Friday, December 27, 2013

HSF Challenge #20: Outerwear OR #21: Green

Super, amazing, ridiculous, very green, spats for Bex!  These can't really count for an HSF challenge, as they are about as non-historical as spats can get, but I did finish them in time, so in my tally, they count.  I did have to wait to post them until they arrived at their destination though.

The Challenge: I had originally intended them for Outerwear, but then I couldn't find any suitable fabric for the Green challenge, so these could do for either.

Fabric: Katia Merino Baby, 100% Merino.

Pattern: Found here on Ravelry.

Year: Meant to be worn with modern dress, but spats were most common in the late Victorian era.

Notions: 6 meant-to-kinda-look-like-leather plastic(!) buttons.

How historically accurate is it? Let me count the ways.  Beyond the initial concept of 'spats' this one quickly falls apart.

Hours to complete: Less than 20 I think, I always crochet in the evenings while watching TV, so it doesn't really feel like a lot of time.

First worn: For the photos.  But they're not meant for me, and I hope their new owner will wear them occasionally!

Total cost: $4 for each ball of yarn, and maybe $3 for the buttons, so $11.



They fit rather well around my 1940's pumps.

Aren't they ridiculous??

The color is a bit closer to this shade than the neon shown above.

HSF Challenge #26: Celebrate!

Celebrate! the Christmas season, what you've learned this year, or simply having survived the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2013.

We were very generously given tickets to the American Women's Club of Amsterdam's winter gala, but there were still two things holding us back.  I didn't have a dress, and Dan didn't have a suit.  Thanks to an early Christmas present from my parents, Dan got a very spiffy suit, so I just needed a dress.  This summer I bought some very festive fabric, intending to someday transform it into a Regency gown.  The time had come!  I was on quite a deadline, but managed to get almost everything done in time (I still have to bind the sleeve seam (but that's inside so nobody sees that), and I may go back and add buttons someday).  The gown turned out perfectly, but I do have the new goal of figuring out Regency hair styles, as mine wasn't, well, right.  I probably could have used some jewelry too.

The Challenge: Celebrate!

Fabric: This summer I discovered my new favorite fabric store in Chicago- Fishman's!  It's not a large store, but had a ton of natural fiber selections, silks in particular.  And they had a dusty shelf along the back wall with $5 per yard striped silks.  Beautiful, light weight, and crispy.  Most of the fabric was a bit garish, or larger plaid patterns suited to the later Victorian era, but there was a gold, maroon, and blue narrow striped fabric that was perfect for regency.  It's not my usual color choice, gold doesn't really suit me, but for $5 per yard I couldn't pass it up.  So I bought all that was left, I think almost 5 yards.  My accent fabric was a gunmetal silk shantung.  I went looking to bring out the blue stripe, but the gunmetal, much to my surprise, went beautifully.

Pattern: Skirt was from La Mode Bagatelle, bodice and sleeves were my own creations, based several incarnations ago on the Bagatelle pattern.

Year: I was going for 1817-1818.

Notions: Hooks and eyes for the back closure; I would have preferred buttons but ran out of time.

How historically accurate is it? I hate this question.  I think I'm going to follow Festive Attyre and quit answering it.

Hours to complete: Not too many by my standards, the bodice only needed one mock-up, and I remembered a lot of my should-have-done's from my regency wedding dress, but the oversleeves took a while to get right.  Maybe only 20?

First worn: The American Women's Club winter gala.  I got a lot of compliments on the dress, and looked very regal next to all the modern dresses.

Total cost: $25 for the gold silk (still have a yard left over), $30 (full cost) for 1 meter of the grey (enough left to cover shoes or make a bag). So $55.

After a long night of dancing (thus the wrinkles)


My lovely piping job!

I got this shawl in Cologne Germany for $20.
100% Yak wool from Tibet.  And it's much
softer than it sounds!

And one of Dan in his dapper new suit.

Monday, December 16, 2013

HSF Challenge #24: Re-Do

I'm a full two weeks late on posting this.  I got the re-do "done" only a day late, but as it's a crochet project, it still had have all the thread ends woven in and to be blocked, which, as I was thoroughly exhausted of the project, took awhile.

The project is one I tried before.  For Challenge #13: Lace and Lacing, I started a crochet collar, but due to using a larger gauge thread than what was called for, and the pattern being difficult to decipher (to say the least), I failed the first time.  You can read about that here.

But I persisted, and now have an incredibly lovely collar that I can't actually see myself wearing.  Ah, such is life.  I mostly wear v-neck shirts, or things with collars, or things with stripes, or any number of modern tops that don't really go with 1930's collars.  But I'll save that challenge for next year.  It's all part of building a 30's wardrobe.  I had to start somewhere!

The Challenge: Re-Do

Fabric: Lizbeth Size 20 thread in Antique Violet and Cream.  100% cotton.  Only 1 ball of the violet was needed, which means I have 2 more to figure out what to do with.

Pattern: Found here on Etsy.  The last few sentences of the pattern were missing altogether, and the directions were incredibly unclear in several spots.  I often zoomed in on the illustration and made up something that looked like the stitch used.

Year: 1930's, but lace collars seem to have been much more popular in the early part of the decade.

Notions: I guess none...it is just thread.

How historically accurate is it? I honestly can't say.  It's cotton, and I believe the pattern is actually from the decade, and my colors seem all right, so actually maybe really high.  90%?

Hours to complete: AGES!

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost: $4 for each ball of thread, so $8.

On to the photos!



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

HSF Challenge #22: Masquerade

I really love fancy dress costumes, and I haven't made any Halloween costume since we lived in California, so I knew I wanted to so something special this year, while also not spending any money or taking much time on it.  I found several 1910's and 1920's fashion plates of costumes based on the night sky, and they were all really cute, so I had a go.  My main inspiration image:



The Challenge: Masquerade

Fabric: Probably all polyester.  The skirt base is a curtain panel, and the bodice base is a black strappy top thing, both from the thrift store.  The over layers are poly chiffon, and the waist section is a decorative pillowcase of unknown material.  The stars are paper.

Pattern: definitely made this one up as I went along

Year: my inspiration fashion plate is from 1919, but with the waist section I think it looks more 1950's.

Notions: Lots of thread.  And do paper stars count?

How historically accurate is it? I would say NOT AT ALL.  It's a Halloween costume, pure and simple.

Hours to complete: Less than 10.  I love modern construction.

First worn: To a Halloween party last week.

Total cost: About $5 for the thrift store items, and the chiffon was $1 per yard, so $15 total.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera to the party, so no group shots of everyone in costume, but I did take a couple the day before.

In case you can't tell, that's a paper moon stuck to my head.  And there are a lot of stars stuck to that skirt, they're just hidden in all the folds.  I just really love how foofy it makes me look.  And I've already started thinking about how else I can use this dress for future costumes. Blueberry and Blue Fairy come to mind.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

HSF Challenge #21: Color Challenge Green

Green is my favorite color.  And originally I wanted to make a green 1930's dress for this challenge.  But a dress requires the perfect fabric, and I couldn't find the perfect fabric.  So I settled for a cute little regency bag instead.

The Challenge: Color Challenge Green

Fabric: Silk shantung, random silk remnant for the lining

Pattern: mine

Year: early 1800's

Notions: Silk embroidery thread, random ribbon for a temporary drawstring.

How historically accurate is it? I studied a lot of extant regency bags, and just made something up.  But I used period appropriate materials, so about as much as possible.

Hours to complete: about 10 for the embroidery, and 3 for the construction.

First worn: Not yet, need an outfit to wear it with.

Total cost: I only used part of both pieces of silk, but the shantung cost about $15, and the lining piece cost $4.  The embroidery thread was $2.  So all told, $21.  But I hope to get gloves out of the shantung too.
The color is closer to this picture than the next, but less saturated.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On Learning Dutch

I've been a bit absent lately, partly having to do with the fact that my computer is headed back to the states for repair, which means Dan and I are sharing his, so the process of uploading photos, new especially, has just gotten more annoying.

But in the mean time I've gone back to reading Harry Potter en de Geheime Kamer (aka the Secret Room) (aka the Chamber of Secrets).  At the rate I'm going, I'll be done in only 75 more hours.  Actually, I thought that number would have been higher.  It'll only take me 4 months or so; that's not that bad!

With the reading of something that is clearly above my reading level, I'm coming across a ton of new words (obviously), and I've started a list of the ones that I find the most awesome.  Some are simply amusing, and some send me into a long, somewhat ridiculous thought process about the English language.  Because that's one of the best things about learning a new language (at least one that English has strong ties to), some foreign words make you re-think the way you've always thought (or not thought) about a word you use all the time.  Anyway, that will be made clearer in a moment.  

So with that excessive introduction, here's my little list.

Vleermuis - literally, flying mouse--a bat  (and keep in mind that the 'ee' is pronounced as a long 'a', or like it's spelled 'flaer-mouse')

Tjokvol - this is one of those words that I'd have to do a bit of digging to find out if the Dutch came first or the English, as sometimes Dutch takes English words and changes the spelling to be more Dutch, but the word still sounds and means the same as the English word.  In this case 'tjokvol' is both pronounced (more or less) like it's English equivalent 'chock-full'.

Adem - this one is more philosophical, but it means 'breath', and the interesting thing is that it's akin to Adam, as in the first Adam.  I really like the tie-in.

Smaakvol - tasteful.  This is the one that sent me down the rabbit hole.  'Smaak' is a bit like 'tasty' or 'lip-smacking good'.  Not the understated elegance we associate the word 'tasteful' with.  'Tasteful' has nothing to do with 'full-of-flavor', but is it supposed to?  Did it originally?  On the tasteful to tacky spectrum, when someone several hundred years ago went into a room and saw the purple shag carpet and lime green throw pillows and pink walls did they think Wow! this is amazingly tasteful!   actually maybe they did, because men's garments in the late 1700's were those colors and everyone thought them at the epitome of taste and fashion.  Which got me thinking about a lecture I heard recently about how modern men dress and how it's the most boring it has ever been.  And it completely diverges from nature--think peacocks--in that men have always been the ones to put on the fashion show for prospective partners, and now they're in dark suits with a splash of muted color they call a tie--which we would call tasteful!  But maybe the peacocks and Louis XIV (or XVI if I want to stick with the time frame above) are actually the ones who are tasteful--they're certainly smaakvol!  So if I'm looking at a man in a well-tailored suit or a beige and cream colored living room, maybe I shouldn't be thinking about how tasteful it is, but how tasteless?  Hmmm, I wonder if 'smaaklos' is a word...

HA!  It is...although it's actually spelled 'smaakloos'

And that's why I love language.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tiny Top Hat

I had a request (from my mum) to post more pictures of the little top hat I made for Elfia.  So I thought I'd include some construction notes too.

I started with a cardboard (cereal box) crown, taped together.  I added fabric over top of this and tacked it down around the base of the crown.  I then cut a cereal box brim and used double sided tape (I didn't have spray glue) to attach a layer of blue fabric to the top and bottom.  I then attempted to tape the brim to the crown, but it didn't stay, so I had to sew it in.  This was a bit of a trick--hand sewing (the hat was too small to get around the arm of my sewing machine) through 4 layers of fabric, 2 layers of cardboard, and a layer of really sticky tape.  I bent a rather sturdy needle and went through several improvised cardboard thimbles.

After that, I added bias binding (made from the brown silk I used for the corset) around the outside of the brim.  Thankfully I was able to machine sew that on.  I finished the hat off with some leftover scraps for around the crown, a bow, and the dangly bits.  I also added a couple yarn loops inside to to attach it to my hair with bobby pins.

The inside still looks a bit ridiculous, so I may add a lining before its next outing, and the yarn loops didn't work at all, so I'm now on the (rather passive) hunt for hat elastic.



Monday, September 23, 2013

HSF Challenge #19: Wood, Metal, Bone

This is my second Victorian corset.  I made the first about 5 years ago and it hurt my lower back from the moment I put it on.  I also used slightly stretchy fabric, so needless to say, it wasn't the best.  I'm much happier with this one!  It is the first time using the TV pattern, so the gap is a little wider in the back than I'd like--I'm still learning how my body compresses in corsets.  But I'll keep getting better at it.  I did decide to use metal eyelets, this corset is meant to be more of a costume piece (thus the brown), than actual underwear, and I was on a tight schedule.

The Challenge: Wood, Metal, Bone

Fabric: Silk shantung, cotton lining

Pattern: Truly Victorian's Late Victorian Corset

Year: around 1880

Notions: Embroidery thread for the flossing, lacing, thread, metal eyelets, and all the bones...

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is good; I'm not sure about using brown as my color though.  

Hours to complete: I lost count.  4 for the flossing. :)

First worn: Last weekend as part of a Steampunk outfit.

Total cost: About $60 maybe?  







Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Visit to Switzerland!

Dan and I spent the first week of September in Switzerland, specifically Basel and Bern.  Dan had a conference, and I decided to tag along.

We started in Basel (that's where the airport was) and spent almost two days there--one of which was my 30th birthday.

The town hall in Basel was really beautiful (and red).  The interior courtyard was extensively painted, often with amusing trompe-l'oeil type scenes.  In the third photo, you can see a gentleman standing on a balcony with his parrot, breaking the bounds of the flat surface.




We also wandered quite a bit along the Rhine River, which divides the city.


And then we headed to Bern, which is the capital of Switzerland.  Dan started his conference, and I spent most of my time hiking along the Aare River, which surrounds the old part of town.  The water was a beautiful turquoise blue, and apparently meets European drinking standards, though I didn't try it out.




On Wednesday Dan had the afternoon off, so we climbed the "hill" south of town--the Gurten!  I put 'hill' in quotation marks not because it's so small most people wouldn't even call it a hill, but because even though the Swiss call it a hill, the rest of the world would probably call it a small mountain.  Still, it was a lovely hike up, and a full-of-wrong-turns lovely hike back down.

The view of Bern from the top.

Also, on really clear days in Bern, you can see the snow-capped peaks of the Alps.


I don't expect we'll go back to Switzerland while we're living here (it's really expensive), but I'm really glad I went.  It's amazingly beautiful--and it was sunny the entire time we were there, which is the complete opposite of the Netherlands in September.  It was also refreshing because I had almost a week in one city--there was no rush to see everything in a short time, so I could spend an entire day guilt free by the Aare River, reading, dipping my feet in, and watching swimmers float by.  It was a lovely vacation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

my D.I.Y. in-a-pinch, not-very-good, Dress Form

One of the downsides of moving around is not having a dress form.  I had a duct tape one in California, but there was no way I could move it to Australia, and now the Netherlands.  So I've been doing without for three years.  Mostly I do okay, Dan is some help, but I really needed some sort of form to create my Steampunk outfit.  Especially the bustle.  So I came up with the following:

Start with a rather weird plant stand that already exists in your apartment.

Take out the glass thingy and stick your yoga mat in it.  Tie some ribbon around the bottom of the mat to keep it at the height you want.

Wrap some random fabric around the mat and stand to pad the metal bar a bit.  *Feel free to omit this step; it doesn't really help with anything.

Tie some lumpy couch pillows around the fabric with more ribbon.

Fit your corset around the pillows and adjust your laces to your measurements.  Aim to have the waist height of the dress form be approximately your height.

Use dress form to fit bustle.

I hope you all have options that are at least as good!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Elf Fantasy Fair - Arcen

I talked about the Elf Fantasy Fair in Utrecht last April, and this is the same thing, just further east--as in almost to Germany.

After last time I vowed we'd be dressed up, as we were definitely in the minority without costumes.  This time we were indeed dressed up (I in new duds, and Dan in some of his wedding clothes), but there were also more people this time without costumes.  Oh well, I definitely enjoyed being dressed, though by the end of the day I was ready to be back in my usual clothes.

The location was amazing!  It was at the Kasteel Arcen, which wasn't really a castle, more like a manor house, but the gardens were absolutely fit for a castle.  The whole place was huge, which helped disperse the massive amount of people, and there were probably a dozen different types of gardens to explore.  There was even a mini-golf (excellently called midgetgolf in Dutch) course tucked way back on the property.

This time, we took more photos of ourselves (mostly of me) than other people, and here are my favorites.

Oh, but first I should explain the sweater.  I originally intended to make a jacket for the event, but didn't have time.  I was going to just wear a chemise under my corset, but decided it was probably going to be too cold.  Thankfully I had a sweater that worked well enough--so you'll have to forgive my modern addition.  I did end up needing the sweater, and was really grateful to have it on.  September isn't the warmest month here--though we didn't get rained on until the walk home.

We started in the rose garden.

My gloriously large backside.

Admiring the view

There were monkeys!

Wandering around the mini-golf course.

I had a go at throwing axes at a bear.

I actually stuck an ax in his arm!

We ate a lot of meat on a stick.

Watched some Japanese archers

Saw this amazing family (check out her hat!)

Took a rest in the Italian garden.

Found a giant hut in the Asian section

Admired the vistas

and the people

and the lakes

Ope, and finally one of Dan!