if cotton was more likely to be used for finer clothing, the major seams were done by machine but all visible seams are finished by hand. I'd say 80%

Hours to complete: 16 hours
First worn: Monday 20th of October, for a dress rehearsal

Total cost: $75

What I learnt with this projcet
More fabric isn't always the better, sometimes it just gets bulky, also add a bit more to the skirt length than you think. Also you need less circumference than you think to be able to pull it over your head.

Future plans
I enjoyed making this dress but it's not an era I really enjoy or have occasion to wear though. I do feel a bit sad that I won't keep the dress in my own wardrobe, so maybe I will make a consolation dress for myself. In that case I would like to do it a more proper regency dress, so higher waist and not quite as much fabric in the skirt.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Jedi-Con report

On Friday I went to Düsseldorf in Germany to visit Jedi-Con. Jedi-Con is organised by the official German Star Wars-fanclub, about every 4th year, except for when they held it just two years after the other. I love Jedi-Con. I think the friend that I went with summed it up pretty good when he said "there are different kinds of cons, some you go for the panels, some for the trooping and some just to relax in the bar, and Jedi-Con is a relax-in-the-bar con".  Staying at a nice hotel, with wonderful breakfast buffet, pool and sauna, and then in between you hang around with people and take your chance to immerse yourself in Star Wars. Now since it's being held in Germany it does mean that quite a lot of the program is in German, so it is definitely an advantage knowing the language, but it's definitely enjoyable anyway.

This year was my fourth Jedi-Con and my 10th anniversary since I visited the first one in 2004. It felt a bit slower compared to the other ones though, the last two times everyone has gathered in the hotel bar after the con program ended and it's been a proper dance floor there, now that never really got off. We did wonder if many of the German fan groups have been busy with preparations and trooping for the Star Wars:Rebels TV show, and that's why there were less people than usual, and that the people who were there seemed a bit more tired than usual.

Highlights from the con was to listen to Gus Lopez talking about collecting Cast and Crew items, even if I'm not a serious collector I love listening to their panels, they are always so well prepared and informative. It was also nice listening to Bonnie Piesse, who plays Beru Lars in AOTC and ROTS. A really good thing was that they did have a host that lead the talk and made sure that there were always good questions. I also enjoyed watching Star Wars:Rebels. I had missed the Swedish premiere, because I didn't feel like going down to Stockholm, and I didn't mind watching it in German instead.

Now costume-wise, well Jedi-Con isn't a great convention. The most amazing costumes were Rebel Legion member Naergi, who had also had some on display at the Rebel Legion booth. Those costumes are exquisite, and it's real treat to see them in real life and not just on photo. Otherwise you have mostly jedi of different shapes running around, and it was the same at the costume contest, mostly jedi and a group of Mandalorians.

I didn't bring any of my serious costumes either, I just went with my Rebel Cheerleader and had fun with that, I even remembered to bring my orange running shoes to go with it. A the Rebel Legion photo it was he same quite relaxed attitude, with the German girls wearing their "Star Wars as Diseny princesses" costumes that they made last year for Celebration Europe II.

Here are the Rebel Legion members getting ready for the photo, with Bonnie Piesse in the middle.

The best picture of me, discussing shades of orange with the handmaiden.

Now since this isn't a con for the most fabulous costumes, I really like the quirkier costumes that you get to see. I didn't get a pic of the two girls walking around in a cardboard AT-AT, and other than that I really liked this costume.
I guess it takes a costumer to recognise this one, it was featured in some behind the scenes photos of the club scene in AOTC, but I can't remember it if it's in the scene or was cut out. Lovely that someone made it though.

The best costume of the con goes to this little adorable George Lucas, together with his sister as a great Leia.


I had great fun hanging around with my friends from the Rebel Legion in the UK, and in a way Jedi-Con felt like a bit of start off to the gearing up for Celebration Anaheim in April. I got some great celebration costume ideas as well, but that will be for a future celebration, I need to concentrate on the gold handmaiden for 2015.