Saturday, 25 June 2016

Happy Midsummer

Today it was Midsummer Eve again, and it was time to bring forth the traditional costume. You might remember that I took it in and gave it a better fit for the HSM15: Heirlooms and heritage challenge last year, and this was my first chance to wear it with the new fit.

It doesn't really show, but I felt a lot better with the new bodice. When I look at the photo of me and my sister I realize that I should really shorten the apron as well to match the new length of the skirt.

I was really happy with my hair. It's a bit hard to make a nice hairdo to wear both with a light summer dress for lunch, and then to fit under the cap when I changed into the traditional costume in the afternoon. It's simply a hair donut that I put quite low and then just swept and pinned the hair over it and finishing off with a flower. I also love how well my newest hair colour matches my cap, and I actually got compliments from random people when we were at the Maypole festivities.
I also need to show off the cake that I had made for today. I really like baking, but decorating isn't my thing, I usually just slap some whipped cream on top and throw some fresh fruit on it. This is the first time I tried to do some serious piping, and it wasn't so hard. It's a sponge cake with one layer of raspberry mousse and one layer of passionfruit curd covered in a white chocolate and cream cheese frosting. It was yummy.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The TFA Leia vest is finally done

At the moment in Sweden there is a commercial talking about projects that take time and when things go wrong, but if you only persevere it will feel more rewarding in the end. Well the TFA Leia vest is the opposite. A lot of things did go wrong, I finished it, but I'm not happy with the result.

It started out easily, using the black vest from my first attempt to make a new pattern.

The front is cut on the grain, along the selvage, and the shaping is done at the side seams and back. It's a left and right piece, since there are no visible shoulder seams. One of the problems was that the fabric that I had found had quite a colour difference between the right and wrong side, and since the inside of the vest is seen quite a few times and needed to be the same colour I had to self line all the pieces.

Here the left and right sides are sewn together. I also added a piece of fusible interfacing to the outer layer, since I thought that it might be flimsy. In the end it would have been easier to be without that layer. The vest is heavy enough without it, and the extra layer just added bulk and complexity.

The loose yoke was made by taking the pattern and drawing out how I wanted it to look. Then it was simply a question of looking at reference pictures, pinning and cutting until I had a shape I liked.

I had the yoke pinned to the vest when I did all the finishing on it.

This is the finished yoke, Before it's attached to the vest. I first attached it to the front opening, then I added the colour and I ended with sewing the back to the back piece. The collar is a strip of fabric, 6 cm wide, cut on the bias and with fusible interfacing to make it stand up.

There are some definite issues with all the layers shifting and being uneven. The vest is also quite bulky, where the yoke is there are four layers + interfacing. If, or rather when, I redo the vest I will do my best to work with deep hems and facings in order to avoid having to fully line all the pieces.

Here I am trying on all the soft pieces. Wearing a jumpsuit that's basically made out of plastic and a four layered vest is hot and heavy though. I was really sweating just from putting it on and taking some photos. At the moment I'm thinking about maybe sewing some kind of linen shorts and tank top to soak up the sweat and make it more comfortable to wear for longer period. We will see how much time I have before London. After all my main motivation for finishing the vest is that I want to start and some other more fun projects that I want to bring to Celebration.

Anyway after all the swearing I felt that I deserved this after having finished it all.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Boots for TFA Leia

The vest didn't get finished this weekend, but instead I can show you the boots that I'm going to use for it.
It turned out it wasn't so easy to find a pair of brown wedge heel boots. In the end I setled for these ones. They do have a zipper up the side, but there was no chance that I could find a pair of boots without a zipper that I could get up my calves.

When I tried the boots on for the first time I was worried, they were so tight. I could just get them up, but it hurt a lot. When I took them off I had marks after the straps. Still that made me hopeful that it was the straps and not the bootshaft itself that was too tight. I cut off the straps, and also a flap that was at top of the boot, that also had the benefit of removing the brand name on the boot since it was a metal thing on the flap.

The boots are still tight, but I have no problem getting the leg of the jumpsuit into them. There are some marks where I removed the straps, but I don't think they are too visible. I'm also thinking about finding some kind of brown paint that will work on the wedge heels to make them blend better with the boot itself.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Remake of TFA Leia

This weekend I started on the remake of my TFA Leia, of course I want to have it finished before Celebration Europé, but I also would love to have it approved with the Rebel Legion and that usually takes a couple of weeks so I need to finish it pretty soon for that to happen.

The jumpsuit is the first part that I have finished. The most complicated thing with the jumpsuit was to find a good fabric. In London that was my main quest, but I couldn't find anything suitable. I did find a fabric with a good colour at, a jacket fabric in a colour called "ocean". I ordered a swatch and it was definietly the right colour, green in most lights but grey in others. The bad thing is that it's a plastic coated synthetic fabric. It was also quite shiny, but I used the wrong side of the fabric that was duller than the right side. The synthetic means that it's impossible to press and it's also going to be really hot to wear. I will be on the lookout for a natural fibre in the right colour, but for now the colour is perfect and that will do.

I used my old grey jumpsuit as the pattern. I simply cut it up along the seam lines. I chose to cut it, rather than just rip the seams. When I made it I had done quite a few alterations to it, so the seam alloweances were very varied, by cutting along the seams I could add uniform seam allowances all over.

There are a couple of details that we have found out after I made the grey jumpsuit though, and one of them is that Leia's jumpsuit has a yoke. I also decided to incorporate the collar into the yoke, since I couldn't see any seam along the neckline. I've since then discovered that there is a seam, so the collar should probably be a separate piece.

Anyway to create the yoke/collar I did one of my strangest pattern hacks ever. I started off with this pattern for a 16th century partlet.
I tried out the collar shape in some scrap fabric until I was happy with the shape of the turned over collar

 I then cut off the top part of the jumpsuit and layed the partlet and jumpsuit pattern over each other on the fabric.

The yoke/collar is constructed from two layers of fabric, with some light interfacing on the collar part. The back of the collar ended up a bit bubbly, but the lapels look crisp.

Other details that I added was a small pocket (7,5 cm x 12 cm) on the left sleeve and a flap covering the zipper. The flap is simply a piece of fabric folded in half and then both halves turned to each other.

Next stop is to make a new vest.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

HSM16: Challenge 5 - Holes

I had bigger plans for this challenge, but at least I finished something that fit with the challenge. My 16th century project is going slow, but in May I did finish the undergown.

The pattern I used and instructions for how to make it was taken from Katafalk's amazing tutorial.

 Since the pattern doesn't have too many complicated curves I didn't copy the pattern but rather just drew it straight from the measurements onto my scrap fabric, with a lot of extra seam allowances. Thankfully I'm more or less the same size, but with a smaller bust, than the original pattern so I hardly made any alterations.

It's not clearly visible but this is what my pattern looks like, with a lot of notes written straight onto the fabric so I will remember it for the next time.

The bodice itself went together fairly easy. I did have to make some alterations so that I cut it lower, 16th century fashion has a really neckline. I used what I think is an old, heavy linen curtain for the lining and a thin wool for the outer fabric. If anything the wool was too thin, but it will be nice to have a fairly light undergown. The bottom of the bodice is hemmed, but all the other edges are turned in towards each other.

The skirt is full widths of the wool fabric cartridge pleated together. In order to get even pleats I used the marking board I made for the 16th century shift, but I only used every second dot. I made two rows of dots, pleated them together and whipstitched the skirt to the bodice.

The undergown just reaches my ankles, my dressform is shorter though that's why the fabric pools on the floor.

As for the holes, after all that was the HSM challenge. The holes are my handmade lacing holes. I used a strip of the same linen as the lining, but folded in double. I also added a piece of synthetic whalebone to each strip so that the lacing would be straight. I then handstitched the holes with a buttonhole stitch.

In the end I sewed the lacing strips to the lining of the bodice, so that they are invisible on the outside. If it had been an outer gown the guards would have helped conceal the lacing and I could have attached them to both the lining and the outer fabric.

The Challenge: May - holes
Material: 1 m of heavy linen, 4 m of thin wool
Year: ca 1520
Notions: thread, synthetic whalebone, lacing, buttonhole thread
How historically accurate is it? The pattern is good, but the wool is too thin and I used a sewing maching for the side seams and skirt seams, so somewhere around 40%
Hours to complete: 20
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: The cost of the wool -  around $40

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Last month at work

As I've mentioned earlier I'm working at the mine museum in Falun, and last week we finished off the biggest new exhibition in the museum since the 1960's. We are basically rebuilding the whole museum and next year it will be totally finished. This year we opened the largest part though, which is about the heydey of the mine in the 17th and 18th centuries. The last few weeks were really hectic, in fact when I posted about my trip to the medieval fair in Leksand, well that was my only day off, and I've been working well into the late evenings as well. Outside of arranging the geological part of the exhibition, I did get to have some fun with my costuming/cosplay skills.

I have carved charcoal into smaller pieces that could fit a model of sled, and I made mini-blankets and halters for some wooden horses. (it's part of a miniature stable where you can take the horses out and play with them). I also had to weather some copper to make it look like it had been down in the mine for more than 40 years.

The copper was a snuff box and at first I thought that I would actually put it in a bucket of mine water, which is very corrosive, but I figured that it would be easier and less messy to weather it myself.

I don't have any before photos, but it was a brand new snuff box in shiny copper. On the outside I first dabbed some green paint on it and wiped most of it off with some tissue, then I did the same with black paint. I did this two times over. The inside, which was tin coloured, I only used the black paint. In the box you can also see the fake snuff that I made by grinding coffee and black tea together. In the end the snuff box was put in the exhibition with the lid on, so outside of this blog nobody will see the inside or the snuff.

Even more fun than weathering was to create fake blood. A part of the exhibition is about the health care and social security for the workers, and horses. The workers were provided with the best the 16th century could offer, unfortunately that wasn't much. As a visitor you get the chance to experience what it's like to amputate a leg.

The producer of the exhibit and one of my colleagues
When the leg arrived, it was just a leg wound in some white fabric, so me and the producer agreed that it had to look more realistic. I volunteered to fix that.

Now looking up fake blood wasn't totally easy. Most fake blood recipes are based on sugar/glucose and sticky and messy. We can't have our visitors getting stains on them, so the blood had to be dry, but still look good. I went up into my dye box that I have in the attic and found that I had some Dylon terracotta fabric dye. Blood is a lot browner than most people think so I started with just a few grams of the dye and water, to that I added some regular red hobby paint. The paint didn't quite mix with the water, so there were still some lumps in it, perfect for looking like blood cloths.

The blood was very thin and runny. I splashed it onto the leg with a big brush, and also poured some of it down the sides so it ran down on the table. I felt that the wound still looked to clean though, so I took some beeswax and melted it and poured it on the leg as well. Then another round of the fake blood so that the wax was covered. To finish the leg I took a piece of wool cloth and covered the upper part of the leg, to make it look like a trouser leg. But first I made sure to go over the cloth with a knife to thin out the fabric and make holes in it. I also used black paint and more of the fake blood to weather the cloth.

I'm really satisfied with the result, and the fact that people who've seen it have commented on that it look scarily realistic.

Here is an article about the new exhibition, in Swedish.

Monday, 6 June 2016

DUHMP June 6 2016

Today it's June 6, which is Sweden's National Holiday. Most Swedes don't really care about it, it's nothing like May 17 in Norway or July 4 in the US. In fact it's just 10 years ago since it was turned into an actual holiday so people could get the day off from work. If the weather is nice it's a really good reason to have a picknick though, and for the last years there has been "Den Ultimata Historiska MegaPicknicken" (the ultimate historical mega picknick) or DUHMP in Hagaparken in Stockholm. I've have been working the last June 6, which of course happens when you work at a place that is used for June 6 celebrations, so I haven't been able to attend. This year I was free though, and since a very good friend of mine put forth his dissertation for a PhD on Saturday I was in Uppsala, so it was an easy decision to stay until June 6 and go to Stockholm.

Some weeks ago I planned to inaugurate my 16th century undergown for this event, but I've always wanted to go to the event in 18th century attire, since the weather promised to be really nice (sunny and in the low 20s) I felt that my best summer dress would be the gaulle. The gaulle also has two other advantages; it's easy to pack since it's just cotton voile and I can use my shortest pair of stays with it which is a good thing if you know that most of the event will be spent sitting on the ground.

I talked to Carolina/Lithia Black so that we could meet up at the entrance of the park and find our way to the picknick. When we met up it was quite fun how well we matched, despite having chosen fashions 100 years apart.

I also wasn't the only one who had picked red shoes to wear. I can only say how much I love my American Duchess Kensingtons. I have some very painful calluses on my feet from other shoes, and the Kensingtons were the first pair of shoes in a couple of days were actually comfortable to walk around in. The sole is a bit thin though, so for longer events I should probably put an extra sole inside them.
The great thing with the event is of course the total mix of of eras. It was really nice meeting all these serious reenactors, who had brought period correct kitchenware and food to the picknick. That's why I still consider myself as a costumer first, since I don't go those kinds of events where you live and breathe history, I enjoy just dressing up.

There were some gorgeous 18th century costumes, my hair and hat felt tiny in comparison.

I had expected the event to be dominated by 18th century and the Middle Ages, but outside of the vikings, in their very comfortable loose linen clothes, I felt that the 19th century dominated with everything from Regency to Edwardian.

It's the mix of eras that makes this such a fun event though.

Just before I had to leave to catch the train back to Falun they also started with some Regency dancing.

I had time to take part in two dances, then it was just for me to leave. Unfortunately I missed the main group photo, and if I can take part in this event next year I think I need to come up with a way that would allow med to stay in the evening as well, I definitely had a feeling that the picknick was only starting when I left, despited that I had been there for almost four hours.

All in all it was a great day, now I just need to untangle the messy state my hair is in, after all the curling and teasing, and then it's off to bed.