Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Golden Bustle and Pattern Review

I know this blog has been quiet lately, I've been sewing but haven't had an opportunity to share my projects. Today I made some time after finishing this lobster tail bustle using this Truly Victorian pattern in the Regular style (it comes with Regular and Imperial styles, the Imperial is a larger bustle).

The finished bustle! 
I wanted to test this pattern on some fabric I had laying around before doing the nice custom order for a friend of mine. I'm glad I did as I found a few issues. The fabric for the bustle was actually a table cloth. I decided to use black thread and bias tape for a contrast to the gold. I also used thick, extra long wire ties that I had in my stash for the hoop boning. The pattern recommends steel and the Truly Victorian site sells precut pieces for each size.

First, this pattern is great in that its super easy to follow if you have a bit sewing experience. It goes together well and the pieces didn't need any adjusting to make them fit together. I didn't even fully mark the lines for the bias tape, just at the edges of the fabric and the inside of the center back seam. The pattern calls for single fold bias tape and I found that to be too thin for the width of the plastic wire ties I was using. I'm glad I noticed that before starting! 

The tapes were easy to sew on, even though they were curved. 
The pattern doesn't specify what pleats to use on the bottom, or even how to pleat it, so that's where some previous sewing skills would come in handy. I prefer the look of box pleats and think they give it a nice finish. The bottom could also be gathered for a fuller look. This is also where I noticed the plastic curves a lot at the bottom where metal hoops would probably curve less. 

Box pleats! 

The waist band is small, only about a quarter inch wide. I didn't add a hook and eye to close it since I cant decide if I prefer that or a snap. Also, I'd like to keep it open so its slightly adjustable, especially since this will probably be sticking around for a while as a prop for my other costumes. 

Waistband and front darts.

Overall, I would recommend this pattern to anyone who doesn't want to draft one on their own. As I've said, its easy to follow. One thing to keep in mind though, it does run small. I cut the fabric to be only one size smaller than my measurements but its actually two-three sizes too small. I would suggest checking the pattern before cutting expensive fabric! I would also recommend using steel boning as the plastic curves a bit too much and may also be a bit weak for heavier gowns. 

The front view. As you can see, the plastic wire ties curve a lot. 

Inside view of the boning casings. 
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Back view, it really does remind me of a lobster tail! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Finished- Victorian!

This post is a few days late, but better late than never! I finished the blue Victorian that I've been working on for eons, last Friday. I just love the feeling of having large costumes completed! I had intended on this dress being more Steampunk but it ended up turning into this. I'll have to slowly work into using hardware instead of "frilly" adornments... ;-)

The bottom of the bodice was fixed so the edges are even, the buttons repositioned for a smoother front, and all those hand made yo-yo's stitched on! 

I realize that yo-yo flowers may not be period accurate but I have to admit I didn't do a lot of research on them. And Dorset buttons were more popular in earlier decades and eras but I thought they looked nice on anyways. Plus I couldn't find any store-bought ones I really liked. 

All these yo-yo's made me really thankful I bought the whole set of circular shapes!

Close-up of the buttons and a bit of the button holes. This was my first time applying hand bound button holes to a costume. I really like the look and it was pretty easy to do! 

I will say though, next time I plan on making a lot of pleats I will be buying a pleat board first. I made this pleated trim using a vinegar/water mix. The smell dissipates really quickly and the fabric stays set pretty much forever. 

I'd also like a completed bustle before making the next gown! This took a lot of careful measuring to make sure it would be even when worn! Plus my dress form is crooked. When I purchased it, the box was trashed and the form was bent. I've never been able to straighten it completely so it takes a bit of doubl-checking before I finish things. 

I have to say I'm happy with how it turned out, especially as this was my first Victorian. I had cut it to my measurements but unfortunately it ended up being several sizes too small, otherwise I might have modeled it myself! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Finishes and Fixes

I finished the other Renaissance era shirt that I was given. Just like the last one, this one had to be completely taken apart and re-sewn. I decided to try a little imitation blackwork on it to see if I liked the look enough to try on future projects. Turns out I love it so I'm making plans for some men's and women's wear.
I'll definitely be doing the next embroidery by hand and of course larger, or more detailed. 

I made some more progress on the Victorian today and I'm discovering a few small issues that need fixing. The buttons had to be re-positioned after the buttonholes were finished. I'm not sure how that happened but at least that was an easier fix. 
I just love the way the buttons look with the matching piping! I cant wait to see it all finished with the rest of the trim! 

As the buttons went on, the bottom pieces didn't match up. So that needs to be fixed as well as some of the boning on the inside. It's slipping around in the casings so I need to stitch them up.
I am using a Truly Victorian pattern for this piece, with the sleeves omitted from the bodice. I cut the bodice and the skirt in the same sizes however, the skirt is miles larger than the waist of the bodice. So I'll also be taking apart the waist band and resizing to fit. I originally cut this to my measurements but there's no way it will fit me even with a corset. Sad but true! 

Oh yeah, I also need to invest in a nicer dress form. This one arrived bent in a trashed box and I was never able to fix it. I've got my eye on one of those fancy ones with arms... :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making a Dent

Several years ago I was commissioned to make seven ladies Dickens costumes in six weeks. It was quite a challenge, especially since I had never made bonnets before, but I managed! I think this month, I've made the most costume pieces since! Or at least thats what it feels like! I completed the Regency overdress in a lovely pistachio green, but I unfortunately don't have any photos. I was in too much of a hurry to get it shipped. It looks similar to the completed one in my previous post, just with shorter ungathered sleeves. I also finished two Renaissance faire style bodices in burgundy and blue.

I actually started this bodice years ago but only finished this month. Part of my effort to clean out my fabric/half finished project stash. The shirt was also completed this month. 

Blue bodice, a sort of twill fabric with a sueded finish. This bodice was cut several months ago and finished last week. This bodice is available here.

This is very similar to the set I finished a few weeks ago but this one is a none stretch fabric and I added a braided trim to the front. If I attended Renaissance faires I'd totally keep it. But since I don't, its available here.

And my favorite piece of just finished awesomeness, a cape. I don't know the exact history of this cape, it was given to me by a friend. It was obviously well loved and needed to be repaired. The seams were coming apart and there were some small holes near the hem. So I took it completely apart, re-stitched the main part and trimmed the bottom. As I was working it occurred to me that it was a little plain and needed some sprucing up. I had created the Celtic patterned stencil some years ago and I thought it would make a great pattern for this cape. I traced it out and stitched and then finished putting it all together. I just love how it looks! I'll bet my friend wasn't expecting this! (Oh, this one is available here.)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Satin and Velvets and Crepe, Oh My!

I've been sewing like a crazy person lately! A friend graciously gave me a ton of fabrics and old clothing for upcycling and I've been trying desperately to make room for it all as I have a very small studio space. As it stands, half of it is in my closet! My best solution was to just start making things for my online stores. I recently finished and sold a Regency overdress in a dark hunter green. I'd never made one before so this was my first attempt. Since posting, I've had two custom requests for the same piece in different colors!

I am still slowly working on the blue Victorian bustle gown. A friend was interested in purchasing if it fit so I stopped working on it for a while until I could do a fitting just in-case I had to adjust anything. Well, it didn't fit so I'm finishing it up to sell! I decided to do the buttonholes by hand which is also something I've never done before. Its actually pretty relaxing and looks great with the Dorset buttons! 

The first item that I've listed so far, from the gifted fabrics, is suitable for Renaissance fairs. Its made more for comfort than accuracy in that it is slightly stretchy, only has boning to support the lacings, and there is elastic in the chemise. This was completed in a day and half, it would have been a day except I ran out of brown thread!

This dress can be found here

I have a couple of Renaissance era shirts left, a custom Regency overdress similar to the one above, and then I plan on starting this:
The nerdy side in me always wanted to do something medieval with a little fantasy thrown in! I'm not sure if I'll keep the sleeves as pictured. I like the idea of having them open and a fitted sleeve underneath. Please excuse the figure, all my croquis templates are of the modern form. ;-)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Regency Day Gown and Future Costumes

With all of the craziness of school I haven't had a ton of time to work on large and extravagant costumes projects, however, I did just finish another Regency gown. What can I say? I'm addicted to the era. It has such an air of romance and chivalry, or maybe I've read to many novels... ;-)

In any case, this is a day dress with a drop front. I left it fairly simple with almost no trim but I feel that lends it a certain elegance.

 I did also include handmade Dorset buttons for the back closure. I love adding those since they fit with the period but I would like to find smaller rings to use so I can vary the sizes. 

Several months ago I made a chemisette and so I included that in some of the photos. The chemisette is available in one size in my Etsy store and of course for custom order. It reminds me of the movie Bright Star.

And so now I'm planning my next big piece. I still have the blue Steampunk-esq Victorian to finish (see previous posts) but after that I'm thinking I might do something inspired by Showtime's The Borgias. I am so in love with the costumes! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Steampunk-esq Victorian Gown Update

So its been a little while since I sat down to focus on finishing the Victorian as most of my attention has been towards Di Nuovo (see previous post). The gown isn't looking as steampunk as I'd hoped but its got a bit of that flair to it. I finished pleating all of the trim and attached it to the skirt hems. And let me just say, hand pleating a row roughly ten yards long without the added help of a pleat board certainly takes some patience! I set the pleats with vinegar water and it gave them a nice crisp finish. 

I also added some gold piping to the bodice and started creating the little yo-yo flowers to accent the neckline. I'll add some to the skirt as well since its looking a little plain. Luckily I ordered templates several months ago for the flowers so I can whip those out pretty quick! 

As you can see in some of these photos there are some fabric issues like wrinkling. I steamed and pressed the fabric before starting but nothing with get them out! 

There's just a few things left to do to finish. I'll be closing up the front with buttons. I couldn't find any that I liked that matched both the colors and the style I was going for so I decided to continue with the slightly fantastical flair and hand make them. I'm working on ten crosswheel Dorset buttons in the same color thread as the gold trim, yay matching! Here's the buttons in red:

This gown should be finished over the next several days so stay tuned for the finished photos! It will also be available for purchase in my Etsy store, as well as a few other costume pieces and the buttons pictured above.