Thursday, 31 December 2015

Costume recap of 2015

It's time to look back at 2015 and see what I did. This will be about my main projects, I will make a separate post about the HSM challenges that I finished.

First though here were my plans for 2015:

Star Wars
Gold Handmaiden
Tusken female
Possible a TFA costume

18th century
pair of stays
pet en l'air
pierrot jacket
pocket hoops

19th century
possible a black bodice

Queen Elsa

The tusken female and Queen Elsa remains in the UFO pile, even if I did work a bit on the mask of the tusken. I ran out of time to make a pet en l'air, but I did use that time to draft a basic 18th century bodice pattern. I did decide to move the pocket hoops to this year instead. The black bodice was a maybe, so I wasn't even close to starting it.

All in all when I look back at the year I think I'm going to call this the year of hats, counting back I I've made four hats and two caps, even if two of the hats were made on the same base and just a matter of redecorating. I've also done a lot more accessories, but those will come in the HSM recap.

My costume year follows a program where spring is historical costuming, and autumn is Star Wars, this was made different this year due to Star Wars Celebration being held in April.

Well enough writing, now I will go on with the costumes and my favorite photos from 2015.

The gold handmaiden was my main project of the year. It was a lot of time and money that went into it, and even if I'm already thinking about improvements I was really happy with it.

In the winter I also got invited to take part in the 100 year celebration of the Swedish Railway Museum. It was fun being able to bring up most of what I needed from what I had in the wardrobe, but I did add a corset cover and blouse, and trimmed up a straw hat.

Me and some of the ladies from the Swedish 19th and 20th century societies, and ArtyAnna as a steampunk chimney sweeper, made quite an impression when we were walking around in a group.

A new experience for me was a visit to NärCon Summer. For this I took the chance to do something totally new, and that was my My Little Pony cospaly of Rariy.

I did some changes to the Rarity for Comic Con. The dress was not the easiest to sew, but it's good to have a comfy con costume to run around in. The wig makes it warm, but otherwise it's really nice. I should upgrade it with some pony years though.

The other big thing was get together in Stockholm for the most fake 18th century clothing that you could think of. I loved my totally over the top style that I did, and it was really funny just doing something for the looks and not having to worry about accuracy in any way. I'm pretty proud of having been finally fulfilled my dream of wearing a big aircraft carrier on my head.

I did get a chance to make a proper serious 18th century photo shoot as well in the summer, now with my brand new Kensington shoes, and a new petticoat for my late 18th century wardrobe.

Going into the autumn I finished my main historical projects by doing a pierrot jacket in brown. I still haven't had time to wear it, but I'm really happy with it, this was also the first really fitted handsewn garment that I made, meaning that I had to trust my seams to hold up for strain. For this jacket I also used a bodice pattern that I had drafted from scratch in the summer. I was also really happy when I realised that I could make a sleeve that actually fit. The major thing I discovered was that it's much easier to adjust two piece sleeves than one piece sleeves, so from now on I will probably work with two piece sleeves.

With the jacket done I packed away my historical garments and went back to Star Wars costumes. I continued with the HSM 15 challenges, but I'm going to make a separate post with all the small things I made for that.

It started to feel that the premiere of the new Star Wars film was getting nearer, and with Björn in Nordic Base doing a TFA Han Solo I decided to make a TFA Leia. At this time there were really few reference photos around, but I did my best and was really happy with the result that I could wear for the first time at the Stockholm Comic-Con in October. This was also my first time making a jumpsuit, so that was something new that I learnt.

I must say that this photo of me and Björn as Han and Leia is probably my favorite photo of me in costume of the year. When we took the photo we didn't know why they looked so worried in the shot from the trailer, now after having seen the film and knowing what's going on I like it even more.

Then suddenly in November I realised that I had finished all the main projects of the year, that I was going to finish. It felt really strange to not have something to stress about. So I decided to upgrade my Endor Rebel Trooper with a vest. With the release of the game Star Wars:Battlefront I had noticed that the ERT was more recognized even on its own, and most of the troopers in the game seem to have the vest.

Without the vest, but in front of the battlefront backdrop at comic-con

The last big thing of the year was of course the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with meant around 40 hours of Star Wars madness, and most of them in costume. 
Runner up favorite costume photo of the year

So with that lets recap my 2015 costume list.

Star Wars
Gold Handmaiden - done
Tusken female - UFO
Possible a TFA costume - done

18th century
pair of stays - done
pet en l'air - not done
pierrot jacket - done
pocket hoops - not  done

19th century
possible a black bodice - not done

Queen Elsa - still in the UFO pile

Unplanned costumes that happened
Edwardian shirtwaist and small bumpad
My Little Pony - Rarity
new 18th century petticoat
Endor Rebel Trooper Vest

Skills that I've learnt this year

The first one was to dye fabric. I thought dyeing was really fun, even if I still can't get exactly the shade I want I'm looking forward to dyeing more things in the future.

The other one is that I've started to handsew more and more of my historical garments, and even if I don't have the most beautiful seams they are holding up well enough, this is really a matter of practise and more practise and eventually it will look good.

I have made a sleeve pattern that fits!

A smaller thing that I've taken up more and more is to work with wigs and hair. The big difference came when I ordered my new wig for Leia, and saw what a difference it was to work with a lacefront wig. With my own hair I've gotten more and more confident as well and now I actually enjoy doing pincurls and seeing what the hair will end up looking like.

End thoughts

Looking into my wardrobe I feel that I'm starting to get the 18th century wardrobe that I've wanted, and now I have quite a few pieces that can be combined in different ways, meaning that I'm probably going to venture into some new eras with historical costumes in the coming year.

As for Star Wars I really love dressing up as the older Leia, but I think when it comes to newer costumes I will try to look into more generic background characters. I think my most worn SW costumes this year was my Endor Rebel Trooper and the jawa, and they are both easy to pack and really comfy for running around at conventions.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

HSM Challenge 12 - Redo: Part two the blueberry cape

Yesterday when I had finished the cap I felt so in the mood, so I decided to make another thing for the challenge.

Back when I did the blueberry muff, for Challenge 2 - blue, I had plans to make a little cape to go with it from the rest of the fabric, a blue cotton velvet, I was unsure if there was enough fabric to make a cape, and also I ran out of time so I didn't. Then I used some of the same blue fabric to make the tricorne for the War and Peace challenge, and then I thought I had really used up too much fabric to be able to make something of the scrap that was left.

Yesterday I took the scrap out of my stash, and after I had cut off all the uneven bits I had a piece of 110 cm x 80 cm. That turned out to be just about right to get a small cape out of it. I checked the Costume Close up cape for inspiration, but it was clear that I couldn't make a hood or that elegant snibs on it. In the end I just cut an elongated semi-circle out of the fabric, giving me just enough fabric on the side left to make a small collar.

I lined it with a piece of gray cotton satin. I had bought it to make a petticoat one day, but I think I can still make a petticoat from it, just without ruffles. In order to close it I had used some silver/gray poly satin ribbon that I had at home.

The cape is handsewn, but more because I have my sewing area packed away over Christmas than wanting to be really accurate. I also don't really have a set time period for it, since this kind of capes were worn both in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The challenges that are redone with this one are: Blue - due to the colour, stash-busting - it all comes from my stash, accessorize - a cape is great add on to any costume in the colder months and sewing secrets.

The sewing secret with this one is that blue and silver/grey are the colours of the student nation that I belonged to at university. Blue stands for the county of Dalarna and silver/grey for the county of Västmanland. If you give the blue colour more prominence than the silver/grey, what is usually called (the blue side up) you show that feel closer to Dalarna. And of course I live in Dalarna and has always worn the blue side up. The student nations have been around since the 17th century, but I'm not sure how old this colour code is, it might even be a modern thing, but it is still a code.

What the item is: An 18th/19th century cape/mantelet

The Challenge: 12 - Re-do

What Challange/s are you re-doing?: Blue, stashbusting, accessorize, sewing secrets

Fabric: 80 cm blue cotton velvet, 80 cm grey cotton satin

Pattern: Inspired by the cape in Costume Close up

Year: 18th/19th century

Notions: regular sewing thread, 1 m poly satin ribbon

How historically accurate is it? It's probably around 40%. The poly satin ribbon drags it down, and even if cotton was around at the time proper velvet and linen would have been more probable fabrics. At least it's handsewn.

Hours to complete: 5

First worn: Not yet, it's was a spur of the moment thing to make it so we'll see when I get the chance to wear it.

Total cost: All from the stash, but the fabric is around $11/meter if I would buy it all new, so around $5.

Monday, 28 December 2015

HSM15 - Challenge 12: Re-do

Last challenge of the year, and with this I've managed to do the full HSM marathon this year. Go me!

For the last challenge I made another 18th century cap, and this time in linen. It actually started when I cut out the lining for the Demelza cap, but managed to cut it from another pattern so I made the main cap too big. I put it aside, but still saved it. Then there were two craft cafés left of the year, and since I needed something small I could make by hand I took the cap with me and worked on it there. Due to a lot of talking going on at the craft cafés it took a bit longer than if I had just been at home to make it.

The pattern I used was from the same Duràn newsletter as the Demelza cap. Since there aren't many directions I first just gathered the main cap to the band and pleated the back of the cap to make it fit the head. This was the result

 I felt that it looked too much like the Demelza cap, I wanted something lighter and more froofy for this cap. I noticed that on some reference pictures the band itself also looked like a flounce, so ran a quick gathering stitch along it, and that made a lot of difference. The cap was too smal though, so I undid the pleats in the back and instead gathered the band. I only made a very smal boxpleat in the back to take in some of the extra width there.

The result was a lot more like I wanted it to be.

I will need to make a bun in the back to keep the cap on, but this is a cap that I've made so that I don't need to make complicated hairstyles, I will be able to hide all the hair under the cap.

I consider this a re-do of these challenges:
Stash-busting - it all came from my stash
Practicality - it's made in order to hide my hair and still be historically correct

What the item is: A late 18th century cap

The Challenge: 12 - Re-do

What Challange/s are you re-doing?: Stashbusting, practicality, accessorize

Fabric: 0,5 m linen

Pattern: Duran textiles newsletter

Year: Late 18th century

Notions: white cotton thread

How historically accurate is it? I would say this is pretty spot on, it's all handsewn. Linen thread would have been even better, but I'd say 90% for this one.

Hours to complete: 4

First worn: Not yet

Total cost: All from the stash, but the fabric is around $11/meter if I would buy it all new, so around $5.

Friday, 18 December 2015

The big trooping Star Wars: The Force Awakens post

I've barely survived some crazy Star Wars times, but it's been wonderful. It's well worth it sitting her with giant blisters on my feet and a bit of sleep deprivation.

I'm not going to post any spoilers in this post, it's going to be about me and what I've done in connection to Star Wars during the last two weeks. At the end I will give my score for the film, but not say anything particular about the plot.

I've been contacted by quite a lot of media as well leading up to the premiere of The Force Awakens. The Monday before the premiere I went down to Stockholm and me and Andrew talked Star Wars with an internet show connected to one of the major papers in Sweden. They asked me to come in costume, so I was dressed as classic Leia. I did the ESB end hairstyle though, with just a single bun on the top of the had, rather than the cinnamon buns. I got to talk about my gold handmaiden a bit as well.

The program is available here: Star Wars Deluxe

I was in the local radio, and they actually tested me with quite a funny quiz. I had to recognize if a line was from either a Star Wars film or the European Parliament.

The local paper also made an article with me in my costumes. DT - Johanna syr sin egna dräkter

On Tuesday the 15th the Nordic Garrison and Nordic Base had gotten invited to come in costume for the preview of the film. So we dressed up and stood on the red carpet watching the Swedish celebrities pass by. I managed to not see anyone I recognized except for the Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang, but there were a bunch of people there.

 Here we are doing the thumbs up for the film on the red carpet. We had time to get out of costume and then watch the film for the first time.

The next morning I had to get up really early to be on SVT Gomorron, the national morning TV show. I didn't go in costume, I felt that a lot of my media appearances have been so focused on costuming that I wanted to show that there are other sides to being a fan as well. I wore my new Death Star maxi dress though, together with my R2 pearl necklace. I don't have any photos of that though, but a friend took a screengrab, unfortunately I'm sitting down so you can't see the Death Star properly.
The other person was a collector that had brought part of his collection with him and talked about that. I got a bit annoyed when he said that it had gone too far when they started to put Star Wars on make up. (male stuff is apparently ok but not female stuff). I tried to focus on the fact that there are a lot of female fans out there, and that there have always been a lot of female fans as well.

Then it was off to see the film for the second time, when it had its official premiere at 10 am. Both the preview and the premiere was my first experience of watching a feature film in IMAX 3D, and I must say that was pretty cool.

After lunch it was off to the next cinema, Filmstaden Sergel, where they had asked us to troop the evening. A good thing with having seen the film was that I could correct my hairstyle into something a lot more accurate. I will try to make a post about the costume notes that I did, but that is for later.

It started off fairly calm, and at this point I was quite tired as well. We walked around met people, nobody wanted pictures with me though. They prefer more recognizable characters.

From the early evening showing we started to march in just before the film started and present it for the audience. That was great fun to hear their cheers.
We also got to see the film a third time. The third time was actually the funniest. The audience was a lot more energetic and by now I could sit and it was just as fun to sit and wait for the audience's reactions to certain scenes, as it was to watch them

After the third viewing I started to go into a bit of overdrive, due to lack of sleep, but it was really fun to run around and stage photos.

TFA characters stay together of course.

 Playing hide and seek behind the movie posters.

 I think this is actually one of my favorite photos of my Leia costume.

 I feel like a proper rebel leader giving orders to the pilots in this photo.

It's not easy walking in stairs in armor.
 Most of the gang that was trooping in a serious mode

And in our more normal state?

After that it was time to head to Uppsala for me to catch some sleep before taking the morning train back to Falun.
In the 40 hours before this photo I had slept 4 hours, but seen TFA 3 times, and been in costume for 7-8 hours.

It was a very special experience to be part of the whole thing and I feel very privileged to have done it. I can only hope that there will be something similar for the coming films.

As for the film itself. To be honest I'm not quite as overwhelmed as most people seem to be. If you love the original trilogy, but don't like the prequels, then you are going to love this film. For me it ends up in the middle though in the 4th place of my personal ranking of the Star Wars film. It made me laugh, I even cried a bit, but it's no Empire Strikes back or Revenge of the Sith.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Santa time

Today it was the annual Christmas market at work, which means that while a lot of other people were out trooping at the SSFGC in Stockholm, I dressed up as miss Santa and had guided tours in the mine.

As you can see traditional Swedish Santas don't look like the big, red jolly Santa Claus. In fact it's quite wrong to translate Swedish tomte into Santa, since the Swedish tomte is a mix of the tomte of Scandinavian folklore, the yule goat and different Father Christmas traditions that came to life in the middle of the 19th century. As such there is not one single Santa Claus, rather every home can have its own tomte, and he doesn't come through the chimney rather he knocks on the door to deliver his presents. When I grew up the tomte wasn't associated with reindeers, rather with horses and goats, but nowadays we've imported the reindeer sleigh from Anglo-Saxon traditions so it's getting more and more common here.

A traditinal tomte is more about wearing homewoven and traditional clothes, mostly in greys and browns, but with accents of red in it, most commonly a red cap.

Swedish tomtar preparing for Christmas.

Friday, 4 December 2015

So I'm in a big magazine

So one of the major news papers in Sweden  (Aftonbladet) has made a big Star Wars special, all in all it's 134 pages, and I happen to be on seven of them, talking about costumes and being a fan.

This was a reason why I had a deadline to finish my TFA Leia the weekend before Comic Con, since that was when the interview and photos were done. I had finished the vest in the morning, and it was my first try with making the hairstyle. Of course when all was done and I took it off I realized that I had mirrored it, but hey it still looks pretty good. (I'm not the stormtrooper up in the corner though).

It's always fun to have a professional photographer taking photos, because they look really good.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Legal and free e-book

I love the University of Århus' policy of publishing a free e-book each month, and this month it's once again time for a book about historical clothes

Link to the free download

This is the official description of the book.

The book tells the exciting story of one of the 20th century's most spectacular archaeological finds: the excavation of the Herjolfsnæs graveyard in 1921 where - because wood has always been extremely scarce in Greenland - bodies had been buried in multiple layers of cast-off clothing instead of coffins.
Just looking at the content it's more than just about the Herjolfsnaes finds, even if those are the focus. It goes through the excavation and the finds themselves, but also finds from other parts of Greenland. After that follows chapters on the different techniques used to craft the garments, from rearing the sheep and goats to the finishing decorations. The book ends with a catalogue of the Herjolfsnaes finds, with new full colour photos of them!

So take your chance and download this book that is really a go to book when it comes to medieval clothing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

It's a mini-me

At Comic-Con we joked enough about the fact that there are no Leia merchandise from TFA, that I decided to make my own Leia action figure. There is a company that has offered to turn you into your own action figure for the last few cons in Sweden. I haven't really felt that I wanted to put some money in it, to be honest I don't think I was confident enough to do it. Now in Leia I was really happy about it all, so here I am.

The figure is 10 cm, and I'm amazed by how detailed it is. The face is a bit soft, but otherwise it looks really nice. In fact it's the first really good look at what my hair looked like from behind. I can definitely see that making a figure is going to be a thing at future cons, I'm already thinking about which costume I should use for my next figure.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Endor trooper vest

With all my planned project for the year done I felt it was time to go back and do some updates on old costumes instead. One of those updates that I've been thinking about for quite a long time is the Endor trooper. I consider that I have the bare basic trooper, but I've always wanted to add more things to it. Since I prefer to sew the easiest thing to do in order to upgrade it was to add the Endor vest to the costume.

You can see the vest on at least three of the guys in this picture, two are wearing it over the snow jacket, and the bearded man in the front is wearing it directly over the long sleeved t-shirt. There aren't a lot of good pictures online of the vest, but there is a full body picture and some concept sketces of it in the Star Wars Costumes - Original Trilogy book. It is basically the same vest as the one Leia is wearing under her poncho.

There is also a tutorial for the vest available here, and the pattern pieces that are used in the tutorial can be found via the Rebel Legion forum. I decided not to use the tutorial or the pattern though. There are some inaccuracies in the pattern, and the tutorial is made for a lined vest, while I decided that my with the fabric I had a fully lined vest would be too bulky and heavy.

The fabric is a quite heavy cotton/poly twill in beige.

I started the pattern by tracing the pattern off my Endor jacket, since the vest will be worn over it I figured I could just as well do that.
With the back and front pieces up I pinned tracing paper on them and simply freehanded where I wanted the sleeve, pockets and details on the front to be.
Up until this point I had followed the instructions on the tutorial I linked to above. Looking at  more reference pictures there were a couple of things I realized I needd to change. The vest is a lot shorter than planned, and the gap between the padded section (the pattern tissue at the front top) and the pocket is very small. More importantly though is that the padded section isn't just an added decoration on the right side, it's a yoke that goes all around the neck, the only thing is that he left side isn't quilted.
This is my pattern for the joke. Going from just a right front piece to a full joke led to some fabric issues though. I had bought enough fabric to be able to line the vest, but when I decided not to do that I had promised to make a vest for a friend out of the leftover material. I did manage to fiddle with the fabric, and by making one of the yokes in two pieces, with the seam hidden by the quilting, I did get two yokes out of what I had left of the fabric.
I cut out a piece of batting with the same pattern as the yoke and basted it to the main vest. I then sewed the yoke piece on over the batting and on to the vest.

In order to hide the batting at the bottom edges of the yoke I turned the yoke fabric in under the batting and sewed it on.

Since the quilted part of the vest goes from the back over the shoulder and on to the vest it was hard to figure out the placement of the seams with the pattern flat. In the end the easiest thing was to pin a piece of tape where I wanted it to go, from the back to the front, and use that as a reference line. Then 

I marked out where I wanted the seams to go, as you can see they look curved when flat but they look straight when the vest is on. I quilted the right side, but the left is just the padded. One thing that happened with the padding was that the whole vest got really stiff, I feel like a hockey player with really large shoulder protections in it. I think that I would recommend a batting that is thinner, or simply use a layer of felt rather than padding. My Endor Leia vest is a lot thinner and uses felt instead.

While working with the vest I kept having a feeling that it looked to shiny and new, and the Endor trooper is supposed to be dirty and worn. At this stage I also happened to have a full day of doing laundry, so while doing my regular laundry I threw the two vests and all the pieces of fabric that I had left into the zink with some mild bleach. After two rounds the colour hadn't changed much, except on the wrong side of the fabric, but the whole look of the fabric was a lot more faded, it simply looked more worn. I am thinking about actually throwing the vest in for yet another period in the bleach, but I haven't decided yet.

In order to finish the vests I had to use the scraps that I had left. In hindsight I think the vest would look better with lined sleeves, but there wasn't enough fabric for that. To finish the sleeves/armholes I cut a straight piece of fabric as a facing, and the same goes for the front facings as well. I did get manage to piece together two smaller bias cut strips for the neck facing. The waist band is simply the leftovers that I cut off from the vest when I shortened it. That means that there are seams in the waistband, but it was the only way I could get a strip of fabric that was long enough.

This is the finished vest.