Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Starting Enfys' cape

I'm waiting for my next paycheck to be able to order a lot of the material and pieces that I need for Enfys, still I wanted to get something done. I decided to cut out the lining of the cape, that way I could see that I had a pattern that would work, and how much fabric I will need to order.

On the original costume it's possible to see two seams, so I'm making a cape in three pieces.

I'm planning on using a wool broadcloth, so I don't want too much fabric at the neck, since it's going to be very bulky. I decided to use some kind of version of a circle cut cape, which gives you a lot of width at the hem, some really nice folds, but no gathering at the neck.

This is a great diagram of how to make a cape or cloak in different variaties of a circle. The site where I've found it even calls it the Circle game.

I didn't go for a full or semi-circle cape, I kept the outer sides of piece 1 and 3 on the selvage, so they are straight, just like the fold of piece two. I also cut all the angles at 45 degrees, since it's simple to measure even without tools.

The result is not quite a semi-circle, but it still hangs really nice and has a 3 m hem at the bottom, so it's really swirly.  In totaly I used 2,5 m of 150 cm wide fabric for this pattern.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

#10-year challenge costume edition

The 10-year challenge is going around on Facebook, where you post either your first profile pic or a profile pic from 10 years ago side by side with your current one. I figured I could do one for my costumes and see what I came up with.

In 2008 I made the first version of my A-wing pilot.

Compare that to my current pilot costume, which is the X-wing pilot.


I hadn't really started with serious historical costuming in 2008, I have some costumes from 2009 though.

From the16th century there was this ballgown inspired by Maria von Habsburgs wedding gown. It's all machine sewn and made in a poly brocade from a modern princess-seamed dress. Still the quality of the sewing isn't too bad and I actually have this gown around when I need something shiny and more fairytale-like than historical.

It's quite far off from my handmade wool outfit that I finished last year though.


In 2009 I made one of the worst costumes I've ever made, my 1860s ballgown. It shows that I could follow pattern directions, but I couldn't adjust a pattern to actually make it look good on me.

Compare that to my pet en l'air that I draped and combined different patterns with to get a good fit. I'm also a lot more careful with hair, makeup and accessories compared to 2009.

Fun fact though. The grey skirt that I'm wearing was my first 18th century skirt, and it was made to be worn with a jacket that was made from the skirt fabric of the 1860's ballgown.

Looking back I definitely see how my skills have improved. It's not so much the skills themselves though, but the fact that I try to take time and be more careful, and not just throw fabric together and hoping that it should end up as something wearable. It's my eye and inner quality consultant that have developed in these 10 years more than anything else. I would also say that I look more comfortable wearing my costumes than I did 10 years ago. It shows that body language is something that can really transform a costume, and body language is something to learn. It didn't come natural for me when I started, but now I feel much more relaxed in costume and it shows.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Some research for 16th century Sweden

I'm currently more involved in a non-costuming project than I am in my costuming, so there isn't much crafting going on. I'm slowly working away on the Enfys Nest jumpsuit and waiting for my hard parts to arrive for her.

Research is something I can do in the breaks for the other project though, and I have continued my quest to recreate early Swedish 16th century, or to be even more precise the dress in the Bergslagen region.

The problem is that there are few images and sources, the earliest portraits and paintings are from the 1530s and show the royal family and high nobility. And even if it's clear that a lot of the fashion was imported from Germany I don't want to just imitate Germany fashion and hope that it will be correct.

Over the weekend I decided to once again go through images of church art. For that I used "Medeltidens bildvärld" - which is a site from the Swedish History Museum with collections of church art. The great thing is that it's divided up by county and parish, so you can go through quite exact geographical areas. For this I chose to go through the counties of Dalarna, Västmanland, Uppland, Södermandland and Närke, or basically the wider geographical area of Svealand. I also limited my search to pieces that were dated to the first quarter of the 16th century.

When it comes to church art there are two main kinds of arts; paintings and sculptures, usually large altar pieces. The altar pieces contains a lot of figures, but they are usually imported. In the early 16th century most of the altar pieces came from the Low Countries, meaning that they do not necessarily reflect the local fashion.

Altarpiece in Västerås cathedral, made in Antwerp

You do get some lovely costumes on the altar pieces though. I absolutely love the quilted baseball cap on the woman to the right, or the woman to the left that is wearing what to me mostly looks like Padmé's pilot helmet from Attack of the Clones. I have a pinterest board with some of my favorite fashion from altarpieces made in he Low Countries here.

The church paintings are different though. They had to be painted on site, and even if the artist might have been an expert craftmen from somewhere else he is more likely to paint what the people around him was wearing. Looking at church art in general it's also important to look at what they are portraying. Some saints and other holy figures have almost like a uniform that is differerent from the current fashion. You are more likely to find representations of local fashion in scenes depicting groups of people.

A popular scene to illustrate is the parable of the ten virgins, showing the bridesmaids in all their finery.

Söderby-Karl, Uppland

There are also paintings showing biblical feasts.

Dannemora, Uppland

Here is the whole family with Herod, his wife and Salome with the head of John the Baptist.

From time to time images of more ordinary women crop up as well, like these two fighting.

Dannemora, Uppland

or this woman churning butter with the devil

Dannemora, Uppland

I have a pinterest board with church paintings from Svealand here. I will definitely use it as inspiration for my 16th century projects.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Enfys Nest jumpsuit part 1

This weekend the Cosplay Dalarna network had a whole day of crafting, and I could start on Enfys Nest for real. The goal for me was to get most of the jumpsuit done, and I did get all the parts that need a lot of floor space cut out.

I started with my standard vintage overall pattern. I knew it was going to be too small, and since I didn't have a lot of muslin fabric to work with I decided to expand it a lot, since it's easier to take it in than the other way around.

Ok, I maybe overdid it and had to take it in a lot. In the end though I had a fairly loose fitting overall, with some shaping at the waist.

The shaping at the waist
I then drew all the seam lines I wanted directly on to the fabric and cut it apart.

I'm using dark brown waxed cotton for the jumpsuit, with black twill for the details. I added the twill tape to the front by hand, since there are no visible seams on the reference photos. I wouldn't be surprised if the original piece has proper seams for the shaping, but I'm cheating and adding the twill tape on the top, there will also be decorative top stitching added later.


Back pieces
The jumpsuit is still big, but the final fitting will be done when I sew it all together.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

My favorite photos of 2018

Here are some of my favorite photos of 2018.

Historical costumes

Yes, it's 30 degrees Celsius and I'm melting, but it still turned out really nice.

It's not always the photos where you think you are posing the best that ends up as favorite. This was a quick snap shot to try and show my hairstyle, but I guess it's the quick nature of the shot that makes it feel very natural and relaxed.

This is probably my best photo of the year. The combination of the colour of the costume with the majestic wall is just gorgeous. I really feel as if I'm standing either on the Wall or in Winterfell.

Some of my friends claim that Mon Mothma is a powerhungry, dirty politician. Of course I wanted to give them a bit of confirmation with this photo.

Costuming isn't all about being serious, you need to have some fun as well.

Happy New Costuming Year!

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

A confession about my productivity

This is going to be a very personal post. I have done a lot of costume projects this year, and not the least I finished all 12 HSM challenges for 2018. For those of you reading this blog it's easy to just see all finished results, and of course I tend to only post things that I'm happy with so you only get a (mostly) polished look at my costume projects.

One thing that is not visible on the blog is the fact that I have had a tough year on a personal leveWith a bit of perspective I can easily say that my mental health has not been the best. I was probably on the verge of a burn-out at the end of the spring, and even if I had my three weeks of holiday I didn't really recover. The whole autumn I have felt tired and exhausted. What does that have to do with my costuming?

Costuming is my escape, especially the HSM projects. I've had periods when I've felt both restless and anxious. To sit down with a small sewing project has been a way of occupying myself with something else than what's been going on around me. In a way it's good, it definitely helps with fending off anxiety attacks, but the larger projects have also added to my general stress level, and I have in some instances prioritized sewing over other things that I should probably have done to feel better in the long run.

This year I'm hoping to find a better balance, even if it means that I might say no to events even if they are fun and inspiring. I guess what I want to say is that just looking at the number of costuming projects of a year doesn't really say anything about the costumers life, and it's not always something to envy. In a way I hope that I will not finish as many sewing projects next year, if that means that I feel less stressed and in a better general mood. And if you are wondering I have a good dialogue at work to make sure that I get a more balanced workload in 2019.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

#costumingyearinreview goals for 2019

With all the recaps from 2018 done it's time to look forward to what 2019 will bring costume wise. I was worried that the Historical Sew Monthly challenges wouldn't continue in 2019, but they will. The list of challenges have been posted already, but I'm not going to post a dedicated 2019 HSM plan. Last year I learnt that I hardly ever plan my HSM projects, they are more things that I come up with when it's time for each challenge. I will concentrate on the 16th and 18th centuries, but who knows what other time periods might sneak in.

For this year I have five major costume plans, and in order of deadlines they are:

1. Enfys Nest
She needs to be finished by April for Celebration Chicago. This will be my main focus for the winter. If I run into some snags I might have to delay her until NärCon though, there are some things that I have ordered that need to arrive in time and details like that. I'm a bit scared about this costume since it contains so many hard parts that I need to work on.


I have fabric and shoes and gloves. I'm going to start with the soft parts straight away in January.

2. Lady Poe robe à la Francaise

On the 8th of June there is this big ball set in 1762, I hadn't planned on going (it's expensive) but I got some money for it as a Christmas gift. It's very strict about accuracy and I need to wear a proper francaise for it. I'm going to resurrect my Lady Poe project. After all I ordered all the fabric back in 2017, I hope I ordered enough to make a full francaise with all the trimmings. I'm going to skip on the step where I make it into a Star Wars-costume, and just go for a proper 1760's look, but I'm still going to call it my Lady Poe. 

3. Obelix
At last NärCon me and Ann-Sofie decided to make Asterix and Obelix, after all she and her husband had been so well received as Tintin and Captain Haddock and we talked about other fun childhood favorites to cosplay. I'm plus size, I'm a redhead. This will be a really fun project, and yes I want to come up with a way to make a menhir to carry around. An idea that I have played with is also, if I'm going to make this, why not make a genderbent version as well. I'm thinking a pinup Obelix would be really fun and still recognizable.

4. Melisandre's coat
I want to finish the coat and wear it to NärCon as a complete costume.

4. 1520s court dress
I have so many ideas for 16th century gowns, but I want to slowly work away on my court gown. I have cut out the bodice and started to interline the velvet. This will be a slow project that I work on when I don't have other things. I also want a new sleeveless kirtle, and that will be a project so that I have another gown for medieval events. 

Other loose plans that I have for the year, but no set dates or specific plans:

A 16th century half-length cloak/cape
A couple of 16th century shifts
A veil or hood wih goldwork embroidery (this could actually work with the HSM challenge for August)
A 1695 jacket or mantua.
An Edwardian sporting outfit (I do have a deadline for this, but I'm afraid it will clash with both Enfys Nest and the francaise project, so I'm already counting on scrapping it)

And with that the new costuming year is off to a start. 

Happy sewing and crafting everyone.